[Uncle. Aren’t you even curious about what the gods talked about?]
[It’s all right if you don’t tell me. If you carelessly tell me about them, the gods will hate it. One should receive things gratefully when given.]
[Even if what they talked about are not the good kind of things about you?]
[It’s all right. Although I am helping you, there is no need for you to tell me everything at the cost of losing the possibility of getting any help, even if it could pose a danger to me.]
[You are saying you won’t tell me about what you are doing, right?]
[… Besides this, about the 18th Floor, you should be careful. In a way, it could be even more dangerous than any other floor.]
[Please don’t divert the subject.]
* * *
I stopped moving, and my body was completely recovered by the healing effect of the waiting room.
I put away the Transmutable Thousand Arms and checked the time.
I still have some time left.
I should just go eat.
I had a bit of an egg sandwich left. I brought it out and ate it with a soft drink. However, for some odd reason, it tasted bitter.
My insides felt stuffy too.
I was at the waiting room, so it was not like I could feel hunger anyway.
Let’s just eat meat jerkies.
It has been a while since I ate it. I brought out the jerkies and picked up the water bottle.
As I chewed on the jerkies, only its saltiness spun around inside my mouth.
I took a sip of water to wash the inside of my mouth and opened the community forums.
Checking the community forums while eating was an old habit.
So, I opened it unconsciously.
My mouth still had the bitter taste of the egg sandwich. I washed my mouth again with water. I closed the community window.
It was a mistake to open it.
It had not been long since what happened yesterday.
People were still talking a lot about it.
Although I had the window open only for a moment, what I saw was…
Again, it is reminding me of my old days as a professional gamer.
I had not thought about it in a long while.
Back in those days, especially when I was not far from retiring, I had heard all sorts of stuff from people over the internet.
Back then, I accumulated so much stress from them.
The community was not like how it was with the internet comments back then. It was not like the community notes cursed and swore at me.
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: What are you up to?]
I got a message from Park Jung-ah.
Did she finish most of the work?
How should respond?
Should I say that I had been digging the ground like a retard?
[Lee Ho-jae, 18th Floor: I was not doing anything.]
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: See? It would have been better if you left after staying with us a little longer.]
I really should have done that.
To console my own disappointment and regret, I chatted with Park Jung-ah for a while.
* * *
[Lee Ho-jae, 18th Floor: A wand that has a pre-installed magic spell?]
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: Yes. Each magic wand form has a pre-installed basic magic spell.]
What she just told me was enough to make my ear pop open.
She was saying that Transmutable Thousand Arms included a wand form that could use magic.
[Lee Ho-jae, 18th Floor: Tell me the detail of its shape. I’ll try it right now.]
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: Yes. Please wait a moment. I wrote it down on the notebook… Where is it…]
I tried changing the Transmutable Thousand Arms to the shape that Park Jung-ah explained. As she said, I really could use magic with it.
Of course, it used substantial amount of mana. Also, it was extremely weak in comparison to what I experienced at the 16th Floor. However, this was enough.
First, I would be able to sense the elemental type better with this. The elemental type is the key to using magic.
I should be able to get a feel for this as I strike myself with this wand’s magic!
Also, to begin with, I was trying to learn magic for only one reason.
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: Now, you won’t have to worry about how to get the great magic resistance!]
[Lee Ho-jae, 18th Floor: Yep! It is perfect! It’s the best!]
From the start, I was trying to learn magic so I could use it to hurt myself. I was trying to raise my magic resistance with it.
For a while, a magic spell of this level should be enough.
The same could be said about various other types of resistances.
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: Hm hm! I was going to boast about finding it by telling you about it on the night of the last day of the tournament.]
That’s unbecoming of her. How adorable.
The reason for her higher tension messages is simple.
It’s probably because of me.
[Lee Ho-jae, 18th Floor: Thank you.]
I’m so thankful for her.
After a brief silence, another message from Park Jung-ah arrived.
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: In that case, please grant me a wish as a way of giving me your thanks.]
Why a wish all of the sudden?
Is there something else you want from me?
No, more importantly, is there something I could give to her?
While having such questions in my head, I was writing a brief message back, saying ‘Okay, I will.’ However, another message came from Park Jung-ah.
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: You definitively need to keep your promise, Big Bro.]
I deleted the message I was about to send. I just stood there.
Considering Park Jung-ah’s personality, is such a line even possible from her?
The kid used to stutter and blush when we asked her to use casual, non-honorary tone with me.
She had gotten better, but she still called me like a captain.
When it was awkward to call me by a title, then she just omitted the subject of the sentence and just said what she needed to tell me.
Now, she was calling me Big Bro.
After a brief moment of blank spaces, a message arrived. It gave me a glimpse of the situation at Park Jung-ah’s end.
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: sklfdj aalekfj geli valkdsj Ah, I’m sorry. I’m nuts. I’m a little drunk. Ah… theois is… Big Sis Yuu-jung sent that message. I didn’t write it.]
I could not help but to smile by myself.
Unfortunately, it was not possible for a person to send the message using someone else’s ID.
It looks like she must be really drunk.
Also, next to her, who is drunk, there must be a dating coach sticking by.
During this tournament, we learned from the Japanese server’s challengers that there is a booze that even the challengers of the Tutorial can get drunk on.
We were going to gather and drink together after the tournament ended.
In the end, because of work, it didn’t work out.
It seemed Park Jung-ah was drinking that with Lee Yuu-jung as a way to relieve the stress from the tournament.
[Lee Ho-jae, 18th Floor: I got it. I’ll grant your wish. I already told you this earlier, but thank you so much, in so many ways. Please tell Lee Yuu-jung that I said thanks.]
Even after that, Park Jung-ah rambled on for a while. I dwindled away at the time reading her messages.
Thanks to her, I was able to enjoy the remainder of the waiting time.
Even as she was sending me messages, she was continuing to drink. She could not get any more drunk. She finally said she was going to sleep. With that, the conversation ended.
After the conversation ended, I started to really prepare for the stage.
The waiting time was to end at 12 at midnight. Just before that, Park Jung-ah sent me a final message. I thought she was asleep.
[Park Jung-ah, 44th Floor: I’m sorry.]
[The 18th round for the Tutorial will begin in a moment.]
[Round 18, Day 0, 00:00]
I headed to the 18th Floor Stage through the bonfire room as soon as I checked the start of the Round 18.
* * *
The stage was a bright beach area.
To be precise, it was a tourist city with cool-looking beach. This was the setting of the 18th Floor stage.
The buildings were mostly made of stones. They were painted white. The people around there were wearing bright and flashy color clothing.
Based on the buildings, people’s clothing and the numerous merchandise on the street, it seemed the place’s setting was a little more developed than the medieval period on Earth.
One thing unique about this place was that there were tons of people.
It was as if the day was some sort of a holiday. It was not just at the beach. Even the streets of the city were jam-packed with people.
The scenery was too distant from the concept of danger. I was dumbfounded.
I was surprising to see people not hesitating at all to come within my attack range.
I tried to evade the people and get to somewhere that didn’t have many people. However, no matter how far I walked, I couldn’t find such a place.
Like that, still surprised, I was walking around the city, but finally, a message appeared.
[The 18th Floor’s trial will start.]
Description: Welcome to the greatest vacation spot in EeEvan continent.
AoAeo island is famous for its beautiful beach. However, it is even more famous for the Grand Paramal Festival, which is held only once a decade.
You are a seeker who happened to have arrived at the AoAeo island on the day the festival started.
Unfortunately, before you could enjoy the festivity, there is something that you need to do.
Your client asked you to find and eliminate someone who is enjoying the festival at the AoAeo island.
Please complete your mission.
The target is wearing dark purple clothing on the upper body and black clothing on the lower body.
The target’s face is ordinary looking.
As for the height and weight… they are not well known.
The description of the target’s appearance will definitely help you a lot.
Wish you the best!
Find the target within 30 days and kill the target.
After reading the message, what I thought first was “Where’s Waldo?”
I looked for Waldo a lot when I was a kid.
The second thing I thought of was who should I curse at.
As I slowly read the message that described the setting for the stage, curses and swears started to bottle up at my neck.
Oh my… What kind of bullcrap message for a mission is this?
The description of the appearance would greatly help me? Do dogs have horns?
The face is ordinary, and if the height and weight are unknown, then it means I have no choice but to find someone with the described clothing.
On top of that, the description for the clothing only mentioned the colors. It didn’t tell me the type of the clothing.
Bikini? T-shirts? Coat? How should I know?
This information is supposed to help me?
Wish me the best?
I want to let out my frustration at someone.
[God of Adventure is feeling wronged.]
Why would you be feeling wronged?
Now that I think about it, after I finished the 17th Floor and when I was just about to leave Kiri Kiri’s field, I think Kiri Kiri was about to tell me something about the 18th Floor.
However, back then, my mentality was shattered after hearing the theme for the 17th Floor, so I didn’t care to listen. I went back straight to the waiting room.
Damn it. I should have stayed calm and listened to Kiri Kiri.
Lately, because I had not been needing her help to clear stages, I took her advice too lightly.
Damn it… I should just try finding this target anyway.
* * *
Wow. I think I’ll go nuts.
There are too many people.
Even the Everland during the Day of the Children would not be this busy with people.
During the 2002 World Cup that was held in Korea, I think the Gwang-wha Gate Main Plaza was this crowded once.
My view is packed with people. If the target was among them, I am not sure if I could pick the target out of the crowd.
The noise caused by so many people was making me dizzy.
There was blazing sunlight, and the air was humid. The discomfort was stabbing the sky itself.
However, for some reason, people were really enjoying themselves. They were chatting away happily.
Some were even playing musical instruments and dancing on the streets.
Also, when people started doing that, other people who had been passing by came into join the dance.
After that, even more people around the area danced along with the rest.
After that, the people behind them also danced.
Like that, every single one in the street danced.
Like that, as everyone started to dance, the street became completely blocked.
I had no way to move around this, so I had to wait until the dance was over.
The dance ended after about 30 minutes. However, I ended up running into another group of dancing people after walking for a little bit.
The dance fiasco was repeated.
Who has been calling this a festival? This is not a festival.
This is Dance Dance Heavy Labor.
Still, people were smiling as if they were enjoying this.
They were singing, drinking something, and dancing.
They appeared to be very excited and happy, but I could not feel the same.
If I could not feel the same about what others were happy about, then that only resulted in frustration.
I was getting exhausted from frustration. Unconsciously, I suddenly grabbed onto the wrist of a woman who was passing by.
I didn’t give it much thought at all. I just grabbed the wrist.
If I must find a reason for my action, it was because something moved in front of my eyes when I was giving the world a blank stare. So, I grabbed her wrist.
I would have understood it if she hated having her wrist grabbed all of the sudden by a stranger. However, she smiled widely and asked what it was about.
Now that I had the opportunity anyway, I decided to ask one thing that I was curious about.
“Just when does the Grand Paramal Festival end?”
The woman put up a surprised look on her face for a moment. She then responded as if she understood.
“Ah! You must be a foreigner who does not know much about the Paramal Festival!”
To be precise, she is right. I’m a foreigner to this place.
“The Grand Paramal Festival continues for a month.”
Having heard what she said, I saw the ground below my feet sinking. I felt like I was falling to the depth of abyss.
The condition of clearing the stage was finding and killing the target within 30 days.
I thought this festival would not last long; it would last three days at the most.
However, she told me this will go on for a month.
This is hopeless.
“It looks like you don’t know how to enjoy the Grand Paramal Festival. Why don’t you come with me to where my group is? I’ll tell you how to enjoy the festival. First, try this drink.”
She handed me a bottle of the drink she had on her hand as she explained in exhilarating tone.
The bottle contained blue, luminescent drink.
Everyone in the street was holding one.
Anyway, the drink is not the important issue here.
Huk… What is this? Am I being picked up by a woman?
Along with that, negative keywords such as kidnapping and organ trading came to my mind briefly.
Agony after agony zapped through my head.
Should I just follow her?
Should I just follow her and try enjoying the festival?
It might be fun if I tried.
Also, my mental state is quite dangerous at the moment.
If I relax by mingling with the people, it might get better. I never know.
The stage does not appear to be dangerous in any particular way too.
Finding the target seem to be difficult, but it is not a dangerous task.
Would I ever be able to run into another stage as safe as this one? In Hell Difficulty?
In the first place, it is not like I can see any clues for clearing the stage.
It won’t make much difference if I played around for a few days and resumed the search.
I should just use this opportunity to take a long, one month vacation and challenge it again during the next round. That might be the better plan.
Should I just follow this woman?
Such temptations were floating up in my head.
“I’m sorry. I have work to do.”
Still, I refused and parted with the woman.
No matter how lonely I was, no matter how hungry for attention and friendship I was, I thought it would be wrong if I aimlessly loosened up and played around.
This is the inside of a Tutorial stage.
My assumption about safety was just an assumption, not a certainty.
Also, I don’t understand what the festival is for. I don’t know why everyone is dancing and finding the dance so fun.
I must not loosen up.
I got to the front of the tall building that I was eyeing briefly. By the time I got there, it was already almost the end of the lunch time.
I scaled the building’s wall and sat on the top.
It was the tallest building in the area, so I could clearly see the surroundings from there.
Now, I should calm down and try to find the target from here.
That day, until the sun went down and the night came, I sat there and watched the street. However, I could not find the target.