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 Chapter 37. From Today, I'm an Official Explorer (7)

[10,000 gold is distributed evenly among party members. You received 1667 gold.]

[Rewards will be distributed in order of contribution.]

[Kang Shin-nim's contribution is the highest. Choose your reward.]

[1. Lizard Knight's Silver Spear

2. Middle Potion

3. 1,000 Gold

4. Mid-rank Mana Potion

5. Scale Knife

6. 1,500 Gold]

Looking at the list of rewards, I became speechless. Could it get any worse!?

Although I got unlucky from time to time, today was too much. Was it because of Ren's stupid move in the middle? Because I was interested in what 'medicine' the Lizard Knight would drop, I couldn't help but be disappointed. In the end, I grabbed the Lizard Knight's Silver Spear.

I'd been meaning to replace my Orc Lord's Glaive. I couldn't keep tormenting it. It was time to use a spear that matched my level.

Silver Spear was certainly a good spear. It was made out of some silver-colored metal and was very hard. Although it wasn't as long as the one Lizard Knight used, it was still about 3 meters long and had a very good thickness to it.

The blade on the spearhead seemed long enough to be used for slashing, and the tip of especially sharp. I loved it. Whether in function or look, it satisfied me completely.

Unlike with the Orc Lord's Glaive, the moment I held the Silver Spear, a message popped up.

[By equipping the Lizard Knight's Silver Spear, your strength and dexterity increase by 2. The Lizard Knight Master title grants another 3 strength and dexterity.]

That's right. It was about time that weapons had effects like this! With a satisfied smile, I looked around at my party members.

There wasn't a happy atmosphere like I expected. Usually, when I defeated the Floor Master, everyone was happy no matter how big of a loss we suffered. However, the party members seemed to be angry. They were also all glaring at Ren.

"People died because Ren-nim did unnecessary things!"

"Your contribution points must have been cut too."

"Crown Prince-nim was doing perfectly fine on his own! Because of Ren-nim's charge, Crown Prince-nim had to cancel his skill!"

"Haa, this is why you can't party with people from Panan continent."

"Sorry. It's all my fault. I have no excuse."

Ah, so that was it. I smirked. Dungeon explorers were people too. Most of them did nothing to contribute in the raid, and they must have felt bothered by it on the inside. It was a case of inferiority complex.

In that situation, however, someone who was worse than them appeared: Ren. Although he was eager and passionate, his actions almost led to the party being wiped.

These people just wanted to gain self-satisfaction by confirming that there was someone who was worse than them. They were telling themselves that they were better than that person. That they had more qualification.

It was truly laughable.

What really surprised me was Ren. Unlike the fiery temperament he showed in battle, he fully acknowledged his faults and was bowing his head in apology. Although it wasn't particularly commendable, most people in his place lashed out rather than apologize. He left a favorable impression on me. Since I also thought differently, I decided to cut in.

"Sorry. I should have told everyone about Lizard Knight's skill. Because of my hubris that I could stop it easily, I forgot. It's my fault. I apologize."

"N-No! Crown Prince-nim did fantastic given the circumstances!"

"That's right! We could only beat the Lizard Knight thanks to Crown Prince-nim!"

"Ren-nim, you realize Crown Prince-nim is trying to cover for your mistakes, right?"

"Kuk... I apologize, your highness Crown Prince."

"No, I'm not a crown prince. Don't naturally treat me like royalty!"

Thanks to me, the party members that were scolding Ren calmed down and left with their rewards. Even though Ren made the great contribution of almost cutting the Lizard Knight's tail, because of a crucial mistake that led party members to their death, his final contribution was the lowest. As such, he held a Middle Potion and wore a melancholic expression. Middle Potion... I had only grabbed that thing once...

Ren clenched the hand with the Middle Potion and murmured as he trembled.

"Damn it, whenever I enter a battle, I...!"

"You can think calmly in normal situations, but you become hotheaded in battle, right?"

"Eh?"

Ren looked at me with blank eyes.

"You want to challenge even though you know the taste of losing. You want to surpass those stronger than you. Because you don't want to lose, you do your best, or even bluff. Even when you end up becoming a mess and feel self-loathing, you can't stop yourself from doing it again."

"T-That's right! How did you know?"

"That's simple."

I was once like that. Answering him with that, I smiled at Ren. Excited, Ren jumped at me.

"H-How can I fix it?"

"That's even simpler. Do you want to fix it?"

"Of course! I'm the Panan continent's only hope. Whether it's for those that died or for Sir Lebuik who chose me to become the dungeon explorer rather than other talented young men, I have to get stronger!"

"I see. I like your determination. I think I can be of help."

I wanted one too, hehe. With all the new abilities I'd gathered, I wanted to organize them. Although fighting against monsters was nice, beating up... I mean, sparring with someone strong was also good. I nodded my head in satisfaction and took out the Silver Spear I just got.

"Alright, fight with me first. You'll find your answer then."

"Ooooh! Thank you, thank you! Crown Prince really is different!"

"Not really. You won't thank me for long."

"No, I will thank you from the bottom of my heart!"

You really won't. Even as I murmured that, I smiled kindly. Just like that, I obtained a sturdy sandb... I mean, sparring partner.

*

"I hate you."

Ren, who was collapsed on the ground, blurted out with malice. He was still alive, surprisingly. Sipping on Loretta's Fatigue Recovery Juice, I answered him.

"I told you, you won't thank me for long."

"I thought you'd really kill me!"

"Without killing intent in your spear, how can you expect your enemy to bring out his all?"

I plugged a Fatigue Recovery Juice in Ren's mouth as well. Ren began to immediately suck it down.

Loretta, who was watching me blankly from the side, asked.

"Customer, you know you can't dispose corpses at my shop, right?"

"He's not dead yet, don't worry."

"Cough!"

Ren coughed out the juice he was drinking. It was a joke... but Ren seemed to have thought otherwise. I crouched down next to Ren.

"So? Do you feel better after the spar?"

"Huh?"

"You were attacking me with a do-or-die attitude just now, but you're not now."

"That's because I'm all out of energy."

He was panting like he was about to die. However, his eyes were blazing even now. I liked it. He was just like me.

"So you're saying, once you get your energy back, you'll come at me again."

"That's right. I really can't do anything about my competitive instinct."

"Don't worry. It'll get fixed soon. Give it a month."

"That's a rather specific number."

"That's how long it took for father to fix my bad habits."

With a refreshing smile, I answered Ren as I reminisced about the old days. It was when I was 14 years old. I had just dominated the friendly match competition against other martial arts clans' heirs and was feeling overly self-confident. I believed there was no one I couldn't defeat. It was also the time when I pestered father to quickly let me become a dungeon explorer.

I still remembered it clearly. Father laughed, and staring into the sky, murmured, 'so it's that time for you too.'

That afternoon, I sparred with father. He beat me up into oblivion. Really. From head to toe, the only place where his wooden spear didn't hit were my testicles. Feeling spiteful, I challenged him again and again, like a moth to a flame. Father didn't go easy just because I was his son and really beat me up. He really was childish in that respect.

That continued for a month.

"And during that one month, I learned not to charge at the enemy directly, but to take my time and analyze the opponent. I learned how to wait for an opening to strike, and learned that it was always better to go for a gap in defense than to fight head on."

"Apparently, people from my lineage always had a phase where our strength went over our heads. During this period, whoever our teacher was had to beat us to discipline us. Because the teachers thrashed us so much, we called it the thrashing phase."

When I first heard father talk about the thrashing phase, I felt it made great sense. However, Loretta who was listening from the side seemed to disagree.

"Customer's father really is stupid. I didn't think there could be a stupider person than customer in the world..."

"Like father like son..."

"Ren, if you've recovered enough to spout nonsense, you should be ready to go for a second round. Ah, we're going on another Lizard Knight raid in an hour too."

"Eh? Raid? How?"

Ren tilted his head and asked. I was about to ask why he was asking such a stupid question, but realized that Ren did not know about the battle vouchers. When I looked at Loretta, she answered Ren's question.

"Customer, do you wish to fight the Lizard Knight again?"

"T-There's a way to do that? Of course I do! I'm Panan's Ren. If I don't get my revenge on the Lizard Knight, I will not be me anymore! I can only get stronger if I overcome him!"

"How about it, Loretta? He seems to have the qualifications you were talking about."

That's what I liked about him in the first place. His fiery nature that was unlike other dungeon explorers. Of course, if I didn't think he had talent, I would have just thought he was stupid.

When I asked Loretta with a wink, Loretta flushed her cheeks and dodged my gaze. Eh? Did I do something wrong just now?

"K-Kuhum. Fine. Although he doesn't quite meet my standards, since cus... since Shin-nim is with him, I'll sell it."

"Sell? Sell what?"

Ren tilted his head and asked with a naïve expression. Loretta beamed as she took out a handful of battle vouchers. Then, as usual, she said her sales line.

"The Floor Master Battle Voucher! Allowing you to overcome the limit of once per day fight and rechallenge the Floor Master! If you buy it now, you can get them for 4,000 gold each! Just 4,000 gold each, customer!"

You scammer!

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