Chapter 1: 30 years have passed since the prologue.
“Ah, it’s an unfamiliar ceiling….”
Kim Sunwoo said in a pretty chill tone.
Well, okay, not exactly chill. He was so pumped, his hands were kinda shaking.
He’d been waiting for this moment forever. A foreign ceiling, a whole different world, you dig? Reincarnation, transmigration, rebirth – bring it on!
For real, he’d been getting ready for this moment for ages. The big deal here is the ‘prep.’
If you’re from South Korea, you probably know the basic rules for reincarnating in another world. You gotta [Submit a 5,700-character critique of the book] and [read it to completion].
Taking it to the next level, you can peep Kim Sunwoo’s ‘prep process.’
Every novel, webtoon, and game he read. Anything he vibed with. Basically, writing a [5,700-character critique] for every story he wanted to jump into.
Every day, with mad gratitude, non-stop, with a fresh critique every time, meticulously and all that jazz.
Since it’s a work to be transmigrated into, obviously, he’d memorize the whole story, the setup, any secret plots, artifacts, and how all the big players are connected.
“Just gotta bust out those 5,700 characters and then I’ll hear ‘Then try it yourself, dumbass.'”
Of course, most of the time, it ended with furious authors or internet peeps trying to shut him down. But in the end, he always came out on top.
He’d finally kicked it into another world.
Now, all that’s left is to figure out what kind of deal this is. Just that!
No flashy, high-tech blue screen or nothing.
But he’s chill with it. I mean, his list of works without a status window is pretty long from all those negative reviews. He’s basically an expert.
And now, he’s rocking the body of an eight-year-old kid. Time and superpowers are on his side.
Raggedy clothes and a beat-up ceiling? It’s all good, actually.
– Starting from a place like this?!
– Seriously, a total prodigy!
– I’m gonna score riches and status, just wait!
The media back on Earth has proved that success is sweeter when you come up from a rough childhood.
Kim Sunwoo laughed and got up from his spot.
First things first, let’s start with something simple, like ‘making soap.’
At 4 years old, during the first week of his transmigration journey, Kim Sunwoo realizes that his new body goes by the name “Ivan Petrovich.”
His parents are simple farmers, and he’s shocked that they not only don’t know the name of their country but can’t even read.
After a failed attempt at making soap and a stern lecture for messing with lye, he discovers that soap already exists in this world.
4 years old. 6th week of transmigration.
Finally, Kim Sunwoo gains the ability to explore the village while delivering eggs. When he spots a newspaper lying on the ground, he starts feeling a bit strange.
“If a society can print newspapers and distribute them to a rural area like this, it’s probably not the medieval era, right?”
That day, most of his ‘transmigration work list’ gets wiped out.
4 years old. 15th week of transmigration.
At last, Kim Sunwoo hears the name of the country he’s in. After learning the name of the king, simply known as ‘His Majesty,’ he rushes home and tosses his cherished ‘transmigration work list’ into the fireplace.
Everything is new to him – a new country, a new ruler, and even neighboring kingdoms are names he’s never heard before.
Now, what matters isn’t ‘what kind of work he transmigrated into’ but ‘what genre this world is.’
He hopes it’s not dark fantasy. Small-scale farmers, without status windows or special transmigration bonuses, tend to have a survival rate of less than 5%.
8 years old. 4th year of transmigration.
Out of the blue, a demon king makes an appearance.
The war is still distant, but ominous news fills the air every day.
8 years old, in winter.
‘Ivan’s’ father is conscripted and leaves.
‘Ivan’s’ mother takes in foster children to make ends meet.
This is when Kim Sunwoo’s sense of self begins to shift.
10 years old. 6th year of transmigration.
Kim Sunwoo becomes skilled enough to help his mother with the foster children.
12 years old. 8th year of transmigration.
At last, Kim Sunwoo learns to read. His reward for delivering eggs to the village head’s house for six years.
14 years old. 10th year of transmigration.
News of his father’s death reaches the village.
The strange part is that it’s a death notice issued two years earlier.
Taking a few coins in exchange for a life, he looks at his weeping mother and thinks of two things.
One thing that crossed his mind was that the genre of this world was probably some kind of strategy simulation.
It was way too intricate for an RPG. In most cases, they wouldn’t have so many different nations if players couldn’t interact with them. Writing a novel or webtoon in this world would lead to comments like ‘What’s this nonsense, just another self-indulgent story,’ and free serialization with a clear ending.
So, he knew he had to take action. Living as a small-scale farmer in this rural area, he had never set foot in the main story, so he needed to make his mark.
Strategy simulation endings often involved world conquest, but getting conquered by the demon army without knowing anything was something to avoid, right?
The second thought that crossed his mind was, “Don’t worry, Mother.”
He wiped away his mother’s tears and submitted his enlistment application to the recruiting officer. His salary was 15 ducats from the eastern part, and he had a contract to send it all to his mother.
‘Ivan Petrovich’ hoped that this woman’s hands would no longer tremble.
It wasn’t a sudden sense of duty, but rather a deep respect for the incredible woman who was sacrificing everything for him, a total stranger. He also felt guilt for inhabiting the body of a young boy named ‘Ivan’ and being the reason for the loss of her only bloodline.
18 years old. 14th year of transmigration. 4 years of military service.
Due to a small military contribution and a stroke of luck, Ivan’s status went from ‘conscript’ to ‘regular army.’
He realized that Ivan’s body had more combat talent than he initially thought.
22 years old. 18th year of transmigration. 8 years of military service.
As the front lines were pushed to the brink and half of the allied nations were in chaos, a hero emerged.
At this point, Ivan finally understood the genre of this world.
It was a hero story, a real RPG.
But the hero was just a tale from a distant land, and Ivan’s front line was still being pushed back relentlessly.
28 years old. 24th year of transmigration. 14 years of military service.
The hero’s party advanced, intercepting the commanders of the demon army, and the situation took a turn.
Ivan now served in the “Restoration Zone Control and Enemy Faction Identification Unit.”
In simpler terms:
– Cleanup Unit
This specialized unit was deployed when the hero’s party killed enemy leaders and the enemy forces were thrown into disarray.
For about a year from this point, Ivan traveled using the same military camp as the hero’s party.
30 years old. 26th year of transmigration. 16 years of military service.
The hero party managed to defeat the Demon King.
Ivan decided it was time to wait for the ending.
All he wanted now was an escape from this never-ending world.
32 years old. 28th year of transmigration.
Two years had passed since the Demon King’s demise, but the ending was still nowhere in sight.
During this time, the Cleaing Unit’s numbers had dwindled to a fifth of what they once were.
With no new recruits coming in, Ivan realized the higher-ups planned to disband them.
After what felt like their final mission, Ivan viewed this as an extended epilogue and applied for discharge.
His mother from his hometown had passed away a decade ago, so he was entirely alone.
Near the capital, he established an orphanage and welcomed war orphans.
It was a small act of kindness, considering his circumstances.
34 years old. 30th year of transmigration.
Yet, even now.
The ending credits were nowhere to be found.
The idea that this might not be an RPG changed from just a thought to a certainty, all thanks to a visitor to the orphanage.
“Damn it. Was this an academy setting?”
To the unexpectedly sworn, the guest glanced awkwardly at the orphanage director (a war hero with 18 years of military service, a veteran of the Cleanup Unit, and an acquaintance of the hero party).
The guest, dispatched from the palace, recalled the various nicknames of the orphanage director and broke into a cold sweat.
The King’s son-in-law, lumberjack, the guy who slew the Seven Dragons, the immortal, the reserve soldier – a living legend among conscripts.
Seeing this intimidating figure, who looked like he might wield an axe at anyone who spoke out of line, the guest forced a nervous smile and held his breath until the orphanage director’s irritation subsided.