On the fiftieth floor, the gate of the Dragon Temple, passersby stopped to get out of the path of a large group of people.
“Yeah. The Demon Beauty Castle. They’ve made it all the way here, I guess.”
The members of the group wore different styles of armor and outfits which didn’t have a unifying element. At first glance, their frowning faces and intensely murderous aura made them look like a local gang that might brandish their swords immediately if anyone approached them without permission.
Although many looked at them with curiosity, none could muster up the courage to approach. In the last few months, they had grown infamous in the Tower. Their accomplishments were amazing:
the decimation of the clan Moonlit Night Shadow, the defeat of the ranker Nine Blame, the destruction of the hidden dungeon Six Beast Cave, the testing of demonic swords, and more.
Not only were they overwhelmingly successful in clearing highly difficult quests, they also crushed all the clans and rankers that fought them. They didn’t have an established hierarchy, and so they were acknowledged as a whole. They were already marked as one of the new rising clans replacing the fallen Triton and Necropolis.
The storm they brought shook the lower floors and drew immediate attention. However, one of them stood out from among the rest, their leader and core, Demon Beauty Edora. She had long, light purple hair and a lamb’s horn that extended out from one of her temples. She wore her signature sword, Divine Evil,within her comfortable martial arts uniform.
She had a fancy debut from the Tutorial, as a player from the One-horned tribe’s Cheongram family, and now that she had proven her abilities on many occasions, she was revered as an outstanding warrior. She swung Divine Evil unhesitatingly as though she were dancing, and her cold and cruel face was beautiful, which was the reason she had been given the nickname “Demon Beauty”.
Some said she was the talent who would lead a new generation of the One-horned tribe after the Blood-Red Philosopher and the Martial King. Others said she was the only player who could keep the Hoarder in check. But no matter what they said, the rivals of the One-horned tribe always groaned, evidence of the expectations that everyone had of her.
When news of her arrival on the fiftieth floor spread, the expectations and gawking grew. The fiftieth floor, the Dragon Temple, was the place that separated rankers from ordinary players. It was where many skilled people had tried to rise to the challenge only to leave in despair.
Edora had finally arrived at the stage commonly known as the “Wailing Wall”. The spectators weren’t concerned about whether Edora would pass or not, they already assumed she was ranker-level or beyond. However, they were curious how Edora would clear the Dragon Temple since it was deemed the most monstrous of all the stages players would have conquered so far.
Everyone knew the basics of the trial, but each player went through an individualized test, which was why some players who appeared capable of clearing the floor ended up failing, while others were lucky enough to pass and grow to their current status.
‘This is so annoying.’ But Edora just felt sick and tired of the gazes. The attention made her feel uncomfortable. The Tower was for individuals who wanted to train their abilities and get to a higher peak. It was inevitable that they would be very individualistic. For many, even twenty-four hours wasn’t enough for training.
Edora had grown up with this tenet, just like her father and the members of her tribe. She had spent her life seeing them live up to it, and she believed that it was the correct attitude to take when it came to climbing the Tower. But what was this?
Even though the other players seemed like heavyweights and big shots in the planet or world they came from, they were busy cheering her on fanatically. It was as though they’d forgotten themselves and only felt vicarious satisfaction through a rookie like her whom they thought would challenge the beings currently in power.
Not to mention, the number of hyenas who hoped for her crumbs was increasing. At first, she’d chased away all of the sycophants and followers around her, but after a while, it had become too much of a hassle, and she just left them alone as long as they didn’t get in her face.
Soon, her followers increased in number and began creating a system among themselves. She’d been flabbergasted to hear the name they came up with, Demon Beauty Castle, but because she didn’t want to waste any time on them, she let them be. All she had to do was swing her sword if they acted out.
The only thing that concerned her right now was the Wailing Wall.
“I want you to become my wings.” Yeon-woo had told her this before he left the tribe, and it was the force that kept her moving. He was a bad guy whose whereabouts were unknown, but she believed that he was watching her from somewhere. She slowly pulled Divine Evil from its sheath. Kashing. She faced a huge temple door.
[The trial is beginning.]
* * *
『Death to the trespasser!』 Above a river of lava, the demonic beast Plucrat spread his paper-thin black wings and roared, releasing an intense wave that shook mountains.
[A hidden true name of ‘Vigrid-???’, Gáe Bulg, is being released.]
[Folklore: Seawater Homing]
Swish. Attached to the Ruyi Bang, Vigrid flew straight towards Plucrat’s heart. Gáe Bulg was the latest of its hidden names to be released. It was a spear made of a sea monster’s bones that had passed from hero to hero until it reached one named Cúchulainn.
It never missed its target, no matter where it was hurled from. Dozens of thorns rose in its wake to further injure the enemy. When Yeon-woo first released the name of Gáe Bulg, he’d been a little puzzled since Vigrid was a sword, but he realized that a blade could become a spearhead, and since he normally combined the Ruyi Bang and Vigrid anyway, it wasn’t such a strange thing, after all. Since Gáe Bulg gained fame as a spear, the destructiveness of the Ruyi Bang and Vigrid together was amplified. Boom!
『Krugh!』 Spiky thorns popped up from Plucrat’s chest as Gáe Bulg pierced through his back and groin. Plucrat thrashed around in pain and screamed. However, the sounds were quickly muffled as shadows emerged from the spiky thorns and consumed his body.
「Something to eat.」
「More strength for my master…」
The Spirit Guai dashed towards Plucrat, trying to take bigger bites because they hadn’t had a tasty meal since Tartarus. Plucrat stumbled in front of the marsh of shadows and fell over. The hidden boss of the thirty-ninth floor, whom many players failed to subdue, was dead.
[All trials have been completed.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 100,000 karma.]
[You have acquired an additional 200,000 karma.]
[Health and magic power are recovering.]
[All injuries are being healed.]
[All gods of death marvel at you.]
[All demons of death nod with satisfaction.]
[Many gods observe you with watchful eyes.]
[Many demons reveal their greed for you.]
[Your karma is being calculated.]
[You have set a new record on this floor. Will you register your name in the Hall of Fame?]
[You have refused to register your name.]
[Your record has been deeply engraved in the Tower. You can register your name whenever you wish.]
[Will you move to the next floor?]
“He’s ranked first on this stage too. His speed is amazing.” Brahm smiled wryly as he watched Yeon-woo from afar.
Galliard crossed his arms and nodded. “He can’t seem to help it. He’s gathering all the hidden pieces that even we didn’t know about. And no matter how hard the trial of the floor is, it’s too easy for him.”
Until even the sixtieth floor, no stage would be as dangerous as Tartarus, not even the fiftieth. In fact, considering what Yeon-woo had gone through, it was likely that he would find even those floors easy too. No player had ever dealt with the Gigantomachia, Mother Earth, and Allforone one after the other—perhaps only the Nine Kings would have experienced something similar.
“He’s probably plenty anxious. We don’t know everything, but he’s probably holding it in as best as he can right now.” Galliard remembered Yeon-woo slowly returning with the pocket watch in his hands, mask tight on his face, when they were still on the thirty-sixth floor. Jeong-woo hadn’t been there. Yeon-woo didn’t explain, but it wasn’t hard to guess what had happened.
Jeong-woo was an unstable vestige body that could fall apart at any moment, and if not for the pocket watch, it would have been impossible for him to exist. Jeong-woo had probably realized this and fallen in a deep sleep inside the pocket watch in hopes of better days in the future.
They could tell what Yeon-woo was aiming for: complete resurrection. He wanted to perform a miracle that existed only in legends, something that even transcendents couldn’t achieve.
In order to do that, he needed to climb the floors as quickly as possible. However, there were still too many obstacles in Yeon-woo’s way, and he needed a lot of time to get rid of them and go higher.
It seemed like Yeon-woo was aware of this, and he steadily moved forward. He was clearing the floors faster than expected. It seemed like they’d just left the thirty-sixth floor, and here they were already on the thirty-ninth floor getting ready to ascend to the fortieth.
Still, because he was human, he couldn’t suppress his anxiety perfectly. Yeon-woo was always cold-blooded and dispassionate, but when came things related to Jeong-woo, he couldn’t hide his emotions. It made them pity him.
“If the vigor is still in the pocket watch, where’s the spirit?”
As they watched Yeon-woo sympathetically, Brahm and Galliard couldn’t stop turning the question over. An existence was a combination of vigor and spirit. If Jeong-woo’s vigor remained as a vestige in the pocket watch, then where was his spirit, his actual soul?
“What’s for sure is that Jeong-woo didn’t leave his vestige in the pocket watch simply to create a diary.” Brahm wrinkled his forehead, muttering to himself. The primary reason he’d left the diary behind was to use the special benefit for Yeon-woo’s quick growth, but could that be the only reason? Brahm thought not.
The Jeong-woo he’d known was innocent but not stupid. He was a clever guy. ‘There wouldn’t be a point in the soul returning on its own, so did he store the memories and ego separately?’ The thought that it might not be the end kept nagging at him. No, it couldn’t be. In the worst case scenario…‘It’s possible that the soul ceased to exist after repeating the special benefit so many times, and only the memories were left behind…’
Brahm swallowed at the thought. ‘We have to hope that’s not it.’ It would be too sad of an outcome if it were. All he could hope for was that some other arrangement had been made.
“You’re still the Brahma of creation, but you don’t know?”
“I’ve lost my divinity, and my body doesn’t have any holiness either. It’s been a long time since I’ve abandoned my omniscience and powers, so what more could I know?” Brahm snorted at Galliard and dismissed the question.
Just then, a new message popped up.
[You are being transported to the 40th floor.]
The subjugation of the floors was continuing without rest.
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