[Round 18, Day 19, 16:20]
I checked the face of a man wearing purple robe over his head.
Again, the face was the same as the others.
I pondered about this.
I could not help but wonder.
Could I repeat this?
Could I see their faces again?
That was not the case.
I tightened my grip and snapped the man’s neck.
After that, I confirmed the message.
[You cleared the 18th Floor of the Tutorial in Hell Difficulty.]
[All of your wounds and abnormalities will be recovered.]
[You acquired 3000 points as clear reward.]
[You acquired 3000 points for the best clear.]
[Many gods are showing positive responses to you. You acquired 7500 points.]
[Many gods are showing negative responses to you. 2500 points were deducted.
[An additional reward will be given based on your play record.]
[God of Death would like to give a part of the god’s power as a gift. Would you like to accept?]
[You acquired Soul Collect Lv. Max.]
[All gods in White Holy Temple are watching you.]
[God of Slowness is watching you.]
[God of Adventure is rooting for you.]
[God of Duel is silent.]
[God of Death is overjoyed from watching you.]
[God of Life is watching you in a negative way.]
[God of Pain is smiling at you.]
[God of Goodwill is feeling sorry for you.]
It finally ended.
I didn’t give a damn about the clear rewards. I just crouched down at the spot and took deep breaths.
Purple clothes on the upper body and black clothing on the lower body.
It turned out that there were more than just one such target who matched the description.
There were total of six.
They had emotionless faces and responses. They were too strange to be called humans. Considering that all of them had same body and face, I wondered if they were clones.
I was not certain.
However, I didn’t want to dig around to learn about this in more detail than what I already knew.
I was not interested.
I checked the map that the target was looking at before he died.
It was the map of the AoAeo island.
The map had red lines marking all over the place.
I wondered what they could mean. Soon, I could figure out what the lines meant.
They were the whereabouts and movements of the targets.
During the 3rd, 13th, 23rd and 30th day, the targets gather at one place.
The place of their gathering was the plaza I was at just now.
… It was a great piece information.
If I had known about this secret meeting place deep inside the island sooner, I could have waited until the 30th day and… kill all targets at once.
I cried from my regret and remorse.
I bit my lips. I bit my tongue. I tried to stop crying. However, I moaned along as they bled like my heart.
I could have avoided this tragedy, even if I had not found their secret meeting place.
It was more than possible.
Since I was planning on staying at this island for a long time, if I just forgot about clear condition and focused on living it up…
If I stopped searching after determining the location of the target…
Instead of provoking the target, if I killed him from a distance using a clean method…
If I didn’t act so stupid and reveal myself to the target so carelessly…
The stupid and careless actions I had taken came together and bought about this tragedy.
It was my fault.
Now, I cannot even go back.
I already cleared the stage.
I glanced at the portal that appeared below my feet and then started to walk.
Outside the secret meeting place, there was still a bright sunshine. The light was shining down on me.
It was uncomfortable to walk.
I could not take one step without a corpse getting in my way. The ground was drenched with red blood. The ground was sticky.
Like that, in discomfort, I walked. I found a cup that had some Paramal left.
It was Paramal that someone didn’t finish.
I was not surprised.
Paramal was found everywhere in this island. The drink was very common here after all.
I picked up the cup and tried drinking the Paramal that was still left in it.
It was sweet.
It was exactly like as if ice cream was molten.
That was all.
Now, it was no more or less than sweet water.
It did not make me feel better or… connect me to other people.
There weren’t any people left for it to connect me to.
However, I could not stop drinking Paramal.
I walked down the street, and every time I saw a glass of Paramal, I drank it.
I hoped that its effect would be revived at the end of its sweetness.
That day, I really drank a lot of Paramal.
I drank so much of it that I threw up several times.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 20, 10:00]
There weren’t any Paramal left on the street.
I repeated drinking and throwing up. I drank it restlessly, so it was only obvious.
However, I continued to search for more Paramal.
I wanted to drink more of it.
What came to my mind was Hyang’s café.
There was a large storage room under the café.
It was the storage room for Paramal.
I had a memory of drinking Paramal with Hyang at the storage room, so I went to find it right away.
As soon as I entered Hyang’s café, it felt odd.
It just so happened that it was time for me to eat the breakfast at Hyang’s café.
As a part of the morning routine that signaled the start of the day, I greeted the people inside the cafe, met Hyang and ate breakfast.
With not a soul inside, the café was quiet. I walked in and headed to the storage room.
I walked through the narrow and dark corridor that lead to the basement storage room. As I walked, I felt that it was familiar.
I already knew well, how Hyang died.
The storage room’s door was locked.
I grabbed the lock and tightened my grip. I was able to tear it off with ease.
Inside the storage room were large wooden barrels. They were tightly packed together inside the room.
They all contained Paramal.
I brought out a glass and scooped up Paramal from a barrel.
Now, the beverage had no special effect. However, I think it is a little different for me.
When I drank it, I felt its intense sweetness, enough to make my tongue go numb. Every time I tasted its sweetness, I could remember the sensation I could feel until only recently, although the sensation lasted only while I was drinking it.
Also, I was just fooling myself into thinking so.
Still, I could not stop drinking Paramal.
That day, I spent the whole day drinking Paramal.
I threw up as much as I drank.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 23, 17:30]
Unwelcome guests arrived at AoAeo island.
They were the ones who made Paramal and tried to control the people through it, probably.
As the targets did, they spread their voices throughout the entire island. The voices were commanding the people who drank Paramal.
Were they trying to find the survivors?
However, I was the only one who could respond to them.
As soon as I met them, I attacked them.
I was not all that interested in their goals or potential information.
As for the ship that they arrived in, I burned it.
After that, I returned to the basement of the café.
That day, I spent my time drinking Paramal and throwing up.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 29, 07:30]
I had thought this once.
I will lighten up by the time I leave AoAeo island.
It was because I thought I won’t be leaving until I felt that way.
I think it went as I planned.
I had spent the past few days drinking Paramal and throwing up while crying.
I didn’t want to drink Paramal anymore.
I no longer felt regrets or remorse.
It was not that the emotions disappeared.
It was just that I had poured out so much emotion. Now, no emotion were left. No thoughts came either.
I just felt empty.
My head and heart…
After I cried for a long time, I felt numb. I felt empty. At the same time, I felt a little refreshed. That’s how I felt.
No thoughts came to my head.
I didn’t feel anger. I didn’t feel sadness.
At this moment, I was emotionless.
I didn’t know if this state would continue, but I thought that I will be all right for a while.
It was time for me to leave.
First, I got out of the storage room.
Through the portal, I could leave the stage. However, I wanted to check my status for a bit.
Slowly, I checked the sensations, starting from the tip of my fingers.
There weren’t any problems.
As for my mind… I don’t know.
I think it would be good to take good care of myself so I won’t shake my mentality.
I opened the status window and checked my growth.
I leveled up a bit. Skills leveled up quite a bit as well.
If it was like the past, I would have been happy about them, since I gained things.
Although I didn’t feel any emotion, I felt the chill going down my spine as I thought of that.
I felt goosebumps on my arm and cheeks.
It seemed I was not able to empty it all.
Well, how could I empty all of it.
I think it will continue to follow me around.
I checked the Soul Collect skill that I received as the reward for clearing the 18th Floor.
[Soul Collect (Lv. Max)]
Description: After pondering on this for a long time, the God of Death gifted the power to the challenger that the god had taken the most interest in lately.
Although careful, the God of Death is also impatient. The god is already regretting his decision.
As usual with all power skills, I could not figure out what this skill was for based on the description alone.
From the name, it seemed like it was a skill for collecting souls. However, I could not get a feel for how to use it.
I should ask Kiri Kiri.
Beyond the window, I looked down at the street.
At the moment, there were several hundred thousands of souls here in this island.
I thought about trying out the Soul Collect as a test. However, I decided not to.
I don’t even know exactly what kind of effect it will have.
My wounds just stopped bleeding for a moment. I didn’t want to poke at it for the sake of a fickle curiosity.
After finishing the thoughts, I got on the portal that was just a step away.
I closed my eyes for a moment and opened. I was moved to the green field.
As soon as I was moved to the field, Kiri Kiri screamed and jumped toward me.
She was throwing a tackle at me. I collided with her and fell back.
“What are you doing, Kiri Kiri.”
Kiri Kiri tightly held on to me and cried her eyes out.
“Hiiiiing. I didn’t do my job.”
You didn’t do your job?
Ah, is it because she didn’t give advice about the 18th Floor?
Actually, that was because I rushed back to the waiting room.
To begin with, I had not been hearing much advices on how to clear stages lately. Also, after clearing the 17th Floor stage, I had many things I had to mind.
If I am to assign blame, then this is not Kiri Kiri’s fault. It is my own.
“No. It is my fault. I should have stopped you from leaving and told you about the 18th Floor.”
It is really all right.
If it was a few days ago, then I may have resented her.
However, now, I didn’t feel emotions like resentment or regrets.
“Kiri Kiri. Instead, I would like to ask you for explanation on the Soul Collect skill.”
“Hiiiing. I got it.”
Kiri Kiri lifted her head and responded.
However, she did not release her arms which were tightly holding onto my body.
I also asked her to give me advice for the next floor.
Kiri Kiri said there won’t be much danger at 19th Floor.
As a side note, she included explanations on how to treat the cold and how to take care of someone who had it.
I didn’t have to worry about getting cold. So, this meant that I’ll be meeting someone at the 19th Floor who has a cold.
This is slowly getting stuffy.
I got up and stretched.
I thought Kiri Kiri might unhand me if I got up. However, although I got up, Kiri Kiri was still hanging onto me.
She was like a koala.
“Can you please let go now?”
“I’ll give you cake if you let go.”
Kiri Kiri detached herself from me immediately.
I bought her a piece of cake.
“Hooouuuujaeee, aren’t you going to eat too?”
“I’m not going to eat. I don’t think I’ll be able to eat anything sweet for a while.”
Literally, I had been drinking Paramal until I puked.
So, I became sick of anything sweet.
“Hiiiiiing… Please don’t kick yourself so much. It is not your fault. That was just a difficult trial.”
I’m sure she was trying to console me. Still, I did not agree with her.
Anyway, I am thankful for her. She is showing concern for me.
Still, I suppose I did get something from the 18th Floor.
I learned to be thankful to another in honest way.
“No. You had always been honest to your emotions and were not afraid to show them.”
She is complimenting me out of the blue.
“Usually, having other beings reading one’s mind is very scary and uncomfortable. However, you didn’t mind me or other gods for looking into your thoughts. That was because you were not afraid to show us your thoughts and were not embarrassed about them.”
I am not sure. I don’t think that’s why.
I have many embarrassing thoughts. I do wish that I could hide them as well.
Still, well, it does feel good to be praised.
“Hoouuujaeee, you are!”
Kiri Kiri suddenly shouted.
She then closed her eyes. She started to think deeply about something.
She had been like that for a while. She suddenly opened her eyes widely, faced me and said,
“Your fingers are beautiful.”
Kiri Kiri looked very proud as she said it. Meanwhile, I could not immediately understand what that was for.
I was able to understand her intent only after I thought about what I had been thinking earlier.
She was giving me compliments for my own sake.
That sure is an odd one. She spent almost three minutes to think hard about it, and that’s what she came up with? That my fingers are beautiful?
I wondered if I should take away the slice of cake. I gave it a serious thought.
“Ho…. Houuujaeee, you are!”
Kiri Kiri noticeably stumbled with words.
After that, she closed her eyes and thought hard.
I’m looking forward to her answer too.
I wonder what kind of compliment would she give me this time?
“Your name is fun!”
As I thought, I think I should take the cake.
* * *
I said goodbye to Kiri Kiri and went back to the waiting room.
I had chatted away with her for a long time before I left, so I was feeling a little excited. Now, my mood was calming down again.
I sat at the bed in the waiting room and thought about things.
My emotion had become dull.
I wondered if this would become a big problem later.
For now, there was nothing bad about it.
At AoAeo island, I really had seen the bottom of the barrel.
I cried like a crazy person and did all sorts of unsightly things.
My current condition was far more preferable than a continuation of that.
It was more comfortable as well.
Maintaining agitated emotional state is very taxing mentally and physically.
However, this might become a problem later.
I feel anxious.
I checked my current mental state as if I was a third person.
At a glance, I look as if I obtained the enlightenment.
I had thrown away all desires that human beings possess. I have defeated my own emotions.
However, I knew well that I didn’t obtain the enlightenment.
How should I explain this…
Right. I feel like I am currently in the state of anesthesia.
I had become mentally numb.
Just like how senses become numb from extreme pain, just like that.
I had pondered about this for a moment. It didn’t look like there is anything that would cause problems.
This is not the first time.
After I just fell inside the Tutorial, I had been constantly experiencing terror from life-threatening elements. I had been seeing numbers which indicated the death of people.
Also, I had spent time in agony while blaming myself for not being able to save those people. As such days continued, before I realized, my heart had become numb.
I had been treating myself without much care like an avatar in a video game.
These are not some distant memories.
They are the things that have happened ever since I entered the Tutorial and until now.
To make a rough guess… It is until just before I summoned Idy at the 12th Floor and stayed with her.
I actually have been thinking that I had become complacent and careless lately.
Killing and subduing the emotions and looking at situations objectively is helpful for survival and growth.
It is not a bad thing.
It was just that I have been too relaxed lately.
I organized my thoughts that way.
I finished agonizing over things. Afterwards, I was finally able to have a moment to spare to look around myself.
I looked around, but there wasn’t much.
It’s a waiting room, so it is just a waiting room. Well…
There was one thing that was different.
When I returned to the waiting room after the tournament was over, I was under the effects of extreme loneliness and solitude.
I was in pain. I was sad.
Now, I didn’t feel that way.
As I thought, this is not a bad condition to be in.
However, my senses were still dampened.
I didn’t sense any movements from my eyes.
It was obvious.
There was just myself in the waiting room that was moving.
Other than the sound of my breathing, I couldn’t hear anything.
I held my breath for a moment. Now, I could only hear the sound of my heart beating.
The sound of the heart beat was very small. However, its presence felt as loud as thunder.
Following the rhythm of the heartbeat, I felt like the pressure inside the dark waiting room was rushing at me.
The waiting room was dark and empty. However, it felt like the place was full of something.
I felt like I was going to get buried under my dampened senses.
There were not many things that I could do to escape this.
I opened the inventory and brought out Transmutable Thousand Arms.
In this dull waiting room, the sound that I hated hearing, only the horrible sound of flesh being cut echoed.