Something was off.
After the meeting, Seo Jun-Ho sat in a corner of the camp and contemplated.
‘As Milphage had said, the bees’ levels are quite high, and there are thousands of them...’
The beekeeper added one more thing.
He mentioned that his deduction was based on Earth’s bees.
However, that wasn't good news.
‘If there's a difference in reproduction speed between Earth's bees and these guys…’
What if it wasn’t slower but incomparably faster What if there were tens of thousands of beasts instead of thousands The mere thought of it made Seo Jun-Ho’s head spin.
‘More than anything, even I have never experienced something like this before.’
He had dealt with quite a lot of monsters that lived in clusters.
However, it was his first time with monsters in such a large cluster.
In addition, the levels of monsters living in groups were very low.
It was exactly because their levels were low that there were so many of them.
"Contractor, you look like you have a lot on your mind."
“Since there are enemies of that level on the 2nd floor, I was thinking about what the 3rd floor is like…”
Humans had been tied to the 2nd floor for far too long, but they had to keep climbing to prevent Earth’s destruction.
"Second floor, third floor, fourth floor...
to the 10th floor."
The realization gave Seo Jun-Ho a fright.
If they were already struggling on the 2nd floor, wouldn’t clearing the 3rd or 4th floor be just a dream In the end, Earth could face destruction, and all his efforts in protecting everything he wanted to protect would be in vain.
As Seo Jun-Ho's expression darkened, the Frost Queen sighed.
“The biggest problem with you is that you worry too much, too early.
Take it easy.”
"Is that fine"
"That is fine.
Do you trust me”
"Keuk, where did you learn to speak like an old man"
Seo Jun-Ho ended up smirking.
He immediately looked back and said, "Can I help you”
Gong Ju-Ha had been standing timidly by the tree in the back before she approached Seo Jun-Ho and handed a drink over to him.
"Hehe, I missed the timing to talk to you because you were muttering something by yourself.
Are you perhaps practicing your rap"
"I can't rap.
I'm just worried about something."
"Hmm, what would our newbie have so much to worry about Why don’t you tell this noona about it"
Seo Jun-Ho frowned, but he soon recovered his expression.
Gong Ju-Ha may be like this, but she was still a High Ranker with a lot of experience in the world of Players.
‘It wouldn't be a bad idea to ask just once.’
Seo Jun-Ho seriously confessed his worries.
"I can't imagine how hard it would be to clear the 3rd floor if we are already struggling like this."
"Aha, you were worried about the 3rd floor What a useless worry.
It didn’t seem like there was much there," Gong Ju-Ha muttered as she sipped on her latte with a straw.
Why do you speak like you’ve been there"
"I've been there.”
"I risked everything and went there."
Seo Jun-Ho looked at her serious face for a while, then spoke, “Let me ask you a question, then."
"What are the conditions for admission to the 3rd floor"
Most members of the Big 6, including the Silent Moon Guild and the Goblin Guild, had tentatively concluded that Floormasters only existed on odd floors, as there was no Floormaster on the 2nd floor.
You said you've tried matching, right"
"If you win there, you can get matching points and use them to buy a third-floor ticket from the Administrator’s Store when it opens."
"…A third-floor ticket Is there such a thing in the Administrator’s Store"
Last time, he didn’t see anything like that, as he had been distracted by the elixirs.
"Actually, they weren’t selling it before, but they started selling it a few years ago.”
"...They weren’t selling it before, but they started selling it a few years ago"
"It seems that you were thinking that the Big 6 are preventing Players from entering the 3rd floor until they’re skilled enough."
Seo Jun-Ho frowned.
It's a little different from when I opened the 2nd floor.’
When he and his comrades defeated the Frost Queen, the average level of Players on Earth wasn’t that high.
Nevertheless, the system had allowed them entry to the 2nd floor.
‘However, it purposely blocked access to the 3rd floor That means it's a much more dangerous world than here.'
Fortunately, someone who had been there was sitting next to him.
"How was the 3rd floor"
It was hell."
It had definitely been terrible just to imagine it, as Gong Ju-Ha hugged herself and trembled.
"Isn't that different from what you have said before You said there was nothing much there."
"Ah, the monsters there were really nothing special.
There were only a handful of weaklings,” she spoke as she raised her small fist.
"But it's too warm there.
No! It's not warm, but hot! Hotter than a super-heated sauna!"
"So, except for the place being hot, it's not really difficult floor”
"That's what I felt.
I felt like the monsters there weren’t really that much different from here."
His thoughts became more complicated.
‘What if the reason why access to the 3rd floor is limited is that I absorbed the Frost Queen’s nucleus, which made it impossible to clear the 3rd floor’
That was a decent possibility…
'…Then it's absolutely my fault.’
Perhaps the Players’ overall growth rate had slowed down because of him.
"Let's talk about something more constructive than that.
What do you think of those bees"
"The bees" Several plans were already in Seo Jun-Ho's head.
"I don't think it's going to be too hard to clear, honestly."
"Hmm, I think so, too.
It feels odd to say this, but I'm here…"
Gong Ju-Ha, who could easily burn off the wings of those bees, shrugged.
"Oh, come to think of it...” Her eyes sparkled.
"I heard you did an outstanding job this time.”
"I don't think it's to the point of being outstanding…”
"No, no, it has spread all over already.
You know, I have ears, right”
Her ears twitched.
"I was so proud of myself.
The guy who had always been looking up to me… Well, it felt like that, but you grew up really well."
To be honest, I did receive a lot of help from you, Team Leader Gong.
It was the same when I first came up to the 2nd floor."
"Hmmm, you say that you’re grateful, but you still haven’t bought me a meal even after a year you said you would."
"If you want, I could cook cup ramen for you now"
"Just try to bring me cup ramen, and you’ll see.
You can't just throw away precious opportunities like this, you know" She shook her head and got up.
"After this job, I'm going to make you get me something really expensive, delicious, and with big portions.”
"As much as you want…"
"Then you should go to bed early because tomorrow will be a busy day.”
When Gong Ju-Ha left, the Frost Queen said, "Hnng, hasn’t your face become as stupid-looking as usual"
"Really I think I still look the same."
"The same You looked like you were carrying all the worries of the world, but now, the look on your face makes me want to punch you.”
Her emotions had been fluctuating quite a bit today.
Seo Jun-Ho thought he should purchase more Spirit Crystals sooner or later.
"There are two things that have changed from yesterday." At the base camp in the morning, Milphage stood in front of more than a hundred Players.
He raised his index finger and said, "Today, we will work with the Goblin Guild to carry out the plan."
After the meeting Milphage had with Shin Sung-Hyun last night, they had reached this conclusion.
"Well, we're usually competitors, but let's forget about the competition here and help each other out."
"It's not just that," said Shin Sung-Hyun.
He spoke while looking toward Seo Jae-Gil, the former beekeeper.
"According to Player Seo Jae-Gil, destroying colonies of bees seems to be easier than what we expected."
"...The queen bee."
Those who were somewhat aware of bees’ social structure started murmuring.
When the queen bee dies, the colony becomes lost, and they eventually scatter.”
A Player in the Goblin Guild raised his hand.
"Master, isn't it harder to hunt them if those trapped in that tower are scattered"
“That's a good question, but that’s not the case for bees."
"I'll explain it to you." Seo Jae-Gil raised his hand and said, "The eusociality of bees is profound.
It's very similar to that of humans, so when war breaks out, the bees will follow the instructions of the queen bee.
But what if the queen bee disappeared…”
"So, you’re saying that they’ll become chaotic when they lose their commander"
“Some bees will get stuck in their hive, some will try to leave the hive, and some will try to fly away.
Overall, the hunting difficulty will be dramatically reduced.”
The Players nodded; they understood what Seo Jae-Gil was saying.
“So, today's goal is simple.
We will approach the tower and join the other guilds."
"If we join forces and hunt together, the damage we will sustain would be far less."
The other guilds would obviously accept such a proposal.
If one refused, they would be politically isolated upon leaving this place.
In addition, there was no harm in participating, as they had to make some contributions here to get proper rewards.
"Now, a hundred forty-two of the best Players between the Goblin and Hallem Guild…"
The number of Players who remained at the base camp was the bare minimum to protect their shelter and food.
The rest of the Players began to march to the Magic Tower, following the map they had drawn the previous day.
"What if we put gas in the tower and burn it all up with my flame"
"It's too dangerous.
First, we’ll have to see if those bees are immune to gas.
If we mess up, we’ll only make them angry."
The plan was constantly being revised and supplemented even while on the move.
The Players were alert but not nervous.
With the combined forces of Goblin and Hallem, they wouldn't have any trouble even if dozens of bees came at them.
When they arrived at the ridge of the forest where a panoramic view of the Magic Tower could be seen, Milphage’s eyes shone.
"I think we're late today."
They could feel the great flow of magic coming from the various places in the forest.
Then, the sky near the Magic Tower turned dark.
"…That's all bees"
"I feel like I'm looking at a plague of locusts.”
The bees covering the sky divided into two groups and descended to the ground.
The other four guilds had started the battle one step ahead of them.
Milphage asked Shin Sung-Hyun, "Now, what do you want to do Looking at the auras, on the left are Sky Soul and Labyrinth, and on the right Silent Moon and Silver Constellation."
"Let's go to the left," Shin Sung-Hyun replied without even thinking about it.
Milphage revealed a content smile.
"Huhu, that’s right.
I don't think there'll be anything to eat if we go to the right."
On the right stood the Sword Saint, Kim Woo-Joong, and Wei Chun-Hak of the Celestial Dragon Guild, who was currently with the Silver Constellation Guild.
In other words, they would have nothing to do if they went over to the right side.
Milphage's smiling expression slowly stiffened.
It was the same with Shin Sung-Hyun.
Their eyes were fixed on the dark sky, which was connected to the Magic Tower.
"…Aren’t there too many of them coming out When is that going to end"
They could see at least two to three thousand of them.
Due to their large size, the collective noise the bees were making was very loud as they flew through the skies.
The noises were reminiscent of dozens of helicopters flying in the air.
In the midst of these noises, Seo Jun-Ho’s instincts sent him a sharp warning, confusing him.
'We're not the target of those bees.’
In fact, not a single bee was headed their way, so why was it that his instincts kept sending him warnings
‘The success rate of my instincts’ warning has been quite high these days…’
This meant an unknown danger was approaching by the minute.
Just what the hell was it The moment Seo Jun-Ho frowned—
A Player looking up at the sky was sucked into the floor.
"Damn it, help him!"
The moment nearby Players reached out to save him, Shin Sung-Hyun moved and took out a baton from his pocket.
When the end of the baton was aimed at the ground, the space twisted, and the ground was ‘dismantled.’ The Player who had been sucked into the ground could be seen once more.
In that short period of time, the Player's body had become filled with holes like cheese.
Furthermore, the Player’s arms had become blueish and swollen, looking like a monster’s arms.
"T-the ground No way...” Witnessing the horrible scene, Seo Jae-Gil hurriedly turned around.
A sharp warning screeched out of his mouth.
"It's a digger wasp!"
'A digger wasp'
Just when Seo Jun-Ho was about to ask—
The ground they were standing on began to shake violently.