Chapter 301 – Seoul (9)
Lee Jun-seok felt that at this moment, the person who was most embarrassed on Earth could not be anyone else but him.
A G-class had appeared in Pyongyang. Lee Joon-seok stayed near it to watch over it. He was the only one who could detect the G-class’ moves, escape from it, and quickly inform Seoul of the news. So, Lee Joon-suk roamed near Pyongyang for several days.
He learned that Lee Ho-jae had exited the Tutorial.
The Tutorial had also halted. It was said to be one of the minor problems that occurred when Lee Ho-jae came out.
To Lee Joon-seok, no matter what Lee Ho-jae did, it wasn’t weird. Even though he heard that Lee Ho-jae came out, Lee Jun-seok did not leave Pyongyang.
Lee Ho-jae was Lee Ho-jae, and the G-class was a G-class. And many people still lived near Pyongyang.
It was safe to say that most North Koreans lived in Kaesong’s vicinity, which was close to the border.
In the case Lee Joon-seok wasn’t present and the G-class started to move south, many people would be wiped out instantly.
Lee Joon-seok was just waiting for Lee Ho-jae to be sent here because of Kim Min-hyuk.
After hearing the news of Lee Ho-jae’s appearance, Lee Joon-suk began to consider attacking the G-class.
How could he get rid of it?
The other day, he sincerely told Kim Min-hyuk that it would be hard for Lee Ho-jae to catch the G-class even if he came out. Of course, Lee Joon-seok thought that Lee Ho-jae could kill the G-class.
It would be possible if he focused only on killing the G-class. The problem was the damage that would occur in the process of killing it.
Considering the power that the G-class might have, if one made full-fledged efforts to catch it, it would create a mess, not only in Pyongyang and Seoul, but also in China.
What good would it be if all of them died to save the city’s people in contact with the G-class’ area in Pyongyang?
That was why Lee Jun-seok insisted on giving up Seoul more than anyone else. Just giving up part of Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, and Gangwon Province would exclude them from the G-class’ area.
The G-class was famous for never going out of its area.
But Lee Ho-jae came out.
With Lee Ho-jae’s personality, he wouldn’t just give up on Pyongyang’s G-class. He’d try to fight, somehow.
The collateral damage that took place had to be reduced as much as possible.
Lee Ho-jae probably didn’t care about the damage, so Lee Joon-suk thought he had to find a way.
While flying over Pyongyang repeatedly, something flew and clung to his back. Lee Jun-seok shook his body, but what was stuck to his back refused to fall off.
“Cute!” exclaimed the being on his back.
He felt a sudden uneasiness at this surprise attack but was also curious about the young voice.
“Yong-yong, you shouldn’t do that.”
He heard another voice. It was a woman’s voice that brought a sense of coldness with it. As soon as Lee Joon-suk listened to the sound, his body cringed.
“Okay!” the young voice sounded, and whatever was stuck to his back detached.
Then he flew past Lee Joon-suk, towards Pyongyang. Lee Joon-suk’s breath hitched, and he chased after them.
Soon, he saw a body that seemed to have been squeezed out of something in the heart of Pyongyang, a crying child beside it, and a woman soothing the child.
* * *
“Joon-seok buddy, did you say that I wouldn’t be able to catch the G-class?”
“Oh, Hyung, that’s… that’s… yeah, I did. I’m sorry! Forgive me!” Lee Joon-suk replied, squeezing his eyes shut.
When I saw him, I decided to let him go. Since he told the truth, I’d spare him this time.
Before coming in, he didn’t panic much when he saw Kim Min-hyuk and my group, maybe because he’d already experienced so much in Pyongyang.
Anyway, Lee Joon-seok did not make a fuss by saying, “What do you mean?” or “I never said that.”
It was good that he accepted it quickly.
I scratched my chin, looking at him, who still had an anxious look on his face.
How should I frame this? I don’t know.
I decided to bluntly ask, “Why are you so weak?”
Immediately, I saw Lee Joon-suk’s face shrivel up. Well, what could I do? It was the truth.
“What’s your level?”
201 was high enough. It was higher than what I had before I got stuck on the 60th floor. But it was still too weak.
“How did you level up?”
“Level up? What do you mean?”
“What level were you at before you reached level 201?”
Lee Jun-seok rolled his eyes and answered, “Of course I was at 200.”
Oh, my God. From Level 200 to Level 201?
“Then before 200?”
“That’s… that was 199, of course.”
I sighed, shaking my head. In my case, my level had been stagnant before level 100.
Then, I forgot about it, but sometimes I found that my level had gone up by 50.
Kirikiri explained that the system updated my level only after taking some time to check on my current level. However, in Lee Joon-suk’s case, it seemed that it updated every time he levelled up by one.
I didn’t know if I should call that stupid or great.
Level 201 would have been hard to reach, but he raised his level by repeatedly challenging the Hard Difficulty Level’s 91st floor.
It was a very laborious task.
Lee Jun-seok stared at me with a puzzled look on his face, asking if something was wrong.
If you were going to do this, I wish you had asked me for advice earlier.
He had never asked me anything because he was too competitive. Thinking of his hardships, which could have gone as far as dying without even crossing level 201, I felt very sorry for him.
“Joon-suk, make some time soon.”
“Yes? Okay, I will.”
When I trained Hochi later, I’d let him roll around a bit with me. I knew that Lee Joon-suk was quite high-leveled.
Hochi would have an excellent teacher to observe and learn from.
[Who did you say was gonna train me?] asked Hochi, lying on the sofa reading comic books.
I ignored him. I don’t think I should let that guy be alone. He needed to have more self-confidence in this cruel world.
Kim Min-hyuk opened the door and called Lee Joon-suk as he did so. I thought he had something to say.
After telling him to go, I turned my attention to Yong-yong and the mantis-like monster.
Yong-yong was elated. He especially liked the Mantis Ruler and kept touching it here and there and staring at it.
The Ruler was struggling, looking as if it was going to die.
“Since Yong-yong is going to raise it from now on, you should also build a house for it, right?”
Yong-yong nodded his head, his eyes sparkling at my question. “I’ll make one!” he said and ran up to his room on the second floor.
I watched his back for a moment and turned to the mantis.
“Hey, come closer.”
“Karak-Kararak!” The mantis let out beast-like noises.
“Use human language, or I’ll tear your wings off.”
I had a lot of questions about this guy. First things first. “Why are you half human and half mantis? Were you originally human?”
“No, it’s not like that. I just imitate the people who live here,” it answered clearly.
It’s a greenling, huh.
“Then why do you roam around with those front legs and wings?”
“This is… my identity…”
“Don’t talk nonsense and switch to a human arm. I don’t want to see it.”
The front legs changed into human arms. That alone was much better to see.
Why would it take the form of a human woman and have the front legs of a mantis?
“Can I leave the wings like this…?”
“Whatever.” The wings didn’t matter. “I’m going to ask you a few questions from now on. Your future depends on how sincerely you answer them.”
“Will you… will you let me go?”
“Of course I will. Help me, and I will save your life. I told you before. I’m going to keep you as my son’s pet.”
A look of despair, as if its world had collapsed, flashed on its face
I felt that, somehow, if Yong-yong kept it as a pet, it would definitely die.
* * *
I coaxed the mantis into saying that if it told me useful information, I would just let it go. Of course, that was a lie.
Filled with a desire for freedom, it began to talk excitedly.
“Ah, so, you’re the one who went nuts in America a few years ago?”
There were so many weird things about the G-class that had appeared in the U.S.
It had appeared in the waters of the city area, and there weren’t any traces of monster or human bodies left after the eradication.
Only that the U.S had announced that they had succeeded in the task.
The U.S might have actually compromised with the monster, or secretly brought out nuclear missiles, and the Awakened were actually killed by the atomic effects, and not the monster.
Or there wasn’t any G-class monster there in the first place. Such theories were also heard in the Tutorial.
However, listening to the mantis, the situation at the time was entirely right. It said that it came to its senses when it was on the eastern coast of the U.S.
It was in the middle of the sea, with numerous fleets and Awakened men around it. I remembered the centipede-like monster I had seen on the 80th floor.
The monster had achieved ‘completion’ on the spot after eating the mana thrown by Yong-yong and Hochi.
This one had also devoured a lot, and it seemed to have reached ‘completion’ during the battle, as a result of eating the Awakened and the U.S. Navy.
“I came back. I was just reborn, so I felt dizzy when this all happened.”
Supposedly, the mantis, which had been near the eastern coast of the U.S, had been living among humans.
It had lived a rather hectic life.
“You didn’t think to go find the other Rulers?”
“Ugh…Ugh…Don’t say that. Why would I go find them? To get eaten?”
Ah, right. The mantis was a newborn Ruler. There were many who wanted more power.
“The gods can’t come here, and the Rulers can’t either. So I was stuck on this planet. I tried to live quietly.”
And if possible, you’d build up your strength little by little, right?
I understood. For it, the Earth must have been a perfectly safe haven.
“How do you know about gods or Rulers?”
“I remember the time when I was a monster.”
It said that it had memories of the days when it was a monster. When I asked about the other Rulers that pushed themselves into this planet;
“It’s akin to dropping soldiers all over the enemy camp in a mobile game, just that there are few monsters like me. All contributed in creating chaos. Even before monsters became Rulers, it was hard for them to be killed with the power of the Earthlings.”
This was helpful. We could figure out how the Rulers managed and spread out their troops, and where their meeting place was.
The mantis’s value had increased in my eyes.
“Ah, that’s right. I used that thing too. The gate-generating item I got last time,” Hochi, who was listening from the side, added in. Hochi had been happily targeting the 89th floor, which was meant for the management of the dungeon as a servant to a Ruler.
The mantis, which suddenly grew still, widened its eyes at Hochi’s words.
“…oho, are you a Ruler too?”
Hochi ignored the mantis’s words. I had a more important question than that. “Do you have a cell phone?”
It had just talked about mobile games.
“Of course. How could I live among humans without a cell phone?”
“Well… Give it to me.”
The mantis was worried about its cellphone, but after I threatened it a bit, it meekly handed it over to me.
“…Password.” It unlocked the cell phone and handed it back to me again. As soon as I got the cell phone, I went to the phone book.
There were many names listed in it.
Maybe because it had been in Pyongyang, there were many Korean names. English names and Chinese names were also present.
Among them, I found a familiar name.
I’d seen this name before. I was retracing my memory to recollect whose name it was, when the doorbell rang.
The people who had been wandering around the place for a while seemed to have finally hit the doorbell. They hadn’t come in and had just walked around, so I thought they were sent to monitor my movements.
But that wasn’t so.
Kim Min-hyuk, who was talking to Lee Joon-suk in the kitchen, approached the intercom. He grabbed the receiver, spoke for a moment, and then pressed a button to open the gate.
“Who is it?”
“Uh, it’s those kids from the Association’s side. I think they came here because of the Seoul Station incident.”
Seoul (9) Finished