The Player that Can’t Level Up - Chapter 36
You are reading The Player that Can’t Level Up Chapter 36 at NovelCake.
The subjugation group set out after a simple headcount. Gi-Gyu was new to the whole “deducing-a-player’s-level-by-his-aura” thingy, but he tried his best to estimate everyone’s level.
‘Looks like quite a lot of strong players have participated in this hunt.’
The elixir had also improved his ability to sense others’ energy and aura, so Gi-Gyu was now better at guessing the other players’ levels. He was certainly not as good as the players in the support category, but his instinct was fairly accurate.
After watching Gi-Gyu with curiosity for a while, Jae-Won asked, “Guide, you seem much taller now. Did something happen? And why are you wearing a ski mask?”
“Oh, right.” Gi-Gyu wore a full cloth mask all day to avoid any unwanted attention. He had forgotten all about it. Now that he was inside the Tower, he slowly took it off.
The surroundings suddenly quietened down when Gi-Gyu’s face came to light. It was as if the entire hunting party paused for a moment. Gi-Gyu felt like all the female players, some male ones too, were staring at him.
After seeing his face, Sun-Pil, Ha-Neul, and Jae-Won murmured various interpretations of “Wow” and “Amazing.”
“You’re Guide Gi-Gyu, right?”
Their faces were filled with surprise and disbelief.
Sun-Pil asked cautiously, “So when you said you’ve been busy, you meant you were getting plastic surgery…?”
Shaking his head, Gi-Gyu replied smoothly, “No, it’s not like that. After I passed the fifth-floor test that day, I obtained a job. I think this is one of the effects of the skill I got from my job.”
During his recent vacation, Gi-Gyu spent some time crafting a plausible explanation for his outward transformation. Finally, he decided to just dump it on his mysterious and never-to-be-known “skill.” Unless someone used the detection skill on him, no one would doubt his explanation.
‘Most people will accept any anomaly if it’s connected to a skill.’
This lie, no. This explanation, was a way to divert attention, but it seemed to be doing the opposite.
“Just what kind of skill is it that could… Handsome? How?” Ha-Neul whispered in shock.
“I want it too! If only I could change my job!” Jae-Won howled in desperation. The subjugation group became flabbergasted by Gi-Gyu’s change at first; soon, the players continued as if nothing had happened.
The other players inside the Tower watched the subjugation party with admiration and envy. This specially formed group included high-level players who, usually, weren’t seen on the 4th floor. Thus, these experienced hunters were bound to look like idols to the newbies on the tutorial floors.
Any orcs and goblins that stood in the subjugation party’s path suffered quick deaths.
‘I couldn’t ascend to the higher floors for five years because of these lowly monsters.’
Gi-Gyu reminisced about his days as an association guide. He was now strong enough to kill these weak monsters with one finger. But for his first five years as a player, these creatures had made his life miserable.
Sun-Pil seemed to be reminiscing too as he murmured, “It feels like only yesterday when we were roaming this area with you. But it has been a long time since that day, hasn’t it?”
As the party approached the area where the fourth-floor guardian first appeared, Ha-Neul muttered, “We almost died that day.”
With a nod, Gi-Gyu replied, “That day, we were indeed being hunted; today, we will hunt it down.”
“That’s right!” Sun-Pil answered enthusiastically.
“Wow, you haven’t changed, guide! Still as amazing as ever!” When Jae-Won exclaimed loudly, Gi-Gyu murmured, “I’m not a guide anymore; please feel free to use my name. And you don’t have to speak so formally with me.”
When the Morningstar members kept calling Gi-Gyu “guide,” the other members of the subjugation team began showing him even more interest. The more eyes were on him, the more discomfort Gi-Gyu felt. This was a problem because he didn’t want any attention on him.
Sun-Pil suggested, “Then you should loosen up around us and speak informally too!”
“That’s right. After all, you’re the oldest among us, so we would feel more comfortable if you treated us more familiarly,” Jae-Won insisted.
Gi-Gyu was the same age as Suk-Woo, Sun-Pil’s cousin. Since Sun-Pil was a year younger than his cousin, he was also a year younger than Gi-Gyu. All the other members were the same age as Sun-Pil, which meant Gi-Gyu was older than all of them.
With a nod, Gi-Gyu dropped all formalities and replied, “Then shall I drop all formalities, guys?” It wasn’t Gi-Gyu’s style to speak so familiarly with people he didn’t know very well. But, dragging this conversation longer than necessary was bound to attract more attention, so he just caved.
Immediately, the other guild members smiled and replied, “Yes, Hyung!”
“Sounds good, Oppa!”
With a satisfied smile, Gi-Gyu answered, “Now, that’s much better.”
“Please get ready, Everyone! This is the first place the guardian frequents, so we will begin tracking it!” The leader of the subjugation group Kim Dong-Hae announced loudly. Usually, guardians rarely left their inhabited areas, but this fourth-floor guardian was different. The psychometric skill was best when it came to tracking a specific monster, so various players with that skill were brought to this hunt.
While the support players examined the scene using their psychometric skill, the other players sat down on the ground in groups to rest. The members of the Morningstar Guild did the same.
Because they had decided to drop the formality, Gi-Gyu and the other members now felt more comfortable chatting.
Gi-Gyu asked, “By the way, why did you name your guild Morningstar?”
“That was because of you, Hyung,” Jae-Won replied while chewing on a piece of jerky.
“Because of me?”
“Yes. According to Sun-Pil, you were shining like the early morning star when you came to our rescue. We thought he was being too corny. But Sun-Pil insisted, so we agreed to it.” When Jae-Won explained, Kim Sun-Pil blushed and shouted, “Hey! Yun Jae-Won! Just shut up!”
After hearing the reason behind the guild’s name, Gi-Gyu couldn’t help blushing too. Turning toward him, Sun-Pil explained, “Please don’t feel awkward or burdened by it. At the time, you were a player with no abilities or skills, right?”
Gi-Gyu nodded and agreed, “Yes, that’s true.”
“Despite being the weakest back then, you still volunteered to leave that cave with that firecracker. It was a perilous situation, yet you went out without hesitation. So what if you knew the area? It was still a dangerous decision. I found your valor so inspiring that I had to name my guild after you, Hyung.” When Sun-Pil explained shyly, Jae-Won teased him, “Uwaah! Kim Sun-Pil! That was so touching!”
“Thanks.” Gi-Gyu was genuinely touched. He told Sun-Pil, “I had no idea you thought so highly of me. Thank you so much for everything. I’m also grateful to you for letting me join this hunting party.”
“It’s no problem at all, Hyung. It was my pleasure,” replied Sun-Pil.
Gi-Gyu was genuinely thankful to the Morningstar members. A big part of why he joined this subjugation party was his mental health. Even though he hadn’t seen the guardian yet, he could already feel his psyche healing. He realized that perhaps saving someone’s life wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
Suddenly, a nearby group spat toward the Morningstar members, “What’s with them? Do they think they’re on a picnic or something? What are they babbling about?”
Their denunciation wasn’t too loud, but the players here had high enough levels to hear it. There was no way Gi-Gyu and the other members of the Morningstar couldn’t hear them. When the Morningstar group turned toward the other group, one of the annoyed players shouted, “Am I wrong? You think you’re something because of your looks, but we are inside the Tower. Here, being strong trumps everything.”
Gi-Gyu turned toward them and recognized their guild.
This male-only group was the most renowned macho group of them all. All the players were muscular with short hairstyles. But Gi-Gyu did not consider them an accurate representation of manliness.
‘Tae-Shik hyung is.’
To Gi-Gyu, only someone with Tae-Shik’s appearance and character was worthy of the title: Macho.
As the leader of the Morningstar Guild, Sun-Pil rose quickly and shouted at the Brother Guild members, “What did you just say? You better apologize right now!”
“Why should we? Wanna fight us? You must think you’re something just because we let you in this B-grade subjugation party; you need to know your place. If the guardian appears, weaklings like you would be dead in a minute,” one of the Brother Guild members warned.
The loud member of Brother Guild and Sun-Pil glared at each other menacingly. Trying to break up their fight, Ha-Neul whispered to Sun-Pil, “Oppa, just let it go.”
Similarly, the other members of Brother Guild stood up to stop their rude player. “Hey, stop it already.”
While both groups were at a standstill, Kim Dong-Hae shouted, “What’s going on over there?!”
When Sun-Pil and the Brother Guild member heard and felt the semi-ranker’s vicious energy, they immediately replied, “It’s nothing. Sorry.”
“Phew…” Gi-Gyu sighed deeply. Just a moment ago, he felt so much better, but that annoying player ruined everything.
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The subjugation group resumed marching after Kim Dong-Hae’s shout resolved the minor kerfuffle. The atmosphere was a little tense because the players with psychometric skills had found a trace of the guardian. It was time to search for their target again.
Jae-Won frowned as he muttered, “Gosh, that dude is so annoying.”
He was frustrated because he noticed the rude member of Brother Guild was still glaring at Gi-Gyu. When the argument first erupted, Jae-Won was trying to calm down Sun-Pil. However, that player’s constant glare toward Gi-Gyu was now becoming irritating. Jae-Won was just about to explode in anger when Jae-Won mumbled loudly, “They always talk about loyalty, but it looks like their specialty is picking fights with random strangers.”
Brother Guild was a rather famous group. It barely reached the B grade, but its members’ unique appearance made it well known. Brother Guild was also noted for prioritizing loyalty above everything else.
So, Gi-Gyu couldn’t help feeling disappointed in this guild. With a small smile, he said to Jae-Won, “Don’t worry. I’m fine.”
“Haa… You’re too nice, Hyung.”
Of course, no one in the Morningstar noticed how dark Gi-Gyu’s eyes had turned.
-Master, you need to calm down. Please.
-Haa… Why are you having such difficulty controlling your emotions?
Gi-Gyu shook his head in confusion after hearing his Egos.
‘Why am I feeling this way?’
That guy was undoubtedly annoying, but that shouldn’t have been enough to make Gi-Gyu this angry.
‘Maybe it’s PTSD?’
He wondered if something happened to his personality after being tortured by Ironshield. Deep in thought, Gi-Gyu padded as he followed the group; soon, Kim Dong-Hae raised his fist. He quietly announced, “Pause. Get ready. I think the guardian is just ahead of us.”
The entire group suddenly froze at Kim Dong-Hae’s message. Everyone here knew the fourth-floor guardian was no ordinary monster. Even though it was the guardian of the lowly 4th floor, the experienced players readied themselves as if they were about to fight a treacherous foe.
Unfortunately, the annoying member of Brother Guild muttered loudly, “Hmph! It’s only the 4th-floor guardian. Our guild should be enough to kill it.”
His comment was unwelcomed, not only by the Morningstar players but also everyone else. Jae-Won finally couldn’t stop himself and shouted, “If you think you’re so strong, why don’t you run out and fight it on your own?! No one here will stop you.”
“What? What did you say, you bastard?” the player from Brother Guild swore at Jae-Won.
“I said—” Jae-Won was about to argue when suddenly, everyone heard a subdued order.
Everyone, even the Brother Guild member who seemed ready to kill, stopped when they heard the shout. Surprisingly, this shout didn’t come from Kim Dong-Hae; he did plan on stopping the loud duo, though.
To everyone’s surprise, the shout came from Gi-Gyu. His eyes were devoid of all emotions as a strange haze wafted around him. His emotionless gaze fell on the Brother Guild member as he said, “You have been trying to pick a fight with us since the first break. If this continues, this party will fail to work effectively as a team. You’re causing too much trouble here.”
“S-so what?! You’re obviously younger than me; how dare you be so disrespectful to me?!” stammered the Brother Guild member. A single shout had shaken him to his core: The embarrassment was crushing. His voice was getting louder; it was apparent he was trying to mask his embarrassment.
Gi-Gyu replied calmly, “You were the one who disrespected me first.”
Realizing he was going to get nowhere, Gi-Gyu called for Kim Dong-Hae.
“Haa… Captain Kim Dong-Hae?”
Since Kim Dong-Hae was this group’s leader, addressing him as “captain” was the proper etiquette. Kim Dong-Hae watched Gi-Gyu with obvious interest as he asked, “Yes?”
“If we go on our hunt like this, we might have an accident. I think it would be best if we resolve this situation right now. What do you think?” Gi-Gyu asked politely.
“Hmm…” Kim Dong-Hae pondered.
“Fine! Dammit! Let’s do this! I’ll show you what a real man can do, Pretty Boy!” the Brother Guild member shouted, making Kim Dong-Hae frown. The player from Brother Guild was indeed crossing the line. And As Gi-Gyu mentioned, bad blood between the players could lead to an accident.
Turning towards Gi-Gyu again, Kim Dong-Hae asked, “But will you be alright?”
Morningstar was a C-grade guild, while Brother Guild was B-grade. Kim Dong-Hae had also studied each players’ abilities and levels before coming to this hunt. Therefore, such a question was a reasonable one.
Gi-Gyu answered confidently, “I’ll be fine.”
“But Hyung! That guy is B-grade,” Jae-Won warned.
“Oppa…” Ha-Neul seemed worried as well.
But it was Sun-Pil who stopped Jae-Won and Ha-Neul. Instead of trying to stop Gi-Gyu, Sun-Pil said encouragingly with a wink, “I think I know you enough to realize you’ll find a way, Hyung. Please make the Morningstar name proud.”
Accepting Sun-Pil’s words with a nod, Gi-Gyu smiled and asked the Brother Guild member, “So, are you interested?”
“Of course! Pretty boy! I will cut your face up, and then you’ll have a reason to walk around with a mask on! Just don’t cry like a baby afterward!” When the annoying Brother Guild member announced, his colleagues laughed, “Hahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Kim Dong-Hae acted as the referee for this fight and laid out the rules after gathering the fighters.
“We still have a guardian to hunt, so don’t use any weapons. One of you surrenders; the fight’s over. Got it?”
Interested, all the other players of the subjugation party formed a circle around the two fighters. This was a fight between a B-grade and a C-grade. Based on the difference in grades, one would think this wouldn’t be much of a fight. But the grade wasn’t the only determining factor in a player’s strength. Various factors like synergy in combos, stats, and equipment items could change the flow of a battle.
With so many variables to consider, the players couldn’t help watching the fight with genuine interest. Even Kim Dong-Hae seemed interested, as he allowed a fight right before such an important hunt.
In addition, Kim Dong-Hae believed this could relieve the members’ stress and heighten their excitement.
Morningstar was following as a spare guild. And although Brother Guild was part of the main hunting party, it wasn’t much stronger than the Morningstar Guild.
‘Something about him…’
Kim Dong-Hae thought as he studied Gi-Gyu. The energy he felt from Gi-Gyu was a memorable one; he suspected Gi-Gyu had a secret weapon.
The players of Brother Guild cheered for their members excitedly.
“Good-looking men must all die!”
“Macho all the way!”
Shaking her face in disgust, Ha-Neul muttered, “I was wondering why they were trying to pick a fight with us. Now I know why. They were jealous of Gi-Gyu oppa’s looks. Idiots.”
Just as the fight was about to begin, Gi-Gyu slowly turned toward his opponent and asked, “By the way, a fight is no fun if there is no bet involved. Don’t you agree?”
“A bet?” When the Brother member asked in confusion, Gi-Gyu taunted, “Why? Are you afraid you might lose?”
“Ha! You idiot! Name your bet! I don’t care!”
With a satisfied smile, Gi-Gyu suggested, “If I win, your guild must quit from this hunt and let the Morningstar Guild take your place instead. If you win, you can do whatever you want to me. What would you like? You can cut my face or even kill me. Do whatever you wish.”
When Gi-Gyu smirked, his opponent thought Gi-Gyu was laughing at him. The Brother Guild member shouted, “I’ll make sure your pretty face can never smile again.”
Gi-Gyu turned toward Kim Dong-Hae and asked, “Captain Kim Dong-Hae, will you be our witness?”
The Brother Guild and the Morningstar Guild had the same strength, so no one would miss them during the hunt. But excluding an entire guild from the party could be problematic. So, Kim Dong-Hae proposed a compromise, “If Player Kim Gi-Gyu wins, the Morningstar Guild will switch places with the Brother Guild. The Morningstar Guild will participate in the main group, and the Brother Guild will become a spare force.”
Gi-Gyu smiled and replied, “That sounds acceptable.”
Unlike the Morningstar Guild, where some of its members tried to stop Gi-Gyu out of concern, none of the Brother Guild’s members stopped this player from participating in this fight. Was it because this rude player was one of the high-ranking members of the group? Did every member of the Brother Guild believe their comrade would win?
Meanwhile, Jae-Won murmured, “Has Gi-Gyu hyung always been like this?”
Ha-Neul, just as worried, asked, “Shouldn’t we stop him?”
But it was too late to stop the fight. Taking a step back, Kim Dong-Hae announced officially, “You may begin.”