Chapter 43 - Two Hearts (1)

Yeon-woo tried to get up from bed to thank Galliard.

"You need to rest a little longer. It'll take some time for your senses to settle down."

'Senses?' Yeon-woo realized that Galliard was the reason his senses had become much stronger.

"I've done something to your body if you haven’t noticed," Galliard said as he placed the basket on the table.

Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes slightly. "What do you mean?"

"Let me guess. You did something to make your body stronger, right? And you needed me to protect you while you were out."

"Yes, that’s right.”

Galliard snorted at his answer, crossing his arms over his chest. "You did it wrong."

Yeon-woo's eyes gleamed. "Can you explain in detail?"

"I saw that Akasha’s Snake had grown abnormally big. You took its Neidan, right? And I bet you consumed something similar to the Neidan before that.”

Yeon-woo nodded, thinking of the Snow Ginseng.

"You didn’t even know if your body could handle one elixir, and you still dared take two at the same time," Galliard said as he clucked his tongue. "I don't know if you thought you could handle it or you had something prepared, but the energy in your body was about to explode or become uncontrollable."

Yeon-woo realized that Galliard had intervened and done something to his body because he was sure Yeon-woo would die if the energy in his body didn’t settle. It made sense. Since Galliard was a well-known hunter from the tribes of the Dark Elves, it wouldn’t be strange for him to have one or two secret skills.  

"I’ve got you covered for now. By the way, it was only possible because you didn’t have enough mana in you, otherwise, you would have been in big trouble. So, next time, if you ever get your hands on several elixirs like today, don't chug them down. You’re really gonna die unless you’re something like a dragon."

‘I did make a contract with a dragon,’ Yeon-woo almost said out loud. “You really didn’t have to do that.” Yeon-woo desperately fought the urge to laugh. His body was different from that of an ordinary player. He not only started off with Reinforced Physique, but he was also undergoing the succession process. His body had the ability to accommodate all the energies on its own, but of course, Galliard couldn’t have known that. Also, since he was indebted to Yeon-woo for finding his pendant, he didn’t want to stand aside and watch him die.

“Is that where this thing in the Magic Circuit comes from?” Yeon-woo then asked Galliard. "So you modified my Magic Circuit to stop the mana from deviating, right?”

Galliard grumbled as if something bothered him. "It’s the same method I use to make Undine’s Goblet. Besides, I had to use the one you had to calm the deviation. Do you have any idea how much work that is?"

"I appreciate it."

"Whoa, you’re not getting off that easy.”

"I'll pay you back later when I get the chance."

"Like hell you will! But looking at you running your mouth off like that, I guess you’re OK now."

Galliard prepared to leave the cottage so that Yeon-woo could continue resting in private. Just before he closed the door. Galliard said in a soft voice, “Oh, and thank you.”

*        *        *

Galliard called his secret skill “Undine’s Divine Water” and explained that he had applied the skill on Yeon-woo’s body in the same way he made Undine’s Goblet.

“The human body can be manipulated like Undine’s Goblet? I didn't know he could do that.” But it made sense that just as Undine’s Goblet could hold Akasha, the human body, which was a vessel that held mana, could also be used in a similar way. Still, it would take a lot of effort to make that work, and Galliard said since there was too much mana deviating inside his body, he had to use Yeon-woo’s Undine's Goblet. As a result, not only did Yeon-woo end up absorbing mana more easily during sleep, his body and senses had also upgraded by more than one level. It was a stroke of good fortune.

As soon as Yeon-woo became accustomed to his senses, he walked out of the cottage and started to stretch. Galliard stood beside him and grumbled with an annoyed look, “You’ll need to rest at least three more days in order to heal completely—”

Swish!

“Unless you have a great healing factor.” Galliard ended up muttering to himself as he stared in bewilderment as Yeon-woo darted around the mountains, unable to believe that he was watching someone who’d just been bedridden with a serious injury. Not to mention, Yeon-woo was using Shunpo so well that it almost seemed like he’d had the skill from the very beginning.

However, Galliard wasn’t the only one who was stunned. ‘Is this what it feels like to conduct mana?’ Yeon-woo had never used mana properly until this moment. Before, he could only use a little of it to cast skills, but now, he had total control over it. Just wrapping mana around his legs made Shunpo ever better, and he could jump higher and run faster.  

The first time he’d searched for Galliard's house, he had to climb the mountain, but now he could leap up with a few jumps.  His body was so light that he felt almost weightless. However, he couldn’t attribute this to a growth in proficiency, since it had only increased by one percent. 'Maybe I’ve been using all the skills and movements inefficiently.'

From what he understood, most of the players in the Tutorial knew how to handle mana since it was said to be the minimum requirement for players to achieve something in the Tutorial. One of the criteria for joining the ranks of the strong was also magic power.   

Since Yeon-woo hadn’t been able to control mana, he also didn’t understand the theory behind it. It made building up his statistics an uphill battle, and yet, through sheer physical strength, he’d still managed to advance through the Tutorial all the way to Section E, killing several boss monsters and became a contender for the top ranks. Now that he finally had mana, it was time to soar.

Yeon-woo dropped to the ground after doing some flips in the air. He didn’t even pant after that intense workout, and there were only tiny drops of sweat on his forehead. He even felt refreshed as if he had just gotten up and stretched. All the fatigue he’d felt in bed had melted away. ‘If there’s this much improvement at just ninety-two percent, how much more will my body change after I complete the last eight percent?'

Yeon-woo wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand as he examined his Magic Circuit again, a smile appearing on his face.

*   *   *

After he finished checking, Yeon-woo opened the quest window to claim his reward. The more items he had, the better. “I completed two quests before passing out.”

He’d had two sudden quests: the Resurrection Ceremony and the monster outbreak. Since he’d completed them, it was time to confirm the end of the quest and make the rewards materialize. 'Let’s check the Resurrection Ceremony first.'

The reward was obscured by question marks in the quest window, so he had no idea what it was. As soon as he pressed the “Receive” button, a black bracelet fell in Yeon-woo's palm.

[You have obtained ???’s Black Bracelet as a reward.]

“What is this? Why can’t I see its name?”

Yeon-woo frowned at the old, simple bracelet. It was crude compared to the elegant and even ornate appearance of good artifacts. Still, it was a reward for defeating Akasha's Snake, and he tried identifying the item, not giving in to disappointment just yet.

[???'s Black Bracelet]
[Category: Wrist Guard]

[Rank: ??]
[Description: A bracelet cherished by ???, the owner of Akasha’s Snake. Akasha’s Snake misses its great master, so it keeps its master's possession in its stomach to await his return.]

[* Soul Bind]
[Fixed chance of reaping the soul of the killed target. The reaped souls lose their memory and become corrupted, left with only deep resentment.]

[* Black Blade]
[Consumes the reaped souls and converts them into dark property energy. If imbued to a weapon, it will inflict curses upon hit.]

[* ???]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]

[* ???]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]

[* ???]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]

[** This is a unique artifact and no artifact like it exists in the Tower. It is bound to its owner and cannot be transferred or traded between players.

** Some of the abilities are sealed. You must meet the qualifications or conditions to lift the seals.

** Some information cannot be accessed. You must meet the qualifications or conditions to view the information.]

“If it’s a unique artifact, it must have great abilities. I just need to unlock them.” The options Soul Bind and Black Blade embedded in Black Bracelet were quite peculiar even among unique artifacts. “So it reaps the soul of the target. Seems like someone was quite malevolent.” The bracelet wouldn’t even let souls rest in peace after death and used them as disposable tools. ‘Could the original owner have been a demon?’

He had to find information about the previous owner to make proper use of the unique artifact, but since it was blocked, it was impossible to utilize the artifact’s full power. ‘It doesn’t matter.’

There was no need to rush to get information. The only thing that mattered was whether the artifact was useful or not, and he was sure that it would come in handy.

Although its abilities were quite disappointing for a unique artifact, especially compared to Bathory’s Vampiric Sword ability to extract a target’s statistics and skills, Yeon-woo pondered the three sealed options. 'The real power of the Black Bracelet must be there. It could be the power of its original owner.’ Since he couldn’t even see the rating, it had to mean that the artifact hadn’t yet given him full access.

Click! Yeon-woo opened the clasp of the bracelet and put it around his right wrist. The Black Bracelet shrank to fit around his wrist with a pleasant locking sound. Hiss! A black aura rose from the bracelet and began to seep into his right arm.

Yeon-woo was startled by its sudden appearance, but he soon realized it was beginning the process of recognizing its wearer. Besides, he was confident he could force it to stop with mana if it began to do something harmful.

He felt the black aura flowing through his veins, permeating into the Magic Circuit and spreading over his entire body. A black substance slowly filled the whites of his eyes and things began to suddenly appear in front of him.

[With the activation of ???’s Black Bracelet, you have gained the ability to observe the world of the dead.]

[The ability has merged with your skill Draconic Eyes. Draconic Eyes skill proficiency has increased. 13.5%]

Yeon-woo could see hazy figures floating in the air that looked like rags with three holes cut out in the places where their eyes and mouth ought to be. Thousands of them swirled around him, then, as if they realized that he could see them, they stopped moving and turned their heads towards him. They started to growl and glare at Yeon-woo in evident hostility. He felt their deep resentment lying beneath their swelling aura, but he didn’t think it posed much of a threat.

Yeon-woo had a pretty good idea of who the apparitions were. ‘They're the monsters I killed and the ones who were eaten by Akasha’s Snake.’ Since they had all fallen into his trap, it was reasonable to expect that they would hold a grudge against him and follow him even after their deaths. Still, he hadn’t expected that would be so many ghosts. ‘Have they been wandering around me all this time? I’m lucky I didn’t get cursed.’

However, instead of making him recoil, he saw their presence as a good opportunity to try out his new ability. Yeon-woo grabbed Carshina's Dagger in a reverse grip and fiercely swung at one of the souls. It sensed danger and tried to flee from the dagger, but it wasn’t fast enough to avoid Yeon-woo and was cut down. The white soul soon scattered into a murky haze and was sucked into the Black Bracelet.

A small message window popped up in the corner of his retina.

[Number of bound souls: 1]

“So.” Yeon-woo pumped mana into the Black Bracelet and this time, he held Carshina’s Dagger in a regular grip to activate Black Blade.

[Number of the bound souls: 0]

As the number returned to zero, dark energy ran along the blade. Whoosh!

'Dark element mana.' Yeon-woo’s eyes gleamed at the sight. Along with the light element, dark element mana was among the rarest types of mana, and it was also a type of buff that many players sought.

Dark element could be used as a buff to increase one’s attack power or as a debuff to curse one’s enemies. It was an element that specialized in offensive uses. To test its power, Yeon-woo poured a lot more mana into the dagger and made a full swing to his right. As soon as the dagger scratched the rock, it split in half, and a tree that stood a distance behind the rock also blew up.

‘This is better than I expected.’ Yeon-woo felt delighted. The dark energy was truly power, as to be expected of an artifact used by Akasha’s Snake’s master. To top it off, the cuts on the rock and the tree started to decay from the curse that followed the attack. Yeon-woo caressed the black bracelet, his eyes sparkling with a sudden idea. What would happen if he mixed the dark energy with other skills?

'Let’s see what happens.' To test this, Yeon-woo captured five more souls, and this time, he drew the dark energy to his hand instead of his dagger. Black haze converged and formed an orb, then Yeon-woo added another skill to the energy.

[Flame Infusion]

As soon as the dark energy and Flame Infusion combined, there was a wild explosion that could easily blow up an Orc or a Lizardman. Boom! Yeon-woo quickly cast Shunpo and retreated from the blast range.

By the time things settled down, there was a big scorch mark three meters in radius on the ground, and a burned smell lingered in the air around it. Yeon-woo’s lips began to curl up in a smile. Five souls could already create an explosion of this size. ‘What if I turn all the souls into dark energy in one go?’ Yeon-woo gulped as he stared at the souls surrounding him.

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