The power of gods and demons usually came from unexpected sources. Sometimes, the worth of these entities depended on their legends. From that perspective, the Monkey King was an outlier.
Most people, including Yeon-woo, knew him as Sun Wukong. Although he was a monkey, he gained wisdom and became a god. Then, because he had some conflicts with the heavens, he was imprisoned, and after, he turned into a demon-fighter. In the end, he became a true god.
Since no one else had accomplished anything similar, he was well-known throughout the Tower.
「I did hear once that the twentieth floor had something to do with the Monkey King. Huh, who knew that crazy story was true after all? And there’s a hidden quest at stake, as well.」
Yeon-woo heard what Shanon said. ‘Be more specific.’
‘The stories about the Monkey King and the twentieth floor.’
「Ah, is that what you’re asking about? It’s nothing really. You know how Sun Wukong was trapped in the Marble Mountain? Well, the Mountains of Penance also used to be called the Marble Mountains. Some people started some rumors that it’s the same place, but a lot of people charged up here and found nothing. I guess it’s real after all, eh?」 Shanon chuckled wryly, then he grew more serious. 「The Tower’s system won’t lie, though. Since the Ruyi Bang and the Seventy-Two Bian have also appeared, it looks pretty authentic. What a crazy thing. If the rest of the Tower finds out, everyone will lose their minds.」
There wasn’t anything about this in the diary, probably because Jeong-woo had dismissed the stories as fabrications. The Ruyi Bang was a legendary item that the Monkey King was said to have stolen from the Dragon Kings. The Seventy-Two Bian was the skill that the Monkey King was known for which allowed him to transform as he pleased.
Bian is different from Mugong and magic. Hardly anyone knows anything about it in the Tower. The only thing that people agree on is that it was a power that belonged to the Virtuous People.
The Virtuous People were like the Taoists of Earth, but in the Tower, they surpassed their physical bodies to gain the power of a god. No one knew for sure if they really existed, and many don’t think it was possible. After all, there is a difference between gods and humans, and perhaps the closest thing they came to was a Superior species.
However, if they really did exist, wouldn’t they be among the high rankers?
The existence of the Virtuous People was a mystery, but Bian was real. ‘Allforone’s two signature skills, Shukuchi and Thousand Li Eyes, are said to be related to Bian.’
And now it appeared that there were seventy-two types of Bian, the ones that the Monkey King himself had used. That meant they were powerful, and as Shanon said, people would charge all the way up the mountain to try to take them.
The Sadhu were silent for some time, mulling over the message that Victoria had shared. However, Kahn’s eyes glittered, and since he prioritized becoming stronger, it was clear that he was tempted by the quest.
However, Yeon-woo had a sudden realization. ‘This is a trap set up by the Devil Army.’ He thought it over some more. ‘How could a bishop of the Devil Army die from a quest like this? It doesn’t make sense.’ He knew that the bishops were all known to be excellent strategists and schemers. They could hide themselves for ten years and wait for the right moment to take what they wanted. They were also greedy and violent, and they loved nothing more than snatching and gobbling their prey.
Kindred was no different—in fact, as the Second Bishop of the Devil Army, he was probably even worse than the ones below him. His way of thinking had to be out of the ordinary. ‘What is he trying to pull off? Did he think it was too hard to finish the quest on his own? That doesn’t seem likely, though.’
Kindred was powerful enough to fight the five of them all by himself. He clearly didn’t need their combined strength to help him. What could he want? Yeon-woo drew a blank, and he grew even more suspicious of this obvious trap.
And the other Sadhu were thinking the same thing. Although they didn’t know that Kindred was a bishop, they knew that there was something off about him and the situation now. Rebecca bluntly asked, 『What if he’s still alive, and this is just a trap to use—』
Victoria crossed her arms and cut Rebecca off. 『No, he’s dead for sure. If you doubt my magic that much, that really hurts my feelings.』
『What magic did you use?』
『Calling Wind. It’s a type of rune magic that not only tells you where someone is, but also whether they’re alive or dead. Even if a dispeller is cast on it, it won’t break.』
Rebecca was familiar with Calling Wind as well since trackers often used it. Although it didn’t have any side effects, like Victoria said, it was impossible to get rid of. If Victoria sensed that Kindred was dead, there could be no doubt about it then.
『What if you’re working together with Kindred to trap us?』
『If you want, I’ll do a pledge of mana, how about that?』 Victoria recited the pledge of mana. If you lied, the pledge would cause your magic power to decrease, but nothing happened to Victoria.
『Hmm.』 Rebecca grew silent. The others didn’t speak either.
Victoria said in a cold voice, 『To be honest, I don’t really want to enter the quest territory and retrieve Kindred’s body either. But I’m indebted to him, and I have to honor his final request. Also, I don’t want to only ask for your help.』
『What do you mean?』
『I want to make a deal.』
『If you want to accept the quest, I’ll tell you the location of the dungeon only if you agree to take me to Kindred’s body. That’s all I plan to do.』
Everyone was silent once more. Victoria had a point. No one knew what dangers lurked in the dungeon that Kindred had found. Victoria needed a bodyguard, and she would exchange the location of the dungeon for their services. She wouldn’t interfere with anything else they did.
The Sadhu assessed the situation. There were many suspicious elements about the quest, but the rewards were too mouthwatering. They weren’t concerned about the quest being fake since the system didn’t lie, but what concerned them was how dangerous it would be, and so they couldn’t make up their minds quickly.
They had come to the twentieth floor to get stronger, and the lure of the Monkey King’s power was tempting.
‘It’s a poisoned chalice.’ Yeon-woo grinned as he read the minds of the Sadhu. Even though they were still mulling the quest over, he could tell that they’d basically made their decisions.
「Looks like everyone is going to accept.」 Shanon clucked his tongue, reading the atmosphere.
‘Yes, it’s likely. Players are all the same. Wouldn’t you do it if you were in their shoes?’
「Ha! Why even ask the obvious? Of course!」 Shanon laughed as though he were amused by the whole thing. Even Hanryeong was thinking the same thing: 「Yes, of course.」
「Heh, what are you going to choose?」
‘Of course, I’m going to do it.’
「Tsk, look at you now. You were acting like you weren’t going to do it a while ago.」
‘Well, my motives are different. I just want to see what kind of trap the Devil Army is setting up. They probably have a reason.’
「Sure, sure. See if anyone believes that.」
‘Also, I’m a player, as well.’
「Hehehe, that’s what I’m talking about.」
At first, Yeon-woo had been considering rejecting the quest since he didn’t really need to charge into danger, but the more he thought about it, the more it seemed like a tempting situation. Wouldn’t it be nice to snatch whatever the Devil Army was trying to get right from under their noses?
Also, the war between Red Dragon and the Cheonghwado had left the rest of the Eight Clans very busy—except for the Devil Army, which remained quiet. However, this might have something to do with their future plans, and he had to keep an eye on it. ‘Since it’s so dangerous, there’s a lot to gain.’
Besides, he didn’t want the Devil Army to get what they wanted and possibly grow stronger since he had to face them someday. It would be excellent if he could get an opportunity to cripple them before that happened.
Also, something else was concerning him. ‘Kahn is acting weird.’
Ever since he’d tried to say something about Doyle, Kahn looked as though he were being chased by something after suffering a great shock. Yeon-woo wanted to know what was going on. Just as he made up his mind, the other Sadhu also made their decisions as well.
『All right. I’ll do it.』
Rebecca and Kahn both spoke up. Yeon-woo nodded. Victoria turned to Sol Luna. 『What about you?.』
『Hoho, leave me out of this. I became a vampire for a reason. I like being undead, not dead.』 Sol Luna raised her hands in surrender and stood up. Victoria nodded like she didn’t plan on convincing her to change her mind.
However, Rebecca started to show murderous intent. Vines grew from the ground and tightened around Sol Luna’s neck. 『If you spread this news around—』
『 Do you think I’m crazy enough to make the Apostle of Cernunnos mad? I told you I don’t want to be dead.』
Victoria was a war mage, and Rebecca was famous for being as cruel as the god she served. Sol Luna didn’t want to get on their bad sides. Rebecca frowned like she wasn’t satisfied, but she eventually released the vines.
Victoria looked around and said, 『All right. We’ll get moving tomorrow at this time. Make your preparations now.』
They all left.
The next day, the four of them gathered, giving each other discreetly suspicious glances. They had to trust each other now since they were about to face something so dangerous that it even managed to kill Kindred. If even one person expressed open doubts, it would be all over.
Fortunately, since they were all experienced, no one brought it up. Instead, Victoria inspected each of them and then began sharing information about the dungeon, surrounding them with magic power to prevent any eavesdropping. 『The dungeon is at the summit of the fifth mountain.』
『The summit? Is there a cave there?』 Rebecca frowned.
『There’s a Camouflage so that no one can see it. Kindred said he was stunned to find it.』
『A Camouflage that even a high ranker had problems finding?』
『If I told you a higher being made it, would that be more believable?』 Higher beings were more powerful than ordinary gods.
『OK. That makes sense.』
Victoria and Rebecca walked as they conversed. Yeon-woo listened to them quietly, focusing on the information. Kahn had an emotionless face, and it was hard to tell what he was thinking. Yeon-woo considered talking to him at some point.
『It’s here.』 Victoria stopped at an area just a little bit away from the summit. It was a hilly spot covered with grass, and they would’ve passed it without a second thought if she hadn’t spoken up. However, an unfamiliar energy flowed around the hill as though something were being blocked by an invisible barrier. The power was strong and heavy. Something about it reminded Yeon-woo of when he met Urd on the sixteenth floor.
‘I never expected anything like this.’ He thought that he’d sense everything now that he had Extrasensory Perception, but that was clearly just arrogance. A Camouflage made by a god was really something beyond imagination.
Camouflage was a type of magic that could be used in many ways. He thought he might be able to replicate it with rune magic after learning it. The energy inside the Camouflage blew away in the wind, and the four straightened their backs at the creepy feeling. If the Camouflage had indeed been created by a higher being, it had to be the vestige of the Monkey King.
『This is everything I know.』
『All right, I’ll take the lead here.』
Rebecca led the way. Since she was the Apostle of the god of hunting, she could easily find her way and use her skills. Yeon-woo and Kahn covered the flanks of the group, and Victoria walked in the middle. Their defense wasn’t the greatest, but they had to protect the magician faithfully as part of the deal.
『Let’s go.』 At Rebecca’s command, they walked into the hill slowly and soon saw the entrance of a cave. 『It looks like an ordinary cave.』
Rebecca narrowed her eyes, pushing her Consciousness and senses against it. However, she didn’t feel anything. In fact, her Consciousness scattered as soon as it reached the entrance, as though it had absorbed something.
‘Emptiness.’ Even Yeon-woo’s Extrasensory Perception couldn’t search the cave. Since they had no other choice, Rebecca slowly moved into the cave.
[You have entered the dungeon, Monkey King’s Palace. You are being registered as a party of 4.]
The players all breathed in deeply. They had only taken a step, but the air around them had completely changed. If the energy outside seemed threatening, it now felt as though they would be swallowed up, as though something resented their presence.
An energy gripped their hearts, making them afraid. Since they sensed everything through their consciousness only, they were surprised.
‘Outrage, anger, fear—these are all emotions you feel when you’ve been locked up for a long time.’ Had the Monkey King imprinted these into the cave? Yeon-woo swallowed. Every time the negative energy swirled around him, the Black Bracelet trembled.
『This place is crazy. Let’s keep moving.』 They slowly moved deeper into the cave with Rebecca in the lead.Previous Chapter Next Chapter