Chapter 169. Prestige (1)


—Kueeek.
A red crystal spear shot forward, piercing the neck of a Lv.1 Ribbon Pig. The pig collapsed with a painful roar.
Chae Nayun then pulled the spear out of the dead pig’s neck.

“…Dismantle.”

With her soft murmur, the pig’s corpse split into meat and leather. Chae Nayun picked up the edible parts of the meat and put them in her inventory.

[Your inventory is full.]

“Mm, can’t you fit more in?”

[No.]

Chae Nayun’s inventory was filled with food she collected for the past four hours.

“…Nayun, are you done~?”

Yi Jiyoon’s voice rang out from behind her. She sounded tired and worn out.

“Yeah, I’m done now. What about you? Is your inventory full?”

“Huh? Oh, uh… yeah, mine is full too with food~”

It was clear that she was lying, but Chae Nayun didn’t want to dig into it.

“Let’s go back now. More people are gathering at the elevator.”

Essence of the Strait’s team had already found an elevator five hours ago, but with Extra7’s advice, Chae Nayun had delayed setting off and began to hunt nearby monsters.

“Nayun, we have to go!”

However, none of the other guild members were interested in hunting. Even when Chae Nayun told them it was advice from her master(?) who was already on the 3rd floor, they only repeated telling Chae Nayun to hurry up.
Of course, their reactions were understandable. If other Players rushed into the elevator while they were busy finding food, it was entirely possible for their elevator to get stolen.

“How many people do we have?”

Despite the Essence of the Strait members’ uncooperative attitude, Chae Nayun managed to obtain enough food to last the entire team 1~2 weeks.

“27… or maybe 28. We have to hurry. If it fills up, a fight might break out.”

Although Essence of the Strait had found the elevator first, other Players had also gathered because they delayed setting off.
Because of the messenger system, only one member of a group needed to find an elevator to get the entire group to come over. It wouldn’t be surprising if a huge group arrived at the elevator soon.

“…Okay, let’s go.”

Chae Nayun decided to go back.

“Ehew, good. Follow me~”

Holding the red crystal spear in her hand, Chae Nayun followed Yi Jiyoon.
The two of them ran and arrived at the elevator in just 15 minutes.
It was obvious to anyone watching that Essence of the Strait’s members were unhappy. It was clear that they were annoyed but holding back because Chae Nayun was Yoo Yeonha’s friend.
Still, Chae Nayun ignored their gazes and stood in front of them.

“Chae Nayun, you delayed us by five hours. Five. Whole. Hours.”

This time, however, it seemed they had something to say.
Chief Officer of Essence of the Strait’s Tower Subjugation Team, high-intermediate rank grade-2 Hero, Kim Youngjin, stood in front of Chae Nayun.

“….”

“Don’t you have anything to say to us?”

“I suggested hunting together, leaving behind one team to defend the elevator and taking shifts.”

“What?”

Kim Youngjin frowned intimidatingly.

“Like I said, we need to stock up on food for the 3rd floor.”

“…The 2nd floor’s administrator said that the 3rd floor is a residential area. You think a residential area will be low on food?”

“….”

Chae Nayun didn’t reply. Extra7, who was already on the 3rd floor, told her to stock up on food.
However, she didn’t want to explain the same thing again and again. She knew her words would only be seen as an excuse because of their bias.

“We’re delayed because of you. Do you understand that?”

“…Yes, sorry. I won’t let it happen again.”

As such, Chae Nayun simply dropped her head and apologized.
Following the chief officer’s orders.
That was one of the conditions Chae Nayun accepted to get the Tower’s entrance ticket.

“…Tsk.”

Kim Youngjin didn’t say anything more and opened the elevator door. Following him, the other members of Essence of the Strait entered the elevator, and some other bystanders also got in.
The last person to get in the elevator was, unsurprisingly, Chae Nayun.

[Departing to the 3rd floor.]

There were 29 people in the elevator.
Not only were they stuck in a small space, but the atmosphere was extremely awkward as well.
Thinking about having to stay in this suffocating atmosphere for four hours, Yi Jiyoon clapped her hands and tried to lighten up the mood.

“R-Right, so, um, did you guys meet anyone famous in the Tower?”

“Famous?”

“Yeah. I’m sure there are many famous Heroes, mercenaries, and hunters in the Tower… so?”

Everyone ignored Yi Jiyoon, making the atmosphere turn even more awkward.

“….”

‘Shouldn’t they say something since we let them join our elevator?’ Yi Jiyoon grumbled inwardly.

“I met someone.”

At that moment, a man wearing a black robe raised his hand.

“Wow, really?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

The man smiled at her question. Until then, Chae Nayun wasn’t interested in their conversation. She was simply looking through the auction house for any useful items and wondering if she should sell her red crystal spear.

“I saw Fenrir.”

“…!”

But at that moment, Chae Nayun’s head shot up. She seemed to have been struck by a bolt of lightning.
She turned her head and looked at the black robed man.
Jeronimo’s mercenary, Fenrir.
Chae Nayun knew who he was. There was no way she wouldn’t. In this world, there was only one person who could wield a gun so well.

“Ah… really?”

In truth, people who were in Cube with Kim Hajin all knew about this. However, Yi Jiyoon pretended to be oblivious out of courtesy.

“Um, was he strong?”

“Yes.”

The man smiled bitterly and took off his robe. Yi Jiyoon blushed when she saw his handsome face resembling Legolas.

“My friend and I almost died picking a fight with him. He was quite scary.”

“Oh… I see…”

“Yes, I suspect he’s the strongest one in the Tower. If you ever meet him, don’t try to fight him. You’ll die.”

Enchanted by the man’s handsome appearance, Yi Jiyoon nodded blankly.
Gzz—
Chae Nayun clenched her teeth. The hand holding the spear shaft turned white.
Kim Hajin was here.
Just hearing this caused blood to rush to her head, filling her with all sorts of complicated thoughts.

“Ah… dammit.”

Her head seemed to be splitting in half. She felt like she was going to lose herself in this intense pain. Rage and fear rose up from her heart, as did hatred and sadness. Doubt seemed to devour her rational thinking.
There’s no way he killed Oppa. There must have been a misunderstanding. Such thoughts flashed through her head, breaking apart intermittently. She believed only what she wanted to, yet there were things she just couldn’t come to believe. Such things drove her crazy and stifled her breath…

“My, my head…”

An unbearable headache struck her. It felt like a hammer was beating on her head.
In the end, Chae Nayun smashed her head against the elevator wall and collapsed.

“Eh? N-Nayun?!”

Yi Jiyoon quickly helped Chae Nayun up. However, no one else was interested in her. Even the members of Essence of the Strait backed off and glanced at the chief officer to take care of this situation.

“…Ha, what a mess.”

Kim Youngjin sighed. Just how long did he have to take care of that silver spoon?

“Argh, my head hurts too…”

He massaged his sore temples.

**


[3rd floor, residential area – 「Prestige」]
[TIP! To purchase citizenship, find a guard.]

We were currently walking through Prestige.
As we got closer to the center of the city, less and less NPCs were sprawled on the ground and more proper buildings began to appear.

“What’s that?”

After about 40 minutes, a tall wall with a large gate appeared in front of us.

“It’s a gate, it looks like. Let’s go near it and see.”

When we walked closer, a guard stopped us.

“The inner city is off-limits to non-citizens. If you want to go in, show us your proof of citizenship.”

“….?”

Everyone except me blinked in confusion. Soon, Cheok Jungyeong began to crack his knuckles. I quickly stopped him.

“Stop, you won’t be able to beat him.”

“Haha, kid, are you looking down on—”

“Ask the system.”

“Ask what? I’m sure it’ll say…”

Cheok Jungyeong stopped talking. He should have gotten a system alert just now that read something like this.
—All guards inside Prestige receive 250% boost in their stats.
We were only at the 3rd floor, but guards were at least Lv.5. With a 250% stat boost on top of that, we wouldn’t be able to defeat them until we become strong enough to clear the 6th floor.

“…Uhahaha, that only makes me want to fight more.”

“Shut up and stay put.”

Jain restrained Cheok Jungyeong who was smiling mischievously.
The guard spoke once again.

“You can pay 1000TP to register as a temporary citizen or return to the outer city.”

“…What do you guys want to do? I plan on buying the citizenship.”

I turned around and asked the others.
In truth, I was only asking out of courtesy. Citizenship was an extremely important aspect of Prestige as you couldn’t do anything without it.

“I have 1000TP.”

“I told you, I think I can beat him in a fight!”

“I don’t have a lot of TP.”

Jain, Cheok Jungyeong, and Boss spoke respectively.

“Then I’ll pay for Cheok Jungyeong and Boss.”

I took out three 1000TP banknotes from my inventory.

“What about me?”

“I know Jain-ssi is rich.”

“…I should have said I was poor too.”

Jain pouted as she took out 1000TP.
I considered haggling, but I was dealing with a guard. Guards were the most inflexible lot amongst NPCs. Haggling probably wouldn’t work on them unless it was at least at Lv.10.

“Here, 4000TP.”

“…Confirmed.”

The guard turned around and gave the money to a clerk who was waiting at the front entrance. The clerk wrote down the amount in her accounting book and produced four identification cards in the blink of an eye.

“Here. You are not official residents, so you will have to renew your identification card once a month for 700TP. If you lose your identification card, it will cost 1000TP to replace them, so keep that in mind.”

We received our identification cards, which were proofs of our temporary citizenship.
Extra7.
Boss.
PhantomThief.
Goryeo’sStrongest.
Our nicknames were written on our ID.

“How did they know our nicknames? We never told them.”

“It’s probably that NPC’s Trait.”

“Oh, NPCs have Traits too~?”

“We call them NPCs, but as far as the Tower is concerned, they’re humans just like us.”

At that moment, a series of system alerts popped up.

[You obtained Prestige’s Citizenship.]
[Common Player quests have been issued.]
[1. Undead Monster Subjugation]
—You will receive 50TP per 50 Lv.1 undead killed.
—You will receive 75TP per 25 Lv.2 undead killed.
—You will receive 100TP per 10 Lv.3 undead killed.
—You will receive 125TP per 2 Lv.4 undead killed.

[2. Land Spider Subjugation]
—You will receive 50TP per 4 Land Spiders killed.

[3. Demon Subjugation]
—There are 666 demons in Prestige. Each demon has a special bounty on its head.

“There’s a lot.”

“There sure is.”

Prestige wasn’t the prettiest city from the outside, but it was certainly a place where you could earn TP thanks to common quests for its citizens, Medea’s special quests, and other NPC quests.
However, these benefits would be the cause of its downfall.
The TP earned by Players would grant no benefit to the NPCs here and would only fill the belly of the administrator Medea.

Of course, I had no plans to let that happen.

Here, I wanted to see a different ending with Kim Suho.
Rather than destroying the world within the Tower, I planned to only destroy the shell that was the Tower.
This was the best ending I came up with during my three years of planning.
I planned to turn this Tower into a supporter of its own ending.

“Your inventories are full of food, right?”

“Yep, just like you wanted.”

To obtain meat on the 3rd floor, we had to kill at least 66 demons. Before then, monsters and wild animals all spawned as undead, so we could only eat grass. That was the shortcut to losing vitality and stats.

“Aren’t you going in?”

Seeing us standing still, the guard asked as if to urge us.

“We will. But before that…”

I pointed at the building right next to the wall.

“How much is it for a building like that?”

“You should be able to buy it for 5000TP.”

The guard answered my question. If I didn’t have citizenship, he probably would have ignored me completely.

“Why, do you want to buy a building?”

“Yes, I plan to.”

“…Why?”

“I just thought it’d be nice to have a shop.”

I answered Jain’s question. Afterwards, system alerts popped up.

[You can purchase the ‘Lv.2 Wooden Building Outside the Inner Wall’ for 5000TP.]
[You currently have 24000TP.]
[Would you like to purchase this building?]

Buying buildings sure was easy in a world without real estate.
I clicked ‘yes’.

[You obtained ownership of ‘Lv.2 Wooden Building Outside the Inner Wall’.]
[There is currently nothing inside the wooden building.]

With a single click of a button, a building became mine.

“Let’s go in.”

“Hm? Don’t you have to buy it?”

“I already did.”

“…What?”

Leaving my three puzzled companions behind, I asked the guard once again.

“Is it possible for us to meet the 3rd floor’s administrator?”

“No, it’s too early to have an audience with her.”

“How long do we have to wait?”

“Just another week.”

“…Hm.”

In that case, there was no reason to go into the inner city.
I crossed my arms and fell in thought. Then I turned on my smartwatch to read the ‘abandoned settings’ in my settings book. These were the settings that I wrote in my settings book but never included in the real story.

===
[3rd Floor Residential Area NPC – 1. Kiri and Henry.]
*Brother and sister duo. Give them money or food to get the [Black Pouch].
*The [Black Pouch] allows you to bring back one item from Earth.
*Kiri and Henry are both clever and have high growth potentials. Worthy of becoming named NPCs.
===

“…Oh right, these two kids were here too.”

Kiri and Henry aside, the Black Pouch was quite a useful item.
Since I couldn’t meet Medea, I had about four days of free time. I should obtain the Black Pouch and go back to Earth to bring back the Goblin Tablet. That way, I could also meet Evandel.

“Boss, Jain, can you two go inside and look for a hideout?”

“A hideout?”

“Yes, just a place for us to stay. You can just rent a house.”

“…Sure, but where are you going?”

“I’m going back to Earth for a bit.”

Just like that, I let the three of them enter the inner city.
Then, I took out the Book of Truth and asked.

[Where are the NPCs ‘Henry’ and ‘Kiri’?]

The Book of Truth sucked in about 0.5 streaks of Stigma and displayed the location of Kiri and Henry in real time. They weren’t too far away, wandering around near the outskirts of the city.
I walked over.
After about 15 minutes…

“Buy some flowers~ they’re edible~”

I could see Henry and Kiri in the distance.
They were selling flowers. However, no one was interested or even capable of spending money for flowers. To make matters worse, the flowers in their basket were all withered.

“Flowers, buy some flowers~ they’re edible~”

“….”

I watched them silently.
I had nothing to say. Two starving children were trying to sell flowers no one wanted. Did it have to be so realistic?

“Haa…”

Sighing away any depressing thoughts, I walked over to them.

“Ah, um, flowers… buy some flowers…”

Kiri and Henry were startled when they saw me. It was understandable considering I was entirely covered in black clothes.
I took off my hood and mask and smiled brightly.

“How much are they?”

“Eh…? You’ll buy them?”

“Yeah.”

The younger sister, Kiri, talked to me.
Kiri hesitated without being able to meet my eyes.

“…10, 10TP.”

“Each?”

“Yes? Ah… um, no. Everything in this basket is 10TP.”

Kiri gave the entire basket to me. Meanwhile, Henry was standing next to her, trembling in fear.
Did they think I wouldn’t buy anything if each flower was 10TP?
I looked at them silently, then discovered a black cloth peeking out of Henry’s back pocket.
That must be the Black Pouch.

“By the way, what’s that? That black thing.”

I knelt down to Henry’s eyelevel and pointed at the pouch in his back pocket. Kiri turned to Henry nervously.

“This… this? Um…”

Henry began to fiddle with the pouch in his back pocket with a troubled expression.

“Um, this is… um…”

His small body trembled greatly as he contemplated on what to say. Soon, he came to a decision and took the pouch out.

“W-Will you buy this too? This pouch is really good!”

“O-Oppa! Dad said never to—”

“Shh.”

The surprised younger sister Kiri stepped in, but Henry stopped her.
Kiri bit her lips with a sad look.

“How much is it?”

“This is a bit more expensive. It’s um… 200TP.”

200TP.
I looked at Henry’s face. His cheeks were thin, and his eyes clearly showed that he was afraid.
I suddenly thought.
These two NPCs were created from the setting I abandoned.
A setting that was disregarded because I was too much in a rush to advance the story or because I was too lazy to write about it. What would have been their fate in the original story?
…They should have starved to death.

“Um, 150TP!”

Henry must have misunderstood my silence for dissatisfaction as he lowered the price on his own.

“Mm…”

“I-Is it too much?”

“No, I think it’s too little.”

When I said that, Henry and Kiri’s faces lit up.
I took out two 100TP coins and gave one to Henry and other to Kiri.
Kiri and Henry took the shiny coins with their small hands. They stared at them blankly and swallowed their saliva.

“Ah, Oppa, give him the item.”

“Oh right, h-here!”

Hearing Kiri, Henry gave me the Black Pouch.

“And um, take this too!”

Then, Kiri quickly gave me the flower basket she was holding.

“I didn’t buy this.”

“You can have it! Um, these flowers are edible! If you want, I can also teach you where they grow. I’m the only one who knows about this!”

“….”

Kiri was too kind. Such a young girl was braver than her older brother. I couldn’t help but worry about them.

“It’s fine.”

I shook my head. I put the Black Pouch away and tapped their shoulders.

“Hey, aren’t you two hungry?”

“…Yes?”

This time, they both put up their guard.

“You see, this Hyung is a building owner.”

[Lv.2 Persuasive Voice activates.]

Although they were born and raised in a harsh environment, they were still children. My voice was more than enough to persuade them.

“…Building owner?”

“Yeah. Also…”

I took out my identification card.

“Wow, a citizenship identification card…”

“Uwoah…”

Henry and Kiri’s eyes shone brightly. Collecting money and buying citizenship. This must be their dream.
I spoke to them as warmly as possible.

“If you follow me, Hyung will make you lots of delicious food.”

Since I wrote that they were worthy of becoming named NPCs, I had more than enough reason to bring them along. Not to mention, I needed employees to take care of my new building.

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FudgeNouget's Thoughts

Forgot to set the timer for the chapter. Sorry for the delay!