The Player that Can't Level Up - Chapter 1
Volume 1 – Chapter 1
001. The Player that Can’t Level Up
The green goblin went down, letting out a scream.
“Nice work, everyone.”
“Thank you for your hard work, guide-nim*.”
TN: -nim is an honorific to show respect in Korean.
“Goblins feel pretty easy now!”
The Players chatted while putting away their weapons, having defeated the last of the green goblins. One of the Players was the last to put away his sword. He’s the one the others called “guide”.
“Did everyone level up?”
“We didn’t even kill that many, but we already leveled up.”
“That’s because you level up quickly in the early levels.” The guide explained, turning his back. “Tomorrow, let’s plan on going up to the 2nd floor.”
“I’ll meet you at the entrance in the morning.” After he finished talking, the guide parted ways with the rest of the group.
Once the guide could no longer be seen, the remaining Players gossiped while preparing to go back.
“So, is he really that famous?”
“He most certainly is.”
“Ah, I heard about him too!”
The goblin’s body disappeared and in its spot, a hazy crystal remained. One of the Players picked it up while continuing speaking.
“It’s not for certain, but there’s a rumor that he can’t level up.”
“A man that can’t level up. There’s no way to rank normal Players, but it’s an unquestionable fact that he is the lowest-ranked Player.”
“He can’t level up?”
“Yep. There are also rumors that he’s a unique ability holder, but do you really think someone like that would be doing this?”
“You have a point.”
The Players looked in the direction that the guide headed off to.
* * *
GiGyu, the guide that left the hunting grounds by himself, checked his daily agenda. He finished guiding for the day. Next up was hunting.
He looked at the forest he walked through. During the last 5 years, not once has his routine changed. He entered the Tower, guided people, and hunted with his remaining time. That was the routine GiGyu followed since he entered the Tower.
GiGyu went to a secluded corner where he hunted alone, away from the other Players. It was a secret spot he found after wandering around the Tower for 5 years. A space GiGyu found just for himself.
Once a day, exactly one goblin spawned here.
The lone goblin looked around in confusion.
– “Kkiruk? Kkiruk?”
Drawing the sword from his waist, GiGyu quietly approached the Goblin, moving very carefully.
‘If I attack his vitals before he notices me, it’ll be a pretty easy kill.’
Unfortunately, the goblin noticed GiGyu approaching and let out a scream.
It seemed like today would be another hard battle. Every once in a while, he succeeded in assassinating the goblin, but more often than not, he would fail the assassination and had to fight a gruesome battle.
Dodging the spear that came at him, GiGyu charged at the goblin.
* * *
After battling for a whole hour, GiGyu was drained. After hunting goblins in the same spot for 5 years, one would expect to get quicker. However, it still took him a whole hour to kill a single goblin.
In an attempt to raise his base strength, he diligently exercised, but he wasn’t able to build any muscle.
After the Tower and the gates appeared, a handful of people awakened into Players. Now with unlimited potential for growth, they climbed the Tower and closed gates, becoming a new powerful faction.
The Player Economy.
The world has now become unable to function without Players. Players became heroes, a symbol of wealth and envy. That’s why GiGyu was overjoyed when he became a Player.
Sitting on the bare ground, GiGyu called up his status window.
[Unique Ability : ???]
He was still level 1, and he still couldn’t see what his unique ability was.
GiGyu made a bitter face.
They were abilities that only chosen Players held, and it usually awakened into an amazing, special ability. GiGyu was among those unique ability holders.
However, the problem was that GiGyu didn’t know what his unique ability was. He tried everything out of desperation, but his unique ability did not awaken.
After awakening as a Player with a unique ability, Kim GiGyu thought his life could only go up from there, but life had a different plan for him.
“Who would have thought… That there would be this kind of a Player.”
GiGyu talked to himself.
A Player possessing a unique ability! But also a Player that can’t level up.
Even disregarding level ups, his stats wouldn’t even show. His fighting ability was that of a normal person, if not below. GiGyu was truly an unprecedented Player.
* * *
Player Association, Seoul. A gate that led to the Tower was located inside, and that’s where GiGyu was at today.
“Here’s your pay for today.”
“Thank you very much.”
It was three 50,000 won* bills.
TN: 50,000 won ≈ $44
It wasn’t a small amount for GiGyu who worked as a guide, helping novices through the tutorial in the Tower. He taught newly-awakened Players about the Tower, Players, and combat. He guided Players from the 1st floor to the 4th, called the tutorial floors. That was GiGyu’s job.
“There are way too few customers lately.”
The amount of new Players that sought out guides shrunk drastically. The reason was clear—it was because of the guilds. After recruiting them, the guilds would guide their new Players themselves. And since association guides could only take you to the end of the tutorial, new Players would rather be guided by their own guilds as they could help them hunt beyond it.
Due to that, GiGyu progressively saw less and less work. Even though there was a time where he was doing pretty well as a guide…
GiGyu let out a deep sigh. His income kept decreasing and his abilities weren’t growing.
Rent, food cost, his mother’s hospital bills, etc. He had a lot of expenses but not enough income.
“I might have to get a part-time job at this rate.”
It was coming to a point where he would have to give up his hunting time for a part-time job. But if it came to that, it meant that he wouldn’t be able to continue making a living as a Player.
GiGyu headed to the payment office.
When a monster inside a gate or the Tower was killed, a crystal appeared in its wake. These crystals were the bread and butter of a Player’s income, and the payment office was a place that bought these crystals for cash.
“That’ll be 20,000 won*.”
TN: Approx. $18
GiGyu had only brought one crystal. It was a small crystal that he got after killing a goblin, so of course it didn’t fetch a high price.
He crumpled the two 10,000 won bills into his pocket as he trudged on. It was time to go home.
* * *
After climbing the stairs of the shabby apartment, he arrived at an even shabbier rooftop apartment. GiGyu opened the door to his apartment with a bright smile.
“How are you, son?”
“I’m fine, mom. How about you? Are you doing okay?”
“Oppa*, you’re home?”
TN: Korean word for older brother, used by girls to boys.
As soon as he arrived home, his mother and younger sister, YuJung, greeted him.
In the corner of a small room was a hospital bed. And on top of the bed, GiGyu’s mom—who was very ill—laid there.
“Oppa, you haven’t eaten yet, right? I’ll cook something up for you right away.”
GiGyu went up to his mom and started massaging her. Due to getting paralyzed from a spine injury, his mother’s muscles would stiffen up if they aren’t massaged regularly.
“Don’t be sorry, mom.”
They calmly shared a conversation.
GiGyu’s father died in an accident when he was a child, and in that accident, his mother lost her freedom. Having lost his dad, GiGyu had to change for his mom and younger sister.
The once bright-eyed child had to learn about the harsh world and faced the immense pressure of taking care of his family.
It was a cold world where without money, one couldn’t even receive proper medical care. This meant that GiGyu had to drop out of school.
After dropping out at a young age, there wasn’t a part-time job he hadn’t tried out. In the midst of his daily struggle, he had become a Player.
‘What a crummy memory.’
GiGyu’s face soured after reminiscing about his struggles. He tried to brush it off as he wiped down his mother’s back with the wet towel his sister brought him.
“Oppa, you should eat dinner.”
“Your sister’s right. I’m sure you’re hungry. Go have dinner.”
On top of a metal table, YuJung set up kimchi, rice, and a fried egg.
“Where did you get the egg?”
“The chicken that we’re raising at school laid some eggs, so I snuck some home. Hehe.” YuJung answered with a bright smile.
Looking at his sister’s cute smile, he felt the day’s fatigue melt away.
“Thanks. I appreciate it a lot.”
“Just eat already.”
While sitting down at the table, GiGyu turned on his old TV. While having dinner at home, he always turned on the TV and put on the Player channel. It was the only time of the day he was able to catch up on Player-related news and rumors.
– “I heard that the Aeingela Guild announced their plans to clear the 75th floor.”
– “Yes, that’s right. They’ve announced that they will conquer the 75th floor, which has been unclearable for a while now.”
The Aeingela Guild. It was a multi-national guild led by a Korean guildmaster, and it was one of the top three guilds in the world.
The guildmaster was Lee SunHo. He was a high-ranker with a unique ability—some even believing that he might be the strongest Player. What was most surprising, though, is that Lee SunHo was the same age as GiGyu.
– “They said that they will have the departing ceremony at the gate in Seoul tomorrow morning.”
– “Wow. I bet it’ll be a spectacle.”
– “It’ll be a sight to see. South Korea created a truly amazing hero.”
– “I wish for the success of Aeingela’s 75th floor raid.”
– “What’s our next story?”
– “The next story is about the S-rank gate that opened in the US.”
One of the announcers was shocked.
S-rank was the highest classification of gates that appeared so far. They’re monstrous gates that take more than 10 high-rankers to clear.
– “Currently, the US government is requesting help from the Korean Player Association. And they have promised a hefty reward to everyone that will be deployed to the S-rank gate.”
– “We think that there will be a greater commotion among Players because it overlaps with the declaration made by the Aeingela Guild.”
– “Yes, I think so too.”
GiGyu turned off the television. It was major news, but it had nothing to do with him.
“I paid the fee for your school trip, so make sure you have fun, okay?”
YuJung made a surprised face.
“Mom’s sleeping, so let’s be quiet. Why didn’t you tell me that your school trip was tomorrow?”
“Is it because you think your oppa doesn’t make enough money?”
“That’s not it!” YuJung shouted in anger.
They saw their mother rustle in her sleep.
“Let’s talk outside.”
GiGyu went outside with YuJung and sat down on a small wooden bench.
“I know why you tried to keep it a secret, but you still should have told me. It’s a school trip, after all.”
“But… I don’t really have to go. I just…”
GiGyu shook his head. “I didn’t get to do stuff like that. That’s why I don’t want you to miss out. We are a bit tight on money right now, but we’re slowly paying off our debt, and I’m also saving up for your college tuition…”
“I don’t need to go to college…”
“I’m not saying you have to go to college. I’m okay with whatever path you decide. However, if there is something you want to do, I’ll help you anytime. That’s the least I can do as your oppa.”
YuJung lowered her head.
“I hired a nurse for the next 3 days, so don’t worry about it and go have fun. Here.” GiGyu handed her the 20,000 won from selling the crystal as well as a portion of his day’s wage.
“N-no! I’m okay without money…”
“It’s fine. I don’t want you to miss out on the fun. Get some delicious food with your friends. Now get ready for tomorrow and head to bed.”
YuJung headed inside first. As for GiGyu, he sat alone outside for a while with a grim face.