Chapter 21 - Day 6, 6th Floor Leading Figure
The stairs continued to disappear.
Once half the staircase disappeared, the peak started to shake. Of course, at that point we had already gone down the stairs. "They’re looking at us.” Like Yang Su-jin said, the people from the other staircase were looking at our group. I had a gut feeling about the circumstances. We had arrived at the peak almost simultaneously.
"What’s your name? I’m Han Sang-ho, 35 years old.” A considerably large man came out as a representative of the seven of them with an axe on his shoulder. I hadn’t seen any of their faces on the 5th floor. Were they gathered from ‘another’ 5th floor? Maybe there was a balance.
"You look young, approximately 20 years old?”
"What rank were you on the 5th floor?” It was a very natural transition.
“...” A slight hesitation was seen. Then a dubious expression crossed Han Sang-ho’s face. He studied me with a smile and shrugged. “I suppose it doesn’t matter. I was fourth. Well, that isn’t important. Have you thought of a way to break through that?” Han Sang-ho pointed to the stairs going down.
"It is impossible to get through without sacrificing at least one person. So I have a suggestion for you.”
Han Sang-ho turned and pointed to his companions. I could guess before even hearing it. Two of the six people. One was a pale teenage boy and the other a frightened girl. "There is no guarantee that we won’t encounter other people at the end. Furthermore, they might be ‘people like us,’ so isn’t it better to leave the stronger people to the end?”
He had selected scapegoats. That was Han Sang-ho’s main point. “I will pick three people and you should also pick some from your side. How about it, isn’t it a decent offer? There is no need for useless conflicts. Let’s go peacefully. Huh?”
Han Sang-ho placed the axe on the ground and extended a burly arm. I took his hand. “Okay. Let’s be friends.”
Han Sang-ho grinned. At the same time, Han Sang-ho poured strength into his arm. A tremendous pressure tried to crush my hand. His eyes showed that he was looking forward to my screams. He was confident in strength. This was his plan. He didn’t believe that I was first place and decided to act.
If I was my original self then it would’ve hurt. However, now I didn’t feel any pain.
[Muscle strength has exceeded the limit.]
[Muscle strength: Fourteen.]
It wasn’t the sound of my joints but the sound of Han Sang-ho’s bones breaking. It was very clear who the one groaning was: they was coming from Han Sang-ho’s mouth. “... Uck!”
He frowned and flinched, “Hah... This is a little...” Then his face distorted and his upper body shook. Han Sang-ho felt himself weakening. “Hey... S-stop."
“...” I kept using my strength. He was the one who wanted to suppress me with strength in the first place.
"This is crazy! Stop...!" Saliva fell from Han Sang-ho’s mouth as his face turned red. He diverted his strength into his opposite hand that reached down and grabbed the axe, but my other hand also wasn’t empty. I threw the bottle I was holding into Han Sang-ho’s face. "Ack!"
I grabbed Han Sang-ho at the groin area and picked him up, then walked towards the end of the peak. No one was able to stop me. Han Sang-ho couldn’t even swing his axe, let alone the people behind me. There was a scream as Han Sang-ho was thrown in the air.
A leech rose from the darkness to snatch him before disappearing. Within a few seconds, the leech couldn’t be seen in the darkness anymore. The overall level wouldn’t be reduced just by losing one person. A handful needed to be missing before it fell apart.
I needed to make sure that no one tried to push me down the stairs.
I turned around, but everyone was stiff. Of course, there were seven of us and six of them.
"You just, Sang-ho hyung-nim...”
"Did you know him? Sorry. He was talking nonsense.”
"Does that make sense? You son of a bitch!”
"Don’t be like that.” I laughed. Then I pointed to the man complaining. "You are number two?"
“What?” I raised a fist.
“...!” The number two took out a stick. But...
“Eh?” His forearm was cut off before he could swing it. A strike from the side. It was from Kim Ha-jong’s sword. They became familiar with something as we descended the stairs.
I focused on the opponent while moving my left hand. When I created a specific shape with my fingers, they had to do the corresponding action. Immediately after throwing Han Sang-ho, I had spread out the index finger and thumb of my left hand. In other words, strike the opponent.
Under normal conditions, people would hesitate to attack even if there was a signal. So I had made the situation easier. I got rid of Han Sang-ho and picked a second person with my taunts. This was enough to create an opportunity.
[The level of a talent has risen.]
[Leadership Lv 3 2/400.]
[Eloquence has exceeded the limit.]
[Charisma has exceeded the limit.]
"Be careful not to kill him. As soon as he loses his breath, another person will be a substitute.” The feedback was clear. I wouldn’t weaken the opponent for no reason. It was a one-sided game. After getting rid of the leader and a second person, the rest became unable to think about fighting back.
Peace? Han Sang-ho’s words were foolish. I laughed just thinking about it. Peace was a long distance away... Although it seemed to be a rough solution to this floor, it wasn’t a reliable solution.
The leeches didn’t just bite, but slowly squeezed out the blood of a person. It would almost certainly be painful. The idea of having scapegoats wasn’t bad. However, everyone was at risk of being thrown except the leader and one or two other people.
There would be no unity. Of course, some people might follow the leader but that was because of fear. This floor needed unity. It was a device that bound seven people together, but only temporarily. If it was seven against seven then the situation wouldn’t have changed. After all, I had already branded three people who I could throw away.
Six desperate faces bowed down, kneeling on the ground. Kim Ha-jong stood in front of them like an executioner and asked. “Hyung-nim. Should we throw them all?”
“Uh, you are older than me... Didn’t you know? Haha.” Kim Ha-jong awkwardly scratched his head. His original nature was very fussy but it felt like he had gradually relaxed.
"If you feel uncomfortable...”
“Do what you like.” It wouldn’t make a difference. No matter how outwardly submissive he seemed, I would only trust him when it was convenient.
"Do you think that makes sense?” Yang Su-jin's sharp voice rang out. She was confronting Lee Min-ju and Lee Sang-hoon.
"What's the problem? I already told you that I will do my brother’s share.”
"So he is just going to stay still? Everybody is risking their lives but what is he doing? Just sucking on his fingers.” It wasn’t hard to find the cause of the fight. In the fight against the lizardmen, Yang Su-jin had participated using the launcher. However, Lee Sang-hoon had just stayed in the background.
"Hey, I’m talking to you! Don’t you dare avoid my gaze!”
“...” But Lee Sang-hoon didn’t raise his eyes to the end. Yang Su-jin and Lee Min-ju simultaneously turned towards me. One side wanted punishment. The other wanted me to intervene.
"It can’t be helped if he can’t contribute due to a lack of ability.’
But… "But that doesn’t mean that he can do nothing. Is this the second time? There will be no third time.”
I pointed at the cliff with my thumb.
"If you do nothing the next time we encounter something, I will treat you as the very first volunteer if I need a scapegoat.”
“T-that...! You obviously promised me...”
"Doing the share of two people. Isn’t that what you proposed? Can you be confident that you can do the share of two people with all these members?”
“... Well, his words aren’t wrong.” Kim Ha-jong offered his opinion. Kwak Yu-han was just watching silently. It wasn’t the time to be overcome by emotions. Lee Min-ju had no justification. There was already a certain level of group consciousness.
As the sense of belonging grew, the hostility towards those who got a free ride would grow stronger. The next time... At that time, Lee Sang-hoon would have to demonstrate his skills. Then I would be certain. The evidence pointed to him being the second ranked.
I asked the six who were kneeling down. "From the right. Tell me your rank.”
"144." So far, the answers were all high numbers.
"25. I-I will do whatever you say. S-spare me.”
“12.” Compared to the first three, the rankers seemed to have some confidence. They believed that they wouldn’t be the first to die. I would keep them alive for as long as possible in order to take their talents.
That’s what they thought, but… "Start heading down. Go in the order of the strongest ranked first.”
“Huh? In order of the ranking? Not the reverse? "
“Yes.” The involved people couldn’t believe it.
"No, wait a minute. Why are we going first? Why...?”
“Be quiet. I don’t want to kill you.” It wasn’t just about going down the stairs. They were captured prisoners, so I needed to notice any irregularities that occurred. The atmosphere made them all agree without hesitation.
“Yoo Su-jeong. Kwak Yu-han. Kim Ha-jong, take the lead with the three strongest ones. After that will be Lee Min-ju and Lee Sang-hoon. Yang Su-jin. I will be next. The three lower ranked will be between me and Yang Su-jin.”
Then I spoke to the three lower ranked.
"You will be put in the back of the line. Still, that doesn’t mean you are safe from the leeches. If you don’t want to be food for a leech, then don’t rebel.”
There will still several things I wanted from the six captured people. I wanted to make them spit out some items. However, the collapse of this peak was near. I finally stepped on the stairs.
Then I muttered in a low voice. "Yoon Ji-hee."
Rank 156 was the lowest ranked person. The woman walking in front of me flinched. "Keep walking. Don’t show any signs. Just look in front of you. Listen to my words.”
“... Do you know me?”
"We go to the same school.” However, it was different. She was in business administration. A junior one year younger than me. She didn’t know me, but I knew her. "You don’t want to die here.”
"I will allow you to survive this floor. However, it depends on whether or not you want to cooperate with me on the next floor.” At the moment, a moan emerged from her mouth. Joy? Relief? There was a sound, no matter how quiet she tried to make it.
"I-I'm sorry. I... What do I have to do?”
"Think as much as possible. Until we escape from this floor."
“...” The people in front stopped as they reached the darkness.
"The conversation ends here. Don’t talk now.” Kwak Yu-han threw off the number two person at the front of the line. The sight of the leech in front of their eyes was overwhelming. Ahead of me, Yoon Ji-hee was almost crying. I never imagined that Yoon Ji-hee would be a crybaby, but it didn’t matter.
Unless she had a lack of imagination, she should be able to understand what she could do for me. She wasn’t very famous in school, but I had heard about her from a senior. She was the granddaughter of Yoon Sang-gyu, chairman of the UZ Group. Perhaps that was as valuable as this dungeon itself.