Chapter 191. Ranker (2)


Perfectly cooked rice with corn sprinkled on top like snowflakes.
A fried rice made of only rice and corn, cooked over a frying pan with corn oil. On the outside, it didn’t look delicious at all.

“…Mm.”

That’s what Rachel thought, too.
So she plunged her spoon into the rice roughly, and brought it to her mouth.
Nom, nom.
She tended to chew food slowly if she expected it to taste bad.
The movement of her chin was cautious.

“…?”

However, Rachel’s eyes widened not long after.
As time passed, her chewing became faster as well.

“Is it good?”

Jin Seyeon grinned at her.
Rachel nodded without a word.

“….”

Nom, nom, nom—
The precocious princess turned into a hungry hamster. The dish felt and tasted like pork rather than corn.

“This flavor….”

Kim Youngjin and the others reacted in the same way.
Although this restaurant had opened 4 days ago, they hadn't visited it until now due to suspicion. But now they could finally understand why the Community was filled with such excellent reviews.

“…Does it taste bad, Nayun?”

Except for one person.
Jin Seyeon looked at Chae Nayun. She was chewing mechanically as if she was eating rubber.

“Huh? No, it’s good.”

Startled, Chae Nayun put more food into her mouth and chewed faster. Nom, nom, nom, nom— She feared her reaction would hinder others from enjoying their meal.
Both of her cheeks were now full with fried rice, but she didn’t seem to enjoy it at all.

“So, he took away all the special reward items?”

At that moment, Aileen, who had already finished eating, asked.
Essence of the Strait’s Kim Youngjin shook his head with a grim expression.

“No. There are 5 special rewards and a team could receive up to 3. The individual player took the maximum number.”

“Ah~ really? He must be really lucky. I’m envious.”

The lottery process was simple.
A total of 100 tickets were placed in a virtual container. The number of tickets that belonged to a party varied depending on the party’s contribution. For example, Essence of the Strait, which made 33% contribution, received 33 tickets. Naturally, the unknown individual received 17.

“Right?”

“But why did he help you? Or wait, can we really call that helping? …Excuse me, waiter?”

Aileen stopped and grabbed the arm of a waiter passing by.

“Yes?”

“Give me one more plate of this.”

“Sure~”

She turned again towards Kim Youngjin after placing her order.
Kim Youngjin sighed.

“Actually, we recorded the footage of the castle attack.”

“Eh? You got a video?”

“Yes. I ordered a subordinate to record a video to help prepare for the next castle attack… Without this mysterious Player’s help, the siege would have been very difficult, and we may have even failed.”

“Oh? Let me see. Show me the video.”

Their conversation captured the attention of many around them. All the nearby Players, not just Aileen, showed interest.

“Here. You can see that something came flying from the sky and killed 10 magicians….”

Kim Youngjin projected a hologram of the video in the air. Only those who were friends with Kim Youngjin could see the hologram.

—Attack the magicians first!
—That’s too difficult! There are too many guards surrounding them!

The video started from the beginning, and Rachel and Chae Nayun strained their eyes trying to concentrate.

“…What are you guys doing?”

At that moment, Kim Suho suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

“Oh geez, you surprised me. When did you get here?”

“Me? Just now. I’m here to eat.”

Chae Nayun was startled but soon pointed to the seat next to her.

“You too, sit down and watch this.”

Chae Nayun pointed to the hologram.

“What’s this?”

“A Ranker.”

“…Ranker?”

Kim Suho, who was already friends with Kim Youngjin, quickly fixed his attention on the video.

The flow of the video was straightforward.
Five black streaks flew through the sky. For now, no one could tell whether they were arrows, spears, or some sort of magic spells.

The attack, surround by fierce winds, clearly headed towards the throats of five magicians.
The magicians detected the murderous intent and casted defense magic, but the black streaks broke through the barriers with ease and pierced the magicians to death.
It was then the observers could finally tell that the attacks were from ‘arrows’.

“…Oh?”

“Eh?”

What happened next was even more surprising. The arrows which pierced the magicians suddenly changed course; they shot up and killed another five magicians.

As a result, a total of 10 magicians died.
Each magician gave 1.7% contribution, so 10 times that was 17%.
They could see where the individual player’s contribution came from.

“…Haha. Now, isn’t that a mysterious and wonderful archery skill?”

Jin Seyeon smiled.

“Even his arrows are black. He obviously designed them like that on purpose. How childish.”

Aileen, on the other hand, hid her astonishment and faked indifference.

“More than that, what are you going to do with the other castles?”

Aileen asked Kim Youngjin.

“…Although it was proven that there is a way to reach the 6th floor without destroying all the castles, we decided to focus on conquering the 5th floor for now.”

“Hello, everyone. We are the Ordinary People Alliance!”

Suddenly, a loud voice filled the restaurant.

“Please contact us if you are an ordinary person and still not a member!”

They were members of the Ordinary People Alliance who had been crowding the streets recently. The group’s leader and followers stormed in and sat down around a big table.

“…Hey, Divine Archer, What do you think of them?”

Aileen asked, glancing at the loud bunch.

“Well, they need a way out, too. I think they’re alright for now.”

Jin Seyeon gave a neutral answer.

“Hey. What're ya doin’?”

Suddenly, a hoarse voice called them.
Because the voice stood out so much, it caught everyone’s attention.

“Ah, are you an ordinary person?”

“Huh…? Uh, well, I guess I am.”

A bald man with scars under his eyes that made him look like a criminal.
It was ‘Kaita’.

**


[Highest Difficulty Tutorial Town]

Meanwhile, two weeks had passed since the start of the 3rd tutorial.
Jin Sahyuk started from scratch after dying and was now back inside Tutorial Town.

“….”

She recognized some familiar faces: an NPC she had fought to death last time, an NPC she caught trying to pickpocket her, etc.

However, Jin Sahyuk walked right past them with a smile.
It was her second time going through the tutorial, and she was already used to everything.

“Hmm.”

She took a look at the 1000TP she had on her. It was a reward she got from coming first in the second tutorial.
Now, she somehow had to increase her wealth and acquire better weapons and armors before climbing to the 2nd floor. Surely ‘he’ was waiting for her there.

She first headed towards the Mercenary Pub.
While walking, she opened the Community.
The Community and the public forum were available for viewing from the Tutorial Town. Of course, some information was hidden if the poster put a checkmark next to the ‘disable read for players below __th floor’ option.

“Mm?”

She came across an interesting post while browsing through the forum.

===
[List of Rankers for Beginners Provided by the information team ’Small Business Enterprise’.]

Hello, we are the information team ‘Small Business Enterprise’.
We are part of the Hero Association’s Department of Statistics. We entered the Tower to carry out our duty to examine and evaluate Players inside the Tower of Wish.

Of course, the Tower of Wish has no official ranking system.
However, we were able to learn about the greatness of ‘High-Players’ from the information we gathered directly inside the Tower.

We have selected the top 100 Rankers based on a certain set of criteria in order to encourage other Players and to set guidelines for newcomers.

…(Omitted)

We apologize for the long introduction.
Below is the ranker list. (Some players may have been omitted if their information has not been made public.)

1. Black Lotus
A mysterious player thought to have been the first Player to reach the 5th and 6th floor . His nickname, real name, and everything else are unknown. The only thing certain about him is that he is a male.
Although he is officially an ‘archer’, he seems capable of utilizing other weapons as well.
…(Omitted)
This Player, whose speed of growth is on a whole different level, is thought to be a ‘hermit master’, known only in legends and novels. There is no doubt that he is powerful, for even Vast Expanse-nim, who has been assessing the situation from the outside world, has called him ‘very interesting’.

2. Aileen
…We’ll leave out the details.
She is no different from the Aileen we know on Earth.
Daunting magic power, overwhelming Spirit Speech.
She is humanity’s great Hero.

3. Yi Yongha
A hero from the Temple of Justice.
Although he pales in comparison to his partner, Aileen, the Hellfire Magician has a Gift specialized for hunting and is practically rolling in TP as a result. No monster should be able to withstand his hellfire.

4. Kim Junwoo
A Vast Expanse hunter. He only plays solo.
Not much is known about him since he takes care of everything alone….

5. …
===

Jin Sihyuk walked while looking over the list of ‘Rankers’, the so-called big shots of the Tower. Before, she would have stopped after reading a few lines, but now reading had become somewhat of a hobby to her.

[Lv.??? Mercenary Pub]

While reading, she arrived at the Mercenary Pub.
Jin Sahyuk turned off the community and stood in front of the owner behind the counter.

“…Oh, what’s this? You’re down here again?”

The owner recognized her and frowned. It was quite a rude reaction.
She would’ve started by giving him the middle finger in the past.
But Jin Sahyuk today simply smiled and answered:

“If you recognize me, you should know you won’t be able to rip me off.”

**


[6F, Splendor]

Bucephalus, a legendary horse loved by Alexander the Great who ruled Macedonia in the distant past. It was one of the most priceless treasures that existed within the Tower of Wish, which contained all of humanity’s legends, histories, and myths.

I wanted to tame it no matter what.

I observed the direction it ran off to with the eyes of the Master Sharpshooter. My sight stretched faster than my body could move. Soon, I spotted a galloping horse with a rich black mane.
Right.
It… no, she was undoubtedly the legendary Bucephalus.
I took out the Dwarven Supercar in a hurry.

“Scan.”

I immediately stepped on the accelerator and chased after Bucephalus. From the sky, Spartan was following me in an awl-like flight.

After driving for about 3 minutes, I finally caught a glimpse of Bucephalus.

[Lv.13 Bucephalus]

The information shown on the smartwatch reminded me once again that the female horse running in front of me was Bucephalus.
For a mere horse to be level 13 meant that she was undoubtedly a legendary creature.
She should level up further as time passes too.

I didn’t necessarily want to ride her. I could just tame her and set her loose, and she would trample over everything that blocked her way…. Should I give her to Evandel as a gift?

In any case, I had to catch her first. I should be able to bring her back to the real world once I tame her.

“…!”

Black smoke came out of the Dwarven Supercar which had been running beyond its limit.
Suddenly, Bucephalus stopped.
I stopped after her.
We stared at each other, Bucephalus above the hill and my Dwarven Supercar on a slope.

Prrr—!

Bucephalus looked down at me and wailed in discontent.
Prrr— Prrr—!
She breathed heavily through her nose in an intimidating manner.

“…Oh, um. I didn’t follow you, I just happen to be heading in the same direc-”

—Prrr!

Bucephalus in history was famous for her hot temper. Even the brave Alexander the Great had a difficult time taming her.
As such, I couldn’t do anything rash.
It was impossible to tame her in one day.
But I really didn’t want to let her go either.

“….”

Suddenly, the famous story of ‘the monkey and the flower shoes’ came to my mind.
The strategy was to offer the flower-patterned shoes to the barefoot monkey so that he eventually couldn’t live without it.
But did I even have something she might want?
…Maybe I did.

[Random Dice x3]

I held on to three Random Dice in case I needed them.
Even the famous Bucephalus couldn’t survive without food. Rather, the smarter an animal, the more likely it placed value on the taste of its meal.

‘Let’s lure her with food.’

Drrr—
I rolled the three Random Dice.

[Lv.4 Salmon Powder for Enhancing the Taste of Food]
[Lv.4 Master Grade Grains]

They were excellent items.

“Um, wait.”

I excused myself, then poured the grains and the powder on a large plate and threw in an ample amount of raw meat which I had planned on eating myself.
I placed the plate on the ground while Bucephalus watched me.

“…This is really good stuff.”

I used Suggestive Voice. An animal surely couldn’t resist it…
Prrr—!
However, Bucephalus resisted the magic power.
What a mighty fellow.

“Okay, okay. I’ll go. Leaving now.”

I stepped back slowly.
I left the plate where it was and got on the Dwarven Supercar.
I decided to retreat for today, but I ordered Spartan to keep an eye on her location.

Vroom—

I drove slowly and returned to the hot spring.
I didn’t get a chance to check whether or not she ate the food, but I would find out when I went back and retrieved the plate later.

“…Phew. Anyway, let’s get some training done for now.”

I lowered myself into the water and took a deep breath.
I let the spirit power circulate through my veins and breathed repeatedly in order to let it reshape my body. According to my will, scattered spirit power gathered around my heart and helped it beat faster.

Koong—!

The thumping was strong enough to hurt my ribs, but this way I could train the ‘interior’ of my body, including organs and blood vessels.
The inside of the body was as important as the outside.

…I was engrossed in training for about 30 minutes.
Suddenly, a hoard of system messages appeared before me.

[You successfully conquered Castle No.1!]
[Your contribution rate is 17%]
[You receive 2550TP.]
[You receive special rewards.]
[Special Skill Book – Lv.1 Wind of the Spirit]
[Item – Lv.4 Purifying Wand]
[Item – Lv.4 Special Chemical Activity Beaker]

“…Ah. They succeeded.”

I sat up straight and began to examine the rewards in satisfaction.

[Wind of the Spirit]

This is a special skill that enabled the user to vaporize their body for a short amount of time. It was useful for escaping or sneaking up on an enemy, but there wasn’t much merit to it because it was a ‘special skill’. It would have been amazing if it were a normal skill.

Next, [Lv.4 Purifying Wand]

This wand helped magicians control their magic power more easily. It refined the impurities in magic power— thus giving it the name, ‘Purifying Wand’.

“Hmm….”

Lastly, [Lv.4 Special Chemical Activity Beaker]
I needed to investigate further to figure out how I could utilize this one….

“This obviously looks like it goes hand in hand with the hot spring water here.”

First, I took out the beaker.

**


For the following week, I continued to travel back and forth on the 6th floor.
My routine was the same everyday.
First, I located where Bucephalus was with Spartan’s help and offered her delicious food 3 times a day.
While doing so, I came across other legendary beasts such as the ‘unicorn’ and the ‘Black Tortoise’. However, I decided to give up on them since they couldn’t be tamed in the first place.

After feeding Bucephalus, training was up next.
I did breathing exercises at the Hot Spring of Peace for more than an hour everyday. I improved Master Sharpshooter’s grade with Spartan’s help and honed my skills through [Extraction and Permanent Materialization].
For the record, it was possible to extract Stigma’s magic power two times per day inside the hot spring.

As a result, my stats increased by…
Dududududu…
No less than ‘2.015’ in a mere week.

Perhaps because my stats outside the Tower were low to begin with, my stats inside the Tower would catch up to my stats outside in a short while.
That’s when the real growth would begin.
Once my stats caught up completely, my growth should accelerate greatly.
…My stats should go up by another 2~3 points. Whether or not that was ‘great’ was subjective.

“Kuhum.”

In any case, there was one more piece of good news.
I was inside the Hot Spring of Peace.
Currently, I was in the middle of ignoring Bucephalus, who was circling around me.

Prrr, prrr.

Her pride didn’t allow her to approach me directly, but she was certainly letting me know that she was there.
Yesterday, I had completely cut off the food that I’ve been giving her three times a day for the past week.

Bleep—

At that moment, I received a message.

Boss:「I’m at the place you said. The filthy lake.」

“Mm.”

I informed the members of the Chameleon Troupe of the pathway to the 6th floor. Of course, that didn’t include Kaita. Currently, Kaita should be on his way to destruction along with Zurahan.

「You have to jump into the lake. Are you with anyone?」

Boss: 「I’m alone. Cheok Jungyeong, Jain, and Jin Yohan said they had something to take care of.」

Well, the three of them would certainly try to attack a fortress or a gateway.
They were experts when it came to attacking strongholds.
Jain would disguise as the enemy commander, infiltrate the castle and opens the gate from the inside. Cheok Jungyeong and Jin Yohan would then destroy everything within.

Boss:「You want me to jump in this thing?」

「Yeah. Hang in there even if it’s dirty.」

Boss:「…Okay. I’ll head in now.」

Prrr—
At that moment, I heard heavy breathing. I glanced back and saw Bucephalus in my line of sight, obviously angry.
It was quite a funny yet cute scene. I held back my laughter and continued to ignore her.
Give an animal an inch and she'll take a mile.

Prrr— Prrr— Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr—

I ignored the darting sound and stood up.
I put my clothes back on, got on the Dwarven Supercar, and headed towards the lake where Boss would soon arrive.

…From the distance, Boss came into sight.
It seemed she had already finished speaking to Eirene, as she was clean.

“Boss!”

“…?”

Boss noticed me. The way she put her hands up and waved her arm back and forth was pretty cute.

“Hajin, you came.”

“Yeah. Boss, how many hours did you get?”

“Me? I….”

I didn’t have to wait for her answer.
The number 59:58:32 was floating above her head.

“60 hours is pretty average.”

“Mm. Is that so? But where do I find the tickets to the 7th floor?”

“You can worry about that later. Here, you have to get some training done first. Your stats grow really fast on this floor.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Hop on.”

I got on the Dwarven Supercar with Boss.
I was about to start when Boss suddenly called me.

“Hajin.”

“Yes?”

“…What is that?”

Boss pointed at Bucephalus, who was grooming her mane from afar.
She did seem startled when I got on the Dwarven Supercar; she must have followed me all the way here.

“Hmm. Must be a wild animal.”

I gave a small smile and continued to ignore her.

“Anyway, let’s go to the hot spring.”

“Sure. I don’t know where, but…? W-What? Hot spring? We’re going to a hot spring?”

Behind me, Boss’s flustered voice echoed.

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