After returning to the real world, I’ve totally forgotten about the stages.
Since I was gone for a couple of days, my mother had planned on jumping into the stage to find me.
Thankfully, my father talked her out of it so it didn’t happen.
“What do you think about going back to school?”
My mother spoke desperately while holding my hand.
As parents, they didn’t want their son to go in and out of a dangerous world.
In the end I couldn’t ignore them, so I’ve been in my room and studying for three days.
Holding a pen was really awkward and the words that were written in the book seemed foreign to me.
But, I’ve lost the will the study.
Just sitting on a chair for a couple of hours made my body itch that I couldn’t endure it.
“It’s probably better to start a job that requires me to use my body.”
Even if my skills are cut in half in reality, the strength that I’ve obtained will definitely be a big help.
I already broke a wall before.
I was confident in becoming the ace when it came to work that required me to use my body.
That only remained in my thoughts and I didn’t really bother looking for a job like that.
That night, I had a drink with my father.
“It’s been awhile since you and I had a drink this late.”
This felt new because I couldn’t remember the last time I had a drink with my father.
With a couple of bottles of soju and pork feet, it was a pretty decent setting.
“I’m thinking about continuing my exploration in that world.”
My father seemed to have expected it because his face expression didn’t change.
However, he didn’t say anything and just drank some soju.
I also sipped some soju.
“After you disappeared again, I knew this was going to happen again. Honestly, I’m with your mother and am against you going there.”
“Well, it’s not like what we say will affect your decision and I’m sure you made this decision after thinking carefully about it, but…it’s sad. If something happened to you in that world, we won’t even be able to hold a funeral.”
If one dies within the stage, they can’t return to the real world.
I knew this was true after seeing the graveyard.
“I’ll do my best not to die, but it’s always a possibility.”
People would usually say that they’ll never die, but I didn’t want to make a poor lie like that.
There was always news about people dying within the stage, and there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t be part of it.
“Ha ha, that’s true. In this type of situation, it’s okay to lie about it.”
“I decided not to lie to you.”
“Am I supposed to be okay with that?”
Father smiled candidly.
“Do you have people to go in with? Those clans, parties or whatever, they group up together and it increases their chance to survive.”
“I’ll be fine by myself.”
My father always told me that I needed to learn to get along with people.
It seemed like he wanted me to go into the stage with someone.
“Well, like you’ve mentioned, you’ve done well by yourself up until now and I have no doubt that you’ll do fine on your own in the future. Please contact us often once you go out.”
While eating the pork feet, my father and I continued talking after midnight.
After walking out of the house, the first thing I needed to do was find a new place.
To do this, I needed money and I decided to find a place where I’ll be able to sell the items that I’ve gathered.
While walking the streets of Seoul, I couldn’t help but laugh at the signs that I saw.
Geny Currency Exchange, Geny Loans. Stage Attack Counseling Center, etc.
These odd stores had their doors open and was ready to greet the customers.
The interesting thing was that there were a lot of people in those stores.
I don’t like being around a lot of people and noisy places, so even though I was interested, I didn’t go into the stores.
And I already made the decision on where I was going to go.
I visited an appraiser that was located in a building in Myeong-dong.
They set a value on the items that were obtained within the stage and depending on the situation, they’ll buy those items.
They usually place a value on items that monsters dropped and there are those that visit here to see how well customized items will perform.
“Please take a number and wait.”
When I entered the place, a woman that was wearing a suit greeted me.
There were four windows and the staff behind the windows were observing the items.
“Looks like they make a lot of money.”
I commented as I looked at the people that were waiting as well.
There’s news that people were able to make a lot of money through the stage.
This place might be one of those.
They called my number after 30 minutes and I sat on the chair that was placed in front of the third window.
A calm woman with a soft voice spoke.
“Please place the item you would like for me to analyze.”
It was like a bank where they asked to place the item on the table.
From the inventory, I took out a Wyvern’s toenail, which I obtained from the third stage.
It was weird, because this item was placed as an ingredient and it was placed in my inventory without analyzing it.
Other than the toenail, there were a lot of other items that I needed for them analyze.
“I’ll analyze the item.”
The item can be analyzed through a special item and through a skill.
However, analyzing it through a skill can only be done by those that have the ability and those people have already been recruited by large companies.
She let out a cute sound and was analyzing the toenail with an item that looked similar to a magnifying glass.
“Wow!! Please wait a second, sir.”
The female staff covered her mouth with her hand and disappeared after asking me to wait.
She walked into the manager’s office.
Not even 10 seconds later, she walked out with a male staff that had a manager name tag attached to his shirt.
“Excuse me sir…would it be okay if we continue this elsewhere?”
“Oh, it’s not far from here. Please.”
The other staff that were working looked at me and the manager.
It must be rare for him to leave the office because they seemed surprised by it.
I followed him to a room that had the sign, “Employees Only,” and walked through a narrow hallway.
“Even though we’re a small office, we do our best when it came to investing the VIP room.”
The man spoke while boasting about the room.
The room at the end of the hallway had a nametag that read, “VIP Room.”
The luxurious decorations and furniture caught my attention.
The VIP room had European decorations and it was made to serve people in the high-class.
“Please sit wherever you like.”
The man smiled while leading me to a sofa.
My face instantly relaxed as soon as I sat on the soft and comfortable sofa.
Just sitting here made me feel like I was receiving special treatment.
“Would you like coffee or tea?”
“…Coffee is fine.”
I answered because they asked, but I didn’t understand why I was being treated like this.
I was starting to worry that maybe it was a mistake.
“The Red Wyvern’s Toenail is the main item in the 11th stage. It’s amazing that you were able to obtain it. I didn’t think I would actually see it myself.”
“Hm? Did you get obtain this yourself? There’s no way someone would give away a rare item like this as a present.”
“Oh, right. I did obtain it.”
Describing my battle with the Wyvern as being fierce wasn’t enough because it was much more difficult than that.
After I managed to somehow kill it, I was too exhausted to actually analyze the monster.
“Since you obtained it yourself, I’m sure you have some sort of information about it. Did you bring it here to confirm the authenticity of the item?”
“It may differ depending on the blacksmith’s skills, but items that were made using the toenail are considered to be Rank Six at the least. If it was requested to a person who’s very skilled, it’s highly possible that it can be a Rank Five item.”
I was busy nodding my head after hearing their detailed explanation.
Despite of the fact that I researched through the posts online, the information this man was providing was much more detailed.
“I…would like to make an offer, if that’s alright with you.”
The man carefully spoke as if this was what he originally wanted to talk about.
“You don’t have to pay us for analyzing the item, but what do you think about splitting the profits after creating a finished product with this item? Of course we’ll adjust it so that you have the advantage.”
“How much will it be based on the current market price?”
“If we were to sell it as is, probably around 150 million.”
“I see. 150 million…hm?”
It was hard for me to keep a straight face after hearing the ridiculous amount.
If I displayed my true emotions, then I may lose the initiative in many ways, so I tried to keep a straight face.
“Well, I’m sure there were others that helped in obtaining this, so even if the amount was split among them, it’s a pretty large amount.”
“In order to create the finished product, we have to request it to a blacksmith and create various conditions in regards to the payment and procedures, so there are many things we need to go through. That’s something we’ll take care of on our end.”
Just hearing his explanation made my head spin.
The only thing I was able to understand was that I could receive a larger amount than selling it in the current condition.
It’s true that I had a hard time trusting what he said, so I thought it would be best to look into how items should be sold.
It’s better to have an acquaintance that’s able to sell the item for me.
“Are you able to tell me around how much you’ll be able to guarantee?”
“If a Rank Five is created without any issues, it’ll be worth 500 million and you’ll get eight and we’ll receive two.”
I didn’t really want to argue so that I could get more money from it.
Just receiving 400 million was enough for me.
“If you ask that the people that helped you, I’m sure they’ll agree that this is the best choice. Even though we’re small, we have pretty good connections to a skilled blacksmith and an auction house.”
“How long will it take? I’m sure there’s a term after it’s been made and sold.”
“It usually takes about three weeks, but I’ll make sure that you receive it within two weeks.”
400 million…400 million…400 million.
That amount was the only thing that filled my head.
‘I wonder if the other items that I have are worth this much.’
I wasn’t really planning on showing this guy the other items that I had.
Only after the trade has been completed and I’m able to trust him.
It won’t be too late to do it then.
“Okay, let’s do that.”
“Right, then we’ll start on the contract right now.”
He showed the contract as if he had been prepared for it.
It had seven pages and they were filled with sentences that I didn’t know the meaning of.
“What is this regarding?”
For me, asking about the contract took more time than asking about the item.
I spent two hours on it and right when the manager was losing his patience, my curiosity was resolved.
Currently, this contract was the thing that I needed to be most cautious about.
It’s possible that it can scam me, so I had to be careful.
I continuously glanced at his expression and it didn’t seem like he was lying about it.
He seemed like a salaryman that was trying to best to earn more commission.
“It looks fine.”
“R…right. Ha ha ha.”
The manager didn’t lose his smile while talking to me and I respected him for that.
Providing service to someone younger than them wasn’t an easy thing to do.
“This is my business card. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.”
After I was done, I visited a fast food restaurant that was nearby and decided to eat lunch there.
I thought about looking for a cheap dorm, but with 400 million, there was no reason for me to live there.
I’ve never had that much money in all my life, but I’m expected to get it in two weeks.
I still couldn’t believe it, so I kept on reading the contract.
It felt like I won the lottery.
I didn’t think I would get nervous because of money.
“Hm. Now that I think about it, when I visited MS Group for an interview, I think they offered this amount.”
If I had accepted their offer, I wonder how much my salary will be.
The stage must be pretty popular.
I didn’t expect so many people to be involved.
“Hey, I have a couple of friends that completed up to the sixth stage. He said that once he graduates, he’s going to try to become an official challenger.”
“No way!! I know someone that even dropped out of school to complete the stage.”
I happened to listen to the high school students that were sitting at the table next to me.
I think society has gone crazy.
Of course that includes me too.
I thought people wouldn’t be able to do anything because they were filled with fear.
Now, there were those that were enjoying it, like those high school students.
“400 million. It’s an item that I obtained from the stage.”
I felt uncomfortable by the fact that the value of the item was equal in both worlds.
After looking at the stores that were related to the stage, I briefly imagined what the future would be like.
“It’s going to fall.”
I remembered what the Oracle and the Great Spirit said, but that was for a moment.
I dropped my coke after listening to what the woman next to me said and approached her.
“A more difficult level appeared. Nightmare level exists.”
“What did you just say?”
“You scared me. What do you want?”
“What did you say just now?”
“Oh…I was reading the most popular thread regarding the stage.”
I immediately took out my phone and read the thread she was referring to.
Someone wrote made a post about the Nightmare Mode.
There were a lot of things that I knew of.
That meant that this person experienced this level.
This was the last sentence.
“I’m a human that’s been chosen by the Manager!!”
“…Who are you?”
<Life After Returning #3> End.