My Exclusive Tower Guide chapter 49

My Exclusive Tower Guide

Episode 49

After scarfing down three chocolate bars, Son Seo-yeon wore an expression as if nothing had happened.

Her ability to control her facial expression was truly world-class.

“Do the others know?”

“Know what?”

“That you’re the Salshaeng.”

It seemed that Son Seo-yeon had now come to terms with the fact that I was the Salshaeng.

“Have you ever seen a Mafia reveal their identity in a game of Mafia?”

“Of course, I have.”

“Then why ask?”

“Because the power of Salshaeng you possess is a bit unique. And so are your actions up to now.”

A bit unique?

To anyone’s eyes, it was very much unique.

That is, if I truly were the Salshaeng.

“I guess I outed myself for no reason.”

“I don’t entirely trust you yet, but I’m curious about your plans for the 9th floor.”

“Why?”

“It might serve as a good reference.”

Her tone was still blunt, but it was marginally softer than usual.

I doubted it had anything to do with the chocolate bars I gave her — she must still suspect me of being the great Salshaeng.

The great Salshaeng.

That was information I hadn’t even obtained when I became the Salshaeng.

I wished the Sage’s status window would give some hint, but there was still no word.

“There’s no need to reference me. Just do as you wish.”

“In truth, I was in favor of making the 10th floor a ‘Day of Blood.’ I was planning to cast a vote myself on the 9th floor.”

“You were? That’s past tense. What about now?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Why the change of heart?”

“Because it seems like you’re going to vote against it.”

Son Seo-yeon’s abrupt conjecture left me flustered.

Almost to the point where it felt wrong to kill her.

But despite everything, Son Seo-yeon was still like a ticking time bomb.

Regardless of the vote I cast, the 10th floor becoming a ‘Day of Blood’ was a distinct possibility, and in that scenario, Son Seo-yeon would undoubtedly be the biggest threat.

“Does it matter which way I vote?”

“It might.”

“And why is that?”

“After your coming out, I reflected on your past actions. I’ve come to a conclusion.”

What on earth is she going to say now?

I silently waited for Son Seo-yeon to continue.

“Maybe you can see parts of the future? Perhaps that’s a power of the great Salshaeng. What do you think about my hypothesis?”

Ding.

Internally, that’s how I responded, but in this situation, there was no need to confirm or deny it.

If Son Seo-yeon believed it, that belief could be used to some advantage.

“No comment.”

“Just as I thought.”

Son Seo-yeon jumped to her own conclusions.

Creak… creak…

Behind me, Kangsoo covered its mouth with one hoof, pretending to have been caught — making it very easy for Son Seo-yeon to notice.

Such a cunning pet it was.

* * *

The mission for the 9th floor was set to be a horrible and cruel hurdle for all players.

According to the information sent by the Sage’s status window, the 9th floor was called ‘Hall of the Deceased.’

A place where players who died in the tower appeared before us.

Most terrible of all was the fact that the deceased who appeared before the players’ eyes were all ‘acquaintances.’

Many players were likely to psychologically crumble.

If any player were to encounter a family member or lover…

Even if they managed to complete the mission, the aftermath would be severe.

Accepting the death of loved ones was enough to shatter our spirits.

Until now, we had lived with the thought that ‘ignorance is bliss,’ deliberately not dwelling on the life or death of family, relatives, or friends.

What always lay before us were the perilous missions on each floor and the colleagues from the same area to tackle them together.

While we had been ignoring the invisible farewells, the 9th floor was a place to reckon with postponed grief.

By making us face the deceased we had lost.

A deep sigh came naturally.

Curiosity about the designer of this tower stirred in me once more.

I wondered if, after conquering all the floors of the tower, we would finally see their face.

[Proceeding to the 9th floor.]

Before I could even organize my thoughts, the world was enveloped in darkness.

[Starting the 9th floor, Hall of the Deceased.]

The subsequent message was no different from what the strategy guide had described.

Here, we were to encounter acquaintances who had died in the tower.

Most likely, my allies were also deep in severe mental turmoil by now.

1. Mission: Leave not a single deceased on the 9th floor.

2. Time limit: 6 hours.

3. In case of failure: The emergence of a disaster.

When the world became bright again, I was alone.

The surviving eight players from our district had to carry out the mission at different locations.

Another wretched scheme by the damned tower to increase our sense of isolation.

I quickly activated the mini-map.

The place where I was standing was at the top edge of the entire map.

It would have been best to start from the center, but there was no time to spare observing other players.

The Hall of the Deceased was going to be mentally taxing for me as well.

“Huff.”

A wave of tension struck me.

Having grown up as an orphan, the mental strain might be slightly less compared to other players, but I was still a normal person with normal reasoning.

Faces brushed past my mind, and an intangible sense of dread loomed.

All I could hope for was that a certain someone would not appear before me.

[The first deceased has materialized.]

It turns out there was no need for me to go looking; the person I least wanted to meet had appeared right before me.

[Restoring a part of your memories for playback.]

Two boys were brought into close-up before my eyes.

“Spit it out!”

The one shouting fiercely with a vicious look uncharacteristic of a child was Jo Jaehoon, our class president.

“I told you! It wasn’t me.”

“Still lying even when there’s a witness? Lee Ho-young, someone saw you step on my figure, you moron! Isn’t that right, Seonghoon?”

At Jaehoon’s words, Choi Seonghoon nodded, his face filled with fear.

Judging from the power dynamics between the two, they weren’t friends; it was clear that Choi Seonghoon was merely intimidated.

Jo Jaehoon was, after all, the most influential person in our class.

“See, you bastard! You did step on it.”

“……”

At that moment, I had definitely not stepped on Jaehoon’s figure.

I still remembered why he was doing this to me.

It was because I had overtaken him for first place in the midterms of the second semester.

For Jaehoon, who had always been at the top, this was unacceptable.

“You beggar! Well, someone like you wouldn’t have money to compensate anyway.”

Although I was an orphan, I was far from a beggar.

I had never begged anyone for anything and hadn’t even borrowed a single won.

I approached him and grabbed him by the collar.

“I’m not a beggar.”

“Are you out of your mind? Let go of this!”

“Take back what you said about being a beggar and apologize.”

“Crazy bastard! You’re an orphan who survives because of the taxes rich people like me pay. That makes you a beggar. The orphanage is a den of beggars!”

Although the incident was from over a decade ago, hearing these words made my anger rise again.

They were just words from a twelve-year-old kid.

Thud!

And at the time, I was not the type to let an insult to my pride slide by unchallenged.

Jo Jaehoon, hit in the abdomen by my surprise punch, fell to the ground.

Though he was bigger than me, he couldn’t stay on his feet after receiving a forceful, direct hit.

My retribution didn’t end there.

I climbed on top of the fallen boy and started to hit his face mercilessly.

Blood burst from his nose.

Although I had won the typical kids’ fight by making his nose bleed, I didn’t stop there.

Winning wasn’t the goal.

I continued to punish him for humiliating me and the home that had nurtured me.

The scene shifted.

In the staff room, the orphanage’s director, whom I considered my mother, was bowing before Jaehoon’s mother.

While enduring a string of humiliations, the director repeatedly apologized profusely.

Whack!

Finally, Jaehoon’s mother swung her Chanel bag at my mother’s face.

As one side of the director’s face swelled and reddened, tears welled in my eyes.

My young fists trembled with rage.

I was angry at the world and even angrier at myself for momentarily losing control and humiliating her.

Leaving the school, I followed the director, trudging up the hill to the orphanage, which seemed particularly long that day.

I might be greeted with her cane, for she never tolerated delinquency.

Yet, surprisingly, the words she said to me as she looked back were completely unexpected.

“You did well, Ho-young.”

You did well…?

It was only after many years that I understood the meaning behind those words.

She had been pained more by my hurt than by her own.

* * *

“Director Mother…”

Her appearance before me meant that she had died in this tower.

For me, who had no blood relatives, it was the last face I wanted to see.

[The soul of the deceased is wandering the tower.]

[Vanquish the monster that killed the deceased to liberate their soul.]

Although I was prepared, facing the death of a loved one still ached my heart.

The director mother had died in the tutorial, at the hands of a level 1 Bicorn Raccoon.

She was already dead, so I couldn’t talk to her or touch her anymore.

All I could do was look at her semi-translucent form.

Craaash!

The Bicorn Raccoon charged at me.

It was no match for me now, just another low-level mob.

If I cut it down, the director’s soul would leave this place.

And I would never see her again.

I could spare it, capture her face in my memory a bit longer, but…

Swoosh!

My undaunted blade didn’t hesitate to slice off the Bicorn Raccoon’s neck.

“Those who are alive should live.”

The 9th floor had a time limit of 6 hours.

To clear the mission, all wandering souls had to be sent to their rightful places within the time limit.

I had no idea how many lost souls existed, but I felt the 6-hour constraint might prove to be too short.

Surely, there were players who would be mentally shattered upon seeing the faces of the deceased.

I intended to take on their burdens as well.

“Director Mother, I will live and see the end of this damned tower, for both of us.”

As my words ended, the director’s semi-translucent soul gently faded away.

Her last appearance seemed to be smiling.

Perhaps it was just my wishful thinking.

[The second deceased soul has appeared.]

Of course, I never expected it to end with just one.

Now, I was determined to pick up the pace.

Speeding through the retrieved memories, my task was to finish my part quickly and to go support my team, who I presumed were mentally torn apart.

On this 9th floor, it wasn’t just about the mission; there was also work to be done for the peaceful 10th floor.

– Continued in Episode 50 –



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