Chapter 265 - The Hoarder (5)

[This is the 27th floor, the gate of the Lake of Ghosts.]

[You have arrived at the waiting area.]

Yeon-woo emerged out of the blue portal as the message reported that he had arrived at the next stage. Shanon’s scolding still filled his head. You fool! How could you forget about that?!

Yeon-woo wanted to cut off his connection with Shanon for a moment, but he knew that Shanon would return with worse nagging later, so he stopped himself. 

And to make it worse, you tossed me into a burning pit! Damn!

“No one got hurt.”

What the fuck are you…!

Yeon-woo moved ahead as Shanon followed him. He spread his hand open, and Apophis’ Venomous Fang appeared in his palm. It was only when he’d already unleashed the Wave of Fire at full strength that Yeon-woo realized his mistake. He’d been so intent on finishing the stage that he’d completely forgotten about the hidden piece, Apophis’ Venomous Fang.

Worried that he might lose his chance to get the hidden piece, Yeon-woo didn’t have any other option but to kick Shanon into the explosion to look for it. Fortunately, Apophis’ exuviae didn’t die easily, and Shanon had managed to wrestle the fang away from him in his last moments.

The system wouldn’t allow Shanon to be hurt from an explosion that his master, Yeon-woo, had caused, but he wasn’t entirely unaffected, and his complaints rose right away. However, Yeon-woo ignored him and examined Apophis’ Venomous Fang.

[Apophis’ Venomous Fang]

[Category: Miscellaneous]

[Rank: ???]

[Description: A venomous fang belonging to Apophis’ exuviae, the hidden boss of the 26th floor. Any artifact that is made from this fang will contain the poison property.] 

[**Some functions are sealed. You must meet the qualifications or conditions in order to lift the seals.

**It has been heavily damaged. You need the touch of an outstanding artisan to restore it to its original condition.] 

With his left hand, he pulled out another hidden piece he had collected: a small, red bead.

[Tears of Ra]

[Category: Miscellaneous]

[Rank: ???]

[Description: A treasure hidden within the castle walls of the 26th floor. It is a holy artifact that the sun god himself left behind to protect the castle from Apophis’ snow monsters. It has been used so much that it has nearly lost its power as a holy artifact.]

Yeon-woo poured his magic power inside the two hidden pieces. Ching. They glowed and trembled as though they would break, but Yeon-woo didn’t stop. At some point cracks began to appear all over them and soon, they shattered to reveal their true forms—tiny beads about the size of a fingernail. The Tears of Ra turned into a tiny red bead and Apophis’ Venomous Fang turned into a tiny blue one. 

[You have earned ‘Ra’s Tear Glands’.]

[You have earned ‘Apophis’ Venom Glands’.]

The sun god Ra chased after the demonic creature Apophis’ on his chariot, and Apophis chased after the chariot to swallow Ra. This legend of how day and night came to be is reflected in the hidden pieces.

Ra’s Tear Glands and Apophis’ Venom Glands are the opposite of each other. When these are combined, you can create an elixir with holy power. 

Yeon-woo found the infinity symbol on the beads as the diary described.

[You have successfully combined ‘Ra’s Tear Glands’ and ‘Apophis’ Venom Glands’ and completed the ‘Glands of Gods and Demons’.]

[You may choose between holy power and demonic energy.]

[Which option will you take?]

You can only choose one property. If you choose holy power, it means that Ra has killed Apophis, and if you choose demonic energy, it means that Apophis has swallowed Ra. 

It’s a magic organ that creates either magic power or demonic energy. It has its limits, but priests and contractors will be tempted to possess it. However, because I have the Draconic Factors, I couldn’t choose easily. 

His brother had received a hidden quest while defending the castle on the twenty-sixth floor that encouraged him to find the origin of the monsters. There, he discovered Ra’s Tear Glands and Apophis’ Venom Glands and succeeded in creating the Glands of Gods and Demons. 

However, when it came to choosing between the two properties, his brother hesitated because holy power wouldn’t be of much help since he already had the Draconic Factors. On the other hand, he felt like Kalatus would be upset if he chose demonic energy, so he couldn’t choose that, either. Finally, his brother decided to hand it to Aether, who desperately needed it.

Aether had chosen holy power and swallowed it, and from that point on, Aether began to slowly distance himself from Arthia because he’d already gained the holy power he wanted so badly.

‘That was your mistake.’ Yeon-woo sighed, thinking of his brother who trusted people too much. He gripped the Glands of Gods and Demons tightly. He’d already made his choice. “Holy power.”

[You have chosen holy power.]

[The ‘Glands of Gods and Demons’ has been modified to ‘Glands of Gods’.]

[Agares is dissatisfied with your choice.]

[Hermes nods his head with satisfaction.]

[Athena looks at you warmly.]

[Azrael looks at you strangely while stroking his chin.]

He was used to the reactions of the gods and demons, so he didn’t react much when he saw the messages. Yeon-woo tossed the Glands of Gods into his mouth. As soon as it touched his tongue, it melted down his throat. Something warm awakened inside him and a bright light glowed over his skin.

[The dormant Divine Factors have been awakened.]

[You have an insufficient amount of Divine Factors. You must gain more of the blessing to wake the holy power inside you.]

He’d received the Divine Factors after absorbing Brahm, and they now happily accepted holy power for the first time. However, it was nothing compared to the Draconic Factors or Demonic Factors he had, and so the Divine Factors settled down again without doing much.

Still, it was important to Yeon-woo that he had the Divine Factors, so he didn’t care. He planned on steadily climbing the Tower and absorbing more hidden pieces that contained the Divine Factors. ‘Alright, this is enough.’

Yeon-woo glanced around, stretching, all the exhaustion from the twenty-sixth floor gone. He was in a simple room around thirty-three square meters in size that had a bed, a small table, a chair, and a framed drawing on the wall. Unlike the other floors, where you found yourself in the start zone as soon as you arrived, a message that he was in a waiting room had greeted him.

The reason that the twenty-seventh floor is different from the other floors is that its trial is completely different. On the lower floors, most trials are set up in a single world. 

However, one overarching trial takes up the middle floors with smaller trials on different floors. I had to do a lot of sub-quests related to the large trial that spans the twenty-seventh floor to the thirtieth floor.  

Just as the Tower tests what players have learned so far on the tenth floor, the thirtieth floor tests what players have accomplished from the twenty-seventh floor to the twenty-ninth floor. You can’t make a single mistake on those floors because a single misstep will impact your trial on the next floor, and you’ll end up getting a ridiculously difficult test on the thirtieth floor.

The trials affected all of us since they were ongoing and couldn’t be completed after each floor like before. We really felt like we would die. 

Most players had too many things to focus on when it came to the twenty-seventh to the thirtieth floor, and those who spent a month on the twenty-sixth floor were basically dead. However, Yeon-woo had some theories about this. This was technically no different from something he’d already passed through: ‘The Tutorial.’

There were seven stages, Sections A to G, and the next few trials weren’t that much different in terms of what had to be done: get as high a score as possible. Yeon-woo opened the door and stepped out. 

* * *

Outside the waiting room was a colossal island with soft sand and large palm trees, just like the Mediterranean islands on Earth, although not as refreshing. Despite the similar hot weather, the air was heavy and the ocean was an ashy color.

[The trial of the 27th floor is beginning.]

[Trial: All lives will move to the Beyond when they are finished. However, it isn’t easy for the dead to pass on because they must cross a large river on their own.

The River of Souls, which is called Samdocheon, Styx, Erebus, and Emptiness in different stories is always rough, and there is no simple way to cross it.

Right now, you have become a soul. Cross the River of Souls safely within 49 days. If you don’t arrive at your destination in time, your qualification to reincarnate will be taken, and you will become a ghost that roams around the 9 celestial bodies forever. Escape the island safely.]

In forty-nine days, he had to reach the thirtieth floor, which meant that he had to overcome at least three trials in less than two months. Since there were players who spent years just trying to clear a stage, it was a ridiculous requirement. However, anyone who didn’t make it to the deadline would have their qualification revoked, and they wouldn’t be able to continue on. Just as they did on the twentieth floor, many players failed on the thirtieth.

Yeon-woo could see around 500 of them busily looking for ways to cross the River of Souls. He was sure the same scene was present in all the other islands along the river.

“You look like you need my assistance.”

Yeon-woo turned around to see an old, wrinkled ogre. However, he wasn’t just a simple monster. He wore a tuxedo, the uniform of the Guardians, with a large hammer on his back. It looked rather odd.  

“I’m Charon, a Guardian and a ferryman. Do you need my help, traveler? If you give me some of your lifespan, I can show you how to cross the river easily.” The five-meter-tall Charon had a wide smile on his face, but it only made him look scarier since it revealed his fangs. Charon the Hideous was the High Guardian who handled the floors in the twenties. He was known as the money-loving miser among the Guardians. 

Yeon-woo said to his bright face, “No. I don’t need it.”

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