Chapter 51 – A day at the Camping Grounds, Meeting a Strange Merchant.
[User: Han Kain (Wisdom)
Date: Day 20
Current Location: Basement, Camping Grounds
Sage’s Advice: 3]
We were sitting in a circle with absentminded looks on our faces. Due to the broken facilities, everyone had a hard time having a good sleep, and on top of that, we had to hurry down to the basement because of the Hotel’s directions first thing in the morning.
As a result, everyone was sitting in the campsite looking extremely fatigued.
“Do we have to spend a whole day here? Is there a way to go outside?”
“Seeing how the door disappeared as soon as we came inside, I believe it is telling us to stay here for a day,” said Grandpa Mooksung.
“There’s meat there, tents and some sleeping bags. How about we sleep a bit more?”
“I understand that you are sleepy, Seungyub-gun, but we should first see whether this place is safe or not.” It was again Grandpa Mooksung who replied to Seungyub.
“Can you feel anything dangerous, sir?”
“I’m not a psychic so of course not. But judging from our experiences, the Hotel has been giving us strange things everyday whenever we weren’t going into a Cursed Room, right?”
“But this time,” said Songee. “It’s not like we are choosing not to enter it, and we just cannot go to a Cursed Room, right?”
“Well, you’re right but sir also has a point.” Eunsol-noona continued after Songee. “This Hotel does whatever they want to anyway, right? If we start talking about reasons, then the reason why we ‘cannot’ go into a Cursed Room is because the Hotel is broken, and the one who broke it is Kain, so there is a possibility that the Hotel doesn’t let us off today.”
Everyone became silent after my apology. I had a subtle feeling ever since this morning that everyone would flinch or run away from me when I spoke or walked up to them. Maybe the thing that happened yesterday was just that shocking.
“It is a bit early, but it is quite cold so let’s start the fire. There’s no heater but there is plenty of firewood over there.”
It’s not like there was anything else we could do anyway, so we all stood up and gathered the firewood to one place, and somehow managed to light it on fire after gently blowing on the ember that was created by the lighter.
The sky turned dark.
“Can anyone explain what the f*ck is going on for me?”
“Seems that you haven’t gotten used to the Hotel yet.”
“What do you mean, sir?”
“‘We came in the morning to light up the campfire and it suddenly became nighttime. What is going on?’ That is not the correct way to think inside the Hotel. The correct one would be, ‘Ahah! Something serious is about to happen soon, so the kind and benevolent Hotel is giving us a warning, huh!’”
—- Rustle. Stomp. Rustle.
Something was approaching us from the woods as everyone immediately turned silent at the same time.
What soon appeared from behind the trees was a bear that looked like it weighed more than 500 kg.
If this was a normal camping ground and if we were normal tourists, then we would probably be screaming right now after seeing the bear.
But of course, there was no-one here who would scream from seeing a ‘mere bear’. Instead, seeing the bear made me think, ‘Is this guy the only one?’
Jinchul-hyung should be able to deal with it by himself, right?
As expected, Jinchul-hyung stood up after an empty smile.
A fight between a human and a bear. Their sizes were incomparably different… but I couldn’t imagine Jinchul-hyung losing this fight. The enemy wasn’t even a demon or anything and it was just a bear, so Captain Korea should be able to bash it to death right?
But someone walked up to the bear before he did.
Songee nonchalantly stood up and approached the bear, before bringing it to the campfire as if it was a dog and started feeding it a few chunks of meat that we had.
“I heard you raised animals before. Did you raise bears as well?” asked Ahri.
“Of course not. No-one raises a bear in their house.”
“There are some people that do in Russia,” replied Elena.
“Hmm. Let me rephrase that to, ‘There is no-one in Korea who does that.’”
“I think I’m seeing one right now.”
“I wanted to test out my enhanced blessing. It worked, I guess.”
Right, looking back, Songee, Seungyub and my blessings were the ones that were enhanced at the Sanctum of Blessings.
The one I gained was the ability to check the locations of my teammates.
“By the way, Songee and Seungyub, what happened to your blessings after the enhancement?”
“It’s like, I can convey my thoughts and emotions to a ‘being of chaos’ that holds goodwill for me. Looks like even a beast like this that’s different from a highly intelligent being like ‘Teacher’ can understand me when I say, ‘Come here and have a meal with me’.”
“Doesn’t a ‘being of chaos’ refer to monsters and demons? Isn’t this a bear?”
“Seungyub. Please think before you say things. Would there be a normal bear in a place like this? This guy would probably get horns and wings or something when he enters combat.”
After getting scolded by Ahri, Seungyub shrunk his shoulders in dejection.
Seeing that, she suddenly walked up to him as if she remembered something and patted Seungyub on his head.
He then regained a bright smile on his face as energy refilled his body.
What the heck were they doing? Was this like a comedy skit?
“By the way, what was yours again, Seungyub?”
“I got a translucent window after that day. It says 82%. And even though I haven’t tried it yet, I can press on the window and pressing it says ‘Would you like to activate it?’”
“So you can see the cooldown with your eyes, and you can also use it whenever you want to? That’s amazing. Ah~. Everyone’s blessings are getting stronger, but what about my ‘HP Market’? It’s annoying how this Market thing doesn’t even enhance my abilities.”
“My thing doesn’t do much either though…” replied Seungyub.
“It’s meaningless even if they do make you stronger,” Jinchul-hyung added. “Recently, I only remember myself being controlled by another person to death.”
Everyone became dejected and silence befell the camping ground.
It was then.
– Clink. —- Clank.
A strange noise of screeching metal reached our ears.
In silence, we started looking around the area and that was when the bear, who had been munching through the pieces of meat like a large dog, suddenly became like a frightened puppy and ran away without even turning around!
Absurdly enough, the bear’s legs separated into 8 legs when it was running away. As expected, it wasn’t a normal bear and it might have been quite dangerous for us just then when the bear appeared if not for Songee’s existence.
Someone approached us from the woods.
“Hoh~ Hello everyone? I am a passing merchant. May I please share the fire with you?” said a mysterious existence who had bandages wrapped all around their body with not a single part of their skin exposed.
Was he even human? Did we have to chase him out?
Jinchul-hyung stepped forward in large strides and stood in the middle between us and the merchant.
“If you don’t have any business with us, then how about you go your own way? We have a lot of people already.”
“Haha. That’s an unfortunate thing to hear. Didn’t I call myself a merchant? My items will definitely be of great help going through the Hotel.”
This person – he knew that we were participants of the Hotel.
Jinchul-hyung was wondering what to say in puzzlement when a cheery voice left from our group.
“Come here and show us your items please~!”
It was Ahri.
Did she know something about it?
As we heard already, this was her second time at the Hotel, and she was bound to know more things than us.
After casually taking his spot next to the fire, the man showed us a piece of paper.
“This is the catalogue of the items I sell. Even though I would love to give everyone a piece, unfortunately I only have one so let me read them through myself.
Of course, I should introduce the best one I have right? The first item is the Escape Ticket from the Hotel!”
It was shocking. Like… an Escape Ticket out of the Hotel? Wasn’t this an insanely good item then?!
But Eunsol-noona’s cold voice soon echoed across the camping ground.
“There is nothing free in this world. So, what is the price of that amazing item you have?”
Instead of asking, ‘How much’, she was asking ‘what’ the price was. It was natural because a merchant that was here inside the Hotel to sell some mysterious items wouldn’t be asking for cash in return.
“Haha! They’re cheap of course. Let me promise you. All of my items are pretty much free when you consider their value. I am not making any profit out of them! Sometimes, I even wonder whether I am a merchant or a volunteer!”
“Stop with the nonsense and just talk about the price.”
The merchant replied to Grandpa Mooksung.
“Lives of 3 participants.”
The campsite became chillingly silent.
“What is wrong, everyone? There are 8 people here so what’s the issue with losing 3? Besides, honestly speaking, there are a few here that aren’t very helpful right? Hello, young friend? Do you consider yourself useful?”
In the middle of his speech, the merchant suddenly pushed his face at Seungyub and raised a question. Seungyub stepped back in surprise and that was when a punch went flying at the merchant’s face.
The merchant flew back along with a sound that would come from a cannon instead of someone’s fist.
“And here, I was wondering whether this guy was going to be useful or not; it looks like he was just a piece of garbage. Let’s continue having our meal instead of worrying about this guy. What kind of—”
The merchant returned after being flown back as if nothing happened.
“Haha~. Running a business is a really hard thing to do. Why are there so many nasty clients? Was I making you buy my items? You can simply not buy them if you do not like the content.”
“Anything else?” asked Ahri.
Was she really going to buy something from this guy?
“Talk about your other items. It’s not like you only have one right?”
“Of course. What kind of merchant would go around carrying only one item?
The second product is none other than an Inheritance!
Everyone, isn’t this wonderful? You do not need to suffer anguish and hardships going around the Cursed Rooms of the Hotel for this Inheritance. You can simply buy it from me! How could there be such a comfortable and—”
“Just tell us the price when you’re talking about the item. And cut the gibberish.”
“Lives of 2 participants.”
It was this thing again.
What in the world was this guy? Was his job to ruin teams that weren’t in a good relationship?
But then again, I suddenly had a feeling that things might have been awkward today if the 2 vs 6 strife from yesterday was still in place. Eunsol-noona was right for somehow sealing the cracks before it turned any worse.
“Ah. Seriously, I cannot stand you. Do you want me to pull your head out?”
“Ehew. Sir? I have no idea why you’re doing this! It’s not like I’m forcing you to buy anything, right?”
“Tell me your next item. If it costs lives again, then you can just shut up and leave. Talk about something that doesn’t cost a life.”
“Aigooo~. The customers this time are cheapskates, it looks like! Of course, I do have cheap items but there is a reason why they are cheap! They are incomparably worthless compared to Escape Tickets and an Inheritance so how about—”
This time, it was Grandpa Mooksung who kicked the merchant.
“This is the first time I’m having such an unpleasant conversation after coming to this place. Talk about the item and the price. That’s all you need to do.”
“I have 2 cheap items. The first is a weapon supply box. What’s inside is random so that adds to the enjoyment! It costs 2 limbs of a participant.”
2 limbs of a participant. Was he talking about the limb I knew of?
I felt spooked when I heard Ahri say that to herself in contemplation. Was she really going to buy that?