Yeon-woo's eyes widened at the unexpected request. "I don't mind, but…"
『You are worried that by giving him a name, his existence will become tied to yours, am I right?』
Yeon-woo nodded with an apprehensive expression. Naming a spiritual being wasn’t a simple matter at all as doing so could bind it to him, just like his Spirit Familiars. Although Mythical Beasts and Spirit Familiars were different creatures, they both belonged to the spiritual world, and he wasn’t sure what would happen if he named the hatchling. However, the Phoenix laughed gently as if to reassure him.
『Do not worry. His life is already closely knitted to yours. He is also very fond of you, so he would be delighted to receive a name from you. Besides, it will be of great benefit to you. Forming a spiritual connection with a Legendary Beast will help your tier ascend.』
Her gentleness warmed Yeon-woo's heart.
『If you ever become a higher being, this connection will become very helpful.』
‘I don’t have any reason to refuse.’ Finally, Yeon-woo accepted the request. "I’ll name him.”
* * *
Like any other baby, the newborn Phoenix was very cute.
『Although he is just a child, I see great potential within him. He will grow to be a wonderful Phoenix.』
Yeon-woo stood restlessly as he held the chirping baby Phoenix to his bosom. Unlike his gigantic mother, the baby Phoenix was so tiny that it was almost too delicate for him to handle. However, the baby Phoenix happily flapped his small wings in his arms, and Yeon-woo had to take extra care not to drop the bird every time he wriggled.
『It seems that even someone like you can find some things hard to deal with.』 There was an amused look on the Phoenix's eyes as she looked at Yeon-woo. Yeon-woo carefully moved the baby bird to one arm and began petting his head with his free hand. 'He's warm.'
Although the bird's feathers were made of flames, they didn't burn his hand. Instead, they were so comfortably warm that he almost didn’t want to let go. The baby bird chirped happily.
『Have you chosen a name?』
[The Phoenix is asking you to name her third child. Will you accept her request?]
Yeon-woo then said aloud the name he had decided on after much deliberation and heavy thought. "Chirpy."
[Are you sure you want to name the Phoenix's third child ‘Chirpy’?]
As Yeon-woo was about to nod, he suddenly felt like he was being pierced by a strange gaze, and when he turned, he saw the Phoenix looking at him with a sour expression on her face. "Is something wrong?" Yeon-woo cocked his head to one side seriously.
『N-no, nothing is wrong. Hmm, I s-suppose that…name will do.』
Yeon-woo wondered why the Phoenix was stuttering.
[You have named the Phoenix's third child 'Chirpy'. You have established a bond with Chirpy. Chirpy's affinity towards you has increased greatly. You will be under the influence of Chirpy.]
[Affinity towards fire element has increased by 50.]
[Affinity towards wind element has increased by 50.]
[You have formed a contract with a Legendary Beast. Due to the influence of the Legendary Beast, all Mythical Beasts except for Demonic Beasts will now be less vigilant against you.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 2,000 karma.]
[You have acquired 1,500 additional karma.]
Yeon-woo felt something welling up from inside his body. It was difficult to express in words, but it seemed to be his soul’s tier advancing due to the connection.
[Spiritual growth has been confirmed. The halted succession process will resume. 99.1%...99.2%...]
[Current progress: 99.5%]
It also influenced the succession process, and his vessel was growing to match the growth of his spirit. He had only half a percent left to complete the process. Yeon-woo gently patted Chirpy's head as he savored this peaceful moment. “Tweet! Tweet!”
* * *
After leaving the Phoenix's nest, Yeon-woo spent some time training in order to get used to his new artifacts and abilities. The first thing he did was to try out the combinations of weapons he had come up with while talking to the Phoenix.
The combination of the Black Blade and Flame Infusion he had developed in the past was now upgraded into a combination of Black Energy and Flame Infusion, and he could now create more powerful explosions.
And the new combination of Combat Will and Goddess' Weapon allowed Yeon-woo to tolerate the aftereffects of thought acceleration much better. He also organized his Spirit Familiars into three small units and appointed Boo, Nol, and Ka to take charge of each unit.
Now that they possessed intelligence, the spirits were no longer useless. After learning how to fight, they began to take part in hunting down beasts, and the Spirit Familiars reached a point where they could hunt monsters even without his commands. They drew spirits into his collection and were developing various abilities on their own.
However, not everything went as smoothly as Yeon-woo hoped. ‘What am I supposed to do with you?’ Yeon-woo fidgeted with Aegis. It wasn’t just a shield, and as a godly artifact, it clearly had many hidden functions. But even with Draconic Eyes, he couldn’t figure it out. 'I only know that it's lighter than it looks.'
Yeon-woo barely felt any weight in his hand even though the shield had nine layers of thick metal. ‘I can even spread them out or separate them into nine different shields.' The layers could be detached to make nine small shields or just spread out like the petals of a flower to create a large shield. He assumed it was used for blocking attacks on multiple fronts. 'Maybe I should try infusing it with mana.' Yeon-woo drew out mana from his Magic Circuit and infused it into Aegis.
Aegis began to tremble, and with a tingling sensation, Yeon-woo felt an invisible string connect him to Aegis. The sensation was similar to the puppet string that connected him to his Spirit Familiars, except this time, he could manipulate the shield with his thoughts.
Yeon-woo put Aegis on the floor, stretched out his hand, and thought about the shield floating. Aegis shook a few times and slowly rose into the air. 'Could this be some sort of Psychokinesis?'
However, Yeon-woo didn’t really care how or why it worked, as long as it did. When he imbued more mana into the shield, it rose into his hand. 'This is much simpler than I expected.' He could control the shield’s position with his thoughts alone.
His brother had repeatedly mentioned in his diary that most unique artifacts were very hard to handle, except for a few exceptions. At first, Yeon-woo thought that Aegis was one of the exceptions but this was immediately disproven when he split the shield into nine pieces. The connection broke apart into nine strings, forcing him to divide his attention.
Clang! Clang! The nine plates dropped onto the floor. 'Do I really have to focus on all nine pieces if I want to use all of them?' Yeon-woo tried to manipulate the nine shields, but they refused to budge, and so he tried focusing on the piece closest to him. This time, he lifted it as easily as he had before separating the shield into pieces.
Clenching his teeth, Yeon-woo extended his left hand and looked at another piece of metal. Soon, two shields were drifting in midair. 'I was wrong. This is harder than I thought.' He licked his lips and tried to wield both shields at the same time, but as soon as he focused on one, he lost control of the other. He just couldn’t seem to control them both at the same time, and he couldn’t even imagine controlling all nine. 'Looks like I have to train myself to split my consciousness.'
It did make sense that a godly artifact like Aegis with its amazing offensive and defensive abilities would require great concentration. 'I should have realized this. Damn, this is not going to be easy.' The challenge was that he couldn’t focus only on manipulating Aegis in combat—just using his limbs and coming up with tactics were already enough to require his full attention. ‘Athena truly is the goddess of war and wisdom.'
Yeon-woo was still relieved that his traits, Diamond Physique and Cold-blooded, could help him stay calm and make quick decisions in battle. Although it would be tough going, he expected that he’d eventually handle three or four shields at the same time once he got used to it. It was now time to practice. "Boo, Nol, Ka."
Krik! The three Spirit Familiars immediately turned to Yeon-woo.
"I'm going to do some training and I need your help."
The three of them tilted their heads.
"All you have to do is scatter around the forest, and when I give you the signal, attack me. Stick to hit-and-run tactics."
The three desperately shook their heads as if they could not do such a thing to their master. Their reactions were kind of cute, and the contrast with their frightening appearances made Yeon-woo chuckle a little. "Don't worry. I'm only going to block your attacks. And I won’t be using the shield that has the Gorgon’s head."
The three spirits lowered their heads and began to walk away from Yeon-woo. As soon as they were far enough from him, Yeon-woo activated Combat Will. Whoosh! A great deal of information began to pour into his head, but Yeon-woo still opened Gyges' Eyes to expand his cognitive abilities even further. As he rubbed his aching head, Yeon-woo injected his mana into two shields. Suddenly, he was overcome with dizziness. 'Controlling Aegis while simultaneously using other skills is even harder than I thought it would be.' Yeon-woo tried to stabilize himself. "I'm ready."
The Spirit Familiars began to move. Yeon-woo quickly moved two shields in the direction the spirits were running.
* * *
The training allowed Yeon-woo to discover more things about Aegis’ strength and ability to absorb impact. Since Ka had once been a boss monster, he had the strength to tear a human apart easily, But when Yeon-woo used Aegis to block Ka’s charge, the shield barely moved or even vibrated.
And because he could make the shields float around him with his thoughts, he could use them to protect his blind spots and prevent potential attacks at his vulnerable areas. ‘As long as I can react quickly enough, I can block any kind of attack.'
These discoveries meant that he could plan things properly, and he began to train in earnest, using one shield to block the Spirit Familiars’ combined attacks then adding another shield once he grew used to the first one. The difficulty level jumped exponentially with the addition of another shield. 'I can force myself to try to control three, but I won’t be able to control them as well as I can one or even two.' Yeon-woo decided to go slowly and accustom himself to controlling just a couple first.
Once he became more used to handling three shields, he started to move and avoid attacks instead of adding one more shield. 'The best advantage I have is my mobility. I can’t just let it rot while I’m using Aegis.' Yeon-woo ran as fast as he could while sending Aegis to stop Nol from approaching. It felt as if multiple Yeon-woos were running around the forest.
His head was spinning from having to process all the information streaming in through the strands of consciousness he distributed to each shield, and his vision grew blurry as his vertigo got worse. However, Yeon-woo increased the intensity of his training even further, and the Magic Circuit circulated mana frantically as his entire body started to heat up from the overload. Still, Yeon-woo circulated as much as his body could hold.
* * *
It was midnight when Yeon-woo finally returned to his beast egg’s nest, and he went for a soak in a hot spring nearby. As he felt his fatigue melting away, Yeon-woo ran through the day’s training. For the first time since he’d entered the Tower, he had exhausted all the mana in his Magic Circuit.
It was noteworthy since his body contained a huge amount of mana thanks to the Snow Ginseng and Akasha’s Neidan. His training had really been demanding, and he sighed as he thought about the final percent that he was still stuck at for the succession process. ‘'I need to hurry up and complete it.’
Although he experienced tiny increases every now and then, none were enough to take him to 100 percent. Yeon-woo guessed he needed a catalyst to help him break through the bottleneck.
'Well, it’ll eventually rise if I keep climbing up the Tower.’ Yeon-woo summoned the status window as he submerged his body deeper into the water. 'It worked better than I thought.’
[Player: Yeon-woo Cha]
[Trait: Cold-blooded, Diamond Physique]
[Title: Monster Hunter]
[Strength: 235 (+23)]
[Dexterity: 245 (+29)]
[Health: 239 (+14)]
[Magic Power: 320 (+22)]
[Skills: Draconic Eyes (25.1%), Sense Strengthening (43.2%), Precognition (1.0%), Physical Resistance (30.1%), Combat Will (25.5%), Bathory’s Vampiric Sword (15.5%), Flame Infusion (52.1%), Shunpo (39.1%), Magic Circuit (18.2%)]
He had come a long way from when he’d first stepped into the Tower. His growth speed was among the fastest ever seen throughout the whole history of the Tower, and he had many great artifacts. No one who saw his items and stats would believe that he was only a player in the lower floors.
Nevertheless, Yeon-woo didn't neglect his training and pushed himself even harder. Thanks to his determination, his skills experienced a rapid growth in proficiency, especially Sense Strengthening. ‘Maybe it’s because I used all my senses to control Aegis during training.’ Yeon-woo still had a lot of training to do in order to get used to controlling the separate pieces of Aegis, but at least he was killing two birds with one stone.
Yeon-woo began to plan out his future training. He intended to focus on controlling the shields for the time being since he had lots of time to kill before his egg hatched, and he didn’t have any specific goals. ‘I guess that’s what I can do, but…” Yeon-woo creased his forehead as he closed the status window. ‘What’s taking them so long?’
It had been six days since Yeon-woo entered the eleventh floor, and there were still no signs of Phante and Edora arriving. Although the tenth-floor trial was hard, it was impossible for them to take so long to complete it, especially since Edora had her Insight.
Yeon-woo quickly opened up the ranking window.
[1. Edora (25,000 Points)
2. Unknown (23,900 Points)
3. Jeong-woo Cah (20,100 Points)]
‘They’ve already passed the trial.’ Edora had taken first place, which had previously belonged to Yeon-woo, and Phante was at fifth place. However, since they weren’t on the eleventh floor, it could only mean one thing. ‘They’re not in the Tower anymore, but why?’
Yeon-woo figured that they were likely at the Outer District, but he was curious why they’d suddenly left the Tower, especially since they’d already discussed meeting on the eleventh floor. 'Well, at least I know they’ve completed the tenth floor. They’ll come back once they’re done with their business.’
He decided not to concern himself too much about it. Phante and Edora were members of the One-horned tribe’s royalty. They could look after themselves. His only concern was that they wouldn’t make it to the eleventh floor by the time his egg hatched. 'I’ve changed a lot.' Yeon-woo sank into the hot water even deeper and looked up at the night sky, which grew darker as the moon set.
* * *
However, after five more days, there was still no sign of Phante and Edora on the eleventh floor.
Yeon-woo spent most of his time training so that he could wield three layers of Aegis, and his Spirit Familiars had also grown to the point where they could think on their own. ‘I think I can manage in actual combat now.’
Ready to begin his journey, Yeon-woo strapped Vigrid and Aegis back on his back and hung the Magic Bayonet and Carshina’s Dagger at his waist.
『I see you are preparing for battle. Have you finally decided to complete my quest?』
Although the Phoenix was busy taking care of her children, she couldn’t help asking him. Yeon-woo nodded. 『It is quite a late start.』
"I had a lot to prepare."
『I recommend that you hurry up. Your egg is almost ready to take the Flame of Life. Oh, and do not worry about its safety. I’ll keep an eye on it.』
"Thank you." Yeon-woo left the forest. It was time to create the vessel to carry the Flame of Life.Previous Chapter Next Chapter