Chapter 14 - Veterans Of The Tower (1)

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[Name Libarintos (Clear)
Type: Labyrinth
Difficulty: B
Description: A labyrinth of Crete designed by Daedalus. It is characterized by its complex maze and various types of traps.]
[You have cleared the labyrinth on the first floor for the first time!]
[This event will be recorded in the ‘Hall of Fame’ tomorrow.]
[Player Kang Jin-hyuk and Park Hana will receive 5,000 coins each!]

The sunlight was blinding and the fresh air filled and refreshed their hearts.

“Phew…”

Jin-hyuk closed his eyes and savored the taste of the fresh air.

“W-we’re alive! We made it!”

Park Hana’s eyes welled up with tears. What a hellish month she had to suffer through.

She was chased by a Minotaur all day and couldn’t even sleep at night. She was also made to support Jin-hyuk with meals made of disgusting moss and mushrooms.

But she survived.

Right, she survived that hell.

But her happiness was cut short as Jin-hyuk patted her on the shoulder.

“Uh?”

“Coin.”

“C-Coin what?”

Park Hana slowly looked up.

‘Is she pretending not to know?’

Well, it was an amount that no one would want to give up. With 5,000 coins, she would be able to outright purchase a D-grade item.

“Acting like you don’t know? Or will you give it to me?”

Jin-hyuk spread out his palm. All of the profits in this contractual relationship needed to go into the hands of the CEO.

“… I will give it to you.”

Park Hana handed over the coins with a gloomy face.

‘Nice.’

This pushed the total number of coins in his possession over 10,000.

Jin-hyuk’s smile widened as he thought of the money.

‘The benefit of initial reward is definitely worthwhile.’

At least at this point, no player had more coins than him.

“Get Braham’s Ring and bring it back within three days to me.”

“That! three days is too short…!”

“Now you have two days.”

Open your mouth one more time, and you’d have one day.

Any more words, and she’d need to go get it right now.

“… I will try.”

Park Hana bowed her head. Her expression was rotten despite escaping from the labyrinth and seeing the fresh start to a new life.

Although freed from the monsters, her life as a slave had just begun.

Especially with a bloody boss like Jin-hyuk, her future would be more painful than hell.

“Do not make a face like you are about to die. I will let you climb the Hall of Fame alone.”

At Jin-hyuk’s words, Park Hana looked shocked.

“Is that possible?”

“In the case of two or more players, only the representative can upload.”

“…”

Park Hana bit her finger.

A labyrinth no one had cleared yet. If she made it known that she cleared it alone, she was bound to receive a lot of attention.

Losing colleagues.

Not being able to level up this entire month.

All of it could be forgiven.

No, why would he?!

There would be an uproar in the media, and the internet would say that a promising prospect had come.

For Park Hana, who liked getting attention, it was a reward she couldn’t help but walk toward.

And for Jin-hyuk, it was a chance to escape from bothersome attention.

“How many viewers know about you?”

“Why? I’m not too sure…”

“We never know.”

Looking at the chat she had with her viewers, the probability of her disliking them seemed pretty high.

However, as Park Hana said, there was a factor called ‘We never know.’

“Then do something to make them not speak up about it.”

“You mean…?”

“I don’t think the police will be interested just because a few people go missing. Well, it will still be the case even if they were.”

There would not be enough manpower to focus on anything but the tower right now.

The priority would drop further if the case was just a disappearance rather than a murder.

“You know how to do it right.”

He didn’t have to tell her, because this was Park Hana’s specialty.


After separating from Park Hana, Jin-hyuk headed to the starting point.

As he passed through the gate, he saw the familiar sight of Seoul.

Ah, he wasn’t quite used to it yet. There was a huge electric billboard that had been put up in front of the gate.

[Ah, did you hear? In a week, the ‘Dangun’ guild is rumored to be Korea’s representative to attack the 3rd-floor boss monster.]
[Oh\! Dangun is the number one guild in Korea.]
[Yes. As expected, Europe and Japan had failed after the US, so expectations are being focused on Korea now.]
[It would be great if we could also do it with the Chinese side, but they haven’t responded yet.]
[Right. Its because various interests are intertwined, so it is a fact that each nation moves for its own sake rather than cooperate. Now that this has happened, I think we should find a way to break through with our own strength, rather than expecting help from other nations.]
[If it is the Dangun guild, I think they can do it.]

News about the tower was being reported on the billboard.

An attack attempt on the 3rd-floor boss monster…

The players had climbed a lot in just one month.

‘Wow. Already on the 3rd-floor boss? As expected of humans!’ wasn’t a very well-accepted sentiment.

The initial condition was just to reach the floor within 90 days.

In other words, there had been no need to reach the 2nd floor yet, let alone the 3rd.

But…

‘They are trying to take down the boss and reach the 4th floor.’

Because they covet the numerous resources that existed in the tower.

Rather than leveling up and growing steadily, they chose to jump up.

‘Seriously… if they don’t have the skills, they will end up regretting it so much later.’

It was possible to climb up easily now, but the higher they went, the tighter the time limit would become.

Their basics would be poor, but the difficulty would increase. The pressure of a 90-day time limit would continue to become stronger.

And this wasn’t a game where they could just rechallenge from the beginning.

‘Anyway, I will take over the first clear. It is speed control. I guess I can do it at my pace.’

Jin-hyuk’s eyes turned to the billboard.

Tomorrow the story of Park Hana will be all over the news. For this reason, he conceded the spot in the Hall of Fame.

Excessive attention.

It was a double-edged sword.

If you got recognized and secured a place, no one would be able to touch you…

And it would most likely become a stumbling block to the most crucial early growth period.

For mankind.

For the nation.

And for others.

If the individual efforts faded in the name of public interest, then it was simply the tyranny of the majority.

Although people who only went after fame and attention would get caught in this trap, he wasn’t one of them.

‘First, let’s gather some information about what happened this past month.’

It was possible through the internet.

But to get quality information where a multitude of them was being spread…

Well.

It would cost a lot of time and effort. There was a better way.

Jin-hyuk joined the [Tower of Trials] community forum.

Numerous categories and articles filled the screen. He would have to find the one he wanted.

One player he had been keeping an eye on since he entered the labyrinth/

‘Where are you?’

Jin-hyuk’s eyes moved quickly.

Finding just one name among many was hard.

However, Jin-hyuk began his search in places with high potential.

[Today’s popular posts], [Hall of Fame], [Hot Tips Board]…

And finally…

‘Found it.’

A familiar name stood out.

[MrBaldHuman
Member Since: August 13, 2007
Details: Undisclosed]

MrBaldHuman.

He was still here.

Jin-hyuk logged in with the ID that he had played the game with.

‘Captain Teemo’

It was the ID he had used to sign up on July 1, 2007.

It was nice to be back after a long time, but…

‘Damn it, why did I have to use such an ID 11 years back? There were a lot of cooler things that I could have used!’

Iron Man, Sword King, Warrior God, etc…

Things he could have proudly said instead of…!

At that time, he had been obsessed with Teemo, a fluffy character attacking the opponent from the inside.

It was an irreversible mistake, yet, one thing was sure.

MrBaldHuman.

It’s at least better than this guy.

CaptainTeemo: Hello! Do you remember me?

‘Will he answer back?’

They fought together once, but that was a thing of the past.

His message could get ignored now since the other person had his own activities.

And just as he was thinking that…

MrBaldHuman: Hahaha! Salute! Captain Teemo! It has been so long!

The answer came faster than he thought.

‘He seems to remember me.’

It had been 7 years since he last saw them in the game…

Jin-hyuk felt touched for some reason.

MrBaldHuman: Wow! But why didn’t you reply to me till now? Since day one, I have been trying to send a message to find you.
CaptainTeemo: Oh, I have been a bit busy for the last month.
MrBaldHuman: Hahah, what? Were you on a deserted Island?
CaptainTeemo: Well, a similar place…

Called the Labyrinth.

He struggled with life and death there for one month. Of course, there would be an inevitable information gap.

But he was happy, though.

He had someone who would give him information.

If it was this guy, he would know more about the Tower of Trials than anyone else. So he would only need to ask this one person alone.

CaptainTeemo: Instead of just talking in chat, I would like to meet and talk in person. Do you have time?
MrBaldHuman. Ah, of course! But, I was supposed to meet with the Nuclear Fist of Bulkwang District. Can we three meet together?

Another unexpected name.

Nuclear Fist of Bulkwang District.

He had decided to meet with that person too?

‘Is this the feeling of being completely out of the [Tower of Trials] for the first time?’

He was curious.

To actually meet the people who he had only interacted with in-game.

Any worries he had didn’t last long.

CaptainTeemo: Please come to the entrance of the Tower of Trials. We can head to a regular café from there.
---

It was a moderate cafe with a fair amount of traffic.

Jin-hyuk took a seat at a table at the back of the café.

Have 30 minutes passed since he started sipping on his cold chocolate latte?

Clack!

The door opened, and a man and woman entered.

He could tell without even checking.

Those two were MrBaldHuman and Nuclear Fist of Bulkwang District.

“Hello. I am Mr. Bald Human.”

He was just over 170 cm tall.

A man with curly, permed hair, fair skin, and a bright smile.

He looked quite cute, quite emotional too.

In the game, his avatar had been that of a bald black man with an outfit made up of leopard print panties, bee tails, and butterfly wings… This guy, really…

‘Ha, isn’t this the guy who started shouting after setting fire to the worm in that labyrinth?’

[Your blood pressure has risen]
[There is a risk.]

He agreed.

It felt like his cheeks were tingling. At the same time, the woman who had entered together introduced herself.

“I am Nuclear Fist of Bulkwang District.”

She was a slightly taller woman at around 167 cm with healthy and slightly tanned skin.

Her long straight hair matched perfectly with her workout clothes.

This person was obviously…

The fat man who wore boxing gloves and a floral tube around his waist.

No doubt.

That was the appearance of this woman’s character, who often shouted, ‘There is no mercy in my fists!’. An image forever etched into his mind.

So amazing.

Right, it was amazing.

Of course, he had been expecting to meet some old bearded men.

‘But these kids look normal? No, in another sense, they both stand out.’

Jin-hyuk thought as such before saying.

“Captain…Teemo.”

He had forgotten that fact for a moment.

The crazier veterans act in the game, the more likely they are perfectly normal people in reality.

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