[Round Four, Day 2, 07:10]
Two days passed since Round Four started.
I wanted to challenge the Sixth Floor again as soon as the round started.
Actually, I wanted to try it again as soon as I was forcibly teleported to the waiting room after failing the floor.
I knew I only stood very little chance of clearing the floor. However, I still wanted to challenge it again.
This was my first defeat.
I struggled and then some since the First Floor. I overcame many dangers that almost cost my life. Despite all that, I had never felt a sense of defeat like this.
I was always growing stronger.
By repeating the challenge several times, I quickly overcame the difficulty of the trials.
However, it was a little different this time.
I felt doubt. I wondered if I could actually do it. I felt like th wall in front of me.
When I decided to quit my professional gamer career, I did it after suffering a huge defeat from a nameless newbie player. It was the same hopelessness like I felt before.
My response time was getting slower. I had deep injuries on my back, shoulder and wrists. I suffered from pain in those locations. My eyes got tired easily, my brain was not able to think of creative ideas quickly as I used to either.
I longed for my abilities from my prime. However, I became certain that I was never going to be able to get my abilities back. When I was certain of it, that was when I decided to retire.
From that perspective, the Tutorial was a blessing.
As soon as I entered the First Floor’s waiting room, my bent back, arthritis-ridden wrist, and dull response speed were all recovered back to how I was in my prime.
I was literally becoming a super human now. I was overwhelmingly superior to what I was in my prime.
‘If I could leave Tutorial right now and go back to the real world to return to professional gaming, I’m certain I can beat anyone and achieve flawless victory every time.
Of course, there is no way I’ll be able to leave this place right this instant.’
Inside the Tutorial’s Sixth Floor, I felt the sense of hopelessness that I felt back then.
One thing was different. Inside the Tutorial, I had plenty of chances to grow.
There was also the fact that aging stopped.
‘I can overcome even the hopelessness I’m feeling right now.’
Having thought that, I felt an itch in my heart.
‘I want to go smash those skeleton soldiers’ heads right now.
I think I can do better now.’
Like that, eager to rush out there and fight again, I had to wait for three days at the waiting room.
A lot had happened while I waited like that.
More newbies entered the Tutorial.
Numerous challengers inside the Tutorial were thirsty for information about what was happening in the outside world. To them, the news about the reality outside was like a sweet rain after a draught.
The situation in Korea was actually better than I thought.
Chuung-chung area was destroyed. However, all other areas were safe.
The human forces set up perimeters to the north and south of the Chuung-chung area to guard against the monsters from spreading to the rest of the country.
The newbies said the situation in Korea was on the pretty good side.
Actually, it was not like the people in Korea were happy about what was happening.
However, the people could say that the situation in Korea, where several thousands of people were dying from the attack, was better than other countries because the situation in other countries were significantly worse.
Besides what was happening in the outside world, there were many things that happened inside the Tutorial.
As soon as the Round Four started, Park Jung-ah started a war against all members of the Representative Federation.
Her reason was that the Federation showed signs that they were going to make moves again.
Regardless of what she claimed as the reason for the war, I wondered if it was even possible for those members of the Federation, who suffered so horribly during the day of the great harmony, to even fathom scheming anything.
Moreover, she declared the war when many of the members of the Federation were scattered around the First Floor’s waiting room.
The Federation’s forces were at a disadvantage in every possible way.
However, Park Jung-ah concluded that the Representative Federation was showing signs of rebellion.
Like that, she started a war.
After that, the war ended as soon as it begun.
Only thing left to do in the aftermath was the purge.
From what was announced, eight additional members of the Federation were executed.
They were all of the members of the Federation who chose to remain in the First Floor.
Of them all, the story was that Park Jung-Ah personally blew up the head of one with the handgun.
There was a heated debate inside the Order of the Vigilance about if they should keep Park Jung-ah in charge or not.
Honestly, I was not sure.
She could become a murderous devil who was only interested in taking cruel revenge against the people she resented.
She could also become a judge who insists severe punishment to the evil doers.
She could be both. She could be neither.
This matter was already out of my hands. So, I decided not to trouble my mind with this matter anymore as long as she does not seriously cross the line.
‘If the problem with the Order of Vigilance becomes serious, then another day of great harmony will happen. Thinking about all the information gathered so far by the rankers, I am certain about this.’
The question was if the problem about Park Jung-ah required an immediate response. I decided to use the occurrence of the day of the great harmony as the basis for answering this question.
If the day of the great harmony happened because of her, then I was going to do the same thing I have done before.
I was going to do it even if she was a victim in the past and I could understand why she did.
For a few days, I agonized about it like that.
While I was at it, Kim Min-huk was also pretty busy.
He made Tutorial guide and posted it on the Community for the newbies.
Also, using the auction site, he created gifting and trading system.
The items on the auction that had 7 or 77 points as the price meant they were for a specific person, so others were advised not to bid on them.
It was a simple rule, but it was a great rule.
With this simple rule, physical trade among the people became active through the Community.
Until now, the auction site was used by the rankers to get rid of items they didn’t need anymore.
Needless to say, but there were not much trading activities back then.
The challengers had not gathered enough points back then, so the auction prices were lower than the prices on the stores.
Through blood and death, Park Jung-ah petrified the atmosphere inside the Tutorial to install fear among the people from committing crimes.
Meanwhile, Kim Min-huk was creating an environment for people to communicate more easily.
He told me that he wanted to create a society inside the Tutorial.
Tutorial was a strange place, and it was definitely not an ideal place for creating a society. However, he said he wanted to make this place habitable for people.
Kim Min-huk was pessimistic about clearing the 100th Floor.
Instead of thinking about reaching the floor in the distant future where only few would ever get to, he said that focusing on creating an environment for people to reside in the lower floors was more important.
He was right.
I was not in complete agreement with his idea, but number of people who fell behind was going to continue to grow.
There were plenty of such people in First and Second Floors in all difficulties.
For the sake of many weak people, perhaps Kim Min-huk’s way was the best way. That’s what I thought.
Also, a stable environment created from his efforts could be useful in clearing the Tutorial.
It was not like I was just playing around in the past few days.
I had things for me to do.
They were about the newbies who entered the Hell Difficulty at the Round Four.
They were two men named Lee Gyoung-whan and Kim Jong-in.
I asked what they were thinking when they choose Hell Difficulty. One said he was drunk. The other said he thought he was seeing things so he waved his hand in the air to check and accidentally pressed it.
They really had rotten lucks. They fell to the Hell Difficulty from moments of carelessness. I really felt for them.
Now that I think about it, the comrades I met during the Round One were really unique.
They all chose Hell Difficulty willingly.
Although I was the only one who survived.
For these unfortunate newbies, I explained about the Hell Difficulty while being as polite as possible.
During the Round Two, I simply told the newbies about the trap's patterns and didn’t explain anything else. This time, I did a lot more. I explained how to dodge the traps and made something similar to a development guide.
Even with all those, I was not certain if the new challengers would survive. So, I asked them to try out the first trap and contact me after returning to the waiting room.
[Kim Jong-in, First Floor: Big Bro, I can’t do it. How am I supposed to get past this? From the first arrow to the very last one, I couldn’t hear any of them. I was not even aware that arrows were coming at me. I was just walking, twisted my ankle, and fell on the spot. I barely managed to live because of that. How am I supposed to dodge and block these by looking at them?]
One of them died, and the other lost the mental strength to continue.
Unfortunately, it went as I thought.
Despite the hard work I put in during past three days, no, actually four days, they didn’t lead to any good results.
‘How could I save the unfortunate people who fell to the Hell Difficulty…
[Lee Ho-jae, Sixth Floor: Just wait at the waiting room. When the waiting period ends, wait in front of the portal. During the next round, I’ll send you food through the auction site. Try to hold out with meat jerkies until then.]
I had no choice but to make him give up on challenging the floor.
‘Is this the right answer?’
Humans were feeble minded creatures.
I was asking him to hold out for 30 days in front of the portal while eating just meat jerkies and water.
After that, he had to stay at the waiting room for three to four days. After that, he had to repeat the process in front of the portal for another 30 days.
‘He might have to do this for the rest of his life.
Could he hold out without losing his mind?
Actually, there are others in Easy and Normal Difficulties who are holding out like that. They are mentally suffering a lot.
Kim Min-huk is trying to support these people and move them up to the higher floors. At the same time, he is trying to create a society for these people who are stuck.
On the other hand, in the Hell Difficulty… I am not sure.
I don’t know.’
I realized that there was nothing else I could do for the newbies.
In the end, I started to walk my own path again.
* * *
I baked a bread on the magic bonfire that was making cracking sound as the fire burned. I decided to organize my thoughts as I ate the bread.
During the past few days, I thought hard about what to do with Park Jung-ah and the Order of Vigilance. I also worked hard to help newbies. While I was doing all that, I never stopped thinking about the Sixth Floor either.
‘Just how am I supposed to clear this one?’
[Goblin Graktus’ Birth Stone]
Description: Instructor Graktus is the meanest of all red eyed goblins. When he was born, the tribe’s Sharman gifted this Birth Stone.
[Goblin Goros’ Birth Stone]
Description: Instructor Goros is the most intolerant of all red eyed goblins. When he was born, the tribe’s Sharman gifted this Birth Stone.
[Lizardman Idaltaru’s Spirit Stone]
Description: Of all lizardmen living in the Iden swamp, she is the strongest and most unlucky warrior. This is her spirit stone.
[Dead Summon (Lv.???)]
Description: This is a power of a nameless god. This god refused to reveal the name to the challengers.
Using an item that contains a part of the dead’s soul as the medium, you can summon the dead for a fixed duration.
This power has a limit imposed by the god.
Number of times it can be done (5/5)
If I used the dead summoning, I could have three comrades.
I was not certain if they would be my comrades, but I thought it might be possible if I used the knowledge before the time of babel and convinced them.
‘What if they joined me as comrades?’
Myself, Graktus,and Goros, and Idaltaru…
I could make three teams like that. We could take turns and stop the skull soldiers.
We could preserve our endurance that way. Also, a member in standby could jump in to help when the active team is in danger.
When the skeleton commander shows up, the team in standby could go and assassinate the commander and run back.
If it was just myself, I was not going to be able to stop the skeleton soldiers running toward the stone door while I tried to pick off the skeleton commander.
Otherwise, we could form a scrum and try to break through the skeleton soldiers.
The Sixth Floor’s corridor was narrow, so it was wide enough for only four to five large adults to stand in a row. So, forming a scrum and trying to break through was a potentially viable strategy.
It was obvious that the dead summoning skill could be very useful in clearing the Sixth Floor.
I could believe it if the gods claimed they gifted me with this skill to help me clear the Sixth Floor.
However, it bothered me to know that the description also said there is a time limit on the summoned beings.
I factored in the idea that the summoned beings will disappear after a fixed duration passed.
The dead summoning skill was limited to just five tries.
Also, there was going to be more floors from now that require party play like now.
In that case, even if I used the dead summoning to break through this floor, one day, I was going to run into another wall.
The situation was that I didn’t have any challenger who could cooperate with me. Getting past the Sixth Floor by bringing in temporary mercenaries was not the answer.
I thought about the long term. The right answer was developing myself so I could handle five people’s worth of fighting.
The conclusion that I arrived after agonizing about this over and over was simple.
‘I need to go back to the beginning.
For now, let’s just make sure I don’t die.
With near-death as the boundary line, I need to fight on hard and then some more.
I must not give up. I need to keep on colliding against them and grow from it.’
Because of how the Tutorial’s system worked, my level was bound to go up continuously from repeating the challenges, and my skills were also going to grow further.
I could even obtain new skills.
In the outside world, putting oneself through hardships and working hard only lead to wounds and injuries to the body. However, it was different inside the Tutorial.
As long as the waiting rooms existed, exhaustion and pain do not accumulate inside the body.
I just needed to focus on developments.
For now, I should postpone clearing the floor.
I shouldn’t be impatient.
If I use a trick to clear the floor while postponing the development, I will just get stuck on the next floor.
It would be better to not even consider that as an option.
Continuing to put in efforts and developing further is the shortest path for clearing the Tutorial.
Instead of foolish thoughts, I just need to focus on developing myself.
If I fail at clearing the trial, I’ll just get sent back to the waiting room.
I just need to challenge again if that happens.
I just need to make sure I don’t die.
Until I become strong enough…
Until I can handle the hordes of skeleton soldiers…
Instead of being satisfied with not being pushed back, I need to become stronger until I can push them back and march forward myself. Until then…
The conditions for the growth were perfect inside the Tutorial. Along with increase in my masteries, my level and skills increased. The waiting room provided complete recovery.
‘As long as my determination remains solid, I can overcome anything no matter how tall the wall is. Someday…’
This was the conclusion I reached.
Long story short, I meant that I was going to work my ass off until it worked out.
It was as expected of the Hell Difficulty.
It was not going to let me become complacent.
This Tutorial world was similar to RPG games.
Also, one of the main thing in RPG games was level grinding.
Nothing was impossible with level grinding.
‘Starting with today, I’m just going to shut up and hunt. I’ll show them the resolve of a Korean gamer.’
As the first goal, I chose level 20.
* * *
[You failed to clear the Sixth Floor’s trial.]
[Round Four is ending.]