[Round 24, Day 29. 3:30]
"Heng. It was tough this time, wasn't it?" Kiri Kiri asked, as she smiled beamingly, and I couldn't help but nod.
It certainly was difficult.
Though they weren't at my desired level of difficulty, the 28th and 29th floors had certainly been difficult.
Especially the 29th floor.
My reputation had risen abruptly.
If I hadn't earned the people’s trust enough to hear the information that the underground force was going to perform an act of terror on the city's marketplace, I may have had to challenge the stage more than once, taking several rounds.
I had been tied down in the 29th floor for a whole round, but on the contrary, it was fortunate that I had been able to clear it within only one round.
"So about what I was talking about before, the combat difficulty."
Kiri Kiri had been talking ecstatically, but she suddenly paused.
I wondered why, and I waited briefly.
Kiri Kiri looked at me seriously and said, "Hooooujae, you already know what kind of floor the next one is, right?"
Of course I do.
The 30th floor.
It was the first residential district that existed within the Tutorial.
It was different from the stages that repeated every round, or even the waiting rooms, that were maintained by a powerful preservation magic.
They weren't connected to time; regardless of the number of people, or the organization of said people in the waiting room, it was a space where you could rest when you wanted, play when you wanted, and meet people when you wanted.
Of course, it had a different meaning for me.
I'm alone anyway.
The residential district wasn't much different from a large waiting room to me.
"That's not it."
"What do you mean?"
"It doesn't have a healing function, restoration also doesn't work, and there's also no protective wall."
"Is that a huge difference?"
"It's a big difference."
I thought she would say some pointless wordplay, but Kiri Kiri looked quite serious.
"Hooooujae, you've mostly done your training in the waiting room. Of course, you also grew a lot during combat, but that foundation came from your training in the waiting room."
If it weren't for my training, my concentration, and my preparation in the waiting room before entering a stage, it would've been difficult to exhibit a sufficient performance or growth.
"Also, the waiting room is an innocuous space. Since no matter what you do, you won't get hurt, and nothing will be broken. If you're hurt by an excessive impact, or the walls collapse, they'll also be restored."
I nodded my head once again.
"It’s such a different environment. It differs based on the individual to what extent your body feels that, but your mind is different. Most people definitely recognize the difference in their mind, and through that, they’re able to influence their subconscious mind."
"For example, by you using your body more excessively than usual."
"So that's how it is."
It was just as Kiri Kiri said.
You could see it if you took a look at my training that I had invested the most time into, or even my self-injury.
Of course, even if you consider my self-injury as a part of my training, there would be a question remaining of 'are you ok', but... let's say that it's training.
If it weren't the waiting room, would I have been able to self-injure myself every day like that?
Regardless of how much I needed it, or how much I preferred that method, I wouldn't have been able to self-harm myself so frequently.
Because my body would sustain damage.
"In conclusion, I'm saying that you shouldn't just rest for a few days and immediately rush to the 31st floor."
Honestly, after this round ended, and the next round started, I had decided to immediately enter the 31st floor.
I couldn't anticipate any improvements on my specs through level ups anymore, and as the combat difficulty of the stages went down, I wouldn't be able to anticipate my growth in battle either.
The only thing remaining was for me to go up the stages as quickly as possible, and encounter greater difficulties.
That's also how Kiri Kiri had advised me.
"However, it's not often for you to get an opportunity to take a major step forward through just training."
A major step forward, huh.
It'll be that effective just training on the 30th floor?
Why would training have such an effect in a space that isn't even the waiting room?
I had sometimes trained in stages where I had already acquired safety and I needed to kill time.
"Stages are also different. Especially you, Hooooujae, since your body changes whenever you leave the stage."
"Are you talking about my insomnia?"
"A little of this and that, including that too."
I briefly pondered, and ultimately decided to follow Kiri Kiri's advice.
I usually didn't lose out by listening to Kiri Kiri.
Though it did happen occasionally.
"What do you mean 'it doesn't'."
Kiri Kiri may have saddened from my statement as she went 'hmph' and turned her head.
For some reason, I started laughing at the sight.
I laughed, stood up, and approached the portal.
"Finally, if I were to tell you one last thing, you have to rest a bit."
"I got it. I'll make sure to rest properly."
"And don't do it half-heartedly. Think about it as training too, and force yourself to rest."
"I got it. I got it."
After I finished responding, I stood atop the portal.
As soon as I waved my hand, Kiri Kiri scampered around and said her goodbyes, telling me to take care.
Soon, I was transported to the 30th floor from Kiri Kiri's field.
[Welcome to the 30th floor residential district.]
The message was accompanied with a full view of the 30th floor.
The 30th floor residential district had also been the setting for the first competition.
It definitely looked identical to what I’d seen before.
There was a square in the middle, surrounded by a line of wooden buildings.
I wonder how many buildings there are?
Even if I were to make a low estimate, there should be more than hundreds of them.
I was certainly well-aware of how the residential district was structured.
At the time of the competition, I had experienced it firsthand, and I also read the community's explanatory articles.
Certain buildings should be lodgings, while others should be restaurants.
Even amongst these buildings, they had separate uses.
They even had a cafe, a pub, a playground, and even a casino.
It was truly a town.
However, to me, it was no different from the waiting room.
On the contrary, it was worse.
There wasn't anyone here besides me anyway.
I sighed, and started walking to decide my lodging.
I felt hungry.
In general, whenever a stage ended, my hunger would automatically settle when I entered a waiting room, so I wasn't often pestered by hunger.
However, I had spent an entire round within the previous floor, and had been transported to the residential district, not the waiting room; thus, my hunger hadn't settled.
As soon as I find my accommodations, I should eat something.
Is there any beef jerky left?
* * * * * *
[Oh... I was really scared, Warrior.]
"If you pout one more time, I'm going to shove you into my inventory."
I stopped the holy sword from making his frightened appeal in his cutest way.
The holy sword felt that it was unfair, but who cares.
[You know how scary going into the inventory can be.]
What do you want me to do about it?
Whenever I go to Kiri Kiri's field, you're automatically stored into my inventory.
"What about Seregia? Were you also scared by any chance, Seregia?"
She answered promptly.
It also sounded like she snorted at the end there.
It was definitely a ridicule-filled snort towards someone.
"Seregia, are you feeling better now? You seemed really unwell back there."
[Yes. I'm alright. And I was alright back there as well.]
Whenever there was a battle recently, Seregia became a bit weird.
Though she was usually curt and didn't speak much, she became really quiet after a battle.
She becomes firmer and sharper.
I'm not talking about the tone of her voice, but her will.
It was to the point that I, the wielder, could feel it; the sharp will within her.
And considering those times, it seems like she's losing her humanity.
Well, she seems to like her current condition, so I'm not sure if I should be worried about her.
I didn't have to walk for very long and went inside the closest building.
There was a table with chairs spread around it on the 1st floor.
It was a space where you could sit and rest.
I went up to the 2nd floor.
I opened the closest door and went inside.
There was a small desk to the side and a bed right next to the window.
It was a small room.
It was the same as the room I had stayed in during the competition.
"What should I do now?"
[I agree with the advice that you heard, Warrior. First, please rest.]
"Do you really think I need the rest?"
[Yes. You really do need it.]
After the holy sword spoke, I asked for an explanation.
[First off, it's your bodily condition, Warrior.]
"My body's fine. My fatigue has also gone away for the most part."
[No. I'm talking about your continuously maintained tense state. I have no idea what will happen if you completely release all your tension. Truthfully, the amount of time a person can maintain a tense state is at most a few days. However, you haven't released that tension even once, Warrior. At least, after you acquired me.]
He had a point.
It was unlike him.
Even in the completely safe waiting room, as well as Kiri Kiri's field, I hadn't ever completely released my tension.
That's because I need to concentrate in order to clear the next stage.
However, if I were to completely release my tension while I have this chance to rest...
[Next, it's regarding your 'level'*, Warrior.]
[T/N: His level of strength. Not his Tutorial level or stage.]
That was unexpected.
What does rest have to with my level?
[If I'm completely honest, your level changes case-by-case. It's not to the point where I can see it going up and down, but I see it abruptly go up to the next level.]
"I'm hearing that as you saying that I'm a half-wit who can't even manage his own power."
[Yes. That's exactly what I'm... not saying, but I'm saying that that's how amazing you are, Warrior! Ha. Ha. Haha. I love you, Warrior.]
I wish he would stop saying that he loves me over and over again.
[From my point of view, it seems to me that your problem is that your body cannot keep up with your own skill, Warrior. Since you haven't given your body the time to adapt to your skill and you've been continuously growing until now. Of course, during that time, your body should have also felt that process of growth, and had grown accordingly, but that's only when talking about normal people. When you get to this strength, it is important for your body to become accustomed to even a single leap of growth.]
He had a point this time too.
If we just exclude that it came out of the holy sword's mouth, it was extremely useful advice.
Kiri Kiri and the holy sword.
Both of my trusted advisers had recommended that I rest.
Unreasonably going to the 31st floor from here would probably be overdoing it.
I want to immediately leave here, but I restrained myself by thinking of it as another sort of training.
I chattered with Park Jung Ah and Kim Min Hyuk a bit, and read the surplus community articles.
I guess I'll meditate if I get bored.
With that in mind, I decided to rest for a few days.
"Also, teach me some magic."
[I don't want to.]
He spoke so firmly that for an instant I thought the holy sword was Seregia.
[My position becomes uncertain.]
"If you don't teach me magic, your position will become really solid. You'll definitely be able to reflect on your solid position from within my inventory."
[I'll teach you.]
After my consultation with the holy sword, I decided to rest for three days accompanied by study in magic theory.
So after I feel as though I've rested aplenty, my schedule would be one day of rest, one day of magic study, and one day of swordsmanship training in that order; and I decided to stay here for around one round, maybe even two.
I drew up a chart of my daily schedule as if I were a elementary school student.
My schedule was mostly filled with rest, taking walks, meditating, or chatting (messages) and I tried my very best to follow it to the letter.
Even on the days I had to train in magic, my training didn't surpass three hours.
It was a boring everyday life to the point that I felt impatient, but it was effective.
It had been one week since I'd entered the residential district.
And then there was an unexpected change.
[Your level has been adjusted.]
[Lee Ho Jae (Human)]
I had been at level 56 and had suddenly shot up to level 101.