Chapter 35 - Akasha’s Snake (3)

Allforone was seriously the worst player I’ve ever seen. 

*   *   * 

Allforone was an unchallenged top ranker who took first place in the rankings both as a player and as a clan. However, little was known about his identity. For hundreds or maybe even thousands of years, he had stopped climbing up the Tower, and remained on the seventy-seventh floor. Since he rarely ventured outside, it was difficult to find a player who had met him in person. Only the nine top rankers, the Nine Kings, had ever seen him—and that was from a distance. That was how much Allforone disliked the company of others. 

He thought on his own, made decisions on his own, and moved on his own. However, each time he made a move, tectonic changes swept through the Tower. Although he was just an individual, he wielded more than enough power to overwhelm the giant clans. As a result, players started referring to him as “the Strongest, “the Highest”, or “the Ultimate”.   

No matter who entered or left the Tower, he stayed in the highest position of the rankings. Many players had challenged him for his position, but none had succeeded in dislodging him. However, the challengers’ efforts were not entirely in vain. They studied Allforone and collected information about him, and they eventually managed to analyze some of his skills. One of them was Shukuchi. 

A somber look appeared in Yeon-woo’s eyes. ‘Allforone could traverse any distance, no matter how great, with one leap. He didn’t even need tickets to move from floor to floor.’ At first, other players had speculated that Allforone might have a magical skill like Teleport or Blink, but those types of space-transfer magic required a considerable amount of mana and a lengthy casting time. 

But Allforone appeared to be free from those constraints; he didn’t need to prepare for casting or to circulate mana. In just one step, he could go wherever he wanted to go. This was why many rankers and clans exerted a great deal of effort to block him from using this skill, but no matter how strong the barriers they set up were, Allforone could still enter and exit easily. If he wanted to, he could assassinate someone without alerting anyone at all.  

Later, players figured out that he was using a skill called Shukuchi. However, despite that discovery, the players who wanted to analyze it were confounded by something else: they had no idea how to acquire it. Most assumed that it was a unique skill that only Allforone had. 

However, Yeon-woo’s brother had other theories.

 As soon as I saw Allforone from far away, my instincts told me that he didn’t possess a unique skill at all. Instead, he’d somehow honed his skills until they reached the ultimate peak. I also discovered something else. I don't know how he did it but Galliard’s Shunpo in the Tutorial—the same skill that Isaac had begged him for—is actually the key to getting Shukuchi. But I bet Isaac won't find out until the end. 

His brother hadn’t shared this information with his teammates since the rift within Arthia had deepened by then. He didn’t know who to trust, and instead, he concentrated on studying Galliard and his Shunpo, recording the results in his diary. 

Yeon-woo had to acquire Shunpo at all costs so that he could finish his brother's research and unlock Shukuchi. 

*    *    * 

“The rules are very simple. I’ll be hiding somewhere around here and all you have to do is tag me. I’ll give you fifteen minutes for each round.” Galliard exited the cottage and explained the rules of the test. “I know that there’s a big gap between us, so I’ll place a handicap on myself. I won't use my hands, and I won't use any skills other than movement-related ones." Galliard raised his hands high and folded them behind his back. 

Yeon-woo nodded in silence. Galliard's main skills were focused on his footwork and body techniques, not his fighting ones. 'But if he can't attack or defend, it’ll be a great advantage to me.’ 

Instead of Carshina’s Dagger, Yeon-woo drew out his old daggers and held them in a reverse grip. Then he bent slightly, ready to dash out at any moment. Galliard accepted it as his consent and nodded. "Then let's get started." 

Galliard suddenly vanished into thin air. His movements were indeed like the wind, and there was no way to track them with the naked eye. However, Yeon-woo activated both Sense Strengthening and Draconic Eyes at the same time. 'I should be able to find him.' Although Galliard had left almost no trace behind, a strand of imperfection flowed along the wind. Yeon-woo concentrated all his senses on that imperfection and tried to look for its source. 

I realized something while studying the skill Shunpo—it has a critical weakness. 

'There!' Yeon-woo turned to the right and quickly threw a dagger towards a gap in some rocks. At that moment, Galliard jumped out with an incredulous expression.  

Shunpo specializes in stealth and speed. However, because it is too focused on its function, it does not erase any traces it leaves behind. 

Yeon-woo quickly dashed towards Galliard. ‘Shunpo maximizes efficiency and speed of movement, which means that it doesn’t bother to waste resources on anything else that doesn’t fulfill this purpose.’ 

Galliard twisted his body in midair and managed to land on the ground before Yeon-woo could catch him. But Yeon-woo wasn't worried about finding him again. 'That means only one thing…'

He turned to a dry tree in the west. ‘He is stepping on imperfections to move around.’ 

When Yeon-woo found Galliard the second time, a surprised expression appeared on Galliard’s face. Yeon-woo stretched out his hand but Galliard quickly turned his body. 'I’m not sure if the creator of Shunpo knew about the imperfections. Maybe he was doing this all instinctively. But one thing is for sure, as long as Shunpo uses the imperfections…’ 

Galliard avoided Yeon-woo’s hand by a mere inch, but Yeon-woo was already starting to understand Galliard’s pattern. 'You will never escape my sight.' 

Yeon-woo noticed the path of imperfections Galliard was stepping on, so he threw his dagger to block it. Galliard was so startled that he had to deviate from the path, but when he jumped away, he found Yeon-woo in the place he was aiming for. 

"First try. Success." Yeon-woo was already holding onto Galliard's sleeve. Galliard's face crumpled in disbelief. Since he wasn’t an idiot, he figured out that his weakness had been exposed. After seeing Yeon-woo's eyes following a slight arc, he realized Yeon-woo had gotten the measure of him. But Galliard was the one who’d willingly given up using his hands and other skills. He couldn’t help chuckling at himself. No matter how hard he tried to run away, with his self-imposed constraints, there was nothing he could do when Yeon-woo blocked his path. In the end, Yeon-woo tagged Galliard several times. 

[You have managed to tag Galliard 7 times. The minimum requirements for your quest have been fulfilled.] 

[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]

[You have acquired 2,000 karma.] 

[You have acquired 1,000 additional karma.] 

[You are now qualified to obtain Undine's Goblet as your reward. You can claim an additional reward. Find the Dark Elf, Galliard, for your reward.] 

"My goodness, I can't believe you got me so easily!" Galliard laughed dejectedly as he watched Yeon-woo put his hand on the right side of his chest. He was sure that he wouldn’t lose even to the rankers in the Tower, but he never expected that someone would discover his weakness so quickly. "How on earth did you figure it out? This isn’t something that can be seen through so easily." 

"It's my secret weapon." Yeon-woo’s response was simple. 

Galliard fixed his eyes on Yeon-woo then shook his head. A promise was a promise. Dark Elves couldn’t make false promises. And besides, perhaps this mysterious young man was the person he had been waiting for all this time. "OK then. Follow me." 

Galliard went back inside his cottage with Yeon-woo right behind him. 

*    *    * 

"Take it. This is it." As soon as Galliard entered his house, he took a bag from the corner of the room and held it out to Yeon-woo. Yeon-woo couldn’t understand how he could store something so valuable without any locks or protection. 

'What’s he gonna do if someone tries to steal it?” Yeon-woo was a bit appalled, but he opened the bag supposing that it didn’t matter in the end as long as he got it. 

Click! There was a crystal orb shining like a sapphire inside the bag. Blue liquid sloshed from side to side inside the orb. ‘So this is Undine’s Goblet.' 

[Undine's Goblet]
[Classification: Jewelry]
[Rank: A]
[Description: Spiritual substance, a crystal orb filled with a dense concentration of Akasha. It is a priceless treasure for those who can handle Akasha, but a disaster for those who cannot.]
[* Undine’s Factor
The orb contains the source of the Spirit of Water, Undine.] 

"You'll have to be careful when you handle it. If the liquid leaks out, it'll cause a disaster." 

"I know." Yeon-woo nodded as he closed the bag. Akasha could not be produced in the material world, and any leaks would result in a major explosion that would blow Yeon-woo to smithereens. But as long as he kept it in its bag, there wouldn’t be any problems since the bag itself was a specially designed artifact. 

"And this too." Galliard offered an additional reward to Yeon-woo—it was a book bound in blue leather. The title of the book was written in a strange script, but thanks to the Tower’s system, he didn’t have any difficulty deciphering its meaning. 

“Shunpo.” It was a skill book. 

[Shunpo]
[Rank: C-]
[Proficiency: 0.0%]
[A skill that was once only acquired by select soldiers of the Dark Elves. Allows users to employ light movements and quicker attacks. The speed increases in proportion to its proficiency.]
[* Nimble Movement
Attack speed is temporarily increased during activation. Attack speed is doubled for five seconds after killing an enemy, and the chance to inflict critical damage increases by 7%.] 

Yeon-woo wanted to shout with joy at having finally acquired what he wanted. He quickly put his hand on the surface of the book. It was very easy to learn a skill through skill books, which was why skill books were so expensive and difficult for common players to obtain. 'Learn.' 

Whoosh! With that command, the skill book dispersed with a blue aura and its particles rushed into his hand. 

[The skill ‘Shunpo' has been created.] 

[You will now be able to move swiftly. Your senses will also be improved, enhancing your physical abilities.] 

Yeon-woo felt something coming out of his body. 'It feels like my body is much lighter.' Yeon-woo had been working hard to perfect his body. He had made his senses keener, and his body stronger. Now, with the addition of Shunpo, he was laying a foundation that could handle the agility of his enhanced body. 

His physical abilities had grown considerably since visiting Galliard. Of course, he had to train in the usage of Shunpo to be fully proficient. 'I'm almost done with the vessel, so it's time to fill it with the contents.' The contents were his more scarce statistic: magic power. 'It can only be filled by killing Akasha's Snake.' 

Its essence was beyond one’s imagination. The energy accumulated from the absorption of Akasha over a long period of time was immense, and it was impossible to find similar items in the Tower. It was one of the greatest treasures of the Tutorial, which was why Yeon-woo considered it an urgent priority to kill Akasha's Snake. 

'With Reinforced Physique, my body will be able to embrace the essence of Akasha’s Snake. And then...that's when the succession process will be completed.’ Now, he could finally go and face Akasha's Snake. Yeon-woo licked his lips in anticipation, and his heart started pounding. 

Meanwhile, Galliard was looking at Yeon-woo as he leaned back in a chair. There was a brooding smile on his lips. “You got me thinking about how amazing the rookies in this round are. I’ve never seen so many players in a single round who can read my movements. Ha! Or am I just too old now?" 

Yeon-woo's eyes grew a little bigger. "Were there people who showed up before I did?” 

"There were two players, they said they were siblings. And they both took Undine's Goblet and Shunpo, just like you did." 

"I see." Yeon-woo had an inkling who the two players were: the people who took the first and second spots in the Tutorial ranking. ‘Edora and Phante? Well, judging by the karma they have, it’s obvious they’ve been here.’ 

Galliard and Undine’s Goblet weren’t big secrets. Although they couldn’t be said to be famous, they’d been around for a long time. Yeon-woo got up from his seat and picked up the bag containing Undine’s Goblet. "Well, I should get going now." 

"Oh, by the way, what are you planning to do with that? You don’t seem like an alchemist or a spiritualist. I can’t tell why you need Undine's Goblet.” 

Yeon-woo wondered whether he should reveal his plans. However, considering Galliard’s relationship with his brother, he decided to be courteous. ‘It’s not like he’ll stop me.’ Galliard always chased down Akasha's Snake without killing it for reasons that no one knew. 

"I'm thinking of going after Akasha's Snake,” he said blandly. 

Galliard's face stiffened. "You're going after Akasha's Snake?" 

All of a sudden, Yeon-woo got an ominous feeling. "Is there something wrong?" 

"Um." Galliard groaned and said with a pitying look, “I'm sorry to say this, but Akasha's Snake is already dead. It was killed by the siblings I just told you about.” 

Yeon-woo was dumbfounded.

 

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