It’s been five days since I entered the sixth stage.
And I’ve already tried 30 times.
Maybe they didn’t create this stage so that it can be cleared.
It might be a stage that the Managers created for their own entertainment and find joy from watching the survivors getting trampled over.
It seemed like there were several Managers behind the clouds who were laughing at me.
I’ve experienced several tough stages, but this was the first stage where I felt an ill intent.
“Why only me?”
Whenever I had the time, I asked for advice from people that already completed this stage.
I asked how they managed to clear this dumb stage.
All of the replies were the same.
“You don’t have to do anything.”
If I don’t do anything, then the only other option that I have is to lose.
And it wasn’t a peaceful defeat since I would be able to feel pain.
Their advice didn’t help me one bit.
After that, I spent a lot of time by myself researching.
There were times when I would rush in with determination to bring down the giant.
Other times I would continuously dodge their attacks until the timer hit zero.
Currently, I thought these two methods were the only methods I could use to clear the stage.
I grabbed my sword and bow and walked in with the intent of clearing this stage.
The giant looked at me with a lonely expression.
I couldn’t really feel sorry for it even though I’ve seen it several times already.
After thinking about how many times they cut me down, it made it harder for me to feel that way.
The counter caught on fire.
At the same time, the giant grabbed their sword and I spoke.
“Isn’t it enough? Please move aside.”
The giant answered in a way that said they weren’t going to change their mind.
Their eyes looked determined and it looked like they weren’t going to move away.
However, they might be expecting something else deep inside.
There’s a saying that one is able to look into the opponent’s heart by crossing swords and without exchanging any words.
I think I just experienced that.
While fighting, I saw an odd illusion.
The coliseum was a castle and the chained up giant was sitting on a throne.
And around them, there were a lot of subjects that were bowing to them.
I vividly experienced this illusion in my dream.
For two days, I kept on dreaming about how the giant kept on destroying me.
But on the third day, I started dreaming about something else.
I was the king in that place.
It was a land that didn’t have any vassals that supported the king and only had subjects.
Despite of sitting on a throne, which represented authority, my heart was empty.
As the king, I punished the enemies for the subjects.
I had absolute power and whenever I returned victoriously, that’s when the subjects cheered.
The throne that I was sitting in was nothing more than an empty shell.
I was able to keep this false crown by swinging my large sword and protecting my subjects.
I was really angry at myself.
No, I was mad at the giant’s actions to be exact.
In my opinion, I think they were an evil group that didn’t deserve to be protected.
The only reason why they made the giant the king was for their own protection.
Surprisingly, the giant shed a tear after seeing the dead subjects.
It was an emotion I just couldn’t understand.
I would’ve felt satisfied and cheered after seeing the downfall of those despicable humans.
Why was this giant crying for them?
They could throw away the responsibilities they had as the king and live freely.
After losing what I had to protect, I stood on top of the castle, which was now in ruins.
The solitude that I felt was a feeling that was difficult for me to even imagine.
When the loneliness started to subside, revenge filled the giant’s heart.
Despite of being the only one left in the city, they were waiting for the day they would sit on the throne again.
They said they would use their sword against the ones that put this land in this state.
I didn’t know why the giant was in this current situation, but.
I knew that they were definitely doing this for their subjects.
I spoke with a hardened expression.
“They didn’t deserve protection.”
The giant refused to have any conversations during battle, but for the first time, they flinched.
I guess they caught on to the fact that I was talking about the time when they ruled over the land as the king.
“You already knew about it. They were afraid of the attacks from other countries and they used you as a shield, so why?”
“…Yes. I already knew of it.”
The giant smiled.
The helmet showed their face and for the first time, I saw them smile.
“Despite of the fact that the throne had no meaning, I ascended and sat on it.”
“I don’t understand. In my point of view.”
I shook my head.
I grabbed the sword’s handle and pointed at the giant.
“You’ve been chained up and imprisoned here. Is this for them too?”
The giant smiled once again and didn’t answer.
I jumped up high and brought my sword down.
I succeeded in putting a small injury on his cheek.
I’ve seen enough of their attacks that I was able to dodge them by looking at them.
It felt like I’ve gained an enormous amount of experience by putting my life on the line and repeating the battle several times.
I easily dodge the attack when it hit the ground.
No matter how strong the opponent is, with enough experience, new methods are bound to be created.
The giant was having a hard time catching me and were shocked by it.
When I use the mana strengthening skill, I tend to use it on weapons.
I pushed aside my usual fighting methods and use a different method.
It was using the mana on my entire body and strengthening it.
I was pretty satisfied with the result.
My movements suddenly became fast and it actually took quite a while to get used to it.
In this condition, I would be able to increase my chance of dodging.
In this tiring game of catch, for the first time, I had the advantage.
“Five minutes remaining.”
When compared to the first time, this was amazing progress since I managed to dodge for five minutes.
However, I couldn’t be satisfied with just this.
I would have to dodge for the remaining five minutes in order to clear this stage.
My senses were changing within seconds.
“I’m able to see through all of your attacks. No matter how you attack next time, I’ll make sure to dodge it.”
Now that I was able to relax a bit, the sorrow that filled within me was released by provoking the giant.
However, the perseverance was just as strong as the giant’s iron wall, so I wasn’t able to scratch that.
The giant loudly roared.
Even though I quickly covered my ears, it entered my ears and it started ringing inside my head.
It was so loud that it shook the ground.
The giant stopped crying and struck the sword into the ground.
The giant suddenly clapped their hands together.
The giant extended his hand out towards me, but it wasn’t enough to reach me.
Instead, they created an odd shape with their fingers.
They carefully bent their fingers as if they were preparing something and then straightened them again.
I was standing on the bleachers and I heard something boiling beneath me.
It was getting nearer at a fast rate.
I knew I had to get away and right when I was about to distance myself.
It was decapitated so badly that my arm was barely hanging on to my body.
I thought completely cutting it off was a lot better since it was barely attached.
When blood started pouring out, I started feeling light-headed.
I couldn’t endure this since I would die within two minutes due to excessive bleeding.
In order to stop my body from losing more blood, I used mana to delay it for a little bit.
I heard it again.
Dodging it was easy if you know that it was coming up from the ground.
It was to jump as high as you can.
With that thought in mind, I gathered all of my energy and jumped.
The giant looked at me with a blank expression after seeing me jump higher than him.
The giant might be imagining themselves attacking me right after I land.
The giant was maintaining the same shape with their hands.
There was no way to attack me with the magic they just used.
As I expected, a rock shot out of the area that I was just standing in.
However, it didn’t stop there. It kept on building on top of each other as if it were creating a tower.
The stone was now where I was.
It immediately started attacking me.
It wasn’t difficult to dodge the attack mid-air.
It might be different if I had wings, but changing my position was the difficult part.
The stone landed on the ground and seconds later, jumped right back up.
I couldn’t dodge it this time.
It cut deep into my side.
The short time that I was in the air felt really long.
I just happened to land right in front of the giant.
The injury was really serious, so running wasn’t an option.
“2:43 minutes remaining.”
Should I be satisfied by the fact that I hit a new record?
For the first time, I had three minutes left.
I also found out that the giant was able to control the ground at will.
“…You did well.”
The giant softly spoke as if I was a student.
I was honestly a little bit happy about the fact that the giant acknowledged me.
“I really thought you were going to fail this time.”
I felt bitter and maybe it was because they hurt my pride.
But I wasn’t thinking about giving up now.
I was able to come this far because I attempted several of times.
That’s why I probably believed that this defeat would become the stepping stone in my growth.
No, I had to believe it.
My mind needed something to depend on and I was able to obtain it after attempting this stage many times.
It was a sense of accomplishment.
I hit another record.
Even a second was good.
If it decreased every second, then the timer will eventually hit zero.
I was also able to acknowledge the fact that I was getting stronger as I continuously fought the giant.
I raised my index finger.
“I’ll be back. You’ll eventually get tired of me.”
My 31st try also ended in me surrendering to the giant.
But this wasn’t the first time I fell flat on my face.
Again and again.
Humans are able to grow tremendously after they fall and get back up again.
Let’s not let go of this strand of hope.
<Stage Six #3> End.