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Chapter 998

Special Players Management Team.

President Kang Taehoon, Employee Lee Minhwa, Team Leader Park Minggyu, and Manager Kim Dae-Il watched Player Minhyuk through the screen.

In just three days, Jack-of-all-Trades Rocado obtained a score of 632. It was a shocking record. On the screen, they could see the despair on Minhuk’s face. He looked like he had suffered a significant loss.

“It’s not that easy to meet with one of the Eight Pillars,” Manager Kim Dae-Il said.

This was especially the case for Rocado. After all, among the Eight Pillars, he was the only one who could bestow power upon someone. The ridiculous items that he produced could display an equally absurd amount of power.

Because of that, the Story Team made it so Rocado would only live briefly. Why? That was because Athenae’s balance would be broken entirely when Rocado appeared and started to create artifacts.

Team Leader Park nodded. “That’s not all. Clone Rocado’s priority is to make items as quickly as possible. As for the various powers and skills in his possession? He hasn’t shown everything yet. If he used those powers, the items he produced would be more overpowered than those he had produced now.”

That was right. The items that Rocado had created were nothing but mass-produced items. Once he tried to make something outstanding, more outrageous items would appear. This was why they all deemed that the Cave of Restriction and the Restriction of Frustration created by the Story Team were impossible to clear.

Before coming here, President Kang Taehoon visited Athenae to ask her.

What is the probability of Player Minhyuk clearing the Restriction of Frustration?

Supercomputer Athenae replied.

0.01%.

“...”

This conclusion was made after Athenae had analyzed everything, including Player Minhyuk’s overwhelming DEX. It was pretty hard to believe that Minhyuk, a player with the highest DEX and someone who made the most high-grade dishes among the players of Athenae, only had a 0.01% chance of success.

“Player Minhyuk’s greed had made him miss the opportunity to have his artifact reinforced and Evangel completed,” Manager Kim Dae-Il said.

Dae-Il also liked and respected Player Minhyuk. However, he firmly believed that the young man’s challenge to this trial, despite the system’s warning, was mere arrogance just because he wanted to obtain the Pillar Ingredient.

The Trial of Frustration could go on for hundreds of years, depending on the challenger's desires. However, humans were far too weak. Minhyuk would continue to feel how impossible this task was, and that horrifying feeling would gnaw away at his spirit and mentality until he collapsed.

At that moment, Team Leader Park rubbed his chin and said, “We don’t know yet if the ending of Rocado’s story will be a tragedy or a happy ending.”

Team Leader Park was trying to say they should not make any hasty conclusions since Player Minhyuk has not yet failed.

“I hope the ending to Rocado’s Story is happy.”

NPC Rocado’s story, which Athenae’s Story Team created, was sad and pitiful. Anyone could experience it. Perhaps they would also understand how he became the protagonist of this tragic and pitiful story.

“I hope so, too.” President Kang smiled bitterly.

Lee Minhwa suddenly piped, “The Player Minhyuk that I know would not give up so easily.”

None of them answered. They also wanted to believe her words.

Taehoon thought, ‘We’ll have to see if this will be a tragedy or a happy ending.’

At the same time, he recalled the rest of his conversation with Athenae.

0.01%.That’s like saying that it’s impossible.

Athenae remained silent for a long time.

But…

–...?

President Kang Taehoon stood up straighter. His ears perked up as he focused on the word “but.”

If he learns the truth about this Trial of Restriction, his chances will increase to 20%.

–...!

President Kang Taehoon wondered as he continued to stare at the monitor. Would Minhyuk be able to learn the truth?

***

When the second competition began, Minhyuk finally realized Rocado’s worth and started cooking. He was giving it his all.

Minhyuk shone the brightest when he was trying to do something and facing something others thought impossible to conquer. He slowly fell into a trance as he continued to work, filled with determination and the will to win.

The Divine Will gave Minhyuk the strength to cook non-stop for three days. Even his overwhelming DEX helped him during the second competition.

After three days…

[You have completed 1 God-grade item.]

[You have completed ten legendary-grade items.]

[You have completed 17 epic-grade items.]

[Your total score is 165.]

The tense and strained Minhyuk slowly came out of his trance and finally breathed a sigh of relief. Not long after, he heard Rocado’s score.

[Rocado’s total score is 731.]

Minhyuk’s face grew twisted.

‘Where did I go wrong? Did I lose my concentration? Or did I make a mistake while cooking?’ He questioned himself after seeing Rocado’s score, almost four times his score. ‘Or maybe I chose the wrong dish?’

He questioned himself non-stop. However, he could tell he had not done anything wrong and achieved an incredibly ridiculous result as a player.

One God-grade dish.

Ten legendary-grade dishes.

And seventeen epic-grade dishes.

Other production-class players would need help to create even half of what Minhyuk has created here. That was right. There was nothing wrong with what he had done. It was just…

‘Rocado is far too unreachable.’

Minhyuk suddenly wondered if he could really do it. However, those thoughts quickly disappeared.

‘I can do it.’

He remembered the words when he was working out to battle and overcome his eating addiction, and his muscles felt like they were being ripped apart. The exact words rang in his head when his knees were hurting to the point where he felt like he was going to break and fall.

I can do it.

Minhyuk reflected on those words.

There is nothing impossible in this world.

“Again.”

The competition started again. This time, it was easier for Minhyuk to fall into a trance. He devoted himself to his cooking and completely forgot about the existence of the man named Rocado. He even forgot that he was in a competition and continued to do his best as he cooked.

His luck was quite good. He could serve two God-grade dishes in a row, a feat that would be difficult to replicate in the future. That was not all; even the number of legendary and epic-grade dishes he produced then was relatively high.

Minhyuk felt delighted when he finished the last dish.

‘That’s right. If it’s like this, then maybe I have a chance.’

Perhaps he would win. However, the wall he had to overcome was too high and sturdy.

[Your total score is 285.]

[Rocado’s total score is 697.]

“...”

Minhyuk gritted his teeth.

Of course, there were times when his luck was good while Rocado’s luck was terrible. If those things were repeated, they would overlap and produce an advantage for Minhyuk. If that happened, then Minhyuk would gain victory.

‘I only need to reach 70% of Rocado’s score.’

[Your total score is 275.]

[Rocado’s total score is 511.]

Minhyuk’s face grew ugly. He did not know what to feel.

‘I… I can’t do it…?’

In his entire life, the only time that he felt frustration was when he was battling his eating addiction. But now, something else was making him feel frustrated. And this frustration was starting to devour him.

No matter how hard I try, I will not be able to win.

I can’t win against Rocado. I should give up now.

It will only be a waste of time.

The frustration was starting to suffocate him. But he gritted his teeth.

Again.

[Your total score is 175.]

[Rocado’s total score is 890.]

And again.

[Your total score is 241.]

[Rocado’s total score is 766.]

He did not back down.

[Your total score is 111.]

[Rocado’s total score is 1,031.]

He did not fall.

[Your total score is 103.]

[Rocado’s total score is 675.]

He continued.

[Your total score is 87...]

[Rocado’s total score is 755...]

Minhyuk no longer knew how many days had passed since he started this. He ended up pounding the ground crazily with his fists. No matter how hard he tried or how he told himself he could do it, things just wouldn’t work out his way. After all, the restriction in this trial was frustration.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!”

He thought he could get closer, but the more he fought, the more he felt like he was getting further and further away from Rocado.

More than two months had already passed. However, despite the time, Minhyuk still had not progressed much. Even so, he still gritted his teeth.

“Frustration? There’s nothing that can make me frustrated in this life!”

Minhyuk gave it another try. This time, he made poison. He cooked the dish with all his venom, bitterness, and resentment.

[Your total score is 55...]

However, that poison slowly encroached upon Minhyuk and began to devour him. Despite that, he continued again, and again, and again, and again. He did not stop challenging the trial. In the end, Minhyuk fell to the ground. The feeling of frustration tormented him.

I can’t do it. No matter how much I tell myself I can do it, I still can’t.

But he still stood up.

‘Even so, I have to do it.’

He continued to challenge this never-ending competition. In just a blink, five months had passed in the trial. At this point, Minhyuk did not know what he was doing anymore. He felt like his mind and spirit were collapsing on their own.

He sprawled on the ground and laughed like a madman. “Ha– Hahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahaha!”

In reality, Minhyuk was no god. He was just a normal human being who made crazy efforts to reach where he was today. And a human like him dared to think he could beat one of the Eight Pillars, a being that was even superior to a god?

No. I have to do it.

Just like that, the sixth month passed. Minhyuk’s head suddenly turned blank. With his hands on his knees, he supported his body as he gasped for air. He looked exhausted.

His rapidly beating heart made it feel like his surroundings were caving in on him. Then, Minhyuk’s body started to tremble as he cried and wailed.

***

Joy Co. Ltd.

An emergency meeting has been called.

For Minhyuk, who was inside Athenae, six months had already passed. However, in reality, only a few minutes had passed. This was one of the main reasons why the executives could check in on him and watch his situation from time to time.

Through the video, everyone could see how frustrated Minhyuk was. As the executives watched him, one said, “Did he go crazy…? How can a sane person do something repeatedly for six months straight?”

“This is completely different from before. Even though Player Minhyuk had always done hard and repeated labor, he had never gone past a month.”

Kim Han-Wool, a psychiatrist who was also in attendance for this meeting, said, “And this has gone on for six months straight. An ordinary person would have already gone crazy. In the first place, a person can't accomplish what he wants to do. Even if he stays there for six months or longer, if things continue at this rate, then Minhyuk will be in danger.”

“Do you think that he has already reached his limit?” Kang Taehoon asked with a grave tone in his voice.

“He has already gone beyond his limit. You can see it, can’t you? During those six months, the frustration has been tormenting him. It has been weighing down on him non-stop. Look at him now.”

On the monitor, they saw Minhyuk shaking and sobbing with his hands on his knees. Seeing this, the executives piped up one after another.

“We have to stop this right away.”

“This is now beyond our game.”

“We all know that Player Minhyuk is an outstanding player. However, this is still too much for him.”

“Please make a decision now. We have to force him to log out!”

“President!”

Kang Taehoon could not deny the words of his executives. Even though the management and the operators should not directly intervene in the game and a player’s decision, they must stop him now. They had to stop him even if Player Minhyuk wanted to continue the challenge. At the same time, he wanted to applaud and praise him.

“I admire him.”

He kept repeating what he was doing for six months without any achievements and only frustration. No one in this room could achieve this, but it was enough.

Kang Taehoon looked at the wailing Minhyuk and said, “We will force Player Minhyuk to log…”

But then…

[I…]

The crying Minhyuk tightened his hold on his knees as he wiped his tears away. Then, he slowly stood up and looked at Rocado with an indescribable expression. Then, with a bitter laugh, he said.

[...can do it.]

[I will do it.]

[I… will not lose.]

“...”

“...”

“...”

Player Minhyuk took one shaky breath after another until he had calmed down and regained his stability. Then, he clenched his fists tightly.

Everyone in the room was rendered speechless. The only thing that they could do was applaud this player and his pride.

However, the world-renowned psychiatrist, Kim Han-Wool, opened his mouth and said, “We still have to stop this. This is already beyond ridiculous. If we follow common sense…”

Team Leader Park Minggyu interrupted him and said, “That’s right. Common sense would dictate that this is beyond ridiculous.”

“...?”

Team Leader Park stared at the monitor and focused on Minhyuk’s clenched fists as he continued, “I have looked into eating addiction. I found out that this is just a different name for the disease. And it was a disease that has existed for a long time.”

“...”

“...”

“According to what I have researched, all patients suffering from eating addiction had died before the age of 21. To this date, the survival rate of patients suffering from this disease is zero.”

“...”

Team Leader Park made eye contact with Han-Wool. “But Player Minhyuk has gone against that zero survival rate. He has gone past improvement and is almost reaching a complete recovery. This is something that neither we nor a doctor like you can explain.”

Han-Wool shut his mouth because Minggyu was right.

Ever since eating addiction had become an issue, many doctors had gathered together to dig deeper into the disease. However, the only thing that they found out was that this disease had zero survival rate. That was why Han-Wool was impressed that Minhyuk could overcome such a disease. After all, he has already reached a realm no ordinary human could attain.

When Team Leader Park saw Minhyuk shake and tremble, he thought stopping him was also the correct choice. However, when he saw Minhyuk on the monitor again, he could not help but smile faintly.

“That’s the kind of person he is.”

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