The Forty-Third Floor, also known as the Floor of Death, is a notorious point in the Tower. It's known as a dangerous, lawless place and also a haven for criminals and enemies of the Zahard Empire. On this Floor, the Irregular Enryu killed the Guardian of the Floor. The only inhabitable part of the Floor is buried under the flesh and blood of the deceased Guardian, hence the very name of the Floor.
The 43rd Floor is a region that no-one has taken care of since its Guardian died, so it’s almost uninhabitable for ordinary people. However, there are a huge number of fugitives living on the 43rd Floor, so the Floor is considered by many to be a lawless area. Not even Rankers dare to access such a place voluntarily.
The 43rd Floor was originally the Floor Arlen Grace and her husband V fled to after their failed civil war against Zahard and where Arlen gave birth to their son. It was also initially the place where she raised her child. Unfortunately, Zahard, who had feelings for her and couldn't accept the fact that she had a child with another person, track them down and killed the child before her very eyes.
Years later, Zahard had turned the Floor into a shrine dedicated to himself and had his followers and worshippers flock to the area as a pilgrimage site. He also tried to erase any trace of Arlen and her child from the Floor. However, as if a harbinger bringing retribution for defiling the land, an Irregular named Enryu appeared. When he appeared, the first thing he said was that "Only those who believe the false king will remain here and face death". Hearing this, many people were bewildered but sensed that he was not an ordinary person. Many fled while Zahard's fanatical followers sought to attack him. Enryu made it rain spears made of Shinsoo and his adversaries dropped like flies. Soon the Floor's Guardian emerged enraged and attacked him. But Enryu's spears managed to pierce its flesh and eventually killed it, disproving the belief that Guardians were invincible. Their battle had destroyed all the Floor's mountains, seas, and buildings while the ground turned red. For ages, it rained red Shinsoo while the body of the Guardian was all that remained to compose the Floor's landmarks amidst a sea of its own blood.
Meanwhile, most of the people on the Floor had died while even the strongest Rankers who survived struggled with the unusual Shinsoo, aging, and lack of food. To make matters, worse, rumours began spreading about a Thorn that Enryu left behind that was capable of killing Zahard along with rumours about Enryu's abilities himself. To stop the rumours, the Zahard family dispatched an army to block all entrances and exits while killing anyone trying to leave in order to prevent the rumours from spreading. To end the situation, Grand De Sah and Grand De Jah used magic and spells to create a 'Spirit Room' to store the souls of all those residing on the Floor. In exchange for being unable to leave, the Floor's residents would have immortality. However, not everyone was content and eventually, Hell Joe, who sought to escape, rebelled, took over South City, and imprisoned Grand De Sah. It was only Grand De Jah's eyes, which could predict the future, and the aid of a mysterious woman that prevented Hell Joe from invading North City. With FUG seeking the Thorn's fragments, Hell Joe formed a partnership with them to find the Thorn in exchange for a way to be able to leave the Floor of Death.
- North City (노스 시티, Noseu Siti): The northern region of the 43rd Floor, currently ruled by Grand De Lee. It appears to have a colder, snowy climate with Arctic landscapes. Garam Zahard hides there.
- Spirit Room (영혼의 방, Yeonghon-ui Bang): A place where the souls of the Floor inhabitants are stored.
- South City (사우스 시티, Sauseu Siti): The southern region of the 43rd Floor, currently ruled by Hell Joe.
- Red Fortress (붉은 성, Bulg-eun Seong): The place where Hell Joe dwells.
- Gallstone Village (담석마을, Damseogma-eul): The Red Witches' secret hideout on the Floor.
Life support system
As the Shinsoo is very thin in the inner part of the Floor, the Guardian's blood, highly concentrated in Shinsoo, is poured inside, through a complex and intricate system of pipes, partially built upon the blood vessels of the dead Guardian.
Different kinds of monsters prevent outsiders from entering the Floor of Death. Among them, those are classified as Watchmen, Eye Bugs and the Giant Leeches.
Gatekeepers are divided into a systematic legion of explorers, eye bugs, and leeches. When an explorer gets killed, the light bulb inside it comes out to buy time for the eye bugs to pinpoint the location of the intruders, which then calls the leech gatekeepers to the enemies’ location. The leech gatekeepers don’t have souls, thus they are unable to die no matter how much an individual attack them.
Eventually, should an intruder reach the hall of the Floor of Death, which grants access to the inner part of the Floor of Death, one must offer his or her soul to the High-Leech Monk.
Notes and Trivia
- As the Floor is largely composed of a decomposing corpse, giant bugs are one of its specific features.
- It is also subject to many rumours.
The 43rd Floor is unique for numerous reasons:
- Enryu killed the Guardian of this Floor.
- A massive needle-like object was found at the site of the murder.
- As there is no Guardian, anyone can manipulate Shinsoo without a contract. However, Shinsoo is said to be very weak on this Floor.
- Zahard's Princesses are banned from travelling to this Floor.
- Regulars do not take tests here; rather they skip it and proceed to the next Floor by travelling down the "middle road".
- D-rank Regulars can access this Floor over the Hell Express. It is a special test that enables Regulars to quickly travel to the 43rd Floor. Unlike other Floors, there is no station for the Hell Express here.
- According to Emile, Regulars aboard the Hell Express need a human sacrifice to enter this Floor. This is later proven to be false as you need to be 'dead' or lose your soul to pass through normally.
- According to Hockney, at the end of the numerous paths that lead into the 43rd Floor are gigantic monsters known as "Gatekeepers" (문지기라, munjigila) who devour anyone that tries to enter the Floor; fighting them is akin to a death wish.
- According to Evan Edrok, a Guide's abilities are diminished on this Floor, though it seems that the Red Witches retain their abilities. It is later revealed that the Red Witches' abilities don't work either; they rely on routes secretly memorised and passed down from generation to generation.