Laplace looked with wonder at Yeon-woo, the player said to have captured all of Yvlke's attention and affection. Yeon-woo’s performance hadn’t only stirred up the players in the Tower, the Guardians also became excited at the emergence of the best novice since Arthia.
Since the Guardians watched over every player in the Tower, it was natural for them to be drawn to those who made great achievements. Also, Yvlke’s bets with the other Guardians and the profits he’d made from them helped spread the stories of Yeon-woo.
Each Guardian hoped for Yeon-woo to arrive at their respective floors as soon as possible so they could see his amazingness in person. In fact, this was the reason Laplace had appeared. He wasn’t the Guardian in charge of the eleventh floor, and instead, had used his authority to take over the eleventh floor with the flimsy excuse of providing extra care to a rookie. Since Laplace was Myo, one of the one of the elite Twelve Zodiacs of the Guardians, he got away with it, although he reminded himself to buy some delicious carrots to placate the true Guardian of the eleventh floor. "Do you know how the rules change from the eleventh floor onwards?”
Yeon-woo recalled what was in the diary.
The difficulty of the floors from the eleventh is really different from that of the Beginner Zone. First, there are no more waiting rooms, and second, players have to carry out long-term trials as they need to make a living on those floors.
"I know that there aren’t any waiting rooms, and that trials will take place over a longer period of time."
"Well, that’s pretty much it. Since you know the gist of it, I’ll make it quick," Laplace said with a bright smile. "The Tutorial was an exam to check if players had the qualifications to enter the Tower, and the Beginner Zone was to help players prepare for what’s coming next. And now that you have passed both, you will be given real trials from now on."
‘Real trials.’ Yeon-woo mulled the words over.
"As you know, those who go through multiple trials to become a god are known as players in the world of Obelisk. They are put through several life-threatening trials and are required to overcome a series of challenges and surpass their own limitations."
As his speech went on, Yeon-woo zoned out, and he began thinking how strange it was to see a rabbit talking so well with such huge front teeth.
"The real trials begin on the eleventh floor, which means players have to deal with completely different things." Laplace’s explanation went on for a long time. The trials in the Beginner Zone were relatively lenient compared to those at the higher floors. Players who failed could return to the waiting rooms and recover from their injuries and fatigue before giving the trials another try. They could do this over and over until they passed the trials.
However, after the Beginner Zone, players had no choice but to remain in the stage. Even if they were injured, they had to find a cure in the stage. Essentially, they were trapped on a floor until they passed the trial.
In addition, most of the trials were missions that couldn’t be completed in a couple of days, and it was only by persevering and keeping their spirits high that players would be able to make their way out. Just as Laplace said, the real trials were just beginning. "So please remember, there are no repeat rounds from hereon. Do you have any questions?”
Yeon-woo quickly shook his head. He was already aware of all this information thanks to his brother’s diary, and he didn’t want to waste time listening to explanations. 'The trial on this floor isn’t particularly difficult anyway. Just a little annoying,' Yeon-woo thought to himself.
"No questions? Then let’s get the trial started!" Laplace cheerfully exclaimed, clapping his hands.
[The 11th-floor trial will now begin.]
[Description: You are currently in the dream world, a mythical world where dreams from all over the world and other dimensions converge. The beasts living in this world are known as Mythical Beasts, and they feed on the dreams that flow into this world. The beasts that eat nightmares become demonic beasts that cause chaos and disaster, and those that consume pleasant dreams will grow into Legendary Beasts that bring hope and peace.
Your job is to hatch your own Mythical Beast. Protect the egg until it hatches. The beast that is fed with your dreams and devotion will become a great partner for the long journey waiting ahead of you.]
At that moment, a round, white egg the size of a chicken egg fell into Yeon-woo’s palm.
"The egg in your hand is the egg of a Mythical Beast. No one knows what kind of creature will hatch from it. The appearance of a Mythical Beast depends on what the owner feeds it." Laplace's red eyes glowed with a strange light. "But one thing to remember is that although the egg grows on its own, it is still an egg. It will not hatch if the owner doesn’t give it enough love and care. So please, nourish it properly and with great care. The more you put your heart into it, the stronger your partner will be."
Yeon-woo nodded silently once more.
"OK then. I'll see you when your trial is over." Laplace disappeared as he bowed his head.
Left alone at the starting point, Yeon-woo scratched the back of his head. ‘Hatching a Mythical Beast’s egg might be a problem for me. I’m not good at taking care of things.’ Yeon-woo remembered that his brother had said this trial was fun, unlike the previous brutal and stressful ones, and it was the first one that he’d actually enjoyed. With the warm sun and the soft breezes of the eleventh floor, it really had an environment that no other floor could match. And since Jeong-woo’s trait was Perfect Adaptability, he’d managed to communicate with his egg and keep it well-nourished.
‘And so he managed to hatch out a Mythical Dragon.’ Mythical Dragons were one of the best creatures that could hatch from the eggs, the others being Balrogs, Kirins, Phoenixes, and so on.
Not only did the Mythical Dragon become his brother’s powerful ally, it also brought him the opportunity to meet the ancient dragon Kalatus and establish a contract to borrow the dragon’s powers.
Yeon-woo wasn’t like his brother, and he found it difficult to look after things like pets or kids. 'This kind of mission is definitely not my thing.' However, he wasn’t too concerned since his brother had left detailed instructions on hatching different Mythical Beasts. There was even information on a hidden piece that allowed players’ eggs to hatch into higher-tier beasts of specific elements.
'The Phoenix of the southern forest. If I could use its power…’ Despite the eleventh floor’s serenity, it was home to bosses that even high rankers feared to confront. It was home to four Legendary Beasts, the best kind that could hatch from the eggs. Each one symbolized a cardinal direction: the Abyss Turtle of the north, the Void Dragon of the east, the Sabertoothed Tiger of the west, and the Phoenix of the south.
The Phoenix is an immortal bird that can revive from the ashes of its dead body, just as the legends on Earth say. It is said that it has a limitless power over fire and wind, which greatly astonishes those who witness it.
Yeon-woo had been looking for ways to improve the power of his Flame Infusion, a skill that had many uses that ranged from simply creating a flame to launching long-range flame attacks. Its proficiency was already over fifty percent, and it seemed like hatching a beast with the fire and wind properties would help him achieve his goal. 'If I could only get my hands on the Flame of Life.’ His eyes shone with determination.
Yeon-woo waited a little longer for Phante and Edora at the starting point, but after a couple of hours, there still wasn’t any sign of them. Yeon-woo drew his dagger and left a small mark on a rock sitting beside him. Before they’d entered the tenth floor, they’d agreed on leaving a special mark that would signify that someone had already arrived and left. Below the mark, he scratched out, “South. Big forest.”
'They’ll find me even if I don’t write too much.' Yeon-woo turned south as he secured the egg. ‘Better get moving first.' He cast Shunpo.
* * *
Just as his message for Phante and Edora said, Yeon-woo moved south. His brother had left a rough map of the eleventh floor, and Yeon-woo compared it to the actual terrain he was traversing since it had been a long time since his brother had recorded the map. He wasn’t sure if there had been any changes since then.
‘Since the main goal of this floor is to hatch an egg, it is impossible to clear this trial as quickly as I did in the Beginner Zone. It will take at least half a month, maybe even a year or two, which means I have time to look for other hidden pieces. But for that to happen, I need to make sure that I gain a deep understanding of the geography of this place.’
There was no set time for the hatching of the egg since its incubation period depended on the beast growing inside and the efforts the player put into nurturing it. According to his brother, a player had even spent three years nurturing his egg before it hatched. Although the trial on the eleventh floor was not difficult, it was full of uncertainty. ‘And if the egg happens to break by mistake or because of other beasts, the mission will be over.’
Although the system wouldn’t count it as a failure, players wouldn’t be able to climb any higher.
There were rumors that a player could try hatching another egg, but not much was known about this. The main goals of the floor were to protect the egg and wait for a Mythical Beast to hatch.
'It’s not as easy as it seems, since this is the kind of mission where players with crab mentality can easily mess it up for others.’ It was why he had to get to the Phoenix’s territory. Only a fool or a lunatic would set foot into the territory of a Legendary Beast. 'It should show up any time now.' Yeon-woo had already set out his plans by the time he entered a dense forest.
[You have entered the Phoenix’s territory.]
[Your defense against fire and wind elements will be greatly reduced under the influence of the Phoenix.]
[Your overall stats will be reduced under the influence of the Phoenix.]
[The Phoenix is watching you from somewhere.]
Yeon-woo felt his body drooping like soaked cotton as the Phoenix energy pressed down on his body like gravity. Although it felt uncomfortable, Yeon-woo smiled contentedly after finding out that the Phoenix had its eyes on him. He didn’t have to worry about getting its attention. However, one thing bothered him: ‘Why is it so vigilant? There was nothing about it being this suspicious in the diary.’
He began to sense a faint murderous intent in the air. The Phoenix wanted to kill someone badly. ‘Did something happen?’ Yeon-woo approached the giant wall that at first seemed to mark the end of the stage. However, at its center was a cave entrance so large that a human standing in it would look no bigger than a dot.
‘That must be the Phoenix's Nest.’ The closer Yeon-woo approached, the more clearly he could feel the murderous intent. Just as he was about to step inside, a voice suddenly rang in his head.
It was Telepathic Communication, a high-level type of magic that could transfer one’s thoughts directly to another mind.
‘Phoenix.’ As Yeon-woo's expression grew serious, the Phoenix sent her thoughts to him once more. This time, they were full of malevolence.
『If you come any closer, I will take your life, human.』Previous Chapter Next Chapter