Chapter 13. The World Becomes a Dungeon (6)
"Did you notice any difference between the wraiths on the 7th floor and 8th floor?"
"Mmm... the 8th floor wraiths were a bit stronger. Their defense seemed to be higher."
Unlike the wraiths on the 7th floor, the wraiths from the 8th floor didn't die in one hit. But noona didn't seem satisfied with my answer.
"You didn't feel anything else?"
"Anything else? Uh... oh, yeah."
There seemed to be ones that spit out something from their mouths. They were almost like goblins with their poisonous darts. Because I became temporarily paralyzed when they hit me, they were quite annoying to deal with. Without them, I could have reached the end of the 8th floor a few hours quicker.
"Do you think the 9th floor won't have wraiths like those?"
"What are you trying to say?"
Even though I asked, I knew what she was going to say. Just as I had expected, the shop noona shoved a strange object in front of my face and shouted.
"Here! This here is Spiritual Shield, something that can block the wraiths' ectoplasm arrows 100 times! It's only 5,000 gold! If you buy this, you might be able to break through the 9th floor in under 9 hours!"
"... Did you give me a quest just to sell me things?"
Noona clearly turned her eyes away at my inquiry. Then...
"But customer, you never come to the shop..."
"For over 3 years, no less! Not once! Do you know how much my performance has fallen during that time?"
"Why don't we help each other, customer? You make so much. It wouldn't hurt to spend some at the shop, would it?"
"But 5,000 gold is too much."
Since the exchange rate was 2,100 won, that would mean 10.5 million won. Now that I did the conversion in my mind, I really didn't want to buy it. I couldn't buy such a high price item on a whim...
"Without this, it probably will be impossible to break through the 9th floor in 9 hours. Ah, it's 8 hours, 57 minutes, and 58 seconds now."
"You're too meticulous with time!"
In the end, I reluctantly bought the Spiritual Shield. It was a sticker, and when I put it on the back of my hand, I felt an instant zap. The sticker then disappeared and the sticker mark seemed to be tattooed onto my hand.
I regretted it. It was a Pokemon sticker.
"Damn it, I have to quickly use these up...!"
If mother or father saw me with a Pokemon tattoo on my hand, they would no doubt look at me with strange eyes. I quickly rushed up to the 9th floor, leaving behind the shop noona cheering me on.
"Next time you buy it, I'll give you a 10 percent discount!"
"Like I will!"
I ran. Although my mana rose to over 1,000 after hitting level 9, I did not pay any attention to it. I only had 8 hours 55 minutes and 34 seconds left!
"Commence Exploration!" I shouted with a ringing voice.
Wraiths surged out from all directions. Just like shop noona said, there were more wraiths that shot out ectoplasm arrows. Although I doubted whether I needed to spend 10.5 million won to block them, I managed to leave the thought behind, believing that the quest reward would be much better.
[Quest Success] [Seeing you break through the 9th floor in 24 hours, the shop owner regrets making a bet. But a promise is a promise. She will give you a worthy reward.] [You received a system reward. You obtained 1 skill point. You can raise the level of a skill by 1.]
"You really succeeded."
"You really... succeeded..."
"Noona, your face."
Unable to take on shop noona, Loretta's depressed expression directly, I turned away. I was more concerned with this skill point. Raising a skill level, wasn't this an amazing reward? It seemed better to save it than to use it now.
Loretta seemed to have found her calm as she grabbed my hand and handed me a translucent circular object.
"Huu, a promise is a promise. Here is your reward."
[You received Soul Bomb x2.]
"They're Soul Bombs, customer."
Although I was thankful she talked to me nicely, her eyes were still dead. I thought about pointing this out, but I just chose to check the information on these Soul Bombs.
[Soul Bomb (Rare)
A magical tool created by a great sage who wields soul magic and Kaloha race's blacksmith, 'Hand of Creation.' When this magical tool is thrown and shock is applied, the 'Spiritual Burst' skill will be used, dealing fatal damage to all existences in soul form. It deals 500 ~ 5,000 damage to all souls in a 20 meter radius.]
"These are consumables!"
"That's why I gave you two!"
"So I can only use it twice!"
"Well, customer, would you like to make another bet?"
"It's breaking through the 10th floor, right? I don't even need to be told!"
To think she'd make use of her reward and make another bet! What a vicious woman!
"But there won't be a time limit this time."
"You can complete it whenever you want."
"... Let's hear it."
"Huhu, I've got him."
"Your inner thoughts are coming out, noona."
"The bet is simple. You have to defeat the 10th Floor Master, the Wraith Queen, by yourself!"
[A quest appeared!]
I hoped she didn't ask. Thinking about a racing girl in a miniskirt upon hearing 'wraith queen' only proved that I was a man.
"Will you accept the challenge?"
Loretta looked at me provokingly. I smirked and answered.
"I will. Something like that will be no challenge for me."
[You accepted the quest.]
"Oh, how bold for someone who stayed on the 5th floor for three and a half years."
"I ended up defeating the Orc Lord alone, so..."
"... You didn't know?"
In an instant, Loretta's face turned pale and froze. Then, she suddenly grabbed onto my arm. She looked like she was about to cry.
"Let... let me take that back."
"The die is cast."
"T-Then let me add a time limit."
"A girl's words carry the weight of a thousand gold."
"There's no such saying!"
"Visiting the doctor after death."
"Agh, you evil customer! At least buy more Spiritual Shields!"
"The one I've got still has 72 uses left, so I'm good."
"Ah, really! You're evil!"
Just like that, I accepted my second quest. Mm, it seemed like I was forgetting something... must just be my imagination. Yep, just my imagination.
The 10th Floor Master, Wraith Queen. It was accompanied by 50 wraiths, and used fear magic, confusion magic, and ectoplasm arrows to torment dungeon explorers facing it. However, it had a clear weakness. It was that its HP was much lower compared to the Orc Lord.
Loretta was also selling items that blocked fear and confusion magic. These items that only blocked the Wraith Queen's magic for 5 minutes were 5,000 gold a piece. According to Ellos, dungeon explorers who challenged the Wraith Queen suffered under her insatiable desire to devour money.
"I still won't buy them."
"Why!? With them, it's impossible to beat it alone!"
"I'm not trying to beat it alone for now."
Priest-type explorers knew spells that could cleanse the fear or confused status effect. Rather than challenging it alone from the beginning, I chose to enter a party and experience a boss raid.
In this chaotic time when mutant life forms were appearing on Earth, being unable to enter the dungeon for a week meant my time stopped flowing. Even if I hunted the mutant life forms, not only would my level not rise, I would risk exposing myself as an ability user. As such, the only place I could train was in the dungeon.
I had no plan of ever being kicked out of the dungeon again.
"Take good care of me. I'm Kang Shin from Earth."
"Earth? Are you... that Kang Shin?"
"Yep, I'm that Kang Shin."
"No way, the Crown Prince has advanced to the 10th floor!"
"What? It's really the Crown Prince?"
"Whoa, the Crown Prince is in our party!"
Amazing. I had just entered a random party, but it seemed everyone knew who I was. I wonder how the rumor spread.
"This is my first time fighting the Wraith Queen. I might get in your way."
"You'll be more than enough help just by clearing all the wraiths. The priestesses can take care of the rest."
"Leave it to us!"
There were three priestesses in this party. Oddly enough, there were no priests. Although the priestesses were beautiful, they were ugly compared to my beautiful Yua. Just as I was thinking this, one of them talked to me.
"Crown Prince-nim, do you perhaps know her highness?"
I was about to say, 'Crown Prince is my nickname. By her highness, do you mean Yua?' her serious eyes stopped me.
"I mean Ehuir Empire's crown princess, her highness Palludia Gren Ehuir! I heard you partied with her previously!"
"Eh, Palludia? Yeah, I know her, but... crown princess?"
When I told the priestess that this was the first time I've been told about it, she gave me a dumbfounded look.
"You mean you couldn't tell from her graceful and beautiful appearance?"
"Graceful? She was just a noisy brat..."
'Ah, whoops...' Just like that, I had to spend the next 5 minutes hearing about Palludia's beauty. Why did I have to go through such an unreasonable treatment? What part of that flat-chested twin-tail was so beautiful? Of course, I didn't say anything out loud.
"You understand how beautiful and splendid Palludia-nim is now? She is the rising morning star of our continent, the ever-burning flame of hope, a flower that must not fight against the demon kind!"
"Alright, alright, I understand, so let's just go hunt the Wraith Queen."
"By your half hearted response, it look like you didn't understand in the slightest! I'll tell you one more time, so wipe your ears clean and listen!"
My ears were very clean, thank you very much. In fact, hearing more about Palludia would only make my ear go... wait. Palludia? Come to think of it, yesterday...
"Kyaa! You surprised me!"
When I screamed, the shocked priestess fell on the ground. However, I wasn't in a position to pay attention to her.
"Oh no, I ignored Palludia's messages."
That noisy girl wasn't the type to stay silent after having her messages ignored. With my rising fear, I began to sweat. Now that things had come to this, should I keep ignoring her? No, I couldn't avoid her forever. Eventually, I would meet her again in the dungeon. Plus, ignoring her would be too rude. Although she wasn't likable, she wasn't detestable either...
'Alright, I'll contact her as soon as the Wraith Queen raid ends.' Making a vow, I spoke to the party members.
"Let's hurry and do this!"
... Although I made an enemy in an unexpected way, I chose to ignore it.
Not paying any attention to the burning gaze behind me, I opened the door to what was a haunted house.
1. 'Wraith' and 'Race' are homophones in Korean