Chapter 85 - Flame of Life (1)

Mythical Beasts are creatures that grow by feeding on people’s dreams, and the eggs the players receive on the eleventh floor are no different. They eat players’ dreams and become different beasts based on what they are fed.

Owners can breed any beast as long as they provide the right nourishment, but they don’t have complete control over the outcome. As everyone knows, the Tower isn’t an entirely benevolent place. The most one can do is influence the egg to possess the desired element and become a higher-tier beast. However, that process is a challenge, as all the ingredients are very rare and often appear as hidden pieces or products of hidden quests.

"It should be around here somewhere." The first ingredient Yeon-woo went to search for was the egg of the monster bird, Albatross. ‘Although it’s just a bird, an Albatross is a powerful and gigantic beast, and it’s big enough to bite off a player’s head.’

An Albatross could grow up to five meters, and its powerful beak and sharp talons could even shred metal to pieces. In addition to that, its swift wings made it a difficult monster to kill, but Yeon-woo wasn’t too concerned since he wouldn’t have shown up without a plan. He followed the map in the diary to find the Albatross' territory, and after walking around the forest for a bit, he stopped after realizing that there were no other creatures in his vicinity. It was proof that he was inside the Albatross’s territory.

Yeon-woo raised his head and saw a huge creature sitting on a branch fifteen meters above the ground. It was an Albatross. “Kyeek!” The bird unfurled its huge wings and horrible shriek. Ordinary players would have shrunk with fright at its cry, but Yeon-woo only smiled coldly.

[Hidden Quest / Albatross Hunt]
[Description: A monstrous bird that lives in the northern area of the dream world. Albatrosses are known to devour everything they see. Because of their gluttonous appetite, the beasts that dwell in the forest live in fear of being eaten. Hunt down an Albatross and retrieve its eggs to prevent them from hatching.]
[*This quest is linked to the Flame of Life quest.]

[Reward: All stats +5, Albatross's Comb]

‘This is what I like about the eleventh floor.’ The hidden pieces located in different places all over the eleventh floor were not only excellent ingredients for hatching one’s desired beast but also contained plentiful rewards. "Come out."

Hiss! At Yeon-woo’s call, black smoke rose from the ground to reveal Boo, Nol, Ka, and seven other Spirit Familiars. And as soon as they appeared, the spirits went straight towards the Albatross even without Yeon-woo’s command.

The Albatross quickly flapped its wings in an effort to take flight, but Nol managed to land a blow with its swift legs right away. Boom! The Albatross lost its grip on the branch and plummeted to the ground. The bird quickly picked itself up and made another attempt to escape, but it was too late. The other Spirit Familiars surrounded it even as it flapped its wings. Soon the bird grew limp as Boo’s Health Down curse affected it.

Although it was a simple debuff, the Albatross couldn’t budge its wings as if they were strapped to its body by an invisible chain. “Kyeek!” Powerless, the bird cried out mournfully.

Yeon-woo drew the Magic Bayonet and Carshina’s Dagger and flung himself at the Albatross.

*   *   *

"Devour." Yeon-woo opened his left hand and brought it to the Albatross’ neck. It was lying on the ground wheezing faintly. The serrated teeth pierced through its skin and began to suck out its blood at an alarming rate.

“Kyeek!”

[You have absorbed vitality and energy]

[Your strength has increased by 1 point.]

[Your dexterity has increased by 2 points.]

···

[‘Bathory’s Vampiric Sword’ skill proficiency has increased. 15.9%]

A nightmarish shriek echoed throughout the woods as the Albatross summoned its last bit of strength and flapped its wings to break free, but its struggles quickly died down. With his Draconic Eyes, Yeon-woo spotted the soul of the Albatross escaping through its mouth, and he quickly captured it before it could escape. ‘I won’t be able to convert the soul into a Spirit Familiar right away because of its grudge, but I’m not going to let it go to waste. A soul like this is hard to come by. I’m going to have to find a way to subdue it.’

The Albatross’s soul was second only to Vulka’s, and it would make a great Spirit Familiar in the future.

[Hidden quest (Albatross Hunt) completed.]

[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]

[You have acquired 1,000 karma.]

[You have acquired 500 additional karma.]

···

[All of your stats have increased by 5 points.]

[You have acquired Albatross’s Comb.]

Yeon-woo read the messages with a contented smile and looked at his Spirit Familiars. "Good job, everyone."

Krik! Krik!

[The Spirit Familiars are rejoicing at their first victory in a group battle.]

[Morale of your Spirit Familiars has increased.]

[Affinity of your Spirit Familiars has increased.]

"And here’s your reward." Yeon-woo handed out a bead of compressed dark energy to each of his Spirit Familiars. The spirits happily took the beads and swallowed them right away, their murky grey bodies glowing red for a second.

[You have used Spirit Beads on your Spirit Familiars.]

[Boo (Witch Doctor) has been strengthened. All stats have increased by 1 point.]

[Nol (Giant Gnoll) has been strengthened. Dexterity has increased by 3 points.]

[Ka (Vulka) has been strengthened. Strength and health have increased by 2 points.]

···

Yeon-woo had created the Spirit Bead as a type of food for the Spirit Familiars. He’d considered that they were made with dark energy, and there was a limit to how strong they could become no matter how hard he trained them. This was because each soul belonged to a specific tier that placed limits on stats after death. He’d tried to find a way to raise their tiers. ‘That way, they can evolve into a Lich or a Death Knight.’

In the end, he’d hit upon the Spirit Beads, which proved to be very effective. Their overall stats and their intelligence were enhanced each time Yeon-woo fed them the beads. In particular, Boo, who previously could only cast simple buffs, became capable of using more diverse spells. The spirits also tried harder so that they could get beads.

'The hunt was even more successful than I expected.’ Yeon-woo hadn’t even taken part in it. The Spirit Familiars had killed the Albatross on their own. All he’d done was watch and step up at the last second to drain the Albatross’ power with Bathory’s Vampiric Sword. He could just sit back and raise his stats. Things couldn’t get any easier.

‘Seems like getting the rest of the ingredients will be just as easy.’ Yeon-woo climbed the tree to take the Albatross’ eggs from their nest. There were five in total, each one the size of a human head. Yeon-woo handed the eggs to his Spirit Familiars and went back down.

'Next up is...’ Yeon-woo opened up the quest window and looked at the second item on the list.

‘Shadow Snake's Apple.’ Perhaps the system listed whichever was closer to the Phoenix’s nest, since the Shadow Snake’s territory wasn’t very far from his current location. "Let's go."

Yeon-woo led his group of Spirit Familiars towards the next location.

*   *   *

In contrast to its grand name, Trinity was a very humble team consisting of three insignificant players who had the roles of tank, healer, and damage dealer. However, Dellan, June, and Heidi had a friendship so close and intimate that they hadn’t had a single moment of conflict ever since they decided to form a team in the Tutorial. That friendship only continued to grow as they made their way to the Shadow Snake’s Tunnel.

"Huff…Huff…Goddamnit, this is exhausting."

"Does this tunnel ever end?”

"Cheer up guys. Sylph just told me we’re almost at the end."

"If you say so, then OK, let’s keep going." The Shadow Snake’s Tunnel was the most challenging dungeon they had raided so far. The tunnel ceiling was so low that they had to bend down to fit inside. It was also very narrow, and only two people could cross side by side.

Worst of all, swarms of snakes kept emerging from the ceiling, walls, ground, and every possible nook and cranny. It was virtually impossible to take a moment of rest. They were almost out of antidotes for the venom of Shadow Snakes, and one bite more meant certain death. If it weren’t such an important raid, they would have turned back by now because Trinity always chose safety over risk.

But this time, none of them even thought of turning back. They had come too far, and a reward waited at the end of the tunnel that would make up for all of the hardships they were enduring.

‘Once we get Shadow Snake’s Apple…’

‘We won't have to go through all this pain again. We’ll be able to beat dungeons like this with just one finger.’

Shadow Snake’s Apple was known as a very effective elixir. A single bite could heal any physical wounds, eating a whole fruit could boost one’s health, and eating more than one could exponentially increase one’s mana capacity. Trinity happened to obtain information about the place where such amazing fruits grew, and they regarded this information as a blessing from the gods who’d taken pity on them.

A reliable source told them that a grove full of trees which produced tons of these fruits grew at the end of the tunnel, and they were sure that the information was true. Although perhaps there weren’t as many apples as they were led to believe, there certainly would be enough to turn them all into experts.

Soon, after a few more hardships, the team captain Dellan cheered.

"We’re here!"

"At last!"

"Ahh!

June and Heidi also cried out in joy. They could see a huge iron door in the distance which likely led to the boss room.

"I know how happy and thrilled you are, but it's too soon to celebrate. The real challenge still lies beyond this door. Let's calm down a bit, and get ourselves ready for battle." At Dellan's words, June and Heidi composed themselves and began to prepare. The difficulty of the boss room was likely worse than the challenge of the tunnel. As Trinity’s damage dealer, June drew the Dragonian’s Dagger he purchased with the karma his team had saved, while the healer, Heidi, summoned a Sylph to support her teammates.

"If everyone’s ready, I’m going to open the door." As Trinity’s tank, Dellan took the lead and opened the iron door. June and Heidi both took big gulps as they prepared to launch an attack as soon as the boss monster showed up, their eyes filled with determination. Beyond the door lay a forest full of Shadow Snake’s Apples, and they would become experts!

"Wait, what?"

"Huh?"

"What the fuck?

The members of Trinity were agape at the unbelievable sight that met their eyes. The boss room was little more than a forest of bare trees stripped of fruit. The leaves that rolled around on the ground told them that something had already swept through this place.

*   *   *

[You have made an achievement…]

···

[Hidden quest…]

···

[You have acquired…]

···

Yeon-woo set aside the message windows that kept giving him the same notifications over and over. Now that he had seen them so many times, he was barely impressed at their appearance.

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