Leveling with the Gods - Chapter 78
The Grand Martial Arts Tournament was the biggest event in the Martial Realm, representing the 10th Floor, and it was a festival that drew the attention of countless Rankers.
Whenever it got close to the tournament, the Martial City became chock full of people.
“There really are a lot of people.”
“Did you manage to find lodging?”
“There’s literally no place to stay, but even if there was, we’d have to share rooms.”
“What do we do?”
“I don’t know. I told you, we should have come sooner to secure a spot.”
“But coming five days before the event seems like such a waste.”
“The tournament isn’t the only thing here. There’s plenty of other sights to see. You really are stupid.”
“Selling hot jianbing!* We also have veggie stir-fry and dumplings!”
*TL/N: A Chinese street food that’s like a savory crepe.
The streets were filled with vendors selling simple foods.
People drank liquor, shared food, and debated while looking over the list of participants for the tournament.
“It’s gotta be Hoon. Not only is the NamGung Clan the one hosting the tournament, he’s not called a genius for no reason.”
“The NamGung Clan ain’t that great. The Martial Guild isn’t even one of the major guilds.”
“Do you think it’ll be Hargaan then?”
“Is he also participating in the tournament?”
“Of course. He’s the best High Pure-Blood in the last few hundred years. I heard that he made it all the way to the 25th Floor in a flash before waiting for the tournament.”
“What a terrifying speed.”
“At that rate, he might even be able to become a Ranker in less than ten years.”
Hargaan was one of favorites to win the Grand Martial Arts Tournament. Not only had he made it to the 25th floor, the last floor you can get to before being ineligible to participate, he had ranked highly on each floor he had passed.
“Hey! I got a big scoop!”
“What is it that it made you so late?”
“Sit down already. Could I get another aguardiente here?”
“I’d also like some more side dishes…”
“That’s not what’s important right now!” the man who had arrived late said to his group, all out of breath, “Kim YuWon is participating.”
“I thought he would have gone on to clear the next floor.”
“I didn’t think he’d be interested in stuff like this.”
Players that participated in the Grand Martial Arts Tournament had various motives. The most common one was to show off their skills and get sponsored by the best guild possible.
Countless guilds paid attention to the tournament, so if you did well in it, it was a piece of cake to get sponsored by a guild.
Another common reason was to elevate the status of a guild.
Players on the lower floors were essentially a guild’s future. They would climb the Tower, become Rankers, and one day become a core fighting power of the guild.
Also, a guild’s reputation changed depending on the number of players that did well in the tournament, so many different guilds would push their players to participate. The more players of their own guild that ranked highly in the tournament, the more their reputation would increase, allowing them to expand.
“I doubt it’s to get the attention of guilds…”
“Do you think it’s for the prize?”
“I bet he’s participating, thinking he’s got this in the bag.”
The group of men that were eating now had a different look on their face.
These Rankers didn’t come all the way down to the 10th Floor just for fun.
“When was the last time we approached YuWon?” the man in the center of the group asked.
He was someone that didn’t bother with pointless gossip, so when he spoke, the mood drastically changed.
“It was after he cleared the 8th Floor.”
“So it’s been a while.”
“He’s managed to climb to the 20th floor since then, but it actually hasn’t been that long in terms of time, sir.”
“We sent a messenger, but he didn’t even bother with us.”
“I’ll personally go this time,” said the man with a face covered in blue scales as he stood up.
It was Brahnil, a Ranker belonging to the Dragon race.
He said, “With the honor of our guild, the 12 Earthly Gods,* on the line.”
*TL/N: The 12 Earthly Gods is a reference to the 12 Chinese zodiacs.
* * *
That was what Brahnil was told at the door after having jumped through various hoops trying to find where YuWon was staying.
Brahnil had a blank look on his face. He couldn’t believe he had been told to go away. He had thought he would get invited in for some tea and have a short talk before he was rejected.
He had also wanted to take this chance to see why everyone was so desperate to recruit YuWon.
So he was dumbfounded at being treated like this.
“Aren’t you quite rude?” Brahnil asked.
YuWon just silently pointed behind Brahnil with his chin.
Brahnil looked behind him and was shocked to see a familiar face.
“You’re…” Brahnil trailed off.
“Aren’t you from the 12 Earthly Gods? I heard that things haven’t been going well for you guys, but to think the guildmaster would personally come.”
As a Ranker of the major guild Zion, Sariel was an archangel who was said to be on the precipice of becoming a High Ranker.
A Ranker from Zion with the position of archangel had personally come to pay YuWon a visit. Normally, Zion would have just sent a player on the lower floors to recruit someone.
‘Could it be that others are doing the same as me…?’ Brahnil thought.
It was rare for a Ranker to personally come and make a recruitment offer, so Brahnil had intended on scooping up YuWon by getting ahead of everyone.
His thought process was that no matter how great a player might be, there was no way YuWon could beat the pressure exerted by a Ranker.
But Brahnil was completely wrong. This was not the first time a Ranker had personally paid YuWon a visit.
YuWon had been encountering Rankers for quite a while now, even before he had stepped foot on the 10th Floor.
“It’s a good sight. I hope you keep up the hard work as the head of the pack,” said Sariel.
Brahnil bit his tongue at the back-handed compliment. Even if he was a Ranker of the Dragon race, it couldn’t be helped that he felt miniscule compared to an archangel of Zion.
“Are you also going to tell me to go away?” asked Sariel, looking back and forth between YuWon and Brahnil.
Sariel decided that there was no need for a long talk. YuWon seemed very used to this situation.
“Well, you are my ninth and tenth visitor today,” YuWon answered.
Though he was visited by multiple guilds, YuWon denied all of them a meeting.
This was the first time a Ranker on the level of Sariel had come by, but no matter who came, YuWon had no intention of giving a different answer.
“Well, if you by chance have a change of heart, contact us here. Zion will always have a spot for you.”
“I can promise you that won’t happen,” YuWon answered, leaving not a shred of hope.
In contrast to Sariel who started leaving, Brahnil stood in place, wanting to get something out of this encounter.
That was when a new visitor came by.
“What about me? Should I also go away?”
YuWon, who was planning on going back into his room, stopped in his tracks.
His annoyance quickly left, and he felt a bit comforted after seeing who it was.
“It’s been a while, friend,” said the new visitor.
‘H-Hargaan?’ Brahnil thought.
A chiseled, handsome fellow with golden blonde hair and sharp eyes. Hargaan looked exactly like he had heard.
Brahnil remembered that Hargaan was a comrade that YuWon did the Tutorial together with.
YuWon said, “Yeah. Go away.”
“I’m kidding. You can come in,” YuWon said, going into his room without closing the door.
While following YuWon, Hargaan let out a baffled laugh, “Your jokes aren’t funny man.”
The door closed, and Brahnil mumbled in a daze, “I should just leave…”
* * *
The inn YuWon was staying in was quite big, clocking in at about 65m2.* It was one of the best places one could get in the area.
*PR/N: ≈ 700ft2
“How did you even get a place like this?”
“By paying a pretty penny.”
“You must be rich.”
“Well, I just keep racking up points. I went through the trouble of stopping my ascension. Might as well rest in luxury.”
“Is that so?”
YuWon poured some water for Hargaan.
The cold glass of water was perfect for a hot day like today.
As Hargaan was about to take a drink…
“Is Mr. Kim YuWon here?”
“Someone’s here for you,” Hargaan remarked.
“Just ignore it. If it’s actually urgent, they’ll enter by breaking down the door or something.”
“You’re real laid back. This must happen a lot.”
“I’ve had people visiting me regularly, but it’s been especially bad here.”
“It’s probably because of the tournament. Guilds gather around this time in the Martial Realm to recruit players.”
YuWon nodded his head. It was annoying, but it was going to be a few days at best, and things were likely going to calm down again once he left the 10th Floor.
“So how did you find me?” asked Yuwon.
“You’re a real celebrity you know. All I had to do was ask around a bit.”
“I would have just told you if you had asked.”
“But what’s the fun in that? It wouldn’t be a surprise visit then, would it?”
“You didn’t really surprise me either way.”
YuWon thought Hargaan would have changed a lot, but he was still the same. A laid-back personality, earnest eyes, and a confident attitude.
He was one of the few ‘real ones’ that YuWon acknowledged.
“What about your teammates?”
“They’re resting at the inn. I snuck out to come see you.”
“Has anyone died so far?”
“Not a single one.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“We’re all going to become Rankers. They all have what it takes,” Hargaan said with confidence.
And his words had a level of truth to it. Some of his teammates did indeed become Rankers that YuWon knew in the future.
‘Though I’m not sure about Lee SungYoon…’ YuWon wondered.
The one unexpected variable was SungYoon.
He was a player from Earth like YuWon, and he had a great talent for mana, being able to use [Mana Blast] early on. So it was hard for YuWon to gauge how much he might have grown.
‘I guess I can find out by seeing him in person,’ YuWon decided.
There was not much information known about SungYoon, and he was originally a player that should have died in the Tutorial. Maybe it was because they came from the same place, but he was the most memorable out of Hargaan’s teammates to YuWon.
“I heard you pulled something real big this time,” said Hargaan.
YuWon had a confused look on his face.
He wasn’t pretending. He genuinely didn’t know what Hargaan was talking about since it could have been a number of things.
“I heard you were the one that stopped Olympus from capturing Hephaestus.”
“How did you find that out?”
“I might not be well-loved by my family, but my father is still Zeus. Besides, do you know how many people have become Rankers after being in my shoes?”
YuWon nodded his head at Hargaan’s words.
There were quite a handful of bastard children of Zeus. Famously, there were Apollo and Artemis, the High Rankers of Olympus. They were both illegitimate children of Zeus.
“I’m able to get ahold of most information. Seriously. I thought you were one real crazy son of a bitch when I heard it. Tsk tsk. What were you thinking? I’m impressed that you survived a fight against a Ranker, but now you’ve made an enemy of Olympus.”
“I’m surprised you came here despite knowing all that.”
“Well… I’ve never been one to care what others think. Besides, it’s Hera’s faction that’s all up in arms anyway.”
Hargaan had never been on good terms with Hera and Ares, so he had decided there was no need to be careful of them.
“What about Zeus?”
“… You’re the first guy I’ve ever met who says my father’s name so nonchalantly.”
“Father has long since stepped away from matters regarding Olympus. He’s focused on clearing the next floor.”
The Tower was known to have a total of 100 floors, but that wasn’t actually true.
People called players who climbed to the 100th Floor Rankers, but that was only because the test on the 100th Floor hadn’t been cleared yet.
There was a higher place in the Tower, and people referred to the place above the 100th floor as ‘The Ceiling.’
“Anyway, Olympus is not happy because you saved the criminal Hephaestus, so you should watch yourself for a bit. When I get a chance, I’ll speak to my father and try to put in a good word for you.”
It seemed that Hargaan was unaware what had happened on the 11th Floor.
YuWon wasn’t surprised. The fact that a test examiner had attacked a test participant would be top secret. Even Hargaan shouldn’t be able to obtain such information easily.
Hargaan was showing goodwill, but YuWon was still disappointed by what Hargaan had said.
“So that’s how you see it as well,” YuWon said.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m talking about ahjussi. He’s known as a criminal within Olympus.”
After finishing his glass of water, YuWon got up from his seat.
“Do you want to come with me?” he asked Hargaan.
“To the 1st Floor.”
YuWon had some business there, so he was going to stop by before the tournament started anyway.
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“To meet Hephaestus-ahjussi.”
Those words made the expression on Hargaan’s face change.