Yeon-woo stood in a tree some distance away from Arangdan's base looking calmly down at the base. Patches of fog rose all around the ruins, just like paint spreading in water. They floated over the dead bodies, the collapsed ground, and among the rubble of the destroyed buildings. It was proof that the evil spirits were returning to the abyss.
Yeon-woo stretched out his hand and cast Flame Infusion, kindling a small fire in one corner. Boom! The fog exploded as it caught fire. Waves of flames spread through what had once been Arangdan’s base. The ground turned inside out, and pillars of flame shot up from the ground to destroy everything that belonged to Arangdan.
The explosions only died down after a long time, and embers of cursed fire sparked small flames here and there. There were only traces of buildings and barren ruins in the charred land that showed that Arangdan, which had once ruled the Tutorial, had been here.
Faint voices echoed around him. Yeon-woo looked up at the sky as he rubbed his face with his hands. The moon shone brightly in a night sky shrouded in black ashes and white smoke.
* * *
Yeon-woo went back to the ruins to check if he missed anything, and the first thing he saw was a burnt corpse in the rubble. From its position, it was clear that before dying, the player had tried to crawl out of the building. Even though the corpse was charred beyond recognition, Yeon-woo identified it as Bild with just one glance.
“You begged me to end your life. But in the end, you still tried to escape to survive, didn’t you?” Yeon-woo laughed at the irony. Humans were erratic beings who frequently changed their minds, even several times a day.
Yeon-woo expanded his senses to their fullest extent and scanned every corner of the ruins, searching for survivors. To his relief, there was no sign of any living things. Even rats hadn’t been able to escape the firestorm. ‘It would be weird if anything survived such fierce explosions.’ Arangdan was completely destroyed.
However, just as Yeon-woo turned away to go, he heard something shift in the ashes. “Hmm?” Bild’s burnt corpse was crumbling apart in the breeze, leaving behind a purple stone which continued to flicker with light. In fact, it was glowing even more brightly than it had in the basement. “The explosion didn’t blow it up?”
It was quite sturdy for a stone, especially one that was a failure. However, he couldn’t leave the stone behind, so he decided to pick it up and dispose of it once he figured out the best way to do so. The stone contained hundreds of thousands of souls and flesh, and maybe it wasn’t a failure, just incomplete.
Perhaps there was a way to finish the process, and for a moment, Yeon-woo thought about taking the stone for himself. However, no matter how much he craved power, he didn't want to borrow powers from such a gruesome item. 'At least I shouldn’t do anything that would disappoint Jeong-woo.'
But as soon as he reached out, the purple stone blazed with a blinding light. Whoosh! Hiss! It melted into Yeon-woo’s hands, and he felt something new and alien. Yeon-woo tried to retract his hand, but his body seemed to be disobeying as purple liquid seeped into his skin through his pores. The liquid squirmed through his veins and flowed into his heart. It felt like a swarm of ants crawling around his body.
Yeon-woo wanted to push out the liquid with mana, but his Magic Circuit didn’t budge an inch. He could only stand still and watch until the purple liquid settled down inside his body, coiling and spinning next to his heart until it formed an orb smaller than a bead. Yeon-woo was freed from the strange bondage only after the stone was completed. He scrutinized the stone seated next to his heart with a stern look. 'What is this?'
Thump! Thump! The stone was beating like a heart, but the feeling was strange. He tried to steer mana to push the stone away. However, mana just circled around the stone and protected it. The stone was operating so naturally that it seemed as though it had always been part of his Magic Circuit. Yeon-woo knitted his brows. He usually grew stressed from situations that he couldn’t control, and he was feeling the same mental pressure now.
It felt icky to have such an unpleasant power in his body. Besides, he had no information about its effects, and he tried to focus all his senses on the stone. Thankfully, more information appeared.
[???ed ???’s Stone]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]
[** This is a unique artifact. No other artifact like this exists in the Tower. However, everything about this artifact is confidential.
** This artifact has yet to be completed. Complete the artifact to access the locked information.]
'Is this all the information I can get?' Yeon-woo clucked his tongue as he read the words in the window. Still, he could finally confirm that the stone wasn’t defective but just incomplete. It required more materials for completion, and in the meantime, it would only sit next to his heart without any ability or effects.
Yeon-woo shook his head. There was no point in worrying over it since he couldn’t gain access to more information at the moment. Plus, it wasn’t like he was going to complete the stone either. 'I guess I’ll have to let it be.'
He could leave it there until he found a way to take it out as long as it didn't harm him. 'Was that everything?' Yeon-woo made a final look around the ruins and took off. Everything was settled, and the longest and the fiercest day he had ever had in the Tutorial came to a close.
* * *
With his mask back on, Yeon-woo headed to a place not too far away from the ruins where Kahn and Doyle were. "You can come on out now.”
Kahn and Doyle walked out from behind a mound of rocks. Kahn broke into a broad smile. "I think of this all the time: everything you do is just on a completely different level."
"What do you mean?"
"It means you’ve created one hell of a mess, dude. I’m starting to wonder, what did they do to you to get annihilated?"
Yeon-woo shrugged without answering. It was the same nonchalant attitude that he’d shown when he rescued them. Kahn complained, “Great. You and your secrets again.”
Doyle asked. "Hyung, then what happened to Bild?"
"That's good to hear." Doyle looked at him with a gentle smile of relief, but his eyes were as cold as ice. He wanted to get rid of this villain with his own hands, and he slightly regretted that he hadn’t had the chance. Still the embers of revenge continued to burn in his heart for the Cheonghwado.
However, unlike the time they were in Hargan’s Lair, Doyle tried to keep calm, keeping his anger buried in his heart. This incident had taught him that courage without power was nothing more than imprudence.
If he wanted to dispense justice, he had to grow even more powerful, so powerful that no one would even think of touching him. As if he’d seen inside Doyle’s head, Kahn sat on the ground and said, "Well? All the bastards are gone, and the end is almost here. Fuck, my body feels like shit now. I just walked a little, and I’m already feeling dizzy.”
His voice made Doyle resurface from his deep thoughts. Their bodies were on the brink of collapse because they hadn’t eaten properly for days and had injuries that hadn’t been treated. It was already a surprise that they could even walk.
"I guess we’re done, don’t you think?"
Doyle understood Kahn's intention and replied with a nod, "Yeah. I think you’re right.”
"Urgh. It’s so frustrating to admit after all we’ve been through." However, as the tension disappeared, they felt a sudden rush of fatigue. Kahn frowned as he scratched the back of his head and swiveled around to look at Yeon-woo with a determined expression. "Cain, what’s your next destination? Section G, right?
Yeon-woo nodded lightly. "Yes, if possible."
Yeon-woo instinctively caught a sack from Kahn. His eyes widened when he opened it to see Hargan's Crown and a countless number of Tokens.
"That’s everything we’ve scraped up in the Tutorial."
Doyle nodded next to Kahn.
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes. "If you're trying to pay me for rescuing you, take it back because I don't need it." Yeon-woo did like rewards, but he didn’t want to take anything away from others, at least not from these two and not like this.
But Kahn shook his head. "You’ve got us wrong."
"What do you mean?"