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"What?" Kiri Kiri asked curtly, with her back turned.
Her response was quite terse, cold, and sharp.
But how sharp could Kiri Kiri's voice be? I mean, c'mon, it's Kiri Kiri.
It just sounds like a little kid sulking at me.
That's actually how it is anyway.
"How many days did you say it would take to clear the 25th floor again?" I asked, turning her body to face me and looking squarely at her face.
Kiri Kiri and I made a simple bet.
It didn't really have much meaning behind it.
But there was a problem: what we bet.
If Kiri Kiri won, I would buy her as many cakes as she wanted.
Conversely, if I won, I wouldn't buy her anything.
"How many days have pa.s.sed since? From the day that I started 25th floor?"
"2 days! Heung!"
When she finished speaking, she turned her head away from me.
Doesn't your neck hurt?
I moved in front of her and she once again turned her back on me.
She turned away again, so instead of speaking to her face, I just spoke to her back.
"How long do you think the next floor will take? Let's try and get it right this time."
"Heng. The next floor should be tough for Hooooojae. It should take at least more than a month. 33 days," she said, laughing sardonically.
33 days, huh . . .
One round will pa.s.s after 30 days.
"Starting from the 26th floor, even if one round pa.s.ses, you won't fail the stage. It's just that when the round is over, you'll be forced back into the waiting room, and you'll start off at the place where you ended the last round."
To put it simply, you don't start over when the round is over, but you continue from where you left off.
It looks like the difficulty went up.
When the round is over, you wouldn’t start all the way from the beginning. So it wasn't bad from the challenger's perspective.
I had experienced the past rounds and now, I could conquer these stages more safely and comfortably.
Of course, starting over from the beginning of the round was annoying, but in the Tutorial, safety was paramount.
What would it be like if it truly was like that, where when the round finishes, the next round starts up where you left off?
If you're conquering the stage with relatively little difficulty, then you can just continue on in the same way.
However, what if you messed up?
You wouldn't get a chance to go back from the beginning and you'd have to continue the chosen route.
There's never a reset, so there's a chance that you could be stuck on one stage forever.
That danger had already been proven by Lee Chan Yong.
You won't be able to fix the mistakes of your attempt and you'll fall into h.e.l.l.
"Is it a party stage?"
"The 25th floor is normal. Even if you gathered the 25 challengers, it would take about 2-3 months. There's no way you can clear it within 33 days," Kiri Kiri finished, laughing.
She laughed like a childish Disney villain.
She looked happy; it's probably because she doesn’t expect me to clear the stage on time, so she'll get free cake from the bet.
"I won't be able to buy you any cakes for about a month then, huh?"
Her back turned, the sitting shoulders of Kiri Kiri's flinched.
[Welcome to the 26th floor waiting room.]
[Round 22, Day 2. 10:20 P.M. (22:20)]
I got information on the next stage and information on my Time Confinement skill from Kiri Kiri, and went into the waiting room.
Kiri Kiri was distressed because if my clear time was too slow, she wouldn't be able to eat cake during that long period of time I was on the stage, but if I was too fast in clearing the stage, she still wouldn't be able to eat cake because of the bet.
However, in the end, she was swayed by my sweet talk and she affably explained the next stage.
I also actually gave her some candy.
Now, let's look at the explanation for my Time Confinement skill.
[Time Confinement (Lv.Max)]
Explanation: Stops the flow of time.
During the frozen time, only the user's thoughts can move freely.
The speed at which thoughts are processed depends on the user's ability.
A G.o.d who wouldn't say her name has given you this skill as a present.
If you don't figure out her name, she may get angry at you.
It wasn't a really detailed explanation but I got the gist of it.
It stops time, and during that time, only the user's thoughts can act.
Also, during the paused time, how fast the thoughts are processed depends on the user's concentration.
If you lack concentration, you may not even be cognizant during the frozen time.
Even though it's a skill that doesn't require the caster's mana or stamina, it stresses the user's natural ability.
I remembered something that Kiri Kiri had said about the G.o.d of Slowness some time ago.
Then, let's test the skill first.
I transformed the Thousand Arms into a sphere and threw the Thousand Arms as high as the eye could see.
When the Thousand Arms began to descend to the ground, I watched the Thousand Arms closely and activated my skill.
When I activated the skill, the Thousands Arms stopped in place.
Rather than just slowing down time, it actually froze time.
I calmly surveyed the area for any signs of movement and then . . .
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6 . . .
10832. 10833. 108 . . .
While I was counting, I heard a ringing noise in my head, and the frozen Thousand Arms resumed falling.
I quickly positioned my hands and caught the falling Thousand Arms.
If we take into account the margin of error, the Time Confinement skill can last for roughly 3 hours.
Next up, I needed to see if the Thousand Arms actually moved.
While Time Confinement was active, the Thousand Arms wasn't still.
It moved little by little.
Within 3 hours, the Thousand Arms fell by 1 cm.
It seemed like it didn't move at all, but it wasn't a complete freezing of time.
In the past, Kiri Kiri said that a human shouldn't become a disciple to the G.o.d of Slowness.
Now I understand that statement a little.
How could it be 3 hours . . .
Honestly, this skill was closer to an instrument of torture.
What an attractive term.
The problem is, that even I would be frozen in that stopped world.
Only my thoughts would remain, and I would be locked in the frozen world.
I suffered immensely on the 13th floor, so I knew exactly the fearsome power this skill contained.
Someone who is losing their mind wouldn't be able to last for three hours under this skill. You even lose your sense of time and only your thoughts would be able to scream out in the frozen world.
If a human being is locked away in solitary confinement for even a few days, they'd go crazy.
The Time Confinement skill, if used carelessly, wouldn't simply leave you with one or two mental diseases, but could even drive you to attempt suicide.
Of course, this is the case for the average human.
For me, it's a pretty good skill.
During the three hours of the skill, I could maintain my concentration.
I could match the timing of the skill, starting my next move right as the Time Confinement skill ends.
I got a really good skill.
Lately, my concentration has improved immensely, to the point where the Battle Concentration skill was meaningless to me now.
Even if I didn't use the skill, I could maintain the same level of concentration that the skill granted whenever I wanted.
If I wanted to, I could concentrate on a higher level than with the Battle Concentration skill activated.
However, it wasn't on the level of the Time Confinement skill.
The fact that I could use the Time Confinement skill to artificially stop time and allow me to process my thoughts during a pressing battle was a tremendous advantage.
[The G.o.d of Adventure is grumbling.]
I got the skill from the G.o.d of Slowness, so why do I keep getting messages from the G.o.d of Adventure?
I turned the Thousand Arms in my hand back into the form of a longsword.
The Time Confinement skill seemed not only useful as a tool for combat but also useful as a tool for training.
Actually, the skill isn't really different from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
Though I can't move my body, I can improve my abilities with just my thoughts.
What's worse, since it's a G.o.d skill, it doesn't cost any mana or or anything else, for the matter.
[Round 22, Day 6. 3:30 (15:30)]
[Welcome to the 26th floor stage.]
I spent a few days using Time Confinement to finish off my training and proceeded to the 26th floor stage.
I could've spent some more time on my training but I thought it was more important to attempt the stage and grow.
During my attempt on the stage, I could also use Time Confinement to train too.
I pa.s.sed through a room with a bonfire. The stage was quite a bit different compared to the usual stages.
Lights shined in front of my eyes.
I looked at the ceiling and saw a giant chandelier up on the high ceiling.
I haven't even seen a chandelier that large in the outside world.
The interior of the building was made of marble.
From the ceiling, to the walls, the columns, and even the floor.
The interior stuck out since it was decorated here and there with gold and jewels.
There was a soft, red carpet over the floor.
Besides me, there were more than 100 men gathered and standing on the carpet.
Each of them had sparkling weapons and armor readied.
On both sides of the carpet, soldiers wearing armor were lined up. Beyond them, I saw old men wearing long, baggy clothes.
I turned around.
There was a giant gate at the end of the carpet. It looked like it was the entrance to the building. The gate was large enough such that the 25th floor golem could pa.s.s through it.
I turned around, looking at the direction opposite of the gate.
The carpet continued on towards a platform.
At the top of the platform, there was a splendid throne.
Also, a man, wearing clothes of the same splendor as the throne, sat upon it.
He's either a king or an emperor. Well, he must be one of the two.
He looked like one of those kind old men who ran the neighborhood bakery.
Firstly, there were a lot of people in my surroundings, but there wasn't any signs of danger.
There wasn't any killing intent or fighting spirit; plus, there wasn't anyone strong enough to post a threat to me.
I was quietly a.n.a.lyzing out the situation and waited for the message that would tell me the stage's objective, but I saw the old bakery man looking embarra.s.sed.[PR Note: If you haven’t noticed, Hojae adopts the emperor’s name as the “old bakery man.”]
"You . . . why were you summoned alone?"
The surrounding whispers got louder after he asked his question.
It looks like they're talking about me.
A mix of the words "warrior," "summoning," "failure," "G.o.d," "qualification," and "demon king" from the surrounding crowd were overpowering my ears.
Ah, I see what they're talking about.
It's this world’s story of the hero versus the demon king.
This world's natives would summon a warrior to oppose the demon king, requesting for him to defeat the Demon King. That kind of cliché.
It was palace so grand and magnificent that I could spend spend all the wealth I wanted to and still have money to spare, but what was actually important was that they would summon completely unrelated people to solve their problems.
After they kill the Demon King, they'll try to kill the hero or he'll be married to some unimportant, alienated princess to end their agreement. It was that kind of story.
It might be different if the princess was at least pretty, but if the hero didn't like the princess, the hero, from the reader's perspective, would've been nothing but a scapegoat; someone who they push all their problems to.
It was so cliché that I could figure out this situation immediately.
I could even understand why the 100 people were gathered below the platform.
The stage recommended a 25-person party, so it seems like it was set up so that 25 warriors were summoned in order to form a party.
"WWarrior. Where are your colleagues? Were you truly the only one summoned?"
I wanted to say something back to the old man who kept repeating himself, but a message popped up in front of my eyes.
[The 26th floor challenge is starting.]
Explanation: Half of the Heiog continent has been conquered by the demons, and it has been 35 years since the Humans declared war on them.
Sometimes, the demons would acquire victory, and sometimes the humans would.
The long, protracted war has devastated the continent as both human and demon casualties rose astronomically.
2 years ago, the demons found a way to end the war.
They summoned a being their distant ancestors worshipped: the one who rules h.e.l.l, the Demon King.
Because the ceremony had been active over the past two years, there isn't much time until the Demon King descends on the world.
The empire would take care of the Demon King, but in order for them to defeat the demons, they summoned a warrior from another world.
Of the summoned warriors, only the qualified individual may awaken the sealed holy sword and use its power to defeat the Demon King.
As a warrior that will save this world, prove your worthiness, and lift the holy sword's seal.
Only that way, can you defeat the Demon King.
1. Acquire the unsealed Holy Sword.
2. Defeat the Demon King.
"Open your mouth. Say something, Warrior. Were you truly summoned by yourself?"