At exactly 12:00, the contestants went through the giant doors simultaneously.
Marco went inside with Blue Sky for a total of six. Strong Punch entered the tower with another special-class mercenary. Finally, Snow Flower and Kang Oh went in alone.
[Entering the spatiotemporal intersection point, Tower of Trials.]
The Tower of Trials was different from the last time he came. The interior, the path, and even the doors were different.
Every Sunday at 12 o'clock sharp, the Tower of Trials would reset. Kang Oh and the other contestants had entered right after this hard reset.
Still, it wouldn't prove to be much of an issue for the time being.
He didn't know where exactly the traps were, or what monsters would appear, but it didn't really matter. Kang Oh wasn't so weak that a lack of information would slow down his progression through the lower floors.
Kang Oh reached the 30th floor in a flash.
The 30th floor boss, the Twipper, growled. It was a large, three-headed Doberman look-alike.
A short while later...
Whimper! Whimper! Whimper!
The Twipper, which had previously bared its sharp teeth at him and growled, began to whimper. It may have three heads, but it only had one body! Kang Oh had relentlessly attacked its body using Blood.
Kang Oh picked up the key it'd left behind, and forcefully opened the door to the next floor.
* * *
GBS conference room.
There were four giant monitors set up inside, and each monitor showed a different player. They were showing Kang Oh, Snow Flower, Strong Punch, and Marco's live streams.
"Why don't we make a bet?" Yoon Mi, a veteran writer who'd worked alongside Park Jin Cheol for many years now, said.
"On who'll win?" the youngest writer asked.
"Sounds like fun." In other words, he was giving them permission.
The youngest writer suddenly stood up, and wrote the four contestants' names on the white board.
"Please write down who you're betting on, and how much you're going to bet. Please give your money to me."
"10,000 won ($10 USD) on Snow Flower!"
One or two staff members came forward at a time and placed their bets.
Kang Oh got the most votes. Snow Flower was second by just a small margin; essentially, the staff were equally split between the two.
The two had defeated Galmoss and Benolov respectively. Thus, they were 'safe' picks.
There were a few staff members that picked Strong Punch and Marco too. However, they betted on those two not because they believed that they'd succeed, but because they'd make a killing if they got lucky and won.
"What about you, Producer?" the youngest writer carefully asked. Jin Cheol was the only person who hadn't voted yet.
"Hmm. As expected, most people went for Kang Oh and Snow Flower. Let's see here..." Jin Cheol stroked his chin, briefly thought it over, and then put his name on the whiteboard.
He bet 50,000 won ($50 USD). Unexpectedly, he bet on Strong Punch.
"I didn't expect that. I thought you'd pick either Kang Oh or Snow Flower," Yoon Mi said.
"Kang Oh and Snow Flower have already won money. It'd look better if the others got money too." Jin Cheol grinned.
Yoon Mi looked at him suspiciously. She'd worked alongside him for many years, so she knew him really well; he tended to bet on high probability picks.
'If that's the case, then he truly believes that Strong Punch has the highest chance of coming out on top...'
"Do you know something we don't?" Yoon Mi asked, but Jin Cheol turned their attention to the monitors.
"Alright, so who's gotten the highest thus far?"
She was rudely interrupted.
"It's Snow Flower!"
"Ooh, as expected of Snow Flower!"
"Good luck, Unni!"
Those who voted for Snow Flower began to cheer for her. Then, those who picked Kang Oh began to say their piece.
"Don't lose, Kang Oh!"
"I trust you, Kang Oh!"
The staff members that'd bet on Marco or Strong Punch clasped their hands together. They didn't need cheers right now; they needed a miracle. A miracle that'd cause Strong Punch or Marco to go higher than Kang Oh or Snow Flower!
"Snow Flower has gotten through the 30th floor!"
"Kang Oh, Strong Punch, and Marco's Blue Sky have passed the 30th floor."
Yoon Mi tapped Jin Cheol's shoulder.
"What? I don't have any inside information."
Jin Cheol beat her to the punch. However, Yoon Mi wasn't planning on asking him about Strong Punch anymore.
"It's not that. What if when we broadcast this, we let the viewers vote on who they think will win?"
"Sounds like a good idea. Discuss this with the other writers and come up with a concrete plan."
"Alright. Regardless of who wins, I need you to promise me that the results won't get leaked. That'll keep people in suspense."
"That won't happen."
Jin Cheol and Yoon Mi focused on the live monitors once more.
* * *
Kang Oh had reached the 33th floor.
There, he encountered a group of scorpions encased in steel exoskeletons. They were about as large as a dog, and poisonous stingers, like a syringe, were attached to the ends of their tails.
They pointed their stingers at him, snapped their claws, and surrounded him. What's worse, a few of them came from the ceiling, falling right over his head.
Kang Oh swung Blood with quick, precise strikes.
Swish, slash, swish, slash!
The closest scorpions in front of him spurted shards of light and fell to the floor.
Demon Sword Blood absorbed the shards of light! When 15 stars manifested on his blade, scarlet energy exploded out of his body.
Was there a better skill when dealing with enemies coming at you from every direction?
Dozens of scorpions were caught in the explosion, and rolled onto the floor. Despite that, the scorpions kept coming, and Kang Oh was forced to keep swinging his sword.
Whenever he'd max his stacks, Kang Oh would use Blood Bomb. He would also use Blood Bomb right after Darkness Strike activated too.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
[Demon Sword Blood has leveled up.]
[Demon Sword Blood is level 28.]
Demon Sword Blood was a sword that had its own level. It had gained new abilities when it hit level 10 and level 20. It would probably gain a new ability once it hit level 30, so he was excited about the prospect.
'I'm almost there.'
He only needed 2 more levels to hit level 30.
Kang Oh progressed using only Blood. He planned on ascending the tower with Blood until he reached the 50th floor Doppelganger.
* * *
Snow Flower was the first to reach the 40th floor. Her power, which was greatly amplified by the Reaper of Souls, was being put on full display here.
Her Disarm Trap was a high level, so the 31st to 40th floor's traps couldn't stop her.
"Kill all the humans!" the 40th floor boss, the Mad Lightning Spirit, Parniac, yelled.
It emitted red lightning from its body, which flew everywhere. The lightning was quite powerful, but Snow Flower's shield kept her from taking much damage.
Parniac swung a lightning whip. Snow Flower tread softly, avoiding the whip, and then quickly approached it.
The Reaper of Souls came right at it; the unblockable, overpowered Reaper of Souls!
It was extremely effective, even against Parniac, which could be considered a spirit of nature. Just take a look at those clear, huge shards of light!
However, Parniac wasn't to be underestimated. It unleashed a powerful Lightning Cannon from its chest, completely engulfing Snow Flower.
Though she'd defended herself with her shield, her body tingled and she took a ton of damage.
Snow Flower retreated, drank a potion, and then charged at it once more. Parniac unleashed an even greater blast of lightning.
The two fought fiercely.
Snow Flower gradually got used to its attack pattern, but Parniac had no way of dealing with the Reaper of Souls. Ultimately, Snow Flower swung her blade one last time, splitting Parniac in two.
"I'll be back." Parniac would always say the same thing when it died. That held true this time too.
Snow Flower picked up the key and opened the next door. She was the first one to reach the 41st floor.
Marco, Strong Punch, and Kang Oh also reached the 40th floor, defeated Parniac, and went up to the 41st floor. Every single one of them at that!
* * *
Something unexpected happened. Marco was the first one to reach the 50th floor.
The monsters in the 41st to 50th floors were much stronger than before, and the traps were far more dangerous.
However, Marco's team worked well together, allowing them to quickly kill the monsters. They also had high Disarm Trap, allowing them to pass through without worrying about traps. Blue Sky specialized in finding the right way forward.
Whereas Kang Oh and Snow Flower were forced to find the right path, kill the monsters, and disarm the traps all by themselves. Thus, it took them much longer than Marco.
Going alone was better if you had teammates that slowed you down. But if you had teammates that uplifted you, then having a team was much better.
In Strong Punch's case, he and his teammate, the special-class mercenary, ascended the tower slowly after the 41st floor.
"I still don't think Blue Sky can beat the Doppelganger. They have the lowest combat ability of all the people here," one of GBS's staff members said. They'd bet money on Snow Flower.
"You're not wrong."
Most of them agreed with the staff member's logic. However, Jin Cheol, who personally cast Marco, thought differently.
"Are you so sure about that?"
"Their countless adventures and discoveries. Is that possible without a high degree of strength?"
"But what they've shown thus far..." the staff member retorted.
"Blue Sky has only shown us what they can do against Benolov. They were first up to bat. Moreover, it was hard for them to show us what they could really do then," Jin Cheol said.
"Then do you think they can beat the Doppelganger?" Yoon Mi asked.
"I think it's highly possible."
"Then why did you bet on Strong Punch, not Blue Sky?"
"Killing the Doppelganger isn't the goal. Getting to the highest floor is."
"So you don't think they'll get any higher, even if they manage to kill the Doppelganger?"
"So you do know something about the Tower of Trials! What do you know?"
It seemed like he knew what would be after the 51st floor.
"I've heard some things. Anyhow, let's keep watching."
Jin Cheol focused on Blue Sky's monitor.
Once Marco and his team reached the 50th floor, the black mass, or the Doppelganger, divided into six and copied Marco's team members.
6 on 6!
The result was truly unexpected. Blue Sky completely dominated them!
The Doppelganger's ability, 'Copy that Transcends the Original' should've made it so that its 'team' was far greater than Blue Sky. However, it was no match for Blue Sky. Marco's team worked as a single unit, while the Doppelganger's team was a complete mess.
"Yahoo!" the staff members that'd bet on Marco yelled. To think that Blue Sky would be the first to pass the 50th floor!
"You were right, Producer!" The staff member was shocked.
It was as he said. Blue Sky was able to defeat the Doppelganger.
"It's an effective way of beating it," Yoon Mi said.
Overcoming it with superior teamwork! It looked like the safest and most efficient way of beating the Doppelganger.
"Yeah. But if my info is right, then Blue Sky won't be able to climb much further."
"What kind of info?"
Blue Sky stayed on the 50th floor, resting and prepping themselves for what lied ahead.
Kang Oh reached the 50th floor.Previous Chapter Next Chapter