Solo Max Level Newbie Chapter 160

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Solo Max-Level Newbie

Chapter 160: Selecting a Power (4)

[You have accepted the conversation request from ‘Martial Arts World’.]

Jinhyuk nodded as if he had been waiting for this.

Then.

The figure of a stern-looking old man with white hair appeared.

‘It’s been a while since I last saw someone from the martial arts world.’

Jinhyuk looked at his counterpart with interest.

The counterpart also looked back at him with a mix of emotions.

However, he quickly composed himself and brought up the main point.

“I am Moyong Soo, the leader of Moyong Clan.”

Ah, the Moyong Clan.

That’s a good place.

It’s one of the five major clans, right?

“On behalf of the martial arts world, I will offer you a chance. If you join us, we will specially forget all the foolish things you’ve done so far…”

[You have ended the conversation.]

It seems this friend still doesn’t understand who’s in charge here.

Is it still unpleasant to see the airs of someone so full of hot air?

[The Martial Arts World is attempting to request another conversation.]

[Decline.]

[The Martial Arts World…]

[Block.]

It was cleanly resolved.

Good.

Now, the next one…

Jinhyuk accepted the conversation request from the ‘Empire’.

“Haha. It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Fenheimer from the Kingdom of Caladium, associated with the Empire.”

A venerable age.

Yet, the magic that flowed from his voice was not that of an ordinary person.

As expected…

Is this one of the 100 Sword Masters that the Empire boasts about?

Although I’ve fought this old man in the past, having a conversation in reality now feels peculiar.

“I’ve watched the impressive display of Player Kang Jinhyuk so far. It might feel cliché since many powers have spoken about it, but I really can’t help but admire it.”

Fenheimer’s chuckle filled the air pleasantly.

However, this old man understood how to make a deal.

He knew how to make the other party feel good.

How to ensure a conversation remains comfortable, everything.

Naturally, the words that came out of Jinhyuk’s mouth were smoother compared to before.

“I am Kang Jinhyuk. I’ve heard about the Empire’s reputation several times through the administrators.”

“Ha! What are you saying…”

Fenheimer’s face visibly brightened.

When the other party shows favor, it’s infectious to feel buoyed.

“Do you have any power in mind that you are considering, Player Kang Jinhyuk?”

A power I have in mind…

Of course, there is.

But I’m not thinking of revealing my hand just yet.

“Well, I’m planning to think about it slowly. I need to choose the one that is most beneficial for me.”

“O-of course. However…”

“Ah! Speaking of which, may I ask you for a favor?”

“Yes? What kind of favor?”

“I thought level 25 was manageable for me, but it seems not everyone agrees. Therefore, I would like to negotiate a countermeasure with you.”

“Are you suggesting I negotiate directly with the administrator?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

“…!”

At Jinhyuk’s words, Fenheimer’s eyes widened in surprise.

Not anticipating such a bold move at a point where not even a contract had been made.

Of course.

This is about a mighty force that holds sway over the middle floors of the tower.

To them, players are nothing more than useful pawns compared to themselves.

But what is this cheeky confidence?

As if holding and swaying all the cards and circumstances isn’t much different?

‘Is it reckless or does he have confidence?’

The answer wasn’t clear.

Not at this moment, at least.

Fenheimer bit his lower lip.

“What kind of negotiation do you desire?”

“Hmm… I suppose a ‘guaranteed survival right’ would be nice.”

The right to guaranteed survival allowed one to avoid death in traps and be disqualified only to that extent. It was a privilege that required at least a mid-level administrator’s authorization to use.

Though it sounds desirable, nothing comes for free.

This privilege could significantly impact the system, so it cost a tremendous amount of coins, among other penalties.

Simply put, it’s a privilege not easily used even by a major force.

Fenheimer swallowed hard.

It was clear he was thinking about how to escape from this proposal.

“Mid-level… administrators. I believe you are acquainted with them, Mister Jinhyuk.”

“That’s correct.”

“Then shouldn’t you ask them directly?”

“That would be a reasonable point, but then I would owe Rick a favor.”

There’s someone here who can do it for me, so why should I waste my trump card?

I plan to ask Rick for a favor when I’m more desperate and it’s truly important.

“…I see, you really won’t accept a loss.”

“To survive in the tower, I learned not to let even a single bean be taken from me.”

“Hahaha! That’s the spirit of selfishness needed to climb higher. Indeed, that’s how it should be.”

Fenheimer burst into a laugh.

He seemed to like Jinhyuk’s straightforward and honest demeanor.

“Does this mean you will accept my request?”

“Yes. You can consider it as good as done. Of course, I hope Mr. Kang Jinhyuk will also not forget the favor we have extended.”

“Of course. I will definitely remember it.”

I have confidence in my memory.

Even though remembering is not the only issue.

Anyway, this concludes the preparations against the other players.

At least by the end of the raid, it will spare the promising candidates from a mass demise.

Not just that.

If it becomes known who arranged these precautions, the cheers and adulation will have a clear direction.

Give an ailment and offer the cure.

Isn’t this subtly effective?

***

[All players will be moved to the ballroom upon death by traps or monsters in the labyrinth. However, any attack that even grazes you will result in the complete loss of all the merit points accumulated so far.]

[Player-to-player combat or death from other forms of combat will not be restored.]

[This authorization has been activated by Player Kang Jinhyuk.]

A status message appeared before all the players.

“This is…”

Shock registered in Maria’s pupils.

She realized what it meant to be transferred to the ballroom upon death.

The rest of the players also realized a little later the implications of the status message.

“Could it be… He arranged for this in advance when selecting this place?”

“We didn’t even know and we were just complaining.”

“The one who disappeared earlier wasn’t running away but went to do something for everyone. Geez. I even resented the wrong person.”

“Really is different from us…”

The atmosphere turned solemn.

Simultaneously, everyone began to see the rankers who perform their duties silently despite criticism in a new light. They understood the weight of climbing the tower for humanity.

Of course.

Not everyone felt the same way.

“That’s not it! Don’t you realize? You’re being tricked by that guy’s schemes!”

Liao Wei raised his voice, veins bulging on his neck.

He wasn’t fooled like others, believing all this was a facade orchestrated by Jinhyuk to clean up his image.

Despite Liao Wei’s desperate shouting, the surrounding response was chillingly indifferent.

“Liao Wei. What are you talking about?”

Maria’s eyes widened in reproach.

“Please look at it calmly. It says merit points will be completely lost even if attacked, right?”

Merit points that normally vanish only on death.

But because of Jinhyuk’s intervention, a new rule was created where even a minor injury could result in losing all accumulated merit points.

It became much harder for them to connect with powerful groups and accumulate merit points.

“Liao Wei, we’ve now gained the ability to preserve our ‘lives.’ Merit points are important, but are they more important than our lives?”

“You’re right, Maria. It’s not like we’re asking for a bundle after being saved from drowning.”

“People should be grateful.”

“It seems China… doesn’t know how to be thankful.”

The cold reactions continued.

Eventually, Liao Wei had no choice but to back off.

‘Damn it.’

Why does a selfish and pretentious person like Jinhyuk garner all the praise?

If we hadn’t chosen floor 25, we wouldn’t have been in danger in the first place!

Everyone could have competed under much better conditions!

But with the atmosphere being what it was, any more words from Liao Wei could have buried him on the spot, so he seethed internally.

Just then.

[Situation has gone awry. Kang Jinhyuk must be eliminated.]

The familiar voice of Moyong Soo from the Martial Arts World reached Liao Wei’s ears.

“Do I… need to handle it?” Liao Wei asked, his face uncertain.

He knew better than anyone that a one-on-one battle with Jinhyuk would be difficult.

[Don’t worry. Your role isn’t in combat.]

The once-a-lifetime protection from the organization.

‘Hyun-Hyun.’

The moment Liao Wei encounters Jinhyuk…

[I will sever that bastard’s breath.]

Moyong Soo from the ballroom would appear directly in the labyrinth to eliminate Jinhyuk.

***

Approximately 3 hours after entering the labyrinth.

More than half of the players had been disqualified.

No matter how skilled the rankers were, it was too much to avoid all the traps on floor 25.

As time passed, the number of disqualified players grew exponentially.

Of course. During all this, Jinhyuk was speedrunning through the labyrinth at an incredible pace.

Having memorized all the patterns allowed such insane speedrunning. But more than that, he used a more efficient method.

“If a single arrow even touches my body, you’ll all gather tonight beneath the sweet potatoes. Everyone lines up on the moss on the wall.”

Jinhyuk issued a warning.

“Eek!”

“Stop threatening us. We’re doing our best already!”

“I-I’m about to suffocate.”

“Do I want to live or die? Do I really want to live? Just kill me instead!”

“Everyone’s too loud. But I think I’m getting tired too.”

As expected, the elemental spirits gave their all, casting their respective elemental magics.

Boom! Bang!

Walls of ice and fire collided with various traps, igniting sparkles of different colors.

‘Here, turn left.’

Jinhyuk, who turned the corner and picked up speed, was enhanced by the ‘Sword Demon King’s Step,’ his body fleetingly grazing the ground like the wind.

Tap! Tap!

The rapidly changing view.

All minor attacks were blocked by the elemental spirits, so he could preserve his magic power.

And the reason for conserving his stamina and magic power was singular.

‘The martial arts world and China will probably make a move.’

Yes.

That’s precisely why.

He had provoked Moyong Soo and Liao Wei on purpose, so they would be seething by now.

‘Liao Wei couldn’t handle it, so he’ll use [Protection] and Moyong Soo would directly Hyun-Hyun to kill me.’

Jinhyuk already planned everything in his head, anticipating the opponents’ moves.

All that was left was how perfectly he could write the script so that the characters would faithfully play their roles.

It won’t be long now.

Boom! Bang! Crash!

The elemental spirits, who had been casting spells to protect Jinhyuk for almost 3 hours, were on the verge of exhaustion. But now, none of that mattered.

They could see the end of the corridor from afar.

That’s when it happened.

Whooosh!

Suddenly, a bright light burst from the ground below.

At the same time, dozens of spiked vines surged towards Jinhyuk.

It was a double trap activated with a time-delay.

But just before the vines could completely engulf Jinhyuk…

[The Sword Grave has been activated!]

Black energy surged from ‘Fangs’ and erupted.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

The vines, sliced into dozens of sections, spewed out green sap.

Neither double traps nor unexpected ambushes worked.

Jinhyuk had long dismissed all kinds of traps from his concerns.

After a few more minutes of running, Jinhyuk stopped abruptly at his destination.

A spacious cave in the labyrinth, one of the few that were 100 meters in size.

If there were ambushes, this was the most likely spot.

However.

What should have been there, whether it be players from the China Guild or figures from the martial arts world, was absent.

Instead…

“Hehehe!”

“Finally, you’ve arrived.”

The figures awaiting Jinhyuk were the ones he least wanted to encounter.

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