Return of the Frozen Player

Volume 1 Chapter 2

Reaper Scans

 

Return of the Frozen Player 

[Translator - Castor ] 

[Proofreader  - Yukitokat ]

The Return of the Frozen Player 002

 

25 years later (1)

 

[The legend awakes.]

 

[A modern-day Captain America? Specter wakes up 25 years later after defeating the Frost Queen and saving the world.]

 

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

 

[Day of Heroes fundraising breaks record numbers.]

 

…..

 

Tap.

 

Seo Jun-ho folded away the newspapers he was reading on his hospital bed.

 

“So… It’s been 25 years.” He’d blinked once and 25 years passed, just like that. The world hadn’t changed much, so he wasn’t exactly shocked. He’d first 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. His bones poked through. The body he’d trained vigorously for 5 years was gone, just like that.

 

“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 their two hands clasped together*. (T/N a sign of respect/hierarchy)

 

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 is how he’d always been treated.

 

“Is the President someone I know?” If he didn’t, 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 had been used to get rid of the fine dust pollution. More than that, there wasn’t a single gate in Seoul.

 

“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’d become 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 took off his mask. “Hup!”

 

The doctors covered their mouths, swallowing screams. 

 

Besides his Korean nationality, Specter was a mystical figure whose name, age, and face were unknown. But to 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, and only 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 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 to him in private.”

 

“Yes, President.” 

 

After the doctors trickled 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 was exactly the same. He was at the age when his skin started to wrinkle and his stomach started to stick out, but he still looked exactly as he did when he was younger.

 

On the other hand, Jun-ho’s healthy body had deteriorated to be sickeningly skinny. The lingering doubt faded, and the President bit his lower lip.

 

“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 at his friend who’d 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…!” He’d gotten choked up in the moment, and Shim Deok-gu let out a sigh. “Hoo, that’s right… The Seo Jun-ho I knew was always like this. What kind of 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.” Those two really did like to speak of such trivial things. Without a moment to breathe, they launched into another topic. Shim Deok-gu would start talking, and Seo Jun-ho would peel clementines from the basket* and chime in. A few hours passed like that. (T/N In Korea, people are often given big baskets of fruit as get-well gifts)

 

Shim Deok-gu smiled fondly. “You rascal, you’re 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’d become. But they were still talking as freely as before. 

 

“You’re the same too. Though your stomach sticks out a bit now.”

 

“...You try getting old.”

 

Seo Jun-ho spoke to a bashful-looking Shim Deok-gu. “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 dimensional 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?”

 

“Fuck, what kind of shit is this?!”

 

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

 

People fell into a panic. There was nothing else they could do. They’d thought 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. 

 

For now, they would have to 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’s 10 floors in total.” Shim Deok-gu cut him off.  “That’s what you wanted to know, right? The dimensional elevator has buttons for floors 1 to 10.”

 

“So if there are only 10 floors…” Seo Jun-ho relaxed a bit. He and his teammates had taken 5 years to clear the first floor and defeat the Frost Queen. And if it’s 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, the difference in skill between my team and the other players was huge. There had been an immeasurable difference between them. That was why only five people went to Antarctica. Anyone else would only be a burden. And since the difficulty would have increased… Realistically, they’ve probably only reached the 5th floor or so. 

 

Finishing his calculations, Seo Jun-ho looked back at Shim Deok-gu. “So what floor are we on?”

 

“.....”

 

Shim Deok-gu opened and closed his mouth a few times before squeezing his eyes shut. Feeling nervous, Seo Jun-ho pressed him on.

 

“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. All he did was lay on his fluffy bed and stare 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 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. Not noticing, 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 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.”

 

Of course they hadn’t. Because it had been absorbed by Seo Jun-ho. 

 

“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 hide 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 have to be understanding, alright?”

 

“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 too much?

Comments