Chapter 16. Dungeon Explores Can Awaken Too? (2)
I first decided to hunt the Wraith Queen with 10 party members. If I succeeded without anyone dying, I would reduce the number to nine, then eight, and so on until I could defeat it alone.
"Our party leader's level 15."
"Why did he come back to the 10th floor?"
"There are people like them from time to time. You know, the equipment set the boss drops. They want to collect them."
"Eh, it's impossible to collect them all though."
"Shh, just leave him be."
Of course, I planned to do that as well. Well, perhaps it wasn't really a plan, since I knew they would naturally fall into my hands as I collected Soul Tempering Elixirs. Without answering the party members' questions, I opened the door where the Wraith Queen was waiting.
"Human, live humans!"
"Everyone go in! Two tankers hold her off! Damage dealers, get in position! Tempest!"
As I gave out orders, I blew away the group of wraiths flying toward us with Tempest. With half of the wraiths suddenly gone, the remaining wraiths panicked and flew around in circles. At the same time, the Wraith Queen started her summoning gesture. Seeing my party members' dumbfounded expressions, I smirked and commanded, "The Wraith Queen is in her summoning gesture! Everyone attack!"
After two months, I successfully changed from the Crown Prince of 5F to the Crown Prince of 10F.
"No way, this is Crown Prince-nim's party!"
"Crown Prince-nim, how many are you accepting into your party today?"
Three blonde beauties teleported in front of me. Because I had partied with all kinds of people from other worlds, I was no longer fazed by average people like them.
Kang Shin, you grew up! To think a day would come where you could call such eye-catching beauties average.
"It will be just us four."
"... But you didn't ask what our classes were yet."
"One of you is a healer, right?"
"Right. How did you know?"
"I've found that parties of three or more always have a healer in them."
I gave a quick reply and checked my equipment. I had consumed 53 Soul Tempering Elixirs so far, and had raised my magic and charm stats by 9 each. The Muscle, Bone, and Skin Compressing Elixirs all stopped having any effect after raising 10 of their respective stats, so I safely assumed it would be the same for the Soul Tempering Elixir. In other words, once I raised my magic and charm by one more stat point, I would be done with Soul Tempering Elixirs.
On the seven times when the Soul Tempering Pill did not drop, I picked up the Wraith Queen equipment for six of them and a Middle Potion for one. I now possessed Wraith Queen's Headdress, Wraith Queen's Black Jacket, Wraith Queen's White Pants, Wraith Queen's Silk Gloves, Wraith Queen's Ghost Shoes, and Wraith Queen's Leather Whip.
The Wraith Queen's equipment were made of lightweight fabric, but because I didn't know what skill they came with, I decided to collect them all. That said, I couldn't get myself to like the Wraith Queen's weapon, a whip.
"The grind is almost over."
"Eh? Over? You're leaving the 10th floor?"
"Ah, I'll still be around for a little while, but I'll eventually have to go to the 15th floor."
"Wow, as expected of Crown Prince."
"Alright then, let's head inside."
The Wraith Queen was much easier to hunt than the Orc Lord. At least, I thought so. The reason was simple. The minions could all be blown away in one hit, and the ectoplasm arrows the boss shot out crazily could be blocked easily with Spiritual Shields. Most importantly, the Wraith Queen's special skill, which drove countless dungeon explorers to despair, could be blocked by my Orc Lord's Warcry.
I simply had to use my skills properly and beat on the Wraith Queen. In the past, when the Orc Lord used Warcry, I felt like I was barely hanging on at the edge of death. In contrast, the Wraith Queen fights had become so easy that I even yawned in the middle.
In truth, I already had full confidence to defeat the Wraith Queen by myself. The only reason I had not done so was that I was still looking for more Soul Tempering Elixirs.
Most important was the fact that I was level 15. Setting aside the fact that I was strengthened by Muscle, Bone, and Skin Compressing Elixirs, there was a huge difference in challenging the first Floor Master at level 5 versus challenging the second Floor Master at level 15. Additionally, I had grown exceedingly used to boss fights from over 3 years of grinding the Orc Lord Floor Master.
The only reason I needed a healer in the party was to ensure other party members would survive. Among dungeon explorers, there were some who stayed on the same floor for several years due to their lack of ability. While I was at it, I wanted to help them safely advance to the next floor.
In RPGs, you gained experience points and leveled up whenever you killed monsters. However, it wasn't so easy in the dungeon. To level up, you had to prove your qualifications by conquering dungeon floors or by defeating floor masters.
You did not get stronger by leveling up. Proving your strength was what allowed you to level up. As such, the strong only got stronger and the weak remained weak.
In the beginning, I was last out of some 140,000 dungeon explorers. Now, I was in the top 100,000. In other words, there were 40,000 people who could not advance past the 15th floor. Of course, this number included people in Second, Third, and Fourth Dungeons. That said, as I was in the First Dungeon, it was safe to assume none of these 40,000 people were stronger than me.
Of the 5 dungeon explorers on Earth, I was now ranked 3rd. Father was still lower leveled than me, and there seemed to be someone else at a lower level. Although I was curious who the 1st ranked dungeon explorer was, because I couldn't do anything about it, I decided not to concern myself with them for now.
Why was I talking about this? To prove my point that this dungeon placed great emphasis on strength.
Having defeated the Wraith Queen in under 10 minutes, the three blonde beauties had entirely different expressions.
"Crown Prince-nim... you really are incredibly strong."
"Gulp... Um, Crown Prince-nim."
As I was about to look through the reward list, my head turned toward the three beauties.
"Starting from the 11th floor, you know you can party with people from other continents, right? ... Would you like to continue partying with us?"
"That's right, Crown Prince-nim. I don't usually say this, but if it's you, I would be happy to..."
Temptation like this was something I had not received on the 5th Floor Master fights. It was likely because they had not yet learned the dungeon's charm or the importance of having a strong party member. Starting from the 11th floor, however, it became possible to party with people from other continents. It was natural that people would want to recruit strong people into their parties.
Climbing the dungeon made one stronger. Borrowing others' strengths to do so wouldn't change that fact.
In truth, it was incredibly foolish. If people focused solely on leveling up, they would undoubtedly neglect to improve their skills. In the end, they would have no choice but to bow down somewhere in the dungeon.
However, these women weren't thinking about such things as they offered me tempting looks. One even used the excuse of fixing my clothes to whisper, 'I wouldn't mind offering you my body if you entered our party.'
It wasn't the first time this happened. Even parties that were complete with five people offered to kick someone out to recruit me. My response was always the same.
"Sorry, but I want to test just how far I can go by myself."
"Ah, Crown Prince-nim."
"Then, I'm off. I hope you can find what you're looking for in the dungeon."
Confirming the Soul Tempering Elixir in the reward list, I quickly grabbed it and disbanded the party. When I exited the boss room and closed the door, it began to wane and disappear. Those three likely went back to the dungeon they came from. I found Loretta staring blankly at me, and returned a smile.
"It's good to see you again."
"Yes. You haven't given up on the quest yet?"
"Haha, you see... Gulp..."
Unable to think of what to say at the sulking Loretta, I laughed and swallowed the Soul Tempering Elixir. Then...
[Your soul is tempered to pure white. Your magic and charm stats increased by 1. A perfectly tempered soul strongly affects the body, making it easier to control mana and making it look more charming to others. Your affinity to all souls has increased. Consuming more Soul Tempering Elixirs will likely have no effect.]
[The duration for Deific Manifestation skill increased. The skill's cooldown time decreased by one day.]
The moment I saw the message, I laughed. I couldn't help it. I never imagined there would be an additional effect. At Loretta who was looking at me like I was crazy, I explained, "Loretta noona, I'll clear your quest tomorrow."
"Eh? I thought you were putting it off because you weren't confident. Wait, hold on, the thing you just swallowed. It was a Soul Tempering Elixir, right?"
"... I'm asking just in case, how many Soul Tempering Elixirs did you consume?"
"54. That one was the last one."
Loretta noona turned into stone. Because she didn't respond even when waved my hand right in front of her, I lightly pinched her cheeks. Only then did she finally regain consciousness.
"Ow, what are you doing!?"
"Nothing, I thought you were frozen."
"Of course not! I just spaced out from surprise!"
"Is it that surprising?"
"I didn't think anyone could consume so many Soul Tempering Elixirs. Even the ones who were lucky enough to obtain Soul Tempering Elixirs stopped after one... Wait."
Thinking just maybe, Loretta asked, "Did you also consume Muscle Compressing Elixirs?"
"And Bone and Skin Compressing Elixirs."
"Uwah, I was wondering how someone so big could become so slim... Plus, this is the first time I've heard of Skin Compressing Elixirs."
"So there are things even noona doesn't know."
"I'm usually only at the Floor Shops. If my customers don't sell me the boss drops, I have no way of knowing the Floor Masters' rewards."
"The people who obtained Skin Compressing Elixirs must have consumed it for themselves. Just like me."
"Yes, yes, you're amazing, customer. Ehew, I picked the wrong person to make bets with. So that's why you didn't die a single time in these two months."
She pouted and complained, but soon made an expression of relief.
"Well, it might better this way. Huhu, try your best, customer. I, Loretta, will watch just how far you can go."
Her words, 'try your best,' had a different nuance than the last time she said it. At her heartfelt support, a smile appeared on my face. However, that was that and this was this.
"Don't just watch, continue helping me."
"I am a shop owner. My role is to sell you items objectively and fairly. I will be sure to sell you the right items at the right time, so be satisfied with that."
"Tsk, you suddenly became cold. You were cuter when you were angry."
Loretta's face suddenly turned red. Sensing danger, I quickly opened my phone to leave the dungeon, but was a step too late.
"Stop, you rude customer!"
"See you tomorrow!"
I, of course, waved my hands at her and turned to leave. I could only challenge the Wraith Queen once a day. In my spare time, I trained my spearmanship, practiced my mana cultivation method, read books, or helped mother with chores.
'Alright, let's go practice my Peruta Circuit!'