The 100th Regression of the Max-Level Player (Novel) Chapter 126

Chapter 126 - Employeeless Café

On an ambitious night.

Ryu Min's gaze was directed towards an abandoned warehouse.

Although eerie screams occasionally echoed from within, Ryu Min smiled.

They were just trash deserving of death.

'He chose the place well. This is the perfect spot for an incinerator of garbage.'

With the area completely deserted and scarce human presence, it was ideal for getting rid of corpses. Besides, there was a cleaner who followed orders.

'Honestly, I doubted that Ma Gyeong-rok would accept my request, but he's moving so well according to my will...'

Ryu Min asked Ma Gyeong-rok to clean up the garbage.

Risking revealing the danger of knowing his secret.

'It was a kind of gamble. Once the secret was revealed, no matter when I showed hostility, it wouldn't be surprising.'

He even considered fighting Ma Gyeong-rok if necessary.

Supplying human trash to gain dark magic wouldn't please anyone who was happy to have hidden a flaw their entire life.

That's why he opted for a more direct strategy.

So far, many people had treated Ma Gyeong-rok falsely; wouldn't it be more effective to do the opposite? That was the idea.

'But it seems to have worked. Opening up and speaking honestly was a divine move. Strictly speaking, I pretended to open up, but...'

Fortunately, things were resolved smoothly.

'Well, anyway, garbage cleanup is sorted with this.'

Ryu Min turned around immediately.

Even though the screams lingered, he didn't enter.

Even if he shared his secret, he had no intentions of interfering with Ma Gyeong-rok's private meal.

For now, it was enough to listen to the screams.

'Tomorrow, afternoon, night, dawn, divided into groups of five. If we clean up twenty a day, Ma Gyeong-rok should be able to accumulate enough dark energy.'

28 days left until Round 9.

Even if he lured and killed them for 28 days, he would only be able to eliminate 560 people, but there was no other choice.

'More than that would be dangerous.'

He thought that even for Ma Gyeong-rok, overeating would be a burden, so they reached an agreement on that point.

'What should I do with the remaining 471 people...'.

Anyway, half of them would disappear in the next round.

If he was going to kill them, it would be better to loot them and kill them with items.

'Should I personally take care of the ones Ma Gyeong-rok can't handle?'

With that thought, Ryu Min returned home and picked up his phone.

As he looked at the list of killings that Yamti had sent him, he came across a familiar name.

'Is this person...?

On the quiet night, Ryu Min's eyes gleamed with coldness.

----------------------

August summer.

It has been 8 months since the world began to crumble.

In that short time, many things have happened.

The economy falters, triggering a financial crisis, and all stocks plummet.

It's a natural result since most 20-year-olds who were driving economic activity had died.

Store owners rushed to replace them with 30-year-old labor, but the reality is that there is a shortage of both labor and customers.

Now, with just sending a message, a part-time job could be easily obtained.

With this trend, understaffed places, from convenience stores to automatic cafes, were experiencing explosive growth.

The coffee shop where Seo Arin and Hong Seon-ah went also operated with a staffless system.

"Hey, Arin. Extra two shots of caramel macchiato, right?"

"Yes, thank you."

"The world has improved a lot. Now even cafes are accessible without staff."

"You too, right? If someone hears you, they'd think you're an 80-year-old."

Seo Arin smiled ironically.

Lately, she didn't have many reasons to smile.

Being outside with fellow actors and chatting peacefully felt as comforting as considering it happiness.

That's how much the world had changed.

Hell wasn't that far away.

It was close.

"Oh, speaking of which, our main fan base is now in their 30s. Most of the twenty-year-olds have passed away."

"Ah... suddenly talking about depressing things."

Seo Arin had wished several times.

She wished that the reality she was in was false.

She wished that the survival game where she had to kill and be killed was just a dream.

"I still think when I come back from the round. What if all this is nothing but a dream? What if my fellow actors, with whom I was close, call me again with a smile?"

He was sincere in his acting, Seo Arin.

She loved her work and enjoyed the chemistry with her fellow actors.

Fortunately, she met Ma Gyeong-rok and received support from various directions, achieving success.

A successful life.

But now, that life didn't exist.

Most current occupations, like in most areas, showed signs of decline in the entertainment industry.

When the atmosphere became notably bleak, Hong Suna apologized.

"I'm sorry. Bringing up the sad topic so suddenly."

"No, it's okay. That's reality."

"Is it tough? Do you want to learn to smoke to pass the time? Or maybe you want to try smoking cigars?"

"Haha, thanks to that, I'm laughing."

Joking, Seo Arin sipped her caramel macchiato.

The sweet taste in her mouth instantly improved her mood.

"Still, we're a bit better off. We're alive. We're players."

"That's right."

"I'm still shocked by Gung Seonbae's death. Who would have thought he would die in the first round? Moreover, being a man."

"Since the stats are equal, it doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman."

"Well, a high school student wouldn't have the same power as an adult. Now that I think about it, goblins are like dog food, aren't they?"

When vulgar words came out of a fellow actor's mouth, Seo Arin reprimanded him.

Even if there weren't many people around, you should speak with moderation.

"What does it matter? Isn't this my lovely personality? Fans don't care, I guess."

Hong Suna shrugged with a sly smile.

Although it was a staffless cafe, there was no one else around except the two of them.

"The fact that there's no one has its advantages. You can stroll outside without having to cover your face."

"But the income has also decreased."

"Yes, that's true. But is income really a problem in this situation? The most important thing is to survive right now."

She wasn't wrong, so Seo Arin fell into silence.

What could be more important in the current situation than survival?

"Arin, you're lucky. Having a good occupation for survival."

"Oh, do you mean summoning creatures?"

"Exactly. Listening to you, it seems like you have a completely fraudulent job. The Golem provides the body, the fairy puts up the protective shield. And you say the fairy even helps in battle after reaching level 20? Doing everything like a slave, how cool is that? You envy me, I'm sure."

"Your job isn't easy either."

"Me? Not at all. I only count the damage, but it turns out the assassin is a quite common profession. I have a skill called invisibility, but it turns out to be useless."

"Why? Can't you use it during battle?"

"Yes, that's true. But it's not very effective in the fight. After a single attack, it disappears. Plus, it has a long cooldown. I only use it as a survival measure when it's really dangerous."

"That sounds useful. Survival is as important as anything else."

"That's right. But in reality, there aren't so many dangers, right? Plus, I can't use it effectively. I don't have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and robbing a bank is no longer useful because there are security measures in place."

"...."

"Does even this café only accept card payment? It seems like they're afraid that players will steal cash for nothing."

"Hong Seon-ah, you're not seriously considering that, right?"

"Do you think I'm stupid? That I would have such absurd thoughts? Anyway, it seems like you can't distinguish between a joke and a serious statement."

Although she received a sarcastic comment, Seo Arin just smiled discreetly.

Thinking of the friendship they shared while working on various projects together, they even enjoyed these casual conversations.

They were also the only surviving actor friends left.

"But, seriously, isn't it amazing what we've achieved? Surviving until Round 8."

"Yes, it is."

"They say we're among the few who have survived in the entertainment industry so far."

"So many people have really died?"

"Of course! Don't you realize it yet? Almost all the juniors and seniors, idols, almost everyone died in the entertainment industry. Don't you think 70% of artists have died?"

"Impossible. It shouldn't be that bad..."

"That's the situation. This guy went to offer condolences like crazy, but he really had no idea what was happening."

Hong Seon-ah clicked her tongue.

"You didn't know either? Haven't you heard about the massive increase in the value of our bodies?"

"Uh? Has my body's value increased?"

It was a programmed fact that most artists in their 20s were destined to disappear from the entertainment industry.

But what about the players who survive?

Paradoxically, as niche artists, they seize the favor of the public.

That was the current situation of the entertainment industry, which had undergone dramatic changes.

When Hong Seon-ah mentioned this fact, Seo Arin fell into silence with astonishment.

"Have we really increased in value and become more famous?"

"Really didn't know? Haven't you searched your name on the internet?"

"I don't usually ego-surf..."

"Try it right now."

Reluctantly, Seo Arin typed her name into the search bar.

And, unknowingly, she let out a surprised voice.

"Eh?"

There were more articles than she expected.

[List of 20-year-old artists who survived until Round 8: Seo Arin, Hong Seon-ah, Gu Yeon-seung, Jang Bok-chul, etc., a total of 19 people.]

[Seo Arin and Hong Seon-ah, who have established themselves as standout stars in challenging situations, entertainment players! Advertiser inquiries are pouring in.]

[Jang Bok-chul, who has appeared as an extra for 10 years, after Seo Arin, has risen as a shining star...]

[Jang Bok-chul, an unknown actor entertainment player, confesses that his ideal type is Seo Arin. A surprise confession!]

[Seo Arin and other players who survived until Round 8 see a 2.8 times increase in the total body value of ads compared to before.]

These are the articles that appear when searching for Seo Arin's name.

Seo Arin was surprised to become the center of attention, as if she hadn't known her name was mentioned so much.

"What is this? When did my body's value increase again?"

"With the decrease in celebrities, advertising income and body value actually increase. That girl named Jang Bok-chul in the article was an unknown actress, but she's been accumulating recognition with great momentum even in this eighth round by surviving."

"...."

"Did you really not know anything about this situation? Are you lying to mock me?"

Seo Arin clapped her hands in confusion.

"Oh no. I really didn't know. I haven't even been on the internet for a while..."

"Even if you didn't use the internet, didn't anyone in your agency or company tell you?"

"The agency...?"

When Seo Arin thought of An Sang-cheol, she lowered her head.

"No one told me anything..."

"Despite so many articles? You didn't hear anything? Who's the ultimate representative of your agency?"

It's not an official agency, but if there's a company representative supporting her, it would be Ma Gyeong-rok...

She hadn't heard anything, as expected.

Seo Arin lowered her head with a bitter expression.

"No one told me. How is the situation now?"

"What? Does it really make sense? A celebrity not knowing that her value has increased?"

Seo Arin looked at Hong Seon-ah, who sighed sincerely.

Could that be why she seems to be smiling?

"You should quickly part ways with that agency. They're unpleasant guys, aren't they? They thoroughly hid information to suck up the breach fee, and now you come across this."

"...."

"The news of your body's value came out three months ago. So, how is it possible that, knowing it for at least three months, they kept you in the dark?"

"Even if you say that... you didn't say anything either. We haven't communicated for months, and today suddenly..."

"Hey! Of course, I assumed you knew. Is there anyone in the world who doesn't read news on the internet? And less so being a celebrity!"

Seo Arin was left speechless.

She had stuck out her tongue for no reason.

"I should have quickly parted ways because I was busy. As you know, the world is so bad that I avoided all calls and messages for a while..."

"Ugh, really. You're so silly, so silly."

Hong Seon-ah spoke bluntly, as if she was bitter.

"Don't say that and join our company. Our CEO will treat you very well. With your name, you'll probably get decent treatment among rookie actors."

"No, it's okay. It's already done. Moving now won't change anything. Plus, I still have time left in my contract."

"Destroy that insignificant contract? Should I tell our CEO? He'll probably pay the fine for you."

"It's okay, I don't want to go back and forth like a migratory bird."

Hong Seon-ah's gaze turned cold for a moment.

"Are you even listening to what I'm saying?"

"Huh? What's wrong?"

"No, anyway, it's regrettable. It would be great to work at the same company."

"What's wrong with that? The life of artists is already over. I can't even guarantee that I'll survive in the next round, how can I embark on something long-term like dramas or anything else?"

"Does he know something and we don't? Why is there no work? Even getting some good ads could earn me the salary of a common worker for ten years. Only ads? Even if I can't do dramas or movies, I could appear on entertainment shows and various programs, right?"

Upon hearing this, it seemed to make sense.

"But, has your company even blocked such opportunities? Haven't you had a decent job since the big transformation?"

Seo Arin nodded cautiously.

Just in case.

"Yeah..."

To make matters worse, Hong Seon-ah hit her forehead with her hand.

"It really is an unacceptable place. Why would you enter such a place as if you're a fool...?"

"Seon-ah, even if that's the case, your words are too harsh..."

"Let's go."

"Eh?"

Suddenly, Hong Seon-ah stood up and took Seo Arin's wrist.

"There's someone I'll introduce you to, so let's go."

"Who?"

"He exists! Someone who will save you from this misery!"

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