Chapter 15 - Day 5, 5th Floor
It was fortunate that the 4th day was a weekend. I had skipped the study group without any explanation, so the only excuse I could give retroactively was that I was in too much pain to have gone. I had a simple dinner and went back home. As I was walking back, I heard a sound in the alleyway next to the house.
“...!?” It was An Su-hyun--A person who I had seen die with my own eyes. But that wasn't the reason for my surprise. It was because he was holding a broomstick that I never once saw him use before.
The building management had always been the responsibility of his parents. Yet now the front yard was immaculately swept and the garbage space was neatly organized.
Even the empty bottles were arranged for the collectors. The boxes were tied up with strings. After finishing the sweeping, An Su-hyun started spraying a bucket with water.
Then his eyes met mine.
He gave me a small nod. His eyes were free of any of the hostility that was normally present when he saw me. That’s why it was even more surprising. His original self wouldn’t have done such minor work or even acknowledged me.
“Yes, Father. I have changed the rubber plug in the sink of Room 502...” He picked up a call as I walked passed him.
As Yang Su-jin had explained, a person who died and revived wouldn’t remember anything about the dungeon. If so, did it also change people? Was it like a fairy tale, where leaving the dungeon converted them? If so, it was something to be glad about.
But why? Was it a dissonance that his mind had created from his selfish, spoiled self? This thought remained in the corner of my mind. I would soon find out the cause.
I took out the cloth bag from my inventory and placed the things I had prepared inside of it. The bag had less capacity than I thought because there were many ‘different types.’
This was likely to work properly. Hopefully everything would go as I speculated. I stepped onto the staircase.
[5th floor, entered.]
As soon as I arrived, I could see that it was different from the previous floors. It was bright and noisy. It was like an auditorium or a playground. It was a big space that seemed twice as large. The high ceilings seemed at least 6~7 stories tall.
There were also more than 100 people visible. "Oppa!” Yang Su-jin was right in front of me.
"I knew waiting here was the right answer! I came down the same stairs as Oppa so I thought we would show up in the same place.” There were no staircases anywhere around me. New people just appeared out of thin air.
"When did you get here?”
"Not long ago. One minute? Two minutes?” She looked at the wide space like she couldn’t believe it.
“Now these people...”
"Surely we won’t be fighting all of them?”
“We won’t. Take a look over there.” Not far away from us, there were men exchanging blows. Or rather, they were trying to.
Listening to their words, the two men had explored the fourth floor together. One of them had pushed the other down the stairs, forcefully outing them from the dungeon. The purpose was to monopolize the items and monsters. After that, the traitor came down another set of stairs but the two of them had ended up in the same place. The victim and perpetrator tried to hit each other, but in the end, they couldn’t reach. It was like an invisible wall had been sprayed with oil as any attacks just slipped off.
This was the floor of relaxation and exchange. However, the atmosphere wasn’t particularly friendly. There was no one else with two people sitting around calmly, like Yang Su-jin and I. All of the people not fighting seemed to be alone. Rather than conversing with someone else, they were looking at people with the eyes of a predator.
It was natural. What had I gone through from the first floor to the fourth floor? Lions. All the people gathered here had done things in order to survive.
Apart from that… My attention moved to the centre of the space.
[■■■ Statue. Type: Golem Rank SS.]
[■■■ is a vessel made by harmonizing various materials. Unlike other golems, there is no control center, but it contains a high level of technology.]
[It is impossible to know whose voice will speak from it. Beware, even if it is just a servant, it is likely a messenger of a god.]
[Currently in an inactive state.]
It was a stone statue thousands of times larger than a gargoyle. It was kneeling but the head was almost touching the ceiling.
"Well, it seems to be two S’s. Oppa, do you also see it?”
“Yes.” Naturally, it wouldn’t be the S in the normal alphabetical order. I nodded towards Yang Su-jin. We moved to one corner of the wide space and were able to look at the bigger picture.
The frequency of people appearing out of thin air was decreasing. After 10 more minutes, there were approximately 200 people in the room and no new people were arriving.
[■■■ Statue. Active.]
The statue had started to move. “What the!?”
“T-This...!” Many people screamed in surprise or tried to run as far as possible away from the stone statue. However, there were a few exceptions. Some were only interested in the movements of the statue, as if they predicted it would happen. There were also people who closely examined the statue like I did.
There was a crushing sound from the head of the stone statue. A mouth formed on the face that had been as bland as a ghost.
It was a far too polite and soft voice. “...” This time, I was sure that everyone was confused.
[Let's see... Wah, a lot more arrived than I thought.]
As it spoke, the stone statue started to look everywhere.
[Welcome to the 5th floor! I am called ‘Iphos’ and I’m the mentor of this V9 area.]
Everyone became quiet.
[I am the servant of the one who brought everyone into this dungeon.]
How the thing was possessing the statue wasn’t an important issue. What mattered was that it was the one who could give them information on the god who caused this mysterious phenomenon.
"Lord." A middle-aged woman cried out and broke the silence. She held the cross hanging around her neck and looked up with an expression of reverence.
[Um. Sorry, but the one who sent me isn’t your god.]
“...” Her face became rotten in a short period of time. I could hear Yang Su-jin giggling from beside me.
[The god I serve isn’t from this world. He brought you to this dungeon, as well as various other dungeons that exist in the world, and reassembled them for you.]
Nobody said anything.
[Ah, good question!]
The doll pointed to one man as it spoke. Was it able to read our minds?
[Explaining these things is such a hassle... Oh, no, I’m supposed to be nurturing you.]
What was the purpose for the nurturing? If it could read minds, it was probably reading this from the minds of everyone here.
[The original people of this world couldn’t fulfill their mission. They failed to attack the place he wanted to conquer.]
I suppose that place had the form of a dungeon like this...
[That answer is correct!]
... I was surprised. The statue was laughing while pointing at me.
[As expected from the one who occupies the overall first place in the V9 area. You have certainly noticed faster than others in this world.]
Overall first place? I could feel countless gazes aimed towards me. I remained calm despite all the eyes observing me. They were able to fully understand the statue’s words in a short moment.
[Anyway, he decided to scout people from other worlds. Of course, he wanted to bring everyone without any discrimination, but he can’t do whatever he wants with beings from other worlds. So he set one condition.]
Perhaps it was desire. It was a word that had emerged in several messages. Perhaps more desire than others...
[Another correct answer! Indeed, the first place!]
That bastard. Despite only having a mouth on the face, I strongly felt like it was winking at me.
[Yes, it is desire. You aren’t satisfied with what you have and are continually seeking something higher. His judgement wasn’t wrong.]
The following words didn’t come from the statue’s mouth. Letters appeared in front of me. Like everyone else, I stared at it.
[The talents and skills you will gain in the dungeon are your rewards. Bring out all your potential, become stronger and reach the last floor.]
"Do you really need to use this method of nurturing?” It was a man who spoke up. He walked up to the stone statue with challenging eyes. "If the being is something similar to a god then can’t he just give experience to everyone in this room?”
[It takes trials to give birth to a hero.]
The stone statue opened its mouth. Its tone was like a child talking to a cute hamster.
[Giving strength is deadly for children who can’t fight. Won’t you easily be killed by an adult with their bare hands? Besides, it seems like you are mistaken. There is nothing free in this world.]
“I knew it!” The lady with the cross shouted again. She pulled the cross necklace and held it up towards the statue. "This is the path of the devil! Tempting people to do bad things!”
I was reminded of where I had seen people like her before. A woman holding a sign in front of a nearby bus stop or those talking about hell 365 days year round. It had the smell of a pseudo-church. Until a short time ago, she’d had the attitude of looking up at an apostle of god.
[Uhh, this is difficult. Even if it is bad things... Didn’t you kill all the explorers on the same floor as you?]
All eyes focused on the middle aged woman. Honestly, she didn’t seem that strong but I couldn’t judge a person from their appearance.
“I-I...!” Her eyes shook violently but it was only for a moment. "I thought it was the will of the Lord... I am still the Lord’s servant, Devil! Repent for your sins...”
[Oh, I don't know.]
The stone statue moved. Its finger descended. The body, struck by a stone body that dwarfed her, instantly bounced backwards, and blood pudding hit the wall.
[Anyway, it doesn’t seem like she was intelligent enough to last long... Although she was pretty good... Ah, what to do?]
It scratched its head like it was really in trouble.
[Ah, do you know that it isn’t really death?]
It changed the topic in a bright voice.
[As some of you already know, even if you die here, your body and mind is restored in your original world. He cares for you as much as possible... Oh, naturally there is an admission fee.]
At that moment, An Su-hyun popped into my head.
[Bringing a lot of people and giving them talents... Dealing with the existence of another world is a very difficult problem. Thus, we take it. The reason you were able to come here. Your desires.]
‘Is that all?’ appeared on people’s faces.
[Do you think that is isn’t a big deal? Maybe some people live without any desires, and it is encouraged as a virtue. Still, human desire is a very expensive energy source.]
I understood. Like the words of the statue, my evaluation of desire was different than it was in the past. Another way of life. I also think that people who can live without any desires is respectable.
But it wasn’t for me.
I had seen An Su-hyun. He used to be a jerk but… If I didn’t have desire... From the beginning, I wouldn’t have been anything.
[Then, shall we have an event?]
The stone statue spread out its hand. There was a small light hovering over it.
[This is a talent from the lady I just sent back. A small mistake... It was a cleansing but her exit wasn’t normal.]
At the end of the stone statue’s words, everyone’s eyes filled with greed.
[This is a risk free game. I will give this talent to the winner of the game.]