[Participant Lee Hyung-jin has achieved the fourth victory.]
[Would you like to enter?]
“Hey, don’t you think it would be all right for me to enter now?”
Having heard what I said, Kim Min-hyuk counted the remaining participants and shook his head.
“Some of the Hard Difficulty’s rankers has not come out yet.”
However, although time had passed, nobody was stepping up to challenge Lee Hyung-jin.
Although Lee Hyung-jin is a challenger from the Hell Difficulty, there are a some high level Hard Difficulty challengers who could stand toe-to-toe with him.
However, it won’t be easy to neutralize Lee Hyung-jin. In the end, the challenger might lose to the next contestant due to the exhaustion and forgo their chance for winning the tournament. It seemed nobody was stepping up out of their own interest.
They were all hoping that someone else will knock down Lee Hyung-jin.
Ignorance is a blessing.
Are they seriously thinking they can win the tournament? When I’m here? They sure dream big.
[Only one minute remains before Lee Hyung-jin is declared as the victor of the individual tournament.]
[Would you like to enter?]
Many rankers started panicking.
It was the start of the game.
The one who fight Lee Hyung-jin will be distancing oneself from winning the tournament.
However, if nobody steps in, then Lee Hyung-jin was going to win the tournament.
“If nobody steps in by the time there’s only 30 seconds left, I’m going to enter.”
“Um… I’m sure someone will challenge him in next 10 seconds.”
“I need to educate the masses about the fact that excessive carefulness and greed, when combined together, will always come back as poison.”
Rankers had been postponing entering the match because they didn’t want to fight Lee Hyung-jin. I wonder how they would feel when I enter?
“Having the guts to step up to the challenge and fighting head on are also necessary.”
“Still, you beating the crap out of Hard Difficulty rankers one after the other is…”
“I’ll go easy on them.”
Kim Min-hyuk didn’t protest anymore.
It was not that he was convinced by my words. It seemed he was just concerned about the tournament becoming stale.
Actually, the tournament was rapidly becoming boring. Some were dozing off. Some were focused more on chatting with someone next to them. The audience slowly lost interest in the tournament.
The Order of Vigilance figured that they might as well provide entertainment to the people through this tournament.
If I entered, I will be able to refresh people’s attention and expectations for the tournament.
[There’s 30 seconds left until Lee Hyung-jin will be declared the winner of the tournament.]
[Would you like to enter?]
As soon as I responded, I was teleported to the middle of the arena.
[Tournament’s individual match, the main match’s 14th duel will start.]
[Participants: Lee Hyung-jin vs. Lee Ho-jae]
[Standby time: 1 minute]
Shouting exploded from the stands.
All right, all right.
Honestly, being showered with attention like this from the audience feels great.
I know. I sound a little like an attention whore, but…
That’s how it really feels.
Some retired sports professionals even develop depression because they could not forget this sensation.
I was like that too.
“Big Bro Ho-jae… You entered already? What do we do?”
“Nobody was stepping up, so what could I do?”
“Someone would have entered before the time ran out.”
“But that won’t be fun.”
Lee Hyung-jin’s face looked as if he chewed something horrible.
The rankers who were engaging in glancing game had the same look plastered on their faces.
“Ugh. Well, I was not thinking about winning the tournament, but I wanted to have more wins at least.”
“You won enough, you rascal.”
“All right. Big Bro, well then, please go easy on me.”
“I got it, kid.”
[The duel will start.]
As soon as the standby time expired, Lee Hyung-jin quickly dashed toward me.
His best ability was, like myself, his speed.
One thing that was a little different was that, unlike me who could block attacks by fully utilizing the advantages of the sword and shield that I chose as the starting armaments, Lee Hyung-jin relied on dodging.
I sometimes intentionally used my body to block attacks. He was different from me.
He was very safety-oriented. In short, he was a scaredy cat.
That’s why, like this…
I punched the shield with my knuckles, echoing into the wind.
Lee Hyung-jin was coming straight at me, but he quickly changed his trajectory and dodged past me to the left.
His ankles are shaking. Perhaps it is because he had to change the trajectory too quickly.
It looks like he is not able to control his speed very well.
Moreover, he was too conscious of my knuckles when it was not even within effective range. He changed his path too soon.
Against a stupid and blatantly obvious attack like this, you should have attempted to dodge it narrowly and charge in deeper.
Perhaps it is because it had not been long since he entered the Fourth Floor. He is still lacking in his ability to make split-second decisions.
A kick is coming from the back.
It’s good that you are attacking from the blind spot, but it is too obvious.
Also, that’s not my blind spot anyway.
I snatched Lee Hyung-jin’s leg with my hand.
Lee Hyung-jin immediately declared surrender.
He gave up too quickly.
“Why didn’t you fight me a little longer? You are deflating the balloon here.”
[Participant Lee Ho-jae achieved his first victory.]
“Ugh… As I thought, there is a huge difference between us.”
“Still, it was not bad. I noticed a few things you should fix. I’ll tell you later.”
“Yes, Big Bro. Win the tournament!”
After his words of encouragement, he was moved to the stands.
* * *
After I entered, I wondered if I would win the tournament immediately due to lack of new challengers. However, quite a few rankers came to challenge me.
Maybe it is because the duel between me and Lee Hyung-jin ended rather gently. There were many challengers who wanted to measure their strength against me.
“Thank you for your hard work!”
“Hard work? You don’t really need to say that.”
[Participant Lee Ho-jae achieved his fifth victory.]
That was Lee Jun-suk, the Hard Difficulty’s most promising challenger. After achieving victory against him, I looked at the stands.
I think all rankers who wanted to challenge me already had.
In the distance, there was Kim Min-hyuk. He was cramping his face as if he was trying to tell me something by mouthing the words.
He is probably trying to say that I should take it easy.
However, I really am holding back here.
I didn’t use any skills. I had been neutralizing the opponents using clean and simple movements.
I didn’t use any flashy Power Skills either. I had only been using my physical abilities.
It would still be apparent that I am the strongest, but the rankers could think the following.
He is not a complete fiend. Maybe I can beat him.
I had been holding back so they could have such hope.
Since I was in charge of being the force of the Order, I should actually avoid creating such image.
In fact, establishing a more powerful image of myself in people is better for the Order of Vigilance. If I looked overwhelming, then it couldn’t be better.
However, the Order had a plan in place for the second tournament where the challengers from foreign nations will also participate.
It was at that moment when a familiar looking man was teleported to the arena.
[Tournament’s individual match, main match’s 19th duel will start.]
[Participant: Lee Ho-jae vs. Lee Chan-yong]
As soon as the message appeared, loud shouting exploded from the stands.
Oh, I was not expecting this.
He is the challenger at the highest floor in the Tutorial.
He is also the challenger that the Order was supporting to achieve the first total conquest of the Tutorial.
He was also the regular who was brought up frequently in discussions in the community about who is the strongest person in the Tutorial.
There are quite a lot of people who say Lee Chan-yong must be the strongest since he is at the highest floor.
However, nobody knew for certain.
He didn’t have anyone who he could compare his strength against.
When rankers are mentioned the term usually refers to the players who were at the higher floors of the Normal and Hard Difficulties.
Normal Difficulty rankers were usually around at 50th Floor. As for the rankers at the Hard Difficulty, they were at around 30th Floor.
Rankers’ strengths were assessed based on the floor they were in.
In that case, what about the challenger who is at 89th Floor at the Easy difficulty? What kind of power does he possess?
Nobody knew besides Lee Chan-yong himself.
It was not like anyone else besides him were even close to that floor.
“Big Bro. I thought you would not be interested in something like this.”
As I said, Lee Chan-yong was obsessed with clearing the Tutorial like it was his lifeline.
He didn’t pursue strength. He didn’t desire challenge either. He didn’t want to be entertained.
He just wanted to clear the Tutorial and reunite with his family again.
It’s impossible that he was thinking he could beat me and win the prize.
“After some time passed…”
Lee Chan-yong calmed his breathing and said,
“After I got stuck behind a wall, I finally got a moment to spare and look around myself.”
I had already heard that he was having difficulties in clearing the 89th Floor.
I even made a report to the Order based on that information.
“That’s why I entered. To gain experience.”
Experience is important.
“Please, let us have a good duel.”
“Yes, same here.”
[The duel will start.]
This is a tricky fight.
I’m fighting an opponent with no knowledge of his combat abilities. Meanwhile, I need to hide my own.
From the stands, Kim Min-hyuk was looking at me, concerned.
He probably wants me to have tough fights or even fights one after the other and achieve a narrow victory at the end.
However, a human being’s heart will not always move the way it should.
I used Blink to leap to the front of Lee Chan-yong. I immediately threw a punch at the him.
He raised guard fairly quickly, and my fist struck hard at his guard.
It sounded like an explosive went off as Lee Chan-yong’s body flew off to the outside of the ring.
* * *
“I told you that you should hold back.”
“Ah, I said I am sorry. Why are you still scolding me? Could you please stop?”
The tournament was over. Kim Min-hyuk and I were going to the residential section.
We had to check to make sure everyone left the arena, so we were one of the last ones to leave.
The housing building was a wooden building. It was about 10 stories tall.
There was a large dining hall at the first floor. Starting from the second floor, there were separated rooms tightly packed in the allocated area. The building looked like a motel.
The Order assigned the rooms to the people.
Different floors were assigned for each gender. Different floors were assigned for different difficulties.
Of course, the assignments were not mandatory. If someone wanted to move, then the Order moved their room.
To start with, there were more rooms than the people anyway.
It was just that, ever since the tournament concluded for the day, the people who grew closer started to get together. Requests to move the room became more frequent, and thanks to this, the members of the Order who were in charge of room assignments became busy.
That’s what I’ve heard, although I don’t really need to mind this.
Kim Min-hyuk, who was walking next to me, let out a deep sigh.
“Hey. Just what were you thinking?”
“I only used one skill, the Blink.”
“So, you finished it with just one punch? What are you, the One Punch Man? Are you bald, just like the One Punch Man? You completely ruined the plan.”
“I think this is fine too.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Before giving them despair, I wanted to give them a chance too.”
Kim Min-hyuk fell silent for a moment. He then tousled his hair.
“Ugh. I don’t know. I really don’t. It’s already a cup of spilled milk. There’s no point in crying over it.”
That’s right. That’s easier. It’s the right decision too.
Kim Min-hyuk was repeatedly sighing. I ignored him and opened the inventory to check the prize for winning the tournament.
[The mysterious box for the winner of the first tournament]
Description: It’s the prize for the winner of the first tournament ever held. The box’s contents are unknown. However, it will definitely be useful for the winner.
Well, it feels good to win at least.
In the distance, I could see Park Jong-shik and Park Jung-ah waving at us at the front.
It looked like they were waiting for us in front of the residential building.
Now, it’s time to drink and play. I suppose I can think of this as a celebration for winning. It’s perfect.
It’s a perfect plan.
* * *
As soon as we got to the motel, we went to Park Jong-shik’s room and started drinking.
The bottom line was that we were somewhat successful at the drinking table.
Not just myself and Park Jong-shik, but Park Jung-ah and Kim Min-hyuk also had Poison Resistance Skills.
The skill responded to the drinks.
In the end, the four of us could not get intoxicated.
However, we succeeded in getting intoxicated by the mood.
Although we were not getting drunk, we could have fun while drinking and playing drinking games.
In particular, it seemed Park Jong-shik was born to be at the drinking table.
As for Kim Min-hyuk, perhaps because he was stressed so much until now, he was causing a loud ruckus.
I think I never saw Park Jung-ah smile until today.
She always maintained a stiff, emotionless face. Today, she was smiling brightly. Looking at her smile, she really looked like a different person from the usual.
I cannot remember how long it had been since I got to chat away and laugh loudly like this with everyone.
I can recall the drinking table I attended before I nosedived back in my professional gaming days. Perhaps that was the last time?
It was a joyful experience. I even wished that we could have drinking occasion like this often.
I wish we could have even more people next time instead of just the four of us.
It was not just me. The other three had not been living happily ever since they entered the Tutorial.
Each one of us focused on clearing the Tutorial while getting used to exhaustion, tears and death everyday.
Just like I have, I’m sure they could relieve themselves of the stress and anxieties here, even though it is just for a while.
I think the problem with Park Jung-ah’s attitude toward me is making progress.
She is still unable to be at ease toward me, but at least the uncomfortableness and awkwardness that she had in her behavior towards me are now gone.
At least now she won’t be awkward in front of others when she is talking to me.
After the drinking party ended, I went to my assigned room.
I wish I could play the whole night. However, we drank all of the booze. Kim Min-hyuk also said that he had something he had to do early in the morning, so we concluded the party and went our separate ways.
Now that I was lying down on the bed, I suddenly felt lonely again.
I was having fun all excited with others and laughing only a moment ago, compared to the quiet, desolate room.
I still have some time left before the morning.
I’ll have just enough time to sleep, but because of insomnia, sleep is not coming to me easily.
I stared at the ceiling and counted sheep. In the end, I gave up and sat up.
Should I read a book instead?
I picked up the book I almost read but decided not to last time.
I turned on the stand next to the bed. I was about to read the book, but I heard knocking sound on the door.
The door opened. The one I saw was Park Jung-ah.
She was holding a bottle of wine.
“Would you like another drink with me?”
That’s definitely my wine.
Also, when the drinking party ended, there was no booze left.
Unless she filled the bottle with water and brought it here, there is only one conclusion that could be deduced from this.
“Before the booze ran out, you hid a bottle away, didn’t you.”
“I am sorry. Actually… I wanted to drink it separately.”
“With just me?”
Honestly, I panicked. I didn’t know what to do.
My panic-stricken mind reflected onto my face. Park Jung-ah looked at me and furrowed her brows a little.
“W… What is it? Do you still see me as just a girl in school uniform? I’m an adult now.”
Are you drunk? You have Poison Resistance, so you couldn’t be.
Park Jung-ah was reciting seductive lines rivaling that of the prelude from some triple X-rated adult movies. However, her voice was shaking, and her words were stuttering awkwardly.
I could see her face was red. She was blushing. She was tightly clutching the door handle as well.
I think she will break into tears if I left her be.
“Drinking together… You don’t want to?”
“No, that’s not it. Come in. Let’s talk as we drink.”
Don’t want to? Of course I want to drink. I’m actually thankful.