Chapter 262 - The Hoarder (2)

[This is the 26th floor, the gate of the Wailing Wall.]

Yeon-woo slowly opened his eyes against the bright light. When it faded, a cold air penetrated into his bones as a snowstorm whirled around him. Yeon-woo resisted the cold by spinning his Magic Circuit and turning his Magic Armor into a hooded cloak. The piercing wind grew less annoying.

Everything around him was white. All he could see was snow. Snowflakes as big as a person’s fists fell from the sky, and it was hard to keep his balance in the storm, which also limited his vision.

He looked around closely and realized that he was standing on top of a large city wall, where flags fluttered in the wind. The wall was so tall that he couldn’t even see the ground from where he stood.

He was in a fortress surrounded by mountains of different sizes. ‘This seems like it’s going to be annoying.’ He wasn’t talking about the twenty-sixth floor. He’d never found any of them annoying. He was referring to the gazes that he could feel around him, which were full of wariness.

“Is that…?”

“Yeah. It’s the Hoarder.”

“I heard he disappeared after the Summer Queen incident. Is he starting to climb the Tower again?”

“Shit! That means this attempt is a fail for us.”

The players of the lower floors all knew that nothing would be left after the Hoarder passed through, and it was natural for them to be suspicious of him.

Hehe. Our master’s pretty popular.

You don’t have to worry about these good-for-nothings.

Shanon burst out laughing, and Hanryeong shook his head. Normally, Yeon-woo would have just ignored the looks he was getting since he didn’t care what others thought. However, this stage would become tiring fast if everyone was on guard against him. 

Just then, a new message floated up with a scary gust of wind.

[The trial of the 26th floor is beginning.]

[Trial: A wall was built on the snowy mountains of Nahatma to keep the snow monsters from the north away. Many people have collapsed in front of this wall, earning it the name ‘Wailing Wall’.

Information has arrived that the snow monsters have been restless lately and are likely to attack. Their leader is at least at the level of a spiritual body. For the next month, protect the ‘Tears of Ra’ within the Wailing Wall.]

Yeon-woo frowned looking at the message. ‘I need to work with other players to protect the Tears of Ra.’

It’s a defensive game. Whenever the moon is high in the sky, the monsters appear from beyond the snow-capped mountains. They aren’t ordinary monsters but ones that are adapted to the cold and can’t feel pain, even when their limbs are cut off. As soon as they smell blood, they go into a frenzy, and if thousands or tens of thousands of these monsters appear—it’s a situation too horrible to even contemplate.

The most urgent task is to protect the walls, and even the strongest player can’t do the work of ten people.

The first two weeks would be fairly easy since there would be a lot of players and soldiers within the castle walls to repel the monsters.

However, the third week would be the test. By then, more soldiers and players would be injured, and there would be a food shortage. The snow monsters over ten meters tall would also appear at this time, and their attacks were powerful enough to make the tough walls crumble.

The sudden rise in difficulty level creates tension among players, making it even more difficult to share resources. Without a strong leader who can allocate things fairly, it will descend into chaos.

We suffered because of this, too. By the fourth week, the snow monsters were easier to deal with than the other players.

A month wasn’t a short period of time, and the attacks of the snow monsters would only increase as time passed. The exhaustion and lack of resources pushed players to the edge

Yeon-woo had been planning on assigning to the other players the task of protecting the Tears of Ra, but it was obvious what would happen when the stage started. ‘There goes that idea.’ Even if he asked for help, it was likely that the other players wouldn’t carry out their tasks properly. He could force them, but…’There’s no need to go that far.’

It was a little annoying, but he had no other option other than to do it himself. He figured it wouldn’t be such a bad idea since it would be a chance to show how much he could live up to his nickname. ‘Ah, I wonder if it’ll be hard to find people like this.’

However, Yeon-woo dismissed the thought. He would notice anyone skilled enough to stand out, one way or another. He organized his thoughts and called on the Guai inside the Despair of the Black King. His shadow stretched out in the shape of a thorn bush that spread all the way to the castle’s main entrance. The players who had been trying to do reconnaissance stopped in their tracks.

Mere shadows were easy to ignore, but these ones had dozens of eyeballs embedded throughout them. The players felt shivers down their back as they looked at the eyes that reminded them of the gazes of wild beasts as they looked at their prey.

“What are you doing, Hoarder?” The players all glared at Yeon-woo. They didn’t attempt to chase the shadow away, knowing that the monsters inside the shadow would probably swallow them up.

However, Yeon-woo didn’t care about the glares that he was getting and said what was on his mind, “Don’t worry about anything else and just focus on guarding the wall. I’ll hand out resources whenever you need them. I’ll protect the Tears of Ra.”

“What are you…?!”

Yeon-woo ignored the players and lightly jumped on top of the castle walls, leaving them with stiff expressions. However, some had uncertain expressions that seemed to ask ‘Maybe?’ The castle walls were extremely high and the winds were sharp and powerful. Even if the Hoarder used magic, he might still be swept away and be reduced to a pile of bones and blood.

And if he survived the winds, the snowy mountains were full of snow monsters. Most of the players had challenged this stage before, so they knew how tenacious and ruthless the snow monsters were. Even the ordinary ones could swallow a player in a bite.

Yeon-woo didn’t even react to their gazes and dropped down with his Fire Wings spread open.  

“Huh? Wait!”

“He’s crazy…!”

Yeon-woo rode on the wind to glide down easily. The snowflakes blocked his vision, but nothing got in the way of his sharp Extrasensory Perception. Also, his strengthened Consciousness and soul power made it easy for him to move. He landed on a mountain close to the castle walls. The snow reached up to his knees, but he cleared a path with heat waves.  

[Wind Path]

When he took a step forward, a whirlwind started to swirl around him. With his Draconic Eyes, he could see the crushed imperfections splitting into different areas. He chose Pathfinder and took the path intended for him.  

Boom! Yeon-woo ran, raising a fierce wind in his wake that was followed by a heatwave, thanks to his new title, Controller of Fire.

[Controller of Fire]

[Description: The quality of fire accompanies skills and powers. You also gain control of the fire property.] 

It was a passive skill of the fire property that he’d stolen from the Summer Queen which rose with every move he made. Because it didn’t use up a lot of magic power, it was very useful to Yeon-woo. The hot gust of wind he created swirled around the mountain, and he expanded the range of his Extrasensory Perception to reach a nearby snowy mountain. 

He could sense things from different locations. Beyond the snowy mountain, he discovered an army of ten thousand ready to move towards them at any second. As Yeon-woo ran towards them, he opened his hand. A shadow rose, and a round bead appeared in his palm that looked like a ruby. It was the Tears of Ra.  

‘I have to get two things from this stage: the Tears of Ra and Apophis’ Venomous Fang.’ The theme of the 26th floor was the battle of the sun god Ra and the magical creature Apophis. The snow monsters born from Apophis attacked whenever Apophis’s Grace was at its strongest, which was midnight.

There were two ways to complete the trial: endure for a month as the description said or steal Apophis’ Venomous Fang in the center of the snow monsters’ territory. However, if Yeon-woo managed to fulfill both requirements, he would earn a very nice item that could help him grow instantly. 

If Yeon-woo’s growth hadn’t stopped, he wouldn’t need it, but because his latent potential was deeper, Yeon-woo was desperate for whatever he could get. The item was crucial for his plans. Stealing Apophis’ Venomous Fang was even more difficult than taking the Tears of Ra, and even rankers would balk at running into a place teeming with monsters. However, Yeon-woo had his faithful subordinates. ‘Shanon. Hanryeong.’

His shadow stretched out, and his Death Noble and Death Knight appeared. Inferno Sight flamed inside their helmets. Shanon and Hanryeong released the demonic energy they were holding in right away. 

A silent energy shook the mountain. Urrrr. An avalanche began to rumble high above them, and as the snow began to fly around, the snowy mountain began to thunder with a loud noise.

Shanon and Hanryeong, who had also been training like Yeon-woo, didn’t hide their strength anymore. Yeon-woo released his strength, too. His heat melted the snow, making everything appear as though it had transformed into a desert. As the water evaporated, it turned into a fog that shrouded the snowy mountains.

At that moment, the snow monsters appeared, lining up like a human army, thousands deep. Each snow monster had a different appearance: there was a winged lion, a chimera with an elephant’s face and a human body, and lean zombies on beasts that looked like rhinos.

The only thing these magical creatures of Apophis had in common was a cold aura that could freeze anyone who even looked at them. The sharp wind around them was like a knife.

They shrieked after they saw Yeon-woo, who had a completely different property from them, but it was impossible to understand what they were saying because of the noise of the avalanche.

Not that Yeon-woo cared. His only mission was to sweep them away. He didn’t know how he would deal with all of them, but Yeon-woo had a very good ace up his sleeve. ‘Wave of Fire.’

Yeon-woo pulled Vigrid out of subspace and swung it wide. A thundering noise that was even louder than the avalanche, accompanied by a blinding light and heat began to overwhelm the snowy mountain.  

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