Another Penalty

Jacob was standing beside his bed near midnight. He wore durable clothes and carried his bronze sword. The clock struck 12 and the surrounding reality started to disappear. His roof vanished and gave way to an open sky. The rest of his room fragmented into pieces and seemed to be lost in the void.

[You’ve failed to complete the Daily Quest. You’ll be transferred to the ‘Penalty Zone’ for a set period of time.]

He looked down. Endless golden desert appeared in his gray eyes.

“Oh, so this is where I fall.”

True to his words, he began falling. But this time, he was calm. It was like the second time a person became a prisoner. There was nothing unexpected or unknown about the prison.

“So it looks like the penalty is the same this time. I can’t wait to meet those younglings.”

He even had the time to unsheathe his sword and admire it for a moment. Just as he was about to reach the ground, a mysterious force held him in place and got rid of all the momentum. He calmly stepped on the sand and got into a battle pose.

[Penalty Zone is now Active]

Goal: Survive for 5 hours

Remaining time: 5 hours

The familiar notice greeted his eyes. He instantly noticed the difference.

“1 hour more? So if I keep getting penalties, the time spent here will continue to increase?”

Before he could think further, the ground underneath his feet began sinking. He calmly ran away and saw the same ugly face pop out. This time, he was sure things were different.

[Poison Fanged Desert Scorpion]

Its name no longer held ‘youngling’ and it was 3 storey tall.

“So even the monsters get stronger each time.”

Jacob began running while looking for opportunities.

“But I’m no longer the same as before.”

Just as the scorpion lunged at him, he sidestepped and swung his sword back as hard as he could. His sword let out a metallic clang as it struck against the scorpion’s arm and he continued running away.

“So brute force is not the answer.”

Jacob looked back for another opportunity, then noticed a change in the scorpion’s name.

[Poison Fanged Desert Scorpion Lv. 2]

He quickly dodged an attack while thinking.

“Why is its level shown now? Is it because I am engaged with it in combat? And it’s one level tougher this time. Is it just this scorpion or are all of them like this?”

But he didn’t want to wait to find out. Based on his experience, he only had a few minutes before the second and third one came after him. So he began targeting its joints.

Clang!

Clang!

Clang!

With each strike the scorpion made, he targeted its left arm. Each hit made a decent cut while the rebound force pushed him away. Jacob noticed the scorpion move its body to attack with its right arm. He didn’t want that to happen and moved towards its left side and even stopped.

How could it let go of such an opportunity? It immediately struck him with its left arm and Jacob also ran towards it with focused eyes.

Clang!

Bang!

Sand rose as its left arm fell down and it let out a shriek. The sound was so terrible that Jacob let go of his sword and closed his ears. The scorpion chased after him and he looked back at his fallen sword.

“Sh*t!”

He saw another area of sand disappearing beside him and his heart felt uneasy.

“Please don’t!”

Another ugly scorpion head popped out and began chasing him.

[Poison Fanged Desert Scorpion Lv. 2]

He confirmed one of his earlier hypothesis but didn’t feel happy at all. Jacob knew he was in deep trouble and there was only one way to get out of it. He looked at the scorpion with a missing limb.

“I need to get rid of it first!”

He began adjusting his position and ran in a big circle. After a few minutes, he reached the place where the scorpion’s severed arm had fallen and grabbed his sword. Before the first scorpion jumped at him, he went in from its left and struck its head. His sword went inside its skull and he went underneath it to avoid the attack of the other scorpion.

“Hah, hah, hah.”

He heaved a sigh and looked up to see its giant body falling at him. But his face didn’t look worried at the thought of a giant monster crushing him to death. Just as its abdomen was about to touch him, it vanished. Light momentarily flashed behind him.

Jacob looked back at where his sword had once again fallen. He saw a glass bottle beside it and a dagger. But the other scorpion was also there. It was unfazed at the death of its relative and was running towards him from the same direction. He smiled helplessly and once again ran in a big circle to get his loot.

A few minutes later, he looked at its description.

[Item: Poison Potion Lv. 2]

Effect: Paralyze enemy

Limit: Lv. 2 and lower.

A common potion to paralyze weak opponents. Can be applied to weapons.

[Item: Poisonous Dagger Lv. 2]

Strength: +5

Agility: +5

Effect: Poison Lv. 2 damage

Durability: 200/200

A decent dagger that enhances strength and agility. It is useful to take down big and slow enemies.

“Ha ha ha ha!”

Jacob had a big grin on his face as he quickly pocketed his new dagger and potion. He ran with his full strength and gained a few seconds of spare time as the scorpion tried to chase him. It was big, heavy and had many legs, so the sand significantly slowed its speed.

“These creatures are meant to ambush with their tails. Why are they running after me?” Jacob didn’t know and he didn’t care. But he had a feeling that this scorpion species was not the common scorpion he was familiar with.

He quickly took out the potion and smeared it on his bronze sword. He was careful to not drip it on his hand. As the sword was fully coated with the last drops of the potion, it shone for an instant. Its color had a tint of green.

Jacob had a feeling something had changed. He opened its description.

[Item: Bronze Sword Lv. 1]

Strength: +10

Durability: 57/100

Effect: Poison Lv. 1 damage

A common sword that enhances strength with slight poison damage. It is suitable for a newly awakened hunter.

Roar!

Jacob’s heart throbbed as he jumped forward and looked back. The scorpion’s arm was lodged in the sand just a meter away from him. He cursed his own stupidity and began running.

He repeated the same attacks and targeted the scorpion’s limbs. This time, the scorpion came to a stop after two hits. Jacob stopped running. He looked back and noticed its shaking eyes and twitching mandibles. He smirked.

A swipe of his sword ended its miserable life, and he gained another poison potion, but no dagger dropped.

“I was lucky the last time. But… I don’t really use daggers.”

The sand underneath him began sinking, and Jacob resumed his routine. His confident slashes ended the beast in 3 strikes. As each scorpion fell, a new scorpion rose.

“Looks like this penalty zone doesn’t want to give me a chance to rest,” Jacob said, but felt unworried. It was true his sword’s durability had plummeted. But it was because he was using it to cushion the attacks of the first two scorpions for a long time. Now with the poison effect, it had become much easier to take down these monsters.

***

“Hah.”

Jacob dropped in his bed. He ignored the sand stuck to his body and simply grinned like a fool. He had gained so much in a night that he didn’t even want to believe it. His eyes didn’t want to open, and he wanted to rest. But he knew this was the day when he planned to go to Four Sides of Death with his team.

“Even if you don’t believe in me, I still have to go. At least I believe in me. I can’t let myself down!” Jacob’s eyes were determined while thinking of his dad. “When you see my results, you will have no choice to agree with me!”

He looked at his phone to check if he had a chance to take a nap. But as he opened his phone’s screen and looked at the time, his confident gaze froze.

12:01 am

“What!?” Jacob jerked up. He ignored the sand being tossed from his clothes into his room and looked at his phone. He wanted to make sure his eyes were not playing tricks on him. But no matter how hard he tried, the truth seemed to be the same.

12:02 am

“Time freeze!” Jacob’s mind churned as he thought of the implications of this. He wondered about the power of the being who created something so miraculous like his system. Even the strongest hunters could not manipulate time at the scale of his penalty zone.

Jacob opened his Quest Rewards notification and saw his reward.

[Rewards for completing the Penalty Quest are now available.]

[Would you like to accept the rewards?] (Y/N)

‘I accept!’

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