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The World after the Fall 5

by Sing-Shong

Translated by Chochocobo | Edited by Yzrahc

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Episode 1. 10 Billion Thrusts (5)

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[User Information]
Name : Jae Hwan
Level : 100 (Level Cap Reached!)
Title : (EX) Nightmare of the 99th Floor
Class : Swordsman
Unique Ability : (EX) Spirit
[Status Information]
Strength : 100 (Stat limit has been reached!)
Agility : 100 (Stat limit has been reached!)
Health : 100 (Stat limit has been reached!)
Will : 100 (Stat limit has been reached!)
Magic : 100 (Stat limit has been reached!)
The user information displayed by the Interface System. Jae Hwan had spent years on trying to maximize all of his stats. Thirty years to be exact. By the end of it, all of his numbers maxed out. Those numbers were the products of history itself. However, Jae Hwan had been thinking of something for some time.
‘Humans, can humans really be distilled down to just these numbers?’
How long had it been.
Jae Hwan's eyes had started witnessing strange things. He had first thought that it was a hallucination. He didn't know when, but at some point, Jae Hwan realized that the strange things he had started to see was the essence of what made up the world. They were like fine particles similar to rugged granules of sugar or the pixels on a screen. They were ever changing, constantly taking on different shapes and structures.
His Thrusts had started to change around that time as well. He felt a strange incongruence whenever he used the basic skill 'Thrust'. The simple, strict motions of the Thrust had started to loosen up in Jae Hwan's eyes. As Jae Hwan kept repeating the Thrust, he felt as though some sort of forgotten 'sense' was awakening from within. It was a feeling indicative of 'being alive'.
Jae Hwan named this ability「Doubt」for convenience.
Vision to dissect the world and dig deep down to the very essence of the world.
This was the power of「Doubt」.
Unfortunately, Jae Hwan did not know how to use「Doubt」.
Seupat - tupp!
Beastrain easily caught Jae Hwan's swift Suppression Dragon Sword with just his hand. Beastrain spoke in an annoyed voice.
“Jae Hwan-ssi, please listen. I ask that you please answer.”
Even still Jae Hwan did not reply back.
“Haa, I'm actually going to go crazy.”
Beastrain huffed as he sighed in exasperation.
“I already said you wouldn't be going back into the past. Please, just end the tutorial so the real game can start.”
There were two reasons why Jae Hwan did not want to end the tutorial. One of the reasons was the demon right in front of him, Beastrain. At some point, Jae Hwan had realized that there was some unknown reason that prevented Beastrain from killing him.
‘I don't know what it is, but for some reason, Beastrain is unable to kill me.’
Maybe it was because he needed Jae Hwan's permission before the tutorial could end, but him not killing Jae Hwan was proof. Since he opened the tower, then he should have the power to close the tower, but Beastrain did not. No, rather, there was a reason why he couldn't. So for Jae Hwan, Beastrain was the best training partner he could use for teaching. By constantly challenging Beastrain, Jae Hwan was able to quickly adapt more to the changes taking place inside of him. He was taking Beastrain out for a ride.
‘Ah, I'm losing my mind. The delivery deadline is going to be arriving soon……'
What was he to do. All he could do was pester Jae Hwan over and over again.
“Please look, Jae Hwan-ssi! Could you please just answer? Huh?”
“What are you saying?”
Having extricated his sword from Beastrain's grip, Jae Hwan started to talk.
“Haa, behold, you finally speak. Seeing as how you haven't spoken in a month, I had thought that something had gone wrong with your psyche. If there were any problems with the precious「Product」…… no no, that's not right."
Beastrain stuttered and stumbled through his sentence.
“This is good. So tell me, what is it that you want? I'll give you whatever it is that you desire. And please don't give me that 'I'll kill you and go to the next floor' bullshit please.”
Hearing those words, Jae Hwan stopped swinging his swords for the first time.
‘He took the bait.’
Jae Hwan had been waiting for this time to come. He had spent the last month constantly sharpening his blade. He had been waiting for the demon before his eyes to get angry. Because Beastrain couldn't withstand his own anxiety, Jae Hwan had waited for the day where he would take on the bait by himself.
“Then I would like to ask you something.”
“Uht, what is it?”
Color returned to Beastrain's face.
“Is there finally a room for negotiation?”
“Who knows, that'll depend on you.”
Beastrain's expression crumpled.
Having worried for a long time, Beastrain simply sighed and began to talk in rapid fire mode.
“Don't be too alarmed Jae Hwan-ssi. Your universe does not simply consist of just one dimension.”
“That I know.”
“ …… uh, you already know?”
Jae Hwan frowned.
“Are you taking me for a fool?”
Truth be told, Jae Hwan didn't actually know. Most of the more advanced scientific theories he knew was what he had heard from the middle school science teacher that had climbed the tower with him, Sakamoto.
At that time, he had become aware of many different kinds of astrophysical things. Parallel universes, multiverses, superstring theory…… .
Of course, there was only one thing that Jae Hwan, as an outsider to the scientific world, was sure of.
It was that once astrophysics and other sciences reached an incredibly advanced state, it was no different from magic. 
“So when putting together what you said, are you saying that this universe consists of the《Great Lands》 and an infinite number of 《Deviations》?”
According to Beastrain, the universe consisted of one main dimension known as the 《Great Lands》 with a bunch of 《Deviations》that branched out from it. Earth was one of the smaller planets within one of the various《Deviations》. Beastrain had designated Earth as the 294th world. After listening to Beastrain's explanation, Jae Hwan promptly sent it to the back of his mind.
“So this《Nightmare Tower》is a tool to allow Walkers to「adapt」to the environment of the《Great Lands》so as to prepare them for when they move there.”
“That is correct.”
“So only the Walkers who have passed both the tutorial game and the actual game are allowed to step into the《Great Lands》.”
"Correct. As expected your comprehension is really good."
Beastrain intentionally avoided using terms such as 'Cultivating' and 'Harvesting'. It was because he knew how the other party would react should he hear such words. Jae Hwan continued to ask more questions.
"When you say「adapt」, what do you mean? Do you mean that they're getting stronger?"
Beastrain shook his head.
“It's so that the Walkers can become acclimated to the《Interface System》in the Great Lands.”
“ …… Do you mean when we get items or skill and look at our Status and such?”
“Simply put, yes.”
Beastrain had a smile on his face.
“Many of the races that arrive straight at the 《Great Land》die soon after arrival because of their failure to adapt to the system. To prevent such a thing from happening, the《Nightmare Tower》was created. By allowing Walkers to play through the ‘Tutorial Game’ and the ‘Main Game’ built into the tower, the Walkers will learn how to use the system of the《Great Lands》and thereby increase their survival rates. Demons like me play a supporting role in the whole process.”
Looking at Jae Hwan listen intently to his explanation, Beastrain couldn't help but feel admiration for him, even though he also felt nervous as well. It was because he had never seen such a calm and level-headed Product before. All of the products he had cultivated thus far would usually deny the reality of the situation or fall prey to some sort of schizophrenic attack. But the Jae Hwan before him was calmly listening to his story. It was as though he were born to play this game. However, Beastrain was actually quite pleased with that fact.
“I have one more question I want to ask.”
“Go ahead.”
“Why do you bother to 'do this'?”
Beastrain laughed in response to Jae Hwan's question. In fact, since the start of this question and answer session, Beastrain knew that this question would come up. Beastrain had cultivated many products over the past hundreds of years. Some had become incredible powers in the 《Great Lands》 while others died without even leaving their souls intact. 
However, most of them always ended up asking the same question.
—Why do you 'do this'?
Beastrain raised his head.
“I don't know what you mean. Are you curious as to why I operate this《Nightmare Tower》?”
“That's right.”
“Who knows. I don't think that you actually want to know or are actually curious.”
Beastrain continued to speak with a smile on his face.
“As opposed to wondering ‘why do you operate the Nightmare Tower’, I think you're more curious as to ‘why did you bring the Nightmare tower to this Deviation and to this Planet out of all the other options out there', am I right?”
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