Yeon-woo was struck dumb for a while. ‘Did it just shatter?’ Astrape was by far the best weapon among all the treasures in Olympus’ Treasury, and he’d never expected that it would disappear immediately as soon as he touched it, much less fuse with the Black Bracelet.
‘What the hell is this?’ The Black Bracelet was an artifact Yeon-woo acquired from killing Akasha’s Snake. He had been making frequent use of its options Soul Bind and Black Blade since the moment he acquired it. ‘I didn't think it was something special like Vigrid.’
Yeon-woo bit his lips. First of all, he had to figure out what happened to Astrape. “Appraise,” Yeon-woo commanded as he activated Draconic Eyes.
[Despair of the Black King]
[Category: Wrist Guard]
[Description: …But none of the ??? could stand against the power of the Black King, so they lived in dread for a long time. In the end, the ??? decided to betray the Black King, successfully overthrowing him from his throne and imprisoning him in the abyss.
After an eon spent in confinement, the Black King’s resentment corrupted the three frames that bound him in the abyss, turning them into his servants.
The frames tainted with the Black King’s resentment vigilantly await the opportunity to ?? its wearer.]
[* Soul Collector]
[Fixed chance of reaping the soul of the killed target and adding it to the collection. The collected souls lose their memory and become corrupted, left only with deep resentment. The capacity of the collection will increase in proportion to the user’s proficiency.]
[* Spirit Familiar]
[Consumes a certain amount of mana to convert a soul in the collection into a Spirit Familiar. To proceed with the conversion, the user’s willpower must overwhelm the target soul’s hatred. Once the soul is converted into a Spirit Familiar, it will become a faithful servant of the wearer and gladly carry out any given orders.]
[* Black Energy]
[The enhanced version of Black Blade. Consumes the souls in the collection and converts them into dark property energy. The power increases in proportion to the number of consumed souls. Once created, the user can wield the energy at will.]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]
[Ability locked. (Sealed)]
[** This is a unique artifact. No other artifact like this 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 in order to lift the seals.
** Some information cannot be accessed. You must meet the qualifications or conditions in order to view the information.]
'Black King?' Yeon-woo frowned at the name he did not recognize. With the word “King” in his name, he must have been a Lord. If he could make an artifact that had the ability to absorb a godly artifact, it meant that he must have been on the verge of godhood.
However, no matter how much he racked his brain, Yeon-woo couldn’t come up with a single idea who the Black King might be. Even his brother’s diary didn’t mention anyone like him at all. ‘If I can figure out who the original owner was, I might be able to learn how to handle the Black Bracelet better.’
Now that he had lost Astrape, he had to figure out how to control the Black Bracelet properly. But much to his frustration, he couldn’t find any information about the Black King in the description. However, just as he was about to close the information window, a word caught Yeon-woo’s eye. 'Confinement?'
When he’d first received the Black Bracelet, its description had spoken about Akasha’s Snake master, who the monster missed. It was why the monster kept the bracelet, hoping for his return. What if the master was the Black King, and he had disappeared because of the betrayal in the description?
‘The Black King was someone who had the power to control Akasha’s Snake. If I could at least find out what the question marks are covering up, it would be much easier to discover who he is.’ Yeon-woo’s head was crowded with distracting thoughts. ‘Should I have chosen Aegis?’
He thought for a moment. 'No, it may have done the same thing even if I had taken Aegis.'
It was possible that the Black Bracelet had consumed Astrape because they were originally part of the same artifact, but it was also likely that the Black Bracelet only required any godly artifact to lift its seal. If that were the case, the bracelet would have destroyed any artifact he chose. ‘I’m going to have to find out more about the Black King as soon as I get out of here.’
With this in mind, Yeon-woo once again examined the new options. It seemed like everything about the bracelet had gone through an overhaul. 'The two previous options have been upgraded and one option has been unlocked.' The ability to add to collection had appeared in the options, and Soul Collector, which had previously been Soul Bind, meant that the bracelet could now grow to hold more souls.
'It’s a great advantage. I can bind more souls, so I can use them more frequently.’ Yeon-woo had used the Black Bracelet in combat several times in the Tutorial and in the Tower, and the only problem he’d had with it was its limited capacity to retain souls. And now, the problem had been solved, and with this upgrade, a variety of new tactics were now available to him.
Yeon-woo also found Black Energy very useful. Previously, the dark energy could only be fused to his weapon, which meant that he could only use it for offensive purposes. But now, with Black Energy, he could wrap the dark energy around his body as a shield and maybe even use it to strengthen parts of his body. He would need to experiment with it.
And finally, there was a newly unlocked option, Spirit Familiar. Yeon-woo had already experienced creating something similar to a Spirit Familiar. When he raided Arangdan’s secret base in the Tutorial, he’d converted the souls of the sacrificed players into Evil Spirits and helped them get revenge. A Spirit Familiar seemed like an Evil Spirit, except it would serve him. ‘The converted souls are allowed to keep memories from their past lives. If I make the soul of a skilled player into a Spirit Familiar, it’ll be extremely helpful for climbing the Tower.’ Of course, it wouldn’t be too easy to get the soul of a skilled player.
* * *
When Yeon-woo finished checking his bracelet, messages appeared in front of him.
[You have chosen Astrape as your reward.]
[Olympus’ Treasury will now close.]
Rumble! The area around Yeon-woo started to withdraw and contract into a single line like a paper being folded. All the lights disappeared into the line, and Yeon-woo was swallowed into the silent depths of darkness. When he opened his eyes again, he saw a familiar figure standing in front of him: a Goblin dressed in a neat tuxedo with a monocle over his left eye.
Yvlke, the Guardian he had met in the Tutorial, greeted him with a bright smile. "Ohyohyohyo! Congratulations. You’ve set a new record in the Beginner Zone. Though it’s just the first ten floors, I’ve never seen any player pass through the trials so triumphantly. When I first saw you in the Tutorial, I knew you’d have great achievements in the Tower, but this is even more stunning than what I had expected! So, I’d like to congratulate you once again for breaking the record." Yvlke was very courteous and polite, and Yeon-woo could tell that he was sincere about his praise.
However, Yeon-woo was unmoved by the Goblin’s compliments. Perhaps because he was still dazzled from meeting a deity like Hermes or because he was still in shock from seeing a great weapon like Astrape turning into fine dust. Whatever the reason was, Yeon-woo didn’t feel anything. It felt to him that he’d done something very obvious and unsurprising. If anyone else knew what he was thinking, they would accuse him of being arrogant but it was really what he felt. ‘Maybe my experiences in Africa left me emotionally crippled.’
Instead, Yeon-woo was full of questions for Yvlke. "Why did Astrape turn to dust?"
"Ohyohyo. That’s a secret I cannot answer."
"Who is the Black King?"
"That’s also a secret."
"Why was I given this bracelet?"
"The Tower provides rewards according to players’ achievements. There’s no other reason behind it." Yvlke grinned as he fixed his monocle, but his attitude made him look like a sly old fox hiding an important secret. "We Guardians are merely the custodians of the Tower. We are here to execute the will of the Tower. The rewards you receive are all given based on your performance. All your experiences come from the path you’ve chosen. Therefore, there is not much I can tell you."
Yvlke’s keen eyes glowed strangely. "Oh, also, it is true that we Guardians watch players all the time, but please keep in mind that you are just one of the millions of players we have to manage in the Tower."
"I will." Yeon-woo answered with a nod. As Yvlke said, he was nothing but a player whose death the Guardians wouldn’t even care about. However, Yvlke’s use of the word “path” bothered Yeon-woo. It reminded him of what Hermes had said. ‘My path. What could he have meant by that?’ Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes. Gods did not speak casually since they were the rulers of all creatures. Hermes must have seen something in him to say such a thing, and he really wanted to know what it was. ‘Could it have something to do with the Black King?’
But after a while, Yeon-woo shook his head. Even if he continued to agonize over this matter, he wouldn’t be able to get any answers. It didn’t matter what path he was on, he would eventually bump into something if he kept walking. The only thing he could do was focus on living in the present.
"Looks like you’re done thinking, so let's talk about your rewards now." Yvlke clapped as he laughed cheerfully.
[Total karma: 1,420,119 points]
"Look at this number. It is absolutely incredible! Right now, you have ten rewards for clearing each floor, one for clearing the Beginner Zone, and another one for setting a new record. That means you have twelve artifacts waiting for you. Would you like to take them now?"
Yeon-woo shook his head. "I'd like to combine all twelve rewards plus my karma points for one single reward."
Yvlke burst into laughter as if he had been expecting his answer. "Is there anything you'd like to take?"
"Silly boy. You know that is already gone.”
"I’m not joking."
However, Yvlke pretended he didn’t hear what Yeon-woo had said. "If you have no preference, then I will have the system decide for you."
The points quickly counted down to zero, and the twelve light orbs hovering next to Yvlke flew into the Goblin’s fist. When Yvlke opened his palm, Yeon-woo’s eyes widened slightly. "That is..."
The artifact in Yvlke’s hand was also familiar to Yeon-woo. It was a nine-layered shield with a monster’s head in its center: Aegis.
"Your achievement is something that no one has ever accomplished so far. It seems like the system has decided to give you this artifact as a reward.”
It was only then that Yeon-woo began to wonder what the significance of achievements were in the Tower. He had once questioned what kind of reward would he receive if he put together all his achievements, but he never expected this.
"Would you like to take this as your reward?"
[You have acquired Athena’s Aegis.]
Aegis fell into Yeon-woo's hand. He thought it would be heavy, and he was surprised to see how light it was. Yeon-woo stroked the smooth surface of the shield.
"It seems like my job is finished. Perhaps I should take my leave now." A message popped up over Yvlke’s head.
[The trial has ended. Will you continue to the next floor?]
Yeon-woo nodded, and a blue portal opened underneath his feet. Yeon-woo disappeared into the portal.
* * *
As soon as Yeon-woo left the last floor of the Beginner Zone, a huge message window appeared on each floor of the Tower to announce to all the players that a record had been broken. It said that an unknown player had set a new record in the Beginner Zone and registered their score in the Hall of Fame.
And when players found out that the unknown player was the Hoarder, the whole Tower once again entered a state of agitation. Most of the players were worried by the arrival of the new talent, but there were some who expressed joy because the name they wanted to erase from the Tower, Jeong-woo’s name, was finally thrown into the dustbin of history. Instead, the Hoarder’s name became engraved deep inside their heads.Previous Chapter Next Chapter