‘I had no intention of exuviating in this place, but…’ Yeon-woo felt the invisible restraints that bound his spirit quickly being released. It was the same feeling he had felt in the Changgong Library, perhaps even more intense.
Yeon-woo felt like he was being liberated from everything and ascending to a higher position. Yeon-woo was beginning to feel the principles of the world that had been hidden from him, and he also felt his senses expand infinitely into the wider universe and all the dimensions. When Yeon-woo tried exuviating in the Changgong Library, he had only tasted an elevated level of power. Now that his spirit had reached a stage of maturity, Yeon-woo could experience more things.
Yeon-woo had planned to conduct his exuviation and transcendence on the seventy-seventh floor, when he clashed with Allforone. Yeon-woo had planned to free Count Ferenc from his imprisonment, gather others who were willing to attack Allforone, and restore most of Kronos’ lost power. Moreover, Yeon-woo planned to raise the power level of his familiars as much as possible.
Yeon-woo realized that he only had one chance to challenge Allforone, and he wanted to be as prepared as possible. However, since he had run into Nocturne, Yeon-woo decided to try exuviation. In fact, Yeon-woo thought that this turn of events and sudden decision worked to his advantage.
Wasn’t Nocturne a clone of Allforone? If Yeon-woo dealt with Nocturne, he would be able to clearly understand Allforone’s weaknesses. Gaining this insight would increase the odds of defeating Allforone. As a result, Yeon-woo had shot out a Sword Thunder strike while in an accelerated state.
Yeon-woo attempted exuviation while he was overloaded with power from his two springs. Yeon-woo’s current physical body made it too difficult to properly control the two divine domains that Kronos had possessed, so Yeon-woo was planning to contain as much of them as possible as much as possible through exuviation. Yeon-woo also expected to reach the seventh step of the Dragon Body awakening through exuviation. However… ‘What is this?’
The restraints that should have been released had stopped loosening. Yeon-woo expected to feel a sense of liberation, like a bird breaking out of its shell, but instead, he felt more cramped, as if an exterior force were holding the shell in place, not allowing it to crack.
At that moment, Yeon-woo realized that something he couldn’t see was interfering with his exuviation. The changes in the environment during exuviation had stopped. What was it? Was Allforone going to appear?
Yeon-woo analyzed his situation in an instant. Once he realized something was off, he quickly accelerated his thought process to find the cause. When he finally pinpointed the force, Yeon-woo quickly turned his head to look at it. It was the Martial King, who had already undergone a similar level of physical change. The Martial King was gazing coldly at him.
『Don’t disturb me, kid.』 The Martial King sounded like he was scolding a little child, speaking with the aura of a wild beast that did not want to lose its prey to another. 『This is my fight. Don’t even think of butting in.』
At that moment, Yeon-woo’s accelerated sense of time went back to normal. Bam! The Martial King finished his exuviation and was preparing to advance. Boom! It was nothing like anything Yeon-woo had seen before. When the Martial King stamped on the ground, several kilometers of land sank. The One-horned tribe’s village also turned into a crater, dust rising as the Martial King’s actions created a huge whirlwind that spread out in all directions. All the remnants of the Illusory World shattered and collapsed.
Whoosh! A tremendous pressure descended from the sky and pushed down on the bodies of all beings outside the Tower.
The pressure fell upon Yeon-woo, canceling his exuviation. It fell on the One-horned tribe members. It fell upon the Ghost Giants and the gods of Asgard who were fighting each other. Even Nocturne felt the sudden pressure. The pressure even reached the world of the Tower.
[The godly society <Malach> has received a strong shock!]
[The godly society <Deva> and all its affiliated members have received a strong shock!]
[The godly society <Chan Sect> has been thrown into a state of panic from the overwhelming pressure!]
[The demonic society <L’Infernal> is remaining silent!]
[The demonic society <Niflheim> collectively lets out a deep sigh at the new existence!]
[Vimalacitra is showing his admiration!]
[Cernunnos’ eyes widen!]
[All the gods are searching for the source of this disturbance!]
[All the demons sense the Martial King’s existence and exclaim in amazement!]
[The heavenly world has entered a state of panic and pandemonium!]
[Several floors of the Tower have malfunctioned!]
The Martial King had only undergone exuviation, not transcendence, and he had only become a demigod. However, this was enough for the Martial King to suppress and overwhelm all those around him with his power. It felt as if no one but the Martial King existed in the world.
Although Yeon-woo was often linked to the word “disaster”, this was a more appropriate term for the Martial King. He was a disaster that engulfed both mortals and transcendents. Yeon-woo understood why the Martial King had prevented his intervention. Even though Yeon-woo was concerned about him, the Martial King did not require any help.
“You said that you would become my new adversary, right?” Crunch! Crack! Every time the Martial King stretched his neck, it made loud cracking noises. The Martial King smirked as he cocked his head. “Let’s see if you can back up those words. Let’s start round two, my disciple.”
Boom! The Martial King suddenly appeared in front of Nocturne and a punch flying out. It was just a simple strike, but its power was formidable. Since Nocturne was enveloped in light, no one could see his expression, but everyone could tell that the Martial King now had an overwhelming advantage.
Boom! They clashed with each other over and over, and soon, the Martial King ripped off Nocturne’s right arm, tossing it in the air.
It was around that time when Yeon-woo received the Martial King’s message, which didn’t arrive through the usual inner energy. The Martial King was using a form of telepathy through his will.
『Watch me fight carefully. Observe everything, don’t miss anything!』
The Martial King’s power made Yeon-woo wonder if Kronos had been anything like this in his youth; although it seemed that the Martial King was even more powerful. Although Yeon-woo did not fully understand the Martial King’s order, he opened his eyes wide.
Bam! Bam! Bam! Each of the Martial King’s punches shattered space, each kick made tornados rise. Nocturne looked like a lone sailboat caught up in a large storm at sea, completely overwhelmed. Yeon-woo now fully understood why Kronos had sighed when he looked at the Martial King. The Martial King had already reached an incredible level. This was probably also the reason why a barrage of heavenly world messages continued pouring down.
[The celestial scribe of <Malach> Metatron is silent.]
[The head of <L’Infernal> Baal is drooling.]
Even the leaders of the heavenly societies who represented absolute good and absolute evil were expressing their shock. Yeon-woo had already felt that he reached a level that allowed him to nip at his master’s heels, but, in one moment, his master had moved far ahead once again. However, something still nagged at Yeon-woo. ‘Master is…still getting stronger.’
Even though the Martial King had only gone through exuviation, he was countering Nocturne’s attacks with increasing ease. Yeon-woo was not sure if the Martial King was still completing his exuviation or if it was due to something else.
「I’ve thought for a while that the Martial King really doesn’t seem like a mortal. Did I really act so pompous in front of such an individual? Damn. I might have been sent to the Underworld if I had continued behaving like that.」 Cha Jeong-woo was sharing some of Yeon-woo’s senses, and he swallowed audibly. Kronos stayed completely silent.
Another telepathic message arrived from the Martial King insisting that Yeon-woo focus on the fight. 『For a while, I only spoke of certain things with my wife because I didn’t want to look weak.』
Yeon-woo wondered what the Martial King was trying to say. Although he was fighting a fierce battle with Nocturne, he could still chat leisurely with Yeon-woo at the same time. Yeon-woo could even sense the Martial King smiling playfully and acting as he usually did. However, Yeon-woo could also sense anxiety behind the Martial King’s words or an emotion that was hard to express.
『I essentially disappeared from the outside world because I realized that I couldn’t overcome Allforone, no matter what I did.』
“What…?” Yeon-woo’s eyes widened at the Martial King’s unexpected words.
『Don’t act so surprised and listen carefully!』
Yeon-woo was dumbstruck.
『One thing’s for certain: if Allforone and I fought based on pure power alone, I’d win for sure. I’m sure of it. You know how powerful I am, right? However, I might win a battle but, in the end, I’d still lose the war. It’s because of that damn divinity that Allforone possesses. All for one…such a stupid name, right? All things existing for one being… Who the hell thought up such nonsense? However, Allforone truly has achieved that.』
Yeon-woo was puzzled.
『He’s the incarnation of the Tower’s system. Some of the code of the Tower’s system gained its own will and assembled itself into a player. It gained power and created an ego for itself.』
Part of the Tower’s system had become a player? Yeon-woo recalled the first time he’d met Allforone. Allforone had been wrapped in light, and Yeon-woo had sensed countless beings within that light. Allforone’s voice was also ambiguous enough to make it difficult for Yeon-woo to distinguish Allforone’s sex or age. Yeon-woo now realized that Allforone wasn’t a human being at all. Wait… If this were the case…what was Nocturne, who was supposedly Allforone’s simulation and possessed a human form?
『Allforone can use his internal code to log into the Tower’s system and do whatever he likes. This is how he managed to separate the earth and the sky and used the seventy-seventh floor as a dividing line.』
Yeon-woo was stunned.
『It doesn’t stop there. Once one enters the Tower, whether one is a player or a native, administrator, transcendents like gods and demons, and even the One-horned tribe members and myself, either we’re absorbed into the Tower’s system or affected by it. In other words, all of us are essentially worshipping the Tower and placing our faith in it.』
Ah! It was only then that Yeon-woo realized why, despite his overwhelming strength and skills, the Martial King couldn’t surpass Allforone. At its most basic, faith meant belief in a god, but in a broader sense, it could also be described as many beings perceiving the existence of a god. Divinity was the ability to change the world since it functioned as the laws and rules of the world, allowing it to operate properly. If many mortals perceived that divinity and held it in high esteem, the influence of that divinity on those mortals would grow. The greater a divinity’s influence had on a mortal, the stronger its existence would grow.
The Tower’s system was in the best position to mine and amass a tremendous amount of faith. Many players, as well as gods and demons trapped in the heavenly world, had no choice but to recognize it. If there were enough beings offering their faith to the Tower, the system could operate as an entity that strengthened itself day by day. Since he was a creation of the Tower’s system, Allforone would also benefit.
All For One. The “all” referred to all the beings residing within the Tower. The “one” referred to the Tower’s system, which was essentially Vivasvat himself. No matter how high and mighty the Martial King grew, if he continued to place his faith in the Tower’s system, the Martial King would never be able to overcome Allforone. This was the same situation for anyone who existed within the Tower.
After realizing this early on, the Martial King chose to go into hiding despite his enormous power, feeling disappointed at the cruel reality. It was probably the same for other contenders that existed before the Martial King: the Summer Queen, the Vampiric Lord, Count Ferenc, Faust…everyone.
『However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to defeat Allforone. The Tower’s system needs to depend on something to keep operating, after all.』
Yeon-woo could guess who the Martial King was referring to: the Heavenly Demon and Trinity Wonder.
『My ancestor, Shaohao Jintian, left behind the Bright Tai Chi Pangu Sword. With that, one can cut off Allforone’s divinity. However, I can’t do it because the One-horned tribe has been blessed with an opposite ability which prevents us from understanding the Bright Tai Chi Pangu Sword. No matter how hard we try, we can never truly master the Yin Sword.』 The Martial King’s voice gradually gained strength. 『But you’re different.』
Yeon-woo could sense the pride the Martial King felt for him.
『You’ve gone above and beyond my expectations. You’ve already risen to a state where you can compete with this master of yours. If you properly consume all that you have and make it yours, you’ll be able to realize the Yin Sword. So…』 The Martial King paused for a moment before continuing. 『I want you to observe the fight between Nocturne and myself and figure out everything that he possesses. You must find out the missing piece to comprehending the Yin Sword and completing the Bright Tai Chi Pangu Sword. You should only start your exuviation after you’ve achieved this. Understood?』
The Martial King’s voice and his words landed heavily on Yeon-woo’s chest. 『This is the last lesson I will give you as your master.』
Last lesson? “Master, what the hell are you going to do…!” Realizing that the Martial King was saying goodbye, Yeon-woo hurriedly tried to approach him.
[The demigod Nayu has declared his great holy territory!]
The new aura that the Martial King released engulfed the surrounding area and completely separated the Martial King from Yeon-woo and the other members of the One-horned tribe.
Whoosh! A great holy territory. The Martial King isolated Nocturne and himself from the outside world by forming a dome with his powers. Yeon-woo was now only a helpless bystander, and he clearly understood that this was the Martial King’s way of saying goodbye! Boom! Bam! Bam! Bam!
“This damn teacher! What the hell are you doing! Open it! Open it!” Yeon-woo’s scream resounded with sadness. No matter what Yeon-woo did, the barrier would not go down. It was too damn strong.
“Who’d he get that from? His voice sure is strong! Ha!” The Martial King smiled as he watched Yeon-woo screaming his lungs out outside the great holy territory. He then looked down at the cracks spreading along his body. The fragmented pieces of his body and spirit were hanging together so precariously that it seemed as though they would instantly crumble if touched.
The Martial King was imploding. He’d planned on simply going through exuviation, but he had already reached a much higher and stronger level than he himself had been aware of. His exuviation was greater than most beings’ transcendence, and this unexpected amount of power made his spirit develop too steeply and suddenly. Even the Martial King couldn’t stop it, and he’d inadvertently entered the stage of transcendence. The Martial King instinctively knew where he would end up: the emperor level.
As long as his transcendence continued up towards the rarified air that few reached, the Martial King’s spirit would also grow and develop. The problem was that Gaia’s Curse was also developing at an equally rapid rate, distorting his legends until his transcendence led to his own death.
The Martial King was exasperated by this. He had finally gone through the exuviation and transcendence that he had put off until he could surpass Allforone, and he’d been looking forward to this for a long time. However, he had started the process haphazardly in a place that he never expected. “Anyway, that’s why supremely talented people like me have to face so many problems.”
The Martial King did not know whether to laugh or cry. His wife’s prediction that the Martial King would perish was coming true. However, the Martial King never expected it would happen like this. “Such a bad wife. Why does she have to be so good at her job?” The Martial King grumbled and then smiled as he thought of something. “Even if I implode, if I leave a strong impact and inheritance for someone, I won’t disappear completely. Won’t my legends live through him? If that’s not immortality, then what is?”
The Martial King hated feeling like he was just following orders. It hurt his pride, and he tried to find a different way of gaining immortality through his one and only disciple. This way, he would prove his wife’s prediction wrong. The Martial King smiled brightly as he remembered that the Psychic Medium was watching him right now. “Wife, are you watching? I’m going to show you that I won’t perish after all.”