The boy was sitting cross-legged, lost in meditation, and he was as cute as if he’d stepped out of a fairy tale. It was puzzling enough that a boy like that would be inside a cavern, but that wasn’t what surprised Yeon-woo the most. ‘Isn’t that a Snow Ginseng?'
The boy wasn’t really a person. It was an elixir that took the shape of a human being.
[Humanoid Snow Ginseng]
[Classification: Elixir or Mystical Creature]
[Description: A ginseng that only grows on icy plains while being exposed to the energy of the moon for hundreds of years. Because of its shape, many people mistake it for a human. It will increase mana after consumption. However, the increase depends on the ability of the consumer. The method of ingestion is also very tricky.]
Only a handful of such rare elixirs existed in the Tower. ‘I've only heard about it as one of the five best elixirs. I never expected this.’ Yeon-woo's eyes grew thoughtful. ‘Now I see why Akasha's Snake settled here.’
Akasha's Snake was probably nurturing the Snow Ginseng, which seemed about 300 years old judging from its size. From what he knew, its effects would reach their peak at around 500 years of age. He presumed Akasha's Snake was waiting for that time.
'Too bad, it’s going inside my stomach now.' Yeon-woo slowly pulled three daggers from his waist. Not only was the Snow Ginseng rare, it was also difficult to catch. It opened its eyes the moment Yeon-woo started approaching it.
Yeon-woo immediately threw the daggers in his hand.
“Ahh!” The snow ginseng shrieked eerily as it jumped in the air and clung to the ceiling.
The appearances of some elixirs make them indistinguishable from mystical creatures, and because they’re sentient, some even say they choose their owners. At first, I didn’t think much of it. But when I got a chance to have one for myself, it felt like my heart was breaking every second that I looked at it.
Gosh, it was leaking its precious energy with every step it took!
His brother once got a hold of an elixir like the Snow Ginseng, but he didn’t know that it could move on its own. By the time he caught it, it had already lost some of its energy. However, thanks to the diary, Yeon-woo was aware of this, and his strengthened senses quickly located the Snow Ginseng despite its nimble movements. 'Run all you like, you’re still trapped in this cave.’
Yeon-woo drew three daggers more and threw them to the right.
Swish! The ginseng dodged the daggers easily and the daggers embedded themselves in the ceiling. Rumble! The icicles shook slightly.
The snow ginseng landed on the ground and shrieked horribly again. The awful sounds it was making contrasted deeply with its cute face.
‘I'm sorry, but I eat monsters like you for breakfast.’
The ginseng tilted its head as it couldn’t understand what Yeon-woo was saying when suddenly, the sound of ice breaking filled the cavern. Crack! The ceiling suddenly collapsed, and chunks of ice rained on the Snow Ginseng.
Startled by the collapse, the ginseng jumped away in an effort to escape, but as soon as it broke through the ice, it came face to face with Yeon-woo. “Got you!” With a cold smile, he grabbed the neck of the Snow Ginseng.
The ginseng squirmed in his grasp, emanating a cold aura that froze his hand. However, Yeon-woo didn't let go of it, and he quickly brought it to his mouth and took a big bite. Chomp!
The ginseng looked horrifying with its half-destroyed head and missing eye, but Yeon-woo kept on eating without a sound. His head ached as though he were chewing on hard ice, and his teeth were numb from the cold. There was already frostbite on his hand, and his muscles swelled and bones vibrated.
When he finished eating and licked his fingers, he felt something explode in his lower abdomen. Whoosh! It was a feeling similar to the one he felt when he first activated the pocket watch—the feeling of mana coursing through his body—or when the Reinforced Physique was settling down. But the amount of mana he felt this time was much larger.
[You have obtained the hidden piece ‘Humanoid Snow Ginseng’.]
[The spirit energy is exploding in your body. It will be converted into magic power.]
The mana floating in the air or the spirit energy stored inside mystical creatures did not suddenly belong to you after it was ingested. It had to be absorbed, processed, and given a chance to settle before it could be transformed into magic power. Of course, a considerable amount of mana was usually lost while processing the Snow Ginseng’s spiritual energy.
‘But I can't afford to lose that either.’ Yeon-woo withdrew the senses he had expanded and concentrated them inside his body. Mana was circulating at a high speed.
[Your status ‘Immature Dragon Body’ is influencing the absorption process.]
[92% of the spirit energy in the Humanoid Snow Ginseng has been converted to magic power. Your body will begin to absorb the magic power.]
[Your magic power has increased by 5 points.]
[Your magic power has increased by 7 points.]
[Body improvement has been confirmed. The vessel is strong enough. The halted succession process will resume. 22%...24%...27%...]
[Current progress: 42.9%]
[Your current status will change from 'Immature Dragon Body' to 'Half Dragon Body'.]
The attribute points Yeon-woo needed the most were now increasing, and the succession process was halfway through completion.
[You have achieved the halfway point of the succession process. You have gained the ability to control mana.]
[Mana has begun to circulate in your body.]
[You can now cast magical skills while consuming less mana.]
[The skill 'Magic Circuit' has been created.]
Yeon-woo felt mana wandering around his body, although he had yet to learn to control it. Still, controlling mana had once felt as difficult as moving a fingernail, but now it was just like moving a finger. Also, instead of disappearing when it completed its task, mana was now flowing continuously around his body.
[Description: Dragons have been blessed with mana since time immemorial. And those who are blessed by dragons receive the ability to control mana. The control range and the amount of controllable mana increases with proficiency. Sometimes, it is possible to handle mana streams.]
'Great!' Yeon-woo was elated after reading the description of the Magic Circuit. He’d been longing to control mana ever since the beginning of the Tutorial. He had even tried studying the basics of mana but that hadn’t been too successful. But now, he was starting to see results.
‘The secret was to build up magic power and speed up the succession process.’ Yeon-woo’s eyes glittered at the thought of finally being able to use mana. At the moment, he was limited to using mana in casting skills, but many more things would be possible in the future. He could infuse mana into a weapon for increased attack power, or wind mana around his feet to gain speed. There were plenty of uses for it, but at his current level of proficiency, he couldn’t access them yet. However, Yeon-woo believed he would be able to raise his proficiency with the help of his Sense Strengthening skill.
'Controlling mana is still within the boundary of senses.’ Yeon-woo gave his inner body a quick scan before opening his eyes. Light flashed in Yeon-woo's eyes, just as the Snow Ginseng’s eyes had flashed when it first opened its eyes.
A big smile appeared on Yeon-woo’s face. His vessel was finally being filled, and he was quite content with the result. 'Of course, it's still not enough.’ Yeon-woo was now certain that his vessel was still far from being full, and it was big enough to hold much more.
Yeon-woo licked his lips in anticipation as he felt a strong desire welling in his heart to take Akasha’s Snake's Neidan.
* * *
Just before he left the snake tunnel, Yeon-woo looked around to check if he missed anything. He found something on the spot where the ginseng had been sitting. ‘What is this?’
It was a small, rusty pendant that looked quite worn from use. It was not classified as an artifact.
[A necklace full of memories]
[Description: A necklace full of someone's treasured memories. It will be nice to return it to the owner.]
“The owner?” Yeon-woo was thunderstruck at the description of the pendant, and he examined it carefully. There was a seam on the side hidden under rust. Yeon-woo wiped off the rust and opened the pendant. Inside he found a picture of a family with happy smiles on their faces: two adults and a daughter. The face of the father was extremely familiar—it was Galliard.
"So, this is what he’s looking for." Yeon-woo murmured. No one understood why Galliard always chased Akasha's Snake. He never killed it, and he only tested players who wanted to hunt the snake, passing down one of his skills to the successful players as a reward. It made sense that he’d done it to find something that contained his cherished memories.
‘That wasn’t in the diary either.’ Yeon-woo rolled up the pendant and put it in his pocket. Since Gilliard’s cottage was on his way, he could give it back as he passed. He turned to the exit as mana traveled briskly along his Magic Circuit, and his body brimmed with vitality. He was feeling better than ever.
"Now, shall we go hunting?" Yeon-woo adjusted his white mask and hurried through the exit.