Chapter 37 - Day 8, Special Gift
“I-I’m sorry I’m late.” She sat down in a hurry but Yoon Ji-hee’s face colour didn’t seem so bad.
"Your condition looks good.” I said as I ate the chicken ribs on the metal plate. Ah. Of course, I had to eat first. Maybe because she was 20 minutes late to the meeting, Yoon Ji-hee couldn’t meet my gaze.
"What happened was my grandfather...”
"Eat first.” I pointed to the metal plate. "Let’s finish the meal before talking.”
"Yes.” Like a young child being instructed by their parents, Yoon Ji-hee focused on eating straight away. She glanced at me occasionally, but didn’t speak until I had filled my stomach.
Once the plates were empty… “Yes. You mentioned it before. Ji-hee’s grandfather summoned everyone.”
Yoon Ji-hee nodded. As soon as he woke up in the morning, Chairman Yoon Sang-gyu summoned all his grandchildren. Two of the five people gathered there… Yoon Sang-ah and Yoon Sang-min had expressions like they didn’t know the situation.
"Your grandfather. What was his reaction?”
“There was a lot. He was very surprised. Grandfather was so shocked, something I’ve never seen before. He seemed a little angry and...” Of course, Yoon Ji-hee didn’t say that she killed them on the seventh floor. "The first thing he did was look at me.”
"He thought Ji-hee would be the first one eliminated.”
“Yes... Not just me, but he asked everyone to give a brief explanation of what happened on the seventh floor.” Yoon Sang-min and Yoon Sang-ah died while Yoon Ji-hee survived. For the people who couldn’t believe it, Yoon Ji-hee briefly explained the core of what had happened: she learned the language and took advantage of that to control the golems.
"Did he praise you?”
“... No. He was more focused on the fact that two people had been eliminated rather than...” Yoon Ji-hee had a grouchy expression on her face. She had probably been expecting a little bit of praise. She was ignored by her family, but she thought they would acknowledge her survival.
Although the failure of two grandchildren was tragic, it seemed like he still had no hope towards Yoon Ji-hee. It was just good luck that the knowledge she learned fit perfectly with the task. He didn’t think anything else. For me, it was a very good sign.
I wiped my hands and mouth with a napkin. Yoon Ji-hee raised her head. "People rely on their original impressions. It isn’t easy to change a negative evaluation. That bias is scary.”
I reached my hand over the table. My palm touched the back of Yoon Ji-hee’s hand, but there was nothing sexual about it.
"But I know. I was the one who saw the most benefits from what Ji-hee did. Frankly, my first impression of Ji-hee is completely different my impression of you now. I won’t protect Ji-hee. Ji-hee is a partner who maintains your own share, and you proved it perfectly on that floor.”
“...” Yoon Ji-hee remained silent. She blushed and shook her head.
No. She thought I was giving her too much praise. She deserved it, but didn’t seem to receive it from anyone other than me.
"Now. Tell me honestly.”
"Your grandfather’s surprised expression. Honestly, it didn’t feel that bad did it? That surprised expression when he saw Ji-hee’s face.”
“...” Yoon Ji-hee’s eyes moved upwards like she was recalling that scene. Then she nodded.
“How was it?”
“He was surprised because he underestimated Ji-hee. Isn’t that right?”
“How about those two people? Yoon Sang-ah and Yoon Sang-min?” Yoon Ji-hee suddenly burst out laughing.
“I-I'm sorry.” Yoon Ji-hee covered her mouth with a hand. “W-When they first entered the room... Grandfather asked Sang-min oppa about what happened last night. Sang-min oppa’s confused face... He said he broke up with his girlfriend... Then Grandfather’s expression...”
The effect of the joke was decreased due to the stutter, but I laughed like it was really funny. I didn’t know what talent it was, but managing my expression seemed to be 10 times easier than before.
“It’s just the beginning. You’ll have many surprises for your grandfather in the future. Well, was it just your grandfather?” The family that ignored her. All the people around her. “Try to remember. Like your grandfather’s expression, don’t you want to make other people have that expression?”
"Then create it. I will help you. Just follow my orders like you did yesterday.” Cooperate only with me. It was to prevent her from going ‘astray’ in the future. All the rest, except for me, were marked as targets to be overcome. “Ji-hee can do it. You have the skills and qualifications.”
“... Yes.” Yoon Ji-hee nodded with an impressed expression. I released Yoon Ji-hee’s hand.
“Now, there is this.” Yoon Ji-hee spoke.
Yoon Ji-hee pulled out a leather booklet. The 6th floor. It was the booklet with a handprint that the 2nd ranked boy dropped after dying. Despite my reading skills, I found it difficult to decipher, so I left it to Yoon Ji-hee. "I read it all. Then letters rose up... Look.”
She handed me a note. I read the words that Yoon Ji-hee had written.
[Seal: Gale Book. A book item. Rank C.]
[A book containing the basics of how to handle wind. The scroll is imprinted with three magic spells, Wind Armour, Wind Bullet and ‘Flap of Wings’. Anybody can learn it by touching their palm to the page.]
[Magic power will be forcibly awakened for those without it.]
[Learning Difficulty Level: With a magic aptitude of 11 or less, a ‘schizophrenia’ effect will always be applied. The penalty can be reduced according to the value of the ‘willpower’ and ‘mental resistance’ abilities.]
Indeed. It was now understandable to a certain extent why the 2nd ranked boy had acted like that. I had no ‘magic aptitude’ in my stats. In other words, this meant 10 or less. None of the talents I gained so far had raised this figure. Unless I had a magic aptitude of 11 or more, I couldn’t help but suffer schizophrenia.
"I can’t use this.” It wouldn’t hurt to have such a strong wind but it had no meaning if I became schizophrenic. My willpower was 15 points. My mental resistance increased with Pain Tolerance, but I hadn’t received a message that it exceeded 10 points yet. The default value was quite low.
There was no need to take the risk. If I kept it, then one day I would be able to use it.
"What is it?” I asked.
Yoon Ji-hee was smiling quietly as I passed the note back. She seemed to be a little shy, like she was expecting something. Was there something else that I could praise her for?
“Like this...” Like a traditional choreographer, Yoon Ji-hee slowly moved her hands. At that moment...
“Eh? Is the door open?”
“Where is this wind blowing from?” In the restaurant with a closed door, a cool wind was blowing. I looked at Yoon Ji-hee with amazement.
"Did you learn it?”
“Yes, that... This is ‘Flap of Wings.’ I can arbitrarily adjust the wind intensity or range.” No, wasn’t there a penalty?
"Magic aptitude, I’ve had it for a while... I didn’t know until the sixth floor... I thought it was somewhat useless...”
‘Please compliment me.’ Yoon Ji-hee smiled with such an expression. It was because I was so surprised that I stiffened for a moment.
[How come you only answer a phone call?]
"Should I have been replying?” As I spoke in a firm tone, Yang Su-jin was speechless for a moment. I had no intention of giving her the cold shoulder. Just...
Yang Su-jin: Oppa.What are you doing?
Yang Su-jin: I’m now in school ㅋㅋ ㅠㅠㅠㅠ
Yang Su-jin: Oppa.
Yang Su-jin: Oh.
Yang Su-jin: Pa!
Yang Su-jin: Pa!!
She bombarded me with Kakao talk messages every 30 minutes. (Kakao= Korean messaging app).
There was a limit to replying to each one. “Did you have nothing to do?”
[No, well... Call me if you don’t have anything to do. Well...]
"I am exercising.” I replied bluntly. I was at a closed sports park in the evening. I had sneaked over the fence.
I hadn’t been able to confirm my physical specs in detail on the seventh floor. For example, how fast could I run at a certain speed? I checked the endurance of my body by seeing if it could withstand a barrage of Ravenous Wolf Fist. So far, I hadn’t become Superman.
I was able to reach the top of the basketball goal with a high jump. The car navigator application that I downloaded from the app store told me that I ran 58km, the distance of the park, in an hour. After the run, I did 20 minutes of shadow boxing. Finally, I sat down to rest, but I had recovered within three minutes.
"If you don’t have anything to report, then I’m going to sleep. Today there is no staircase, so I will rest well.”
[No, I have something to report!]
I didn’t think it was very important.
[I met a crazy woman.]
[I was walking on the street when she spoke to me. She just suddenly asked if I went into the dungeon. She asked me that!]
I focused back on my cell phone. “Did you do anything that would make her say that?”
[I didn’t do anything. I was just on the way home from karaoke with my friends. She suddenly spoke to me in the middle of downtown.]
“So, what did you do?”
[That... In fact, I should’ve followed her but she was gone. I’m going home now on the subway and bus.]
20 minutes later, I met up with Yang Su-jin. It was a street without any people. I couldn’t sense anyone tailing her.
"This is a little exciting. It is the first time a man has walked me home.”
Instead of responding, I asked her. "What did that woman do?”
"Don’t you want to know what she said instead?”
"What did she say?" Yang Su-jin’s expression became strange at this question.
"I said she was a crazy woman... She laughed and wanted to cooperate with me. If we combined our strengths, then we could break through the dungeon without dying. She said this.”
"It is bullsh*t. I felt goosebumps and refused as soon as I heard it.” How did she know that Yang Su-jin entered the dungeon? Did she have the ability to detect a person? Maybe it wasn’t the ability to pick out who entered the dungeon, but rather, it identified the abilities of a person? “Then... It became really weird.”
“Nobody needs to be hurt. I tried to stop her talking such nonsense but... It was only for a moment, but it didn’t sound like bullsh*t.”
"Did you get hypnotized?”
“Eh?! I really don’t know! Then what if I did?” I just threw out the word but Yang Su-jin had an anxious expression on her face. "I don’t know if she looks bad, but it was strange. Her voice was very good. It was like... Like a mother, I felt that sense of peace? Honestly, if it wasn’t for Oppa then I might have followed her.”
Yang Su-jin shook as she spoke. "If it was hypnosis then a little jolt will solve it right? Can you go into an alley and beat me up?”
“... Don’t say such strange things.” If somebody heard then it would be a big deal. Once I saw Yang Su-jin’s response, a possibility other than hypnosis emerged.
"She might have developed a persuasion related talent.” I had changed people’s reactions and even intimidated Lee Sang-yoon today, despite having no evidence.
I leaned more towards physical abilities, but what if I was the opposite? It wouldn’t be impossible to manipulate people with words. “But even so, it should feel quite bad.”
“Yes... It really was weird. If they survive by joining forces, they might be able to turn this reality into a better place... It would be like Jesus.”
“... Certainly.” It seemed stupid at first glance. In a world like this, people were more likely to live in a harsh manner. But that woman caused even Yang Su-jin, who wasn’t a fool, to shake for a moment. She had enough eloquence to make a person change their minds. Or maybe she spoke sincerely... If so, she was a rare human being these days.
After leaving Yang Su-jin, I returned home and showered. Speaking of which, it had been seven days since I lay in my bed. While falling into the comfortable drowsiness, I felt a slight unrest. Was it due to the woman that Yang Su-jin met?
A woman with a great sense of purpose, who was gathering people to cooperate and change this reality. If she really existed, she was several times more dangerous than a liar who was a hypocrite. Either way, she was completely incompatible with me.
At least, inside the dungeon.
Well... It was unlikely she existed. There was ‘no such thing’ in reality.
I fell asleep.
It was a very sweet sleep.