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Chapter 47. Hermes (2)
Zombies. They were creatures with the terrifying appearance of rotting skin, moving erratically without hints of human consciousness. They were said to be able to infect those that they bite or wound, turning them into zombies. It was why so many people watched zombie movies on the edge of their seats.
In these movies where everything was realistic except for the existence of zombies, the main characters awaited their doom. All humans on Earth turned into zombies, and the main characters, who were always among the last surviving humans, trembled in fear at this unprecedented terror.
But what if you added another element to this formula? For example, what if by having high constitution and a bit of mana, you could disinfect yourself of the zombies' poisons? Or even if you didn't have those things, you could just spray some Holy Water on your wound, and even melt the zombie by spraying it in Holy Water?
Of course, I did not believe zombies could break through my armor anyways. Even if they could, they would have hard time breaking through my skin that was strengthened by my high constitution.
In any case, what was left in that situation was the irritation caused by smell of rotting corpses and the concern about my eyes that were forced to see rather unsightly things.
Tempest used in conjunction with the Black Earthen Spear swept up dozens of zombies like they were paper airplanes. Most of these zombies died, and the ones that didn't soon collapsed from being poisoned. As I fought Floor Masters most of the time, I was like a wolf in a flock of sheep when fighting normal monsters.
When I used Tempest like consecutively shooting out bullets, the zombies around me exploded out in all directions like bowling pins. Blood from those that died from Black Earthen Spear's poison scattered on other zombies and infected them as well. I felt like I was playing some first person shooter. Of course, no matter how much mana I had, because Tempest used 300 MP every time I used it, I had to drink a lowest-grade Mana Potion every minute.
"Peika, take care of that side."
[Got it, Master!]
Since the zombies weren't strong enough to make me use Spirit Aura, I left Peika to act independently. As her lightning was getting stronger by the day, she could easily take care of the zombies by herself as long as she had my mana. The 21st floor's monsters were weak individually, but there were many of them. As such, I couldn't just leisurely hunt them.
[You obtained 70 gold.]
[You obtained 80 gold.]
[You obtained 75 gold.]
As they were so weak, each of them gave less than 100 gold. However, with so many of them, the gold piled up at an incredible rate. Ignoring the annoying messages ringing out in my ear, I quickly made my way through the dungeon. Ellos had described the 21st floor as 'turtle-paced advances in a situation where tension devoured reason,' but I didn't know just where the tension was or where I was supposed to be turtle-paced.
Gulping down the lowest-grade Mana Potions I was overflowing with, I ran forward as I used Tempest. Peika flew in front of me, burning the zombies coming from directions I didn't face. Just like that, I succeeded in breaking through the 21st floor in just two hours.
[You became level 22. You obtained the qualification to enter the 22nd floor.]
[You obtained 5 bonus stats.]
[In all of First Dungeon's history, you broke through the 21st floor in the shortest amount of time. This record will remain for long time to come. You obtained the title, 'Master of Divine Speed.' Your speed permanently increases by 3 percent.]
[Divine Speed becomes level 2. When used, it uses 19 percent of your mana and multiplies your speed by 550 percent for 0.55 seconds.]
"Shin-nim, why are you ba… Eh? This is the 21st Floor Shop, right?"
"Yep. I just broke through. Why didn't you tell me there was a reward for breaking through the dungeon quickly?"
Loretta had her mouth open like an idiot. She then spoke as she stared at me.
"Because I didn't think someone would break through the 21st floor in just two hours… Usually, two months is considered fast."
"Is the 22nd floor like the 21st floor?"
"Yes? Ah, yes, it's more or less the same until the 24th floor. That's when ghouls start to appear. But wait, ah, Shin-nim!"
"See you in a bit!"
[You became level 23. You obtained the qualification to enter the 23rd floor.]
[You obtained 5 bonus stats.]
[You swiftly broke through, sweeping through the 21st and 22nd floor zombies. You obtained the title, 'Zombie Slaughterer.' You gain 10 percent increased damage and resistance when fighting undead monsters. This effect becomes 20 percent when fighting zombies and ghouls.]
[You became level 24. You obtained the qualification to enter the 24th floor.]
[You obtained 5 bonus stats.]
[The dungeon will remember this day for all eternity. You set a grand record of clearing the 21st through 23rd floors in just 5 hours. You obtained the title, 'Incarnation of Lightning.' Your speed permanently increases by 3 percent. Your affinity to the lightning element increases greatly.]
[You obtained the special passive skill, 'Dash.' When you run, your speed increases greatly and you will not get tired easily. The skill proficiency will increase the more you run.]
When I was about to enter the 24th floor to do the same, Loretta hurriedly ran out from the Floor Shop and blocked my way. It was the first time I saw her come out of the Floor Shop.
"Shin-nim, stop! It's dangerous to recklessly charge through the 24th floor!"
"Huff, huff… O-Okay. Let me take a breath then."
I became stronger with titles. Focused solely on that, I overworked myself. I first put some oxygen back in my tired body and regained my composure. When I looked back up, I saw Loretta glaring angrily at me.
"No matter how good titles are, how could you use brush past the 22nd Floor Shop where I was waiting? What a rude explorer!"
"Eh, that was the problem?"
Loretta turned away silently. She seemed angry.
"Sorry. I'll always visit the Floor Shop from now on, so don't be angry."
"Yeah, yeah. I'll bring you some."
"Mm, okay. Then take some rest now."
Loretta appeased her anger and smiled. Since she had brought it up, I decided to eat here as well. Taking out the necessary tools from my inventory, I cooked up some ramen for Loretta and me. Loretta cheered loudly as she stared fixedly at the boiling ramen.
"By the way, Loretta, I heard monsters above the 21st floor dropped Residential Area Entrance Tickets."
"That's right, Shin-nim. What about it?"
Loretta's eyes were still fixed on the boiling ramen. It was almost ready now.
"They didn't drop any. I must have killed at least ten thousand monsters as I charged through the last 3 floors."
"You shouldn't think so simply. Residential Area Entrance Tickets are super rare."
Loretta picked up her chopsticks as she answered solemnly. She was silently telling me to give her ramen. Putting ramen in her bowl, I complained in a murmur.
"Damn it, when will I get to go? What use is there if I have a Special Mansion Purchase Ticket if I can't use it?"
"… Special Mansion?"
Loretta's eyes suddenly became wide with her mouth still full of ramen. Watching her trying to swiftly swallow the ramen, I couldn't help but think how cute she looked.
"Yep, Special Mansion. I got it from hunting the Lizard Knight alone."
"The only ownerless Special Mansion in the First Dungeon is Marianne's Garden. Then… WHOO!"
Loretta suddenly clenched her fist and shot it up in the air as she shouted in joy. Watching her with a curious look, my eyes then met her own. Loretta seemed to have regained her composure as she slowly dropped her fist and avoided my eyes.
"I-It's nothing! Nothing at all!"
"Come on, let's eat ramen! Ramen~!"
Another unsolvable mystery had appeared.
After filling my stomach with ramen, I did some quick equipment maintenance and bought five more bottles of Holy Water. Then I heard about the 24th floor from Loretta.
"Shin-nim, you know about ghouls, right?"
"Kind of. If zombies were resurrected corpses, then aren't ghouls monsters that appear in graveyards and feed on corpses?"
"Yes, that's what Earth's dungeon explorers say. However, their origins or methods of reproduction don't matter. What's important is how strong they are."
She explained that ghouls were in a different league than zombies. First was in speed. Ghouls were incomparable to zombies in speed. They were also strong and tough. Their skin could easily make steel bounce off and their powerful claws even possessed strong neurotoxins. Furthermore, even if they were injured, they could recover by devouring the flesh of other zombies.
Not only did it have high attack, defense, and speed, it also had portable potions all around it! Just from their description, they couldn't be more terrifying. Loretta put up her index finger and advised.
"The moment you see them, send its head flying or pierce its heart. Got it?"
"Tsk, looks like I'll have to give up on progressing quickly."
"Don't even try. If the number of ghouls start increasing, even Shin-nim would be in dire straits."
"Thanks for the kind explanation, Loretta."
"T-That'll be 500 gold for the information, customer."
At my words of gratitude, Loretta put out her hand and looked away with an 'oops' expression. I wondered why she was asking for gold when I thanked her. Life really was full of mysteries.
The dungeon generally had the same structure across floors. It was as wide as a castle's hallways and the ceiling was high so that you couldn't actually see it. Torches hung on the side stone walls, lighting up the passageway. If you kept following the hallway, the path twisted and turned. If you kept following the path, you would end up in front of the staircase to the next floor. Although there were some crossroads, they all led to the same destination. It was just a matter of going straight or taking a roundabout way.
However, the 24th floor different. First, the pathway was narrow and the floor wasn't hard. Second, there were cross-like objects stuck here and there. The fire of the torches also gave off an ominous aura. It felt like my HP would drop just by being in this place.
[This is a place full of death, Master.]
Peika spoke, brushing her dress as if something had gotten on it. I tightened my grip on the Black Earthen Spear and observed my surroundings. Even the undead could get poisoned, as they still had flesh and blood. As Black Earthen Spear's poison was one that burned blood and devoured bones, I had nothing to fear as long as I had it.
I believed in Loretta, but I didn't let myself become too nervous. If I let myself get scared by something like ghouls, I couldn't become the strongest!