Chapter 213: Chapter 213
“What do you want? How much were you planning to spend before coming here?”
What this gatekeeper asked wasn’t all that different from the things everyone else Su-hyeun had encountered so far had asked him. But Su-hyeun could feel a vague, th.o.r.n.y undertone in the voice.
He replied, “Is it possible to learn anything I want as long as I have enough points?”
“Anything, you say?”
From the 43rd floor up until now, Su-hyeun had spent as few points as possible, all in preparation for this moment.
Gatekeepers provided various information depending on the number of points paid out. The greater the amount, the easier it was to purchase more detailed, higher-cla.s.s information.
The gatekeeper replied, “Well, as long as it’s limited to the info on the trials, then sure.”
“What about information besides that?”
“You should forget about what happened on the 43rd floor.”
That was a completely different answer.
“That was an exception. Something that shouldn’t have happened, something that must never happen. So, forget all about what happened.”
Su-hyeun hadn’t been certain, but now, as expected…
Indeed, he had been expecting something like this ever since learning the truth of the gatekeepers withholding the secrets of this world from the events of the 43rd floor.
He felt a bit relieved, actually. Well, he no longer needed to waste points for no reason, after all.
From the get-go, he wasn’t all that curious about the secrets of this world. The important thing for Su-hyeun wasn’t the Tower of Trials or the worlds found inside the trials itself. No, the world outside, the one he lived in, was far more important to him.
Even if he could learn the secrets of this world by spending his points, he’d still refrain if the amount required turned out to be too exorbitant to swallow.
“In that case, provide me with a hint for the next floor, please. How much is it?”
“Don’t have any hints to give you. Because you need to tackle them head-on in the first place.”
Su-hyeun’s expression became unreadable at the gatekeeper’s reply. He couldn’t decide whether or not he should be happy about this.
“Well, I can tell you two things. Although, it won’t make much of a difference whether you hear them out or not. Are you still interested? I’ll give you a discount. How about one hundred thousand points for both?”
Su-hyeun figured that it’d be better to hear them out and move forward instead of going in blind, so he extended his hand. And when he grasped the gatekeeper’s hand…
[You’ve spent 100,000 achievement points.]
The price was paid.
“Firstly, knowing it doesn’t mean that the difficulty is low. Should I say it’s a hard problem to solve despite you knowing how to? Especially so in your case.”
“What is the reason for that?”
“And that’s the second part. Because you’re a good guy.”
“Because I’m a good guy?”
“That’s right. I think you’re going to have a bit of a hard time with this one. That’s as much as I can tell you. Now, go on ahead.”
The gatekeeper finished talking and dismissively waved his hand.
Su-hyeun quietly stared at him, before turning around to leave. It was nice that he got to save his points, but, for some reason, something just didn’t quite feel right.
Su-hyeun headed to the center of the plaza.
His body was suitably warmed up, and his state of tension was high, too. His current status meant that he shouldn’t have any problems whatsoever, even if battles started the moment he stepped into the trial.
He felt pretty confident about fighting, too.
Actually, he had gotten far stronger than his initial goal, his own expectations. From the t.i.tle of ‘Hero’, as well as Wrath’s swordsmans.h.i.+p, and to even his strength stat that reached 99. His magic count had also reached 88. So, no matter how bad the difficulty was, he didn’t think he’d struggle too much on a mere 50th floor.
[The trial on the 50th floor is commencing.]
When he heard that voice in his head, Su-hyeun’s eyes narrowed, the glare in them sharpening.
The scenery before his eyes changed, little by little.
His right hand was already on the sword at his hip, while the senses in his whole body were in a state of high alert to feel out any and all presences near him right away.
And so, when the scenery before his eyes had changed completely…
All the tension circulating within him dissipated in an instant.
He heard the sounds of distant birds chirping away, and the nearby sounds of water dripping down—then, the voices of other people.
Not only that, moos of cows and even the refres.h.i.+ng rustle of the pa.s.sing breeze, too.
The sight of the clear blue sky with a scant few clouds and the verdant fields on the ground below, plus the rural roads snaking between them, looked truly peaceful to his eyes.
Much more so than any other scenery Su-hyeun had ever witnessed so far.
“What the heck is this?”
The world of the tenth floor.
The trial found in every tenth world held a special meaning to the awakeners climbing the Tower of Trials. The difficulty would shoot up for each of the sections, and people began calling them the hardest parts to clear.
It was the same story for Su-hyeun. No, it was actually far worse for him.
Despite choosing the highest difficulty trials, he was able to pa.s.s them without too many issues. Even then, the trials found on every tenth floor were the exceptions.
So, he prepared for all contingencies and maintained peak condition as well as a heightened state of tension.
“Argh, I told you not to step on the shoots over there! Hey, you’re stepping on them again?!”
“Come on dad, people can accidentally step on them, you know! So what are you shouting at me for?!”
“The shoots will die, you dumba.s.s! You going to take responsibility for ruining the crops, then?!”
An uncle was noisily arguing with his son.
“Oh, no. The stain from the seasoning just doesn’t want to come off.”
“Why don’t you soak it in water for a few days? I’m sure it’ll come off then.”
“A few days? Never mind days, I don’t have anything to wear tomorrow. I’ll just wear it as is.”
Aunties were doing laundry by the stream, their sticks beating the wet clothes.
This scene was too peaceful to behold.
Su-hyeun didn’t lower his guard, his suspicion, even then. But no matter how many times he confirmed it, he was wrong.
The moment he felt certain of this, Su-hyeun stopped walking and stood there. He dazedly stared at his surroundings once more.
The scene around him was just too peaceful. This world’s skies weren’t tainted by dark, gloomy storm clouds. In fact, it felt even more peaceful than the lively and vibrant city of Seoul.
Even the usual trial messages didn’t show up.
He wasn’t informed of what he needed to do in this place to clear the trial. And that made him even more confused. He would’ve felt better if monsters rushed at him in a huge horde, actually.
Su-hyeun wasn’t paying much attention to the voices in his surroundings so he, of course, ignored the call. But the source of the voice got closer to him and spoke again.
“Hans! Hey, fella, what are you doing here?”
Su-hyeun hurriedly slapped away a hand that grabbed his wrist. He spun around to face the man who had approached him from the rear.
That blow must’ve stunned the middle-aged man with dirt on his face, because he was staring back at Su-hyeun with a somewhat shocked expression.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
Su-hyeun realized that he had been too tense and smiled awkwardly while hiding his wrist.
The middle-aged man maintained that stunned expression as he stared at Su-hyeun. “Hans, this fella. I didn’t know you were actually this strong. Outwardly you’re skinny and sickly so I thought you wouldn’t have much strength to speak of.”
“Is… that so?”
It seemed that Su-hyeun’s name during this trial was ‘Hans.’
“But I think I hurt my head on the way, uncle. I can’t seem to recall anything all that well.”
The middle-aged man’s eyes opened wider, then he began inspecting Su-hyeun’s head.
In the meantime, the older man’s unexpected question surprised Su-hyeun. “What do you mean by ‘again’?”
“Fella, you came to our village with the same problem a few days ago. You said that you hurt your head and couldn’t even remember your own name. That’s why we agreed to just call you Hans.”
“Is that what happened?”
“Right. It’s only been a few days, so if you concentrate, you might remember something. I’m Hamil. Do you remember?”
Obviously he wouldn’t remember anything.
Su-hyeun committed the name ‘Hamil’ to memory. Meeting this middle-aged man here, and his connection to the role of ‘Hans’, couldn’t just be a coincidence.
“I’m really sorry about this. I still can’t remember anything clearly.”
“Really? Hmm. How strange.”
“By the way… Where is my house, exactly? Ah, since I lost my memories, the house…”
“You’ve been staying in my place, remember? I asked you to get some wood from the mountain behind the village over there, but why did you have to go and injure your head again, clumsy?”
“I’m sorry. H-hahaha…”
“You should finish the job quickly. It’s not that serious since you couldn’t remember anything, to begin with, right? Wait, it is serious, isn’t it? You won’t remember where my house is.” Hamil muttered at length to himself before grabbing Su-hyeun’s arm and began dragging him away. “This won’t do. For now, let’s head back to my place first.”
“What are you doing? I told you to stay at my place since you had nowhere else to go, didn’t I? Have you forgotten it alre… I guess you have. So what, you don’t want to go, then?”
Su-hyeun blinked his eyes in fl.u.s.ter before making his reply. “I, I’m coming.”
He hurriedly followed after Hamil.
He figured that he needed to understand this world’s situation first.
Hamil’s residence was about ten minutes of fast walking away from where Su-hyeun had started the trial.
The house itself was small and rather humble. Wooden planks were liberally plastered over the building’s exterior after the fact and Su-hyeun couldn’t help but wonder if water would leak incessantly inside on rainy days.
“You’re early! What about your work?”
They entered the house and were greeted by the voice of a slightly older woman. The boisterous cheering of young kids came one beat later. It seemed that the children were playing on their own somewhere.
“Actually, I ran into Hans on the way, you see. This fella, he says he lost his memories again so what can I do?”
Hamil’s wife was about the same age as he was, maybe around mid-thirties. She looked taken aback, then stopped knitting right away. “Oh my goodness? Again?”
“Right. I didn’t think he’d be able to get home like that, so I brought him back just in case. Eiing, this clumsy fella. Seriously, man.”
“You should’ve been more careful, young man. Wait, does that mean you also can’t remember me?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
“Is that so? Mm, can’t be helped, then. I’m sure you feel disoriented so why don’t you take a seat first? And you dear, why did you ask a young man without memories to gather wood in the first place?”
“Argh, I didn’t force him to do it, did I? What should I do when he asked me for any available job he can take on?”
As soon as entering his home, Hamil put the luggage on his shoulder down and began bickering with his wife. Su-hyeun just stood there and watched this rather normal family scene.
“Oops. Where’s my head at? Don’t just stand there and make yourself at home. Your legs must be feeling tired.”
Hamil’s wife pointed to the corner of the room and addressed Su-hyeun. Hamil, looking somewhat miffed after receiving the brunt of all that nagging, settled down on Su-hyeun’s opposite side.
“By the way, dear? Did you hear the rumors?”
“You know, the uncle next door, who pa.s.sed on a few days ago?”
“Of course I know him. He suddenly got sick one day, then kicked the bucket without a warning, didn’t he? I feel bad for his kids.”
“Apparently, three people saw that uncle on the road last night.”
“What are you talking about? How can anyone see a dead man?” Hamil snorted derisively. He turned around and mindlessly scratched his b.u.t.t, indicating his lack of interest in the rumor.
But Su-hyeun reacted differently. “Are they saying that a dead person was walking around?”
“Yes. The strange thing is, those three who saw that uncle are saying that they aren’t feeling well today, either.”
The moment she said that…
[The first trial will commence.]
[Meet the soul of the deceased.]
[Stop the spread of the plague.]
The system, silent until now, suddenly sounded its alerts.
The soul of the deceased. And then, the plague.
The outline for this trial was gradually revealing itself.