Chapter 36 - Akasha’s Snake (4)

After leaving Galliard’s cottage, Yeon-woo hurried to the spot where Akasha's Snake was supposed to appear. According to the images he saw in the diary, it was a place filled with several tall rocks standing like trees in a forest, but by the time Yeon-woo arrived, the whole place was in complete ruins. “How the hell did they know about this place? Nobody knew about it except for Arthia.”

I can only explain our encounter with Akasha's Snake as a lucky opportunity. We only happened to be passing through that place at the time of its appearance, and we were lucky Galliard was there to help us. However, I can say for certain that the experience united us and helped us become who we are. 

As far as he knew, Akasha's Snake would have made an appearance only in the past three days. But the traces of carnage showed that at least a week had already passed. Yeon-woo scanned the nearby areas just in case the snake that Phante and Edora had fought might have been a fake. 

However, Yeon-woo discovered the torn body of Akasha’s Snake just beyond the collapsed rocks. 'Damn it. My expectations have been shattered.' A snake as big as a few mountains lay dead, its body stretching out so far that it seemed to be endless, and each of its scales was as big as Yeon-woo. Although it was dead, its ferocity still lingered, and the mere sight of it overwhelmed Yeon-woo. 

Yeon-woo meticulously examined Akasha’s Snake’s carcass with a desperate hope that Phante and Edora might have left something important behind. However, his hopes were dashed once more. They had taken the most important parts of Akasha's Snake, such as the Neidan and the venom gland. It was clear that Phante and Edora had purposefully hunted Akasha’s Snake, just like he did. 

'But how the hell did they kill it?’ Yeon-woo clucked his tongue as he stepped a few meters away from the carcass. Even then, he still couldn't see its entire body in his field of vision. The more he looked, the more he wondered. Akasha’s Snake wasn’t a monster that was easy to kill. Its strength was as great as its size, and it was difficult to even approach it. The venom that oozed out from its fangs was potent enough to melt rocks and perhaps twenty players still wouldn’t be able to take it down. And yet the two siblings had managed to kill it. Was it because their power was immeasurable or was there something he didn’t know? 

'I don't understand how they managed to summon Akasha’s Snake in the first place.’ Even if they used Undine's Goblet, how did they summon Akasha's Snake before it was ready to emerge? Did they use magic or some other method he didn’t know about? All sorts of thoughts tangled in Yeon-woo’s head. However, after a period of contemplation, only one thought was left in his mind: 'What do I do now?' 

Yeon-woo took off his mask for a moment and rubbed his face with his hand. It was practically the first time he had taken off the mask since entering the Tutorial, and it was a testament to how jumbled his thoughts were. He felt the need to feel the breeze on his bare skin to help him organize his thoughts. 

The hidden piece that he had planned to acquire ever since the start of the Tutorial had vanished into thin air. The sole reason he had been so confident about catching up to the frontrunners was Akasha's Snake. Now, he was belatedly realizing that he’d been too complacent. He finally understood how Phante and Edora had been able to stack up such an unbelievable number of karma points. 

But there was no use in crying over spilled milk. All his efforts had already been wasted so he had to do something to make up for it. Yeon-woo quickly opened the Tutorial ranking window. 

[Tutorial Ranking]
[1. Edora (64,571 Points)
2. Phante (58,774 Points)
3. Kahn (57,300 Points)]

···

[40. Unknown (40,980 Points) (You)]

··· 

'There’s a 20,000-point gap between me and Edora. The gap is still shrinking.' Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes. 'What if I hoard as many Tokens as possible in Section E, clear all the hidden pieces left in Section F, and make a turnaround in section G?’ Yeon-woo racked his brain and tried to come up with various possibilities. However, none of them seemed realistic. ‘Time's too tight. At best, I’ll end up overtaking the eleventh position. Maybe eighth, if I get lucky. There’s no way I can reach first.'

Yeon-woo had to finish the Tutorial in the first place. It was the only way he could get one step closer to his revenge. Besides, he needed the Akasha’s Snake's Neidan to complete the succession process. Without it, all of his plans were messed up, and he had to revise everything. 

Right now, there was nothing he could do but to try his best to gather up karma points up until the last minute of the Tutorial. In the end, Yeon-woo decided to leave, thinking that he should spend his time getting more points. But something caught his eye just before he walked away. “Wait a second. What is that?” 

On the other side of the snake, where he hadn’t searched as thoroughly, he saw several footprints. They concentrated around the head of the snake, and he saw evidence of the snake’s skull being shattered.

 At first, he thought Phante and Edora had done this during their fight with the snake. 'No, that’s not right. This was done after its death. It’s too fresh.’ It was evidence that others had arrived here before he did. 'There must be something important about it.' Yeon-woo’s instincts were telling him that this was an important clue even as he thought about hurrying to collect more karma points. In the end, Yeon-woo decided to trust his instincts. ‘Let’s check it out.’ On the battlefield, following one’s instinct often brought unexpected benefits. 

Yeon-woo shot up into the air as his feet launched from the ground. His movements were now much lighter and quicker after he learned Shunpo. 

[You have learned how to handle your body movements freely.] 

[‘Shunpo’ skill proficiency has increased. 1.2%]

Yeon-woo managed to reach the head of the snake after a couple of leaps. Near the top of its skull were several marks, as if it had been struck with a large axe over and over. 'Whoever they were, they were trying to get something out of the skull. What could it have been? The brain?' As far as he knew, the only useful parts of Akasha’s Snake were its Neidan and venom gland. The rest might have been large, but they had little use. He couldn’t understand why anyone would take the brain. 

From the size of the footprints, Yeon-woo could tell who had taken it. ‘Orcs.' Yeon-woo suddenly recalled what his brother had said in his diary. 

Various monsters in Section E have different customs according to their environment. Among them, the Orcs located in the eastern part of the section worship Akasha's Snake, which has long ruled the eastern desert area. 

Many types of monsters lived in packs in Section E. Groups of Lizardmen were normally seen in the northern swamp, and the western jungle was inhabited by Goblins and Kobolds, who lived in villages. Orcs had settlements in the eastern desert area, and only the Trolls and Ogres lived independently in the southern region. But just because Orcs were present in large numbers in the eastern desert, it didn’t make them the rulers of the land. 

Akasha’s Snake still lived deep underground. Sometimes, when it came out to the surface, it would attack their settlements. To the Orcs, it was a symbol of dread and fear, and they had developed a custom of worshiping Akasha’s Snake as a god. It seemed like the Orcs had noticed the death of Akasha's Snake and taken its brains with something in mind. 

'What are they planning to do with it? If they are performing a ritual, they would have done it here or taken it back to their settlements.’ But the tracks led elsewhere, in the opposite direction of the Orc settlements. 'There must be something important there!' 

Without further delay, Yeon-woo followed the tracks. Swish! The trail led past Akasha’s Snake’s body and deeper into the ruins. As he traveled farther, the wasteland started fading away, and bigger and steeper mountains appeared. Even his brother hadn't been to this place. He traveled so far that he soon ended up reaching the end of Section E, and he stopped at a terrifyingly high cliff. 'The Great Wall. This is the eastern end of Section E. That means…’ 

Yeon-woo scanned the cliff with his Draconic Eyes. The Orcs’ tracks led to a tunnel at the bottom of the cliff obscured by rocks and trees. “What are they doing in a place like this?” Yeon-woo stepped into the tunnel right away, and all of a sudden, messages appeared. 

[You are the first player to enter Akasha's Snake Tunnel.] 

[You have acquired 1,000 additional karma.] 

'What?' Yeon-woo looked up at the unexpected message. A snake tunnel? It was something that had to do with Akasha’s Snake. Thump! Thump! Yeon-woo’s heart pounded loudly. It was clear that even Galliard didn’t know about this cave—that was why he had to wait for a specific time to face Akasha's Snake each time the Tutorial reset. But if he knew where the snake’s den was, it would be a different story. 

“There might be an egg, a snakeling, or even its mate inside this cave.” Since the Orcs had carried its brain here, it meant that there was something important hidden inside that was at least equal in value to Akasha's Snake. Yeon-woo walked as stealthily as possible into the tunnel. The deeper he went, the louder the Orc’s noise grew. 

As Yeon-woo entered a large cavern, he saw dozens of Orcs lining up along the open space. 'What is this?' 

Boom! Boom! Moving to the rhythm of drums, the Orcs bowed deeply in a reverent manner, as though they were performing a solemn religious ritual. At the end of the altar was a pile of dead Orcs and Lizardmen, and over it was a tray that held the brain of Akasha’s Snake.

'These Orcs are insane.' Yeon-woo frowned at the swirling madness of the Orcs and he made himself as inconspicuous as possible, worrying that he would be trapped in there forever if he made any disturbance. 

Boom! An Orc that looked like a shaman got up from his seat, slamming the ground hard with his cane as he shouted a prayer in a voice filled with madness. "Chwik! Our god has been murdered by the wicked humans! Arise from your death! Take our warriors’ souls, return to life and help us punish them!" As he chanted the prayer, the Orc shaman took a torch from a brazier next to the altar and set the sacrifices on fire. Whoosh! As if the bodies had been doused with oil, a fierce flame shot up and devoured them completely. 

At that moment, Yeon-woo witnessed a strange sight. Bodies that were set on fire usually turned to black ashes with a burning smell. But instead, the bodies on the altar turned into a column of murky smoke and gathered in the air before being sucked into the brain of Akasha's Snake. 

The smoke quickly disappeared into the brain as though it were water being soaked up by a sponge. The offerings on the altar vanished, and the brain started to wriggle as if it was alive. By the time all the sacrifices were gone, something tore out from inside the brain. 

As soon as Yeon-woo saw what it was, his eyes widened. It was a snake—a young Akasha’s Snake. It was tiny compared to Akasha’s Snake, but it was already more than three meters long. 

The snakeling screamed with hunger. “Kahh!” 

Then, a message appeared in front of Yeon-woo. 

[Hidden Quest / Resurrection Ceremony]
[Content: The body of Akasha’s Snake is composed of half substance, half spirit. Given enough energy (Akasha), Akasha’s Snake can resurrect at any time. Orcs are trying to bring Akasha’s Snake back to life with their ancient ritual. Stop the resurrection ceremony and kill the snake before it grows bigger.]
[Reward: ????]

Yeon-woo eyes widened in surprise at the quest’s message and one phrase stood out vividly among the rest: “Akasha’s Snake can resurrect at any time.” 

An idea popped into his mind, and a smile began to spread across his face. ‘I can grow Akasha's Snake bigger than it was before and take its Neidan!’

Previous Chapter Next Chapter