5 Gate spotting

It was still early and Hans found himself torn about what to do next, so after some contemplation, he came up with a schedule to follow.

First on his agenda was to visit the hospital and settle a couple of months' worth of bills.

And that's what Hans did, he took a bus from his hometown and then used a train before arriving in the heart of the city, Chicago.

Once arrived, he proceeded on foot for a brief moment before stopping in front of a three-story building with a grey facade.

Written on top of the entrance was: "Cityview Medical Center"

As he entered through the automatic door, the receptionist greeted him in acknowledgment before turning her attention back to her colleague and continued chatting.

Ignoring the exchange, Hans made his way towards the elevator.

"SIGH, poor guy, he's so young, yet his life is already doomed," the receptionist who had previously greeted Hans let out a sigh while shaking her head as she looked at Hans's back.

"Why do you say so?" asked the colleague in confusion.

"Oh right, I forgot that you were new here. His family met a tragic accident and since then he has been all by himself. He has no relatives, be it grandparents or uncles, and has to work to pay for his family's medical expenses."

The nurse then continued, a look of pity evident on her face, "It hurts me saying this but… he should just let them pull the plug and live on for himself, it has already been so long since his family has been in coma, and… it's possible that they won't ever wake up."

"And why would that be?" the colleague asked.

"The incident that forced them into a coma… do you remember it? It happened four years ago."

Hearing the nurse, the colleague gasped in shock as she repeated, "Four years ago, do you mean-"

"Mh," the receptionist responded with a nod.

Meanwhile, Hans, who was already inside the elevator, had heard everything, probably because of his high wisdom stat which also heightened his senses.

"Pull the plug huh… there's no way I'll ever do that," he shrugged.

Once on his desired floor, Hans walked out of the elevator while slowly making his way to a room located in the farther corner of the floor.

Not long after, he arrived at a room numbered 317, which had an almost-faded grey tag.

Standing before the door, his body shook for a moment before he grabbed the handle and opened the door only to stare at the scene inside the room with a saddened expression for a few moments.

Three beds were lined in the room coupled with sacks and tubes between them. On the other side of the room, opposite the door was a big window with a view of the city's towering skyscrapers.

While opposite to the beds was a TV that played the news.

Walking in with light steps, Hans took a chair from the corner of the room and sat before the three beds.

First, he looked at the bed closest to the window, upon which rested a young girl with black hair and pale skin along with sunken cheeks that showed her sickness.

On the middle bed lay a middle-aged man with slightly dark skin and hair, he looked nothing less than a mummy.

Meanwhile, on the bed located closest to the door rested a middle-aged woman, deprived of her beauty due to the numerous wrinkles that ran all over her face because of her starving body.

Seeing them, Hans lowered his head and started muttering, "Mom, Dad, now I'm finally an adult. My only wish was that I wanted to celebrate it with you. But now I can also make enough money, there's no need for you to work, so hurry and wake up, please...that's…the only thing you have to do," his voice almost crackled because of the pain he felt in his heart which brought him on the verge of crying. But before his parents could hear that pathetic side of him, Hans left the room and dried his tears before they could roll out.

After returning to the ground floor, Hans paid almost forty thousand dollars to settle the hospital bills for the following two months.

Done with the first task on his list, the young man now had plans for the rest of the day: Gate hunting.

Ever since the gates opened and monsters began emerging after that tragic event, some of the awakened tried to venture inside, and while many died, some managed to come out alive. 

But those who returned found their levels boosted, making them much stronger than before, and in most cases, the gate they exited from closed behind them.

From then on, to avert the outbreaks of these monsters and any other such disasters, the awakened had to risk their lives within the gates to eradicate any of the threats rising within and seal them shut.

This allowed humanity to restart the reconstruction of their once-ruined cities without having to worry about being attacked by the monsters again.

Gates, however, were typically controlled by the association, and whoever entered it would be required to register themself.

That was also why Hans decided that he shouldn't simply get himself in trouble by registering himself as the lowest rank awakened who planned to venture into an F-rank gate alone.

And that was when he realized that he had to use other means. There was still another way of entering the gates legally without being scrutinized, an action generally called gate spotting.

It worked this way: The moment a gate appeared, people would tweet online and make videos about it along with those who would call the association to report it.

Chicago was a large and crowded city, here tens of gates appeared every single day, and it took about two hours for the association to take control over them after they opened.

After taking control of a gate, the Association would then either sell it to various guilds or open it as a training ground under their name, charging a set tax on the profits made from the materials that would be found inside the gates.

As for the window between the discovery of the gate and the arrival of the association affiliates, during this short span, the awakened could legally enter the gates and since they had entered the gate when it wasn't actually owned by anyone, their entries weren't particularly classified as trespassing.

However, to do that, Hans had to be lucky enough for a gate to appear near him.

With that in mind, the determined young fellow started scouring through various social media platforms, hunting for any news regarding the gates.

A new B-rank gate opened in Chicago!

Soon enough, he caught sight of one, and since generally there would only be about one of B-rank every month, the gate caused quite a big stir between the prominent guilds, who fought over it to gain the right to clear it.

The reason for that was not only the honor and respect one obtained through a high-ranking gate raid, rather it was also because of the huge sum of money they could make from all the monster carcasses materials.

Since most of the monster's parts could be utilized as raw material for crafting weapons and armor, a great chunk of the whole market revolved around the big guilds and the powerful awakened.

Apart from the B-rank gate, Hans came across news of various F-rank gates and E-rank gates appearing, but those were all too far for him to reach them in the required window of time.

After about three hours of continuous searching, Hans finally found what he sought: an F-rank gate just a couple of minutes from him. Knowing that this was his chance, he didn't hesitate to run there as fast as he could.

By the time he arrived, a huge crowd had already formed around it, hindering his movement considerably.

Struggling to pass the throng of people, Hans made his way through the human wall until he reached the gate, slipping through them before anyone could stop him.

Among the countless gates worldwide, very few of them were identified through gate spotting and that was for a valid reason: when taking control over the gates, the association would always send scouts to assert the situation inside and assess the gate's rank, this was because the approximation taken from the outside was simply based on the amount of mana that leaked out of the gates.

Hans, who thought he had finally hit the jackpot with this gate, now found himself standing on muddy and wet terrain and to make matters even worse, the place was covered in pitch darkness, completely obscuring his vision.

Realizing that there was no one around, Hans extended his hand and conjured a small flame to illuminate his surroundings.

{ Fireball} (Tier-0)

[ You have entered the E-rank gate: Moles' burrow]

"E…E-rank?! Wasn't this supposed to be an F-rank?"

'Damn it! Just yesterday, I promised myself to be more cautious, yet here I am, risking my life at a gate that is an entire rank above mine. Should I just flee?' He pondered earnestly.

But after a moment, too reluctant to forgo such a valuable opportunity, Hans resolved to remain inside.

His decision wasn't purely based on the hope that he would get lucky and survive, rather, it was because of the type of dungeon he was in.

Moles were the creatures of the underground, making it easy for him to detect them with the help of his heightened senses through the help of sound of their digging.

Furthermore, their prominent weakness was their sensitivity to light, making them the perfect adversaries for the only spell Hans knew: Fireball.

With that in mind, he delved deeper into the labyrinthine tunnels, mentally mapping the path of return to avoid getting lost.

While walking down a circular tunnel roughly four meters in diameter, Hans suddenly paused for a few seconds before resuming his stride as if nothing had happened.

Just as he walked five more steps, a tremor shook the ground and a black creature emerged from one of the tunnel walls, its knife-sharp claw closing onto Hans's face.

But that was when a blinding light sparked from his hands as he cast {Fireball}.

The lump of fiery projectile struck the mole right in the face and blinded it, causing it to collapse to the ground.

Seizing the opportunity, Hans analyzed it with his {Piercing Gaze}.

[ Race: Earth Mole

Name: None

Lvl: 32

Strength: 31

Dexterity: 19

Endurance: 34

Wisdom: 11


{ Blessing of the night (CURRENTLY INACTIVE): Doubles all stats while fighting in the dark}

Description: A mole larger and heavier by almost twice than its peers, with sharp claws and heightened strength and endurance allows it a swift travel inside not only dirt but also through rocks and minerals.

Monster Evaluation: F-rank, closer to E-rank when fighting in dark environments.]

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