I put the Transmutable Thousand Arms into the inventory and brought out a potion.
“Are you all done? Finally?”
“Yes. It is going to be my match soon.”
“… Still, you ended it before your match. I’m very proud of you for showing restraint.”
Proud of me?
I only did the sensible.
It is obvious that I should maintain a good condition before the battle.
Of course, there probably isn’t anyone in this place who could be a threat to me. Still, I need make the most minimal of preparations.
One’s mindset is important.
“By the way… Why is it so quiet around us?”
“… You couldn’t possibly be asking me because you are oblivious to it, right?”
“Aren’t I am asking because I don’t know?”
“… You had been hurting yourself with the electric shock instrument. How many bastards do you think would like to watch the matches on the arenas sitting next to someone like you?”
Ah, everyone moved their seats to avoid me.
“Despite all that, I didn’t run off, so be thankful for my presence.”
“All right. I’ll be thankful. Do you have any soda left?”
Kim Min-hyuk crumpled his face in light of my insincere gratitude.
“Ugh… Because of you, people around us started to move. Our guys had to record all of the seat switches. Do you have any idea how much work that was for them?”
“Ah, is that so? They should have just told me about that. If it was that cumbersome, I would have just gone to a corner and done it there.”
“Was not doing it at all ever an option? Well… still, it ended up helping us, so…”
“Yes. Glare at that side over there.”
I glared at the direction that Kim Min-hyuk pointed.
It was where the Australian gangs were gathered.
When I glared at them… There was a response.
I could see a few of them, whose eyes momentarily meet with mine, flinching noticeably.
“Since lunch time, their movements looked a little suspicious. Thanks to you, I think they choked up in fear. You did end up helping.”
“Um… I get that I did look odd, but was it something to be so scared about?”
“… Of course it looks scary. What you did was not something like cutting one’s skin with a utility knife. People got to imagine the pain and shock from watching what you were doing. While they were imagining them, they saw the look on your face… You were hurting yourself, but you looked satisfied. Sometimes you seemed to be pondering deeply about something. Of course you gave them chills down their spines.”
Is that so…
Honestly, I cannot agree that I look scary.
Is it because I accepted self-harm as just a daily routine in the life inside the Tutorial while being isolated by myself?
Perhaps it is due to my personality?
“Maybe this is the reason why. Ms. Lee Yuu-jung still seemed to be afraid of me.”
I thought we had become quite close, yet...
Because she is a member of the Order?
That answer really bothers me.
Ever since the Order of Vigilance was established, I tried not to be at the front as much as possible.
When the second day of the great harmony happened, the Order had already had gathered enough strength of their own to hunt down and beat the crap out of the criminals.
So, I didn’t bother to step in.
Kim Min-hyuk agreed with my idea because he thought that it would avoid making people feel anxious.
Also, I was stuck at the Sixth Floor during that time. So, I had no mind left to think about anything else back then.
Even after that, there wasn’t any incident that required me to step in.
However, I did take on the role of keeping watch over the members of the Order.
When the members were divided, and when the Order’s power was split, I stepped in and struck down the opposing side.
I demonstrated a show of my force in front of members who looked like they might cause a schism in the Order. I scared them that way.
Ah, now that I think about it, the method I chose for scaring them was hurting myself.
Anyway, the fact that people around me were afraid of me was not something to be happy about.
Although time had passed and then some, this image was preserved relatively well, so I didn’t like it even more.
“Do you think that way too?”
It was the question I wanted to ask from the get-go. I tossed out the question at him.
Kim Min-hyuk didn’t answer right away.
He was not able to answer right away.
I thought about this time to time.
Kim Min-hyuk was well-versed in human relations.
Of all people I could think of, I am sure he could realize that what I want is someone I could be at ease and be open, not someone who would flatter me and idolize me.
I was an existence who could be of great help to Kim Min-hyuk and also a great threat to him.
We were comfortable with each other. However, I sometimes wondered if it was not because we are close. I sometimes wondered if it was because Kim Min-hyuk formed this friendship because he needed me.
Of course, how many friendships would be not based on needs?
To me, I worried that perhaps Kim Min-hyuk was more like a skilled tamer than a brave friend.
“Rascal. We have known each other for almost a year now. I have watched you more closely than anyone through that one year. At first, even I was surprised. Still, I got used to it as I saw you do it. Now, I’m used to it.”
It is not a bad answer.
“Is that so?”
“What is it? Are you anxious about it?”
I kept quiet and just nodded meekly.
“I know you are focused on growth, but it is not like I don’t care at all about other things.”
“You are concerned about when you leave Tutorial, when you are back in the real world, aren’t you?”
As I thought, Kim Min-hyuk is very skilled at grasping other people’s thoughts.
I nodded again.
Lately, I had minds to spare, minds to spare to worry about little things.
This allowance became a gap in my fortitude.
I started to reflect on negative sides of myself. Also, I started to worry about the future that had not even happened yet.
I’m treated as a monster even inside the Tutorial. I wonder how I would be treated outside?
Also, will I really be able to adjust to the life outside?
Maybe I would be better off staying here, living inside the Tutorial?
I used to have the goals of going back to the real world, eradicating monsters and saving my family and friends. Now, even those goals are becoming fainter.
I think I’d be better off if I lived in the Tutorial forever.
I want to spend my entire life fighting, grinding, breaking and growing stronger and stronger.
Like that, I now prefer the life of repeating the cycle of growing, winning and growing again.
In fact, I was like that even before entering the Tutorial.
That was why I chose to be a professional gamer. When I could not win or grow anymore, I abandoned the profession and became a loser.
It would be nice if I could live my life like this inside the Tutorial, but the Tutorial has a limit.
The 100th Floor.
It has been over a year since I entered the Tutorial. Now, I’m almost at the 20th Floor.
Even if it takes a very long time, I’m sure I can clear the Tutorial in five more years.
No, it won’t even take that long.
I am well aware of my growth rate.
Even if there is another stage that requires the party play, it won’t take me long like it had taken me at the Sixth Floor when I was stuck.
In that case, just because I don’t want to go outside, would I be able to keep quiet and live at the Tutorial’s residential area? All by myself?
That would be also impossible.
I don’t like stagnation.
In the end, I’ll be leaving the Tutorial.
I slowly explained my worries.
It was difficult for me to explain this in a way that would be easy for another person to understand. It was hard to summarize in a clear manner.
So, starting from the beginning, I just talked about each thing that came to mind.
Kim Min-hyuk heard my worries. He said he heard a similar kind of concern from a soldier in the army who thought about staying in the army forever.
I think this is a little different though.
“When I was little. Um… I guess it wasn’t when I was little. When I was a junior in highschool, of the books I read, there was a children’s book about a rabbit and a lion.”
“Usually, people don’t go reading a children’s book at that age, right?”
“… Anyway. The children’s book was a story about a rabbit and a lion who became friends. One day, they start to doubt each other. The rabbit thought that the lion must be thinking it is nothing more than just a snack and is kept alive and befriended it out on a whim. Meanwhile, the lion thought the rabbit is befriending it despite the fear for the sake of survival and in order to leech off the prestige and powerful status of the lion.”
That’s an interesting story.
“And then? How does the story end?”
“The rabbit gets eaten by the lion.”
Unlike what I thought, the story had a realistic conclusion for a children’s book.
“However, to the very end, it is never made clear if the rabbit and the lion truly thought of each other as friends. Unlike you, they never confided in each other about their inner turmoil. From how I remember, the author said the ending is open to reader interpretation. Also…”
Kim Min-hyuk took a inhaled and continued.
“You’re going through a similar crisis as the lion. You are worried that not just me, but other people and friends and family outside might be afraid of you. Also, you are worried that they might treat you superficially while hiding their anxiety inside, even if they befriend you.”
I nodded in agreement.
“Honestly, I cannot be certain about the people outside. It is not like I know your family or friends. Still, I can be certain about the people inside the Tutorial. You will be able to get closer to not just me, Jung-ah, and Big Bro Jong-shik who are already close to you, but also with other challengers. I don’t know how long it would take though.”
“Do you think so...”
“Yes. Once the rules inside the Tutorial are well established, you won’t have to step in to strike fear in people anymore. Also, you are mistaken about one thing. We are all also super humans. You are not the only one worrying about being alienated. You have seen things on the community occasionally too, right? Some people say they are worried that they might become subject of amusement or even get dragged to laboratories for experiments. We might all end up experiencing such things. When that happens, the relationship between you and the other challengers would be not like the lion and the rabbit. It would be more like between an ultra-strong lion and an ordinary lion.”
A new wall will be formed that will isolate me from the people in the real world, and that wall will be the fence that will bring those around me closer to me?
Is that what you are saying?
Hearing this wasn’t really making me feel any better.
“When everyone leaves the Tutorial as superhumans, they would come together under the same banner. When everyone is isolated by the same wall and discriminated against, your power won’t be seen as the threat of a ferocious beast. Instead, it will be a sturdy roof for them. Of course, that’s if you wish to be one.”
Kim Min-hyuk was giving me an imperfect solution. It was a halfway solution. However, he didn’t forget to include what he would like me to do in the future.
On top of that, he did it by connecting this to the solution he proposed.
This rascal is the same as always.
“Also I… Um. I guess I don’t have anything to say other than that you should just wait. I don’t think I could convince you on this just with words. We will all get to realize this over a long time.”
“I see. I guess so. Thanks.”
* * *
[The match will begin after 30 seconds.]
I had to wait far too long until the match begun.
My opponent was Asian.
The face was not familiar to me. I think he is Japanese.
He made it to the main matches, and even to the third round of the main matches. So, he is probably quite skilled.
I am not expecting much. Just be on par with Kim Kyoung-jin. That’s all I’m asking for.
Um, how should I do this match?
Should I fight this one without using my arms again?
No, I tried that last time. This time, I’m going to try not using my right leg.
Usually, when my leg is injured, I supplement my mobility with Blink and Talaria's Wings, but if I don’t even use my skills, then the battle will become incredibly difficult.
I need to maintain balance with just one leg and move around. My stance will be unstable and my movements will become sluggish.
I guess that would be all right. I’ll go with a handicap on my right leg.
After deciding my own handicap, I got ready for the battle.
[The match will begin.]
With that, the opponent promptly disappeared from the arena.
[You achieved your third victory in the main matches.]
My heart beating of disappointment, I was moved to the spectator seats.
It could not be helped. Well…
Let’s just wait until the next match.
* * *
[You achieved your fourth victory in the main matches.]
I think I’ll have to wait until the semi-finals or the finals to have a proper match.
Kim Min-hyuk said my relationship with other challengers would be like between lions.
However, I cannot agree to that easily.
As Kim Min-hyuk said, these people were already super-humans.
Also, they will become even stronger.
These people will really become lions.
I agree on that part.
However, I am…
By the time they become lions, I don’t think I’ll stay a lion.
Maybe I will be something like a Tyrannosaurus Rex?