Chapter 32 - Day 7, 7th Floor Change
‘Citizen. How can I help you?’ That was the question that the golems always asked before they struck. Although I didn’t see it myself, most people would have either replied in Korean or ran away. Thus, they were recognized as ‘barbarians.’ This was a fact that I heard directly from the golems.
It was pandemonium as the golems started attacking people. A golem ignored the flames blowing from a staff and crushed the hand that held it. A woman shrieked. A man struck a golem’s leg with a hammer, causing the golem to pause for a moment. However, the man’s legs were destroyed by another golem.
Yoon Ji-hee’s order wasn’t to ‘kill’ but to ‘catch’ them. Indeed, the golems didn’t kill anybody. This was possible due to the overwhelming difference in power.
“... Oh my god.” Yang Su-jin watched with an expression of incredulity. She gazed at the mess, Yoon Ji-hee and then back towards me.
‘Excuse me. Oppa.’ Yang Su-jin spoke with her eyes. She nodded towards Yoon Ji-hee. There was slight unease on Yang Su-jin’s face. ‘That woman, isn’t she dangerous?’
Yoon Ji-hee was the only one who could control 200 golems. If she wanted to eat us then Yang Su-jin and I wouldn’t be able to escape death. Yang Su-jin was worried about it.
I just smiled and shook my head. I approached Yoon Ji-hee, raised a hand to her shoulder and instructed her in a soft voice. “When it is over, make them kneel down in that building. Have a few golems watch over them.” Over the last two days, my relationship with Yoon Ji-hee had changed a lot.
Was it a little strange to say there was a relationship? At least, her attitude towards me was definitely different. She didn’t have the timid attitude anymore. Instead of gazing elsewhere, she now looked into my eyes from time to time.
I didn’t tell her to do it, but she would occasionally come up to me to report on her learning or ask a question that seemed quite basic. Of course, her intentions in doing so were obvious.
‘Know me. Praise me more. Recognize me.’
No one had ever praised Yoon Ji-hee. Despite being the granddaughter of a chaebol, she was always treated as rabble. She always received praise from those ‘under’ her. She wouldn’t hear the praise of a person in that position.
Parents and grandparents. The prestigious teachers and her cousins all ignored her. She wanted to receive a compliment from them. Until an hour ago, I was her lifeline. Whether it was in reality or the dungeon, she was always overwhelmed.
The act itself was a calculation, but my words of praise were sincere. She wasn’t stupid, and she knew it as well. In addition, she knew that I knew it.
Yoon Ji-hee responded to my instructions. “Yes.” She nodded with a firm expression. In fact, she only spoke a few words because she was busy concentrating on her task.
It took less than 10 minutes to subdue the other group. A total of 31 people, including Yoon Sang-ah and Yoon Sang-min, were kneeling down in the building. There were originally 36 people, but some died due to unfortunate incidents.
“I’m sorry... I should have given my orders more carefully...”
“Don't blame yourself. This is good enough.” I counted the ratio of males and females. Out of 31 people, nine were females. There were 22 males. “I will eat the men. The females will be handed over to Ji-hee. I think that men and women will have talents that suit that their respective genders well.”
This was obvious to Yoon Ji-hee. Yoon Ji-hee nodded. She didn’t show any signs of resentment for being unfairly deprived. Rather, she was surprised at the share she was given.
Hrmm. I looked towards Yang Su-jin and smiled. "W-What?” She asked.
“Looking at this situation, Yang Su-jin didn’t do anything but...” In my case, there was a clear justification in eating more of the profits. “Still... Should there be some distribution to you? If Ji-hee is willing, then it would be good to divide your share with Su-jin.”
Yoon Ji-hee nodded a few times before I finished speaking. “Yes, I will.” It felt like it was her own decision, rather than her paying attention to my reaction... It wasn’t a bad thing.
Yang Su-jin approached me and whispered in a puzzled voice. “What is this?”
”Don’t you like it? She is giving it freely.”
“No...” Until one hour ago, Yoon Ji-hee was just excess baggage to Yang Su-jin. That excess baggage suddenly became the core of the seventh floor.
“Even though pride is important, it is useless in front of everything else.”
“Well, let’s split it in two.” His experience for Persuasion seemed to rise a little bit.
I didn’t intent to intervene directly but… “Don’t do this Unni! Please!” I looked back to see Yoon Sang-ah on her knees before Yoon Ji-hee. She was begging with a face full of tears and a runny nose. “I’ll apologize, huh? I really didn’t know what I was doing... I apologize for the whole thing.”
“T-that, we are still family! Yes? I really don’t want it to end here, I don’t want it. Unni, please... Please...” If she was an ordinary person, then it would already be too late. I would have yelled ‘bad girl!’ but Yoon Ji-hee just looked down with a miserable expression.
I approached her from behind. She turned to me. “That... How...?”
“If you want her to live then I will allow it.” I said, despite it being contrary to my thoughts.
“Still... Are you sure?”
“Like I said, didn’t I entrust the females to Yoon Ji-hee? The method of disposing of them is up to you.” Hope flashed through Yoon Sang-ah’s eyes. I continued speaking.
“But if I had to add my personal opinion, remember the words and actions that this person did to Ji-hee not long ago. Honestly, humans don’t change that much. Ji-hee’s mind will simply become easier. That is it. Of course, Ji-hee’s autonomy is what matters most. Unfortunately, I can’t insert my intentions.”
“I want you to make a choice that you can accept.” Yoon Ji-hee’s mood changed subtly. I said it. She had autonomy.
What choice would she make? There was no way to figure out what Yoon Ji-hee, who was timid, would choose. Moreover, her complicated relationship with her cousins made it hard to decide if she would kill them or not.
It wasn’t hesitation that filled her eyes now. She made a decision, so it was filled with the intent to act. She desperately made a decision. After coming to a conclusion, there was a slight chill in her eyes as she watched her cousin.
“D-Do you remember? The winter vacation in high school... W-what did you say to my friends who visited South Korea...?”
“I was immature at that time. Unni! You know. I seriously...”
Yoon Ji-hee slapped Yoon Sang-ah’s cheek. Tears flowed down from Yoon Ji-hee's eyes. She could barely speak properly as she let out all the things that had piled up in the meantime. It was just like the bullies commonly seen in dramas, or even worse.
I wasn’t the one who tapped on the shoulder of the agitated Yoon Ji-hee. It was Yang Su-jin. “Can I help?”
“A hit like that isn’t really good. Watch.”
There was no need for my intervention, so I turned away. I stood in front of one of the golems outside the building. Due to Yoon Ji-hee’s instructions, they recognized me as a civilized person. I wanted to try an experiment.
I picked up a broken sidewalk block and scratched some letters on it. I wasn’t sure with speaking or listening, but I was quite used to reading and writing.
I wrote the following words to the golem. “I can’t speak or listen. Would it be possible to talk in writing?”
I didn’t expect it, but the statue responded to the words! “That's right.” To my surprise, it used a slate as a notepad. The letters were small and neat like a person had written it.
“The monsters during the day, can you handle them?”
“Why haven’t you handled them so far? Because there are no citizens?”
“No. Even if it is an act to protect the citizens, we can’t move during the day without any instructions. This is because there is room to be exploited as a weapon.”
The purpose of this question was because I didn’t think the right method was to force the power from the golems. If the locusts could be eradicated, then the device would be able to receive pure sunlight after the building’s roof was opened.
“The locusts lay their eggs deep in rocks. So once a year, we receive orders to work.”
“From the citizens of this place?”
“... Where did they go?” It was a question of pure curiosity. Unlike the other questions, the golem took a long time to reply. It seemed like the machine was running through some difficult answers.
The moment that the golem was about to reply...
“Oppa.” I turned my head. Yoon Ji-hee and Yang Su-jin were covered with blood. “We have finished.”
I looked at Yoon Ji-hee. Was it due to the shock from the murder? She was shaking a little bit, but I didn’t see any pain or guilt on her face. There was only one thing she needed right now. “Well done. That was a difficult decision and you handled it very neatly. You have more determination than I thought.”
“This unni, she learns very fast.” I wouldn’t ask what Yoo Ji-hee had learned.
I told Yoon Ji-hee about my communication with the golem. I told her to instruct the golems to hunt the locusts once it was daytime. It was just a guess, but I felt like there was something more behind the eradication of the locusts.
I went back into the building in order to finish off my share. “Indeed.” The violent trail of the two women was still left behind. Compared to the other eight women who died quite painlessly, Yoon Sang-ah’s body... No, I wouldn’t say it.
I smelt urine from the 21 men still kneeling. “Don't worry. I don’t have any personal feelings towards you. If you place your head on the floor, I promise that I will try to finish this as painlessly as possible.”
Come to think of it, my words sounded quite bloody in its own way. However, I was becoming more and more used to killing inside the dungeon. My spirit was focused. The line in the dungeon and the line in reality… If I kept going on, I had to maintain these lines or else I would become a monster.
One by one, I killed them with as little pain as possible. I ignored the words that popped up, to the point of hurting my eyes, as I took 21 lives one by one. Although it wasn’t intended, the last person remaining was Yoon Sang-min.
“No... Strangely, I don’t really care.” He had a detached expression on his face. He would have seen his sister due in a dreadful manner. “Even if it wasn’t you, I think that I would eventually meet my end here. The world is wide.”
“A life without greed. That might be okay. As you said, it might be just right for a person like me.” There were tears in his eyes as he spoke. I understood it to a certain extent.
We were the same type of people, and there was no guarantee that anything positive could be gained from this. I knew it through experience. No matter how I tried to mentally heal myself, the bitterness echoed deep in my heart.
I wondered why I was here. Why couldn’t I go up higher?
I finished off Yoon Sang-min. From behind me, I could hear footsteps as Yoon Ji-hee and Yang Su-jin walked in. As I turned my head, I could see that the outside was already becoming brighter.
I needed to collect the items. Money and tickets. I looked at the two women to command them, but wasn’t able to say anything. It was because the two females were looking at me with expressions of severe shock.
I immediately looked behind me, but there was nothing. I could only see the corpses. “Why...?”
From my mouth, blood flowed down like a waterfall. It was my blood. Then I realized something: the blood was even flowing from my eyes and nose.
“Oppa!” It felt like something invisible was holding me as my bones and muscles twitched and twisted. My right arm stretched and bent at an impossible angle. Among my cracking skin, there was blood as well as a dark black liquid.
Yang Su-jin ran over and barely supported my collapsing body. “W-What do I do? Just hold on. Oppa. I...” Yang Su-jin’s voice and face became blurred. At that moment, the words that had continuously been updating suddenly became clear.
[Muscle strength: 20]
I barely opened my mouth, but my voice didn’t come out. My mouth was empty. I realized that it was because all my teeth were missing as I moved my tongue.
[Your physical abilities have exceeded the limits of modern human beings.]
[Constitution, aptitude and other variables are being calculated.]
[There is a probability correction due to the function of the unique talent - Atlas.]
[Probability of success: 42%]
What? What had a 42% probability of success? I didn’t consider myself that lucky. Finally, I read the last words that emerged.
[Physical Reconstruction Protocol - Metamorphosis begins.]