[The trial of the 16th floor is beginning.]
[Description: In stories and legends, fate descends on every creature, and it’s said that the world is only one of the many cogs in this machine. There are many names for this: Heavenly Society, Fruit of Good and Evil, Yggdrasil, and so on.
There are three goddesses in this place who watch over that fate, spinning life’s wheel of fate, measuring fates out, and cutting them. They can even look at the fates of gods and demons. But because of their unrelenting work, they can no longer walk and must wait for people to visit their temple.
Please pay your respects at the temple of the Platform Three Goddesses. You may only visit the temple and ask one question, so please think carefully.]
Laplace had kept his promise, and Yeon-woo hadn’t seen a single person or Guardian as he ascended to the sixteenth floor. Yeon-woo wondered if this was all Laplace’s doing. ‘Or was that demon involved?’ He had no idea why either of them was so interested in him.
Yeon-woo felt uncomfortable with the assistance instead of grateful. It was clearly not the result of goodwill but some kind of dark motivation. However, there was no way to reject the help, so Yeon-woo just resigned himself to it.
The sixteenth floor’s stage wasn’t that large, but you had to be careful when choosing among the three paths out of the forest since there was no turning back. The legends of Asgard said that Urd of the past, Verdandi of the present, and Skuld of the future lived under a tree called Uroarbrunnr. They spent their time spinning the wheel of fate, and their temple was always full of believers. Even a few gods and demons wanted to meet with them.
No matter how powerful you are, you’ll be curious about your fate. However, these goddesses avoid the gods and demons of the ninety-eighth floor and always stay on the sixteenth floor. They are surrounded by mystery.
But from what I saw, they’re nothing more than old grandmas.
The Three Norns—another name for the goddesses—were beloved and hated at the same time. If fate was decided in the stars and decisions and opportunities already set in stone, that meant free will and the ability to change one’s situation weren’t possible. This thought made some players who’d wanted to become gods lose motivation since only chosen ones could become gods. Jeong-woo had been one of them. There had even been a famous incident involving him that had made the three goddesses the laughingstocks of the Tower.
Most people sought advice from the Three Norns before climbing farther up the Tower, however, Yeon-woo wasn’t that interested. Fate was something that was decided, but it didn’t mean that he was trapped by it. ‘Whatever happens, my goal will never change.’ This was why he was ready to destroy the temple and disregard the advice of the demon.
[You have acquired 182 Jewels of Fire.]
[You have acquired 35 Ice Crystals.]
[You have acquired 91 Snowy Field Roses.]
With the mercenaries’ help, Yeon-woo was able to collect all the hidden pieces, and he stored them all in his interdimensional pocket, a present Bahal had given him before he left the eleventh floor. Despite its tiny size, it was quite an expensive artifact.
‘It’s nice because it’s like a storage room.’ Yeon-woo got rid of everything from the twelfth floor, and he filled it with the priceless hidden pieces. The mercenaries looked glum as they watched the items they had so painstakingly searched for being snatched right under their noses. Yeon-woo simply ignored them and put the pocket around his waist. “If you’re ready, let’s start moving now.”
The mercenaries all sighed at his words, even though the Holy Fire had healed both their mental and physical conditions. After inspecting their weapons, they looked at Yeon-woo for more instructions since they didn’t know what the mission was about.
“Where is the base of the Cheonghwado?” As they knew there were only three temples on the sixteenth floor, they couldn’t imagine where the base would be. Yeon-woo answered as though it wasn’t a big deal, “It’s at the temple of Skuld.”
Everyone was shocked.
“A-are you s-saying that we’re about to go attack a temple?”
The mercenaries were all appalled, and some even shouted. A temple was a holy place, and dirtying it was akin to provoking its god’s anger.
“Why? Is there a problem?”
“That’s nonsense! Even if the Three Norns don’t leave the sixteenth floor, they are also divine beings. If we make them angry, they’ll definitely punish us!”
“No. You don’t have to worry about that. They can only tell one’s fate but not physically do anything. They can’t move.” They were called the Platform Three Goddesses because they couldn’t move their legs. With great powers came great consequences, and this was theirs. That was how the system of the Tower operated. That was also why the Guardians couldn’t interfere with players although they could move freely around the Tower.
However, the mercenaries were still scared.
“Rejecting this mission is a breach of contract, so you’ll have to take responsibility for the penalty.” Yeon-woo took out a few of the players’ contracts from his interdimensional pocket and waved them around. Bahal had already expected some of the mercenaries to balk and gave him the contracts. In return for their high rates, the mercenaries had promised to do anything Red Dragon commanded them.
And they had even pledged on a demon’s name, which meant that if they broke the agreement, their souls would be bound to the demon, and they knew exactly what that entailed. They had no choice but to follow Yeon-woo’s orders. Besides, they were already here and they couldn’t run away quickly enough from Yeon-woo.
“Let’s get going.” The nervous mercenaries followed Yeon-woo into the forest.
[You have chosen the path to the temple of the future, Skuld.]
The forest was vast, so it was easy for a group of 250 to move. However, the mercenaries felt very stressed and nervous. They tried to cover it up with their killing intent, and Yeon-woo amplified it with his magic power. Anyone who came across them would think that they looked like warriors heading to battle and ready to die.
“R-Red Dragon? But why is Red Dragon...?”
The path to the temple grew chaotic as the people waiting their turn to enter tensed up at the presence of Red Dragon, which Yeon-woo and Team 2 didn’t bother hiding. They strode down the path confidently as if showing that no one could stop them, and if anyone did, they would regret it.
The believers and the visitors had to get out of their way because Red Dragon’s reputation as the strongest clan was too great. Led by the Summer Queen, they controlled the Tower, and no one wanted to get on their bad side.
The Apostles of Skuld became frantic, and the high priests quickly ran out.
“Wh-why is Red Dragon here? I don’t know what your business is, but this is the residence of a goddess. Please conceal your weapons.” The head priest bowed his trembling head. He was a high ranker but even he couldn’t stand firm against Red Dragon’s and Yeon-woo’s auras.
Yeon-woo barely glanced at the head priest, looking past him at the temple. It was round, with many marble minarets, and it exuded a holy aura. It was completely different from the Black Bracelet’s aura. He ignored his vibrating bracelet and looked at the high priest impassively. The high priest flinched and stepped back. He had received the blessing of a god, but he felt like he was going to be crushed at any moment or that something would pop out of the abyss and drag him in. It was a feeling that threatened to swallow him up.
“Are you saying that because you don’t know why we’re here?” At Yeon-woo’s words, the high priest stiffened.
“Wh-what are you—”
“If you don’t know, it means they’re looking down at us because they sent you, and if you’re pretending not to know, they’re still looking down at us. How should I interpret it?” Yeon-woo didn’t have any enmity with the Skuld temple, but it wasn’t as though they were good friends either. Since he was here on behalf of Red Dragon, the bigger the fight, the better. ‘The more I wreck this place, the bigger the story will grow when the Cheonghwado and the Saber God hear it.’
Yeon-woo released his aura that he had been hiding, and wind whipped around him. The Apostles and priests that had come out to dissuade him turned pale and fell to the ground. The believers and visitors quickly began to run away, screaming. In the middle of the confusion, Yeon-woo pulled Vigrid out and swung it around.
Yeon-woo had chosen the temple as his enemy, and so the sword grew stronger as the Apostles, priests, visitors, and believers were all recognized as his enemies as well. He had a colossal amount of magic power thanks to the Four Legendary Beasts, and strong winds lashed around him as though they were tearing the sky open. The winds flung the roof of the temple away.
The temple was protected by many spells and defenses, but none worked. The Apostles, priests, and visitors all stared at the broken temple with their mouths agape. They were so surprised, they couldn’t move a muscle.
The mercenaries entered the destroyed temple, disarming the guards easily. Yeon-woo followed them. The high priests and Apostles ran to him with warnings and threats, but he ignored them and headed straight for the thirteenth room.
He forced the door to burst open, and there it was.Previous Chapter Next Chapter