Chapter 166. Jungle (3)


—Hit me. I need to test its durability.

Boss spoke while wearing the bear head. Seeing her triumphant expression, I hesitated for a moment before striking the bear’s head weakly.

“How is it?”

—I don’t feel anything. Try hitting harder. Is that all you’ve got?

“…Hm.”

I raised my hand and clenched my fist harder. After a light stretch, I struck down with full force.
KOONG!
A small echo resounded out in the jungle.

—…!

On the moment of impact, Boss’ neck trembled and shrunk down.

“How is it?”

—…

After staying still for about 30 seconds, her head creaked up, and two deceased bear eyes glared at me.
I should probably take them out and use them as glass eyes.

“Kuhum.”

After letting out a dry cough, I went back to dismantling the Grizzly Bear.
Meanwhile, the bear head’s mouth and eyes were glaring at me fixedly without even the slightest movement.

[Lv.2 Grizzly Bear Leather]
[Lv.3 Grizzly Bear’s Gall Bladder]
[Your Dismantling technique improves to Lv.2.]
—You can instantly dismantle monsters Lv.2 and lower.
—Monsters you personally dismantle will receive a boost in Hygiene.

“…Done.”

The Grizzly Bear’s meat was inedible because it was too heavy with muscles. As such, I only collected its leather, which could be used to make various equipment, and its gallbladder, which could be used to make medicine.

“We’re done, so let’s go back.”

I got up. However, Boss was still sitting on the ground looking up at me.
Was she still in shock from being hit by me? I grinned and grabbed Boss’ wrist.

“Let’s go eat. We have deer meat.”

—…

“And you should really take off that bear head.”

—…It’s not a bear head. It’s a helmet.

Boss finally opened her mouth.
She seemed to be sulking.

Afterwards, Boss and I returned to our temporary camp.
As soon as we entered the cave, we smelled the scent of savory meat. Boss smacked her lips. Today’s menu was deer meat marinated in my special sauce.

“Oh, you’re back?”

Jain, who was grilling meat, greeted us. Then, she tilted her head after seeing Boss’ head. Right, she was still wearing the bear head.

“Boss, did you get eaten by a bear?”

“No, despite what it looks like, it’s a good helmet.”

Boss took off the bear head proudly and gave it to Jain. Jain narrowed her eyes to examine the bear head’s item description.

“…Wow, it’s Lv.3! Isn’t this the same as the armor Newbie sold on the auction house?”

“Yes, but the one I made is better.”

Not all Lv.3 items were the same.
There was a reason that the Hero Association evaluated Heroes with a ‘rank’ and a ‘grade’.
For example, the difference between intermediate-rank grade-9 and intermediate-rank grade-1 was huge. Even six grade-9s were unable to defeat one grade-1 unless the grade-1’s Gift was directly countered. This difference only became bigger between different ‘ranks’.
In this sense, the [Gargoyle Leather Armor] I made could be considered a grade-1 item, and this [Bear Head] could be considered a grade-9 item.

“Mm, I see.”

Jain nodded. At that moment, Boss quickly snatched the bear head out of Jain’s hands and immediately put it away in her inventory. It seemed she liked it a lot.

“Alright, let’s eat. I cooked a lot.”

“Yes.”

We gathered around the frying pan and burner where the deer meat was being cooked.

“These are done, right?”

“Yes. Go ahead, Boss.”

I respectfully let Boss take the first bite.
Boss nodded and put the deer meat in her mouth.

“…Mm.”

As the cook who marinated the meat, I enjoyed seeing Boss eating with a happy face.
Next was Jain.
After chewing on the meat a few times, her eyes widened.

“Oh, shi… kuhum, this is amazing! You made this sauce here?”

“Yes.”

“Wow. Oh, then is it not worth spending TP to buy bento boxes from the Player Shop?”

“Bento boxes? Mm, well, they’re only for the tutorial anyways. You shouldn’t be able to buy them now.”

The Player Shop’s bento boxes were called ‘Tutorial Bento Box’.

“What? Really?”

“Yep, you can check it easily.”

Food was an important aspect in conquering any Tower. The Tower of Wish had residential areas that sold food, but on ‘mission floors’ like the 2nd floor, food became one of the most important factors. After all, starving to death and being killed in battle had the same result.

In this Tower, dying meant that the number of skills you could bring back to the real world decreased. Depending on how you died, it was possible to lose all 7 lives simultaneously.

Simply put, it was best to not die.

“You’re right, they’re not being sold anymore.”

Of course, I didn’t really worry about the bento boxes.
Lv.2 Dismantling.
Lv.3 Cooking
Lv.3 Crafting.
Random Dice.
With these four, I never had to worry about starving.
I picked up my chopsticks and grabbed a piece of deer meat. It was delicious just as I expected. I could practically feel my HP going up.

“Eh? Why can’t I access the public forum?”

“What? Really?”

Hearing Jain, I tried to access the public forum.

[You cannot access the public forum in mission floors.]

“Oh….”

Another setting had changed from the original story. However, I didn’t look at my smartwatch. There were way too many changes to the Tower, most of which were minor. They were also all things I could ask the system.

“You didn’t know about it?”

“No.”

“Really? I thought you knew everything.”

“Haha, it’s not like I’m the master of this Tower.”

KUAA.
At that moment, the roar echoed out in the cave. It was almost as though a drunk man just woke up from his sleep.
It was Cheok Jungyeong.
Having woken up, Cheok Jungyeong stretched and walked over to us.

“….”

Then, he quietly grabbed a handful of deer meat and stuffed it in his mouth.

“…Got any more?”

“Hold on.”

I took out another chunk of meat from the inventory. Since Boss took the bear head I planned to give him, I should at least feed him well.

Tsss—

“Hehe, it’s looking great.”

Cheok Jungyeong stared at the meat being grilled and grinned.
While Cheok Jungyeong ate, I began to pack up the items placed around the cave. Since we stayed here for a long time, it was time to get going again.

“Auu, I’m stuffed.”

7 minutes to cook, 1 minute to eat.
Cheok Jungyeong swiftly finished his meal and got up.

“Then let’s get going.”

“Alright~”

“Okay.”

Jain stretched, and Boss put on the bear head helmet.
Just like that, we left the cave and walked through the jungle. Man-eating plants, gorillas, giant mosquitos, etc. While defeating all sorts of monsters, we looked for an elevator.

“Oh?”

Before we noticed, our surroundings had changed. It was like we passed through a barrier that separated two regions, the greenery on the ground instantly changed into white snow.
Taking a step back didn’t change anything. It was almost as though we were transported to a different area.

“Where are we?”

“It looks like Antarctica.”

“…How mysterious. We were just in a jungle.”

A fierce blizzard was blowing in the snowfield.
The area’s freezing temperature made it as though the hot, humid jungle we were just in was all a dream.

**


Same time.
A blizzard was blowing endlessly in the bitter cold.
Rachel used the power of her elementals in full force and barely managed to finish an igloo. She brought her two fainted guild members into the igloo and put a couple of blankets over them.

[Your strength increases by 0.005 point.]
[Your stamina increases by 0.005 point.]
[Your special stat, elemental affinity, increases by 0.005 point.]

Stat increase alerts didn’t make her all that happy. Rachel looked down at the two guild members with mixed feelings.
They had fainted the moment they touched the snowmobile. Thankfully, they were still alive.
Rachel opened the messenger.

[Communication is being hindered by the mission floor’s natural phenomenon, ‘snowstorm’.]

However, it was still unfunctional.

“Haa…”

Rachel sighed and turned back to her guild members. They were lying on the ground like corpses.
The Tower’s system said that each Player had 7 lives but also that there were penalties involved with dying. As the vice-leader of the Royal Court guild, Rachel couldn’t let her guild members die when she didn’t know what the penalties were.

“….”

Her stomach growled. Rachel opened the Player Shop as she rubbed her belly.
She had already eaten all the emergency food supply provided by her ticket. But since she still had 500TP on her, she wasn’t worried about food.
With that in mind, she clicked on the 5TP tutorial bento box.

[As the tutorial ended, the tutorial bento box may no longer be bought.]

“…Eh?”

Her eyes widened in shock.
Why now?
Hoping for the best, she clicked on the 10TP bento box. However, it was the same.
After trying to buy food multiple times, she realized that there was only one bento box available in the Player Shop.

[Emergency Bento Box – 200TP]

It was a bento box worth 200TP.

“Argh….”

She covered her face and stomped on the ground. 200TP for a single bento box? She felt like she was being punished for spending 3000TP on an armor.
Like the saying went, bad things came all at once. The current situation was too much for the mere 20-year-old vice-leader to handle.

“Huu. I can do this. Cheer up.”

Rachel lightly slapped her face.
She didn’t know when the blizzard would stop. Not knowing when the two guild members would wake up, she felt she needed to go find food.

With a plan in mind, Rachel left the igloo. The fierce snowstorm seemed to swallow up her senses, but she forced herself to walk through the snow. She was able to endure the bitter cold with her fire elemental Fiery’s help.

“….!”

After courageously walking through the snow for a while, she suddenly came to a stop. Along with her sudden halt, the snow around her feet slid forward and fell off a steep cliff. A huge crevice was in front of her.

“I almost fell…”

Rachel breathed a sigh of relief and looked down at the crevice.

“Ah, over there!”

Under the 15-feet tall crevice, she discovered a golden elevator. It was easy to spot because of its color that contrasted with the snow and its unique shape that couldn’t be anything else but an elevator.
However, her joy only lasted for a moment. Soon, she bit her lips bitterly.

[email protected]#[email protected]%#&
[email protected]*&!^[email protected]!#@#?

Another group had already taken over the elevator.
Rachel examined their faces. Thankfully, they were people she recognized as they often appeared on Korean news.
They were members of China’s number 1 guild, ‘Empire of Glory’.
Unfortunately, they seemed to have met up with the rest of their guild members as they were preparing departure.

“Ah, wait!”

Rachel hurriedly shouted as a result. Eight people looked up at her from the ground.
Upon secondary inspection, Rachel saw pride and joy on their faces from being able to overpass their competitors. Her intuition told her that they wouldn’t wait for her or her group.

“Don’t stay quiet after calling out! If you want to come with us, you should hurry up!”

The man suspected to be their leader reached out to her. Rachel was able to sense lust from the man’s eyes.

“…Thank you for the offer, but I have comrades who fainted.”

“Ah, I see. But if you’re not alone, I don’t think we can wait. Who knows how many people will come here if we do?”

However, his look of lust disappeared in front of his competitive spirit. Seeing him coldly turn around, Rachel hurriedly shouted. She used her only negotiation tool.

“I understand, so I’m willing to pay 500TP. No, I’ll pay 1500TP for my two comrades too.”

“Ehey, vice-leader, do we look like beggars? Despite how we look, we’re one of the best in China.”

“…I also have a Lv.3 armor. Although I don’t have it on me right now…”

“Oh? You were the fool who bought the Gargoyle’s Leather Armor? Hahaha.”

“F-Fool?”

“Anyways, good luck with your passed-out friends. We’ll go on ahead—”

Despite having offered everything she had, Rachel was met with ridicule.
The eight people walked into the elevator, and soon, the door closed shut.

“Ah…”

Woong—
The elevator gave off a resounding vibration and shot up into the sky. Rachel could only stare at the elevator leave.

[Alert! Once activated, an elevator will reappear in a random location.]

Rachel despaired once more at the system alert.
Tak, tak.
At that moment, the sound of footsteps rang out.

“A human…?”

Her guess was half-correct.
Turning around, she saw a strange half-human, half-beast monster.
It was a monster commonly found in cold regions of Earth, a Yeti.

“…!”

Rachel quickly raised her rapier. It was a level 1 sword she bought in Tutorial Town, but it was the only thing she could rely on.

===
[Lv.3 Baby Yeti]
===

A Lv.3 monster. It was the highest leveled monster she faced since entering the Tower.
The Yeti glared at her and bared its fangs.
Rachel didn’t have much time to think.
The Yeti’s mind seemed to be coded with the command ‘kill all humans’, as it quickly charged towards her in the blizzard.

Rachel quickly jumped to the side and dodged the Yeti’s charge.
KUOOO—!
The Yeti’s enraged roar rang out.

As it charged towards her once again, Rachel decided to fight it. However, its movements were smarter this time. It leaped up using its powerful legs and instantly descended on Rachel.

KOONG—!

Along with a destructive fall, the Yeti brandished its fists.
Rachel dodged the Yeti’s attack with the help of her elementals and attacked openings in the Yeti’s defense. She wasn’t sure if her attacks were effective, but she could still say that the fight was evenly matched.

Clang— Clang—

The steel rapier clashed with the Yeti’s fists, producing ringing echoes. Rachel’s acrobatics-like swordsmanship dealt with the Yeti gently, and the Yeti was unable to come out ahead.

However, Rachel knew that she couldn’t drag out the fight. The Yeti was in its native environment whereas Rachel needed to expend magic power just to stay warm.

—GUOOOO!

The Yeti’s rage exploded first before Rachel’s worry had any meaning. Annoyed by Rachel’s constant dodging, the Yeti roared and swung its arm in a wide arc.
Rachel decided to use this opportunity to strike.

“….!”

But almost as if it had led her on, or as if it had a powerful battle sense encoded in its DNA, the Yeti lifted its foot and kicked Rachel’s rapier away.
Clang!
Seeing her rapier fly away… Rachel clenched her fists.
Using the gum if toothless!
She infused elemental power in her small fist and punched.

—KOONG!

Along with her simple punch, a huge sonic boom rang out from the distance. If she wasn’t paying attention, she might have thought the sound came from her fist.

Regardless, the sudden attack drilled a huge hole in the Yeti’s chest, and its flesh and blood splattered on Rachel.

“…?”

Rachel stood blankly in a daze.
The Yeti had stopped moving completely.
Soon, it fell forward.
Beyond the fallen corpse of the Yeti, Rachel spotted her savior.
A man wearing a black hood and all sorts of equipment. Even at first glance, he looked extremely warm.

“Who….”

Before she could finish her sentence, the man pulled his hood down.
When Rachel saw the man’s face, her jaws dropped open. Rather than surprise or delight, she first felt a sense of ease.
He spoke.

“Nice to see you again.”

“Ah…”

As Rachel originally thought, there was no way that he could have died in the tutorial.
In fact, seeing the robe, armor, mask, and other equipment he was wearing, Rachel felt dumb for ever worrying about him.
In fact, he was doing far better than her no matter how she looked at it.

Seeing the smiling Kim Hajin, Rachel became lost in thought.

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