Chapter 51 – Paradise After the End (2)
Translator: WH Editor: Sasha
“From now on, you also have to consider your actions a little more!”
Said the Witch.
She kept whacking me on the forearm with the rolled-up newspapers. Thud! Thud! She was so excited that she couldn’t control herself.
“Mmmhmm. Now you’re in all of the top 5 guilds. But in actual fact, you’re no different from a solo Hunter. Now that things have worked out so well, it’s also good for you to create a new guild for yourself.”
The Witch laughed merrily.
“Since you’re the 3rd rank Hunter, you should have the title of ‘Guild Master’. Even if you joined all the top 5 guilds, it doesn’t suit you if you’re just a regular member.”
It didn’t feel real.
“Being a Guild Master.”
Me, being the leader of a guild. Not only did it feel unreal, but it was also unimaginable. In the first place, was it even necessary to have Hunters under my wing?
I already have an army of skeletons.
Realizing that my complexion didn’t look very good, the Witch shrugged. Past her shoulder, the Sword Emperor stared silently at me.
“You may be similar to that grandpops, your personality might suit solo-playing more. There are unexpectedly quite a lot of people whose romance is to destroy everything the Dok-go Da-I (獨固多異) way. If you don’t have any thoughts of doing it, I won’t force you.”
[T/N: Dok-go Da-I is a Korean idiom that means to do everything you want to do, or doing everything your way.]
“Oh ho, are you talking about me behind my back now?”
The witch turned her head, ignoring the Sword Saint.
“What are those?”
On the other side of the Acacia field.
On the small plain, the Continent’s soldiers were building something. It was a barracks. They gave up attacking the paradise of the vengeful ghost, and in return, they would take a day off today and withdraw their troops afterwards.
I stroked my chin.
“These soldiers gathered from all over the Continent.”
“From all over the Continent?”
“To give you some context….”
I continued explaining. Of course, the story of the vengeful ghost was omitted. I only spoke about how I deceived the Continent’s army.
The Witch and the Sword Saint heard the story together, and as the explanation continued, their expressions became weird. A word from the Witch represented the two Hunter’s thoughts.
“Death King… I see that you have pretty good senses when it comes to lying.”
“Well, thanks to you, the stage was cleared without shedding any blood.”
“No, I’m not blaming you. On the contrary, you did really well.”
The Witch’s gaze sharpened.
It was the look of a merchant who came up with an insidious plan.
“This means from now on, we can trade here on the continent. We don’t have to grovel anymore to the old guys in the outside world. Those bad guys! They always lower the prices using their source of food. We’ll see if they can do that in the future.”
Resentment was flowing from her voice.
“Basically, the trade between the tower and the outside world was unfair.”
Said the Sword Saint.
“Capital, resources, technology. Whatever it was, the outside world has richer resources as compared to the tower. Of course, some elixirs and materials in the tower can’t be obtained from the outside world either.”
“Food provisions! Food is always a problem!”
The witch stamped on the ground.
When I first saw her, I thought she was an unfriendly person. Is it because the three of us broke through the 12th to 19th floors together? She expressed her feelings colourfully in front of us.
That meant we had become that much closer.
“Anyways, Black Dragon Witch, you mean to say you’re going to start trading with the people of the Continent?”
“Hmm? Of course. The outside world needs to know what bitterness tastes like too.”
Then I pointed to the military camp that was set up on the plains.
“You’re going to have to talk to them from now onwards. If you just say ‘Let’s trade’, it’s not gonna work. To the people of the Continent, we are strangers, and for us, they are other-worlders.”
“I’ll lend you my name.”
“I am the emissary of the Founding Emperor and an Apostle of the Goddess in this world. If you make it look like you are also an Apostle sent by the Goddess, at the very least it will be useful for you to start trading with them.”
The witch’s gaze sharpened again.
“It’s an offer I’d be thankful for. It’s also an effective move. But you are definitely not gonna lend me your name for free, so… What do you want?”
“The 20th floor.”
I looked around.
Acacia fields. A small plain. The hometown of Estelle.
This little world was all that was on the 20th floor.
“I want the 20th floor.”
For a moment the Witch was at a loss for words.
“…Hold on. What do you mean by the 20th floor? Don’t tell me you want to have the whole 20th floor to yourself?”
“Yes. To be exact, I want to possess all the land that is on the 20th floor.”
“Instead, I won’t accept anything for clearing the 11th and 19th floors. You can share the benefits of trading with the Continent with the other Hunters.”
Again, the Witch’s lips were shut tight.
It was an unprecedented offer.
Usually, when Hunters raid the stage, the participants would first share their achievements among themselves. The ownership of an item. And furthermore, the ownership of resources. But about half of the rights were left to be shared by all other Hunters.
It was unprecedented for someone to have the whole [One Floor].
“This is……not something I can take care of on my own.”
The Witch had a perplexed expression.
“We need to call in the other guild masters to discuss about it.”
“Well, I don’t have anything to do for the next 24 hours, so I’ll wait.”
“…You really want the whole stage here to yourself?”
The Witch glanced around.
“This land, it doesn’t seem very valuable at all. The Acacia flower path…is pretty, but there’s not enough land to farm. And the size of the stage is also small.”
“Based on my experience, Death King. In such cases, it is much more profitable to receive the distributed rewards from the 11th to 20th floors that have been cleared. You’ll be able to earn a fortune.”
“I prefer real estate to money. Land is the best.”
[T/N: Call is like a Korean slang for agreeing to something, e.g. going out for drinks or whatnot.]
The Witch sighed.
“I’ll gather the guild masters. Let’s discuss it on the 1st floor.”
“Mmmhmm. You have to show your face to the people at least once anyway. But…”
The Witch slowly glanced around.
“There is something I wanted to ask you since before.”
“…What the hell is that?”
I looked at the direction the Witch pointed at.
“Fu-,ck… Black… fucker, this, stop…Make it stop! Is it such a difficult request?! Fuck! What kind of grudge do you have against me, what did I do wrong…??!!”
A top dancer was showing off his skills there.
The dancer’s sweat and tears flowed down the Acacia fields beautifully.
It was beautiful.
“Black Dragon Witch.”
I smiled brightly.
“Black Dragon Witch, you didn’t see anything today.”
“You didn’t see anything today. You know what to do right?”
The Witch had a curious look on her face.
She had the same face as a biologist who had encountered the mysteries of a lifetime.
“That’s right. There are all kinds of people in the world. I understand.”
“But,” the witch murmured.
“As expected, you’re also out of your mind….”
It was also an irrelevant opinion.
I left the vengeful ghost and the Flame Emperor on the 20th floor, and transferred to the 1st floor with the Hunters.
“Is it okay for the meeting place to be held at the coffee shop we went to last time?”
“Yes. I don’t mind.”
It’s been a long time since I came back to the city on the 1st floor. Babylon.
To others, it may seem like I returned after only five days, but that wasn’t the case for me.
Literally hundreds of days. It was the first time in years that I had returned to the city.
“Nothing. I’m coming to realization now, that I’ve cleared the stage.”
The Witch giggled.
“I’m not sure. You probably need to comprehend it a little more.”
“I told you. In the tower right now, you’re the only thing everyone’s talking about. Brace yourself.”
There was no need to ask what kind of preparation he had to do.
“Is that perhaps…?”
Not long after I stepped on the first floor transfer gate, the surrounding area began to buzz noisily.
Passers-by on the street. Street vendors who set up stalls by the side of the road. Hunters, who were just getting ready to leave to go hunting, all whispered one after another.
“Isn’t that the Witch and the Sword Saint.”
“Then that guy is….”
“It’s the Death King!”
Someone shouted. That was just the start.
“The Death King appeared!”
A customer who was carefully looking at the used weapons at the stall turned his head. A couple who were enjoying coffee at an outdoor café stood up. Merchants selling rare flowers, Hunters chatting with their colleagues, dozens, hundreds, all at once, looked this way. My way.
A crowd flocked together in an instant.
“There’s a rumor that you cleared the 20th floor by yourself, is that true?”
“Look here please! Wait please! Here here!”
I didn’t even have time to cope with anything. Just, I blinked my eyes once and people already surrounded our party. That wasn’t the end. When I blinked twice, the encirclement doubled in size.
“Don’t say anything.”
The Witch whispered softly with a voice that only I could hear.
“You haven’t had any experiences dealing with the press, have you?”
“Yes, well. Of course.”
“Mysticism? Popular star?”
“I’m talking about the concept. Do you want a mysterious concept or a popular star concept?”
The crowd tripled while the Witch was whispering. Our party’s pace seemed to have slowed down by 30 times. Snap! Snap! Every step of the way, cell phone cameras continuously flashed.
Oh my God.
It felt like I was out of my mind!
“Once a concept is set, it’s hard to change it. You need to give me an answer now.”
“Uh. I know what the mysterious concept means, but what’s a popular star concept?”
“It’s similar to a movie star.”
Said the Witch.
“First of all, you need to make a new SNS account. You need to have a secretary for image management and a secretary that deals with the media. Of course, you should also hire someone who takes care of your looks and fashion. Oh, don’t worry about the money. The Black Dragon guild will take care of that.”
I lost my mind even more.
Next to us, the Sword Saint was frowning.
He muttered a few words.
“I hate dealing with this bullshit, so I’ll go on my own.”
It sounded reasonable.
“I’d like to have a mysterious concept….”
“Are you sure? A person changes when they receives some maintenance. It’s natural to be much more handsome than now, and you’ll realize some new ways of dealing with other humans.”
For example in the case of the Heretic Questioner, he’s a magazine model and he probably also does personal photo shoots?”
I too knew that well.
Before returning back to 4000 days, didn’t I used to collect those magazines and pictorials? Even the Black Dragon Witch right in front of me was a regular model for magazine covers.
“No, mysticism! I want to have a mysterious concept.”
However, if I was the one involved, it’d be a different story.
“Why? You don’t want to shoot a pictorial?”
Was I shot in the head to be like that?!
“I’ll die of embarrassment.”
“They’re all shy at first. No wait, the Heretic Questioner didn’t know what shame was even when he first started… He’s an exception. Death King, if we’re talking about embarrassing things, when you went up the Pavilion at the Aegim Empire and shouted, that was even more…”
“I’m leaving the top five guilds if it’s not mysticism.”
I meant it whole-heartedly.
The Witch lightly laughed.
“Yes. I suppose you’ll do that. You look like you’d really do it.”
“What should I do about the mysterious concept?”
“Simple. You just need to have a good poker face.”
This was the first time in my life ever that I heard somebody advising me ,saying ‘Keep a good poker face’.
“SNS activities are absolutely forbidden. No magazines or broadcast. Even if a personal broadcast streamer or media company asks for an interview, refuse it. It’s okay to have an interview about twice a year. I’ll only send you reporters that I have verified in advance.”
“You still don’t know how difficult that will be.”
The Witch giggled.
“Attention is a drug. The most addictive sort of drug.”
The Sword Saint stepped in after she said that.
“It’s also a drug that thoroughly destroys people the most.”
“That’s right. If just 10 people paid attention to someone, that person would feel happy. But when you reach this spot, even if you say a few words, dozens and hundreds of people will react to it. There aren’t really a lot of people who can resist this sort of drug.”
An even bigger crowd gathered.
It was as if the population of the whole city gathered here.
“It’s all for naught.”
That’s what the Sword Saint said.
“Yeah. But it sure is a pleasant piece of crap.”
The Witch replied.
“Maybe knowing how to enjoy this kind of drug is also a famous person’s accomplishment. Until they get tired of the drug. Or you could choose to hang in there until you’re disillusioned with your companions who take the same drug. What do you want to do, Death King?”
I looked around me.
A curtain of people.
It was packed with people, leaving no gaps. The camera flashes went off constantly, so I had to squint. The continuous flashes were eye-blinding, and felt like a mirage, and the curtain of people looked almost like a shadow.
“…No one would be as hung up on others as I was.”
I opened my mouth.
“What I want to get is recognition. And although I don’t really know… I think receiving attention and recognition is a little different.”
I thought of the Flame Emperor.
Before returning 4000 times, he was the supreme being that hogged the limelight of the tower.
“I don’t need the attention of millions of people. Just the attention of people around me is enough. Hundreds of thousands or millions, what I want from the people of the world is… It’s not attention, it’s recognition.”
The Witch smiled.
“I think they’re not that different. But if that’s your answer, I’ll respect it.”
“I’m glad you’re such a person.”
I had heard something like that before too.
“So how do you make a good poker face?”
“I’ll teach you the secret.”
The sound of the crowd burst from every direction.
Shortly, the speed of our party dropped to about 10 centimeters per second.
“This really reminds me of a bad memory.”
“A bad memory?”
“Yes. In my case, when I was in the outside world, my father died in a civil war.”
The Witch said calmly.
“It was when I was seven. I was running away with my parents, and the soldiers probably came after us. My father stayed behind. Then, my father shouted, ‘Don’t look back and run quickly’. But…”
The witch led the way through the crowd.
“I really ran without looking back. I heard a gunshot, but I didn’t turn around. I kept running.”
The camera’s flashes didn’t stop.
“It happened when you were young right.”
“It happened when I was young.”
The witch murmured.
“It’s not that I hated the fact that I ran away. I was a kid. But, why didn’t I look back? It would have been an easy thing to do. It was just looking.”
“I think of those times when I have to put on a poker face. When I recall the memory of my heart beating fast, I can put up a really good poker face. It’s like a little magic trick of my own.”
The Witch looked at me.
“You have one or two such memories, don’t you?”
A dark alley.
I recalled the memory of when the Flame Emperor gripped my head and burned my whole body.
“I suppose so.”
I could tell even without looking in the mirror.
That I was putting up a perfect poker face.
“Please look here for a while!”
“Please say something, anything!”
“Black Dragon Witch, when can I hear the official announcement…”
“What kind of relationship do the two of you have?!”
“Sword Saint-nim! What do you think of Death King?!”
When I looked around again, before I knew it, I got used to the camera flashes, so I could see my surroundings better. I had never been surrounded by such a large crowd before. It was also the first time that I faced a shower of flashes like this.
“It’s immediately effective though?”
I wasn’t as out of mind as before.
It was just my usual calmness.
The Witch lifted the corners of her mouth slightly.
“You’re a fast learner huh. You’ll get used to it soon.”
The world clearly changed in 5 days.
But it wasn’t to a level where I had to change with it.
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