Chapter 12:

Chapter 12: Penalty.


He thought that the second message sounded familiar as if he heard it before from somewhere.

So, the first message, then

-Achievement Unlocked: First Hunt (unread)



-Achievement Unlocked: First Hunt

{Hunt your very first prey/monster.} (Complete)

{Rewards: Experience Points.}

“Experience points?”

‘Those words only appear in video games right? Or is it not.’

He decided to worry about it later and opened the next message.

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



{This system is designed to enhance your physical and mental abilities, allowing you to hunt monsters and complete daily tasks more efficiently. By defeating monsters and completing daily tasks, you will earn experience points and level up your skills, attributes, and abilities.}

{Your rewards have been delivered.}


He belatedly remembered this.

He saw and heard those words just before he lost consciousness.

‘Back then, it was talking about a Re-Runner this and that, no?’

Of course, back then or even now, he still couldn’t really understand what on earth was going on here.

All of this was a complete mystery for him.

He hardly play any video games because of his mother and his sister, he was so focused on working as a hunter to earn money for their treatment.

The ‘System’, ‘Experience Points’, and finally, ‘reward’.

The words with unknown meanings fell on his lap one after the other.

Seeing the words that could only be found in a video game appearing right before his eyes without any prior, only served to confound him even further.

He decided to open the next message.

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

‘Monster Hunting?!’

With his injuries, he fails to see himself doing that specific task.


Reed unconsciously swallowed his saliva after reading that rather suggestive title. His heart began to beat faster in anticipation.



{Daily Task: Monster Hunting}

- One of the key features of the system is the Daily Task: Monster Hunting.

Reed looked at the text with curiosity, wondering what the daily task was all about.

-The Daily Task: Monster Hunting is a quest assigned to you every day by the system. You are required to hunt and defeat a designated number of monsters within a specific time frame. Completing the task will reward you with valuable experience points and other items that can aid you in your journey as a Re-runner.

The floating text then warned Reed about the consequences of not completing the daily task.

-Failure to complete the daily task within the specified time frame will result in a penalty

Reed’s hand trembled as he read the word ‘Penalty’.

“What kind of penalty?”

His voice quivered as he spoke.

He waited for a few moments waiting for the so-called system to respond. But to no avail, it did not.

“Could you please give me a hint or something?”

The system was dead silent.

Reed felt a chill run down his back. The unknown was always scarier than the known, and the fact that he had no idea what would happen if he failed to complete his daily tasks was terrifying.

Reed sighed in resignation, knowing that there was nothing he could do but follow the system's instructions to the letter. He was in too deep now, and the thought of facing unknown consequences for non-compliance was too much to bear.

With a heavy heart, Reed took a deep breath and committed himself to the Daily Task: Monster Hunting, hoping that he could keep up with the demands of the System and avoid whatever penalties lay in store for him.

The messages were now marked as ‘read’.

There were no words of ‘unread messages’ popping up in his view.

Reed closed his eyes, pondering the bizarre encounter he had with the so-called ‘System’. He couldn’t believe what he had experienced, and it all seemed too surreal to be true.

“Did that really happen?” Reed mused, his thoughts spiraling. “What if I can’t complete the tasks or the penalties are too harsh?”

He shook his head, trying to dispel the negativity.

Reed took a deep breath and made a firm decision. He would accept the ‘System’s challenge, hoping to become strong.

“Mr. Rone….”

A specific memory flashes through his mind, Rone being impaled by a spear.

He clenches his fist hard.

“I’ll avenge you..”

Reed’s eyes grew heavy his body slumped against the cold stone wall of the small cave. Every movement felt like he was dragging a hundred-pound weight behind him. The cuts and bruises that dotted his skin were nothing compared to the overwhelming exhaustion that consumed him. He could feel the energy draining out of him with every passing second as he stared at the lifeless body of the wolf he killed earlier, leaving him weaker and weaker. His head spun, and the world around him seemed to blur into a hazy, indistinct mess. Even his breathing was becoming more labored, each inhales feeling like he was pulling in air through a straw.

He knew he needed to rest, take a break, and recharge his batteries. But the thought of him closing his eyes and falling asleep in the dim dark small cave was too terrifying to contemplate. He was vulnerable here, exposed to whatever dangers lurked in the shadows. He stood up weakly, he forced himself to push on, to keep moving even though his body was screaming for him to stop.

Reed trudged on, the dimly lit cave only seemed to grow more anxious with each step he take. Whilst navigating the dimly lit cave, his mind was racing with questions about the bizarre scene he had witnessed earlier with the ‘System.’ is he living in some type of simulation or something… or he’s the mind playing tricks with him. As he stumbled along his exhaustion began to catch up with him. Every step became heavier than the last, and his vision began to blur. He knew he needed to rest, but he also knew that there will be a penalty for not completing the Daily Task: Monster hunting was severe, even if the specifics were kept secret. With a heavy heart, he pushed forward, his eyes scanning the darkness for any sign of movement.

As he continues on stumbling through the cave, his fatigue only worsened. He could barely keep his eyes open, and his body felt like it was made of lead.

“What’s happening to me?” he thought, his mind becoming more and more clouded.

Suddenly, a message from the ‘System’ appeared in a bright red color before him.

{Warning: Your body is in a critical state. You must rest immediately or face severe consequences.}

‘What the…’

He ignored it and continues on.

Not long after a similar message once again appeared in front of him.

{Warning: Your body is in a critical state. You must rest immediately or face severe consequences.}

‘Shut u-’

Reed tried to protest, but his body wouldn’t listen. He collapsed to the ground unable to move another inch. The darkness of the cave closed in on him, and he felt like he was drowning in it.


As his consciousness faded, he could hear a faint voice in his head, reminding him of the penalties for not following the ‘System’s’ rule. but it was too late now. He had already succumbed to his exhaustion and slipped into unconsciousness.

While Reed was unconscious, the ‘System’ had started a timer, counting down the hours until the end of the daily task. But as Reed slept, the timer ticked away. Reed’s body began to stir.

He lets out a painful groan.


He weakly opened his eyes, and the first thing that greets him was the ‘system’s’ text notifying him that the daily task was about to end. he realized that he only had a few hours left to complete the task. With his fatigue and injuries, Reed knew that it would be impossible to finish in time.


As the clock ran out, the system alerted Reed that he had failed to complete the daily task.

{You’ve failed to fulfill the Daily Task.}

A cold chill ran down his spine as he imagined what kind of penalty he might face. It was then, the sound went off in his head

{New Message!}.

He swallowed his spit nervously.


His voice quivers as he said that.


{New Task: Survive}

-Goal: Survive the following punishment until the end of the time limit.

-Time limit: 1 hour

Remaining time: 1 hour 0 minutes 0 seconds

59 minutes 59 seconds

Reed's punishment was about to be delivered when suddenly the air around him began to warp and twist. A portal opened up in front of him, and out of it emerged a massive, shadowy figure. It was unlike anything Reed had ever seen before - it was neither human nor beast, but a monstrous fusion of both.

‘What the!?’

He struggled to catch his breath, his body shaking with pain and exhaustion. Reed tried to scramble to his feet, but he was too weak to move. The figure loomed over him, and he could feel its eyes piercing into his soul.

The system's voice echoed in his mind, cold and menacing.

Reed's body trembled in fear as he stared at the towering, unknown entity in front of him. The monster's eyes glowed with an eerie red light, and its razor-sharp claws gleamed in the dim light of the cave.

Reed tried to summon his strength, but his body was too weak from the punishment he had endured. He struggled to get to his feet, but the monster was already closing in on him.

As the monster attacked, Reed desperately dodged and weaved, using every ounce of his energy to stay alive. He could feel his wounds reopening and his strength fading.


Reed struggled to stand up, his limbs trembling and his vision blurred. He knew he was in trouble. The unknown entity that the system had summoned was unlike any monster he had faced before.

Its massive size and otherworldly appearance left him feeling small and insignificant. Reed knew he was too weak to fight it.

‘At this rate, I’m gonna die for real.’

An idea suddenly struck him.

“Hey! System!”

He looked to the system for help, but it remained silent. Reed felt a sinking feeling in his gut. He had been abandoned by the very system that had granted him power.

‘N-nooo, t-this c-can’t be….’

With no other choice, Reed stumbled backward and tried to put as much distance between himself and the entity as possible. As he stumbled back, his mind raced with questions. Why was the system punishing him so severely? And why wasn't it doing anything to help him now?

But it was no use. The entity closed in on him with alarming speed.

Reed's body ached as he dodged the attacks of the unknown entity summoned by the Hunter system. The creature was relentless in its pursuit, and despite Reed's best efforts to avoid it, he couldn't dodge every blow. The pain was excruciating, but he knew he had to keep fighting to survive.

Reed took a deep breath and tried to focus on the task at hand. He couldn't afford to let his guard down, not even for a moment. He had to keep moving, keep dodging, and hope that he could outlast the creature's attacks.

But his injuries were taking their toll, and he knew that he couldn't keep this up forever. He was weak, and every hit was taking more and more out of him.


‘Once again, I found myself in this kind of situation again.’


His eyes begin to tear up.

‘Why me!?’

‘How did I end up like this?’

‘If this goes on….I rather…’

The monster once again lunges at him with great haste.

He closed his eyes bracing himself for the inevitable until a familiar voice spoke


He violently opened both of his eyes and gritted his teeth and summoned all the strength he had left. He quickly rolled out of the way.

The creature's massive claws ripped through the cave walls, sending debris flying in every direction. Its eyes glowed with a fierce red light. Fortunately, Reed was able to dodge that attack.

He felt his ribs crack upon rolling violently out of the way.

He spat out red liquids through his mouth. He looks up and saw the creature looking straight at him with a clear intention to kill him.

He wiped the blood off of his lips.

The creature again began to lunge at him. He quickly dodges it.

As Reed was struggling to avoid the attacks of the unknown entity.

‘I….refuse to di…e’

a sudden idea struck him. He remembered the goblins, trolls, and wolves he had encountered earlier in the dimly lit cave. He gritted his fist as hard as he can.

‘That’s it!’

With no other options left, Reed decided to try and lure them towards the unknown entity and use them to his advantage.

Using his last bit of strength, Reed stands as fast as he can and wait for the creature to attack again. The creature looks at him and lunges.

He quickly rolled out of the way, scraping his elbow in the process. Reed quickly made his way toward the location where he was ambushed.

The creature dusts off the smoke and quickly pursues the wobbly hunter.

Reed looked back and saw the creature chasing him.

‘Tch.. if that’s the case.’

He drew a sharp inhale.


And screamed whilst running.

The creature lunges and manages to get a hold of Reed.


It landed on top of him.


The creature open its mouth and took a bite of his hand.


Reed screamed in agony.

It continues to bite it until a flaming arrow was shot and landed on the creature's back.

It looked back and saw the horde of demon-looking goblins with their makeshift weapons and torches. The creature quickly turned its attention towards the new enemy, allowing Reed to take a brief moment to catch his breath.

He quickly stands up and ran as fast as he can.

However, the unknown entity was not easily defeated, and the goblins alone were not enough to take it down. Reed needed more help. He remembered the trolls and wolves he had seen earlier, and with no other options, he aimlessly run towards a random way, hoping to find some trolls or wolves.

And to his surprise, he spotted a bunch of trolls gathering around.


He quickly screamed to catch their attention. the trolls noticed him and began chasing him. Reed used his last bit of energy to lead them toward the unknown entity, hoping that with the combined efforts of the goblins, trolls. Not long after he spotted a pack of demon wolves, they quickly noticed him and began to chase him.

It was a risky move, but Reed had no other choice. As the goblins continue to clash with the unknown entity, Reed managed to lure the trolls and the wolves.

The creature spotted Reed and lets out a deafening roar, causing the ground to shake beneath Reed's feet. The wolves, trolls, and goblins hesitated for a moment, but then they charged toward the unknown creature.

Reed quickly hid and watched from a safe distance, hoping that his plan would at least work.

The wolves were the first to attack, lunging at the unknown creature with their sharp teeth. The creature was quick to react, dodging the wolves' attacks and swiping at them with its massive claws. One wolf managed to bite into the creature's shoulder, but the unknown entity shook it off with ease.

The trolls and goblins joined the fray, throwing rocks and wielding their crude weapons. The unknown creature batted them away effortlessly, its massive strength overpowering them.

The wolves, trolls, and goblins quickly formed a defensive line of their own, brandishing their weapons in an attempt to hold off the creature. The wolves snarled and bared their teeth, lunging forward to attack, while the trolls wielded their heavy clubs and the goblins hurled their crude spears.

The battle continued for what felt like hours, with the creatures trading blows back and forth. Reed watched from a safe distance, too injured and exhausted to join the fray.

The unknown creature was fast and agile, dodging and weaving through the attacks with ease. It slashed at the wolves with its razor-sharp claws, sending them yelping and retreating. It knocked aside the trolls' clubs with a powerful swipe of its arm, sending them stumbling backward. And it effortlessly sidestepped the goblins' spears, closing the distance between itself and its prey.

Despite their efforts, the wolves, trolls, and goblins were no match for the unknown creature's sheer strength and speed. One by one, they fell to its relentless onslaught. The wolves were torn to shreds, the trolls were smashed into the ground, and the goblins were impaled by their deadly claws.


Reed watched in horror as the creature decimated his only hope of survival. He knew that he was no match for the creature and that he had to come up with a new plan. As he tried to crawl away, the creature noticed him and let out a bone-chilling roar. The force of the roar was so powerful that it broke Reed out of the hiding spot he was in, sending him flying through the air.


Reed landed on the ground with a loud thud, his body aching and his vision blurry. He tried to stand up, but his legs felt like jelly, and his body was shaking uncontrollably. He looked up and saw the creature charging toward him, its massive jaws open and ready to strike.

It landed on top of him and without hesitation, it bit his shoulder.

Reed let out a cry of pain as the creature's sharp teeth sunk into his shoulder. Blood trickled down his arm as he tried to push the creature away, but it was too strong. The creature began to thrash him around like a rag doll, causing Reed's body to collide with the hard walls of the cave.

Despite the excruciating pain and the fear that was gripping him, Reed refused to give up. With a burst of adrenaline, he managed to wriggle free from the creature's grasp and stumbled backward, clutching his injured shoulder.

The creature roared in frustration and charged at Reed again, but this time he was ready. Using his good arm, he grab a broken spear and managed to stab one of the eyes of the creature, it roared, causing it to momentarily stagger. Seizing the opportunity, Reed sprinted past the creature, using his knowledge of the cave's layout to his advantage.

He could hear the creature's heavy footsteps chasing after him as he ran deeper into the cave, towards a narrow tunnel that he hoped would lead him to safety. But just as he was about to reach it, he felt a searing pain in his leg and stumbled to the ground. Glancing down, he saw that the creature had caught up to him and had sunk its teeth into his calf.

It dragged Reed back and grabbed him.

Reed's world faded to blackness as the creature's massive clawed hand closed around him. He was lifted into the air, helpless and vulnerable, as the creature slammed him down onto the ground with an ear-splitting crash.

The force of the impact caused the earth beneath them to shatter and splinter, and the ground collapsed in on itself, swallowing Reed and the creature into a dark abyss.

For a moment, Reed lay stunned and breathless, his body aching and battered from the brutal beating he had just endured. The creature loomed over him, its glowing eyes fixated on him with a terrifying intensity.

Reed knew he was done for. He had nothing left to give, no strength to fight back. But just as the creature raised its massive claw to strike the final blow, a sudden beep sounded in Reed's ear.


{New Task: Survive} (Complete)

It was the system, notifying him that the penalty quest was done. In a flash, the creature vanished, leaving Reed alone in the darkness, battered and broken but somehow still alive.

‘S…aved by the bell….’

Reed lay there for what felt like an eternity, gasping for air and struggling to process what had just happened. He had never felt so helpless, so utterly powerless.

{Rewards for completing the Task Survive are now available.}

{Would you like to collect the rewards?} (Y/N)


The word ‘rewards’ jumped right out. Too bad, the problem was, he currently didn’t have any energy left whatsoever to confirm this and that.

His situation simply didn’t allow that.

‘i…. feel…..sleepy…’

The pain in his shoulder pulsed with every beat of his heart, and Reed could feel his consciousness slipping away from him. As the darkness closed in around him, he couldn't help but think that he might not wake up again this time.

His sight gradually blurred.

Reed at this time recalled some past memories. It was like a photograph. He remembered the time when he was just a child and his mother held his newborn sister for the first time.

"Reed, come here and meet your little sister," his mother said, smiling from ear to ear.

Young Reed walked over to his mother, who was sitting in the hospital bed, holding a tiny bundle in her arms. As he looked down at his sister, he felt a surge of love and protectiveness. "She's so small," he said softly.

"Yes, she is," his mother replied. "But she's going to grow up strong, with a big brother like you to look out for her."

Reed smiled at his mother's words, feeling proud and responsible at the same time. As he lay there now, he wished he could see them both again, to make sure they were safe and protected.

After remembering that beautiful memory, Reed's eyes slowly closed, and he felt himself drifting away. But just before he succumbed to the darkness, he heard a familiar voice. it seemed to be coming from above him. Reed struggled to open his eyes, and when he did, he saw a huge vulture perched on a nearby rock.

The bird was massive, with wings that stretched out almost ten feet wide. Its feathers were black as night, and its eyes glinted like diamonds in the dim light of the cave. Reed shuddered as he stared at it, feeling as if the creature was peering straight into his soul.

As if sensing his fear, the vulture spoke again, its voice echoing through the cave. "You will be a suitable contractor for me," it said, its beady eyes fixed on Reed.

"I sense great potential in you."

Reed didn't know what to make of the vulture's words. Was it offering him some kind of deal? Was it even real, or just a figment of his imagination? But as he tried to make sense of it, he felt his body growing heavier and his mind slipping away.

He closed his eyes once more, the vulture's words echoing in his ears. What did it mean by "contractor"? And why did it think he had potential? These were questions he would have to ponder later when he had regained his strength.

For now, all he could do was let the darkness claim him and hope that when he woke up, he would be able to make sense of the strange encounter he had just had with the mysterious vulture.