Chapter 123. Tarnatose Prison

Of the countless free cities in the Arth continent, there existed a city called Bigfull; it was the tenth largest giant city. 

The Jairus Guild's headquarters were located here, and it is also where Yoon Se Hwa and Park Tae Gyu were meeting. 

"Are you sure we can win?" Yoon Se Hwa asked, giving him a nervous look.

"I explained why we had to win last time," Tae Gyu replied tiredly.

"I'm just anxious!"

Se Hwa instantly raised her voice.

"Hoo. Then let me tell you again why our victory is assured. Although his skills are roughly on par with my own, I can ask my guild for assistance, while Oga cannot. He's not even part of a guild."

"What about Soo Ah?"

"She's a part of the Witch's Forest, but the guild seems small and private. I know all of the powerful guilds by heart."

Even with this reassurance, Yoon Se Hwa couldn't help but bite her fingernails. It didn't help ease her anxiety one bit.

Then, Tae Gyu added, "Our mission will likely be the '1 hour hell'. I already told you why it's called that, right?"

"The guards all turn into monsters after the 1 hour mark," Se Hwa said.

"The monsterization isn't the important part. What is important is the special ability they gain as a result of it. Their regeneration is off the charts, so you can't kill a single one without dealing damage that surpasses it."

This was why players, who previously enjoyed escape games, claimed that it was impossible to clear the Tarnatose Prison after the '1 hour hell'.

The guards would regenerate all of their HP, no matter how much damage the players dealt to them.

"Please take a look at this sword that the guild gave me."

Tae Gyu drew the showy red sword at his waist.

"It's called Malak's Sword of Annihilation. It's an S-rank weapon that inflicts a healing debuff. In other words, I can seal the guards' special ability with this sword."

Yoon Se Hwa's expression relaxed ever so slightly.

"Moreover...! On the day of the shoot, my guild will provide me with the best of equipment. That's not all. I'll also receive God's Relics, which will increase my abilities from within my inventory. Plus, our guild's Alchemists will provide me with plenty of buff potions as well," Tae Gyu said, as if he was screaming 'This is the power of a giant guild' from the top of his lungs.

"Do you still think we'll lose?" 

Tae Gyu's voice, which brimmed with confidence, as well as the support that was promised to him, caused Se Hwa to relax completely.

"Again, we can't lose, so just sit back and enjoy the ride."

* * *

Asu prepared herself for D-day. 

Due to her efforts in the Quiet Lavero Jungle, she had leveled up to 100.

Obviously, she'd replaced all of her equipment as well.

She wore the True Knight armor set, which glowed in a snow-white light, and appeared like a valkyrie from Northern European myth.

Furthermore, she was able to bolster her lacking defenses, as well as improve her basic skills by sparring with Kang Oh.

She'd also completely memorized all the information on the Tarnatose Prison!

That's how she'd spent her time, and before she knew it, D-day was just a couple days away. 

"Oppa, we only have two days left until you know what," Asu swept her golden hair back and said.

"That's why we're going to the Tarnatose Prison today."

"I'm finally going to see Tarnatose Prison up close!"

Her voice was filled with anticipation.

"You know where you receive the Tarnatose Prison's entry quest, right?" Kang Oh asked.

He was testing her in order to make sure she'd been studying properly.

"Of course. Urdan Cemetery."

"Exactly. Let's go straight there."

"Ok!"

Kang Oh and Asu came to Urdan Cemetery, which was a vast plain filled with various burial mounds.  

"I just need to touch any one of the tombstones to get the quest, right?" Asu asked.

"Yeah."

Kang Oh nodded his head.

"Then..."

Asu approached one of the graves and touched the tombstone. Then, the tombstone lit up and she received a quest.


[Unjustly Imprisoned - A memory that cannot be forgotten]

A long, long time ago, there existed a place called Tarnatose Prison.

This prison was seized by a group of zealots who worshipped the evil god, Jaila. Those who did not worship their god were forcefully imprisoned, tortured, and eventually killed here.

Countless people were tortured here and died a dog's death. 

All of these prisoners were innocent, pitiful people.

Tarnatose Prison is no more, but the survivors left behind memories of their horrifying experiences in the hopes that such a tragedy would not be repeated.

Difficulty: Undecided

Minimum Requirements: Not a criminal.

Reward: None.

Failure: None.


[If you accept the quest, you will enter Tarnatose Prison.]

[Would you like to accept the quest?]


Asu met Kang Oh's gaze.

"Are you ready?"

"That's my line."

Kang Oh grinned.

"I accept the quest!" Asu yelled enthusiastically.

Then, they saw a short recording.

What greeted them was a dark and dreary prison.

Red, desiccated blood coated the walls, and bones were strewn on the floor.

The row of torture devices was horrifying.

"Follow Lord Jaila's divine revelation. Spread pain, screams, despair, and death in His name!

"Jaila!"

"Jaila!"

The prison guards, who all worshipped the evil god, performed unspeakable acts of torture.

"Save me!"

"Uaaahk!"

"Let me out!"

Their screams were never-ending.

They would only stop screaming upon death.

This was hell on earth, otherwise known as the Tarnatose Prison.

Once the short recording was over, Kang Oh and Asu were transported elsewhere; they weren't in the Urdan Cemetery anymore, that's for sure. 


[Entering the spatiotemporal intersection point, Tarnatose Prison.]


It was a windowless prison. There was no way of getting through the thick bars either.

The walls were filled with hideous scratches and soaked with dark red blood.

"Hoo. This place is terrible."

Asu looked sad. She seemed regretful that such atrocities had taken place here.

"It's just how the dungeon was made to look. Don't worry about it too much."

Kang Oh softly tapped her shoulder.

Then...

The ground began to shake.

It was an earthquake.

Kang Oh and Asu remained completely calm. They simply leaned onto the wall and waited for the earthquake to stop.

The reason they were able to remain so calm, even in the midst of an earthquake, was simple.

They knew that an earthquake would occur, and they knew when it would end as well.

"It's over."

As he said, the earthquake had stopped.

However, the earthquake had damaged the once inescapable iron bars, creating a space large enough for a person to go through. 

At the same time, they received a quest message.


[The quest, 'Unjustly Imprisoned' has led to the 'Jailbreak' quest.]


[Jailbreak]

This is hell on earth, the Tarnatose Prison.

But the heavens haven't given up on you. The earthquake has opened the prison doors, and countless prisoners have escaped.

Fortunately, there is now a way for you to escape as well. 

But be careful!

The evil god, Jaila, does not want you to escape, and has bestowed his followers with his power. His bestowed power becomes stronger as time passes...

Escape as quickly as possible!

Difficulty: Undecided

Reward: None


Kang Oh closed the quest window and looked around. There was an hourglass on top of the shelf.

"This is it."

He picked up the hourglass.

Asu stuck right next to him and took a look at the hourglass as well.

"Ah, so this is the hourglass."

At first, only a small handful of players that previously enjoyed escape games had made use of this feature, but through the efforts of the Crazy Highschooler, Bart, the Tarnatose Prison had become well-known.

After that, Dreamgate added a few more features to the escape game in order to make the players' lives easier. The hourglass was one such feature.

It had the ability to fast-forward time!

The hourglass removed the need for players to wait at their starting position until the correct amount of time had passed. 

"Let's see here..."

Kang Oh reversed the hourglass.

The sand had fallen to the bottom within 10 seconds and the center of the hourglass now read '10', which meant that 10 minutes had effectively passed in the dungeon.

"Let me try too."

"Here."

Once she reversed the hourglass, the hourglass read '20'.

"Then, shall we go?"

Asu placed the hourglass back onto the shelf.

Once he left through the bars, he saw a timer at the corner of his vision. 

[00:01]

This was another feature that Dreamgate had added in for player convenience.

Once one escaped the prison, the time would stop, and their clear time would be recorded on the ranking board.

"You see the time, right?"

"No problems here!"

Kang Oh and Asu began to walk side-by-side. A short while later, they encountered a forked road.

'We have to go right for the shortest route...'

Kang Oh knew plenty regarding the interior structure of the prison.

"We go right here, right?"

Of course, Asu was the same.

"Yeah. Let's start with the shortest route first."

"Let's go!"

Once they walked through the right path, they encountered a prison guard empowered by the evil god.

"You cannot escape!"

The prison guard was a human Soldier with bloodshot eyes. Bat wings protruded from his back as well, a side effect of the evil god's power.

'I think the bat represents the evil god, Jaila.'

The more time passed, the larger the bat wings would become. Not only that, but the guards would become even stronger. After 1 hour had passed, the guards would transform into full-blown monsters.

"I'll try fighting it one on one."

Asu stepped forward.

"Yahp!"

She cleaved through the air, as soft and quick as the wind.

Whack!

Shards of light exploded from the prison guard's body!

Asu immediately followed up with another attack.

A diagonal slash, a downwards strike, and a Vital Thrust!

Asu instantly overpowered the prison guard.

"Ugh."

Ultimately, the bat-winged prison guard died in vain.

"They're still really weak."

Asu picked at the prison guard's body with the tip of her sword.

"That's because they haven't become monsters yet," Kang Oh said.

"According to the information you gave me, the monster guards use magic and have tremendous healing abilities."

"Yep. That's why you have to either stop them from regenerating or do an overwhelming amount of damage."

"What are you going to do, Oppa?"

"I'm going to do it like Bart," Kang Oh said.

The Crazy Highschooler, Bart, used overwhelming force to melt away the monsters.

Kang Oh decided to do the same; on D-day, he'd use his overwhelming power to defeat the monster prison guards.

"Isn't it easier to prevent them from healing?" Asu asked.

"It is. For the past few days, I've been looking for an item that does just that in the auction house, but... None of them were up for sale."

"It seems like items that apply a healing debuff are quite hard to find."

"Yeah, they are. It's a ridiculous ability, so there are plenty of people looking for it. However, it's a rare ability, so not many are put up on the market... Anyway, let's keep going."

Kang Oh and Asu pressed forward.

How much time had passed?

"Oh Jaila!"

The final obstacle was the chief guard.

Kang Oh and Asu worked together to take him down, and picked up the key off his corpse.

They opened the door with the key and escaped the prison.


[You have completed the Jailbreak quest.]

[Clear Time: 15:41.]

[Your time has been anonymously recorded on the ranking board.]

[You may change your name later.]


The Tarnatose Prison vanished like a mirage. All that remained was vestiges of the ruined prison and a giant tombstone.

"So this is the ranking board."

Once he touched the tombstone, a record window called 'Escape Game' appeared.

A system message appeared too.


[Would you like to record your name?]


'I heard that old arcade games had a system like this where you recorded your name right next to your score...'

Dreamgate must have drawn inspiration from the arcade score system of old.

Anyway, Kang Oh inputted 'Oga and Soo Ah' as practice.


[Your name has been recorded.]


After that, he fiddled around with the ranking window.

It was easy for him to find his own time and rank, as well as others' as well.

He closed the ranking window and stared at Asu.

"You've experienced it firsthand now. How was it?"

"It was way too easy," Asu said immediately.

"You wanna increase the difficulty and give it another go?"

"Yes!"

Kang Oh and Asu attempted the Tarnatose Prison once more, which was followed by another attempt, and another...

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