Soulmancer – Chapter 30: The Preparation I

Is there a real reason beyond what was stated, or perhaps this was within the admin’s expectations from the start? The lower the number of walkers from each difficulty per raid, the higher the possibility of an earlier development date.

For the next few minutes, Izel’s mind remained preoccupied with the recent announcement. ‘Limiting information that Beelzebub can relay to the walkers for query points was also…’ A series of questions began to accumulate. It seemed that the admin wasn’t just a workaholic and a powerful entity, but also a thinker. These were mere speculations, though, and certainty eluded him.

Shaking his head, Izel took a sip of water from a waterskin he retrieved from a partially burnt, pocket-sized bag strapped to his wrist. He realized he was overthinking; there was nothing he could do but follow the mysterious admin’s reasoning.


Letting out a deep breath and tossing the empty waterskin, a rupture only he sensed swallowed it up instantly. ‘So, more Walkers died…’ Izel briefly thought. He knew that casualties were inevitable in raids like the B-rank, but he couldn’t fathom the reality of more actually dying. With a bleak expression, the blind teen began to feel uneasy about the fact that just a few days ago, he found himself in the middle of a beige desert, running in terror and agony from a horde of zombies wielding poisoned traditional and mechanical weapons.

However, having gotten a little hang of it, he realized he had grown stronger quickly after acquiring [Soul Assimilation]. Feeling a slight nostalgia, he called out the new feature of the Fortress system.

“Raid Analysis.”

Upon the command, the air around him rumbled slightly, and a monotonous feminine voice tickled his mind, calling out the analysis.

Overall Raid Analysis.

1st, God of War. (89%)

2nd, Heavenly Saint (87%)

3rd, Shadowless Night (82%)

4th, ???? (78%)

5th, Unknown (73%)

6th, Hayweather Ash (71.5%)

7th, Tyrant King (69%)

8th, The Bladeless sword (64%)

9th, Great Trinity (62%)

10th, Twilight (60.5%)

11th, The Righteous Tanker (60%)

“Fairly intuitive, but weird names!” Blankly, Izel gulped as more details about the name at the top of the board were summoned. The new mechanical voice narrated the details, its tone fairly intuitive but still monotonous.

1st, God of War (89%)

Actual name – ????

Difficulty – Extreme difficulty.

Recent Raid – B-Rank Raid.

Overall Raid Clear Time (23: 34: 15)

Average Per Raid Clear (00: 30: 28)

Overall Raid Clear Process (80%)

Recent Raid Clear Time (19: 56: 04)

Recent Raid Clear Process (84%)

Recent Raid Clear Result (86%)

Overall Raid Clear Analysis (89%)

‘What? Is this record humanly possible?’ Stunned, Izel was speechless. Just how could Walker’s analysis be this highly efficient? Even the recently lengthy raid was done in 19 minutes, whereas Izel barely made it by a few seconds. That aside, this Walker was so mysterious that he had never heard of him or her from the Forum before. Could he or she be an Extremely Experienced Walker, like a ‘High Hunter’? Or perhaps just an ‘Observer’ like him, but much stronger than he had imagined. Could he or she actually be active when Izel wasn’t?

Whichever the case, this was undoubtedly a top-notch overall raid analysis. Replaying Walker’s analysis record narration in his mind, Izel wondered what his or her real name was. He also guessed the actual power of experienced Hunters, especially High-Hunters, High-Rankers, and Ascenders—the power to stand on top of the analysis table with astounding recent raid clear results. With that thought, his mind wavered back to the encounter with the Experienced Dealer with special gear that he killed. But what if it was this Walker with such a strong record, he contemplated how the battle would go.

‘Hmm.’ An existence ranked below High-Hunters but above regular Hunters was beyond Izel’s comprehension. Amid his contemplation, he considered that this mysterious Walker might exceed his initial judgment, but he struggled to assess the being’s current level. ‘Hmm,’ After a few seconds of reflection, he opted to abandon the train of thought, realizing that dwelling on it alone would lead nowhere. Nevertheless, the blind man was certain of one thing…

“And here I was, thinking that I had considered all the factors and was equal to an experienced Hunter…”

With a wide grin, he subconsciously released mana tendrils, his expression a mix of excitement and nervousness. “I guess the world isn’t revolving around the weak after all.” He remarked.

Continuing with a monotonous voice, listing the content on the Analysis board, something caught his attention.

4th, ???? (78%)

Originally, any Walker could only input an alias or real name once in the Forum after successfully completing the D-rank Raid. So, it was unexpected to encounter a name that could be changed to a symbol. The recent update includes the ability to change aliases. Izel, who had halted the voice narration, pushed it aside in his mind and instantly connected to the Fortress with the issued command, causing the usual ripple effect. Soon after, a shopping catalog unfolded in his mind.

However, as the announcement noted, he uttered, “New features,” and immediately, a feminine voice flipped through newly implemented features in each category. Before long, a particular one captured his attention, and his mind wavered, “Stop! Select!”

With haptic feedback, the new feature stung his mind.

Do You want to change your Name/Alias?


“Yes,” he responded concurrently to the voice narration. With a fading buzzing feedback, another message patted his mind.

Please register your preferred alias.

As the beeping sound of the recorder to compose his preferred alias echoed in his mind, Izel pondered changing his alias during the crucial B-rank Raid. Leaked information could be detrimental, and exposing his real name might jeopardize his advantage. “Any walkers can try to track me down,” he thought aloud, realizing the potential annoyance. After brief contemplation, he uttered the preferred words. No, rather, his last name, considering it a strategic move in the high-stakes scenario.

Your Alias is now ‘Blind’.

With a beep, the recorder composed the word. Izel didn’t invest much thought into it; he found satisfaction in those last names bestowed by his parents before they left. With this, no Walker could deduce his true identity, making it perfect for laying low in the Fortress or on Eliluam, where dangers lurked in the shadows ready to consume him.

“Phew,” he sighed, shifting his focus back to the analysis. As the voice flipped through each Walker on the list, he wondered if he would eventually hear his ‘own’ name or discover his party over there. Doubt lingered about reaching the next level akin to Jenna or Daniel. It wasn’t underestimating himself, but as an Experienced Walker, he weighed them with more worth.

Amidst his focused concentration, the monotonous voice meticulously traversed the analysis, ensuring not to overlook any details. A particular emphasis was placed on watching out for Jenna’s alias, ‘Diana Ross.’ However, Izel shook his head; he was in the dark about the young demon’s alias. In the sea of ‘exclamations’ aliases, how could he possibly identify him? Yet, one thing was clear about Daniel – a carefree young demon with a heroic streak who might take pride in boasting about his origins. Regrettably, neither ‘Diana Ross’ nor any hint of Daniel’s endeavors were unearthed. Could they have both adopted the elusive ‘????’ alias to evade tracking or was there another motive behind their anonymity? Regardless, the search yielded nothing. The only alias Izel managed to discover was his own.

202th, Blind (32%)

Actual name – ????

Difficulty – Extreme difficulty.

Recent Raid – B-Rank Raid.

Overall Raid Clear Time (29: 02: 30)

Average Per Raid Clear (3: 75: 28)

Overall Raid Clear Process (47%)

Recent Raid Clear Time (23: 59: 53)

Recent Raid Clear Process (33%)

Recent Raid Clear Result (39%)

Overall Raid Clear Analysis (32%)

“This… unexpectedly high!” Izel’s expression brightened a little as he reviewed his ‘Overall Raid Analysis.’ His expectations had been exceeded, and the realization that he had performed better than initially thought brought a sense of satisfaction. Typically, individuals despondent about low raid clear times masked their disappointment. However, for Izel, survival was paramount; as long as he emerged alive and breathing, he couldn’t care less about the specifics. ‘Though, with time, I’ll climb the list,’ he mused, hypothesizing that his current growth per raid would eventually allow him to overtake all the Walkers on the leaderboard.

Moving forward, Izel scrutinized the recent clear times of aliases marked with question marks. He began piecing together a tentative understanding of the positions held by Jenna Rivel Callen and Daniel Lan Northwestern. While acknowledging the potential for error in his assumptions, the close clear times among multiple ‘question mark’ aliases lent credence to his deductions.

In other words, they ranked mostly between the 167th and 187th positions when the blind man narrowed his brief inspection, and with that doubtful conclusion, he sighed. However, something bothered him. No matter what he initially thought about them, both could be true. Daniel wasn’t a rational thinker; rather, he didn’t really care who tracked him…


It was then that his attention shifted to the [Difficulty] at the beginning of each ‘Walker details’. Izel clicked his tongue. “Damn, Daniel wasn’t from the [Extreme] Difficulty.” He admitted his forgetfulness. Previously, he forgot about being given rewards in a raid ago. Now he forgot that Daniel wasn’t part of the [Extreme] difficulty in the first place, but because he was a superior being, he was able to survive like one. Could it be because of what happened to him in the past raid? Or was he just stressed? Or maybe due to his trauma? Whatever the case, he needs to pay close attention to things better and hurry to his rehabilitation center located in the entertainment section of the first district before this gets out of hand.

“So, with Daniel out of the picture, Jenna had to be between 167th to 187th,” Izel mused aloud, finally reaching a firm conclusion in his inspection. As he thought about his newly acquired friends, he let out a deep breath, wondering how both of them were doing. He hoped to see them soon, but then he shook his head, deciding, ‘I would rather send them a message.’ He mused, not immediately hoping to meet them given his current lack of experience to move alongside them.


His train of thought was soon interrupted by the slight rumble of the air around him. His [Sound Reading] caught an unfamiliar notification, startling him a bit.

All Walkers automatically registered for ‘Sub-Raids’ and also selected any of the major sub-raids, will…

[Bronze], [Silver], [Gold], and [Diamond]

… be designated as ‘Explorers’. And receive a chance to take part in upcoming ‘SABER’ development; the path to acquiring ‘Effulgence’.

“Effulgence?” Izel repeated, pondering the true meaning behind the term. The announcement hinted at upcoming developments, introducing ‘SABER’ and a new title—’Explorers,’ unlike the usual ‘Walkers.’ He surmised that as Fortress evolved, so did its unconventional wording. “Is Effulgence going to be some sort of skill?” he mused aloud, contemplating whether it would be set apart… However, no matter how he analyzed it, the words seemed to suggest a skill.

‘Hm, I’ll figure it out later,’ he decided inwardly, recognizing the futility of dwelling on it. Simultaneously, he exclaimed, “Trading Center.”

Izel’s words manifested a rupture in the fabric of reality. In his mind, the trading center’s catalog unfurled, and the inner monotonous voice narrated through the categories. Moments later, he shook his head in disdain, ‘Oh, new items with double demerits actually exist. Blegh!’

Despite the high traffic caused by multiple Walkers perusing the newly updated catalog, the Trading Center still brimmed with items and skills. After perusing most of the newly added items, he formed a clear idea of his desired purchases.

“Well, runic stone…”

Runic stone. Izel wrestled with the decision of whether to make the purchase or continue with the raid. But he knew he wouldn’t last long if the relentless cycle kept on, already taking a toll on his accumulated trauma and worsening his unstable mind. After an hour of contemplation, he opted for a change, acknowledging that enduring isolation with the same routine for other consecutive days might push him to the brink of insanity. He questioned how he could persist in risking life and death in each raid, wondering if perhaps he was already insane without realizing it. Returning temporarily to Eliluam emerged as a choice to refresh his mind and soul, providing an opportunity to address lingering problems.

A haptic feedback interrupted his thoughts.


As the revving haptic feedback gradually faded, a flood of details about the item and its price rushed into his consciousness. His body flinched in response to the voice narrating the cost.


[Runic Stone (?)

Category: Two-time use.

Price: 100 Verdes.

Description: A black, well-carved pebble with an ‘exit’ and ‘arrow’ inscription carved on its surface. With these items, Walkers are temporarily pierced and escape the Fortress’ great defense arrays.

Demerit 1: Time limit of Seven days.

Demerit 2: Any attempt to destroy or throw away the item to revoke the ‘oath of return’ will lead to the instant death of the Holder.]

‘Isn’t this too expensive?’ Izel found himself dumbfounded and pale at the hefty price of the non-graded pebble. The cost seemed exorbitant, leaving him making him feel bamboozled, especially considering the effects were only temporary, not permanent. ‘Plus, the double demerits are disgustingly killers,’ he briefly thought, as both penalties instantly pierced his soul, making stars revolve around his head. Pale and flabbergasted, he couldn’t help but question just who created this shit. Goddammit.


After a moment, he gathered his aghast mind, struggling to accept the reality of spending 100 Verdes. Such a sum could purchase various items, and skills, and sustain his appetite through two raids. Despite recognizing the lack of alternatives and the potential to earn more in the forthcoming raids, disbelief lingered. The notion of spending such hard-earned currency merely for a temporary return, not a permanent one, remained incredulous. Calming his mind, he reluctantly let out the next somewhat concerning demerit…

“Time limit of Seven days.” The fairly brown-skinned teen shrugged his shoulders, “I guess, I will have to finish my business before then.” Without much to think about, he swallowed dry spit and assured himself not to try to destroy the runic stone no matter what.

[You have purchased Runic Stone (?)]

[100 Verdes have been deducted.]

[Remaining Verdes: 60]

In his palm, a hard, black stone materialized. Gripping it tightly between his fingers, Izel speculated on how much time had passed in the outside world, realizing that his long trip away from home was shorter than expected.

The bizarre frequencies and ripples emitted from the black pebble between his fingers. Its somewhat rough texture aligned with the item’s description. As he explored the purple inscription drawn within its surface, the details tickled his mind.


[Runic Stone (?)

Category: Two-time use.

Price: 100 Verdes.

Description: A black, well-carved pebble with an ‘exit’ and ‘arrow’ inscription carved on its surface. With these items, Walkers are temporarily pierced and escape the Fortress’ great Defence arrays.

Effect: Return the User to their original location when mana is embedded into it.

Demerit 1: Time limit of Seven days.

Demerit 2: Any attempt to destroy or throw away the item to revoke the ‘oath of return’ will lead to the instant death of the Holder.]

Seven days. The blind man realized that perspective could alter the perception of time, making it either short or long. However, the crucial aspect was maximizing his efficiency before the inevitable moment. “So, it doesn’t matter…” Indeed, it didn’t matter because returning meant he could continue to thrive. Who wouldn’t revisit a place, despite its overwhelming rules and regulations that governed everything from attire to diet, coupled with perilous demerits capable of ending one’s life? Despite these challenges, it was a place where one could soar to new heights, forging the path to ambitions and goals.

“Anyways, I ‘really’ need a proper shower,” Izel pondered aloud, having not taken one since that time he rinsed himself with many waterskins after the F-rank Dungeon raid. Speaking of which, the clothes he first wore when he awoke in the tutorial were now tattered and disgustingly stinking.


When he initially obtained his [Flame-Resistance] cloak, Izel had hidden the tattered and bloodied white shirt inside his inventory. Since it was in a separate pocket-dimensional space, it wasn’t a hassle to move during each raid. In truth, it served no purpose; he should have disposed of it in the F-rank waiting room. Alas, he didn’t.

“… At least, it brings back memories,” he thought aloud. Although he could pass for a homeless blind teen in this state, Izel, at the time, thought he might as well keep it as a reminder if he survived this cruel world – a reminder of the struggles he once faced. Could he be going insane? Or was he already insane? Whichever the case, that was his decision.

With that aside, Izel’s head flinched slightly, recognizing the cause – his mind wasn’t stable yet. “I need my therapist,” he muttered, feeling the urge to escape this isolated world, breathe fresh air, meet people, and sense the once-familiar air in his suffocating lungs. He also needed to take revenge and handle a couple of things, like money. He couldn’t be broke after all he had struggled through. To achieve his goals, he had to reclaim his ‘Hunter ID,’ start with ‘dirty jobs,’ establish himself in ‘Eliluam Continental ranks,’ and then undertake labyrinths or challenge other Hunters to climb the ‘Continental ranks.’ These were his preparations.

With a deep breath, “I need to take care of these fast to walk the bloody path,” he acknowledged the blood-soaked journey toward his goals. Returning was a necessity, especially if he had to spend a disgusting amount of Verdes. Despite stating this confidently, he couldn’t help but shiver as his fingers caressed the black-runic stone in his palm.

Yet, he refrained from using the item immediately, needing to check his status and rewards first. How much had he grown in this raid? His achievement of a [Mana] stat reward of 20 echoed in his mind.

A slight sneer curled up his lips; now, he wouldn’t have to worry about insufficient mana for a while. Summoning his status window, the feminine voice began narration.


[Name: Izel Ethalt Blind.

Age: 19 years old.

Strength: 52 Stamina: 53

Agility: 60 Mana: 36 + 20 + 1

Constitution: 38

Inferno: 24

Active skills

Gear: Flawlation (F)

Basic Swordsmanship (E)

*Soul Assimilation (E)

Hell Flame (D)

Hemostasis (E+)

Anesthesia (D)

Passive Skills

Sound Reading (Innate)

Fortress Currency

Verdes: 60]

His stats quantified exactly how much stronger he had become in a previous raid: ‘Inferno even grew by 4,’ he briefly thought. Perhaps it wasn’t that hard to grow, but the increase remained marginal. Nonetheless, Izel felt satisfied with the stat boost. Reflecting on the inefficiency of his stats’ growth per essence, he realized that the sheer quantity of monsters, especially those of normal C rank and C+ with adaptability, allowed him to augment his stats. Despite this, the only thing that needed improvement to fuel ‘Hell flame,’ one of the skills acquired from the C-rank Raid, was the ‘Inferno’ stat. Although it had increased relatively quickly due to the base number, it was still too low compared to even his [Constitution] to be useful in fully manifesting and manipulating a stable ‘Hell flame.’ Growing it further was essential for his progress in future endeavors.

With a satisfied sigh, Izel moved on to the next challenge. “Capacitance,” he let out.

[Capacitance: 1/10.]

With unwavering principles and an absence of hypocrisy, Izel found himself with no justification to devour the Dealer, yet no reason to abstain from consuming the ‘Titan Orc Lord.’ He carried no burden that diluted his humanity or shattered his traumatized mind. Despite acknowledging that his ability to compete with experienced ex-hunters stemmed from the ‘Soul Assimilation’ skill, he refused to let it debilitate him. Currently, he admitted to being essentially closer to a D-rank Hunter without it, but he questioned who in all of Eliluam cared about a D-rank Blind Hunter. His impressive stats, gained solely through the ‘Soul Assimilation’ skill during the F-rank Raid, were a testament to its influence. Though his newly established principles, not his morals, promised to impede his growth, he believed they would pave the way for more stable and steady growth. He committed to devouring only monsters’ transmuted souls without hesitation, steering clear of being perturbed by the blood of those he killed to prevent the accumulation of trauma from the horror he had experienced.

Above all, contemplating the Titan Orc Lord’s essence, he foresaw the potential for it to augment his stats more than usual, given its substantial soul compared to other Titan Orcs. In his mind, it was a worthwhile endeavor.

Without hesitation, he activated the ‘Bonus effect (2) of the ‘Soul Assimilation’.

And soon, the highly anticipated message stung his mind after a couple of seconds.

[Bonus Effect (2): Augmentation has been activated.]

[Would you like to permanently augment your stats using the essence reserves?]

Inwardly, Izel responded, Yes.

[Augmentation has been acknowledged. Permanently augmenting stats using the essence reserves…]

[Inferno augmented by 5.]

[Constitution augmented by 5.]

[Capacitance: 0/10.]

Far more effective than devouring normal Titan Orcs. Indeed, it’s more efficient to augment his ‘Inferno’ randomly by 5. Such a profitable jackpot alongside his [Constitution] made his body feel lighter. He curled his tongue at this realization.



[Name: Izel Ethalt Blind.

Age: 19 years old.

Strength: 53 Stamina: 54

Agility: 61 Mana: 57

Constitution: 46

Inferno: 30

Active skills

Gear: Flawlation (F)

Basic Swordsmanship (E)

*Soul Assimilation (E)

Hell Flame (D)

Hemostasis (E+)

Anesthesia (D)

Passive Skills

Sound Reading (Innate)

Fortress Currency

Verdes: 60]

Izel couldn’t help but feel a bit more satisfied with the new stats increase. His base [agility] finally surpassed 55, and it might further increase with [Cloud boots]. Additionally, all his stats would temporarily receive a boost of 10 when that effect comes into play. However, he couldn’t shake the realization that, no matter how his stats grew, his struggle at the beginning of each raid would inevitably intensify in the Fortress of Dungeons.

‘Plus, now the demerits on new items in the Forum are doubled.’ Izel briefly thought. A disgustingly bamboozled equivalent exchange that could end a Walker’s life, regardless of experience, if one lets his or her guard down. He felt a shiver at the newly implemented, deadly conditions. However, only those who throw themselves into dangerous battles can benefit from such a problem and glimpse the limited powers of these items.

Two distinct types of ex-hunters, just before the High-Hunters, consist of those who naturally gained experience through hardship and struggle, and battle-crazed individuals who lived for bloody carnage, willing to die for it. The blind teen, though he might be mistaken, deduced that ‘Kinsey,’ the assassin, and ‘Tessa,’ the mage, were likely part of the latter group of hunters. This conclusion was drawn from his observations during their intense battle just before he blacked out. It’s a speculative guess, but it aligns with what he perceived from their combat.

Yet, he couldn’t help but shiver, pondering the formidable strength of the deceased Walkers on Eliluam. Surely, they must have been terrifyingly powerful, engaging in intense battles with experienced Walkers like the young demon and the mysterious mage. The details of the rest of the battle eluded him, but the outcome suggested their extraordinary strength. Izel, a novice, had to give his all to survive as if the formidable Walkers were giving him a ‘run for his money.’ Despite not knowing the battle’s conclusion, he dismissed overthinking as unworthy. In the end, luck favored him, and amidst the chaos, he emerged alive, gaining valuable experience.

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