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“I will exchange all 20 item backpacks for karma.”
When I said that, the words on the board changed.
-20 Item Backpack (Large) will be exchanged for 5,000 karma.
-Will you exchange?
A light shone momentarily from the board.
-Item Backpack (Large) 20 have been used.
-You have acquired 5,000 karma.
-Remaining karma: +5,000
“I really did get 5,000 karma.”
“Congratulations. You will be much stronger with that.”
“I really had no idea you could buy karma with money. No matter how precious money is, a life is on the line in the exams so to sell karma……”
Odin drank all the alcohol in his glass.
Then he started grinding his teeth as he said.
“It is time for you, Kim Hyun-ho, to learn a bit more about this community.”
I listened to Odin with all ears.
“When you look at all the examinees, I can be considered as someone on the stronger side. Since, so far, I have never failed an exam.”
“I can see that. I was really awed by the aura sword you used at The Brown Mountain.”
Odin smiled and said.
“That is right. I am on the strong side. But as strong as I may be, I cannot say that stronger people don’t exist. Since there are some monsters that have passed the 50th exam.”
I flinched when he said the 50th exam.
Then just how long have those people lived in the Arena.
“Of course, there are lots of those examinees that have nearly reached the ultimate destination in the exam. But what do you think is the reason the exam still continues?”
“Why is that?”
“It is for money.”
“In order to make money, they purposely do not clear the exams. Even when the mission is given to them, they focus solely on gather majeong in Arena.”
“But if they don’t do the mission…”
“They get minus karma. So before then, they get rid of the karma they do have.”
Odin continued his explanation.
First off, they steadily clear the missions and receive the karma prizes and get stronger.
And then at a certain point when they have become strong enough, they begin concentrating on collecting majeong.
For a while they gather majeong here and there while clearing the mission and when they reach the point where it is no longer as easy to do the mission along with gathering the majeong, they daringly give up on the mission.
“China’s communist party is going crazy in their efforts to acquire majeong, the next generation’s energy source, in large quantities. They give a generous reward to examinees and sometimes force them to bring back majeong.”
“But not clearing the missions, they have no way of guaranteeing their survival?”
“That isn’t exactly the case. Not clearing the mission and staying in a safe place and just collecting majeong is actually safer. Rather, if you try to clear exam, you have to put your life on the line, and that’s dangerous.”
I went blank.
Giving up on the mission is safer?
That was possible?
The gods know about this situation and are leaving it alone?
Without any penalty?
“So, you’re saying there is no penalty for examinees who purposely give up on the exams?”
“Why wouldn’t there be a penalty? Minus karma is the definition of that penalty.”
“What is the effect of the minus karma?”
“Examinees that have accumulated minus karma are called ‘dropped examinees.’ If you kill a dropped examinee, you get that minus amount in karma.”
“Have you killed any?”
Odin nodded his head.
“Just once. He was a Chinese examinee and he was strong. But he underestimated me.”
“Then the normal, average examinees must seek out these dropped examinees.”
“It is hostile relations. Because they are grand prey. Not only that, Chinese examinees kill each other for it too. After letting someone gather lots of minus karma, they kill that person and sell the karma that they get.”
I could feel my insides start churning.
That people were focusing on making money and not clearing missions and killing each other.
What kind of chaotic situation has this become?
Gods nor angels, none of them foresaw a situation like this?
Or is this situation too something that they had wanted and even planned for?
‘Just what is the true purpose of the exams?’
The rules of the universe along with the gods, how could they be allowing this to happen? Or maybe they know and simply don’t care.
It can only be surmised to be the generosity of the gods that are allowing such actions from humanity.
“Do you think all the ultimate destination of all the examinees is the same?”
“It is assumed that that is the case. It is a closely guarded secret and therefore not verified as such but it does seem that all the exams for all examinees is headed in the same direction.”
“And what is that?”
“I don’t know that either. I am just at the 20th exam so.”
Odin let me know.
“Mr. Kim Hyun-ho, be careful not to be eliminated yourself.”
“No matter the odds, that won’t happen. I want to clear all the exams and return to a safe life.”
“That is a good mentality to have. I am the same. I don’t want to fight endless battles in the Arena. I just want to spend a happy life with my daughter.”
“Please clear your exam. Let’s finish this crazy shit and put a nail in its coffin.”
We promised each other so and parted ways.
That night, I boarded onto my pre-booked flight and returned to Korea.
The inside of my head was a mess.
If the final destination for all examinees is indeed the same……
If just one person reaches that destination and completes that exam, the exams themselves will disappear. Then all the examinees don’t have to do the exams anymore.
But the situation is that with China at the head, many nations are pursuing the collection of majeong.
If majeong becomes the natural resource energy for the next generation, would they leave alone the only way they can get the majeong? With no exams, the examinees can no longer gather the majeong.
Would those examinees just leave it alone and allow the end of their easy money-making days?
‘They might even distract others from completing the exams.
At the thought that fellow examinees may distract others from their exams floods me with fear.
If I keep up in the exams, eventually there will be a time when an examinee will be pitted against another examinee.
In that instance, I might be threatened in the real world as well.
Even after getting 5000 karma, I returned to Korea with a heavy heart.
When I got home, it was 7 pm and Min-jeong hadn’t come home yet. She must have been working late.
‘First, I need to think about what to buy with the karma I bought.’
I summoned my board and checked all the skills I had acquired so far.
-Showing all skills acquired by examinee Hyun-ho Kim.
-Main Skill: Spirit Summons (Intermediate Level 1)
-Assist Skill: Physical strength buff (Intermediate Level 5), Guider (Entry Level 1), Teleportation (Entry Level 4)
-Special Skill: Synthesis Skill
-Synthesis Skill: Divine Protection of the Wind (Entry Level 5), Divine Protection of Fire (Entry Level 1), Reflex (Intermediate Level 3), Flame of Life (Intermediate Level 2), Transmission (Entry Level 1), Space Bag (Entry Level 4), Shooting (Entry Level 1)
-Remaining Karma: +5,000
The first thing that came to mind was the Spirit Summons.
From that point on, my biggest strength, my main skill, I had a feeling I had to consistently increase it.
But with its level currently at Intermediate Level 1, to raise the Spirit Summons to the next level would require an incredible amount of karma.
Through the board, I checked how much karma would be needed for each level and it readas follows.
-Spirit Summons Intermediate Level 2 (-1,700)
-Spirit Summons Intermediate Level 3 (-1,900)
-Spirit Summons Intermediate Level 4 (-2,100)
So, for now, I could only get to Intermediate Level 3 with 3,600 karma.
‘How nice it was that I was able to increase the Spirit Summons by using the Tree of Life.’
The more I thought about it, the harder it was to accept the immense amount of karma that it would take for the main skill level to increase.
But if I am careless about my main skill, I probably won’t be able to be strong like Odin later.
From what I heard yesterday, Odin was able to become strong early on by concentrating on growing his main skill, his Aura Control.
“I will let you in on one secret. The skills I have don’t go beyond three. That is the method to how a mere 20th turn examinee became the strong.”
I was surprised.
He became someone great by digging one big well.
‘Now that I think of it, way before, Chun-seong Kang had like Entry Level 4 Aura Control even without using karma, didn’t he?’
Using his aptitude from martial arts that he honed all his life, he used that to practice his Aura Control and increase his levels.
Then likewise, can I use training to increase the Spirit Summons?
‘First off, it would be good to be in a place where there was a strong flow of energy from nature.’
Thanks to getting to the Intermediate level of the Spirit Summons, the power of nature was flowing inside my body too.
It is a mechanism where the power of the surrounding nature gives aid to my body, and the difference in power can be felt when I am atop a mountain versus in a city like I am now.
‘The spirit summons will probably go up if I spend time in Gyeryongsan Mountain like Spirituals do.’
But even doing that, I would probably have to spend years up there and it likely still won’t go up an entire level.
When I was at The Brown Mountain, I was atop the Tree of Life where the energy of nature was overflowing and I had to be there for a year for my level to barely go up by one.
Right now, its level was higher than it was then, intermediate level 1.
Without a Tree of Life, no matter how long I live in nature, it would take ages to increase my level by just one.
‘Hold up, a Tree of Life?’
I suddenly recalled all the time I spent raising the Tree of Life.
The pine tree and the maple tree and the Thuja tree too, after eating my flames of life and growing, they became of Trees of Life.
The flame of life is a synthesis skill that was created by combining Spirit Summons (Kasa) with a healing potion.
Thus, in the flame of life is the power of a spirit, thus, it also contains the power of nature.
For the first time in a long time, Sylph and Kasa were summoned.
Having become an intermediate spirit, Sylph’s appearance was the same but she became twice as big.
Kasa who used to be a young puppy, having become an intermediate spirit, has now shed his young appearance and looked like he went through a rapid growth spurt. At full growth, maybe a Jindo? At a Superior Level, he will make an impressive large dog.
Despite having grown larger, like always, the two are bickering atop my head for the spot.
Thank goodness they have no weight because otherwise I would have been crushed under them.
“Flame of Life!”
I made two flames of life. Because I wasn’t able to get them to Future Automobile’s Chairman Man-Young Han, I have these to spare.
“Okay, now look.”
-Pant pant pant……!
Sylph and Kasa stared at the flames of life.
“Do you guys, perhaps, want to eat these?”
The two spirits immediately started nodding their heads. Especially Kasa, he looked like he was about to drool.
“If you eat these, can you guys grow?”
This time too, the two spirits nodded their heads.
‘My train of thought was right!’
If I can raise the Spirit Summons level using the flame of life, there would be no need to use karma for my main skill.
I gave one flame of life to each spirit.
Sylph and Kasa thoroughly enjoyed their flames.
Even then, Kasa whined and scratched with his front paws for more.
“Later, I’ll give you more later.”
As soon as Chairman Man-young Han’s treatment is over, I’ll give the flames to the spirits.
It might even be possible to raise the spirit levels a few times over during this rest period.
‘Then I will use my karma to increase my other skill levels.’
I started spending my karma prize.
First off, the reflex skill
“I will raise my reflex skill to Superior Level 1.”
-2,500 karma will be used to increase reflex (Synthesis Skill) to Superior Level 1.
-Reflex (Synthesis Skill): have great know-how in moving/maneuvering one’s body
*Superior Level 1: Exhibit mastery in all things that require bodily movements
-Remaining karma: +2,500
Of the skills I have, reflex is the most important following the synthesis skill. With this, I don’t need other martial arts skills.
‘Shall I try it out?’
I took out the violin from my space bag.
Of all the books, I picked the hardest piece I know.
Despite not having played in quite a while, I’m able to play without much difficulty. My fingers are so abled, like they were playing an easy song.
‘This is superior!’
At the nearly fraudulent ability of my reflex skill, I felt overjoyed.
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