Reiji slowly looked Jun-Ho over, her eyes round. “So… You’re Specter, right? Hm, so this is what you look like.”
“Gray-nim recognized me right away,” he remarked.
“So what? I’m lazy, so I didn’t feel the need to look up what you look like.” She scratched her stomach and laid back down, yawning. “I’m probably not the only one, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“Not the only Administrator that doesn’t know what you look like. Though, everyone would recognize your name.”
The last time Specter had been active was 26 years ago. There had been many Players that had appeared since then that were even stronger than him. Now, he was heavily overshadowed by the light of the Nine Heavens.
“Yeah, they should. The world only remembers the best.” She pointed at him with her index finger. “The first person to defeat a Floormaster and unlock a new floor was you. Specter.”
Even if 100 years passed instead of 25, his achievement wouldn’t go away. Specter had carved his existence into the world.
“Wait a second.” Reiji met the Frost Queen’s eyes. “That must mean that the little doll thing on your shoulder is the Frost Queen, right?
“L-little? H-how impertinent!”
“Damn…this is fun. Very fun.” Hearing her tone, it was hard to believe that she had been hysterically angry mere moments ago.
Reiji stood up and held out her right hand, inviting him to shake it. Seo Jun-Ho took it unconsciously, and she shook his arm with tremendous strength. He felt like he would melt under the stare of her blazing, enthusiastic eyes.
“Specter and the Frost Queen. I don’t know about the other Administrators, but I’ve always believed in you two.”
“You’ve already done it once, haven’t you? Then, that means you can do it twice. Yeah, twice is nothing. You can do it nine more times… Right?” She seemed to be more mad than faithful. “Hurry up and clear the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors… All the way up to the 10th, so I can retire. I’ll be rooting for you guys as much as possible.”
“C-Contractor. This woman’s eyes are scary,” The Frost Queen remarked.
Seo Jun-Ho agreed.
He spoke calmly, “I will do my best.”
“Alright, alright. I’m just sorry that I can’t help you.”
“The thought is enough. So, about the report…”
“Huh? Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll take care of it. It turns out that there wasn’t actually a need to call you up in the first place…” Reiji cut herself off and started to stroke her chin, muttering, “Wait. If I can help you out just a little bit… If that will let me retire even a day earlier…”
She stopped talking to herself and gave an alluring smile. Men would probably fall in love at first sight if they saw it.
“Now that I think about it, I’ve made a grave mistake. I can’t be acting like this as a Floor Administrator. It’s too much, right?”
“Huh? No, well, I wouldn’t call it too much, per se…” He hadn’t really lost anything except for five minutes of his time.
But Reiji shook her head vigorously. “No, no. It’s clearly my fault. I’ve done you wrong. I wasted your precious time, didn’t I? Goodness. I should probably compensate you for that, shouldn’t I?” she spoke without fervor as if she were reading from a textbook. She checked something. “Let’s see. So you have 212,714 Player Points right now?”
She placed an arm around his shoulder. “800,000,” she whispered.
“I’ll be opening up the shop soon. There are only a few days left, get 800,000 points before then.”
This meant he only had two days, but he didn’t protest. Because when he turned his head, he saw that her eyes were burning brightly right in front of him.
“Don’t you get what I’m saying? Just let me compensate you for my error… So just do as I say while I’m being nice.”
“...” What would it look like if she wasn’t being nice? Seo Jun-Ho swallowed down the question.
‘What is this feeling?’
He was getting a reward. Not just any reward, but a gift from a Floor Administrator. He should be happy. He really should be happy, but…
Why did he feel like he was being ripped off by the neighborhood bully?
“...I’ll do my best.” All he could do was nod bitterly.
“What do you think?”
“Look at that momentum. They could easily cut through a line of bamboo.”
“Nah, they’re strong enough to at least split a rock.”
Guild members were bustling around the large, tidy lounge at Goblin’s Guildhouse.
Gong Ju-Ha entered the room and pulled out a coffee from the vending machine. “What are you guys doing?” she asked. When they recognized her, the Guild members bowed respectfully.
“Did you sleep well?”
“It looks like you grew a bit taller overnight.”
“Do you want to die?” She noogied the member who had broached the sensitive topic and gulped down her coffee. “So what’s going on?”
As soon as she asked the questions, the Guild members started chattering like baby birds.
“You were pretty into matching at some point, weren’t you? You would do it all day.”
“Well, I suppose. Why do you ask?” she asked.
“Matching’s been all the rage these days.”
“Really?” Gong Ju-Ha’s eyes widened. “Are there more people because the Administrator’s shop is opening soon? I already knew that. It always happens.”
“No, that’s not it. A newbie has appeared, but they’re the real thing.”
Gong Ju-Ha took another swing of her coffee. “So they’re good at fighting? It’s not like they’re the only ones. There are a lot of talented newbies out there,” she said, unimpressed.
“This one’s different. They’ve been winning continuously with the challenge system.”
“...The challenge system?” She vaguely remembered it. She tilted her head. “Isn’t that the one where it pairs you with people of a higher level than you?”
“That’s right. They’ve been using it from their very first day, and they even won against a level 120 opponent.”
“Well, level differences don’t really matter past 100.”
“But they’re level 76.”
“Pffft!” Ju-Ha spat her coffee out. “A-a level 76 Player won against a level 120 Player?”
“Isn’t it amazing?”
“It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?”
She tilted her head as they made a fuss. “Has something changed since I stopped using matching? Do they give advantages to lower-level participants?”
“Of course not...”
“You know how there was the whole issue about there being a bug in the matching system? This guy’s the one responsible for that.”
“And you know what’s even more surprising? Administrator Reiji posted an announcement herself.”
“...Reiji? The 2nd floor Administrator?”
“Yes. Check it.”
Gong Ju-Ha’s eyes went wide as she opened the community forums. There was a new announcement post, with a NEW icon attached to its top corner.
I checked the notorious Player, but it was their skills, not a bug. So stop sending me complaints, you bastards.
“Wow… It’s real.”
When it came to the 2nd floor Administrator Reiji, the Players considered it lucky if she opened the Administrator’s shop. She had “lazy” written all over her face, but she actually went so far as to make an announcement this time.
“She said it’s their skills, not a bug… That means she investigated it, right?” Gong Ju-Ha asked.
“I believe so. No matter how lazy she is, she’s still an Administrator.”
“...That means the level 76 Player has really defeated a level 120 Player.”
“And they also have 13 consecutive wins.”
“It’s 27 wins and 0 losses now, actually.”
“Even though we don’t know exactly how many points they’ve earned by now, everyone's jealous.”
“...” Gong Ju-Ha was lost in thought. It wasn’t actually impossible for a level 76 Player to defeat a level 120 Player. Gong Ju-Ha was confident that she could’ve defeated most level 120 Players at level 76.
‘But I’ve never actually tested it. The Matching system’s pretty new, after all.’
Plus, there was only one day left until the Administrator’s shop opened. Players who regularly participated in Matching would be especially eager to win because it would determine whether or not they could buy the items they wanted.
“What weapon do they use?” she asked.
“Everything,” a member replied.
“What do you mean, everything?”
“Apparently, they pretty much use every weapon in the book.”
“Everyone who’s fought against him says something different.”
“So far, they’ve used 23 different weapons. They even used a gun, apparently.”
“...What’s with that?” Gong Ju-Ha muttered. This sounded like a true Specter copycat… “Oh my god! What if it really is Specter-nim?”
She was the only one who had guessed the truth, but the other Guild members shot her down.
“Come on, that’s impossible.”
“He’s on the 1st floor right now.”
“And he should at least be level 80. This guy’s level 76.”
“It’s not like he’s the only one who has mastered multiple weapons.”
“Ah… You’re right.” She scratched her head. “I just had a thought. What if Specter-nim’s level was reset to level 1 and he started using the matching system while leveling up?”
“That’s too much, Princess.”
“Yeah, I can’t defend you for this.”
“R-right?” Embarrassed, she changed the subject. “Do we know what skills they have?”
“I think they have a physical enhancement skill.”
“Physical enhancement… That’s more ordinary than I thought.”
“You’ll eat those words if you actually fight them yourself,” a Guild member said, laughing. They laid back in the chair. “I’ve actually fought them. That guy… They were pretty good.”
“They talk as if they won, but this guy lost 20,000 PP.”
“Hey, I stayed up all night getting them back. The Administrator’s shop is opening tomorrow.”
“...Is the newbie really that strong?” Gong Ju-Ha was unexpectedly interested. Her competitive spirit as a professional Player was piqued.
“To be honest, I can’t imagine you losing. But the same is true for this guy. How should I put this… It felt like they had no openings. Simply flawless. It took my breath away.”
Just how strong was this guy for the Guild members to be saying this? Since they were part of the Big 6, they were elites that Gong Ju-Ha had hand-picked from all over the country. Even after becoming professional Players, they were still in the top 0.01%.
‘These guys have a lot of pride, but they’re praising the newbie so much…’
She was starting to get curious about just how strong this opponent was.
“What’s that person’s nickname?” she asked innocently.
1. The phrase for “momentum” 파죽지세 is changed by one character to read as “rockslide” 파석지세 ☜