The air split and the red portal opened, a sharp, and heavy energy emanating through it. Although the energy was contained in a different form, it was just like the vestige’s own. A small boy with a mischievous smile appeared. Kindred knelt and bowed his head, as though he were greeting a god he served. He said politely, “I’ve come to serve you, the other face of the Great Sage.”
When Yeon-woo was finally outside, all the gifts he’d received from the dragon god disappeared, and he could feel the constraints of the fifth mountain again. However, the world he saw with Extrasensory Perception was no longer uncomfortable. Yeon-woo swept his hair back and turned his head to look around. ‘Have they already left?’
He spread his Extrasensory Perception throughout the dungeon, and he was glad to discover that he couldn’t sense Kahn or Victoria. Since there weren’t any bodies in the dungeon, it seemed clear that they’d managed to avoid the Devil Army. Kahn would have figured out that Kindred had been manipulating them, and Victoria was skilled enough to hide their presences once her magic power was replenished.
He widened the range of his Extrasensory Perception and searched outside the dungeon to see if Kindred or the Devil Army were still there, but he couldn’t even find any traces of them. Where had they gone?
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes, then he shook his head. Although he wouldn’t have found it difficult to pass undetected, it was a good thing that the Devil Army was gone. He was already satisfied that Kahn and Victoria had escaped safely. He sighed in relief and headed towards Rebecaa’s body, which was so mangled that it was impossible to recognize her.
A dark mood descended on Yeon-woo. Although he and Rebecca hadn’t been close, he’d seen that she was a responsible person who could take care of herself. Even though she hadn’t been in the best condition, she’d saved Victoria’s life. The fact that she had been Cernunnos’ Apostle pulled him to her even more. Although the god of hunting wasn’t well known, he was one of the greater gods. ‘Is there a way for me to retrieve her soul?’
The Black Bracelet only allowed him to take the souls of those he killed, and her soul had already returned to Cernunnos. Yeon-woo hesitated for a moment, and put her body in Intrenian. There was a method he could try, although Rebecca might not like it. However, if she rejected him, he could return her to her original state.
He began walking around and using his left had to devour the pieces of the monkey statues. Then, he defaced the monument with the Seventy-Two Bian and purified all the remaining vestiges. He also removed all the marks on the walls. ‘I guess there’s no point in leaving any traces.’
Yeon-woo was planning on destroying everything. The Monkey King’s vestige had said that the pieces of the Ruyi Bang were scattered all over the tower, and there were many successors trying to look for them. He didn’t need new rivals, and more than anything, he didn’t want anyone else to take Heaven Bracket, especially the Devil Army. He wanted it for himself.
That day, the hidden cave in the fifth mountain collapsed into itself, and Yeon-woo entered the portal to the twenty-first floor.
[This is the 21st floor, gate of the Shadow Dojo.]
Through the shimmering blue portal, he saw a large building that made the Skill Archives of the One-horned tribe look small. Yeon-woo’s eyes widened. He’d seen the stage in the diary, but it was bigger than he thought. However, he didn’t know if it was because he’d finally been freed from the restrictions of the twentieth floor, but he felt like the outside air was refreshing both his lungs and his mind.
「It’s been a while since I was last here.」 The Black Bracelet quivered as it delivered Shanon’s thoughts to him.
‘Was it fun?’
「Couldn’t find a better place.」
‘I see what you mean.’ Yeon-woo thought of what the diary had said about the twenty-first floor in the diary.
If the twentieth floor is a place you go to fix yourself, the twenty-first floor is the place where you test to see how much you’ve changed.
You have to defeat or withstand the shadows in thirty-three different sections. This is the best place to check on your progress. Also, if the shadows see that you’ve been registered in the Hall of Fame before, you’ll get a chance to see the special characteristics or abilities they possessed when they were younger.
The twenty-first stage was basically a dojo break for people to train in martial arts. There was an inner and an outer section, and people could train on their own with basic sparring partners that the Tower provided, like scarecrows to help you train in basic martial arts.
At the entrance of the dojo, there were five doors numbered one to five. The higher the number, the higher the difficulty level. Once you’d chosen your difficulty level, you had to clear thirty-three sections from that point on.
In each section, you had a limited time to defeat or endure a shadow, which were simulations of the players who ranked from first to 165th in the twenty-first floor’s Hall of Fame. After the Tower was created, many strong players had left records, but only the truly great and skilled would be able to leave their mark on the twenty-first floor. All players desired this honor, but only few achieved it.
However, the stage put a lot of pressure on ordinary players. Even if they chose the easiest level, they would still have to contend with players who were ranked from 165th to 133rd, among whom were Lords and Apostles. The good thing was that you could still pass as long as you endured their attacks, and if you were hurt, you could try again after you healed yourself.
Just as the diary said, it was possible to see the younger selves of the rivals you might meet in the future, and it was a good place to study them. Of course, those whose simulations had been left behind had to train all over again since everyone had seen their weaknesses. Still, being included in the Hall of Fame was a good thing in many ways.
However, even though it was an honor to most, it didn’t really matter that much to Yeon-woo. Apart from the tenth floor, where he was only a few points away from Edora, Yeon-woo had placed first in all the floors. Most people believed that Yeon-woo would clear the twenty-first floor easily, but Yeon-woo couldn’t just accept that. ‘A simulation of the players.’ Yeon-woo considered it and pulled up the list of the players in the Hall of Fame.
[21st Floor Ranking]
Yeon-woo’s finger shook at the next name.
[4. Cah Jeong-woo]
He didn’t enter the trial right away since he’d been on the twentieth floor for such a long time and needed to complete his errands. He also had to say hi to someone. As soon as he left the Tower through a red portal, he headed straight for the One-horned tribe’s village.
“Hm? Who’s this? It looks a lot like Yeon-woo, who’s harder to spot than a flying pig.” When Phante heard that Yeon-woo returned, he dropped everything and came running to greet Yeon-woo with narrowed eyes.
Had he been farming? He had a straw hat on his head and a rake on his shoulder. His skin, which was already tanned from being out in the sun a lot, had grown even darker. Yeon-woo looked at him and then immediately turned to Yanu. “Where’s Edora?”
Phante shouted in irritation. “Aren’t you being too rude to someone who’s talking to you?”
“Yes, I know. How did it go with the Legendary Beasts? You said that they were going to hatch soon.”
Phante sighed. He’d expected Yeon-woo to ignore his complaints. He felt that he was being ignored by everyone in the village recently. “The Legendary Beasts hatched a long time ago.” He continued to sulk but that didn’t work on Yeon-woo.
Yeon-woo and Phante went to the outskirts of the village. Everyone that they passed said hi to Yeon-woo, and although he didn’t remember some of them, he greeted them back. When they finally arrived at a cottage, they found a crowd of elders running around with large smiles. They’d been in a state of excitement ever since the Legendary Beasts had hatched.
With Phante’s help, he managed to squeeze past and enter the crowd. He accidentally met someone’s eyes as he did.
“You’re…?” The guy narrowed his eyes and frowned at him. Then, he coldly laughed. “Ah, I heard the Legendary Beasts had something to do with you. I did think they looked quite big and stupid. Everything makes sense now.” After showing his hostility, he left.
Yeon-woo and Phante managed to successfully pass through the crowd. Yeon-woo commented, “What a strange guy.”
“Hehe. His face completely changed when he saw you. I heard that he suffered a lot because of you, so he probably hates you a lot.”
Yeon-woo tilted his head. “Hm? Do I know him? Who was that?”
“Huh?” Phante stared at Yeon-woo to see if he was joking, and when he realized that Yeon-woo was completely serious, he burst out laughing. “Hahaha! That Jang guy’s going to be steaming mad when he finds out about this. Hehehe, I guess you don’t have to remember the face of someone you defeated. I guess your personality is kind of chill in that one way.”
“Jang?” After hearing the name, Yeon-woo finally remembered the candidate for king of the One-horned tribe that he’d beaten easily—the heir of the Baekson family. His reputation had taken a huge fall after the defeat, and Yeon-woo no longer saw him around the village, so he’d almost forgotten about him. However, Yeon-woo had a good memory, and he was sure that the guy he’d beaten looked different.
“Well, I suppose it’s understandable you didn’t recognize him. I was surprised when I saw him pop up again after such a long timeI don’t know if he’s taking drugs or something, but he’s definitely different.” Even Phante seemed to think that something strange was going on, but he just shrugged like he wasn’t that interested.
Yeon-woo looked in the direction that Jang had run off to and narrowed his eyes. ‘Demonic energy…’Previous Chapter Next Chapter