『Thank you, human.』
『What happened to those pathetic humans who took my child?』
"They’re dead. I burned their corpses just in case someone is behind them.”
『That is a shame. I should have ended their lives myself.』The Phoenix had been planning to go after the thieves after her eggs hatched, but if they ran off to a different floor, she wouldn’t be able to find them. And even if she did and managed to retrieve her lost child, there was a possibility that the hatchling wouldn’t recognize her as its mother. In many ways, she was lucky that Yeon-woo had shown up to help her bring her egg back before it hatched.『But that does not matter for my child has returned to me and it’s all thanks to you.』The Phoenix stared at Yeon-woo attentively, his figure reflected in her large yellow eyes.『Now, it is time to fulfill the promise I made. I will grant you what you’re asking for. Is it the Flame of Life?』
"Yes, it is."
『Do you know what it is?』
"I know that it's the power of your very existence." The Phoenix was a creature that both originated from fire and died in it, and the flame that symbolized the Phoenix’s resurrection was called the Flame of Life or Holy Fire.
『If you serve a god or a demon, you must say so because my flame will harm you.』
"I don’t serve anyone.” This was another reason Yeon-woo had refused Hermes’ offer. The Holy Fire’s holy energy could not reconcile with a god’s holy energy since the Phoenix’s energy was primeval in nature while the gods had a refined one.
『Good. Is this for the beast egg you own?』
『I see. I usually test all those who want the Flame of Life. but since you have already proven yourself, I will grant you the flame now. Besides, I believe you would have passed the test with ease if I had given it to you.』
“Thank you kindly.”
[You have received the Phoenix’s favor.]
[Intimacy with the Phoenix has increased by 200. The Phoenix will be less cautious towards you.]
[You have received the qualification for the quest Flame of Life.]
[Hidden quest (Phoenix’s Test) completed.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 1,500 karma.]
[You have acquired 1,000 additional karma.]
In a normal situation, Yeon-woo would have been given a test that would have consumed a considerable amount of time, even if it wasn’t too difficult for him, as the Phoenix said. It was welcome news to him that he could skip the task.
『However, if you wish to receive the flame, you will need to craft a suitable vessel to contain it.』
[You have received a new quest]
[Hidden Quest / Flame of Life]
[Description: The Flame of Life, the source of Phoenix’s unlimited power, requires a special vessel to contain its inextinguishable property. Gather materials from monsters scattered around the dream world and complete the vessel to carry the Flame of Life.]
[* List of required items]
[1. Albatross’ Egg (0/5)
2. Shadow Snake's Apple (0/80)
3. Lesser Dragon's Heart (0/1)]
[Time limit: None.]
1. Phoenix's favor
2. Flame of Life]
Yeon-woo clucked his tongue as he looked at the list. ‘So it’s true that it’s harder to make the vessel than to pass the test itself.' There were about fifty different items required to make the vessel. They were all obtainable on the eleventh floor, but some of them were quite difficult to acquire. Still, if he could get the Flame of Life, it would be worth the effort.
『Now, if you are finished, let me be alone with my children. Come back when you are ready.』
It was time for the eggs to hatch. Yeon-woo silently stepped back with a bow.
* * *
Yeon-woo set up camp not far from the Phoenix's nest, and then he began to construct his own nest for his beast egg.
Although it’s still an egg, it’s sensitive to its environment and can be affected by it. In order to hatch a good beast, the first thing I did was create a quiet, comfortable, and stress-free environment.
Yeon-woo gathered all the items noted down in the diary for building a nest. He laid down a solid foundation using twigs from alkas trees and covered it with leaves from airy bushes. To prevent other beasts from approaching the egg, he spread the sap of a carnivorous tree on the ground around the nest. Then, he washed the egg with water he’d drawn from a nearby spring. 'I can’t believe I’m doing this.’
Yeon-woo sighed heavily at the thought of the task that he was completely unsuited for, but just then, the egg trembled for the first time. Surprised by the movement, Yeon-woo flinched a little but he soon returned to building the nest. A faint smile appeared on his face.
* * *
Yeon-woo placed the nest at the edge of a giant tree so that his egg could feel the breeze. Although he couldn’t read its thoughts, he had a feeling that the egg liked its location. 'Well, that's enough for now.' Yeon-woo shook the dirt off his hands and stood up. It was time to check the artifacts that he’d gotten as rewards. ‘There should be eight items, if I remember correctly.’’
There was the Ring of Ice, the Skull Crest, Kratuca’s Bamboo Spear, and so on.
Yeon-woo took them out and started examining them with Draconic Eyes. A few minutes later, he grabbed a fingernail-sized skull earring with a tiny jewel in its mouth. ‘This is the only useful item.’
[Classification: Auxiliary Equipment]
[Description: An earring made from the skull of a player who had been a witch doctor when he was alive. It was a great artifact when it was first made, but time has worn away its power. However, it is possible to return it to its past glory if taken to a skillful blacksmith.]
[* Scream of the Witch Doctor
The soul of the witch doctor has been bound to the skull, and it constantly screams in pain. Its scream can slightly amplify dark element mana.]
The Skull Crest wasn’t the best item among the artifacts he’d received—in fact, it was objectively the worst one. Even someone like Yeon-woo, who could handle dark element mana, an artifact with such a small buff hardly had any value. However, there was one aspect that caught his attention. ‘The soul of a witch doctor is trapped inside this.’
It was a great opportunity to test the new options of the Black Bracelet. ‘I guess it’s not exactly a bracelet anymore.' Yeon-woo chuckled as he glanced at the black chain coiled around his right arm. Without any further delay, he activated Draconic Eyes once more and focused on the Skull Crest.
As he expected, a horribly disfigured soul lurked below the surface of the earring, trapped for so long that it lost everything about itself except for its resentment. Yeon-woo clenched the earring, and opened his Magic Circuit, converting about thirty of the 150 souls into dark element mana and injecting it into the earring.
As the dark and murky energy permeated the Skull Crest, the worn skull turned black while the jewel in its mouth began to glow with a brilliant light. The grotesque cries of the soul grew louder and louder.
Then suddenly, a burst of cold light shot out of the jewel, and the Skull Crest crumbled to dust. A gust of wind suddenly began to blow from every direction, converging on the location of the shattered earring. A ghost soon appeared at the center of the whirlwind. Yeon-woo had managed to create a Spirit Familiar using the second option of the Despair of the Black King.
The twisted face glowed with a cold, dim light, and the witch doctor’s soul continued to scream in pain despite becoming a Spirit Familiar. 「Ahh!」
It seemed like the witch doctor’s mind still hadn’t recovered from the trauma it sustained from the time it spent trapped inside the earring. The spirit shook as though it were staring at something terrifying. Perhaps the witch doctor had been killed and eaten by a monster.
Yeon-woo’s forehead wrinkled in misgiving when he realized how damaged the spirit was. However, since there was no going back, he sighed and slowly approached it. ‘I hope this works.’
Yeon-woo raised his hands and clasped the spirit’s head. It struggled to free itself from his grasp, but Yeon-woo forced the spirit to meet his eyes. "Obey me."
Yeon-woo injected his mana into the spirit and repeated the command over and over as the spirit’s struggling grew more furious as though it were having a fit. Just as Yeon-woo was beginning to think that it wasn’t working, the spirit began to scream out words.
「I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I don't want to die!」
"Obey!" Seeing a ray of hope, Yeon-woo shouted once more. The spirit’s screams and struggles stopped completely, and it suddenly changed from a murky white color into a deep black. The spirit’s eyes grew clear and now stared back at Yeon-woo. He’d succeeded in controlling it. Although he couldn’t see it, Yeon-woo felt a string connecting him to the spirit. 'So this is what it feels like to have a Spirit Familiar.’
Yeon-woo looked at his new Spirit Familiar and gave him an order. "Sit down."
Hiss! For a second, the spirit stared blankly at Yeon-woo, then he lowered himself to the ground. Curious, Yeon-woo began giving him more orders. “Stand up. Spin around.” At first they were simple ones. "Go touch that tree and come back as fast as you can." Then they grew more complex. "Do you see the fruit hanging from that tree? Pick them and put them in my bag."
The Spirit Familiar followed Yeon-woo’s every command without any complaint. It even managed to cast a simple spell to pick the fruit that hung high in a tree. Although it couldn’t use higher-tier magic anymore, it had no problems using lower-tier magic.
The Spirit Familiar didn’t show any sign of defiance or even express its opinion in any way. It really seemed like a loyal servant. Yeon-woo did a few more experiments. First, he checked its speed. Its maximum speed was only a little slower than Yeon-woo’s when he used Shunpo.
Then, he checked the range of the Spirit Familiar. It could carry out Yeon-woo’s commands up to a hundred meters away. The farther the Spirit Familiar was, the thinner the invisible string connecting it to Yeon-woo felt. When the Spirit Familiar was far enough that Yeon-woo almost couldn’t feel the string at all, it stopped following his commands.
It hadn’t defied Yeon-woo or broken free of the spell, but it simply couldn’t sense the command. ‘I need to find a way to strengthen this puppet string.’Previous Chapter Next Chapter