At the very bottom of the staircase, Bild hurried into a room behind a locked iron door that contained hundreds of glass tubes along the ceiling and walls. Bild ran past the glass tubes and stood in front of a purple stone lying in the back of the room. Something red, dark, and murky poured into the stone from the glass tubes.
It was the energy they’d collected from countless players. For the past few years, Bild and Leonte had been calling it “Quintessence” as they’d tried any means possible to produce more of it. However, the situation had greatly changed.
Bild tore out all the glass tubes, which leaked the Quintessence. As it evaporated, it dyed the air red. But none of that mattered to Bild. His mind was solely focused on the purple stone, and he picked it up with a trembling hand. He’d wasted so many years making this stone, and during that time, his old teammates had grown much stronger and climbed even higher up the Tower.
Bild had wanted to follow his teammates, but in the end, he put aside his ambitions to dedicate himself to his master. If he managed to offer this power to his master and help him become the true ruler of this world, then Bild could also stand by his side and reign over the Tower with absolute power.
But now, all Bild wanted was to stay alive and stop the demon chasing him. To do so, he needed the stone desperately. The thing that had only brought despair was his only hope. Bild opened his mouth and swallowed the stone in one gulp. It was the size of a fist, and it was hard to get it down, but there was no time to care about the discomfort.
The stone was a pure concentration of Quintessence, and it had gone through multiple purification and compression processes. His master had told him if swallowed, the stone would produce a huge amount of mana inside the body. The result would either be a huge transformation or an explosion.
A completed stone was unlikely to cause an explosion, and Bild could only hope that the stone was almost complete as he waited for the changes in his body. However, bewilderment appeared on his face. “W-what’s going on?”
He had felt the stone travel down his throat and into his stomach, so something should have happened by now, but there was nothing. "Why isn’t it working?!” Bild screamed at the incomprehensible situation. ‘Why? Why isn’t anything happening? Did I miss something?’
Bild racked his brains, wondering if he had made any mistakes, but nothing came to his mind. His mind went blank as he started to panic, sure that the demon would be just around the corner by now. Bild stuck a finger into the back of his throat to throw up the stone. He would try swallowing the stone over and over until it worked. After he gagged for a while, he managed to regurgitate the stone, which still glowed with a flickering purple light.
Bild drew his brows together and put the stone back into his mouth, but it got stuck in his throat and he had to vomit it back out and swallow it again. Bild repeated the same process over and over until the floor was completely soaked with his gastric juices.
"Why?!" Bild was on the verge of losing his mind. "Why the fuck isn’t it working?!" The stone still had an ominous purple hue each time he vomited it out, and he could even see the energy wriggling inside it. However, the stone hadn’t granted him any power, as though it were a rose that refused to be picked. Bild grew crazier at the thought that the demon might barge in any minute now. However, try as he might, nothing changed.
Suddenly, a dark shadow appeared in the warehouse. Creak! Bild’s face turned blue as he quickly turned towards the source of the sound to see Yeon-woo smiling coldly. "So, this is where you’re hiding.”
Bild opened his mouth to scream, however, no sound escaped. His fear had become an invisible hand strangling him.
"Is that the stone you were trying to make? It doesn’t look like anything powerful. It mustn’t be working out." Yeon-woo gazed at the purple stone Bild was holding tightly.
Startled by his words, Bild pushed the stone back into his mouth, but Yeon-woo didn’t care. “You sacrificed so many lives all for that failure?”
It wasn’t clear if the stone didn’t have any information because it was incomplete or if there was a problem with the manufacturing process. Whatever the case was, if the item was unidentifiable, it only meant one thing: it couldn’t be used.
Nothing would happen regardless of how many times he put the stone into his mouth. When Yeon-woo looked at it with Draconic Eyes, he could see that the purple stone was covered with so many imperfections that he couldn’t even see the stone itself.
Usually, such items were classified as trash and given an F rating. He couldn’t help a burst of hollow laughter. Leonte spent so much time and money on such a useless piece of trash. It wouldn’t even have an effect if he held onto the stone to threaten Leonte.
Yeon-woo waited for Bild to finish swallowing and slowly moved towards him. "Are you done eating?"
"Urgh!" Bild began to cry. The stone still didn’t show any effects. All his hopes were shattered to pieces. He stepped away from Yeon-woo and tripped. He fell on his behind and began scuttling away along the floor. Bild screamed in his mind at Yeon-woo to stay away, but Yeon-woo relentlessly approached with cold eyes.
"Why..." The demon's shadow fell over his throat and he could barely eke out words. "Why the hell?" However, once he managed to speak, a torrent of words came out of his mouth. “Why are you putting me through this torment? What did we even do to you? What do you hold against us? Why are you trying to sabotage us?" Bild hated Yeon-woo from the bottom of his heart. If it weren’t for him, everything would have worked out smoothly. His master would have gotten the stone, and Bild would have received the authority he wanted. He would have only experienced success. If only Yeon-woo had gone on his way without interfering, just like the other players!
Bild didn’t consider that he’d been the one to start the mess in the first place. Not to mention all the times he’d tried to kill Yeon-woo. Humans only remembered their own suffering and not the suffering of others.
Just then, he could hear Yeon-woo scoffing behind the mask. “‘Why’? You’re asking me ‘why’? You want to know what kind of grudge I have?” Yeon-woo put his hand on his mask. “I hope this answers your question.” Yeon-woo pulled off the mask and revealed his face.
Bild's face turned deathly pale as an emotion beyond fear overwhelmed him. He was looking at a face that wasn’t supposed to be in this world anymore. Yeon-woo spoke to Bild with Jeong-woo's face, Jeong-woo's eyes, and with Jeong-woo's voice: "You have no idea how much I've missed you guys."
Bild wanted to say something, but fear choked him, and his voice couldn’t come out. He tried running away but came to a dead end. Yeon-woo approached him holding Carshina’s Dagger in a reverse grip, its blade as cold as his smile.
* * *
“Aaaaagh!” A shrill scream echoed up the staircase and throughout the building.
* * *
For the first time in his life, Bild was begging. He asked Yeon-woo to end his life. His body was in such a terrible state that he could hardly be considered human. The only things left without injuries were his head—in order to recall the past—and his mouth—to describe his memories.
He was still alive even if it didn’t feel like it, but he would rather die than live with the indescribable pain he was suffering.
Yeon-woo asked a lot of questions, using Bild’s body as a prompt. Bild’s mind was already devastated by the thought that someone who was dead had come back to life, and he was practically catatonic.
However, despite his missing left arm, Bild’s body still had plenty of areas which Yeon-woo could use to poke for information, and the sharp pain would force Bild’s mind to resurface and provide information that Yeon-woo needed about the things that happened after Jeong-woo’s death and Arthia’s disbandment.
The Tower had undergone a great change. There had been a transition of power, and the old members of Arthia had sought to survive in various places. Each of them had gotten their hands on the things they wanted, and they continued to live normal lives even after betraying Jeong-woo and destroying his life. 'I see. This is who you really are. It was just all in a day’s work for you.'
He had thought that at least one of them might feel guilty for what they’d done, but it turned out none of them cared. Yeon-woo laughed in relief. He could go on a rampage without any worries, then.
"P-please." Bild’s voice brought Yeon-woo back to the present. With a sneer, Yeon-woo asked the lump of flesh he was sitting on, “Do you want to die?”
"Ohh, what should I do? Do you know the story of the green frog? It does the opposite of what people ask him to do. I’m starting to understand why."
"Oh, by the way, I’ve got a lot of friends who are desperate to see your face." Yeon-woo gently waved his hands in the air.
Hiss! A cloud of black mist began to form in the air, and white ghosts appeared one by one until there were thousands of them. They’d been bound to the human farm in the warehouse, and Yeon-woo’s Black Bracelet had set them free. They emitted the same dark aura as Yeon-woo’s Black Blade and were clearly evil spirits. They’d been infused with dark energy through the Black Bracelet and could now exert power in the physical world.
Those who met a tragic end as material for the stone wanted to take revenge on their murderer, Bild, and so they willingly became Yeon-woo’s servants so that they could appear in front of Bild.
Bild shrieked loudly. It was his last effort to plead to be put out of his misery, but his bitter cries were completely drowned out by the giggling of the ghosts. Creak! Slam! Yeon-woo shut the iron gate as he walked out of the room, sure it would never open again.
He began to climb up the spiral staircase.Previous Chapter Next Chapter