Although Phante made a simple stamp of his foot, its sound echoed like rolling thunder. Overwhelmed by Phante’s aura, the players were forced to back away a little, and the pressure even made some of the weaker players turn pale.
Only a few hours ago, they had colluded to knock Phante and Edora out of the battle, but it turned out that none of them could even get near those two. The force that Phante emitted was much greater than they had believed. Perhaps the information they’d found on those two had been correct at the start of the Tutorial, but Phante and Edora had managed to grow stronger during the course of the Tutorial. They had begun as monsters and had become even greater ones.
"What are you doing? Don’t you guys want my karma? Come and get it. Don't just stand there. Because if you do…” Phante grinned savagely, revealing his canine teeth and looking almost like a ferocious predator getting ready to hunt its prey. "I’m coming to you."
Boom! Phante leaped forward as he kicked off the ground, as fast as a bullet.
"Don’t let him get close!"
Even though they were panic-stricken, the players moved in perfect sync as they cast skill after skill, all sorts of dazzling effects glittering over their heads. Different kinds of magic circles overlapped with each other on the ground, providing several buffs to the coalition of the players. Players wearing heavy armor or carrying shields stepped to the front to block Phante’s attack.
There was a loud rumble when they finally clashed. Yeon-woo had never seen anything like Phante’s level of skill before. Every time he swung his fist, it made a thunderous sound, tearing the atmosphere apart and sending the earth shaking.
The other players were like candles in the wind in the face of his attacks, and even if they managed to hang on, it was only by a thread. Phante pierced, smashed, and trampled the barriers that the players set up, making them quake with a stamp of his foot. His punch blew a number of players away. Boom! Boom!
Phante’s aura amplified with every explosion he created, adding to the pressure that the players were facing. It didn’t seem like it would be long before all the players would collapse, and Phante looked like he was enjoying the fight immensely, as though it were just a game.
'He's strong. I can see how they managed to kill Akasha's Snake.' Yeon-woo remembered the carcass of Akasha’s Snake that he had seen in Section E. They had taken its Neidan, which meant Phante’s power was now far greater than what he’d started off with. ‘Did they really think they could kill this guy? That's impossible. The gap between them is too big.'
Phante dominated the whole stage, except for two people. The first was a tall man standing in the back issuing orders as though he were the leader. He had three swords of varying sizes at his waist. Yeon-woo noticed there was some kind of energy flowing out of him that traversed through Phante’s aura into the other players, boosting their power and morale. The magic circles on the ground also seemed to belong to him.
'A Lord? No, not yet. A Lord Candidate.’ Lords specialized in leading and commanding multiple players and even organizing a legion. Many rankers and the heads of most clans were Lords. The original owner of Bathory’s Vampiric Sword, the Lord of Vampires, and the Eight Kings of the top eight clans were all members of this class. The swordsman leading the players against Phante had this trait. ‘However, I don’t think it has fully developed yet.’
The other person who was unaffected by Phante was the woman behind him. She stood completely detached from the fight, holding a longsword taller than she was in her arms. She was breathtakingly beautiful but she gave the impression of being as cold as ice. The horn sticking out of the left side of her head also added a sharpness to her looks.
'Edora.' It was Phante’s sister, the person in the top position of the Tutorial ranking. When Yeon-woo had asked Kahn about Edora, Kahn said, “Phante is strong, ridiculously strong. I felt like I was in front of a huge mountain when I faced him. But Edora...she’s different. She is gentler than Phante, but she feels…deep, like the abyss of a sea, and that’s why I was more afraid of her. I can at least see the top of a mountain when I raise my head, but I can’t see the bottom of the sea."
Yeon-woo began to understand why Kahn feared Edora more than Phante. 'She’s hiding something very big and ferocious. But what could it be?' As soon as Yeon-woo looked at Edora, she suddenly turned away from the fight and looked back at him with her calm eyes, observing something inside him. A faint smile replaced her indifferent expression, as if she had found something fun.
'She saw me.' Yeon-woo realized that Edora saw something in him, just like he had seen something in her, so he smiled back. It was time to stop spectating. ‘If that’s the case…’ He had no choice but to step in.
Yeon-woo took out a fairly large pouch crammed with Tokens. The players in the safe zone looked at Yeon-woo, their eyes glinting with greed. If they managed to get his Tokens, there seemed to be enough to help them jump a few ranks ahead.
However, the rules didn’t allow aggression inside the safe zone, and those who didn’t follow the rules would be expelled from the stage. Players weren’t even allowed to take items on the ground if the items had an owner. The only thing they could do was watch to see what Yeon-woo was doing.
Yeon-woo suddenly turned the pouch upside down and began to pour the Tokens on the ground.
"What is he doing? Why is he dumping ‘em out?"
"I think he’s chickening out."
"Damn, what a waste! He could have given them to someone else."
Everyone thought he was out of his mind, and they started laughing or cursing. However, as the pile of Tokens grew bigger, no one could speak anymore.
"Wh-what the fuck? How many is he gonna spill out?"
"I-is that a thousand? Or is it 2,000?"
The players on the edges of the stage grew restless, and their noise made the players who hadn’t paid much attention to Yeon-woo turn and look. Even Phante stopped fighting and jerked his head towards Yeon-woo. Edora’s eyes glittered with interest as she looked at Yeon-woo.
By the time he emptied the bag, there were more than 3,000 Tokens piled on the ground. Yeon-woo muttered a command in a low voice. “Calculate.”
Whoosh! The Tokens burst into a beam of light and merged together, forming a golden crystal.
[The Tokens collected in the last two sections have successfully been totaled with your previous karma points and have been added to your existing points.]
At the same time, a big message popped up in the air.
[The Tutorial ranking has been updated.]
All the players’ eyes were focused on him, and as soon as the rankings were announced, silent screams echoed in Section G. Even Edora's calm eyes trembled.
[1. Unknown (109,984 Points)
2. Edora (68,230 Points)]
It was the first time since the start of the round that Edora had been overtaken. "I can’t believe it, just—" People shouted in dismay, their eyes fixed on Yeon-woo. Even though his name hadn’t been revealed, it was clear who had taken the first place.
But Yeon-woo didn't stop there. He tied his golden crystal, his karma, onto his waist and slowly pulled out the sword strapped to his back. Shring! The seventy-centimeter sword vibrated with a clear ring as it was drawn out of its simple, almost crude scabbard. The strange, silvery characters engraved on the blade began to glow with a mysterious white light. A blue energy flowed out of the sword and started to circle around Yeon-woo.
Whoosh! The white glow and the blue energy merged, forming a strong whirlwind. By the time the sword was completely out of its scabbard, the whirlwind had covered almost the entire safe zone.
"Wh-what the fuck is this?"
"What kind of artifact has this power?"
The players retreated from Yeon-woo, fearing that they would be swept away by the whirlwind. Their eyes were filled with astonishment, disbelief, and dismay as they stared at him laughing calmly in the eye of the storm. No one had ever heard of an artifact like this.
[Description: During the Silver Age, the forgotten days in the distant past, there once existed a divine sword that every great hero longed to wield. But as it changed hands from hero to hero, the sword had become tainted with too much blood. In the end, the sword was corrupted and turned into a demonic sword.
For a long time, the sword was sealed in the depths of the earth, away from anyone’s reach. It has only recently resurfaced to appear once more in the world. But despite being sealed away for three ages, the holy sword has not been released from the demonic curse and has been unable to regain its original form. To return it to its original form, the curse of the sword must be washed away under special conditions.]
[* Factor of the Sword]
[The dense grudge left by the heroes slain by Vigrid has turned the blessing of the holy sword into a curse. When facing against a great number of enemies or more powerful enemies, the sword will unleash demonic energy. The chance of inflicting critical damage increases in proportion to the demonic energy.]
[* Contagious Factor]
[When dealing a final blow to an enemy, the sword will spread its curse to other enemies near the target. Targets under the effect of the curse will be inflicted with the status ‘Infection’, significantly decreasing targets’ defensive skills and movement speed.]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]
[**This is a unique artifact. No other artifact like it exists in the Tower, and it will be bound to its owner. It cannot be transferred or traded between players.
**Some of the abilities are sealed. You must meet the qualifications or conditions to lift the seals.]
The name “Vigrid” referred to a battlefield where divine beings such as heroes and transcendents held their wars. The hidden piece that Kahn and Doyle had tried to obtain was a great weapon that was perfectly suited to this legendary name. It was a holy sword from the Silver Age, from the days long before the Tower had even come into existence, and even though most of its options were sealed from its corruption, its remaining functions were still remarkable.
The first option, Factor of the Sword, greatly increased attack power against a large number of enemies, and the demonic energy it unleashed demoralized enemies and clouded their judgement. This made the artifact irresistible to players who usually fought several monsters at once. However, more importantly, it had an option that provided the wielder greater power when fighting an enemy who was stronger. That was the option that Kahn and Doyle had paid the most attention to.
'The stronger Phante and Edora are, the greater its power will become. With this option, we can catch up to them without much trouble.' Even though it felt like cheating, Kahn had desperately wanted to surpass Phante and Edora with Vigrid. "Damn it, I know! I know that the weapon itself is OP as hell. The Dragon Slayer I’ve got does not even come close to Vigrid. If I ever got my hands on it, I could probably change the game." Kahn laughed bitterly as he talked about Vigrid. “But I realized that cheating is just cheating. It’ll only work for a short period of time, and I won’t be able to make any progress with it. You know what they say, what’s outside of the body doesn’t naturally belong to one.”
It didn’t matter how incredible Vigrid was, the ability that the artifact provided wasn’t his own power. Kahn understood the advantages that Vigrid could give him, but at the same time, he was aware of the downside. He might beat Phante and Edora temporarily with Vigrid, but his growth would stall because of the power of the sword, and he would eventually taste defeat at the hands of someone even more powerful than the two.
He had only gained this enlightenment recently. After his fight against Bild, Kahn had agonized for countless hours over the difference between Bild and himself. Kahn was also considered an excellent swordsman, but he wasn’t strong enough to defeat Bild. He’d pondered for a long time why there was such a big gap between Bild and himself, and he came up with one answer: lack of experience.
Bild had vast combat experience from climbing the Tower, while Kahn had only just entered the stage. Hence, to overcome his weakness, he had to start from scratch. As a result, Kahn gave up his plan to obtain Vigrid and yielded it to Yeon-woo. Thanks to that, Yeon-woo managed to get hold of one of the best weapons in the Tower, the best hidden piece in the Tutorial that his brother didn’t even know about.
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