The Hall of Fame was where the names of those who had scored the highest points on each floor of the Tower were listed. Only those who had outstanding performances were given the opportunity to register their names in the Hall of Fame. It was a significant milestone in one’s way to becoming a god, and it was an honor that every player dreamed about. However, Yeon-woo shook his head.
[You have refused to register your name.]
[Your record has been engraved in the Tower. You can register your name later, if you wish.]
Yvlke widened his eyes slightly and burst into a jolly laugh. "Well, ### surely has a very unique personality. But still, we get players like you from time to time with great skills but want to stay low-key."
Yvlke misinterpreted Yeon-woo's intention; he simply didn’t want to reveal his real name. But the misunderstanding wasn’t bad for him, so he didn't bother responding. 'Doesn't matter to me.’
"Now then, it’s time for your reward." Yvlke’s words caught all the players’ attention. They were dying to know what the rewards would be for such an overwhelming number of karma points. At least one thing was certain: the Tower, which had been quiet since the Arthia incident, would be stirred up once again.
Yvlke stretched out his palm, which glowed with light to reveal a blue box with a big question mark on it. The item box with Yeon-woo’s rewards floated in the air for a moment before disappearing with a flash. A new message appeared in front of Yeon-woo’s eyes.
[You have acquired Zeus’s Key.]
[You have acquired Beast King’s Lion Mane Helm.]
[You have acquired Iblis's Embryo.]
A smile appeared on Yeon-woo’s face as he read the list of the artifacts. Each one looked great, and one had been owned by a Lord. ‘However, I’ll probably trade them for other items.’ Only one thing caught his attention: the palm-sized key that shimmered with a soft yellow hue, as though it were made of topaz. It was Zeus’ Key.
[Description: A key used to open the treasury of Zeus, the sky god. Nothing is known about its use.]
Although it contained a god’s name, Zeus' Key was only rated as C+, and that rank was only because of its glorious name. Without it, it would be nothing more than an F-rated piece of trash because it was completely useless. Many top rankers might even complain about being rewarded the key, and some players who’d received it ended up throwing it away.
'However, after they made it to the higher floors and discovered its use, most of them regretted getting rid of it.' But even if they knew the secret of the key, it still wasn’t easy to use because there were eleven keys to collect. And of course, the rest of the keys were all hidden pieces, all as difficult to acquire as Zeus' Key. 'But I must open Olympus’ Treasury no matter what it takes.'
He’d endured all the hardships in the Tutorial for this reward, and he couldn’t afford to lose it. His grip on the key tightened, he chuckled in spite of himself. 'Now that I have this in my hand, it’s starting to feel real that the Tutorial is over.'
Everything he had experienced in the two weeks of the Tutorial felt much more arduous than four years of missions in Africa. 'The problem is that things are only going to get harder.’ After cramming all the rewards into his backpack, Yeon-woo slung his bag over his right shoulder. There were too many eyes focused on him, most of them filled with jealousy. He decided to examine the other items somewhere more private.
Yvlke clapped his hands loudly to draw the players’ attention, and as everyone turned to look at him, he said, "This is the end of the Tutorial, everyone. Once again, thank you for your hard work. Those who are qualified to enter the Tower will be notified soon, and even if you don’t receive the notice, please try again in the next round. Now, I must bid farewell. I hope to see you all again." Yvlke said his goodbyes with a dignified expression. "The exit is underneath." He disappeared with a gust of wind.
Screens of light came down over Yeon-woo and the other players.
[You have proven yourself worthy of climbing the Tower. The Tower will continue to pray for your firm determination to become a god.]
[Will you enter the Tower?]
A blue portal opened under Yeon-woo’s feet. But just as he was about to enter, he heard Phante shouting at him as he approached with quick steps. He had a slightly pained look on his face as if he hadn’t completely recovered from his injuries. "Hey! You, in the white mask!"
Yeon-woo gave him an indifferent look. "What do you want?"
"I challenge you to a duel. You only won in Section G because of your artifact. Chuck all that bullshit, and let’s fight with sheer strength. You'd better not refuse if you’re a warrior like me." Phante growled as if he were dying to get his revenge on Yeon-woo.
However, Yeon-woo only raised his hands over his head with an apathetic expression. "I surrender."
Phante was perplexed by his response. "Wh-what?"
"I said, I surrender. Let’s just say you beat me. Isn't that what you want? Don't tell me you're going to pick a fight with someone who has already surrendered? You’re a warrior."
Phante was speechless. To him, surrendering was not something done so easily.
"Well then." Yeon-woo immediately activated the portal as if he didn’t want to deal with Phante anymore.
"Dude! I’m not done talking yet!" Phante belatedly came to his senses and reached out to catch Yeon-woo, but he had already vanished. "Fuuuuck! You motherfucking son of a bitch!" Phante tore his hair out in anger. He couldn’t help thinking that Yeon-woo had toyed with him from the start. On the other hand, Edora stood behind him with a little smile.
And finally, the curtain fell on what felt like a long but distinguished round of the Tutorial.
* * *
A major new talent had burst into the Tower! As soon as the latest round of the Tutorial finished, rumors rapidly spread among various communities all throughout the Tower about the one who had acquired more than 500,000 karma on his first try in the Tutorial, who had swept through Section G, defeated the royal scions of the One-horned tribe, and hoarded everything that existed in the section. The one nicknamed “The Hoarder”.
Many clans wanted to recruit the object of the rumors. As the Tower's history grew longer, more players completed the Tutorial and entered the Tower, but it had become difficult to find new players with notable talent.
Because of this, the arrival of one such talent made everyone excited. Countless people tried to figure out who the player was, but they only discovered a few things: he always wore a mask over his face and he didn’t register in the Hall of Fame to avoid revealing his name.
Some of them found out that the player was acquainted with Kahn and Doyle, but when they discovered that the three had only struck a deal to work together and weren’t friends, everyone was plunged into disorder.
In the end, even though the identity of the player was unknown to everyone, several clans started to take action to contact him. However, even after a long time after the end of the Tutorial, nobody could find him or even hear any news about him. It was as if all the rumors that had spread throughout the Tower had been lies.
No one could find any trace of this player, and as time went by, the rumors about this mysterious player only snowballed with all kinds of strange conjectures and speculations.
* * *
Yeon-woo frowned at the bright light that pricked his eyes. 'I’m getting dizzy.' His eyes were burning, and his vision was spinning. He felt as though he were in a plane rolling in the sky. It wasn’t a sensation he’d expected to have without using his skills first. 'Maybe the transition magic from space to space is different from other skills?' He thought it could just be his body trying to get used to entering a new world.
Fortunately, his Magic Circuit soon activated, helping him stabilize his body. The dizziness subsided as his head stopped spinning, and Yeon-woo could finally look around more comfortably. 'So, this is the world of the Tower.'
Yeon-woo saw houses and buildings stretch along the endless horizon and streets full of busy people of different races in all sorts of clothing and armor. Even though there were so many different things mixed up in his vision, everything looked beautiful and harmonious, and Yeon-woo couldn’t help exclaiming.
One thing stood out in the beautiful landscape: a lofty tower that towered so high that part of it was obscured by clouds. Even though it was perfectly still, it seemed as though something was waving at him and telling him to go inside. 'The Tower of the Sun God. Obelisk.'
He had seen this image over and over in his brother's diary, but there was a huge difference seeing it for himself. The only thing that came to his mind was awe. Nothing could properly express what he felt at the sight of the Tower.
It was a world where different universes and dimensions met and merged like a cobweb, forming a society with a countless variety of races. However, in Yeon-woo’s eyes, it was only a hell full of devils and demons, from individual high rankers to entire clans. 'They are there, inside that tower.'
The players involved with the death of his brother were all rulers of the Tower who’d seen every action his brother had taken as an affront to their authority. They’d crushed his brother and left him powerless. 'But it’ll be different this time.’
Yeon-woo was going to look at them with his brother's eyes, speak to them in his brother’s voice, and he would return everything they had done to his brother. 'This is the beginning.'
Beneath the white mask, the will-o’-wisps blazed with fury.
* * *
Those who climbed up the Tower desired to reach the ninety-ninth and final floor to become a god. But now, a man who had a different purpose began his climb, and the journey of this player who was first known as the Hoarder and would later be known as the Black God finally commenced.