Next to its Neidan, Akasha’s Snake had a venom gland that oozed out a corrosive liquid that could melt anything it came into contact with. It was a defensive mechanism that Akasha's Snake had developed to protect its Neidan, and so a special technique was required to remove the gland. 'It’s not a problem if I can absorb it.'
Bathory’s Vampiric Sword devoured anything that contained energy, even if there was a venom gland right next to it, and so it was a piece of cake for Yeon-woo to absorb the Neidan. He separated the venom gland and stored it in the bag with Undine's Goblet. ‘It would be great if I absorbed the venom from the gland, but it’s also the main ingredient for crafting Gyges’ Eyes.”
['Bathory’s Vampiric Sword' skill proficiency has increased. 6.2%]
[A huge amount of spiritual energy (Akasha) is pouring into your body. It will be converted into magic power.]
[A huge amount of venom is flaring up inside your body. It will be converted into magic power.]
[Your status ‘Half Dragon Body’ is influencing the absorption process.]
[Your magic power has increased by 8 points.]
[Your magic power has increased by 6 points.]
[Magic Circuit skill proficiency has increased. 2.1%]
[Due to the large energy inflow, the conversion process will require a considerable amount of time and health.]
[Your status ‘Half Dragon Body’ has been determined to be unable to contain all the potential mana. Your body will continue its growth.]
[Trait conversion in progress.]
[The halted succession process will resume. 44%…46%…48%...]
[You are advised to stay in a safe place during the conversion process. Outer impact will cause a slowdown or deviation.]
[Estimated time: 15 hours]
Crackle! Crunch! The amount of energy inside the Neidan was too much for Yeon-woo to handle in one go. It contained not only the resentful spirit of Akasha’s Snake, but also monsters’ spirits that had yet to be purified. Hardly any energy was lost during Bathory’s Vampiric Sword’s absorption, and the influx of such an enormous amount of energy caused drastic changes in Yeon-woo’s body—much more severe than those that had taken place with Reinforced Physique.
The system warned him to isolate himself from the outside world until his body stabilized, but despite the warning, Yeon-woo slowly rose from his seated position and turned to look at the Goblin King and the Orc King.
A vortex of mana swirled along his Magic Circuit, making the circuit break down and burst open. His muscles and bones shattered and reassembled, and terrible pain followed the changes. However, Yeon-woo stood tall, paying it no heed. He controlled his senses to shut down a few nerves to suppress some of the pain, and his Physical Resistance skill also helped alleviate it.
The two kings flinched as they looked at Yeon-woo’s bloodshot eyes and the massive energy storm that twisted around him. The excess energy emitted during the absorption process and Yeon-woo’s aura both joined to create an immense and indescribable atmosphere. The two monster kings sensed something from Yeon-woo that made their instincts scream in warning, as though he were a predator. They figured out that it was his eyes—the eyes of a killer who was even more insatiable and frightening than Akasha’s Snake.
"I will kill you, chwik!" Ignoring his mortal fear, the Orc King leaped to attack Yeon-woo. It was clear that the human in front of him was the cause of this whole tragedy. However, this was what Yeon-woo had been waiting for.
The two monster kings were boss monsters just like Hargan. ‘They will get me a lot of karma and Tokens.' The two monsters had been seriously injured from fighting Akasha's Snake while Yeon-woo was still in perfect condition despite the conversion process. Yeon-woo held Carshina's Dagger in a reverse grip and made a wide swing. Slash! The Orc King's head flew into the air.
[You have slain the boss monster, Farak (Orc King). Additional karma will be provided.]
Without a second look at the messages, Yeon-woo rushed straight at the Goblin King, who held his halberd with a grim expression. Unlike the Orc King, he was calm and resigned to his impending death, although he still fought back with all his might, unwilling to forfeit his life so easily. Clang!
* * *
Crunch! Yeon-woo’s body was still going through multiple changes, and he was in severe, irrepressible pain. The good news was that the proficiency of Physical Resistance was increasing very quickly, and it was almost at seventeen percent. Still, Yeon-woo was exhausted by the ordeal, and he gritted his teeth as he cut off the head of the last Orc, whose expression even in death was full of bitterness and anger. “Haa!” Yeon-woo made a long exhale.
After the death of the two kings, the surviving monsters had either tried to escape or resist. He did not bother chasing down the runners because they were all weak and worthless, but he made sure to get rid of the resisters, shoving the serrated teeth into them and absorbing their energy.
Yeon-woo didn’t stop after acquiring the Neidan and the venom gland of Akasha’s Snake. He wanted to speed up his succession progress and improve his body as fast as he could. He would swallow as much as he could, willing to do anything to become stronger. Nothing else mattered.
However, consuming hundreds of monsters had exhausted him too much, and he really needed to rest in a quiet place.
Yeon-woo thought of going back into the snake's den, but he tightened his grip on Carshina's Dagger first. There was one more thing he hadn’t dealt with. "Just come out already." Yeon-woo glanced indifferently at a corner that appeared empty. However, the space around it began to distort and reveal a player who had a bemused expression as he held onto the stump of his shoulder. It was Bain. "How did you know?"
Yeon-woo snorted lightly. "You didn’t think you could stay hidden with your aura leaking all over the place, did you?"
"You really are a monster." Bain stared at Yeon-woo with an expression of fear. He had seen everything—from Akasha’s Snake’s rampage to Yeon-woo’s absorption of the Neidan and massacre of the surviving monsters. Bain could only feel one thing when it came to Yeon-woo: fear.
As he ran around like a ghost in his white mask, Yeon-woo took lives away with just a swing of his knife, and it made Bain think of the grim reaper. However, greed started to peer through his eyes. He desired to take that power for himself, to capture the hidden piece that was just waiting for his grasp. It wasn’t fair that Yeon-woo was hoarding all the hidden pieces, and Bain felt that he had the right to take them. They belonged to him. He’d waited until Yeon-woo was exhausted, and his chance had finally come.
Bain slowly drew his sword from its scabbard. It was his treasured artifact, given to him by the Isle when he joined Team 1. The cold sound of the sword spread through the air. The green thread tied on its pommel trembled as well. "I have to take that monstrous power you have away.”
The corners of Yeon-woo’s lips twisted up. "You? How?"
"Don't pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I know that you don't even have the strength to lift a finger right now." Bain slowly walked forward, confident that Yeon-woo was bluffing. But it didn’t matter even if he could still fight back. Bain had been conserving his energy just for this moment, and he was sure that he could take Yeon-woo out even with just one arm.
The sneer on Yeon-woo’s face stayed in place even as Bain grew closer. "Aren’t you going to answer my question? How are you going to take it away when I'm not alone?”
"What are you—" Bain was about to snap at his nonsense when there was a whistling sound in the air. Swish! Puck! Before Bain could even react, an arrow stuck deep into his temple.
The force of the arrow had been so powerful that Bain’s head snapped to the side as his body flew back. As he lay dying in great pain, Bain spotted Galliard standing on top of a mountain with his bow pointed at him.
Galliard leapt lightly from the cliff and landed next to Yeon-woo. He clucked his tongue as he looked at the devastation around him. "What’s all this mess? Was this all you?" Even though he’d experienced countless Tutorials, he had never seen anything like this before.
Yeon-woo suddenly burst out laughing.
"Hmm? Why are you laughing?"
Yeon-woo didn’t know how to answer his question. Just as Bain had said, the conversion process left him so wrecked that he couldn’t even lift a finger. Galliard had shown up right on time. He didn’t know whether to call it coincidence or fate. But it didn't matter, because with him on his side, he could finally rest. "Galliard."
"I brought you a gift."
"What? Wait, you—"
Yeon-woo took the pendant from his pocket and threw it to Galliard, who was caught by surprise. However, he still managed to grab the pendant, and as soon as he realized what he was holding in his hand, his expression grew strained. He looked at Yeon-woo as questions flashed through his mind. However, he couldn’t ask a single one because Yeon-woo was already passing out.
Galliard rushed forward and caught Yeon-woo before he collapsed on the ground. His eyes quivered as he looked at the mysterious man, not knowing what to make of him. The only thing he knew for certain was that Yeon-woo had been asking for help in return for the pendant.
Galliard noticed his body was unnaturally hot, but didn’t seem like he was sick. He could only guess that something was happening inside his body. "You leave me no choice.” Galliard shook his head and hoisted Yeon-woo on his back before heading back to his cottage.
* * *
It was a long time before Yeon-woo woke up, and the first thing he saw was the ceiling of a familiar cottage and a series of messages that were crammed in his retina.
[Trait conversion has been successfully achieved. Your trait Reinforced Physique has been changed into 'Diamond Physique'.]
[92% of the energy has been converted to magic power and absorbed into the body.]
[Body improvement has been confirmed. The vessel is strong enough. The halted succession process has resumed its progress.]
[Current progress: 92.5%]
[Your current status will be changed from 'Half Dragon Body' to ‘Nearly Complete Dragon Body']
Ninety-two point five percent! Yeon-woo checked the succession process and clenched his fists tightly. All of his painstaking efforts were finally paying off. However, he was surprised that the succession process was still incomplete despite the massive amount of energy he had absorbed.
It seemed his understanding of Dragon Body was still lacking. He was getting quite curious about how strong he would be when the succession process was completed. Yeon-woo checked his status window.
[Player: Yeon-woo Cha]
[Traits: Cold-blooded, Diamond Physique]
[Magic Power: 208]
[Skills: Draconic Eyes (11.2%), Sense Strengthening (32.5%), Precognition (0%), Physical Resistance (20.3%), Combat Will (10.5%), Bathory’s Vampiric Sword (9.5%), Shunpo (19.5%), Magic Circuit (10.9%)]
Several things had changed a lot since he last checked. His attribute points had each gone past 120 points, and magic power, which once had the least points, now had the most out of all four.
His skills had also grown a lot from the continuous battles he’d engaged in. However, he was most surprised by Magic Circuit. He’d only acquired it the day before, and it had grown the most in a single day. Yeon-woo quickly focused his senses on his Magic Circuit and tried to control mana.
Whoosh! Mana began to move according to his will in a soft and smooth manner. It was a strange sensation that was familiar at the same time, as though he had grown a new body part he could control easily. Yeon-woo slowly gathered mana into his hand, and when he swung it, he noticed how much more graceful and easy the movement was. Mana also hardened his hand, making it solid as a rock.
‘Mana is said to have a variety of uses depending on the one controlling it.’ Yeon-woo made a mental note to experiment more with the uses of mana. He wanted to find a way to use it effectively in combat. ‘Hm, what’s this?’
As he sent mana back to its original location, Yeon-woo realized his body had experienced more changes than he’d expected. 'My senses have gotten keener, too.’
Even though he’d only made a slight movement, a huge amount of information poured into his head. The light was blinding and the smells paralyzing. Pain reverberated throughout his entire body. It felt like the first time he’d used Sense Strengthening.
He tried to figure out what might have caused this change since it was unlikely from simple physical strengthening. He considered the possibility that some of the energy from the Neidan had seeped into his body, but the feeling wasn’t strange at all. It was very familiar. ‘Like Undine’s Goblet.’
Yeon-woo sank into contemplation, but the creaking sound of the door snapped him back to his senses. He raised his head to see Galliard entering with a basket full of fruits.
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