Chapter 16 – Trauma Penalty (1)
The guild that had ruled at the top since the Tower opened.
[We didn’t fail the 10th floor because we lack the abilities to.]
The Rank 2 hunter who controlled Black Dragon. She challenged the 10th floor tens of times. Everytime she challenged it, she failed. The Rank 2 hunter lost, but she saved all the hunters who participated in it. In an interview, she said this.
[We were just unlucky.]
When Flame Emperor had passed the 10th floor himself, he announced to everyone.
[Luck is also a skill, losers.]
It was the interview called Loser Announcement.
After that, Black Dragon started to be wary of Flame Emperor after being turned into a loser group…well, it wasn’t important anymore. Yoo Soo-ha had already died in my hand. The possibility of that kind of interview was gone now. But the problem was this.
‘Why was the Flame Emperor able to clear the 10th floor?’
‘Because he was just stronger?’
‘Because there was another reason?’
The answer was revealing itself in front of me right now.
[The boss stage is commencing.]
At the same time the voice rang out, the residence started to change.
Everywhere, candles started to tilt over. Fire started where they tilted over. It was like they had poured oil on it beforehand. Fire instantly swallowed the western-style residence.
Only the dolls were fine in the fire.
-You’re it! We’ll run away!
-Let’s run away, run away! Let’s run away from here!
Hundreds. No, thousands of little dolls. Dolls filled the first floor lobby. There were probably ten thousands of dolls all over the entire residence.
‘One of these.’
Gulp. I swallowed my spit.
‘The [Real Doll] is hidden somewhere.’
A probability of 1/10,000!
This was the reason why people had failed so far.
‘Burning all the dolls while I find the real one. If I escape before I die, I only have about 10 minutes to look.’
The fire burning the residence wasn’t normal fire. It was a shape of Aura, called hellfire.
‘This entire residence is burning up with Aura.’
A boss monster who knew how to use Aura!
So far, people who challenged it died from hellfire, escaped, or met one of these two fates. Hunters risked their lives on the probability of 1/10,000 but it was a waste. They only burned to death with horrifying screams.
And here…was the secret why only the Flame Emperor was able to succeed.
“That guy sucking all the luck.”
I muttered to myself.
Yes. The Aura of the boss monster was the same Flame Emperor’s.
To other players, this was hellfire. However, Flame Emperor felt comfortable like it was his own bedroom. Since the 10th floor’s boss monster’s hellfire was the same property as Yoo Soo-ha.
‘He probably looked around until he found the real doll.’
And he bragged about it saying luck was also a skill.
He definitely wasn’t someone I liked.
-The hunter that lives off of luck is you.
“What do you mean, I live off of luck?”
I crinkled my eyebrows at his mocking.
“I’m barely hanging on with my Aura right now.”
Sweat dripped down between my eyebrows. The burning heat! My body was covered in what was incomparable to the heat of a hot spring. If I didn’t use my Aura, I would’ve burned to death already.
-Yeah. But 1 minute is probably gonna be your limit.
Annoyingly, Bae Hu-ryeong knew my exact condition.
-Also, grandpops Marcus would be able to last 30 minutes. Do you know why he hasn’t challenged here yet? It’s to extend that 30 minutes to 1 hour.
“…ah, yes yes. Thank you for confirming the gap in our skills.”
Bae Hu-ryeong freely flew around the lobby that was burning in fire. Dolls were laughing below and ghosts were snickering above. There wasn’t a better ghost house than this.
-So? You only have 2 Coins but what are you gonna do now?
“What else would I do. I have to die.”
-Look at you. Do you think your Aura will suddenly increase if you die here?
Bae Hu-ryeong sniggered at me.
-There’s only 2 ways to clear this room! Find the real doll with luck, or be able to use Aura real well until you find the real doll. But you only bet 2 Coins on yourself, stupidly. It’s not gonna work probably.
Even while sweating, I kept my smile.
“This guy knows one but not two. No. Is it that he knows two but not three?”
“Let’s see who’ll win after dying once.”
Now I had 20 seconds until my Aura ran out.
I approached a doll that was closest to me. The reason was…well, I didn’t really have one. I just thought it was boring to stand there waiting to die. I just might’ve been real lucky for the doll in front of me to be [Real].
-Are you gonna play with us?
The doll’s neck twisted. Only her neck twisted. It wouldn’t be strange if she was casted in a horror movie right this second. She was wearing a frilled dress, but her dress didn’t burn at all. Like it was immune to the fire.
I put the doll’s head on my hand and spoke.
The doll let out chuckles with her indifferent face.
-Beep! Not me!
That wasn’t the only thing she released. She let out her lips. Skin. Eyes. Her body slid down like paper. The fire instantly swallowed the doll, and she continued to speak like a broken record.
-Not me! Not me! Not me!
-Not! Not, me. Me…me…not…me…
It completely melted down.
I was speechless. My body felt hot but I was shivering. It was more horrendous than I imagined.
“I got goosebumps. Why would they make the boss monster like that?”
-Who would know the great meaning of the Tower. Zombie. A weak ass like you getting a fucking cheat skill is also a meaning of the Tower. If the Tower had a personality, it would probably be a pervert psychopath.
I couldn’t complain any longer.
My Aura had run out.
The flames ran at me like they had been waiting for this moment. The soles of my shoes melted first. Then my clothes. And the fire moved onto my hair.
From my head to my feet.
My entire body was burning. Although my skin was sliding down, the fire didn’t stop. Rather, it clung on me tighter like it found a delicious snack. Nerves. Bones. Throat. Liver.
“Ow, sh…! Uk, keackkk!”
-And you’re a pervert that surpasses the Tower. Ke. Even if you want to be the greatest hunter in the tower, you accept burning to death like it’s nothing. I admit it, Kim Zombie! You’re a real pervert!
I wanted to die.
Quick, I wanted to die even a second faster!
I couldn’t speak. The sound was muffled. My eyes and ears had been burned.
The moment I felt like my head would explode from overheating, the voice came from my subconscious like it had been waiting.
[You have died.]
They should’ve killed me a bit faster.
I breathed like someone who had just surfaced after a long dive. Although I hadn’t really let out a breath, and it was just a feeling.
This was the Nether World. It was the black place my bare body roamed like a ghost.
[Your death has satisfied the skill condition.]
[The Monster Hellfire Maiden’s skills are being randomly copied.]
And it was a place of opportunity for me as well.
[Skills cards are being created.]
Cards floated up in the black nothingness. Was it something unexpected? Although it was a boss monster, there was only 1 golden card. All the other cards were silver or poop-colored.
‘Let’s see. You haven’t forgotten your promise, right?’
-I know. Sheesh. Do you see me as someone who would break their promise? Don’t worry.
Bae Hu-ryeong smirked.
-Let’s see. What kind of skill does this lady have?
Bae Hu-ryeong floated up and headed towards the opposite side of the cards. He was letting me know the information on the cards in advance to me.
-Oho! Hey, this one’s lit!
Bae Hu-ryeong read the golden card.
Effects: Regrets. Resentment. Complaints. What you couldn’t do, the voice that you couldn’t say, the wishes that you weren’t able to achieve. Burn them all. ‘It’s hot.’ Is it hot? Make the world a clump of fire. ‘I feel like I’ll die.’ Die. If you want you, the Aura’s hellfire will descend anywhere within 2 km of you.
No one can leave the hell without your permission.
※However, you have to be within the radius.
It was a scary skill.
-This one’s definitely it. Zombie, shut up and get this skill.
-Hm? Hey, Kim Zombie. Why is there no reply?
I knit my eyebrows.
‘I don’t know why, but there’s something off about it.’
What was it?
It was an amazing skill. But there was something off. I felt uncomfortable, like I had choked on something and couldn’t get it out. The feeling of the water pipe being broken but not knowing where it was.
‘…Anyways, read the next skills.’
-Hm? I don’t think there’ll be a better skill than this. Can’t you just pick this?’
‘There’s a skill I’m looking for. C’mon, quickly!’
He pouted, but he read the rest of the cards.
-Alright, listen well. [Labyrinth Plan] A- Class, [Doll Controller] B Class, [Target Attack] B- Class, [Trap Installation] C Class…
He was smoothly reading the cards and cut himself off. The last skill. Bae Hu-ryeong’s eyes shook at the shining silver card.
-N, No, it’s not…wait…
‘It’s fine. I got it. You don’t have to read it.’
I was sure.
That was the card I wanted.
[Please select a skill card.]
The cards started to fly around. They were fast. But I had focused on one card from the beginning, and it didn’t confuse me.
-Hey! Gong-ja! Hey! Let’s not be like this.
Bae Hu-ryeong continued to shout, like he knew.
-Look at this. Wow, a golden card! Wow, S Class skill! Dope! If you have this you can make hellfire when you want. How cool is that.
‘I don’t know.’
-Why don’t you know! I’ll fall in love! If I was a girl, I would fall in love at Kim Gong-ja, your charm! Let’s get it! Let’s go, Kim Gong-ja’s celebrity life!
‘You should’ve realized something was strange.’
There were clues.
‘Out of the ten thousands of dolls, there’s only one real one. The real one is the user of the skill, so of course, they won’t be damaged.’
I held out my hand.
‘But why are the fake dolls fine as well?’
And I grabbed the silver card.
-Aaaack! No! No! Shit, no!
‘There’s only one answer. Sword Emperor.’
I flipped over the silver card.
[Night and Day Fire Caution]
Effects: Ow, that’s hot! If we leave this alone, our house will completely burn up, right? But now, you don’t have to worry. The living and non living things you choose will be immune to the fire and not burn.
※However, damage from water and ice increases by 300%
The 10th stage. Hide and seek of the hellfire residence.
The boss didn’t have just the ability to burn things up.
They also had the opposing skill, not making things burn.
I clenched my fist and let myself be drowned with victory.
‘I came! I saw! I conquered!’
-No…no, sob. This isn’t right…this really isn’t right…
Bae Hu-ryeong’s mentality collapsed.
‘What do you mean it’s not right? With this skill, it’s over if I make myself immune. I can slowly look for the real doll now. Game over. From today, you’ll have to call me Gong-ja-nim!’
-Damn…shit…fuck…this is a scam. It was set to be like this…
‘Uwahwahwah! Call me Gong-ja-nim now!
My voice rang in the dark space.
A voice that wasn’t mine rang out as well.
[Selection complete. The skill is being copied.]
[You are being regressed to 24 hours ago.]
It was the celebratory message that signaled my win in the best.
Now, I could return to a day and challenge the 10th floor again.
Clearing it was right in front of me now.
[Your current hunter rank is E class.]
However, that wasn’t the end today.
[You will receive a penalty due to your skill.]
It was the alarm I didn’t see when I was Rank F.
But this time, for the first time, I received my first penalty.
I wondered which penalty would be given.
[The trauma of your enemy is being reenacted.]
[The extremity is Weak. Hell Road.]
I tilted my head at the unexpected word.
‘What does it mean to reenact the trauma of my enemy…’
Before I could finish speaking, the world in front of me turned white.
For any errors and issues contact me through discord:- https://discord.gg/Q3dStgu