Chapter 11:



The sound of running water. A cool breeze brushed against his cheeks causing him to tremble. Reed's eyes slowly fluttered open, and he found himself lying on the hard, damp floor of a small, dark cave.

The air was thick with the smell of damp earth and moss, and the only light came from a few faintly glowing mushrooms that grew sporadically along the walls. The cave was small and cramped, with low ceilings that made it difficult to stand up straight.

As Reed sat up, he could feel the weight of his injuries pressing down on him, and he winced in pain.

“Ow, This is…. for sure I….”

Holding his unsteady head with one hand, he studied the vicinity whilst he recalled his memories.

“Yeah… I…”

His eyes widen as he touched his chest in a panic.


His head which had a fog clouding his mind finally started to turn its gears again. He must have survived the explosion by sheer luck. In the middle of the explosion he used his remaining heals on himself which must have been the reason his body didn’t completely disintegrate. It was an unbelievable miracle. Personally, Reed did not know how such a miracle took place.

‘Only my chest was completely healed, but my other injuries….’

He tried to move his legs. A sharp pain filled his body.


He lets out a pained groan.

The eerie silence of the cave was only broken by the occasional sound of dripping water or the faint rustling of tiny creatures scurrying along the walls.

Despite the eerie atmosphere of the cave, Reed couldn't shake the feeling that he wasn't alone. There was a sense of danger lurking in the shadows, and he knew that he needed to be on his guard. The darkness was oppressive, and he could barely see more than a few feet in front of him. But he knew that he needed to find a way out of this place, and fast.

He lay there looking at the glowing mushrooms that grew sporadically along the walls, he could feel calm. Gradually anxiety started to fill his heart. Reed really wanted to cry, tears even started to accumulate in his eyes, but he bore with it because if he cried now, he would fall apart. Besides he made a promise to those who held dear to his heart

‘There’s no point in sitting around here, I have to find a way back. They are waiting for me.’

His unconscious mother and sister flashed across his mind. He wiped away the tears that had collected and slapped his own cheeks. Reed’s face developed into a determined one after he muttered encouragements to himself, all while staring at the glowing mushrooms

With a deep breath, Reed pushed himself to his feet, wincing as his wounds protested. The cave was small, but he could see that there were several passages branching off in different directions.


He hesitated for a moment, then started to cautiously make his way towards one of the passages. The passage that Reed continued on was a narrow path. Reed pressed his back against the rough, jagged wall of the narrow cave-like passage. The rock felt cold against his skin, sending shivers down his spine. The darkness around him was almost suffocating, but his eyes gradually adjusted to the dim light, revealing the rough, uneven walls of the cave.

The passage was narrow, with barely enough space for Reed to move around. The walls were uneven and rough, with jutting rocks and boulders protruding from them at random intervals. The ground beneath his feet was uneven and treacherous, with loose gravel and jagged rocks making every step a potential hazard.

As he slowly made his way through the dark passage, Reed searched for suitable hiding spots. He needed a place to rest and gather his strength before venturing further into the unknown depths of the cave. The walls were pockmarked with small crevices and fissures, but none seemed large enough to provide adequate cover.

Reed crept along the narrow, rocky passage, keeping his eyes peeled for any sign of danger. He had been walking for hours, and his legs were starting to ache, but he dared not stop. The tunnel was so narrow that he had to crouch to avoid hitting his head on the low ceiling, and the air was thick and damp.

As he rounded a sharp bend in the passage, Reed caught a glimpse of movement up ahead. His heart skipped a beat, and he froze in his tracks, praying that he hadn't been seen. After a moment, he peered cautiously around the corner, and his worst fears were confirmed.

A group of goblin-like creatures was ambling down the passage towards him, chattering and snarling to one another in their guttural language. Reed's heart pounded in his chest as he scanned the area for a place to hide. Fortunately, he spotted a small crevice in the wall just a few feet away from him.

Reed darted towards the crevice and squeezed himself inside, pressing his back against the cold, damp stone. His heart was pounding so loudly that he was sure the creatures would hear it.

The goblin-like creatures approached, sniffing the air and scanning their surroundings. Reed held his breath, hoping beyond hope that they wouldn't find him. His heart was racing, and he could feel sweat starting to bead on his forehead.

After what felt like an eternity, the creatures passed by without incident, chattering and grunting to one another as they disappeared around the next bend. Reed let out a sigh of relief and waited a few more minutes before venturing out of his hiding spot.

Just as he thought that the coast was clear, one of the goblins suddenly appeared before him. Reed's heart jumped in his chest as the creature let out a screech and lunged toward him, its gnarled hands reaching for his throat.


Reed's heart pounded with fear as he was yanked out of his hiding spot by the demonic goblin. The creature was much stronger than Reed had anticipated, and he struggled to break free of its grasp. His mind raced as he searched for a way to defend himself, but he had no weapon, no means of fighting back against this monstrous creature.

The goblin snarled, revealing a set of sharp, pointed teeth as it drew closer to Reed. Its eyes glinted with a malevolent intelligence, and Reed could feel its hot, fetid breath on his face as it bared down on him.

The goblin that stood before Reed was unlike any he had seen before. Its skin was a sickly pale green, covered in patches of wiry, black hair. Its eyes were a fiery orange, like two burning embers in the darkness, and its sharp teeth glinted in the dim light of the cave. Its horns were twisted and gnarled, and its long, clawed fingers seemed to twitch with anticipation.

As the creature loomed over him, Reed couldn't help but feel a sense of dread wash over him. This was no ordinary goblin; it was something far more sinister. Its presence alone seemed to fill the small cave with an aura of malevolence, and Reed knew that he was in grave danger.

For a moment, Reed thought that he was done for, that he was about to become the goblin's next meal. But then, he saw a glint of something shiny in the corner of his eye, and he realized that there was a small rock nearby that he could use as a weapon.

With all his might, Reed kicked the goblin in the stomach, causing it to stumble back. Taking advantage of the creature's momentary confusion, he grabbed the rock and swung it with all his strength, striking the goblin's head.

The goblin let out a shrill cry of pain as it stumbled back, its grip on Reed loosening. Seizing his chance, Reed scrambled to his feet and ran as fast as he could, his heart racing as he heard the goblin's angry snarls behind him.

As the demonic goblin shrieked in pain, its cry echoed through the narrow passage, alerting its kin of danger. The sound reverberated through the cave system, bouncing off the walls and amplifying in volume until it reached the ears of other goblins in the vicinity.

Within moments, the area was teeming with goblin-like creatures, their glowing red eyes fixated on Reed as their next target. Their grotesque features were illuminated by the flickering light of their makeshift torches, revealing razor-sharp teeth and claws that glistened in the dim light.

Reed's heart was pounding in his chest as he stumbled through the narrow cave passage. The injured goblin's shrill cry had alerted the other creatures in the area, and they were now hot on Reed's heels. He could hear their grunts and snarls growing louder behind him, their footsteps echoing off the damp walls.

He glanced back and saw a horde of goblins, their demonic features twisted in rage, barreling toward him. Reed knew he had to keep moving, but his injuries were slowing him down. His vision blurred and his legs felt heavy, making it difficult to stay on his feet.

‘Push! Push!’

The goblins closed in, their sharp claws and teeth glinting in the dim light. Reed searched frantically for a way out, but the passage was too narrow for him to turn around and face them head-on. He was trapped.


Reed was now surrounded, trapped with no weapon to defend himself. He knew he was in trouble and braced himself for the impending attack. The goblins began to close in, their movements fluid and coordinated as if they were trained warriors.

Reed stood his ground, ready to fight despite his injuries. As the first goblin lunged towards him, he used his quick reflexes to dodge the attack, but not without sustaining a deep cut on his arm.


The pain shot through his body, causing him to stumble and almost fall to the ground. He quickly looked around the vicinity only to find a sharp rock. He quickly grabs the rock.

“Come on!”

The goblins seized the opportunity and attacked in unison, their clawed hands tearing through Reed's clothing and skin. Reed fought back with all his might, his adrenaline surging, but the numbers were against him.

He managed to fend off some of the goblins, but the overwhelming force of their attack was too much for him to handle. As his vision started to blur, he knew he was about to be defeated.

‘Dammit! Not….again…’

But just as he was about to succumb to the goblins' assault, he heard a faint sound in the distance. It was a low rumbling that grew louder with each passing moment. The goblins paused, momentarily distracted by the noise.


At that moment, Reed seized the opportunity and ran for his life, taking advantage of the temporary reprieve. He didn't know what the sound was or where it was coming from, but he knew he had to get as far away from the goblins as possible.

Reed's heart was pounding in his chest as he ran for his life. Not long after, the goblins were hot on his heels, their guttural growls and snarls echoing in the narrow passage behind him. Reed didn't know how long he could keep this up - his lungs burned with each breath, his legs felt heavy and sluggish, and the pain from his injuries was starting to catch up with him.

He chanced a quick glance over his shoulder and saw the goblins closing in on him. They were getting closer, their sharp teeth bared in anticipation of the kill. Reed knew he had to find a way to fight back, but he had no weapon and no real fighting skills to speak of.

He quickly scanned his surroundings and spotted a small crevice in the cave wall, just Reed's heart was pounding in his chest as he fled deeper into the narrow passage. He could hear the goblins screeching and chattering behind him, their footsteps pounding on the rocky ground as they chased him relentlessly. Reed knew that if he didn't find a way to shake them off, he would be caught and killed by the vicious creatures.

As he ran, Reed scanned his surroundings desperately, looking for any way to lose his pursuers. He spotted a small side passage off to his left and veered into it, hoping it would lead to some sort of escape route. The goblins followed him closely, their sharp claws scraping against the rocks as they darted into the narrow passageway.


Reed's heart sank as he realized the passage was a dead end. He was trapped with no way out. The goblins surrounded him, their beady eyes gleaming in the dim light as they closed in for the kill. Reed searched his mind frantically for a way to fight back, but he had no weapons and his injuries made it difficult to defend himself.

Suddenly, a deafening roar echoed through the cavern, startling both Reed and the goblins. A massive figure stepped into view, towering over the goblins and blocking their path to Reed. It was a troll, its massive fists clenched and ready to fight. The goblins hesitated for a moment before launching themselves at the troll, but it swatted them away like insects.

With the goblins momentarily distracted, Reed seized his chance and scrambled past them, making a run for it as fast as his injured body would allow. The troll's roars echoed behind him as he fled, but Reed was too focused on escaping to look back. He emerged from the passage into a larger chamber, gasping for breath and barely able to stand.

As Reed ran for his life from the relentless pursuit of the goblins, Reed stumbled upon a small cave, the walls slick with moisture and the air thick with the smell of mold and mildew. The only source of light came from a glowing mushroom around it, barely enough to illuminate the small space. Exhausted and in pain, Reed collapsed onto the cold, damp ground and allowed himself a moment of rest.

As he rested, he looked around the small cave and noticed a small trickle of water flowing down the back wall. He crawled over to it and took a sip, relishing the cool, refreshing liquid. It was just what he needed to calm his nerves and regain some strength.

Reed leaned his back against the rough stone wall of the cave, taking deep breaths to steady his racing heart. The adrenaline from his escape had long worn off, leaving him feeling weak and shaky. He closed his eyes and tried to calm his thoughts, but the memory of the goblin chase kept flashing back.

“I need to find a way out of here…” Reed remembered the shrill cries of the goblins and their relentless pursuit. He had never seen such ferocity in creatures like them before.

Goblins are often considered to be low-level creatures, easily dispatched by even novice adventurers. But the goblin that Reed encountered was different. This particular goblin was not like the others - there were horns over the goblin's head, and it was stronger than an average goblin too.

As Reed sat in the dim cave, he wondered why this goblin was different from the others he had encountered. He couldn't help but wonder if there was something darker at work, some kind of magic or curse that had turned this goblin into a monster.

‘The goblins, I have seen before were nothing like that… could it be it was some kind of mutation or a freak of nature…. the longer I stay here, the more dangerous the situation it gets.’

As he rested, he tried to recall how he ended up in this place. He remembered the bright window that popped out of nowhere, offering him a chance to become a re-runner. Then, it all went black, and he woke up in this narrow cave.

Whatever the reason, Reed knew that he had to be careful. He couldn't afford to let his guard down around creatures like these, especially when they were stronger and more dangerous than he expected.

He couldn't shake off the feeling that something was off, that he was in a place he wasn't supposed to be. Reed knew he needed answers, but he also knew he needed rest. Reed closed his eyes, savoring the momentary peace and silence that enveloped him. His body was exhausted from the endless running and fighting, and he desperately needed some rest. He let out a deep sigh and relaxed his muscles, feeling the tension slowly fade away.

However, his moment of peace was short-lived as a sudden noise echoed through the cave. It was a low growling sound, deep and menacing. Reed's eyes snapped open, his body tensed and alert. He scanned the darkness, trying to locate the source of the noise.

It didn't take long for him to see a wolf that had barged into his resting spot. Its eyes were glowing red, reflecting the faint light coming from the glowing mushrooms. The wolf's fur was jet black, and its fangs were bared, ready to attack.

Reed quickly stood up, his hand instinctively reaching for a weapon that wasn't there.


He cursed himself for letting his guard down, realizing he was defenseless. The wolf's growls grew louder, and it took a step closer to Reed, ready to pounce.

Reed's mind raced as he tried to come up with a plan. He knew he had to act fast, or he would become the wolf's next prey. He took a step back, but the wolf followed, still growling menacingly, searching for a weapon to defend himself against the monstrous demon wolf that had barged into his resting spot. But the cave was bare, with no rocks or sticks in sight.

Panic set in as the wolf charged toward him, saliva dripping from its razor-sharp fangs. Reed took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves as he prepared to face the creature head-on. He dodged its first attack, but the wolf was too quick for him to evade its second attempt.

‘Crap! With my current state, I can’t beat this thing… it's either kill or be killed in this matter… and I choose…’

He clenched his fist hard and gritted his teeth hard. He looked at the wolf with great determination etch to his eyes.

‘I choose to kill!’

Reed's heart raced as the bloodhound demon wolf leaped towards him, jaws gaping wide with razor-sharp teeth. He knew that he had no chance of outrunning it, let alone overpowering it. With no weapons at hand, his mind raced for a solution.

As the wolf's jaws snapped shut, Reed grabbed his shirt, pulled it over his head, and lunged at the wolf. The wolf was taken aback by the sudden movement, and Reed managed to drape his shirt over its snout. He violently slid his shirt positioning it to the wolf’s throat and started strangling it with all his might.

The wolf shook its head furiously, trying to free itself, but Reed held on tight, using all his strength to keep the shirt in place. Despite his exhaustion, Reed managed to hold on for dear life, strangling the wolf with his shirt. He felt his shirt was about to rip so he planted both of his feet onto the wolf’s head to apply some pressure.


After a few minutes, the wolf finally fell limp, dead from lack of oxygen.

Panting heavily, Reed dropped the shirt and stumbled backward, his heart pounding in his chest. He couldn't believe he had just defeated a demon wolf with his bare hands, or rather, his bare shirt.


“Finally….beaten……a ….. monster….”

As he caught his breath, Reed couldn't help but chuckle at the absurdity of the situation.

“Who…… would have thought……… that a simple piece of clothing……could be used as a weapon?”

But he was grateful for the idea, as it had saved his life.

As he lay there catching his breath, he close his eyes for a second concentrating on his breath flow and after that, he open his eyes and saw ‘it’.


He open his eyes without thinking and then saw ‘words’ floating in the air.

{Unread Messages (3)!}

He closed his eyes and opened them again.

{Unread Messages (3)!}

The words remained floating up there without a single change. He sat up and rubs his eyes. And even shook his head hard a few times, but they were still there.

Reed massaged his forehead and lowered his head.

‘It hadn’t been a long time since I started hearing weird things, but now, I'm even seeing them, too…’

Could something in his head really be broken? Or perhaps his tired and seeing things now?

There was a condition called PTSD, after all. People who experienced a huge accident or a traumatic event usually suffered from these conditions.

It was only a few hours ago since he witnessed the deaths of many of his comrades, not to mention he himself nearly died as well, so it would not be so strange to hear or see weird things as a possible side effect.


However, there were a couple of things that prevented him from dismissing this out of hand.

Reed’s sight lowered to his chest- the chest that got open by the figure with its bare hands was now all fine and dandy. Not to mention it even fixed the hole in his shirt.

The strange voice he heard out of the blue inside the underground temple-like domain hidden within the depths of the shifting domain; his completely-cured (?) chest; and now those words floating in front of his eyes.

Too many bizarre things were happening all at once.

‘What if…’

There was a chance that all of these strange occurrences were not isolated events but linked to one another. When his thoughts arrived here, his aching head felt just a bit clearer.

‘Okay, fine.’

Once the confusion in his head died down and he felt calmer, he became quite curious about the contents of those so-called congratulations messages. There might be answers to his questions found within those messages, after all.

In order to confirm the messages, he reached out to the words.

And his hand simply went past them.

‘Huh? It’s not touch-operated? I see..’

It seemed that he got way too used to how a smartphone operates. He couldn’t think of any other way to access the message other than tapping on the ‘icon’, though.

While he was deliberating on the means to access it, he recalled the memories from the moments before he blacked out.

‘Right. That happened.’

Back then, he tapped the yes icon but this time it was different

He put his hands on his chin and ponders about how could he access it.

‘Voice-operated perhaps, I should either form the words in my head or speak them out loud. Let’s see..’

Thinking that this must be the case, Reed then began to mutter the potential combination of words one by one.



“Continue to Confirm?”




“I want to read the next message please.”

“Hey, show me already, will ya?!”

He heaves a sigh.

“I sound like a crazy weirdo right now…”

‘Just think of it like a game, yeah that’s right, you're playing a game. The first thing I would do is open the mailbox.”

“I gotta ‘open’ the mailbox but how?”


As soon as Reed said the word ‘open’, a clear beep entered his head and the hidden messages revealed themselves.

{There are three unread messages.}

-Achievement Unlocked: First Hunt (unread)

-Congratulations on becoming a{ Re-runner} (unread)

Reed smiled brightly.


His eyes widen as he read the last message.

-{Daily Task: Monster Hunting} is now available. (unread)