Chapter 18 – Trauma Penalty (3)
[The challenger is hunter Kim Gong-ja. 1 person.]
[Calculating rewards…calculation finished.]
[The reward will be given 24 hours later, once you enter the 11th floor.]
Bonus stage clear.
Something that no one else had done yet. I did that. Me, who wasn’t even in the ranking.
If this was known, the world would flip around.
But I didn’t feel comfortable. Like I was happy and sad at the same time.
I stood in the ash covered building.
-Hey. Why do you look like you ate shit? You even cleared the hidden stage. I can count the number of times I cleared a hidden stage on one hand. The reward will probably be pretty good.
“A psychopath like you wouldn’t know why I’m gloomy right now. Since you don’t have any humanity.”
-Mm. Now that I see, you didn’t eat shit but you’re shitting me right now.
It was surprising. My gloominess disappeared with a word from Bae Hu-ryeong. Yeah. Living with this crazy geezer, I wouldn’t be able to feel sensitive to things.
“…I was just thinking the world is fucked up.”
“You saw in the boss stage just now. Whether it’s our world or another world, fucked up things happen.”
Bae Hu-ryeong nodded.
-Places where people live are probably all like that.
We stood quietly like that for some time. We both looked at the remains of the mansion and shuddered.
-Alright. Enough. Whew. Things like this don’t fit me! Aside from that, Kim Gong-ja, you were amazing earlier!
-Using a method of your own to subjugate the boss. It was incredible. I’ll compliment you!
I furrowed my eyebrows. He was probably being genuine, but I got goosebumps.
“…What’s with the sudden compliments?”
-Kid. I give compliments when there’s something to compliment. This was something you overcame with not your luck, but your skill. You and I are partners, so we should be happy together. Right?
I furrowed my eyebrows even more.
-Nah. What do you mean weird. Good job, Kim Gong-ja! You’re so cool, Kim Gong-ja! Let’s continue going for the Rank 1 when the 11th floor opens! So what if they all curse you saying it’s a scam. They should get a cheat skill if they feel so wronged!
He laughed cheerfully. Hm? Why was he suddenly being like this? Unless the sun rose from the west, or the tower collapsed tomorrow, there was no way Bae Hu-ryeong would be like this.
It was then.
[Announcing to everyone.]
[Today, the 10th floor’s stage has been cleared.]
[Announcing to everyone again.]
It wasn’t a voice that only I heard. A voice filled the sky.
[The 10th floor stage has been cleared.]
A congratulatory message that signaled a new era.
[After 24 hours, the 11th floor stage is being opened.]
Something exploded in the sky. It was fireworks. First, a purple firework exploded, then red, blue, yellow, and all kinds of various colors decorated the sky.
I blankly looked at the sky. The fireworks didn’t disappear even though they exploded. They twisted and squirmed, and slowly formed a shape.
It was the shape of a clock.
And the clock of the sky started to move.
Bae Hu-ryeong and I looked at the atmosphere.
Then, he muttered to himself.
-It’s finally the start of the real show.
I nodded my head.
-I saw a fireworks show like this when I was alive.
“It’s something I’m also seeing for the second time. But.”
I clenched my fist.
“But the past me was in a first floor bar. It was just a spectacle to watch. I didn’t even know what had happened. I lost the chance and ended up staying a F Class hunter my entire life…damn. The more I think about it, the more stupid I was.”
Bae Hu-ryeong laughed.
-So. How does it feel being promoted from an extra to a main character?
I didn’t answer right away. Instead, I pulled out my phone.
It was to see how the online community was reacting to this.
-what’s this what’s the fireworks
-There’s fireworks on the first floor. Is it just this floor?
-im on the 3rd floor but theres also fireworks here
The fireworks in the middle of the day were burning up the online community.
-anyone hear the voice just now
-i heard the 10th floor was cleared but is that true
-did the black dragon guild clear it?
-There wasn’t any announcement. What’s going on?
-The next assault that the Hunter’s Association announced is 2 weeks later.
-its def not the black dragon! They’re all in front of the cafe in front of babylon bank on the 1st floor. picture attached as proof
-who cleared it?
-[Breaking News] 10th floor cleared!
-Guild that cleared it hasn’t been revealed yet.
-[Breaking News] Black Dragon, no announcement of clearing.
With every second, new posts were uploaded on the community. It was just one of them. All hunter communities were like this, and this fire soon spread to other communities.
News agencies in Babylon frantically released one-sentence articles, and gossip sparked the fire again.
-who is it if not black dragon?
-im praying at the ten thousand temple rn. its crazy here. seems like the its not the ten thousand temple either.
-yeah! it’s the sword saint!
-the sword saint cleared it by himself. 100%
-ah, sword saint can do that
At first, the fire burned individually. Some pushed for the Ten Thousand Temple. Other places pointed at the Sword Saint. Count, Venomous Snake, Crusader, etc. All the greatest hunters were mentioned at least once.
-what r u talking about. sword saint is drinking milk in a bar?
-its not sword saint. picture attached as proof
-venomous snake was teaching training guild members
-what are you talking about?
-crusader working in babylon square
-i asked myself. sword saint said it’s not him
-wait. It doesn’t make sense
-this is sanghyun’s executive. I can’t reveal my real name but its not sangryun.
-why isn’t there a single guild saying they cleared it
-what the f***
The burning communities gathered as one. With one huge question.
-then who is it
-does no one know who cleared it?
-who’s the hunter that subjugated the 10th floor?
I turned off my phone’s home screen.
And I decided to answer what Bae Hu-ryeong asked me earlier.
“My feelings right now.”
I was smiling.
“It honestly feels great.”
It was something I had never felt in my entire life. But I knew what feeling this was without anyone telling me. I instinctively knew.
It was the feeling of being at the top.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world.”
Bae Hu-ryeong smirked.
-That’s nothing more than an illusion. You’re not on top, and you only subjugated the 10th floor. But it’s not 100% an illusion. Kim Gong-ja. You’re closer to the top than anyone else in your world.
I turned my gaze.
“Now all that’s left is to really be at the top.”
The stone stairs who had to pass if you wanted to challenge the hellfire residence. There was one person running up the stairs.
It was the doorkeeper that I had tricked saying I had a terminal illness.
“Pant, cough…! Gasp. Hunter-nim…!”
The doorkeeper was soaked in sweat. It seemed like he had run immediately over. And he stopped in front of me gasping for breath.
“That…that just now. W, Was it you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“T, The 10th floor clear!”
The doorkeeper shouted.
“I’m in charge today…and you were the only hunter to challenge the 10th floor today, so….it’s a mess right now. The Hunter’s Association keeps on calling me to ask what happened…!”
I looked at the doorkeeper. Buzz. Buzzz. When he was talking to me, his pocket kept on vibrating. It was probably the calls. Like he said, he seemed like the entire Tower was panicked.
“What are you going to do about it if I really cleared it?”
“I asked what you’re going to do if I’m really the hunter who cleared the 10th floor.”
The doorkeeper had a flustered face.
“I wasn’t able to check your ID so…I would do it now.”
“Naah. Doorkeeper-nim. That’s strange. It wasn’t that you couldn’t check my ID. You even took 100 Gold from me.”
“You go through a lot while working.”
I softly pat his shoulder. He looked at me with a disoriented face. And I passed him to head down the stone stairs.
I heard a desperate shout from behind me.
“P, Please wait a moment! Hunter-nim! Even your nickname is alright! Please at least tell me your nickname before you leave! Or else I’ll be beat up by my Association seniors!”
I answered without looking back.
“I don’t have a nickname.”
“Work hard. Ah, and don’t follow me. Or I’ll really run away.”
Thankfully, the doorkeeper didn’t follow after me. Even if he did, it didn’t matter. I could easily lose him since he was tired from the stairs.
-Hey. His face is a sight to see. It’s like he saw a ghost.
Bae Hu-ryeong snickered looking behind him.
-Anyways, good job. That’s how you raise the value of your name. Yup. You have to make people find you. Even without you telling…
I stood in front of the transmission stone that was in front of the 10th floor entrance.
“Why you suddenly complimented me.”
I reserved the one heading down to the 1st floor and spoke.
Bae Hu-ryeong paused.
“I remembered. You promised to call me Gong-ja-nim if I cleared the boss in 2 Coins, right? Wow, what are you gonna do now. I really did it in 2 Coins. Our Sword Emperor-nim is in big trouble.”
-Hey. Gong-ja…but we’re partners…isn’t that a bit wrong?
Bae Hu-ryeong pleaded with a face that was about to cry.
-Think about it. Partners have equal standing. You and me. Equal standing. Someone who dominated up to the 99th floor and someone who’ll challenge the 100th floor. Hey, partner! Friend! How beautiful is that!
I brightly smiled.
“Alright. Now call me Gong-ja-nim when you talk to me.”
It was then, when Bae Hu-ryeong’s face fell in despair.
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