Chapter 481 - The Tortoise and The Hare (6)

“What do you mean?” Yeon-woo’s eyes gleamed coldly. ‘What the hell is this guy saying? Is he saying that I won’t succeed in the end and just die?’ The Snapping Turtle, the Tortoise’s incarnation, seemed to emphasize the second part of its statement more than the first part, as though implying that Yeon-woo had already died. “Are you saying I’m not a living person?”

Yeon-woo released a bloodthirsty aura that raged like a storm, and it seemed that he might pull out Vigrid at any moment. Instantly, Yeon-woo felt watchful eyes peering behind him—Kiku. He was giving Yeon-woo a warning that he would not stand idly by if Yeon-woo drew his sword. This was the palace where the Jade Emperor, the supreme deity and king of the heavenly world, was resting. It was absolutely forbidden to take out a weapon.

Still, Yeon-woo did not seem to care. He had to know what the exact meaning of the Snapping Turtle’s enigmatic words were, instinctively feeling that they would affect whether or not he would achieve his goals.

“I don’t know either. I only understand as much as you do.” The Snapping Turtle looked at Yeon-woo’s hand, which had opened his subspace, and then shook his head. “If you were destined to die, especially if it were to happen soon, I would see it right away. Bong-Le Mountain would have shown you how you die as well. But you didn’t see anything, nor did I.” The Snapping Turtle’s eyes penetrated into Yeon-woo’s soul. “If you ask me if you’re dead, I can’t really say that you are. If you were truly dead, you wouldn’t have seen anything on Yung-Ju Mountain. The Three God Mountains are like a mirror that only shows the reflections of the living. The dead are under the jurisdiction of the Underworld, not here.”

“Then maybe I…”

“You’re going to ask if it’s because you’ve inherited the Throne of Death, right? Even a god or a demon who has divinity related to death cannot avoid the all-knowing reflection of the Three God Mountains. Gods and demons cannot avoid reincarnation and fate. In fact, since gods and demons are supreme beings, they have a harder time breaking the law of causality.” The Snapping Turtle confirmed that the Three God Mountains, which occupied a crucial role in the law of causality, would not misread his fate.

In the end, Yeon-woo could only keep his mouth shut. How was he supposed to accept the words of the Snapping Turtle? What was the meaning behind the pitch-black darkness that he saw at the Three God Mountains? Of course, Yeon-woo did have a theory: ‘The Black King’s darkness.’ Yeon-woo thought that the darkness he had seen was not necessarily a lack of existence, although he couldn’t be sure. Even transcendent and cosmic beings feared the Black King. If he were the Black King’s successor, wouldn’t he already stand outside the wheel of reincarnation and the law of causality?

“No. That’s not it either.” As if reading Yeon-woo’s thoughts, the Snapping Turtle smiled gently. “You’re not him, right?” He crushed Yeon-woo’s theory.

In the end, the only answer that Yeon-woo could come up with was: ‘Is there nothing?’ But Yeon-woo thought this was acceptable, too. He would not be chained to his fate. His future was unreadable. In other words, he could pursue whatever he wanted and go down any path he wanted to achieve his goal.

“You’re not a normal human being, are you? Most humans would be frustrated or feel grim at this discovery. However, you’re accepting it so easily. It’s hard to figure out if you’re good at rationalizing, if you’re comfortable with yourself, or if you have that much self-confidence.” The Snapping Turtle had the power to see through everything in the Three God Mountains, which meant that he could not only view the same things that those who passed the three spiritual mountains did, he also accessed their thoughts, feelings, and subconscious.

For this reason, many gods and demons did not easily visit the Three God Mountains. Although the flow of time and space was also a difficult barrier to cross, these supreme beings were afraid that the Snapping Turtle would read their entire fate. The more divinity one possessed, the more one would be bound by fate. Exposing their fate would also reveal their weaknesses and faults.

The Snapping Turtle relieved his boredom by drifting around the Sea of Time and Space, and occasionally, when guests visited, he would spread the word about their fates. To him, Yeon-woo was a strange visitor.

Although he’d experienced many traumatic events, Yeon-woo accepted them all nonchalantly. His emotions were dull, as though he were disconnected from the past rather than simply strong. It was as if his past belonged to him but was also not his. ‘It’s as if he’s ceased to exist in this world but has also come back to life. So, it’s like being dead but not dead at the same time.’

As Shanon had once commented, Yeon-woo saw many things as tools to be used as needed and thrown away when unnecessary—this even included his body and his soul.

‘What does one endure in life to become this way?’ Although the Snapping Turtle had lived for a long time, he could not understand Yeon-woo’s thinking. Yeon-woo took the idea of tools to the extreme, and it was strange for the Snapping Turtle to see someone consider his own life and death as unimportant. However, the Snapping Turtle did not put his thoughts into words since he wasn’t sure, and Yeon-woo was probably quite self-aware, anyway.

In fact, Yeon-woo’s strange perspective was perhaps the reason why he’d been chosen as the Black King’s potential successor. The Snapping Turtle thought the two were very similar in many ways. Both were clearly intelligent, but they were also shrouded in mystery.

“Anyway, let’s discuss your existence later. You came here to finish an errand, right? Well, hand it over then.”

After a moment of deep thought, Yeon-woo took out the book and handed it to the Snapping Turtle. As the Snapping Turtle said, he probably would not gain much from reflecting on what he saw at the three spiritual mountains. He would have to find the answers he wanted himself.

“Laplace, that silly bunny. He dragged his feet for so long since my request. What does he expect from me if he gives me such a late response? In any case, it seems that he’s finally made up his mind.” The Snapping Turtle sulked and grunted lightly. Yeon-woo thought that it was a rather unbecoming expression, even though it technically didn’t look out of place on a child’s face.

[You have successfully completed the Sudden Quest <The Hare’s Liver Tale>.]

[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 150,000 karma.]

[As a reward, you have acquired the qualification to visit the Three God Mountains and the right to use the Tutorial ticket.]

[You have the right to enter and exit the mountains with the permission of the Snapping Turtle. For details, please contact the Snapping Turtle.]

[From now on, you can use the ‘Tutorial ticket’. For details on how to use the ticket, refer to the information window.]

Wham! There was a burst of light in Yeon-woo’s pocket, and the Tutorial ticket floated to his palm.

[Tutorial Ticket]

[Type: Miscellaneous Good]

[Class: EX]

[Description: A ticket that allows you to enter the Tutorial stage. Players are not usually allowed to enter the Tutorial, but the ticket provides its holder permission. It is originally for Guardians and floor administrators only. It can only be used once, so be careful. When it is used by a person other than the Guardian or floor administrator, the Central Bureau is immediately alerted.]

‘Finally. I got it.’ From the Cave of Yaanek to the Demonic Sea and finally the Three God Mountains. The journey, which was supposed to be fairly easy, had gone on much longer than Yeon-woo expected, and the Central Bureau’s pursuit had grown more tenacious. Still, he was glad to have the Tutorial ticket. Of course, things weren’t over yet. He was still being pursued by the Central Bureau. Tarneck and Lupi, whose pride had been damaged, would never let him go. It seemed likely that the entire Tutorial stage would soon be torn up.

‘Capturing Akasha’s Snake alive is a delicate operation, and with those pursuers…ugh, this is going to be a headache.’ Yeon-woo wanted a way to connect to the Black King and capturing Akasha’s Snake was simply a means to that end. Therefore, he wanted to try something first. While pondering his next move, Yeon-woo watched the Snapping Turtle read the entire book and smirk before ripping the book apart.

Yeon-woo was startled. ‘Isn’t it an important book? I wondered why the Snapping Turtle...’

Ding! The wind scattered the scraps of the book, and soon, a vivid blood-colored jewel appeared and fell into the Snapping Turtle’s hands. Yeon-woo knew what it was at once. ‘Blood Essence. No, it’s much more concentrated, right? Is it a higher-quality version?’

Laplace’s Blood Essence was of a much higher quality than the ones from the Cave of Yaanek, and it seemed to contain more Divine Factors, as well. If Blood-Tear Stones and Blood Essence were simple ore, this was a sparkling gem. ‘The Blood Essence seems so familiar. Why is that?’

At that moment, Yeon-woo felt the Sin Stone in his heart tremble in excitement as if had met a good friend. It was different from when Sin Stone encountered a Soulstone.

“We usually call this a Blood Jade. It’s one of the few pure traces left by the otherworld god inside this place. In the beginning, when there was only darkness like the Black King’s darkness, light burst out, and this fragment is part of that light source.”

The vibration and resonance of Yeon-woo’s Sin Stone intensified to an alarming degree.

“This Soulstone was created around the same time as your Sin Stone, so its reaction is not a surprise.”

“What…what the hell is that?” Yeon-woo’s voice trembled slightly. He understood that the Blood Jade was of a higher grade than Blood Essence, but what was the Blood Jade made of?

“Didn’t I just tell you? It’s like the fire that first appeared when the universe was born. The details are related to the creation of the universe, so I’m forbidden to talk about it here. If you want to know, you must gain the qualification or you can visit Changgong Library. You’ll learn more than I can ever tell you if you visit the library.”

Yeon-woo committed the name of the library to his memory. “Then, may I ask what you’re planning to do with the Blood Jade?” Yeon-woo normally didn’t care about things that had nothing to do with him, especially in the Tower, where foolish inquisitiveness could lead to danger.

However, the Blood Jade had some connection to his Sin Stone, and Yeon-woo wanted to understand how the Blood Jade, which had seemed like just another remnant of the otherworld god, could be used. Since the otherworld god was from chaos, his skills and abilities were lethal to the Tower’s gods and demons. Yeon-woo thought the Snapping Turtle might want it for research or to create a weapon, and so the Snapping Turtle’s answer came as a surprise. “It’s a liver.”

“Liver?”

“Yeah. Laplace’s liver. His actual liver. It’s a panacea, like a magic kiss that can wake up a princess who has fallen into a coma…”

This answer was just as unexpected.

“The reason I led Laplace out of his home in the Demonic Sea was to seek a cure for an illness that has befallen the Jade Emperor and other supreme beings. However, when that wicked bunny saw danger coming, he immediately ran away and took a long time giving me an answer.”

Yeon-woo finally understood why Laplace had been in the Central Bureau for so long. He must have thought that if he joined the Central Bureau, which maintained a completely objective and neutral relationship with the heavenly world, even the Snapping Turtle would not be able to get to him. ‘Then he got himself into trouble and was kicked out of the Central Bureau, so he decided to work with the Snapping Turtle again.’

What had Laplace done at the Central Bureau? What did he do to be driven back to the Demonic Sea and forced to ally with the Snapping Turtle again? Yeon-woo wondered whether it was really just curiosity that drove Laplace to leave the Demonic Sea and enter the wider world. There seemed to be another reason, something huge that he hadn’t considered.

“Anyway, now that I’ve received this Blood Jade or Laplace’s liver, I will be able to cure the Jade Emperor’s illness. And in return, I will give Laplace…” Clap! The Snapping Turtle clapped his hands smartly, and the Blood Jade dissipated into the air. In its place, a thick book appeared in front of the Snapping Turtle and opened up. “I will release his restraints and give him freedom. That was the deal.”

Yeon-woo could guess what the Snapping Turtle had summoned: the system record book. The highest-ranking members of the heavenly world had the divine right to access and change the Tower’s system. The Snapping Turtle smiled brightly, closed his eyes, and chanted a mantra. “Restraints, break them.”

Gong! A small shockwave spread from the Snapping Turtle. “The law must now be applied.” Goong! A slightly larger shockwave spread out, and the Tower’s system provided protection to Laplace, who was born in the Demonic Sea and had always been classified as an entity outside the Tower. This was done according to the authority of the Jade Emperor and carried out by his loyal servant, the Snapping Turtle. From this moment on, Laplace could now move around in the Tower freely.

‘It means he won’t be pursued by the Central Bureau anymore.’ Just as Yeon-woo was thinking this, there was an impact from outside the Sea of Time and Space. Bam! It was so intense that it broke through the intense flow of time and space. Laplace’s restrictions were gone, and he could now display his true power.

Yeon-woo did not know for certain how much stronger Laplace had become, but he had a feeling that Tarneck and Lupi, who had a bad history with Laplace, were in for a rude surprise. Their battle was going to grow worse. ‘He’s a king of the Demonic Sea that now has the protection of the Tower’s system.’

Just thinking about it was terrifying for Yeon-woo. If Laplace entered a floor, he could cause so much havoc that Allforone would probably appear and intervene immediately. ‘No. Wait. Maybe that’s what he’s aiming for.’ Was it possible that this was Laplace’s purpose? Yeon-woo was sure that anyone who spied into his thoughts would dismiss this theory as the result of an overactive imagination.

“Take this.” The Snapping Turtle threw something at Yeon-woo as he closed the system record book: a marble that looked like the Blood Jade. However, the shimmering scarlet of the marble reminded Yeon-woo of an autumn maple leaf.

“What is this?”

“Li’s Fragment.” The Snapping Turtle made an enigmatic smile.

[This item cannot be determined.]

‘Can’t be determined?’ It was the first time a message like that had appeared, so Yeon-woo’s eyes widened in surprise. Even with his Draconic Eyes, which he had upgraded through Perceiving the Heavens, could not find any information.

“I am giving you this gift as thanks. Just think of it as a reward from the system for your achievements. It will probably come in handy in the future.”

Yeon-woo mumbled the name of the item, but without any hesitation, he put it into his personal storage space. Any gifts from the Snapping Turtle had to be something good. After all, he was someone who read the fates of those who visited the Three God Mountains, and he would know what Yeon-woo would need in the future.

Yeon-woo thanked him and turned around with the Tutorial ticket in his hand. It was finally time to move to the Tutorial stage.

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