[Tournament, Day 5, 05:05]
“This is a little unexpected.”
The group rounds were over. Now, the event for the fifth day started.
We gathered together for breakfast and meeting. At the place, I looked at the list of people who would be participating in the faction matches. I could not help but to be surprised by the list.
“About the reward for the faction matches; the reward is given to every member of the faction that achieves the most number of wins, right? So, I thought a lot of the people from Japanese and Australian servers would want to join the Korean server for the faction matches. Also, I thought the tournament would conclude without too many problems because of that.”
Korean forces won the group rounds yesterday as well.
It was Park Jong-shik’s party that won the group rounds.
Also, the runner-up group and the others who made it to some of the lower standings were mostly Korean groups.
The Korean server was showing more dominance in the group matches instead of during the individual matches.
Because of the significant difference in caliber, many of the Japanese and Australian spectators didn’t even bother entering the arena building during the fourth day. Instead, they just spent the time outside.
Like that, the Korean faction took over the individual and group matches. So, Korea was the overall victor for the tournament.
In other words, anyone who joined Korea for the faction matches could get the reward for the overall win for free.
It was not like Korea was going to lose something if a foreigner got the overall win reward for free. Actually, they could even add a few conditions to this and make a business out of it.
So, I thought this would give Kim Min-hyuk some headaches. However, instead, when I checked the list, I saw that not a single foreigner joined Korea for the faction match.
“It’s probably because there is still some mistrust. It might have been different if there was no problem through the tournament, but there were. There was a big problem even inside the tournament arena, and there were several problems outside too.”
For the past five days, on daily basis, there were violent incidents.
Most of them were caused by the people who ended up in fighting in their excitement.
In such cases, the Order didn’t go further than moderating the exchange of apologies between people. However, for serious crimes such as murder, rape and gang assault, most of the perpetrators were executed unless agreements between the people were reached quickly.
Could it be that people are hesitant to join the Korean faction because of them?
“Also, this is the first time for the people to be given the opportunity to join another faction. Maybe people are hesitant because the consequences for making such a choice is not yet known. Also, there probably are people who wish to make the change but do not know who to come and talk to about it. Moreover… On our faction’s list of participants…”
What the? Why are you looking at me?
Kim Min-hyuk blurred the end of his sentence and glanced at me. I was dumbfounded.
Are you blaming me?
“Now, now… Let’s cut the chit-chat. Let’s get things organized first. Ho-jae and Jung-ah will be handling the arena. I’ll be handling the spectator seats. Min-hyuk will be handling the outside. Right?”
“Yes. Let’s assign things like that. Everyone, please check the list before the match starts. Let’s conclude the meeting here.”
Park Jung-ah ended the meeting, and Park Jong-shik’s face brightened.
“Well then, let’s go eat, finally.”
Let’s stop talking about complicated stuff and just eat.
Everyone started to bring out food from their inventories. However, Kim Min-hyuk tossed out the following.
It was done casually as if he was merely expressing that he was going to the bathroom for a bit.
“I’m getting married.”
Everyone didn’t even bother to react. They just continued to enjoy their meals.
Even I had to take a moment to think about the meaning behind what he just said before realizing what he meant.
This is so out of the blue.
Kim Min-hyuk had been constantly complaining about the life inside the Tutorial, saying we are living in a world where anyone could die the next day, and that this place is hell for couples and a heaven for singles. Now, what did the man just say?
“I said I’m getting married.”
“You met her before during the day of the great harmony. Her name is Jung Min-jung…”
He gave me a brief description of who she was, specifically noting she her status as the bride.
He said I met her before, but honestly, she was not the kind of person who would be memorable.
I was diligently racking my brain, but Park Jung-ah joined in from the side.
“She is one of the people who decided to stay at the 30th Floor, right?”
“Oh, right. You remember her.”
“Yes, Recently, she started helping out with our work in the Order.”
From hearing what Kim Min-hyuk and Park Jung-ah said, it seemed this woman named Jung Min-jung also had given up on clearing the Tutorial and instead decided to live at the 30th Floor.
Well, that’s why they could get married and stuff.
Um… It must be nice.
“By the way, why is Big Bro Jong-shik not showing any reaction?”
“I already heard about this once before.”
I wondered why the one who would cause the biggest ruckus about this was staying quiet, but now I see why.
“Hey, but how come are you telling me this now? If you told us sooner, then we could have done a simple marriage ceremony here.”
“Marriage ceremony? What for? Is there a need to draw global attention by doing that here? There probably are more people who would not think kindly of it. Min-jung and I are getting married because we decided to settle down at the 30th Floor. As for the ceremony, we are just going to share a meal with a few people we know at the 30th Floor.”
Still, that is a little disappointing.
“There are countless people out there who are fighting brutal battles to move up through the floors. It would be wrong to show people that we are going to settle down here comfortably as if we were gloating. Also, we have a lot of work to do as well, so we didn’t let people know right away. I’ll formally introduce her to you around lunch time tomorrow.”
It seemed he was feeling guilty about being able to live comfortably at the 30th Floor.
I don’t think you need to worry so much about that.
It is no easy task to get to the 30th Floor to begin with anyway. Also, no matter what others say, when it comes to a wedding ceremony, it would be best to do it properly.
That rascal thinks way too much. It’s a problem.
* * *
I had a bit of time left after the meal.
I didn’t exactly have anything to do for the time being. I thought I should call Lee Hyung-jin and train him, so I opened the message window. At that moment, Park Jung-ah called me.
“What is it?”
“Please close your eyes for a moment and give me your hand.”
“Huh? … Why?”
“Ah, please hurry.”
It was out of the blue, but I did as she asked for now.
“Please give me your right hand.”
… As she requested, I gave her my right hand.
Although I had my eyes closed, I could feel Park Jung-ah moving around busily.
I waited for a bit, and I could feel something cold on my fingers.
I opened my eyes, and there was a strange looking weapon placed in my fingers.
“It is a ring.”
Did all rings in the world melt away and disappear?
“Instead of calling it a ring, it looks more like a knuckle cru…”
“It’s a ring.”
“… All right. Let’s call it a ring.”
Still, no matter how I look at it, it is not a ring.
First of all, it has four holes instead of one.
I think it would be weird to even call it a knuckle crusher.
It has a large needle at the center.
It is not a knuckle… Anyway, this is not a ring. It is a weapon.
If you absolutely want to call this a ring, then that’s fine too, but…
Why did she put this on me all of the sudden?
“That’s Transmutable Thousand Arms.”
“Transmutable Thousand Arms? Oh, it had a form like this too.”
With that, Park Jung-ah fell to silence.
This is a completely different form. It is not like anything we tried so far.
I never even imagined that such would be possible.
Is my imagination a bit behind other people’s?
While I was thinking this, Park Jung-ah mumbled in a quiet voice,
“I.. I would… like to have one… If you could provide one… for me…”
“Huh? Give you one?”
This is unexpected, but I can understand it.
The Transmutable Thousand Arms is such a great weapon, and I happen to have two of them.
“I see. No.”
These are mine.
From the side, Kim Min-hyuk and Park Jong-shik were staring at me and trying to say something at me with their faces. However, well…
These are mine.
* * *
[Would you like to enter the arena?]
The faction matches were to be held in two steps. The first match was between Korea and Australia.
The Japanese server went up to the final match by default because they had the fewest number of people participating.
I responded to the message, and I was moved to the arena.
In the Korean side’s formation, the first ones I noticed were Park Jung-ah and other challengers who were not related to the Order of Vigilance.
Most of the challengers who were members of the Order did not participate in the faction match.
The official story was that they decided to stay out of this one because they had been taking wins from everything so far. However, the real reason was for them to be assigned on the spectator seats and outside of the arena building as the Order of Vigilance’s forces.
The total number of participants in the Korean faction was only a little over twenty people.
The participation rate is lower than I expected.
There were all sorts of people participating in the Australian’s side.
First, everyone from the gang-like groups participated.
It seemed they all participated regardless of individual abilities.
There were about sixty of them.
There are too many of them. This far exceeds the number projected by the Order.
On top of this, there are Japanese server’s rankers in the mix.
Even the bearded uncle is there.
There are over twenty of the people from the Japanese server.
Lastly, there were rankers from the Korean server in the Australia’s side.
There were Hard Difficulty rankers including Lee Jun-suk and Kim Gyoung-jin. There were other challengers as well, including Lee Chan-yong.
They are all rankers, nineteen of them in total.
I knew of their numbers precisely at least because there was a list.
[The match will begin in 360 seconds.]
The Australian faction was full of confidence.
That guy is grinning more widely with every passing second. It is spoiling my mood.
What was that bald guy’s name? I don’t remember.
“Hu hu hu. Is that all? What are you guys going to do? You guys should have gathered up more people even if you had to force them. Did you think it would work out fine to left it on volunteer basis? You ended up with this result because of your complacency, you hypocrite dumbasses!”
The bald head shouted loudly.
He sure is excited, really excited.
“It seemed he spread anxiety among the Korean server’s people about something bad happening during the faction match to steer them away from participating.”
“Ah, really? You knew about it?”
“Yes. It is not that I could not stop him. I just left it be. Some people came to tell us about this, but I just told them not to participate.”
I see, so those bastards had been busy.
“Hey, you leftover bastards on the back! It would be wise for you to think carefully even if it is late now. Do you really think your fucking rules or whatever would protect you! In the end, what’s important is power! Once that bastard over there dies here, it will be the end.”
As usual, the bald head from Australia was diligently and loudly running his mouth off.
Is he thinking about killing us all here and maintaining the force he has now to take over everyone else?
It seemed he was thinking that he had gathered enough forces to fight all of us even if everyone on the arena at this very moment decided to forfeit and leave the arena.
As for the Korean challengers who were standing behind me, they ignored the bald head who continued to shout. Instead, they locked their gazes with the bearded uncle from Japanese server.
The bearded uncle nodded with an emotionless face.
“What about the Japanese people?”
“Ignore them for now. They decided to stick to the side who wins.”
In other words, to put it kindly, they are being neutral. To put it honestly, they are going to play bats in the most obvious manner possible.
Well, it is not exactly for their profit. They are doing this for their own safety, but…
“Look! We even have Korean challengers in our side! Not only that, they are very powerful challengers! It is not too late for you! If you side with us, we will definitely guarantee your freedom, rights and rewards!”
Oh my, you think you are participating in some kind of a speech competition?
Your voice sure sounds energetic.
“I’ll skip asking you about the whole freedom and rights stuff. What’s the reward thing about?”
“He is saying they will have the power over each server, and the authorities will be acknowledged by each other. As for the reward… Well… a few items from the people they killed and having their turns with women. It is probably something like that.”
I felt awkward to hear such a straight explanation.
“I’m shocked that people actually went over to their side because of such terms.”
“There are rankers who hate being restricted by the rules of the Order. Also… as for their sexual lust that cannot be resolved…”
“Ah, don’t tell me about that in detail.”
Not just the sexual lust, but their desire to rule over people must be powerful.
The challengers had been living relatively dull lives in the Tutorial, other than having to face dangers. Living such lives for a long time, the desire must be so strong that it must be hard for them to resist.
In fact, when the Representative Federation gathered up people, they used a similar method.
Park Jung-ah turned to look at the people in Korea’s side.
“Now, everyone. Please pay attention for a moment.”
They had been listening to the bald head babbling on. Now, they gathered up together.
“I’m sure you all noticed this, but I’m afraid it will be hard for us to guarantee your safety in the arena. If you do not wish to participate, please forfeit right away and return to the spectator seats. We will be all right if you made that choice. Even if you forfeit in the middle of the match, you will receive the reward just the same.”
“Is everything all right outside of the arena building?”
“Yes. The members of the Order who did not participate in the faction match are on standby there.”
“Ah, I see. In that case, I would like to take my leave before the match starts.”
“Yes, I apologize for our inconvenience.”
A few of the challengers returned to the spectator seats right away.
“Inconvenience? You don’t need to say that. Well… Will you be alright if we all went back? It would be difficult for Mr. Lee Ho-jae to fight all those people by himself. Won’t it be better if we helped?”
“It would be difficult, but it will be all right if you didn’t stay to help. I have no intention of forcing you to take on the risk that’s unnecessary for you.”
Difficult? No way.
[The match will begin in 60 seconds.]
Park Jung-ah was still talking to the people on the back. I left Park Jung-ah be. Instead, I stared at the front.
I confirmed the signal from Kim Gyoung-jin.
I brought out a dagger from the inventory and placed it on the ground.
After that, to the front of the dagger, five people were teleported from the Australian side’s formation.
Kim Gyoung-jin, Lee Jun-suk and three others whom I didn’t know the names of were there.
“Hey, Ho-jae bastard. Your Big Bro is here.”
“Although I’m seeing this for the second time, this technique is definitely cheat-like. You can teleport without any restriction as long as you have the medium. On top of that, you can teleport with other people too. It is totally a cheat, a super cheat.”
“Aren’t you the one to talk? Your very existence itself is a cheat, you rascal.”
“All right. All right. You have done good work. Ah, you worked hard too, Jun-suk.”
Kim Gyoung-shik gave us the list of the people who defected to Australian’s side and the Australian’s plans.
Kim Gyoung-shik was never close to the Order since the beginning, so it seemed he was able to melt into the Australian’s side with ease.
This rascal still has that pissed look on his face.
Are you still like this because of getting beat up last time?
“By the way… Can we really win? I think the difference in forces is too great.”
Lee Jun-suk… This rascal also carries a mountain of worries inside him.
The worry and anxiety are written on his face.
“Difference in forces? Bullcrap. I will win even if you guys stayed on their side.”
“You are bluffing. If we stayed at their side, then we would win of course. Even now, I think this is going to be a close one even if we fought like our lives depended on it.”
From the side, Kim Gyoung-jin was boasting.
“In that case, why are you butting into a deadly battle where you could possibly die?”
“Why would I die? If it looks dangerous, then I’ll just forfeit and bounce to the spectator seat.”
Spoken like a real Kim Gyoung-jin.
Still, including the three who came with them, they are all Hard Difficulty rankers. They would be of great help in the battle.
Lee Jun-suk can launch ranged attacks. With him as the main attacker, the others only have to protect him. If situation changes, then they could continue the fight while switching up the positions. They definitely would be helpful to the battle.
“Jung-ah, why don’t you forfeit first and return? Honestly, you won’t be able to help us much.”
“… It hurts to know that I cannot really object to what you said. I will.”
“All right. See you later.”
The battle was about to start soon.
Most of the challengers on our side went back to the spectator seats.
There were just myself, Park Jung-ah, Kim Gyoung-jin, Lee Jun-suk and a few challengers who happened to have a needlessly strong sense of righteousness.
In comparison, as for the Australia’s side, they didn’t look like they were missing the five people who just came over to the Korea’s side. There was no commotion either.
They were still taunting us at the top of their lungs. However, what they were saying was not worth carefully listening to.
I ignored them and formed a long sword with the Transmutable Thousand Arms.
“I’m sure you already know this, but there are people on that side who were forced into this. You must not kill them all. Kill only the ones who are on the list. As for the rest, just neutralize them.”
“I got it.”
“Also… please keep up your fighting spirit. I am sorry I always end up making you handle the difficult matters.”
With that, Park Jung-ah returned to the spectator seats.
[The match will start.]
“I’ll handle the offensive measures. Everyone, please stay defensive for now. You guys too.”
I told them that and then turned around.
“Hey, so, is it really going to be all right if we don’t help you?”
“Ah, I said it will be all right! If you don’t like it, then just forfeit and watch.”
Perseverance increased my combat abilities based on various conditions. Just like this skill, Talaria's Wings also improved my combat abilities and suppressed enemies.
Overwhelm made the opponents shrivel mentally. I also used the Soul Steal, which dealt damage over time the enemies in the effective area.
Unless it is someone of high floor ranker’s caliber, anyone who approached me with hostility would temporarily fall to a state of panic.
“Oh, what is this? Some kind of a boost?”
It is the first time for me to use these skills in front of others.
Kim Gyoung-jin mutters from behind me. I stepped forward.
In an instant, I pierced into the Australian faction’s formation. I swung my sword toward the bald head.
It was a full frontal maneuver, but they didn’t even notice it. Instead, the bald head was busy yapping away about just how powerful their side was. While in middle of it, he lost his head. It was sent flying.
Meanwhile, the place was full of enemies who still didn’t even realize that I approached them. Still, the black man, who was standing right next to the bald head, noticed me.
Did he say he was at the Sixth Floor of the Hell Difficulty?
Looking at him, I raised my sword.
The black man tried to stop my attack by bringing out a huge bastard sword, but it was no use.
I struck down the sword that I raised up.
The sword was layered with Aura Blade. It smoothly made its way down and slashed through the man and his gigantic sword.
The man’s body was slashed through diagonally. Blood spewed out like a water fountain.
Finally, screams started to explode from the surrounding.
Their response is too slow.
There were people who took steps back in a hurry. Some plummeted onto the ground on their butt and struggled on the floor. Watching them, I thought that numbers were meaningless no matter how many there were.
It would not have mattered if there were a hundred or a thousand.
With the Soul Steal, it probably would not have mattered if there were ten thousand.
In the end, this battle is just a fight between me and the extreme few who could respond to my speed.
As for the rest of their forces, which were many, they could not even be small fries or pawns.
People were quickly retreating. Before they could shout forfeit, I used another skill.
It was a crowd control skill that forced enemies to attack me and disabled them from running away.
As for the people who were forced into this, and hence do not truly hold hostilities toward me, I’m okay with them forfeiting.
However, for those who are here to be my enemies willingly, I cannot let them escape.
I was standing in the middle of their formation. However, instead of trying to gang up on me, people were trying to back away as much as possible, even if it was just a step further.
I sighed. They were nothing but a bunch of losers.
I killed the noisy bastard who had been yapping away, and the powerful bastard who was standing next to him. Although these were all I had done so far, nobody was interested in anything but retreating.
Even the skilled ones among the Australian side looked like they were not liking the idea of stepping in first to fight. They were retreating too.
In the chaos, there were people who were glaring at me. I looked at their eyes.
They were Lee Chan-yong and the rankers of the Korean server’s Hard Difficulty.
All right. They are worthy of being my opponents.