Chapter 178 - Shadow Dojo (3)

“So you don’t know anything about it?”

“I-I don’t! Please…”

The Bow God, Jang Wei, clucked his tongue as he looked at the bloodied person cowering at his feet. He had taken a wrong step again. How many mistakes had he made by now? It had already been half a year since he accepted a new job from the Summer Queen.

Jang Wei had investigated Bahal, thinking that he’d uncover something related to the troubles facing Red Dragon. Since Bahal wasn’t well-liked by anyone, Jang Wei had to investigate quite a lot of people.

He’s managed to catch three of the Eighty-One Oculus engaged in suspicious activities. Although they were insignificant, the Summer Queen had been furious and ordered them to be beheaded. Still, Jang Wei still hadn’t found any other secrets. He did notice that a player named Cain kept popping up. Bahal had cherished him, and the rookie was supposed to be extremely strong and contributed to finding the Saber God’s son. ‘However, it’s impossible for a nobody to have anything to do with this. Also, he entered the Foreign Legion after the war began. He’s too clean. He has no connection to anything else.’

The Summer Queen believed that a faction of Red Dragon and the Cheonghwado had been colluding, which meant that plans were being set in place for a long time. On the other hand, Jang Wei thought that the other Eight Clans had something to do with the situation. It was only logical.

There was nothing to pin on Cain, the Hoarder. He’d completed the Tutorial not too long ago and didn’t have enough time to get involved in a faction. His accomplishments on the different floors were also clear.

Also, the Summer Queen didn’t seem to want to get involved with the One-horned tribe, and everyone knew that Cain was sworn brothers with the Martial King’s children. He was even a disciple of the Martial King. The Summer Queen refused to take any reports about Cain, and Jang Wei was also beginning to think it was a dead end and set aside his doubts about Cain.  

Besides, he still had a lot of other suspects to go through. However, even as he investigated their ties to other clans and examined all the evidence down to the tiniest details, he couldn’t find anything. Did the culprit cut off their tail cleanly and run away? He was starting to think that the Summer Queen was right and there was a mastermind.

Everyone in Red Dragon and among Bahal’s followers was cleared now, but the Eighty-One Oculus were the only ones satisfied with this. The Summer Queen and Jang Wei were both dissatisfied. Jang Wei trusted the Summer Queen’s intuition since the Draconic species were famed for their eyes, which could see the truth. ‘Although it seems like that intuition has been smothered now.’

Where was he supposed to go now? Jang Wei ended the life of the player and sat down in a chair, deep in thought. He had a feeling that the mastermind had been aiming for an item and had gotten involved with Bahal because of it. But what if he was wrong. What if it was a personal grudge, and they’d only managed to find out about the item in the process? It was unlikely, but he didn’t have any other theories.

Besides, there were a lot of people who held grudges against Bahal, the most famous ones being: ‘Arthia.’

The impact of Arthia still lingered in Jang Wei’s memory. As the Bow God, he almost lost his life while battling them. They didn’t have a lot of members compared to other clans, but each member was strong enough to stand out. ‘Although in the end, they were all blinded by greed and stabbed each other in the back.’

He knew that the members had become each other’s enemies. Could this be related? He didn’t have any evidence, but perhaps it was worth investigating. No one else knew Bahal better, and they were all in influential positions in other clans. However, there were too many potential people to investigate. He had to choose one to start with.

Jang Wei looked through the information window the Summer Queen gave to him and found something that stood out—Teacher: Dwarf Henova

‘The Anvil of Fire, one of the Five Artisans?’ He was one of the top blacksmiths in the Tower, but everyone had turned their backs to him because of his relationship with Arthia. Jang Wei thought it would be best to start from there and proceeded with his inquiries.

***

Five hellhounds each about two meters tall came running at Yeon-woo. They were extremely fierce and tough, the hellfire they spewed hot enough to scorch the walls. Most players would have collapsed from fear.

‘They don’t get along with me.’ Yeon-woo ran with Carshina’s Dagger, condensing Aura along its blade and making an explosion with Holy Fire and a bit of black energy. He felt as though his focus moved along with his blade, and all his different abilities were combining as one. It was a power that focused Aura and black energy in every stroke—a form of Bian. 

Three of the hellhounds were incinerated, and the other two were severely injured. The dungeon quaked.

[You have successfully comprehended the 3rd Bian, ‘Swe’.]

[Comprehended Bian: Jeol, Hon, Swe.] 

Yeon-woo was now clearing the second door. He didn’t just try to defeat the simulations but also trained in the Bian. ‘It would be stupid not to take advantage of all these sparring partners.’

With all the training, Yeon-woo had managed to learn Hon, which in turn let him learn Swe. He could now direct condense energy to explode and reduce his environment to rubble. However, it wasn’t as efficient as he’d been in the Monkey King’s Palace. Perhaps he was too tense now or maybe it had something to do with the limits of the twentieth floor. At any rate, at least he could finally understand them, and he was now trying to perfect them.

He still wasn’t completely used to the first Bian, Jeol, and he had to focus whenever he used it. Swish! Three monster birds attacking from above were ripped to shreds as he lifted his sword.

Yeon-woo stepped past the bodies of all the dead creatures, and the person who’d summoned them so confidently now stepped back in hesitation. Even though he was only a simulation, he was clearly taken aback.

Hanabi was known as the “King of Demonic Creatures” in the Tower. He was the final descendant of an organization that served the Devil King, and he was famous for raising dead creatures. He was quite similar to Boo, even when it came to his personality and skills.

‘Boo, take note. You’ll have to walk in this person’s footsteps.’

Yes…Master.

Yeon-woo ran at Hanabi again, activating the Draconic Eyes and Extrasensory Perception. Training wasn’t the only benefit of the twenty-first floor. It was also a chance to peek at the skills and strengths of the other players.

***

[The 2nd door has been completed.]

[Time: 02:31:25_66]

‘It took a lot longer this time.’ Yeon-woo swept his hair back as he exited through the second door. The fifth door had taken ten minutes, the fourth door thirty minutes, and the third door about an hour.

Yeon-woo was growing tired, but the shadows that appeared were all powerful, which was part of the reason he needed more time to clear each succeeding door. Also, he was incorporating his Bian training and tried to memorize how the shadows fought, just in case. He was drenched in sweat, and he could taste iron in his mouth. He’d fought over 100 players without any rest.

His Dragon Body could recuperate quickly, but his mental exhaustion still remained. ‘Cure. Cure.’ He activated the rune magic engraved on his left arm to heal and lessen his exhaustion. He stood still for half an hour until his mind was clearer, then he headed towards the last door.

He felt eyes following him, but he ignored them. It was clear that after he cleared this floor, things would become noisy again. He didn’t want to become famous, but if he couldn’t avoid it anyway, it was probably better to be as loud as possible.

[You have chosen the 1st door.]

[The shadows of players from the 33rd to 1st place in the 21st floor’s Hall of Fame will appear in order. If you can withstand each shadow for at least 5 minutes or defeat them, you can move onto the next section.]

[You have already gained the qualification to clear this trial, so the accomplishments of the remaining battles will be counted as karma.]

Light flashed in front of his eyes, and the dungeon appeared. It was different from what he’d seen behind the other doors. Instead of rooms, Yeon-woo was standing in a wide field surrounded by mountains. It felt like a space where he could rest and run away from his opponents. However, the restrictions of a limited space were no longer there, and players would be able to use their skills to the fullest. The difficulty of the first door truly surpassed all the others’. 

‘The shadows here are on a different level.’ Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes. You could clear the other doors simply by enduring until time was up, and you could even leave halfway through to rest and train some more.

However, once you entered a section behind the first door, you couldn’t quit. You either survived or died. He wouldn’t have time to study the shadows as he had with the previous doors—it was a way the Tower showed respect to the shadows of the first door.

It was impossible to enter just for fun—only those who wanted to become stronger or prove themselves would enter. Yeon-woo knew this, and so he’d taken time to rest first. He would be meeting real monsters now, and he was planning on using everything he had, even Dragon Blood.

Also, Yeon-woo was determined to study one of the simulations—it was the person he planned to kill after Bahal and Leonte. 

[The fight with Valdebich, 33rd place, will begin soon. Prepare for the fight during the countdown.]

[00:15:00]

[00:14:59_99]

....

A gigantic shadow appeared in the distance. It was a man at least five meters tall with short hair and unforgettable eyes. Boom! He lifted his giant sword that was six meters long. The ground sank beneath his feet.

Whew! So that crazy dog was already crazy even back then. 

He’s at thirty-third place? This door is going to be a challenge.

Shanon and Hanryeong tsked as they looked at the approaching shadow. They recognized him right away. ‘Valdebich.’

He was the offspring of a human and a giant, and he had caused a huge commotion in the Tower when he entered with his brother. He was also one of the three founding members of Team Arthia.

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