Chapter 221. 20F (1)


Late at night on a certain day, Boss returned to Chameleon Troupe’s hideout for the first time in a while and jumped on the bed inside her room. Then, she stared up at the ceiling in a pose reminiscent of Dracula.
She stared blankly for a long time before taking something out from her pocket and flashing it against the light.
The platinum ring she received sparkled. Although it looked rather ordinary on the outside, its effects couldn’t be called ordinary at all.

‘…Why did Kim Hajin give this to me?’

Of course, he did give a reason. That it was an artifact that suited her. Boss accepted what he said, but she still couldn’t help but feel a bit conflicted.

She sighed but still resolved herself to wear the ring. [High-grade Magic Amplification] was a top-tier effect that was hard to come by no matter how much money one had.
The question was which finger to wear it on.
Boss quickly came up with an answer.

“The finger that hurts.”

Boss had one finger that ‘hurt’.

“….”

Nine of her fingers were coarse, wrought with calluses and scars. As not even magic or mana could do anything about them, nowadays, women who planned to become Heroes often received specific care from a young age. Boss, of course, wasn’t an ordinary woman.

But there was just one finger that was different. Her left pinky didn’t have any calluses, and as it had never been severed, it didn’t have any scars either.
As such, biting this finger hurt.
Boss put the ring on this finger, and the ring changed size to fit snugly on it.

“…Mm.”

‘Ring. My Ring. A Gift I received.’
Lying on her bed, Boss stared at the ring on her pinky. A small smile could be seen on her face.

**

The Association and the Guild Alliance won the battle but lost the war.
They didn’t incur a single casualty inside or outside the excavation site, but Djinns had taken over 60% of the artifacts. As the Association believed they could retrieve at least 50%, they considered this a clear defeat.
However, not all guilds had failed.
In fact, ‘Creator’s Sacred Grace’ came out as one of the biggest winners.
From the 1st underground floor, they discovered eight expensive artifacts, including Temujin’s personal hat and leather armor, as well as other clothes that were valuable collectables.

“Well done, Suho.”

Outside the front entrance of Pyongyang’s Hero-exclusive hospital, Kim Suho and Yun Seung-Ah looked at each other and gently smiled. Yun Seung-Ah was usually struggling with all sorts of pressure, but her smile today was genuine.

“It was all thanks to you, Leader.” Kim Suho bowed.

Yun Seung-Ah softly stroked his forehead. Kim Suho blushed even at this light physical contact.

“We’re much better off now. You can expect a huge bonus. I plan to give you one of the artifacts.”

“Huh? No, I—”

“Just take it. It wouldn’t have been possible without you. Really, how did you dig up so many buried artifacts in just one minute?”

Although the sword wasn’t specialized for digging something up, Kim Suho’s Sword Saint Gift had severed the connection between the artifacts and the ground, allowing them to pop up like an inflatable ball placed underwater.

“Haha….” Kim Suho laughed bashfully at Yun Seung-Ah’s praise.

“Anyways, you can go back now. You want to see your friends, right?” Yun Seung-Ah said.

“Yes.”

“Then I’ll go back to work. I have to report the artifacts, talk to the Association, and… well, I just have a lot to do.”

Kim Suho smiled and saw the murmuring Yun Seung-Ah off. When the car she was riding on disappeared from sight, Kim Suho returned to the hospital. He immediately headed to visit one of his friends. As soon as he entered Chae Nayun’s room, he heard her voice.

“What? It wasn’t you?”

With bandages around her head, neck, and arm, Chae Nayun was staring at Yi Jiyoon with a look of shock.

“Of course not… I came quickly after Team Leader Youngjin notified me. I didn’t shoot any arrow at you.”

“Really? Don’t lie to me.”

“I’m not lying. You said you were healed as soon as the arrow hit you, right? My Healing Factor can’t do instantaneous healing.”

“Then who was it? Other than you, who—”

Kim Suho walked in and sat down on a chair.

“What are you guys talking about?”

“…Huh?”

Chae Nayun and Yi Jiyoon turned to Kim Suho at the same time.

“Oh, if it isn’t Creator’s Sacred Grace who hit it big~”

Chae Nayun narrowed her eyes jokingly. It seemed rumors had already spread of Creator’s Sacred Grace’s findings.
Kim Suho laughed and played along.

“I heard the Strait obtained good artifacts too.”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t as satisfactory considering we were on the 5th floor.”

“Didn’t you guys get a female horse and a male horse?”

“Oh? How did you find out?”

While they were talking about their guilds’ haul, four fledglings entered Chae Nayun’s room.

“Um, Senior!”
“Hello!”
“How is your body?!”
“I hope your injuries aren’t too bad!”

They were Essence of the Strait’s new apprentice heroes. As Cube’s third-year cadets, they were Chae Nayun’s juniors. Chae Nayun stared at them with narrowed eyes.

“Why are you guys here?”

“We’re here to see you! We heard you were injured!”

“…Thanks, but I don’t like things like this. Don’t come next time.”

“Yes! Understood!”

The two male and two female party didn’t leave Chae Nayun’s room. They put the get-well gift they brought on the ground and stared at her fixedly.

With a sigh, Chae Nayun spoke up. “Fine. Screw off if you don’t want me to beat you up.”

“Hehe… Yes! Understood!”

Only after hearing harsh words did the four fledglings happily leave. Kim Suho tilted his head at this confusing scene.

“Who are they?”

“I don’t know. They like it when I curse.”

“…Huh? No way.”

“Yes way. I think my personality is getting worse because of them. They won’t listen at all if I tell them nicely. I can’t do anything about them since they visit me every time I leave the Tower. I’m afraid they’ll even follow me into the Tower. Scary kids…” Chae Nayun grumbled, though she was secretly quite happy.

“Oh~? What happened? Tell me.”

“…Was it three months ago? I left the Tower for a bit, and the guild assigned me to take care of the apprentice heroes once.”

A mission they had gone on together was the start of everything. They got into an argument with a foreign guild’s Hero about a monster corpse. Because that Hero kept blabbering on with nonsensical reasoning, Chae Nayun had gotten pissed and suppressed him by cursing him out.

“Oh, oh, it was that incident in Europe, right? Those kids probably thought you were really cool. But didn’t you curse a lot before anyways?” Yi Jiyoon added.

“…Nevermind that. Anyways, Kim Suho.”

Chae Nayun sipped on a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee and said to Kim Suho “Can you get in touch with him?”

“….”

Kim Suho knew the weight of her words.

“I don’t know.” He asked back. “But what if I can?”

“Who knows… But I’ll have to meet him at least once eventually.” Chae Nayun murmured.

Kim Suho was slightly bothered by Yi Jiyoon, who was fidgeting next to Chae Nayun, but he asked anyways. “And what if you do meet him?”

“Well….” After a bit of thinking, Chae Nayun continued. “We’ll probably fight until one of us dies.”

Her voice was full of loneliness. Kim Suho smiled bitterly. He wanted to ask, ‘Just how bad was the break up to want to kill each other?’ but he refrained from doing so.

“Anyways, if you meet him, be sure to tell me.” Chae Nayun requested strongly.

She was confident in herself. She felt like she overcame one of the traumas etched deep in her heart. So now, if they were to meet again— she felt like she could face him eye to eye and ask him about the truth.

“Okay~”

Chae Nayun shot up.

“I’m going to Yeonha now.”

Then, she went off to find Yoo Yeonha, who was probably holed up somewhere. Chae Nayun had a good idea as to exactly where that would be. She was probably in the lounge, waiting for her guild's members who were in surgery.

—Koong!

Chae Nayun swung the lounge door open. Seeing as how the door made a dull thud, it seemed the door was locked. In any case, Chae Nayun saw Yoo Yeonha’s familiar figure in the room. Yoo Yeonha seemed to be eating cup noodles.

Cough, cough. Pfft.”

As soon as Chae Nayun entered the room, Yoo Yeonha spat out the noodles. She wiped her mouth as though nothing happened, then slowly looked up.

“Mm, you’re here, Nayun-ssi.”

Seeing Yoo Yeonha’s nonchalant act, Chae Nayun laughed.

“…You’re eating ramen?”

“H-Hm? Ramen? What, what ramen?”

Yoo Yeonha was telling a strange lie. Chae Nayun pointed at the cup noodles on the table.

“You were just eating that.”

“Oh… this?”

Yoo Yeonha stared at Chae Nayun, then at the cup noodles, then back at Chae Nayun, then the cup noodles, then Chae Nayun, then the cup noodles…
In the end…
tak—!
She flicked her hand and slammed the cup noodles down.
Looking at the soup and noodles on the ground, Chae Nayun asked, dumbfounded.

“…What are you doing?”

“Ah~ This?”

Yoo Yeonha blankly stared at the cup noodles on the ground.

“Why did you do that?”

“Mm…? Uh… Oh, what’s this!?”

Yoo Yeonha suddenly yelled as if she just noticed the spilled cup noodles on the ground. Chae Nayun narrowed her eyes.

“…Are you joking?”

“Ehem, I’m your boss, you know. You’ll be punished if you talk to me that way.”

“….”

Chae Nayun chose to forget what she just saw and walked up to Yoo Yeonha. By the time Chae Nayun was close enough to sit down on a chair next to her, the cup noodles had disappeared without a trace. Yoo Yeonha had undoubtedly done something to it with her magic power.

“So, do you need something, Nayun-ssi?”

“…I’m waiting for my teammates too. How’re the surgeries going?”

Yoo Yeonha grinned.

“Good. Everything’s fine. There’s no loss of limbs or magic power.”

Chae Nayun nodded with a sigh of relief. She was glad to hear that no one was gravely hurt. It was then that she thought of a lighthearted topic to talk about.

“Oh right, what’s up with that scandal?”

The first news she saw after leaving the Tower was a scandal involving Yoo Yeonha. It was a relationship scandal as well. According to the report she read, Yoo Yeonha was dating Lorain, a son of the multinational corporation, Lesrain.

“…It’s bullshit. I’m already taking legal measures.”

Yoo Yeonha’s reaction was as expected. Chae Nayun nodded and sighed.

“Yeah, I guess we’re both long ways off from dating anyone.”

“Hm? But I’m already in a relationship.”

Hearing Yoo Yeonha’s comment, Chae Nayun instantly widened her eyes.

“What?! With who?!”

Yoo Yeonha smiled brightly and spoke.

“With work.”

Yoo Yeonha meant it to be a funny joke, but Chae Nayun took it differently.

“Who’s ‘Work’?!”

“…Eh?”

**


After all of the Heroes successfully underwent surgery, Yoo Yeonha left the hospital and gave someone a call.
Tiriring—
Tiriring—
The phone rang, and just when Yoo Yeonha was worried that he wouldn’t pick up again…

“He, hello?”

—Yeah, what’s up?

Kim Hajin’s indifferent voice rang out. Yoo Yeonha let out a sigh of relief as soon as she heard his voice.

“You haven’t been picking up recently and you haven’t been replying to my texts. What have you been up to?”

—All kinds of things. I’m resting now though.

“….”

All kinds of things—
The way Kim Hajin said it made it seem like he was hurt. A lot.
Yoo Yeonha sighed.

“Don’t do it.”

—…Don’t do what?

Kim Hajin pretended to be oblivious.

“You know what I mean.”

—Huh? What do you mean?

“I already heard that you killed Black Lotus.”

—Oh, so?

‘Does he take me for a fool?’ Yoo Yeonha glanced around and continued in a whispering voice.

“I know you’re chasing after the remaining members of the Chameleon Troupe.”

This time, Kim Hajin didn’t say anything. It probably meant it was right on the mark.

“It’s too dangerous alone. So—”

—No, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not chasing after anyone.

“…Huh?”

Yoo Yeonha shut her mouth. For a moment, she wondered if it really was all in her head.

“Really?”

—Yeah. I killed Black Lotus because it was Aileen’s request. It’s not like I’m chasing after the Chameleon Troupe for a personal reason.

“…What floor are you on? Let’s meet inside the Tower and talk.”

—Then meet me on the 15th floor.

Hearing this, Yoo Yeonha’s voice went up a tone.

“What? You’re already that high up? So you are chasing after them!”

—…I’m not. Anyways, get to the 15th floor. I’ll come looking for you then.

“Hnnng… I still think you’re lying… but okay…”

Yoo Yeonha still wanted to talk to him more, as none of the questions she had were answered. But Kim Hajin was surely busy, and she had things to do right now as well.

“Anyways, don’t do anything too dangerous.”

—I don’t do dangerous jobs.

“Yeah, yeah. If anything happens… just call me. I’m hanging up.”

—I’m telling you, nothing hap—

Yoo Yeonha hung up, then called someone else.

“Hello.”

A cold, icy voice came out of her mouth, completely different from the soft tone she just had.

—Yes, um, Team Leader Yoo, I hope you saw the apology letter I sent…

“No.”

—…Pardon?

“I read it. That’s my reply.”

Suhanmoo Corporation. It was one of Essence of the Strait’s subcontractors. Using the funding received from Essence of the Strait, it had become a medium-sized company that developed a new technology.

But when their contract was nearing its end, Suhanmoo had secretly sold their technology to a foreign company. When Yoo Yeonha found out that one of her subcontractors did what a foolish industry spy would do, she was quite dumbfounded.

“You have two choices.”

—…I’m sorry, but please, Team Leader.

“You can walk into your grave on your own or watch yourself be put into it.”

Suhanmoo’s secret trade was discovered by Yoo Yeonha’s Falling Blossom guild in one day, and Yoo Yeonha immediately tied its executives in Korea by banning them from traveling and freezing their funds.

—T-Team Leader, I have children! I….

Yoo Yeonha hung up as the man yelled desperately.

“Haa….”

A bitter sigh rang out.
Essence of the Strait did not show mercy to its traitors and thoroughly repaid any debts.
Today, that rule would be kept once more.
But for some reason, a sense of emptiness dug into her.
It felt like there were holes in her body with a feeling of powerlessness going in and out through them. Yoo Yeonha felt lethargic.

It was then that a wooden bench caught Yoo Yeonha’s eye.
Under the glow of the setting sun, two Heroes were embracing each other. Soon, their lips locked.

“…Oh my.”

Yoo Yeonha clicked her tongue. But for some reason, her eyes continued to stay on them. The couple’s tongues then began to intertwine… gulp.
One tongue was attacking the other, almost like two whips.
Gulp.
Yoo Yeonha swallowed her saliva, seeing this lewd scene.
It was then that here secretary’s limousine stopped in front of her.

“Sorry for being late.”

“Y-Yes?”

The secretary quickly came out of the car and opened the back door.

“N-No, it’s fine.”

After getting in the limousine, Yoo Yeonha forced herself to not look at the couple on the bench.

**


[15F, Genkelope’s Abandoned Vessel]

After spending about four days resting with Evandel, I returned to the Tower.
I powered up the ship, awakened the NPCs who were soldiers, then reinforced the ship’s military power by dumping TP. With that, I gained 43 heavily armed soldiers.

“Area 3 has been mostly returned to normal operations. Fixing the self-powering system seems to have done the trick.”

Currently, I was being guided around Area 3 by the ship’s captain. Area 3 now seemed like a place where people lived, and NPCs were also grateful because of it.
Horner spoke.

“Now, we would like to initiate the plan to save humanity.”

“….”

“Of course, that’s as long as Ship Commander allows it.”

I glanced back at Horner. I had become the Ship Commander.

“Are you confident?”

“Yes, we’ve trained for it many times. Thanks to eating well, we’ve recovered to our peak physical condition, and everyone is full of enthusiasm.”

“Mm, then go ahead. I’ll allow it. You can use as much TP as you want.”

It was a bit of an irresponsible way of spending money, but I had no choice. I had to climb up.
At that moment, uninvited guests appeared.

[Three people have entered Area 3.]
[Player PhantomThief]
[Player Goryeo’sStrongest]
[Player Hurabono]
[They have been confirmed to be Ship Commander’s comrades. The entrance will be opened.]

Area 3’s management system opened the door with a mechanical voice. Cheok Jungyeong, Jain, and Jin Yohan walked in.
I smiled.

“You’re here?”

“Yep~ We just arrived~”

Jain took off her robe immediately afterwards and looked around the futuristic Area 3 with curious eyes.

“Wow~ It’s like I’m in a sci-fi movie~”

“Where’s Boss?”

“She said she had something to do~”

“Hmm.”

I asked what I’ve been dying to know.

“Oh right, Jain, how many artifacts did you steal?”

“I wasn’t greedy, just half of what the Djinns uncovered. I brought a bow for you too.”

By bow, she was probably referring to [Temujin’s Bow]. For the record, I planned to synthesize [Temujin’s Bow] with the [Blessed Bow of Horus]. After all, I didn’t need two bows.

“Thank you.”

“No problem~ I should be the one who’s thankful.”

Jain proudly displayed the bracelet on her arm. It was the bracelet I made for her using the materials she gave me. I went with a bracelet since she already had a ring and a necklace.
Just that small bracelet used 21 jewels. The strap was made out of ‘moonice stone’, which was said to be even more beautiful than gold.
Naturally, just the cost of the materials easily surpassed 20 billion won, and with Dwarf’s Dexterity used to make it, it became priceless.

“So, what are we doing today~?”

Jain asked with a big smile.

“We’re going up to the 16th floor.”

“Now?”

“Yes, we can go up whenever we want.”

Area 3 had a hangar that had flying vehicles capable of flying through the Tower’s Void. By reaching the 16th floor, we would be able to see the true Demon Realm in full view.

“Oh, that’s good with me—!”

Cheok Jungyeong smacked his chest like a gorilla. I smirked and called the captain.

“Horner.”

“Yes, the spacecrafts are ready.”

“We’ll be using them soon.”

With this, it should be an easy climb to the 19th floor. It probably shouldn’t take more than 2 weeks.
However, things got a bit more difficult from the 20th floor. Just like Crevon’s 8-1F, 8-2F, and 8-3F, the 20th~23rd floors were connected. I had to prepare myself to lose at least one life.

“I’ll lead the way.”

I followed Horner, and my comrades followed me.

**


…30 minutes later.
After Ship Commander ‘Extra7’ and his comrades left, Horner and the military strategist Erenner had a meeting.

“As long as we open the pathway, Ship Commander said he would unlock the hibernation chambers.”

“Yes, but the question is how to open the pathway.”

“It’s simple. We just have to dig through it.”

“But alien hosts are living in underground cities….”

While Horner and Erenner were discussing their next move, suddenly, a warning alarm went off in the ship.

[A being with a high state of existence entered the vessel.]
[A being with a high state of existence entered the vessel.]
[A being with a high state of existence entered the vessel.]

“…What?”

“Someone with a high state of existence?”

NPCs in the ship froze at the unexpected message. However, Horner and Erenner moved quickly to the control room and checked the camera.
They then saw two women walking towards Area 3.
Two robed beings with extraordinary states of existence. They were the administrators, ‘Medea’ and ‘Athena’.

Erenner asked.

“Aren’t they administrators?”

“Yes, but why are they here…?”

Administrators couldn’t enter other floors without the permission of that floor’s administrator. However, the 15th floor was a special case as it wasn’t an ‘official floor’ that had an administrator.

“I’m not sure, but it looks like we have to open the door.”

Although they were scared because of the administrators’ sudden appearance, Horner quickly came to a decision and opened the tightly shut door.

Ssssk—

Medea and Athena walked in.
Although their faces were covered in veils, NPCs could recognize them by their unique magic power. As such, the shipmates shivered in fear. To them, administrators were far from being kind existences.

“Hello, everyone~”

Medea asked kindly at the scared NPCs.

“Is Player Extra7 here?”

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