Return of the Frozen Player Chapter 2

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Chapter 2. 25 Years Later (1)

[The legend awakens from his long sleep.]

!! Translator – mrdual !!

!! Proofreader – xotwood !!

[A modern-day Captain America? The return of the world’s greatest player – Specter wakes up 25 years later after defeating the Frost Queen]

[Korean Player Association’s press conference: “Specter’s health is our top priority.”]

[Day of Heroes fundraising breaks record numbers]

…..

Tap.

Lying on his hospital bed, Seo Jun-Ho folded and put away the newspapers he had been reading.

“So…It’s been 25 years.” He blinked once and just like that, 25 years had passed. The situation was so ridiculous that he wasn’t particularly shocked or dumbfounded. At first, he wondered if it was something like a hidden-camera prank, but there was too much evidence against that.

‘My muscles are gone. They’ve completely atrophied.’

Seo Jun-Ho stared down at his body, dumbfounded. He was so thin that his bones were visible. He had taken a nap, and just like that, the body he trained vigorously for 5 years was gone.

“Specter-nim. The President of the Players’ Association has come to see you.”

Wherever he went, the top doctors of the world spoke to him with both hands clasped together.[1]

That was the least they could do to show respect to the savior of humanity. Seo Jun-Ho wasn’t uncomfortable with this, because this was the treatment he had always received.

“Is the President someone I know?” If he was a stranger, then he would tell them to leave. It hadn’t even been a day since he woke up. He didn’t want to be bothered already.

But the doctor said something surprising. “Yes. The President spoke casually and said you were their friend.”

“Friend…? Huh.” There weren’t many who he considered a friend.

‘Well, I suppose I’ll know once we meet.’

Seo Jun-Ho turned to look out into Seoul, as if he was amazed. “I suppose the world really has changed.” There were many more skyscrapers, and magic must have been used because the fine dust pollution was gone. More than that, there wasn’t a single gate in Seoul when previously, they had been all over the place.

‘It’s…the peaceful world that we wanted.’

Thinking of his comrades, Seo Jun-Ho closed his eyes and smiled faintly. “…What will I do now?”

The world had changed when he was 20, and he became a player and cleared gates. The only thing he knew how to do was to hunt monsters.

‘I guess I’m unemployed now.’

It wasn’t an unpleasant thought. With an unburdened heart, he pulled off his mask. “Hup!”

The dumbfounded doctors covered their mouths, swallowing their screams.

Who was Specter? Besides his Korean nationality, he had always been a mystical figure whose name, age, and face were unknown. So how could he take off his mask so casually?

One of the doctors spoke with a shaky voice. “W-why…why did you take off your mask?”

“Huh? I don’t need it anymore.” Seo Jun-Ho said this as he twirled his trademark mask in his hands. “The world is peaceful now.”

“Uh…I…” A shadow crossed over the doctors’ faces. Seo Jun-Ho noticed the shift. “What’s with your reactions?”

“No, that’s…”

The doctors couldn’t say anything. They simply glanced at each other.

“I’ll explain.” As the door opened, a put-together man stepped in. Upon seeing his face, Seo Jun-Ho’s eyes went wide. He had a few wrinkles now, but it was a face that he would never forget.

“Are…are you Deok-Gu?”

“Pfft.” The doctors turned their heads away as they held back their laughs.

“Ahem!” The man turned to the doctors, his face slightly red. “I want to speak with him in private.”

“Yes, President.”

After the doctors walked out, the President pulled up a chair and took a seat. His eyes started to water. “Jun-Ho, you still look exactly the same.” Even after 25 years, his friend Seo Jun-Ho was still exactly the same. He himself was at the age that his skin had started to wrinkle and his stomach started to stick out, but Jun-Ho still looked exactly as he looked when he was younger. But his healthy body had deteriorated to the point that he looked sickeningly skinny.

The President bit his lower lip, for some reason, he felt his heart aching.

“Wow. That voice. You really are Deok-Gu.” It had become rougher with age, but it was the voice of his childhood friend Shim Deok-Gu.

Seo Jun-Ho stared with amazement at his friend who had become a middle-aged man. He started laughing as he noticed something. “Hey, look! I told you that M-shape was a sign of balding! You said it wasn’t!”

“That’s all you have to say after…!” Shim Deok-Gu was choked up in the moment, before letting out a sigh. “Hoo, that’s right… The Seo Jun-Ho I knew had always been like this. What a heartfelt reunion…”

“Did you really expect that?” Seo Jun-Ho was still gripping his stomach and laughing. “25 years…Pfft, it’s been 25 years but there’s still no cure for balding?”

“…The wigs are good. You can’t tell the difference. I didn’t wear one today because I was in a rush.”

“Really? Then show me next time.”

“You’ll be surprised.” These two really did like to speak of such trivial things. Considering how they were two grown men, they had a lot to talk about as they went from topic to topic without a moment to breathe. Shim Deok-Gu would usually start talking, and Seo Jun-Ho would peel clementines from the basket[2] as he chimed in. A few hours passed just like that.

Shim Deok-Gu smiled fondly. “You rascal, you’re still exactly the same.”

Even after 25 years, the two friends who were born and raised together were still the same.

Deok-Gu had actually been nervous on the way to the hospital. He was scared to show Jun-Ho the “adult” he had become. But now, they were still talking as freely as before.

“You look the same as before too. Though your stomach is sticking out a bit now.”

“You…try getting old.”

Seeing the awkward expression on Shim Deok-Gu’s face, Seo Jun-Ho spoke up. “Now that you’re not so tense anymore, tell me why those doctors reacted like that.”

“Ah, um.” There was no more avoiding the topic. Shim Deok-Gu swallowed. “The moment you guys defeated the Frost Queen, all the players received the same message.” He looked out the window as if recalling the memory.

[Congratulations. The Frost Queen has been defeated.]

[Safe zones will now appear on the area Earth.]

The whole world rejoiced. They didn’t need to fight anymore. They could live peacefully like before. Players and non-players alike cried tears of joy. But the message didn’t stop there.

[A dimension elevator has been unlocked in the Pacific area.]

[The 2nd floor Frontier Area has opened.]

[The max level in the Frontier will be raised from 80 to 120.]

[Stay strong until you reach the last floor.]

“What?”

“f*ck, what kind of shit is this?!”

“2nd floor? So it doesn’t end with the Frost Queen?”

People fell into a panic. But there was nothing else they could do. They all thought that it was the end, but it was actually only the beginning.

Strong players, association presidents, and politicians from all over the world held a big conference. During the days it was held, the players kept receiving the same message.

[The only way to stop Earth’s destruction is to go up the floor.]

[The only way to stop Earth’s destruction is to go up the floor.]

[The only way to stop Earth’s destruction is to go up the floor.]

Earth’s destruction.

Frightened by the ominous phrase, the people came to a decision.

——————

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For now, they would send a scouting team to the newly opened 2nd floor.

“So?” Seo Jun-Ho asked this in a low voice.

Hearing the anger and dejection in his voice, Shim Deok-Gu carried on. “The 2nd floor was a land of opportunity. It had abundant resources, new magic, and new techniques. We were able to harvest a great amount of resources and knowledge from there, and it’s the reason Earth is in such an abundant state today.”

“That’s not what I wanted to know…”

“There are 10 floors in total.” Shim Deok-gu cut him off. “That’s what you wanted to know, right? The dimension elevator has buttons for floors 1 to 10.”

“So there are only 10 floors…” Seo Jun-Ho relaxed a bit. He and his teammates had taken 5 years to clear the first floor to defeat the Frost Queen.

‘And if it has been 25 years since then…’

2, 3, 4, 5, 6. So they should have at least reached the 7th floor by now. But he didn’t expect even that much.

‘At the time, excluding me and my teammates, the other players’ were terrible.’

There had been an immeasurable difference between them and the other players. That was why only five people went to Antarctica. Anyone else would only be a burden.

‘And since the difficulty should increase…Then realistically, they probably only reached the 5th floor or so by now.’

Finishing his calculations, Seo Jun-Ho looked back at Shim Deok-Gu. “So what floor are we on right now?”

“…..”

Shim Deok-Gu opened and closed his mouth a few times before squeezing his eyes shut.

Feeling nervous, Seo Jun-Ho urged him to answer. “Hey…why won’t you say anything?”

“…..”

There was a long silence.

Shim Deok-Gu let out a long sigh and opened his eyes. “In the past 25 years, all we’ve cleared is the 2nd floor.”

“…..”

Upon hearing that, Seo Jun-Ho’s mind went blank. He collapsed and lay on his fluffy bed and stared at the ceiling. Finally, he spoke again. “Shit.”

“I don’t have anything to say.”

“It’s been 25 years, 25. How could you only clear the 2nd floor?”

“I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses, but there’s a reason for this.”

“Hoo, alright.” Having sat up, Seo Jun-Ho stared expectantly. “Well, say it. If anything, I’m curious about what kind of stupid reason it is.”

“The Frost Queen’s nucleus.” As soon as the words left his mouth, Seo Jun-Ho started to tremble. Without noticing it, Shim Deok-Gu continued. “The 3rd floor resembles a volcanic region. Most players can’t even withstand the environment. We decided that it’s impossible to launch an attack and we searched for any possible means to withstand the heat.”

“And?”

“There’s an altar where the lava originates. If we freeze it with the Frost Queen’s nucleus, the environment will change.”

“D-did you find it?”

“Hoo…” Shim Deok-Gu hung his head and covered his face with his hands. “I’m ashamed. We searched the Nest countless times, but we couldn’t find it.”

They wouldn’t be able to find it. Seo Jun-Ho had absorbed it after all.

“I, uh…” Seo Jun-Ho rolled his neck and stretched his arms. “There’s nothing else you could have done. I guess it was just bad luck.”

“You…you understand? Even after we wasted all your efforts?” Shim Deok-Gu looked touched.

‘I didn’t notice when we were younger, but…was he always this mature?’

At the same time, the two friends felt embarrassed for judging the other too quickly.

The Seo Jun-Ho he knew would have thrown a fit…but he currently had a pure look in his eyes that didn’t help in hiding his guilt.

“Everyone makes mistakes. We have to understand each other.”

“I’m glad you feel that way.”

“So if I also make a mistake, you also have to be understanding, right?”

“Of course.” Shim Deok-Gu looked at Seo Jun-Ho warmly.

Quietly avoiding his eyes, Seo Jun-Ho pondered to himself.

‘Ah…How can I tell him without being scolded a lot?’

1. This is a sign of respect/hierarchy. ?

2. In Korea, people are often given big baskets of fruits as get-well gifts ?

Return of the Frozen Player Chapter 1Return of the Frozen Player Chapter 3
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