Chapter 16: Trial of Competition (5)
To Lee Sunghoon, the tower meant a fresh start.
Compared to the promising novice he once was, the current Lee Sunghoon was a bird with a broken wing.
While the others were facing reality, Lee Sunghoon always looked to the past.
With a high-rank innate ability, even aiming to be an A-rank hunter wasn’t a pipe dream.
That was the peak of Lee Sunghoon’s mediocre life.
But that was a story from a couple of months ago.
He had stopped progressing after reaching the D-rank.
Of course, even a D-rank hunter earned much more than an average person but…
He’d lost all of the perks that came with being a sought-after newbie.
The rare mana resistance innate ability had amazing synergy with close combat.
However, Lee Sunghoon’s lack of talent for battle was his downfall.
Then one day, a strange hologram invited him to the tower.
「 ‘Tower of Trials’ has selected all suitable candidates from Earth.
「 Please select your difficulty.
Getting through the trials after all of your abilities had been reset.
Although he liked that everyone else’s abilities were reset as well, his favorite part was the rewards.
The rare innate ability combined with the resources the tower provided?
With those, he could get stronger than he ever was outside the tower.
Then after reaching 5th, no, the 8th floor, he could return to Earth safely.
The hard difficulty was strenuous, but the rewards were worth it.
When they said the 4th trial’s objective was competition, he didn’t think there would be anyone who could surpass him.
Lee Sunghoon sank his teeth into his lips as he stared at the man in front of him.
Fear, anger, embarrassment…
A whole mix of emotions swirled inside him.
You’re just a trainee…!’
Contrary to his internal turmoil, Lee Sunghoon couldn’t act on anything.
It was obvious.
Unlike him, who struggled to deal with just 2 goblins, the man in front of him killed 8.
All without getting any support from Lee Hayeon in the back.
It crushed them with pure physical superiority.
Those armed goblins were at least E-ranked and at most D-ranked.
This man just told him that he’d kill him before finishing the trial unless he faced reality.
“Hopefully we can work well together for the rest of the trial.”
Lee Sunghoon may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but he wasn’t an idiot.
The more stubborn he was, the more he stood to lose.
He also couldn’t ask Lee Hayeon for any help.
She wasn’t really on anyone’s side.
Lee Hayeon was currently standing back and just looking at the two men back and forth.
It was clear that her non-partisan stance wouldn’t play favorably to Lee Sunghoon.
Lee Sunghoon wouldn’t waste their time any longer.
He closed his mouth and stayed back.
‘Well, he probably didn’t have much to say against that.’
That was the only reason I didn’t talk back to him in the beginning.
I thought he might act out if he had a big enough ego but…
‘I’m glad he’s not that stupid.’
In a timed trial, more conflict meant more time wasted.
Especially if that trial had your life on the line.
He probably also realized that this was a waste of time when he backed off.
It also wouldn’t make any logical sense for him to stand up against me after seeing our differences.
Now that I was the unofficial leader of the team, it was time to put it to use.
“I’ll go out and take care of the monsters, so just protect Lee Hayeon.”
He reluctantly opened his mouth.
He had a disrespectful tone as if it was his ego’s final stand.
It didn’t matter though.
I’d probably never see him again after this trial.
It shouldn’t be too hard.
And Miss Lee Hayeon…”
“You don’t have to be so formal.”
All you have to do is tell us where to go and support us from the back.”
I’ll resume examining the area.”
Hmm, I didn’t expect Lee Hayeon to be nervous as well.
It might be the fact that I just threatened to kill Lee Sunghoon.
Well, they’re probably only cooperating because I didn’t actually kill him.
They were at least warier of me now.
‘I didn’t mean to be so forceful.’
It left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.
Although I didn’t regret anything I did.
If I kept dealing with his shit, it would have gotten out of hand fast.
We didn’t know where the other team was, but they probably weren’t having as much trouble as Lee Sunghoon.
We would have been at a disadvantage if I left him in charge.
At this point, Lee Hayeon raised her hand in a direction and spoke softly.
“I just used my ability and I think the boss is near the center of the city.”
“…You already found out where the boss is?”
“I think so.
The goblin king is currently at the center of the citadel.
As are all of the other bosses.”
“Do you think we could cross paths with any of the teams going for other bosses?”
“Hm, the bosses are all far enough apart that that shouldn’t happen.”
That meant any other challengers we see would be the competing team.
The tower always gave the trials and rewards in the most intuitive way, and this wasn’t an exception.
‘They want you to kill all monsters and challengers you run into.’
So simple even Lee Sunghoon could understand it.
“Can you figure out where the other challengers are?”
“My innate ability isn’t developed enough to detect other people.
I also don’t have enough mana for it.”
“Then it wouldn’t be possible to avoid them on our way to the goblin king.”
“Yeah… At least with my ability”
Lee Hayeon’s face darkened as she started to realize that murder was unavoidable.
Lee Sunghoon didn’t seem any more nervous than he already was.
It wasn’t a normal response.
I didn’t know what he did before he came to the tower, but he might have had some experience with manslaughter.
There have been reports that some dungeon feuds end up in death.
The law couldn’t do anything about whatever happened in the dungeon.
If I was correct, I had to stay wary of him.
‘He might stab me in the back.’
On the other hand, there was little to no chance that Lee Hayeon would turn against me.
She didn’t have much combat potential and didn’t seem to like Sunghoon very much.
She wouldn’t betray me if she wanted to stay alive.
「 The inner city monsters have started mobilizing.
「 Please kill the trial’s target quickly.
The system seemed to tell us that it wouldn’t wait any longer.
It was time to act.
I wanted to avoid murder to the best of my ability, but I wasn’t counting on it.
If it came to it, I would have to kill with my own two hands.
“Let’s get moving then.”
But there were some things I had to take care of.
“Let’s get in formation and…?”
Lee Hayeon stared at me in confusion while I was in mid-sentence.
People normally don’t walk up to goblin corpses.
“Uh, if you’re trying to collect their cores, you won’t be able to find any in the tower’s monsters.”
She informed me while still looking puzzled.
It wasn’t something I knew but I wasn’t looking to find their cores.
If I can’t leave the tower, the cores wouldn’t be particularly useful anyway.
“Give me a second.
There’s something I gotta do.”
「 You have absorbed the souls of the goblin rangers.
「 Number of souls in possession – 8/15 」
「 Proficiency increased by 11% 」
Pretending to scalp the knives from the corpses, I absorbed all their souls.
I wasn’t able to absorb the two that Lee Sunghoon killed but…
‘It would be stranger if I could absorb the souls of the monsters that I didn’t kill.’
I guess that’s just how it was.
「 Acquiring one of the goblin ranger’s skills.
「 Permanently increasing your stats using the soul.
「 Strength increased by 3.
「 Agility increased by 4.
「 Stamina increased by 2.
「 Tenacity increased by 7.
‘The skill absorption seems to work pretty well when there are multiple monsters.’
「 Acquiring ‘Ranger’s Knowledge (F)’ 」
It didn’t strike me as something too useful but…
A skill’s a skill.
It should be useful, no matter how low the rank was.
「 Skill – Ranger’s Knowledge (F) 」
「 Proficiency – 0% 」
「 Effect – Gain a greater perception and more easily notice those who approach you.
It was a simple skill, but it had a lot of uses.
I didn’t know what it meant to notice those who approach me, but I could definitely see the difference in my perception.
‘Is this what it means to have a greater perception?’
All the objects in my line of sight were clear and in focus.
Good thing it wasn’t one of those skills that required some time to get used to.
I picked up the backup knife one of the goblins had on their waist and handed it to Lee Hayeon.
The quality isn’t all that great but you can at least use it as a throwing knife.”
“Ah… Thank you, but it would probably be more useful in your hands.
I’m not very good at throwing anything.”
“No, I can’t throw either.
Plus, I have no need for it.
You might need it while you’re fighting next to Lee Sunghoon.”
I was essentially telling her to hold on to it in case she needed to protect herself.
She didn’t resist any further and took the knife.
I’ll try my best to make use of it.”
It’s not even mine.”
Well, technically I won it in battle, but it’s better to keep it like this.
A supporting mage was an important position.
If she died, things would no doubt get worse.
Plus, she tried to help me with Lee Sunghoon a moment ago.
Besides, I could always just use the knife I bought from the store if I needed to.
“Well let’s get going.”
It was time to finish the trial.
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