Most of the people that read this were denying that Nightmare level didn’t exist.
There wasn’t any evidence and it was all words, so it was expected.
Unlike the people that never experienced it, for the people that did, there were things they would be able to agree with.
It doesn’t simply mean that the difficulty got harder and I felt that they explained their first experience pretty well.
Their description about meeting an old magician was what caught my attention.
‘Is it the Oracle?’
Like I had expected, it was the Oracle.
The author wrote that they wanted to meet people that experienced the same thing and added a comment that had a password on it.
The password was the old magician’s name.
The additional comment had a specific location.
However, these days, even if there was a password on a comment, people are able to crack it without a sweat.
In order to find out the truth, a lot of people will probably visit that place.
It was a dangerous thing to do, but I thought that it was worth checking out.
On top of that, their opinion of the Manager was different from mine.
I was trying my best not to get involved with them, but the author trusted them completely.
They emphasized the part about how they were chosen by them, so I was curious as to whether they had some sort of connection to them.
“Let’s get going.”
The warehouse was located pretty far from Seoul and even though the sun was still up, it gave off a very eerie atmosphere.
Many would try to avoid this place, but surprisingly, there were a good amount of people.
After hearing the crowd, I decided to walk to the other side and enter the building.
“Why aren’t they going in?”
It seemed like something was blocking them because they stayed outside instead of going inside.
They looked like mimes because their hands were in the air and it looked like they were touching something.
“Hey, why aren’t you going inside?”
“I don’t know. Damn it…it’s weird.”
Everyone complained with an irritated tone, but in the end, not one of them entered the warehouse.
Even news reporters came here thinking they got a good scoop, but after realizing that there was nothing they could do, they turned around with a pout.
After noticing them leaving the warehouse, I walked inside.
I felt some kind of electric current and I knew that there was some sort of magical device installed to protect this place.
I think I met the condition because unlike the others, there wasn’t anything that prevented me from entering.
When I entered, it was a lot more eerie than I imagined and a disgusting scent that smelled like it was rising out of a sewer filled my nose.
However, after feeling a strong energy up ahead, I didn’t really care about the stench.
The power that I obtained in the stage weakened in reality.
It didn’t exclude the skills that I had and the same applied to the passive skills.
However, my weak sense skills were able to detect the people inside.
That meant that the people inside were really strong.
“Ha…who the heck is that idiot?”
I finally arrived at the spot that people were gathered and when they saw me, they looked down on me.
“Did they invite a bear too?”
I wore a thick bear mask in order to hide my face.
I had other choices, but I decided that this was better because it covered my entire head.
“Is this everyone?”
A man that was wearing a pair of sunglasses spoke.
They were dressed in brand name clothing from head to toe and I wondered if that was really necessary since I thought it was a luxury, not a necessity.
He kept on touching his expensive watch as if to show that he succeeded.
“Was it nine people…?”
Another man was using his finger to count the people that was in the room.
“Wow, there were this many people that experienced the Nightmare mode?”
“If we exclude those that couldn’t come because they lived too far, so it’s safe to assume that those from Seoul are all here.”
“So who invited us here?”
They spoke while keeping their distance from each other and had their guards up.
I sat on a rusty drum barrel that was located near the entrance and looked at each and every one of them.
It was sort of dark so I couldn’t really see, but I was really glaring at them.
A person was wearing a hoodie that covered their face and said they were the host.
“I didn’t think there were this many people like me that were chosen.”
“That’s what you wrote on your post, right? What do you mean by that?”
“Didn’t all of you meet a Manager at least once?”
No one answered their question and the silence answered their question.
“I believe the only ones that’ll survive in the future are us because we experienced the Nightmare mode. So, wouldn’t it be better if we teamed up?”
“Bullshit. I came this far by my own efforts. Not because those guys picked me. Those Managers only pick useful survivors when the time is right.”
A man wearing a pair of sunglasses commented bluntly.
After hearing that, I agreed inside my head.
“You still have yet to understand their motives…well, that’s fine. You’ll understand in time. The reason why I called all of you here is because I wanted us to team up and attack the Nightmare mode.”
“Is there a reason to work together? I’m not sure if you guys know, but people will pay a lot of money to get information about the stage. And you’re saying we should attack it without any compensation? You must be out of your mind.”
The one that made that comment was a young, male student.
Everyone used some sort of method to hide their identities, but this student wasn’t doing that at all.
“It’s because we have to protect the human race. And in order to do that, we need to work together.”
The other seven survivors all looked at the student and smiled bitterly.
After knowing about the stage, there wasn’t a lot of people that volunteered themselves to protect the human race.
Most used the stage to fulfill their desires.
And after seeing their bitter smiles, I assumed that our teamwork wasn’t going to last long.
“Hey, kid. Do you watch the news?”
“Each country is competing against each other to see who cleared the most stages, who created the strongest clan and how high they’re ranked. To them, the now is more important than the future.”
A man explained it to the student.
“People usually think that way until they encounter the issue. People only start worrying and get nervous once a knife is placed on their neck. So how about throwing away that heroic act and start living for yourself?”
It could’ve shocked the student, but it didn’t look like he were going to submit to it.
After seeing his confident expression, the others stopped looking down on him.
“You’re probably weak mister, so that’s why you’re scared of working with others.”
“Ha ha ha.”
The target changed and now the others were laughing at the older survivor.
A smile appeared in that moment and it wasn’t because of his expression, but because of what the student said.
“Do you guys trust the Managers?”
After observing the situation, I carefully spoke up.
“If you asked which side I was on, I would say that I don’t trust them. Those guys don’t really talk about themselves much.”
“But it’s better to have a good relationship with them. It’s not everyday you get to become close with the game master.”
“We have been chosen!! There’s no reason to doubt them.”
After listening to other’s opinions, I realized that the people in this world had their own opinions and thoughts.
It felt like they were saying that they were all different through the comments they were making.
“I’ve been used by Managers many times. Because of that, I don’t really like them and they even promised me not to meddle with my life.”
After saying that, everyone looked at me coldly as if they were looking at one of their idiotic friends.
“I was mad as well when I was thrown into Nightmare mode without any explanation, but I like it now. Even though it’s difficult, you can obtain way better items than in Normal mode.”
After saying that, that man took out a bottle.
It was smaller than the potion that’s used within the stage and it contained some sort of liquid that I wasn’t aware of.
“This is one of the items that I obtained. Even though I can’t tell you what it’s used for, I’m sure it hasn’t appeared in Normal mode yet. Ha ha.”
He started raising his voice.
“The item that extends your life has already been discovered and if we continue moving up, we might find something. I think it’s a good reason to put our lives on the line. I’m actually thankful towards the Managers!! When I think that they’re watching from behind, I feel safe.”
Despite of the fact that many people are afraid of the stage, they continue exploring it.
It’s like they’re addicted and have been charmed by the stage.
It could also be because they feel like it’s worth overcoming their fears of that place.
“Hey teddy bear, severing your connection with them just because they were bothering you was a dumb move.”
It was hard to decide who was right in the current situation.
It’s something that I’ll be able to realize in time.
“Someone used a spying skill on you!!”
“Magical barrier will be used!!”
While we were talking, someone used their skill on me.
Before coming here, I noticed that the items that were previously used were displayed and picked out the people that I thought were suspicious.
My body instantly moved after seeing someone act like they were putting something in their pocket.
When I started moving, the atmosphere became tense.
People were on their guards and once they realized that they weren’t the target, they lowered their guard a bit.
The person that I targeted was in their defensive position, but they weren’t able to endure my power, so they were pushed back.
“Wow, the teddy bear rushed in.”
“Shouldn’t we stop him?”
“Leave him alone. They’re so cautious that they wore a bear mask. They wouldn’t just attack someone because they were pissed.”
I continuously attacked the target and after they were on the ground, I got on top of them.
The soft and squishy feeling was different and felt strange.
“Pant…pant…aren’t you being too rough?”
The moonlight shined through the warehouse window.
I realized that my target was a woman.
Her soft breathing escaped through her small lips.
She used her seductive smile and tried to turn my attention elsewhere.
In that moment, she used her fist and punched the concrete next to her, breaking it into smaller pieces.
“Be quiet. I’m going to pat down your body.”
I remembered her putting something in her pocket and started patting that area.
It was embarrassing to do this and the others started whistling, which made me blush.
‘…It’s not here.’
I targeted her because I definitely saw her put something in her pocket.
It could be an item that disappears once it’s been used and it’s possible that she placed it back into her inventory within that short time.
If I don’t find any proof, I’ll be considered a rapist and I won’t be able to do anything about it.
“Will you stop and get off of me? This is bad manners.”
In the end, I couldn’t find anything and got off of her.
“Whew, I’m not sure why you did that, but I’ll let this pass.”
“I’m not sure what you did, but be careful next time, young lady.”
The man wearing sunglasses spoke while lighting his cigarette.
The woman believed that they would side with her just because she was weaker, but everyone had a cold expression.
“You think we didn’t notice you doing something suspicious? That teddy did what he did because you did something. What did you do?”
“It was a skill that displays a person’s information.”
The male nodded to show that his assumption was right.
“There are rumors that large agencies are paying a large sum of money to obtain any information the rankers have…if you pull another stunt like that, you’ll be the one that’ll get buried.”
“It doesn’t matter as long as she doesn’t get caught. If she does get caught, she’ll just have to accept the punishment.”
The woman noticed that she was at a disadvantage, so she remained quiet.
“So, what are we doing about teaming up? I think we’ve pretty much decided.”
We just wasted time instead coming to a conclusion.
“In that case, let’s register our contact information and each of you can decide whether to share the information or not. How’s that?”
“That’s fine. We’re just leaving our contact information, right?”
I thought that giving our information could be a really big help.
If they died within the stage, then the system will notify us as to where they died.
Knowing where they died was useful.
“You have become friends with an anonymous player x7.”
“You are now friends with Choi In-Hyuk.”
“It was a pretty fun meeting. With this many people, it’s possible that we might win within the stage.”
Even though everyone’s first impression wasn’t the best, it seemed like everyone got something out of it.
I knew that I wasn’t the only one that was completing the stages at a harder level.
And that everyone here met a Manager at least once.
One by one, they left the warehouse and I was the last one to leave.
<Life After Returning #4> End.