Chapter 3 - Mangrove Tree Of Greed

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“S-save me!”

Lee Jong-soo begged for his life, but Jin-hyuk coldly said.

“Why should I?”

If you want to, file a lawsuit with that splendid law firm behind you.

“W-wait… kuak! Kuaak!”

Clench!

Crunch!

The tree trunk crushed Lee Jong-soo with tremendous pressure, and the man who did such vile things died just like that.

And I felt no remorse.

“Looks like even trash can be of help in times like these.’

Everyone else had already run away.

“Now I can take it slow.”

Tak!

As most of the tree’s branches were now occupied with absorbing nutrients, Jin-hyuk took the chance to leap towards the tree.

Of course.

Swish!

Not all of the branches were occupied. With a speed that audibly cut through the air, the tree aimed two of its tree trunks towards Jin-hyuk.

Of course, if he got caught, he would end up just like Lee Jong-soo, a crushed corpse that served as nothing but a fluid sack.

Jin-hyuk tilted his head.

‘It isn’t difficult to avoid this.’

The tree trunks that cut through the air collided with each other.

Pap!

The wood shattered.

35 degrees to the right.

22 degrees to the left.

The exact angles and direction

There was no deviation from what he had experienced many times before in the game.

Movements at perfect timing. Instead of hitting him, the tree branches attacking Jin-hyuk penetrated the mangrove tree’s main body.

Jin-hyuk smiled.

‘That’s right. Finding this kind of exact path to make it attack itself was the most difficult thing to do.’

“Gooooo!”

The mangrove of greed let out a heavy groan. Why are you acting like you are feeling so much pain when you can barely feel anything, to begin with?

The tree’s bulkiness was a distraction. Anyone who saw it would eventually know that you could just pour oil and set it on fire. Jin-hyuk then grabbed a piece of wood that had fallen on the ground.

“Why don’t I tie you up, and we can quietly pass the time?”

This was an event-based encounter, so there would be no experience points.

At most, you’d have a day one induction into the Hall of Fame. It would be more effective to get what you need than fight to the death.

“Gooooo!’

The mangrove roared again.

The meaning behind its roar was impossible to know, but it clearly didn’t like what was happening.

It cannot be helped.

If that was the case, let’s just knock it down.

Jin-hyuk used the sharp part of the wood he was holding to point at it.

[Mangrove Tree of Greed uses the skill Vampire Vine!]

Woong!

Woong!

Dozens of the tree’s vines moved at the same time. No matter how skillful he was, it would be impossible to avoid all of them.

But changing their directions a little…

‘It will be possible.’

With that thought, Jin-hyuk’s eyes narrowed.

At the same time, he moved the piece of wood in his hand to match the timing of the vines flying toward him.

Kagak!

The tree vine that passed by brushed past the stick that was stuck to the ground.

Starting with that one.

Puak!

The real fight began.

While holding the 30 cm-long wood in his hand…

Step.

Jin-hyuk walked onwards.

Kwakwakwakwang!

As the distance narrowed, the tree’s perceived speed of attack increased.

Puak!

It was a tug of war where a single mistake was not allowed. Jin-hyuk countered each of the tree’s attacks.

‘The rhythm… I need to ride it.’

You just had to find a unique breathing pattern and adapt to the tree’s movement. There was no need to be scared.

There was no reason for him to be scared because he had repeated this too many times.

Eventually, the distance was reduced to just 1 meter.

Now with just one leap, he could put his hand inside.

Ba-dump! Ba-dump!

He could feel the trunk’s surface pounding. Through the holes on the trunk, he could see a human heart.

Its weakness.

But then.

Woong!

Something flew out all at once from among the branches. Butterflies.

Thousands of blue butterflies.

The sight of them flying through the air as they threw out a glittering powder was something to behold.

“Huh!”

Jin-hyuk stopped breathing.

‘Sleeping Butterfly.’

They were monsters who used sleeping dust as a defense mechanism.

Since the effect quickly appeared as it entered the respiratory system, there were many times that he had been helpless when trying to deal with this.

But in other words, as long as he didn’t breathe, he wouldn’t be affected by it.

Jin-hyuk took a deep breath and went for the main body of the mangrove.

A piece of wood moved towards him in a counterclockwise direction…

Puak!

And pierced the heart of the mangrove.

“Kaaaa!”

A scream of pain split the air and caused the branches to sway in all directions as Jin-hyuk forced the wood deeper inside.

Puak! Puak!

After a while, the tree’s screaming stopped, and it ceased to move.

Finally, he defeated the tree.

“Phew!”

Jin-hyuk let out a long sigh.

He was sweating and gasping for air, and his heart continued to pound. Everything he just did made him feel alive.

Haaa.

‘To think that the repeated patterns and timing study I did ended up working out like this.’

Suddenly, he felt grateful for everything he had done till now.

[The first 'Mangrove Tree of Greed' has been defeated.]

A status window with a congratulatory message appeared.

Ah, right.

‘Come to think of it, I must be the first in the world.’

And the story…

[Your achievement will be recorded in the 'Hall of Fame' for one day from tomorrow]
[Please input the player's name.]

Again, this thing came.

A system that asked for personal information in order for you to get inducted into the Hall of Fame came like a beggar.

“I have no name. Everything will be kept private.”

Jin-hyuk answered without another thought.

The fact that it asked for personal information disclosure was a system specification. If this achievement became known, the player would get all kinds of attention.

[Name unknown, the player’s face will be censored, and voice will be adjusted.]

The system wouldn’t be completely confidential.

‘I guess this means I’ll just have to compromise by hiding just who I am for now.’

Of course, it wasn’t like he wouldn’t get replaced right away. In these early stages, it was unavoidable.

‘But it is better than back then.’

At the peak of his junior high school career, he entered the Hall of Fame with the appearance of a barbarian wearing a coat and a cigar in his mouth.

‘The sun is going down…’

This was all just a lucky situation.

If it had been a game played by many more people, he would have been stuck here for a longer time.

‘Damn it. Let’s forget it.

Just thinking about it, he wanted to kick the tree a dozen more times.

“Let’s just do whatever I feel like.”

Jin-hyuk bit his tongue as he searched through the cracks of the dead tree.

Something caught his finger. It was a small green pill about 1 cm in size.

[You have acquired the essence of 'Tree Orb.'\]

‘Finally!’

Jin-hyuk’s lips turned into a smile.

If each fruit increased strength, agility, stamina, and magic by +3, then the ‘Tree of Orb’ gave bonus stats of 12.

Considering that each level up only gave around 3 stat points, its equal to leveling up four times in one go.

‘Insane.’

Honestly, there had never been a better value for money than this item. Even if he looked all the way up to the 50th floor, there was none better.

Gulp!

Jin-hyuk popped the orb into his mouth.

He could feel warm energy spread through his stomach.

‘Now, let’s see if it is perfectly absorbed.’

Jin-hyuk activated the status window.


Name: Kang Jin-hyuk
Gender: Male
Age: 27
Level: 1
Strength 5 Agility 6 Stamina 7 Magic 5
Unassigned Stat Points: 12
Occupation: None
Unique Ability: None
Skill: None

Level 1.

But with 12 free stat points

‘The strongest level 1.’

There was no other way to express it.


Has it been an hour or so?

A message popped up on the [Tower of Trials] Hall of Fame, which said that the ‘Mangrove of Greed’ was slain for the first time.

Videos related to it will update in the next 10 minutes.

The Korean server’s bulletin board, which had been bereft of players for a long time, began to get crowded.

4Dollar: Phew! Did anyone die?
Red Hare PC Room: Absurd. That tree, could it even be killed in the first place? In the past, when I played the game with a clenched fist, I couldn't help but give up after 100 tries.
Babambam: How the hell did someone kill that thing?
Rabbit Pwincess: I guess it was someone who died a lot in the game for the past 11 years, a game that everyone else quit after just a year.
Rabbit: Must be luck or something. That guy must be a weird one. There's no normal way to take down that tree!
Fekk91: Exactly!
Lovepack7: 2222222
Jaisenberr: 33333

Comments came flooding in.

Except for a few comments at the beginning, most of the reactions were ridiculous.

They were calling it luck or an exploit.

Most thought it had to be one of the two, but their tone soon changed.

[The video has been updated.]

The commenters’ doubtful reactions changed instantly as soon as the video was uploaded.

They had no choice but to do so.

Because they saw the entire thing with their own eyes.

kdc123: Wow….
Jaisenber: Hehehe
Fekk91: I have nothing to say.
Heir to Throne: Honestly, isn't that enough? Is that even a human moving?
Babamba: Look at that piece of wood. Captain America seems to be on a trip to Korea.
Rabbit Pwincess: I can only admire him. Insane. Insane. I also played up to the 7th floor, but looking at this, it's just great. Even if I die and wake up 100 times, I might not be able to do what he did.

There were good and bad reactions, but the general response from those who saw the video was the same.

Kingsman: I am Park Hosik, Director of Ohsung Semiconductors. 1 billion as a contract fee and 100 million won every month.
J Dragon: I will give the same money too, so please contact me when you see this.
F Blank Sheet is Right: I am gathering a team right now…

Even the comments that were begging to work together weren’t dull.

Jin-hyuk savored the feelings he felt as he read all these.

‘Was it that great?’

Of course, it wasn’t something simple to beat the Mangrove of Greed at level 1.

Well, usually anyway.

‘It isn’t that surprising.’

Ah well.

Most other players didn’t play through the mid-to-late stages of the tower, so that was maybe why. Because of that, they lacked a lot of information.

Jin-hyuk smiled bitterly.

‘But, 100 million…’

Seeing such an unrealistic amount, his past came to mind.

A life that was difficult to put into words. Even paying rent had been delayed many times.

There were many times he had to starve just to prepare for a mukbang. He would have taken it without a second thought if that money had been offered just a day earlier.

But now.

Even if you gave him a billion won, he had no intention of sharing what he knew.

‘Money isn’t important.’

Right.

That wasn’t important anymore.

Jin-hyuk searched for the National Museum of Korea on his mobile phone. It was a large museum located in Yongsan, Seoul.

In the game’s setting, overflowing magic had spread throughout Seoul in the aftermath of the Tower of Trials’ appearance.

Most things weren’t affected much, but there were major changes when it came to relics. Historical relics that were outside of the tower transformed into holy relics.

And it wasn’t just that simple as the genuine relics with mythical power were inside the tower. What he was talking about were the replicas.

In other words, a duplicate version.

‘This is where you can find the most replicas.’

The National Museum of Korea was like a treasure trove.

But that was also the problem.

The main point was that he wouldn’t be the only one aiming for this.

Unlike the mangrove trees that appeared in seven places in Seoul alone, there was only one such museum.

This meant that people from all over the city would converge to look for relics.

And, of course, there would be those who would die there.

“I need to start getting ready.”

Jin-hyuk shoved his phone into his pocket. He moved in the darkness of the night once all of the gathered spectators had disappeared.


Jin-hyuk stopped by an E-mart located in Yongsan station.

There was still time to shop there before the night got darker.

‘Where can I find it? Korean paper to use would be good.’

About five 30-cm long items were put into the cart.

‘Is this enough?’

They are a bit disappointing for a weapon, but perhaps they would be useful in other ways.

At best, a hammer would be a nice weapon too.

Jin-hyuk pushed the cart and headed to the checkout counter.

At the same time, breaking news about the tower showed on the TV.

[The government is now actively investigating the situation…]
[The president convened all ministers for a meeting, including the Minister of Defense, this afternoon…]
[…experts in each area are being called.]

However, trying to come up with countermeasures was useless.

Trying to impose logic and reason into the supernatural was a futile effort.

Jin-hyuk looked out the window.

He could see the sun setting over the mountains.

The day was over, and the night was coming.

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