Solo Clear – Chapter 25: Life After Returning #1

I returned to the real world after three years and decided to go home before doing anything else.

“…Jin…Jin Woo.”

It seemed like my mother suffered a lot because she had a lot more wrinkles on her face, making it look like she aged 10 years instead of three.
As soon as she saw my face, she approached me with tears in her eyes and hugged me tightly.

“I…really thought something happened…to you.”

“I’m home.”

She started touching my face as if she couldn’t believe it and in order to calm her down, I patted her back.
We ended up hugging each other for a long time.
It was as if we were expressing our happiness through this hug instead of through words.

“…You’re home.”

My father was standing behind my mother and hugged me with a warm smile.
It seemed like there was a lot he wanted to say, but because my mother was crying so much, he stayed quiet.

“…I am.”

After coming home, I went straight to the bathroom to wash off my dirty body.
During the stage, I had enough water to wash just my face, so seeing the shower that poured out a lot of water was unfamiliar to me.
I felt the same way when I saw the shampoo and soap.

“…Wow.”

How long has it been since I’ve sat in a tub filled with hot water?
My face immediately relaxed after I felt the hot water on my skin.
Despite of the fact that they were just tools that were installed in a small, shabby apartment, when compared to the life I had at the stage, this was a luxury.
I wouldn’t mind spending 50,000 Geny to spend one night in a room that had this kind of facility.
I didn’t like taking a long bath before, but now, a 30 minute bath was short for me.

When I walked out, the delicious smell of bean-paste stew tickled my nose.
The sound of the knife hitting the cutting board and the steam escaping from the top of the rice cooker made me excited.
It was time to eat and there was so much food on the table that I thought it was someone’s birthday.
Using her cooking skills, she made the side dishes that were placed on the table and they brought joy.

“Thank you for the food.”

It’s been awhile since I’ve used a spoon and ate a decent meal. I ate like a hog and within minutes, I finished the bowl and asked my mother for another bowl of rice.

“Eat slowly. No one is going to take your food. Drink some water too.”
“It’s really good. I’m not sure how long it’s been since I’ve eaten decent food like this.”

Oh. My mother had a depressing look on her face because she probably thought that her son wasn’t eating properly in the other world.

“Ha ha, but it’s not like I was starving there.”
“Right…that’s a relief.”

My mom seemed pleased just from watching me eat because she kept on watching me with a happy expression.
It seemed like she hasn’t been able to calm down because her eyes were still filled with tears.

“You’ve gone through a lot. Don’t do anything for a while and just focus on resting up.”
“…Okay.”

While eating, that was all my father said to me.
He probably had a lot of questions and wanted to ask about where I was and what I did at the other world.
But he didn’t ask anything.

After I finished eating, I went straight to my room.
I thought about spending time with them by telling them everything that I had went through and celebrating my return, but I shook my head.
If I told them all the things I went through at the stage, both of them will think that I suffered a lot.

“…Mother.”

It looked as if someone had been using my room, because it was neatly organized.
There was a high chance that I could’ve died, but it seemed like she didn’t let go of the small hope she had.
After feeling satisfied from the food, I wanted to jump on the bed, but the first thing I looked for was my computer.
After turning it on and seeing the monitor light up, I couldn’t help but feel excited.
Moving the mouse and typing on the keyboard felt so new to me.

“The nation’s best clan, World Unification, is the first clan in the nation to break through the 20th stage. They’re the second clan in the world to do so and has caused Koreans to be prideful of their country.”

“The Wild Ginseng has been a hot item lately and the CEO of JK Group, Im Dong Muk, has won the bid by bidding 2 billion won. This ginseng extends the life of a person by 10 days and it was discovered by a man who was in the ninth stage.”

“A stage challenger has broken the record again. Because the attack method of the third stage has been known, the survival rate of that stage has been increased to 95% and has caused recent elementary student graduates to participate without their parents knowing. There is a need to be cautious regarding this matter.”

As expected, many people have become interested in the stage during the past few years.
I didn’t know there were others that would participate the stage again after returning to the real world.
I thought that maybe they needed to be sent to a mental hospital for a check-up, but.

Maybe they were excited about the fact that they were able to do things they couldn’t do in the real world or maybe they found a way to make a living there, but anyways, people were continuously entering the stage.

“Hm?”

While scrolling with the wheel on the mouse, I stopped at a certain website.
It was a site where large companies and the government were hiring stage challengers and their terms for working with them.
Since the challengers had to put their lives on the line, the amount that they displayed on the website was very large.

“Is it money?”

I did consider survival as the best reward, but after returning to the real world, that goal didn’t seem to matter anymore.
What do I do from now on?
Should I sit in front of a desk like in the past and focus on my studies while holding a thick pen?
I didn’t know.
But, after thinking that it might not be so bad to meet at least once, I sent a resume to a company.

***
There was a time where wealthy people would invest their money into these stages, thinking that they were worth something and it got up to the point where they would fight each other over it.
They didn’t have any information, but they needed a trump card in order to get ahead, but it wasn’t easy because to them, this was like gambling.
However, among those people, there were some that were one step ahead of them and invested in the stage.
Baeksan Group, MS Group and Oz Capital were those people.

I had an interview today with MS Group.

This is how the MS Group gathered information regarding the stage.
When there weren’t confirmed information and only rumors, the CEO, who was at the center of the company, decided to invest despite of the fact that the others disagreed with him.
Luckily, he succeeded.
Currently, the MS Group had four clans that were within the top 10 clan ranking.
The fact that people would be able to work with high-ranking clans and get support from the company, many survivors applied to work with them, but recently, there has been rumors that their evaluation has become tougher and pickier.
Having a boring resume wouldn’t get you in.

“Hello.”

While eating the cookie and coffee they had in the waiting, a man wearing a neat suit with tidy hair approached me.

“Hello.”
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Ha ha, there was another person before you that came in for an interview, but there was an argument.”
“Oh…I see.”

He spoke in the same manner as the other employees that worked for a large company, but he didn’t stop smiling.
I briefly thought that maybe I would end up like him if I didn’t fall into the stage and lived an ordinary life.

“I’ll look over the resume that you sent. Hm…”

The Section Chief, Oh Dae Suk, looked over Kang Jin Woo’s resume with a small smile.
He had similar experiences with the previous survivor.
It was becoming an issue, because recently, anyone that cleared up to the third stage would send in their resume and ask for an interview.
These days, surviving and returning from the stage was nothing.

“Mine and graveyard…and you left the third stage blank. Is there a reason for that?”
“It wasn’t one location.”
“Ha ha, what do you mean? After researching, it has been concluded that the third stage had a total of six locations.”
“I did see them on the internet, but I wasn’t in any of those locations.”
“…Hm?”

Oh Dae Suk didn’t think that the man that was sitting in front of him was lying.
Then does that mean the seventh location in the third stage was discovered?
No, that can’t be it.

There has been a lot of survivors that returned and according to their information, there wasn’t one person that was placed in a different location other than the six that were mentioned.

“Please think carefully. Depending on where you cleared, the points will differ. In the second stage, the graveyard is the most difficult location in that stage, so you get higher points.”

I ended up thinking again after hearing what he said, but it was difficult to say which location I was in.
How was I supposed to tell them which location I was in when it changed on a daily basis?

“It doesn’t matter if you give me the lowest point.”
“…Then, it’ll be difficult. Don’t you know how popular the MS Group is among the challengers?”
“Challenger?”

“It’s what we call the survivors that survive the third stage and return and go back into the stage again…this kind of information is something you can find online.”
“Hm, I didn’t know that.”

Oh Dae Suk smirked as if he found this situation to be absurd.
This was his first time teaching basic information like this during an interview.
On top of that, the man that was in front of him didn’t really show any desire of being here, despite of the fact that he was in front of a MS Group employee.
Others would usually kiss up to them and ask them to accept them.
There were even some that would bribe them with items.

“Well, then, what kind of items do you have?”
“Can I take out an item here?”
“…Yes.”
Oh Dae Suk’s voice was filled with disappointment.
Items can be taken out from the inventory even in the real world.
This was basic information that even kids knew about it.

“Well, there isn’t much to show.”

I took out the sword, gear, bow and axe that I used for three years.
It was odd how the monsters didn’t drop finished items during the third stage and because of that, I had to use these to hunt.

“Oh…this item is dropped from a monster that guards the front of the ruin. That’s amazing. Did you take it down with your teammates?”
“No, by myself.”

“…It’s not a good idea to bluff in front of the interviewer.”

I took it down by myself, so that’s why I said it.
I can’t do anything about it if they think that I’m lying.
I didn’t really want to persuade him either.

“…One thing I wanted to ask you was why there wasn’t a portion to include our skills or stats.”
“There isn’t a way for us to check that. In the upper stages, a Scouter is given as a reward and it provides that function, but it can only be used one time and it’s too expensive for us to use it on each and every survivor that comes in here.”
“I see.”
“On top of that, survivors are only able to use 1~2% of the power they’ve obtained from the stage. High-ranked survivors are different, but survivors that manage to clear the third stage can only use 1% of their power. I don’t think they’ll even be able to break a wall.”
“Hm, what you’re saying slightly contradicts that things that I’ve heard. From what I’ve heard, survivors train their powers in the stage in case the monsters enter through the portal, but why can’t it be used in the real world?”
“They say that the managers aren’t ready yet. It’s easy for one’s ethics to be destroyed if they get stronger recklessly. I understand that. Now, let’s get back on topic and talk about the results of your interview.”

I didn’t bother listening to what he had to say and stood up from my seat.
Before Oh Dae Suk was going to say that they couldn’t accept him, he thought that Kang Jin Woo stood up, assuming that that was what he going to say.

“What will you do if I break the broken wall that’s sitting over there?”

I pointed at the wall that was 10m away from me.
“Ha ha, I was wondering what you were talking about, but you can go up to it and try. Not like you’ll be able to break it anyways.”

His plan to get their attention was a very simple one.
He placed his mana on top of his finger and flicked it like a pellet.

Swoosh!! Boom.

It went through the cracks that was on the wall and created a hole between the walls.
The interviewer’s eyes widened and being at a loss for words, he kept on looking at the wall and Kang Jin Woo.

“What the…oh!! Let’s do the interview again from the beginning. Now…please sit down. N-no!! Please wait a moment. I’ll make a quick call to the higher ups.”

Oh Dae Suk made the excuse of making a phone call and quickly ran out of the room.

<Life After Returning #1> End.

Staff :
Jen (TL)
Kuhaku (PR)

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