[I said adorable.]
[It… it so sudden to hear you say that about me…]
[No, not you.]
* * *
[Round 19 will begin.]
[Round 19, Day 1, 00:00]
The message signaling the start of the new round appeared, and I finished getting ready to head out to the stage right away.
Park Jung-ah or Kim Min-hyuk and others would be busy minding the newbies who just entered the Tutorial at the start of the new round.
It was not like I had anything in particular to tell them, so I decided to go straight to clearing the stages.
Now, let’s go.
I calmed my heart through the past few days. I feel refreshed too.
[God of Adventure is anxious.]
[God of Slowness is cheering for you.]
[God of Goodwill feels sorry for you.]
Seriously, I let it be known to them that I am annoyed with their messages, yet why are they still at it?
Since two days ago, they had been sending me messages like that in every few hours.
I stretch-yawned once and got on the portal.
With renewed attitude, let’s go.
I went through the bonfire room and entered the 19th Floor stage. It was a dark forest with lush trees.
The forest was packed with tall trees. The above was covered in tree branches and leaves. Not a ray of sunshine came through.
The tall tree’s branches were all above my height, so they didn’t get in my way or block my view.
Because of the trees, the view was not very wide.
There were bits of fogs here and there, so the air was moist and cold.
Fortunately, the ground was solid enough.
It was not mushy mud. That alone was something to feel fortunate about.
Overall, the environment was not comfortable. Still, I was satisfied with breathing the clean air with the smell of grass.
[God of Godwill feels sorry for you.]
Ugh, really. I wish they just stopped it aleady.
I ignored the message from the god who cared too much. Instead, I turned my attention to something else around me.
What am I supposed to do in this stage?
Usually, I could figure out the theme of the stage before the message appeared to explain the stage’s clear conditions.
However, I am not able to get a feel for the theme of the 19th Floor stage.
A lush forest.
If I have to point out anything out of the ordinary, there was a small animal that was hiding behind a tree and shivering.
What kind of animal is that? Why isn’t it running or attacking?
On top of this, it is not even hiding all that well.
I can see its tail waggling. The tail is fully exposed.
Could it be that this is not a wild animal but a pet?
I thought about approaching it. However, the animal was shaking a lot. It appeared to be choking in fear, so I decided not to.
Instead, I spread mana and checked the appearance of the animal that was hiding behind the tree.
As I observed visually, the animal had brown fox tail.
Above the tail… A human?
Surprisingly, the one hiding behind the tree was a human.
Considering the ears and the tail, perhaps I should say a beastman.
I guess this one is similar to Kiri Kiri.
At first, I thought this one was an animal not just because of the tail, but also the animal-like low growl and thick animal-like smell.
I guess this one is a little different from Kiri Kiri?
Kiri Kiri introduced herself as a rabbit, not a human, but practically speaking, Kiri Kiri is closer to a human who happens to have bunny ears.
On the other hand, I think this one is closer to being an animal that looks like human.
There is the low growling cry. There is also the crunching pose too.
If it was not for the fact that this one was wearing a green raincoat, I might have still mistaken this one for a wild animal even after checking its body and face.
It was at that moment. The message appeared.
[The 19th Floor’s trial will begin.]
Explanation: Mr. Guide, have you ever lost your way in middle of a dark forest? I hope you never have. Lately, there is a terrifying rumor going around about Graywood forest.
The rumor has it that there are ghosts who are trying to eat people’s livers. The ghosts, with their ghastly cries, are roaming around the forest.
In middle of the forest, there is a child who needs help.
Guide the child to the outside of the forest.
That was quite a simple message.
I felt like the message’s tone was a little different from other floors, but that was not a big problem.
It sounds like I just need to be that kid’s temporary guardian.
I thought something was up when Kiri Kiri showed me how to take care of cold symptoms.
Without me realizing, I sighed.
I am no good at taking care of another.
I never tried it either.
Um… What should I do.
I should try it first and summon Idy if I feel like it won’t work.
Anyway, how am I supposed to take care of this one?
I think this one is afraid of me.
Actually, more importantly, that one appears to be afraid of me, yet it has the audacity to growl at me?
That defeats the purpose of hiding, doesn’t it?
I was trying not to contact the busy people, but I had no choice.
I need help.
[Lee Ho-jae, 19th Floor: Help!]
[Kim Min-hyuk, 30th Floor: Busy.]
You heartless bastard.
To start with, I suppose it would be better to ask Park Jung-ah instead of Kim Min-hyuk about this.
It requires a fine touch, so…
If anyone asked if Park Jung-ah was gentle and refined, then I would not know how to answer that. Anyway…
[Lee Ho-jae, 19th Floor: Do you have a bit of time?]
[Park Jung-ah, 45th Floor: Yes, of course. I have time for a quick chat.]
This is the first time to see Park Jung-ah saying she had time for a quick chat.
It looks like she must be very busy.
There was no need for a long introduction. I went straight to the point.
[Lee Ho-jae, 19th Floor: What should I do to calm an animal that’s frightened?]
[Park Jung-ah, 45th Floor: I am not sure. Befriending an animal is usually accomplished with food, right?]
[Lee Ho-jae, 19th Floor: I got it. Thanks. I’ll contact you again later.]
I closed the message window and opened the dimensional pocket from the inventory.
Which food should I tempt this one with? Which food would work well?
Considering the ears and the tail, I think this one is a beastman kind that is similar to foxes.
It means this one is probably a carnivore or omnivore.
Even a rabbit-human like Kiri Kiri is an omnivore, so I think it would be best to get both meat and vegetables.
First… I should make the bonfire of course.
This is following the cliché.
In martial warrior stories, when the main character runs into someone who had been suffering from starvation, this is right about the time when they had a bonfire going and roasting fishes together.
There’s no need to bother with handling or preparing it. Also, while the fish gets roasted, the smell spreads too.
There’s also the warmth from the bonfire, so the situation fits exactly to the cliché.
Also, this is one of the clichés that are very plausible.
I collected fallen leaves from nearby.
As soon as I got up, the one behind the tree flinched big, but the one didn’t run away.
Among the leaves, which were mostly a little wet, I found ones that were relatively dry and rubbed them with the heat stone.
Soon, the leaves caught on fire.
There was no need for me to do bothersome things like having the tree branches get caught on fire and blowing at it to grow the fire.
I brought out charcoals from the inventory and tossed them around the heat stone.
The bonfire will be more or less complete as long as the charcoals catch on fire before the heat stone’s power dies off.
I placed a fishing chair about a step away from the bonfire and sat down.
I totally feel like I’m out on camping.
I brought out ingredients from the dimensional pocket.
At a long kabab stick, I placed meat and vegetables in order.
They were already cleanly cut, so I could get the kabab ready without much work.
I made two kababs, placed them on fire and started to roast them.
I didn’t have a platform to place the kababs, so I held them on my hand and roasted them.
After a bit of time, the roasted vegetables’ sweet aroma and roasting meats’ smell started to spread.
The smell was pretty good.
I placed one kabab on the ground diagonally by stabbing the ground with its handle portion so the food stayed above the ground.
I started eating the other kabab by holding it.
The meat was only lightly seasoned, so it was a bit fatty, but the inner meat was soft.
It was not stuffy to eat, and I liked that the most.
As I thought, the expensive meats were worth the price.
Spicy vegetables between meats compensated for fatty meat’s taste.
I had not had much appetite lately, but I was still able to eat the kabab and enjoy it more or less.
For a while, I had forgotten about the fact that the goal was to entice the one behind the tree with food. Instead, I focused on enjoying the meal. Still, I think I accomplished the goal anyway.
The one hiding behind the tree was drooling big time from the mouth. So…
Now, um… What should I do?
I moved my hand toward the other kabab that was stuck on the ground, and the rascal’s eyes shook wildly.
I had my back turned toward the rascal, so this one had about half of the body out of the tree.
I’m sure this rascal is thinking I cannot see, but I was watching this one using my detection skill, not my eyes.
I think I’ll need to do some acting?
“Um… Hm… What do I do? I still have food left, but I’m too full. Ah, it is such a waste, but looks like I’ll have to leave it here.”
Although I was the one who said the line, the line itself and my delivery were seriously lacking in commitment to the acting.
I think a kindergartener reading a fairytale book out loud would sound more natural than this.
As for the runt behind me who was drooling out a river and fiddling around, that one was completely out of the tree.
Although the rascal was still maintaining the distance.
Let’s wait a bit longer.
While I waited, I brought out food ingredients from the dimensional pouch and laid them around the ground.
The runt’s breathing had become even harder.
When about 30 minutes had passed since I started to wait, the distance between me and the kid had closed substantially.
Although slowly, the rascal slowly came closer to me and the bonfire.
The kid was approaching at a snail pace of one step per five minutes, but still, the rascal was coming closer.
Since the rascal came closer, I decided to use the mana to examine the kid’s appearance in detail.
I was planning on examining the appearance visually, but I think it would take another 20 or 30 minutes before the kid gets to front of my eyes.
As I noticed earlier, the rascal had fox-like tail and ears. The kid was a beastman kind.
This one was wearing a large, dark-green raincoat. Under the hood were large sparkling eyes. The kid looked adorable.
The height was less than one meter. The kid was small.
Considering the face, and the height, this one really appeared to be a little child.
Still, since this kid was not human, I could not be certain of this.
No matter how long I waited, the rascal was refusing to come any closer beyond a certain distance.
The runt was just fidgeting and hesitating around. Like that, I waited for over an hour. I couldn’t help myself but to just give up and get up.
“Ah, I think I’ll have to go relieve myself. It would be great if someone ate the leftover kabab.”
Leaving behind the horribly delivered line as if I was reading from a book, I left the scene for the kid.
I was hoping that the rascal would pick up or eat the kabab and other food ingredients.
If possible, I would have preferred to wait for the kid and befriend this rascal. However, this one was unable to come closer despite drooling and shivering hands from the hunger. Looking at the kid, I could not wait anymore.
I stepped away from the bonfire and walked into the forest. Meanwhile, I used the detection skill to monitor the kid.
I felt sorry for the child.
The kid’s eyes were sunken and dark below. There was drooling from the mouth, but the lips were completely dried up that they were cracked.
The kid’s fingertips were full of numerous little wounds that they looked like the fingertips would be covered in white scars. As for the kid’s arms and legs, they were skinny as bones.
Despite all that, the little one was still not able to pick up the barbeque kabab in front of the bonfire.
This runt sure was a scardy-cat.
* * *
After about 20 minutes passed, I could detect that the kid was moving away from the bonfire.
It seemed this one finally finished the meal.
I started to move to go back to the bonfire.
When I returned to the bonfire, what I saw was unexpected.
It was a little surprising.
The meats and vegetables on the barbeque kabab were still there.
Actually, there were minor differences.
There were one less piece of meat and pimento each.
Still, the arrangement of the pieces was changed slightly, so it was not obvious from taking a glance at the kabab that their numbers had been reduced.
If I didn’t count the pieces when I made the kabab, I would not have been able to notice this easily.
Moreover, it was not just the kabab that changed.
Next to the bonfire were two long tree branches that were plugged on to the ground, and the kabab was placed above the two tree branches.
Thanks to that, the kabab was warmed up.
It seemed the height was just right as well. Kabab didn’t burn either.
Also, as for the food ingredients that I scattered on the ground, they were neatly arranged based on type and shape.
None of the ingredients were missing.
There were small rocks surrounding the bonfire to form a circle.
They were placed to prevent the spread of fire.
The fallen leaves around the bonfire were all moved away from the bonfire by a certain distance. On top of this, the dirt that got on the portable chair’s legs were wiped clean.
Without realizing, I turned my head to look behind me.
The kid had the head peeking out of the tree, but the runt tumbled and hid behind the tree as soon as I looked.
I think this one is not a fox but the Snail Bride?
I could not help but to ponder about this.
Someone who is so weak and who had suffered starvation for so long only ate a piece of meat and another piece of vegetable before putting down the kabab. Is that possible?
On top of that, this kid paid back for the kindness?