Chapter 1 Day 1, Entering the Dungeon.
Someone once proclaimed the truth of life: “Property and status aren’t important. For those who are faithful to reality, happiness will come naturally.” But, was that really true? I didn’t know who said it, but their way of thinking was way too arrogant. They were looking down on the existence of human beings.
Everyone wanted to become richer.
Everyone wanted to become more influential.
Everyone wanted to build up their power until the end.
Fly higher. Become better. They wanted to be more special!
Not just ‘men’ but ‘humans’ were born with desire, a dream.
But, no matter how they reached for their dreams, they couldn’t touch them. Money, family, problems of natural talent or social limitations all stopped them. Everyone succumbed to reality as their desires were trampled on.
Happiness didn’t follow people were were faithful to reality. They just learned how to suppress their desires and dreams. They deceived themselves. This was reality. Even those who were happy dreamt endlessly. They dreamt of becoming professional athletes, famous singers or actors in a virtual drama.
The freedom to feel desire was given to everyone, but it was unfortunate for some. The number of people likely to abandon reality rose. Perhaps it was their salvation.
Maybe it was the mercy of the gods looking down on Earth for entertainment.
That night at midnight. A hole opened in front of those filled with desire.
Chapter 1 - Day 1, Entering the Dungeon
The group presentation was successful. It didn’t feel that great, but it was a neat result with no specific problems. The demanding professor also complimented us.
"Somehow, I feel good!” A student pretended to be drunk on the sense of accomplishment, when in reality they had been missing for half the meetings. He used the excuse of ‘something came up’ every time, but when I looked at his public SNS account, he had gone out to play.
“Everybody worked hard, this is the result of your hard work!” The student wearing a baseball cap over his shaved hair imitated the leader.
The reason he could act so shamelessly was because he had made a huge difference. He knew there was a large gap. He didn’t want to be associated as a pleb and instead styled himself as a prince. As soon as he started investigating, he became a professional in materials research.
"I honestly was a little concerned... As a result, I’m glad we finished well."
Ah. Yes, you should have been worried.
This jerk was formidable. He was a guy who advertised ‘I am a cool person’ with his words and actions.
But no matter how I looked, he was just a person with a ‘cool sickness.’ (Korean slang for someone who thinks they’re really cool but they’re not). His powerpoint writing skills were only at the level of a second year middle school student. No matter how much he was asked to modify the powerpoint, he just ignored them with an expression like he was chewing on poo.
It wouldn’t be unusual if he became a thug.
This was the first time I had worked with him, but there was no sense in telling the professor about the problem. People who started a conflict by saying ‘You’re wrong!’ would receive a penalty. In the case of X, it was inevitable.
Anyway, I needed to perform well in front of the professor because my scholarship depended on this semester’s score. Being too emotional would just cause collateral damage. Thus, I didn’t do anything.
"Shall we go eat to celebrate? How about dinner?”
"I’ll pass. I have private tutoring.”
The three people stared blankly at me.
“Really? Then it can't be helped...”
“It's too bad.”
It felt like I they were glaring daggers at my back as I waved my hand and turned away. I didn’t think I could impersonate a genius. I was just tired and ready to go sleep.
I lived a very hard life. I used everything that was available to me.
My family wasn’t one that could be called poor. They had high expectations for their only son, but they couldn’t afford the tuition of a first-rate private school.
Rather than taking my parent’s suggestion of a 100% funded scholarship, I desperately sought alternatives.
The Ward Welfare Division. I searched various student foundations and entrance screening tests to find all the low-income assistance methods possible.
I asked a few high school juniors for examples of the college entrance exams and went to private tutoring during the winter break.
I managed to solve the admission fee and the cost of moving to Seoul. Of course, it was a strenuous achievement. I put in the effort to be as prepared as possible.
Not only did I get support for a low-income household, I also received a scholarship based on my grades and recommendations from teachers.
I also cared about human relationships, so I have a good relationship with most people. I networked as much as possible with seniors who had already graduated from computer engineering and found a part time job whenever there was a break.
When taking into consideration my age and family, I was very excellent in the group bracket I was in. I put aside my pride and used it as a driving force.
As I waited at the school bus stop to go home, a foreign car passed by me.
It was a stranger but I could see his face. He was around the same age as me, maybe a bit younger, possibly 20 years old.
I wasn’t envious. It was just frustrating. I had seen so often it in recent years.
The talent of money, the so called ‘wall’ that I couldn’t cross.
I stayed up all night with a few cups of coffee to solve algorithm problems with a few friends. I became more efficient.
I had friends who went out and earned a lot of money for the first 10 years after graduation and then returned home rich. I wanted to be like them. No, I wanted to surpass them.
Was that too greedy? Shouldn’t I concentrate on the present and focus on my current life?
As soon as I opened the door, I threw myself onto the bed. Today, there was no such thing as private tutoring. I just wanted to take a break. These days, it was difficult to endure the exhaustion I felt all the time. I closed my eyes.
It was midnight when I opened them again.
I rubbed my eyes and sat up. The clock on the wall showed that it was precisely midnight. However, I felt like I’d slept pretty well. I got up to go to the bathroom.
The moment that I took a step I faltered. There was nothing for my feet to touch on the ground.
I staggered and barely managed to throw myself back on the bed.
There was a hole in my floor.
It was rectangular and approximately 2 metres in length, but it wasn’t just an opening. There was a stone border and stone stairs leading down.
I stared at the floor for a while but the hole remained the same.
My next thought was that I should leave the house. However...
“W-what is this?”
I’d made my way to the front door, but it wouldn’t budge. The handle was stuck as though it had been glued in place. My remaining drowsiness disappeared as goose bumps formed.
I opened my phone to request help.
[The call is currently not available in this area...]
There was just a voice message stating I was out of range.
I re-entered my room to try and open the window. Just like the door, it didn’t move at all.
I desperately opened my mobile phone again but belatedly realized something that only raised my fear.
A few minutes had certainly passed since I woke to the hole. The clock on the wall was the same, the hour/minute/second hands were fixed at 12, not moving.
Was this a nightmare? My senses told me that wasn’t the answer. Even if this was a vivid dream, it gave off the feeling of reality. If this was a dream then I wouldn’t even be thinking about it.
[Lie down in bed or step on the stairs.]
I automatically swung a fist as letters appeared in front of my eyes, but my fist didn’t touch anything.
The letters were still floating in the air. That was all it said. I wondered if something else would pop out, but the words just stayed floating there.
Then I thought about the meaning of the words. Lie down in my bed? My head naturally turned and looked at the bed.
Then more letters showed up.
[As soon as you lie down, you will fall into a sleepy state. The hole will disappear. All your memories about the hole will be gone in the morning. The end.]
I wasn’t as surprised as the first time. Instead, after carefully reading the letters, I turned and stared at the hole.
I had seen letters above the bed. So it was only logical more might come up if I looked at the hole. I was correct.
[Day 1 of exploration will begin. It isn’t possible to leave the dungeon before the exploration of the 1st floor is completed or before you are eliminated.]
Dungeon? It was a word I had heard before. A word I knew from games and manhwa.
But if the words were true, why wouldn’t I lie down on my bed? I had no intention of stepping on the staircase. Not without knowing what was down there...
New words surfaced like they were answering my subconscious thoughts. That wasn’t the end.
[Explorer - Kim Hee-chul’s desire, this is a means to pursue the desires that can’t be achieved normally.]
If I was normal then I wouldn’t step on the unknown staircase.
But was it due to what I had been thinking recently? Was it because of the uncontrollable fatigue that reached its peak today? Whatever the reason, I took the words seriously.
And I took a step.
[Explorer - Kim Hee-chul. Enter.]
[Opening the dungeon’s 1st floor.]
The words surfaced in front of my eyes.
At the same time, something appeared over my head.
“What is this?”
At first glance, it was a red fluorescent light. A square bar of red light. Wait a minute.
Red bar? Above my head? I had seen this before... Perhaps…
Letters appeared in front of the bar.
[HP Bar. Displays the current health of the explorer.]
[Current Balance: 121/121]