The living room held sparse furniture, a couch and a small TV. A desk full of books and a lamp sat in the corner. Hana could see a small kitchen. A narrow hallway branched from the side, leading to a bathroom and two rooms.
A simple apartment.
Hana turned to Rina. "Our parents aren't home?"
Rina turned her head. "Threw away," she mumbled, "you said we are orphans."
Hana blinked. It sounded like they were abandoned by their parents. She scratched her head awkwardly. "Ah, you probably have homework right? It's getting pretty late. I'll make us something quick while you get started?"
Rina looked at her cautiously. "Cook?" Hana nodded. Rina blinked. "You can't cook."
"You almost burned down the kitchen before."
Hana coughed. "So you usually cook?"
Rina shook her head. "Takeout."
Hana walked to the kitchen. "Isn't takeout expensive? We're tight on money right? I'll just make something. I've been practicing." She gave her a confident smile.
Rina nodded slowly and turned to the desk.
Hana looked around the kitchen. Mostly cup noodles and instant food. She sighed. There wasn't even a stove. She dug around, before finding an induction plate. In the fridge, she found a few eggs, tomatoes, and carrots. She went through the shelves, pulling out rice, curry and seasonings.
Hana sighed. She didn't understand how people can live off instant food. Life without home-cooked meals is no better than life as a salted fish.
She chopped up the vegetables and whisked the eggs. She steamed the rice with the curry. Sizzle! She swirled the eggs in the pan, before gently tapping it.
Minutes later, two steaming plates of curry omurice sat on the counter. Hana slid over a plate to Rina, who was staring doubtfully at the plate. Rina looked at the kitchen, then back at the plate. And repeated.
"You made this?" Rina swallowed. The egg wrapped around the rice like a blanket, tiny curds still sliding down. Green onions were garnished on top. It smelled amazing . . . but from past experience . . .
Hana smiled and held out a spoon. "Try it!" Rina cut into the omelet, before shoveling it into her mouth. "Yummy," she mumbled, eyes shining.
Hana laughed. This sister of hers was so adorable! The food disappeared at a fast rate. Hana yawned. "We'll talk in the morning ok?" She needed to find out more about this world, but she had a strong urge to sleep.
Hana went to the room that was hers and fell onto the bed. The last few hours were taxing. She died, came back to life in a new world with powers. Hana quickly drifted off.
In the darkness, Hana stood before a mirror. A reflection of her new body stared back at her.
"Who are you?"
"I am Hana Zhao."
"You're the predecessor then?" Same name as her.
The reflection stared back. "I wanted to die."
Hana said calmly, "And I wanted to live."
The reflection glanced her over. Her eyes seemed to glimmer in approval. "Protect my sister well please." She reached forward and tapped Hana's forehead. Immediately, a rush of information flooded into her brain.
Millions of years ago, 10,000 humans were transported into the first floor of the Tower Between Worlds. They battled beasts and monsters, managing to clear the first floor to open the very first Tower Portal. Many people died, but many survived. Over the next millennia, humanity managed to clear all 100 floors.
Then came the Golden Age, 1000 years from the present. Humanity's population grew. They settled across all the floors and civilization flourished. Technology advanced. Each floor began to specialize and become independent. Only a Tower Portal connected all the floors.
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However, 500 years ago, the Dark Ages happened. Across all floors, dungeons began to appear. Dungeons were gates into a demiplane. Normal dungeons required humans to defeat the main boss to clear it while puzzle dungeons required humans to solve the main puzzle. If dungeons remained uncleared after a period of time, they would break and the monsters within would flood out.
Humans were unable to comprehend such dangers after 500 years of peace. As a result, the bottom 10 floors were lost to monsters from the dungeon breaks and their Tower Portals sealed. The next 10 floors were found to be uninhabitable due to the numerous battles that devastated the land. Slowly, humanity evolved to be strong enough to counter dungeons.
In the New Age (present day), humanity lived from the 21st to 100 floors. The higher the floor, the more wealth and power represented. Dungeons appeared in increasing number, so it became a normal part of life. Many people became dungeon hunters, plundering the resources within demiplanes. Many new occupations appeared and overall life flourished.
Hana Zhao had been born into a wealthy family on the 70th floor. However, her father had been forced to marry her mother so he often neglected her. When she was five, Hana underwent the ability test, resulting in her classification as an F-ranked.
Meanwhile, her father revealed that he had a mistress on the outside who had a child the same age as Hana. The girl had an top ranked ice ability. She was immediately allowed into the family and granted the status as heir. The mistress married Hana's father and became her stepmother!
Hana's mother had died giving birth to Rina. When Rina came of age, she was tested, but she turned out also to be F-ranked. By the time, Hana turned ten, she and Rina were sent down to Crosswind City on the 45th floor, basically exiled from the family.
Hana had taken up part time jobs to support her sister who attended a good academy on the 60th floor. However, 5 months ago, the Zhao family stopped sending them money. Thus, she quit school to work full time.
Under the pressure of Rina's school fees and living expenses, Hana decided to risk it by taking a job as a scrapper on a freelance team. Scrappers usually followed hunter teams into dungeons. They were tasks with gathering materials from dungeons while the hunter fought the monsters.
Hana had reasoned that scrappers were paid a decent amount of money. Even if she died, the life compensation money would end up with Rina.
And so she entered the dungeon and paid with her life, allowing the new Hana to cross over.
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