I wait while watching Kiri Kiri licking all the leftover cream from a plate.
The plate Kiri Kiri was licking is definitely not the empty plate I left after finishing the cake myself.
Of course not.
I am not that big of an asshole.
After I made Kiri Kiri to promise not to make fun of my name, I bought a whipped cream cake for Kiri Kiri.
I attempted to ask Kiri Kiri about the meaning of my name, but Kiri Kiri refused to tell me because apparently, it’s a private matter.
“But hey, look, if it’s my name then it’s technically MY private matter, so then why can’t I know about it?”
“Heheh, is that so.”
Kiri Kiri smirks at me and avoids answering my question earnestly.
I snatch away the plate Kiri Kiri was licking.
“Ahhh. Give it back. Give it back!”
“Then will you answer properly?”
Kiri Kiri promised to answer earnestly this time, so I will give the plate back to Kiri Kiri..
But as soon as Kiri Kiri got the plate back, Kiri Kiri said such information is just not meant to be revealed yet, and went back to licking the almost-clean plate once again.
Alright I get it, any information regarding the private matters costs quite a lot.
So I’m going to just let this one go.
Right now, knowing the meaning of my name isn’t that important anyways.
“Alright Kiri Kiri, about the 19th floor then.”
Kiri Kiri is still busy licking the empty plate.
I breathe a sigh and purchase one lollipop.
“Kiri kiri, say, ah.”
I shove a lollipop into Kiri Kiri’s mouth while Kiri Kiri was saying Ah-.
And I snatch away the plate and place it in the inventory.
But since Kiri Kiri got driven away with a lollipop in its mouth, Kiri Kiri didn’t seem to mind getting the plate taken away at all.
“I’m going to take that lollipop back if you dare to reply to my questions insincerely again”
Again, she answers with that careless tone of voice.
It was the usual, but today it was slightly worse than other days.
“So, about the 19th floor.”
“Heh. I’d say it’s better to be concerned about the upcoming floor rather than a floor you’ve already passed.”
“Well, there will be other challenger trying for 19th floor next. So I need some information for them. Plus, I am quite curious myself as well.”
Kiri Kiri smiled awkwardly, and began to talk.
“Let me guess, it’s all because of that new accident that happened right after you cleared the 19th floor, right?”
It’s very convenient to have an advisor who can read my mind.
“Well, even if you remove the curse, or even if you awake the God Mother, there will be absolutely no reward for that. This is completely normal, since the stage has already been cleared.”
“Then what was the point of those installations after the floor was cleared?”
“In order to observe what kind of decisions challenger would end up making even when there is no reward promised for him and to observe what type of movements he would make. It has nothing to do with stage clearing, but these are the things the Gods want to know more about. They want to see the choices challengers make, and want to see if those choices are reflective of their characteristics. They really want to know these things.”
I understand it now.
The reason why Gods oftentimes observe challengers and even gift them certain authorities is to persuade the challengers to become their apostles in the end.
So it would be great to have as many installations as possible to test challengers’ characteristics.
There must have been some of those installations present in the past stages as well.
There must have been several installations hidden in each stage.
However for the 19th floor, they must have put the installation specifically to test how the challenger would react in a situation where there is no reward to be achieved.
“Unlike Hojae, other challengers do not get a change to face giant ghost figures before arriving in the village. In fact, the appearance of giant ghost figures had been triggered much earlier than it should have been, all because you were defeating too many of them too quickly. Other challengers only needed to protect Myong Myong and hold up until the God Mother was awakened by the ritual. They can either do that, or they can decide to just run away from them. Guarding Myong Myong with their lives without any promised reward for a long, long time without knowing when it would even end; now that’s the objective for after the stage clear.”
“So that was the objective for that stage. I knew it; it was way too easy.”
“Well 19th floor was not an easy stage, at all”
Is that so.
It was way easier compared to 17th and 18th floor.
“That’s only because Hojae made the 18th floor much more difficult. And you just immediately passed the 17th floor!”
Well, now that I think about it, Kiri Kiri’s words make sense.
If there were any challenger who passed 17th floor before me, the difficulty level he faced must have been much lower than the difficulty level Lee Hyung-Jin will have to face in the future.
“Um…. Then let’s talk about Myoung Myoung on the 19th floor….”
Once I started the sentence, my mind went completely blank and I forgot what I was going to say next.
“Are there any more questions regarding the 19th floor?”
Kiri Kiri’s question perplexed me.
I didn’t really have any questions left; nothing that popped up in my head.
I had no questions regarding the stage clearing strategies either.
“I see, you just want to chat more huh?”
I’ve already said it once, but I will have to say it twice.
It is very convenient to have an advisor who reads minds.
“Yeah. I guess.”
I admitted it.
I want to talk more about Myong Myong and Lala Lila and other people.
I want to know more about them, even though I’ve already passed them, even though they may not be significant to me at all anymore.
With chocolate cookie and milk laid out on the floor, I chatted with Kiri Kiri for a long while.
* * * * * *
“It’s not weird at all that you are unable to control the souls by soul collection skill. It’s because soul collection is literally a skill to collect souls. In order to persuade souls, you need to ask them politely, instead of giving them some sort of orders to do certain things for you.”
Is that how it is.
Then what, do I need to perform some sort of ancestral ritual with pig’s blood?
“Actually that’s not a bad idea at all.”
Would that really work….
“Or you will have to do something to help release the souls’ sorrow, or gift them something they really like, or do something they like….”
After listening to Kiri Kiri’s explanation, I have to give up my original plan of actively manipulating the souls completely.
I can’t really be bothered to behave like their little slave, just to be able to control some tiny little ghosts which are only good for uselessly screaming things like Kyah- and Oooh-.
“Well if you get to establish deeper friendships with them, they would grow as big as the size of your hand.”
“They’d still be hard to use still. Oh well….”
I wanted to skip to next question, but Kiri Kiri stopped me.
Kiri Kiri raised one hand firmly and gestured ‘stop’ just like traffic police officer, and said.
“There isn’t much quota left now. I will only receive two more important questions.”
This is the third time I have to say it today; it really is pretty damn convenient to have an advisor who can read my mind.
Kiri Kiri knew what question I would be asking next, and decided to tell me to filter them out and only ask the important ones.
Kiri Kiri put her chin up, and widened her shoulder.
“Then I would like to ask about the level up rewards. How come there are no more level up rewards, all of a sudden?”
The stats and skill level that we receive as level up rewards have been decreasing from one point, and now there are no rewards given for leveling up at all.
A level up reward was one of the ways to improve stats and skills conveniently along with stage clear rewards. Hence, it was a major issue that there is no more level up reward.
This is my current status screen.
[Lee Ho-Jae (Human)]
Power : 40
Agility : 58
Health : 41
Magic : 41
Skills : Battle Concentration Lv.20 Will Power Lv.14 Arousal LV.2 Prediction Lv.9 Insight Lv.5 Race Lv.8 Covertness Lv.14 Meditation Lv.12 Detection Lv.7 Chase Lv.13 Natural Healing Lv.12 Revival Lv.5 Strengthening of sensation Lv.14 Sensation Explosion Lv.8 Energy Lv.6 Expansion of Vision Lv.4 Metal Wall Lv.2 Somatosclerosis Lv.3 Shouting of soul Lv.3 Advanced Sword Skill Lv.6 Advanced Shielding Skill Lv.2 Basic Spear Skill Lv. 8 Advanced Desmoplasty Lv.2 Basic Trapezoidectomy Lv.6 Basic Cooking Lv.6 Magical circuit Lv.16 Malice Lv.7 Wind Spirit’s Blessing Lv. 5 Spirit Friendliness Lv. 2 Knowledge before Babel Time Lv. 6 Collection of Soul Lv. 9 Immune to Mental Pollution Lv. 5 Tolerance for pain Lv.3 Tolerance for bleeding. Lv. 10 Tolerance for fainting Lv.6 Tolerance for Penetration Lv.4 Tolerance for Poison Lv. 3 Tolerance for Paralysis Lv. 15 Tolerance for Fire Lv. 1 Tolerance for Cold LV. 4 Tolerance for freezing Lv. 3 Tolerance against Curse Lv. 7 Tolerance against rich magic Lv. 6 Tolerance for Nephrogenesis LV. 1 Invincibility Lv. 4 Structure Lv. 2 Ignite of Boju Lv. Max Talaria’s Wings Lv. Max Collection of soul Lv. Max Lion Summoning Lv. ???
Others: God of slow has been watching you with great attention.
Ordeal from God of Slow [Achievement: 6/11]
Ordeal from God of Adventure [Achievement: 170/224]
Through training and practicing, I gained strategies to assist my improvement of skills, and which was why I was able to strengthen several skills very quickly.
However, I am unable to strengthen every single one of my skills in such short time.
There are still few skills I haven’t really touched on, since it was difficult to strengthen those skills only by repetitive practices.
That’s why I needed the level up rewards: in order to strengthen those skills which I haven’t really been able to touch on quite yet.
“I will explain it briefly this time.”
Kiri Kiri usually shortens the sentences when she talks about expensive information.
Kiri Kiri explained to me previously that it is so to provide me as much information while using keywords, which uses the limited amount of allowed quota more efficiently.
“They are not completely gone. It’s just that your improvement has already caught up with the systems’ physical layout. But there is no need to feel sad about it. Because it also means that you have already received everything you could possibly receive on your current level. Now you just need to obtain your current status before reaching the next standard, Level 51.”
“Alright, so it means that I won’t be getting any level up rewards before reaching the level 51. Then can I receive them after level 51?”
Kiri Kiri scratched her chin, and pondered.
“In a normal case, yes. When you reached over level 51, you will receive level up rewards ONLY if your standards don’t exceed the next standard line”
The next standard line.
51th level was the first line, so I think the next line must be 101th level.
It is kind of impossible for me to estimate what improvements in my status would happen by that time.
“Alright. Then next question, I need advice on the 20th floor”
After awfully struggling on the 18th floor, I have decided that it’d be a good idea to listen to Kiri Kiri’s advice on the next floors.
Even though I am successfully clearing the stages without confronting any critical danger, there is a huge difference between able to be aware of types of traps that are waiting on the next stage, compared to having absolutely no information at all.
“Even for Hojae, this stage will be quite challenging.”
My heart begun to race faster as soon as I heard the word ‘hard’.
“Because the next stage requires a party play. Maximum 6 players.”
My racing heart has begun to pound harder.
As if my heart was doused in oil, my expectation for 20th floor blew up instantly.
It is a first stage that requires a party play since the 11th floor.
Have I improved enough?
Would I be stuck just like I was on the 6th floor, or would I be able to overcome the barrier? I really can’t control my excitement.
“Heh....I wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction.”
Kiri Kiri awkwardly smiled.
“My advice for 20th floor is to watch your back. It is not a stage that messes with your head, so don’t worry. And I think it’s time to drink some potions.
* * * * * *
[Welcome to the waiting room of the 20th floor.]
I take the potions out of the inventory and lay them out on the floor as Kiri Kiri advised me to.
Potions that I’ve received from Juji, potions that I’ve received as rewards from various competitions, and the potions I’ve received from the God Mother are laid out in front of me.
Now that I lay it all out, there are quite a lot of potions that I’ve collected so far.
I am debating between whether I should drink all these potions now immediately, or later on after processing the situation.
I was in such agony for a short while, but then I finally decided to postpone the potions drinking to later.
It may be possible to clear the 20th floor without drinking any potions anyways.
[Kim Min-Hyuk, 30th floor : Yo. Are you alive? Why haven’t you texted me?]
[Lee Ho-Jae, 20th floor : Of course I’m alive.]
I received Kim Min-Hyuk’s first text in awhile.
The busy schedules in the beginning of each stage must have passed.
We chatted for awhile, since we haven’t caught up with each other for such a long time.
[Kim Min-Hyuk, 30th floor : Min has entered the 89th floor.]
Park Min, an Easy level challenger.
Besides Lee Chan-Yong who is dead now, Park Min is the challenger who has reached the highest floor.
Park Min has entered the 89th floor, which Lee Chan-Yon was stuck on.
The 89th floor is an easy level stage that has nothing to do with me; however it felt strangely relevant to me.
There is a resemblance between myself who was stuck on the 6th floor and Lee Chan-Young who was daunted on the 89th floor.
I truly feel sorry for him.
[Kim Min-Hyuk, 30th floor : I am worried. Will everybody be okay?]
[Lee Ho-Jae, 20th floor : Everybody will do great. I hope they will. Please tell them to do well. I’m going to enter the stage now.]
[Kim Min-Hyuk, 30th floor : Okay. Text me later.]
After wishing Park-Min a good luck, I began my new challenge as well.
[Welcome to the 20th stage]