“Who is it…?”
There was someone on the island. He didn’t look too unfamiliar. Although I couldn’t remember his name, he was likely a high-intermediate rank Hero who often appeared on variety shows.
Could it be that all Players in the highest difficulty level shared the same sea? It was something I never thought about when writing my setting.
The man seemed to have discovered my boat as he waved his hand.
I sailed forward. Although I had no intention of letting him on board, I was willing to give out some of the food I was overflowing with.
“…Must be a green ticket.”
The man didn’t have anything with him, not even the basic weapon and food supply provided by the tutorial.
In reality, choosing the hardest difficulty with a green ticket was akin to committing suicide. The system should have warned him about it as well, but it seemed he wasn’t the type to listen.
—Here! Here! Uhaha! Over here!
The man jumped excitedly. I took out a glossy seafish from my inventory.
It was then.
A dark shadow was cast underneath the island.
I didn’t have much time to think about what it was or why it was here.
Suddenly, the mouth of a giant fish shot up from the water. There were two sharp fangs growing on each side of its jaw, which promptly swallowed the island whole.
[You spotted an Island Devourer.]
[Island Devourer] [Tutorial-only Monster]
—This monster hates those who stay on one island. However, who it seeks is solely dependent on luck.
A system alert popped up.
I broke out into cold sweat and stood a bit dazed.
However, I didn’t have time to sit still. The shadow that swallowed an island whole was now creeping up on me.
I quickly began to paddle away. However, the shadow was only getting closer. I couldn’t do anything against it with a mere paddle.
I quickly opened my inventory.
[Random Dice x3]
I could keep a maximum of five Random Dice. Since it could become anything depending on my desire, I was saving them up to use in emergency situations.
I picked up a dice and thought hard.
‘Please become something that can save me from that thing.’
Something like an engine that can be attached to my boat…
I rolled the dice with my dearest wish.
However, the dice mercilessly betrayed my wish and became a strange mango. At first, I didn’t even know it was a mango. It was yellowish-orange but was as big as a watermelon.
[Lv.3 Big and Juicy Mango]
If it wasn’t for the status window, I would have thought it was some exotic fruit.
“The hell is this?”
I checked the item description just in case.
[Lv.3 Big and Juicy Mango]
—A big, juicy mango. It is a very precious fruit that is sometimes used as medicine.
○Lv.2 Vitality Recovery
A Lv.3 item!
As most items in the tutorial were only lv.0~lv.2, this mango was certainly a good item.
The problem was that it was useless in this situation. What would filling up my belly do when I was about to enter a belly myself?
The Island Devourer’s fin grazed my boat. I had a strong hunch that it wanted to eat me.
My heart thumped violently, but I was used to it by now. As a mercenary, I had lived through much more dangerous situations…
Now, I didn’t even have time to throw another dice.
I racked my brain frantically.
A delicious, juicy mango.
A lightbulb went on in my head.
“…H-Hey! Eat this instead of me!”
I held the mango forward and wafted it back and forth. The shadow slowed down, or at least, that’s what it looked like.
“This is a precious food you can never taste in the tutorial.”
As I said before, Lv.3 items could not be found inside the tutorial.
“So… take it!”
I threw the mango as far away as I could.
With Master Sharpshooter’s support, the mango drew a beautiful arc and landed 400~500 meters away.
Water splashed on my face. The giant creature underneath my boat changed course and began to swim towards the mango.
The giant shadow was getting farther away.
I fell on my butt. Although I didn’t do much, I was out of energy.
I most certainly didn’t put such a creature in my tutorial.
“…I knew this would happen.”
But I wasn’t too surprised.
In the original story, I often had comments saying, ‘isn’t the highest difficulty tutorial too easy?’
My excuse was always, ‘it’s not that the tutorial is easy. Kim Suho’s Gift is just broken.’
In any case, I just barely avoided death.
The scene of an entire island being swallowed still lingered in my mind.
“Mango, mango, mango…”
I murmured the same word in a daze.
“…Auu, I’m getting seasick.”
Six days had passed since then. Today, the waves were fiercer than usual.
The past few days have been quite spectacular and dynamic. I almost fell overboard from a sudden storm, and I was almost eaten by an intermediate-rank grade-8 sea monster.
Both times, I barely managed to survive using my red crystal weapons and Random Dice’s power.
[Lv.2 Sea Tiger’s Oil]
—An oil that drives away sea monsters.
○Lv.1 low-intermediate rank or lower monster repellent
○Lv.1 Shock absorbent, waterproof coating
[Lv.2 Magical Repair Ointment]
—A mystical ointment that works on items.
○Restores durability of items under Lv.1
These two items were especially helpful in my journey.
“I want to be on land.”
After staying on a boat for six days, I was starting to miss land.
[Your Sailing technique improves to Lv.2]
—You can now cross waters more easily.
—Your sense of direction on sea improves.
No, please just give me a land of some sort!
I widened my eyes and peered out into the distance.
In the distance, I caught a glimpse of a small island.
With my new destination discovered, I began to paddle towards it.
Sploosh. Perhaps because of my improved Sailing technique, the boat seemed a bit faster than before.
After about 20 minutes of paddling, I could finally see a portion of the island.
When I saw the island, I exclaimed in shock.
There was a familiar face on the island.
I shot up and shouted.
Seoul, Essence of the Strait’s team leader office.
Yoo Yeonha was chatting with Yoo Jinhyuk.
[Why are you so curious about this?]
[I’m not curious, I just want to know the truth.]
Yoo Yeonha shared what she knew about the Kwang-Oh Incident with Yoo Jinhyuk. However, Yoo Jinhyuk still kept some matters secret, which Yoo Yeonha was now in the process of investigating.
Under the assumption that Kim Hajin was really the survivor of the Kwang-Oh Incident, Yoo Yeonha wanted to know why Chae Joochul’s assassin didn’t kill him and who the assassin was.
[To be completely honest, I don’t know.]
“…He’s lying again.”
Yoo Yeonha frowned.
[No, I’m serious.]
[You said you saw him being admitted to the orphanage.]
As she typed, Yoo Yeonha suddenly wondered.
How would Kim Hajin have looked like as a baby? She found it a bit difficult to imagine his face on a baby’s.
[Yeah, some kid left him there.]
[Yeah, 5~7 years old or 8 at most. Black hair… er, actually maybe it was covered with a hijab or something.]
[Do you have dementia?]
[Heh, I’m getting old. Time travel isn’t like what it used to be.]
As inaccurate information introduced needless bias and noise, having more information wasn’t always better.
[Anyways, it was a young girl.]
[…Okay, thank you. Ah, by the way, have you thought about my offer?]
Yoo Yeonha suggested Yoo Jinhyuk to enter her information guild, Falling Blossom. As far as she was concerned, he was lazing around most of the time in his office.
[Think about it, I’m already being watched by Chae Joochul. What would he think if he sees you so close to me?]
[I get it.]
[Good, then send me some assault rifles.]
[…What do you need those for?]
[I decided to form a small militia. You know how to go about it without being discovered, right?]
[What? Oi, Niece, you—]
Yoo Yeonha left the chat and leaned against her chair.
Her eyes closed automatically.
“…It really is amazing.”
If she were to describe this sensation, she would say it was like leaning on an angel’s wings or sleeping peacefully in Noah’s Ark while the world was crumbling down.
As she spent 16 hours a day in her office, her new chair was the best gift she’d ever received.
Buried in the chair, Yoo Yeonha thought about many things.
Her guild members who were in the Tower of Wish, the high-intermediate rank monsters, the Dungeons her guild was planning to conquer, a cup ramen… hamburger… ssp.
She began to drool.
Boss seemed to have gotten skinnier since the last time I saw her. I wanted to give her a big hug out of joy, but we were both too dirty from staying in the wild for several days.
“It’s been a while.”
Boss smiled leisurely as she said that. However, she didn’t look to be in all that good a shape.
“Boss, did you eat?”
She nodded affirmatively, but I was a bit suspicious.
“What’s your vitality right now?”
She looked at the air blankly. She was probably checking her status window.
“Are you sure it isn’t just 9?”
“…Pft, as if.”
Her unnatural smirk confirmed it. Her vitality was definitely 9. In fact, it couldn’t be anything but 9. Boss’ stat restriction had to be incredibly high. Kim Suho received an 80% stat restriction, so Boss’ should easily surpass 90%.
“It was hard at first, but I got used to it.”
“You’ve been here the whole time?”
“No, I went back and forth to find food.”
Thankfully, it seemed she wasn’t targeted by the Island Devourer.
“Then let’s eat something first.”
I opened my inventory to take out a seafish. But before that, Boss moved first.
With a kind smile, she turned around and began to walk into the forest.
“Boss? Where are you going?”
“I thought this might happen, so I kept some emergency food supply.”
I followed her for now.
Boss walked to the middle of the forest and stopped in front of a giant palm tree engraved with an X mark. She moved the leaves underneath it and took out the tutorial-only food supply bag.
Boss opened the bag proudly.
Inside, there were all sorts of seafood: clams, sea pineapples, crabs, snails, and two small fish. They were certainly good enough for a meal.
I was genuinely surprised. Boss’ main stat was ‘magic power’. This stat displayed exponential power as it grew but unless it surpassed a certain point, it was more or less useless.
In other words, Boss had fished all these up without any tools, using only her physical abilities.
“There’s a lot.”
“Of course. Thanks to this place, I got to relive the old days of training.”
Boss stuck her chest out proudly.
Since she kept the food inside the tutorial bag instead of her inventory, she clearly had a good survival sense. Unlike the inventory, the tutorial bag kept food fresh.
“You must be hungry since you paddled all the way here. Wait.”
Boss seemed to be worrying about me as she quickly took out a burner and frying pan and began to cook the seafood.
I stared at Boss who was watching her food cooking on the frying pan. After flipping them a couple times, she turned the burner off and gave the frying pan to me.
“It’s done. You can eat.”
“…What about you, Boss?”
“Ehem, like I said, my vitality is at 90.”
She was saying she didn’t need it.
At that moment, I felt something warm rush into my heart.
Was this why she was the boss?
Was this the duty of a boss?
Feeling a surge of emotion that was hard to put into words…
“Aren’t you going to…”
I took out a fish from my inventory.
It was a large glossy seafish.
Boss’ eyes lost focus as she glanced back and forth between the frying pan and my glossy seafish.
On the frying pan were tiny seafood gathered together. On the other hand, the glossy seafish was too big to fit in the frying pan.
Boss’ face turned red.
30 minutes later.
We ate all the glossy seafish in my inventory.
[Cooperation is an important factor in climbing the Tower.]
While I was sitting on the ground digesting my food, the system messaged me.
“Alright, let’s start moving.”
The second tutorial’s performance-based points used both an absolute and relative evaluation. In other words, even if you achieved first place overall, you had to surpass a certain threshold to receive the reward.
“Let’s set sail. It’s dangerous to stay on the same island.”
“Yes, there’s a monster called Island Devourer. It attacks you if you stay on the same island.”
“I don’t quite understand but sure.”
Boss and I went back to the beach where my boat was.
But now that I looked at my boat, it seemed too small.
“We’re going to ride that thing?”
Boss had doubts as well.
“Mm… hold on.”
I took out a Random Dice. Since I had five, it was fine to use one.
“…I don’t know if this will work though.”
I thought as I rolled the dice, ‘a boat or materials to build a new one.’
The dice became stuck in the sand without rolling. It seemed my wish was too big as the first dice turned into a wooden plank.
“Oh? What was that dice?”
“Uh… hold on.”
I rolled another one.
It got stuck in the sand once again. But this time, the dice was shaking strangely. Then, the dice grew in size…
And it transformed into a boat. Although it was only half as big as my sailboat, it was shaped like an actual boat.
“What is this mysterious thing?”
I couldn’t reply to Boss’ question.
I just felt… betrayed.
Why did I cut down trees, shave them, tie them together, and repeat tiring tasks? All I had to do was roll the dice a couple times…
After tying my old sailboat to the new boat, Boss and I set sail.
Voyaging became more fun with someone to talk to. I obtained food by fishing, and Boss focused on training her magic power.
“Ah, my magic power stat just rose by 0.3 points.”
After about 6 hours of sailing, Boss spoke with a bright face.
“Wow, it’s increasing fast. When do you think you’ll be able to hunt sea monsters?”
“What is it at?”
“…Let’s just eat.”
While Boss continued to meditate, I began to cook.
Today’s menu was seafish sashimi. Although sashimi was low in calories, eating it had a chance of increasing magic power.
While I was cutting up the fish…
A large waterspout shot up from the ocean. At the same time, the surface of the water split, and a house-sized fish shot up.
It had fierce eyes that took up half of its face and a mouth that protruded out sharply. The ugly fish blocked our boat as it stared down at us.
[You spotted a giant fish. Its information has been recorded in the Player Encyclopedia.]
[Giant Fish] [Intermediate-rank grade-9]
Boss stood up and reached out to the fish blocking our way.
Gueeee— The fish opened its mouth with a strange roar. It was clearly trying to swallow us, but trying to fight Boss from a close range was foolish no matter how much her stats were restricted.
Along with a soft whisper, black magic power shot out of Boss’ fingers, entering the fish’s mouth. Soon, the fish’s body began to distort as though something was trying to dig its way out.
A different scream rang out.
The fish was in pain. However, the pain didn’t last long as black thorns pierced out from inside its body.
Boss sat down on the boat with a peaceful look.
I pulled the giant fish’s corpse near. I checked to see if it had any useful materials, but there was nothing.
[The second tutorial will end in 10 minutes.]
[Good work surviving until now.]
A system alert notified the end of the 14-day tutorial. Boss spoke from next to me.
“The tutorial is ending soon.”
Boss looked at me and smiled.
“Thank you. But Boss is just dead weight here.”
“Dead weight… is too harsh. Didn’t I kill all the sea monsters?”
“That’s because I kept us fed. You were starving every time you used your magic power.”
Boss narrowed her eyes. She seemed to be glaring at me, but it wasn’t scary at all.
“I’m kidding. Good work.”
“You too, Newbie…”
We smiled while looking into each other’s eyes.
[You cleared the second tutorial.]
[Player Extra7 obtained 2008 performance points.]
[You are currently ranked first out of the 78 Players who cleared the hardest difficulty tutorial.]
[You are the only Player who surpassed 2000 points – you will be given the second tutorial’s reward of honor.]
[You will be transferred to your waiting room in three minutes.]