“Paeeeeeeek!” A sorrowful screech resounded in the room. Having become a flattened squid twice, the tears Maria had been holding back finally burst out.
As a result, the newcomer had to deal with a terrifying amount of pure anger. Thankfully, she seemed to have a mild personality, as she simply took Maria’s screaming.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry….”
She apologized repeatedly, and after a while, the fuming Maria finished venting her anger and stomped away to the corner of the room before squatting down.
From the way she held her crucifix close, it seemed she was debating casting a barrier around herself. But since she couldn’t waste her precious saved spells, she only gritted her teeth.
Seol Jihu contemplated consoling her but chose to just sit against the wall. Since he realized what situation he was in, he needed some time to organize his thoughts.
The rule that had never been broken in the past four Banquets had just been broken. But why?
‘…There’s no way to find out.’
If there was an existence supervising the Banquet, Seol Jihu wouldn’t hesitate to grab him by the collar and shake him around. He was secretly hoping to discover the secret behind the biannual Banquets, but things had only gotten more confusing.
If there was one thing he could be glad about, it was that he wasn’t separated from Maria.
‘Get a grip.’
Chak! Seol Jihu slapped his cheeks hard. Immediately, he felt several gazes fall on him. However, he paid no attention to them.
The plans prepared under the assumption of moving as a team, the thoughts about discovering the Banquet’s secret— he put them all on hold.
He set his first and foremost goal to survival. He had to escape from this place alive and meet up with his comrades before thinking about anything else.
Once he changed his mindset and focused on this one thing, he felt his head had gotten a little lighter.
Seol Jihu slowly looked around the room, but no matter how many times he looked at it, it was still the same, simplistic room. The only noteworthy thing was that he couldn’t see an entrance or an exit.
That wasn’t good news.
After thinking about the matter once more, he activated Nine Eyes. When the room changed color, Seol Jihu immediately dropped his jaw in shock.
The entire room shone in a golden hue. His entire vision became filled with a rolling golden wave.
Seol Jihu barely kept himself silent. Looking at the dazzling golden light, he immediately became less tense, but he tightened himself up in the next moment.
After going through multiple incidents, he knew that the Golden Commandment wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
‘To do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’
An effect always followed a cause, and a cause always followed a reason. In that sense, how should he interpret this room being gold?
There had to be a reason. A reason that this room was giving off the color of the Golden Rule.
Depending on his choices, there was a chance he could obtain more than just ‘survival’.
Seol Jihu closed his eyes to concentrate. Because his nerves were all focused on his head, he didn’t realize that the pale girl was leaning on her knees and staring fixedly at him.
As the youth was absorbed in this new problem, more people began to appear.
The room only had four people at first, but in just a few hours, the number increased to seven. Each newcomer had different reactions. Some were flustered about being separated from their teams, while others leisurely walked around the room.
In any case, none of them straight out panicked, as they were all Earthlings who had some level of experience in Paradise. However, a somewhat competitive atmosphere descended in the room.
Among the seven people that now filled the room, there were two that especially grabbed the others’ attention.
One was a young woman with straight, shoulder-length hair. She seemed to be a Warrior, judging by her silver composite armor and stylish longsword. Although she gave off a temperamental, easily-offended impression, her face was expressionless. Not a hint of emotion could be found on her straight face. Compared to her, even Kazuki seemed like an expressive person.
The other one was also a young woman. She had her long, brown hair tied up in a ponytail. The bow on her back and the quiver on her waist easily let others know what her class was. For whatever reason, she was smiling nonstop. However, it was the kind of sinister smile that sent chills down others’ backs.
With her serpentine, almond eyes and her gleaming pupils, she gave off a dangerous vibe that would make her look like a venomous snake if she stuck out her tongue.
When Seol Jihu took another look around, he gasped in his heart. All six members excluding him were female.
Bob Cut, Straight Face, Snake Eyes, the white headband girl, Maria, and the good-natured girl who apologized again and again….
None of them were beauties that would stick out in a crowd, but Seol Jihu felt weird just because he was surrounded by women of all nationalities. It wasn’t as if he felt awkward or uncomfortable. He just felt… strange.
‘Surely there’s gotta be another guy, right?’
As if to answer his question, someone fell from the air.
Splat! Seol Jihu heard a muddy splash. His expression brightened when he saw the newcomer’s short hair, but it instantly contorted. When he touched his face, a crimson liquid came off.
A lifeless laughter resounded.
“I entered…. I did it…. I entered….”
The dozens of arrows stuck on the man’s back made him look like a hedgehog. From the looks of it, he must have been in a fierce competition over the entrance. Perhaps, he had fought through hundreds of people just to get here.
He should be rejoicing, but his complexion distorted instead. Tk. He clutched at the floor hard enough to break his nails. Then, he opened his mouth painfully.
Seol Jihu was about to get up and take a look when he felt someone tugging at his clothes. Turning to the side, he saw Maria shaking her head.
“Don’t go near him.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s too late.”
When Seol Jihu turned back to the man, he became speechless. Tears of blood were falling from his bloodshot eyes.
“Healing his wounds is difficult enough…. But poison already spread through his organs. It will be better to send him off painlessly.”
She was implying that treating his wounds would only make him suffer longer from the poison.
Did he hear Maria? The man began to desperately flail his arms and legs.
“I… I finally managed to enter… the Banquet….”
He tried to push himself up, but he soon collapsed, as if he lost control of his limbs.
“I can’t… die here….”
His voice trembled.
“I need to… find the cure… and go back….”
His back curled up like the back of a shrimp.
Tears poured out of his eyes as if he was overcome with grief.
He cried for his mother for a long time before his eyes turned faint. Then at one point, he suddenly stopped talking and moving.
‘He died as soon as he came in….’
Seol Jihu rubbed his mouth to shake off the bitter taste inside. He wanted to help close his eyes, but he couldn’t since he might also get afflicted with the poison.
However, it seemed Seol Jihu wasn’t the only one feeling sympathy. Both the bob cut girl and the good-natured girl showed signs of pitying him.
Of course, there was also someone who was completely opposite.
Snake Eyes had her head dropped, her shoulders shaking from her snickering.
“Get a hold of this retard. Mom~ Mom~”
She sneered at him as if she found his dying words to be hilarious. Hearing this, Bob Cut furrowed her brows.
But Snake Eyes continued unfazed.
“I guess he got lucky and managed to get in with his terrible skills~ Well, it’s a good thing he died here.”
She snickered before raising her head and licking her lips.
“Though, fuck the idiot who did this. If you’re gonna kill him, make it clean! If you plaster poison all over his body, I can’t loot his shit!”
Judging by her words, she would have already looted his corpse clean if it wasn’t for the poison.
“What a shame~ What a shame~” Seeing Snake Eyes mutter to herself, Bob Cut finally opened her mouth.
But before she could say a word, the creak of a gear turning rang out. Then, a fierce rumbling swept through the room.
Seol Jihu, who had his butt halfway off the ground, had his attention stolen by the wall on the other side of the room. A part of the wall, about 2 meters tall and 1 meter wide, was protruding out of the white wall.
A door had appeared. In other words, Stage 1 must have begun.
“Looks like we needed eight people to leave the room.” Bob Cut spoke up. She cleared her throat before continuing, “Since a door appeared, I doubt we’ll be getting any more people…. How about it? Since we met here by a stroke of fate, why don’t we introduce ourselves and—”
Bob Cut couldn’t finish her sentence. It was because Straight Face, who was sitting on the floor the entire time, got up.
“O-Oh, you don’t have to stand up to do it.”
Bob said with a smile, but Straight Face ignored her completely. Seeing Straight Face reach her arm toward the door, Bob Cut blinked her eyes in a daze.
“Hello? The one with the silver armor?”
Kiik. The door opened. Straight Face immediately left the room.
Bob Cut was left standing there with her mouth agape. Snake Eyes must have found this funny as she snickered once again. And when Bob Cut frowned, she finally burst out laughing.
“Puhahaha! Can you get more obvious?”
“Listen, you retarded bitch. Do you think this is the Neutral Zone? Or do you think you’re at a college retreat?”
“N-No! I just—”
“What, you want us to tell you about our hobbies? Maybe we can even tell each other fun facts!”
Snake Eyes’ sharp criticism made Bob Cut tremble in place.
“Whatever. The five of you can make a campfire and do the cha-cha-cha for all I care.”
Bob Cut looked completely knocked out by Snake Eyes’ venomous expression and open ridicule.
“H-How can you say that?” In the end, she raised her voice with a dumbstruck look, but Straight Face and Snake Eyes were nowhere to be seen.
She rolled her eyes, looking for someone to agree with her sentiments, and the good-natured girl made a troubled smile. After a brief moment of silence, the good-natured girl quietly spoke up.
“Should we leave too…?”
Bob Cut’s lips twitched as if she still had things to say. But once other people began to stand up, she had no choice but to do the same. She had no reason to stay in this room, and she knew she had to chase after the two who had already left.
After all, they seemed to have the most expensive equipment out of the eight… no, seven. Straight Face’s armor looked even better than Seol Jihu’s.
“Mm… I don’t like where this is going.” Maria waited for the others to leave before muttering quietly, “Let’s follow them for now and go our own way if things aren’t looking good.”
“You want us to move separately?”
“Do as I say. My intuition has never been wrong. For some reason….” Maria blurred the end of her speech.
Seol Jihu neither agreed nor disagreed. Things weren’t going as he expected, but it didn’t seem like such a bad idea to see how things developed.
When he walked through the door, he found himself in another empty room. The size of the room was similar to the one he had just been in, but there was a door on each side of the wall.
‘So the rooms are connected.’
Seol Jihu wondered how this place was structured, but he shook off the thought forcefully. He had to first think about how to survive. After all, he had no clue what would happen from this moment on.
Straight Face was standing in the middle of the room. She seemed to be deep in thought, so even Bob Cut couldn’t say anything after catching up.
Soon, Straight Face raised her head and walked forward. The moment she threw open the door without hesitation…
Swish! A longspear hurled toward her.
Seol Jihu tried to throw his spear reflexively, but Straight Face acted even faster. Her hand instantly went to her waist, and a blue flash of light erupted.
Seol Jihu blinked once. When he opened his eyes, he saw a skull flying into the air and a headless skeleton collapsing onto the floor. Straight Face was standing in front of the door, just as expressionless as before.
Plunk! The skull rolled around on the ground. Seol Jihu stood astonished by her quickdraw.
That wasn’t all. Straight Face disappeared inside like the wind and cleaned up the rest of the skeletons roaming around the room.
Snake Eyes, who was watching leisurely, couldn’t hide her surprise and whistled.
“Damn~ You’ve got skills. What’s your name? I must have heard it at least one or twice.”
Of course, Straight Face still ignored everyone. Snake Eyes observed her closely before smirking and locking her fingers behind her head.
“In front of you~”
Straight Face stopped. Snake Eyes sniggered and continued, “There’s one stuck to the door.”
Straight Face looked forward before raising her sword. When Seol Jihu saw blue flames shooting out of her sword, he couldn’t hide his shock.
As someone who had learned Aura, he knew how hard it was to infuse one’s weapon with refined energy.
At last, Straight Face shot toward the door and stabbed her sword through.
Craaaack! Her sword cleanly pierced the door. When she turned her sword halfway and pulled out, the blade was dripping with thick blood.
When she opened the door, a black monster fell to its knees.
“See?” Snake Eyes giggled. Straight Face quietly walked forward.
Seol Jihu was standing in the back, admiring Straight Face’s swordsmanship, when he realized that she was fighting alone and went “Ah!”
Even though it looked like she didn’t really care…
‘I should help.’
Seol Jihu didn’t want a free ride. He raised his spear, thinking to support her at the very least. He walked up stealthily in case Straight Face looked back. It was then—
“Ooh~ Lookie here. Must be nice~ The only man in the group wants to help. How kind! How kind!”
Snake Eyes put a damper on things.
Straight Face was about to open the frontal door when she heard this comment and glanced back.
When Seol Jihu met her indifferent eyes, saliva pooled in his mouth. Just what kind of experiences had she gone through to be able to suppress her emotions so viciously?
Soon, Straight Face’s mouth opened, “I’d like you to not bother me.”
Her monotonous voice was a bit deep and hoarse for a woman.Previous Chapter Next Chapter