Once he heard that there was money on the line, Marco raised his hand. "What exactly do you want us to do?"
"That's a good question. Whoever gets to the highest floor will be rewarded."
The contestants were locked in thought.
"Now, shall we see how much the reward is?" Seong Gook pointed at the huge screen.
The number zero quickly began to rise. In the blink of an eye, the number passed 100 million won, and stopped at 200 million won ($200,000 USD).
"200 million won!" It was worth more than Galmoss or Benolov. "The current record holder is Mr. Bart. He has reached the 49th floor. And the boss that even Mr. Bart wasn't able to defeat was the 50th floor's Doppelganger."
In the Tower of Trials, a player would face a boss monster every 10 floors. The 50th floor's boss was the Doppelganger.
A Doppelganger completely mimicked another person; their face, abilities, skills, weapons/armor, etc.! Even Bart hadn't been able to defeat the Doppelganger. No other player had beaten it either.
Although it wasn't like Galmoss or Benolov, who were notorious for slaughtering countless players, the Doppelganger was a monster that hadn't been killed yet.
"I wonder if any of our great hunters will defeat the Doppelganger and reach the 51st floor? If they do, what floor will they get to? I'm sure our viewers are all curious."
"I have a question," Strong Punch said.
"So do you get the 200 million for killing the Doppelganger?"
"No. Whoever goes the farthest will receive the reward."
"Then what if all of us can't get past the Doppelganger? In other words, what if all of us get stuck on the 49th floor? Will you still give us the reward for that?"
"Of course. However, the reward will be split four ways."
"So even if we kill the Doppelganger, the reward is split if we end on the same floor," Strong Punch said.
"Exactly. This time, someone will be paid no matter what. However, you may have to share your reward with someone else," Seong Gook said.
"The Tower of Trials is a spatiotemporal intersection point, so you will all start on the same day, at the same time. That's the only way it'll be fair!"
A spatiotemporal intersection point was just another word for an instant dungeon. In other words, one person, one dungeon.
"Does everyone understand?" Seong Gook looked around. No one raised their hands or shook their heads. "Good. You will start this Sunday at noon."
It was Monday, so they had six days to prepare.
"So we'll be attempting the tower right after it resets," Snow Flower said.
"Exactly! The tower resets every Sunday at noon. New traps form, and their locations change. Of course, the monsters on each floor change as well. The only thing that doesn't change is the boss every 10 floors."
"Sounds fun." Strong Punch looked over his fellow contestants and smiled. "I have one more question." Strong Punch raised his hand.
"It doesn't matter how much time we take, right?"
"Oh, right. I forgot to mention that. Thank you for reminding me, Mr. Strong Punch! The floor you end on 24 hours after entering will be your record."
"Is there anything else you've forgotten?" Marco asked.
"Let's see here..." Seong Gook looked over his cue cards and glanced at Jin Cheol too. Jin Cheol nodded his head. "I've told you everything you need to know. If there's anything I missed, then our production crew will contact you later."
"Understood." Marco clenched his fist. He vowed to show what he was made of this time.
"Viewers, please look forward to our hunters' ascent up the Tower of Trials! I'll see you next time. Thank you very much!"
Seong Gook wrapped up with a closing statement. With it, the shoot was over.
* * *
The Tower of Trials was located on top of the Phamas Mountains, or the Continent's Roof. Kang Oh had, however, come here before the time of his shoot.
'Seeing something once is better than hearing about it 100 times. And experiencing it once is better than seeing it 100 times.'
Kang Oh, who'd finished gathering info on the Tower of Trials, had come here to experience the Tower of Trials for himself.
"Hoo, I can't beat the 40th floor's boss."
"Yeah. If I just got past him, then I feel like I'd reach the 45th floor!"
"Those traps are seriously a pain!"
There were several people in front of the entrance. People who craved a challenge would come to the Tower of Trials.
Some people were even called Towergoers. They kept coming back to the tower, trying to get to a higher floor than before.
Anyhow, Kang Oh had changed into extremely inconspicuous clothing, which kept him from being noticed. He pushed through the crowd and approached the tower.
The tower was huge. The clouds obscured the top, so it couldn't be seen, and it was much wider than most palaces.
Obviously, the entrance was huge too! It was also completely open.
[Entering the spatiotemporal intersection point, Tower of Trials.]
Slimes, the lowest rank monsters, appeared on the 1st floor. He didn't even need to use his sword against them. He just swung his arms a few times and they were dead.
Once he killed a Melon Slime, which was about double the size of the others, a key fell to the floor.
[2nd Floor Key]
Opens the door to the Tower of Trials' 2nd floor.
A key was needed in order to progress to the next floor.
Kang Oh opened the door to the 2nd floor. The location of this door was fixed. Even though the tower was reset every week, the door would always be in the same place.
Kang Oh memorized the location of the door, and headed for the next floor.
He got up to the 30th floor in a flash.
Floors 1 through 10 contained monsters below level 100. Floors 11 through 30 contained monsters that were between level 100 and level 300. They didn't give him much experience, nor did they drop anything worth noting. It truly wasn't a good hunting ground.
The 30th floor's boss was a giant dog that resembled a Doberman. However, it had three heads instead of one. It was called Twipper.
It was basically a weakened version of the Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of hell. The Cerberus still hadn't appeared in Arth yet.
In any case, it was around level 300.
Kang Oh pummeled it with Demon Sword Blood, and soon enough, it fell to the floor and dropped a key.
Floors 31 to 40 were a breeze. After all, the monsters were nothing compared to the ones he fought on a daily basis in the Goddess's Land.
However, Kang Oh still had to be wary of the traps. If he made one misstep, then there'd be nothing left of him.
Arth players commonly said this. Beginners die to monsters, while experts die to traps. It was basically the shared belief that traps were more dangerous than monsters.
Anyhow, Kang Oh reached the 40th floor, and was greeted by an entity that spewed red lightning everywhere.
Mad Lightning Spirit, Parniac!
It was by no means weak. After all, it could freely wield powerful lightning. However, the matchup was terrible.
Demon Sword Ubist was capable of cutting through spirits! Moreover, it was a Lightning Spirit. Take a look at the Draka set's special ability!
[4 Set Effect: Reduces damage done by lightning skills/spells by 90%. Also reduces fire, water, wind, ice, and earth damage by 30%.]
It was almost impossible to kill him with lightning.
'Too easy.' Kang Oh grinned.
As expected, Kang Oh easily defeated the 40th floor boss, Parniac.
The 41th floor was where things started to get hard; level 400 monsters started to appear.
'This is where things get tough.'
The monsters weren't simply high level monsters either. They were smarter, possessed dangerous characteristics, or used powerful skills. Also, they knew how to use the land to their advantage, and they even attempted to lure him into traps.
Kang Oh fought through them, saving Gluttony and Devil Trigger for when he needed them most. Fighting such powerful monsters without his power-ups forced him to ascend much slower than before, but he didn't stop.
Finally, he'd reached the 50th floor!
* * *
He saw the Doppelganger. It was a black mass, resembling a giant lump of clay. But as soon as he appeared, it copied Kang Oh's form.
Kang Oh swung Blood, and it swung Blood back.
The two blades clashed in midair. However, Kang Oh was slightly pushed back.
If the Doppelganger merely copied its enemy's abilities, then people would've beaten it by now. However, it didn't simply copy its enemy; it 'made a copy that transcended the original'.
When it copied its enemy's abilities, it strengthened them in the process. In other words, say Kang Oh's power is a 1. When it copies Kang Oh's abilities, it strengthens them, giving it a power of 1.5.
That was why Kang Oh had been pushed back.
"How about this!?" Kang Oh tried all sorts of tricks.
He swapped from Blood to Ubist.
Then, the Doppelganger returned to a black mass, and transformed into Kang Oh once more. This time, however, it was wielding Ubist instead of Blood.
He tried using Devil Trigger too. As expected, it was capable of copying Devil Trigger too. Then, he tried using skills that were only usable during Devil Trigger.
Alas, it could use it too.
The two jet-black auras clashed in midair, but the Doppelganger's pushed through and came flying at Kang Oh. Its Abyss Claw was definitely stronger than his.
Kang Oh retreated, dodging the Abyss Claw, and switched back to Blood. His body was covered in red now, not black, and completely assumed the form of the Red Demon.
Then, the Doppelganger used Switch, and swapped to Blood! It had, like him, transformed into a red winged demon.
'How about item effects!?'
Red Butterfly's Dance.
Whenever he moved, he left behind an afterimage. However, the Doppelganger used Red Butterfly's Dance too.
The two of them swung at each other, but they missed every time.
"Tch." Kang Oh clicked his tongue, and used Gluttony on a mass-produced sword. His body radiated jet-black darkness, and all of his abilities were doubled!
'It shouldn't be able to copy this!'
However, the Doppelganger returned to its original form, and then copied Kang Oh again.
Since it had doubled in strength, there wasn't much he could do. Ultimately, he attacked a few more times and then retreated.
He couldn't immediately think of a way to beat it. Nothing said 'This is it!' in his mind. He also didn't have anything else he could try either.
"This'll be all for today." Kang Oh ripped a return scroll. Silver powder glittered around him, and his body became fainter and fainter.
Since it'd lost its target, the Doppelganger returned to its original form.
* * *
There was no monster that couldn't be defeated! That was true of the Doppelganger too. It's just that Kang Oh hadn't found a way to beat it yet.
'I need to gather some information first.'
Kang Oh sent a message.
- Mr. Bart!
The Genius Gamer, Bart!
He'd fought the Doppelganger before. Unlike him, who'd wanted to see what it was made of, Bart had fought it with everything he had! Thus, Bart must have more information on it than he did. However, Bart didn't reply back.
Kang Oh sent him another message.
- Mr. Bart.
This time, he got a message back.
- What are you doing?
- May I see you?
Seeing as how he wasn't giving him full sentences, he must be in the middle of battle.
- Let's meet later.
That evening, Kang Oh met with Bart.Previous Chapter Next Chapter