With blank expressions, Yeon-woo and the Phoenix stared at the egg for a long time, waiting to see whether or not it would hatch. However, nothing happened, and a furrow formed between Yeon-woo’s brows. However, Chirpy was glued to the egg, happily chirping at the thought he wouldn’t have to say goodbye to his friend just yet. “Tweet! Tweet!”
『Hmm, I have never witnessed such a strange phenomenon. I do not understand why your egg is not hatching.』
"What do you think the problem is?"
『Well, there is no problem. I would know if there were any.』 The Phoenix sounded a little offended. The Holy Flame the Phoenix had granted Yeon-woo was not just a random creation, it also was part of the Phoenix's own soul. Saying that there was a problem with the Holy Flame was like saying there was a problem with the Phoenix’s soul.
Realizing his mistake, Yeon-woo quickly bowed to apologize. "Oh, I’m so sorry, I misspoke.”
『It is alright. I understand that humans view things from a different perspective than beasts.』 The Phoenix turned her attention back to the egg. 『However, I must admit, this is abnormal. I can see the beast inside the egg is completely developed, but I am afraid I cannot understand why it’s not coming out.』
Yeon-woo had no clue what was going on either since the diary didn’t mention anything like it.
『Let us take some time and observe the egg. It will come out soon, I believe.』
Yeon-woo had no choice but to comply with the Phoenix's suggestion.
* * *
Yeon-woo once again started wandering around the dream world to collect more materials for the Flame of Life after the Phoenix suggested that the egg might require more in order to hatch.
『I cannot grant you another flame of high quality, but it is not particularly hard to create a flame of normal quality. Let us give it one more try.』
Complaints about the scarcity of the materials rose once more from the other players, but Yeon-woo had no time to care about them, and he proceeded to sweep up the hard-to-find materials. The egg absorbed the second Flame of Life, growing once more until it was three meters tall.
Although that didn’t sound too big on paper, it was almost twice as big as Yeon-woo. Since the beast inside was curled up in a fetal position, Yeon-woo couldn’t even imagine how big it would be once it broke out of its shell. “Haha.” He could help a hollow laugh from escaping.
『This is unbelievable. I have never seen an egg grow this big before hatching. It seems like my flame will run out before it stops growing.』 The Phoenix’s flame wouldn’t actually be depleted by creating more Flames of Life, but she was feeling extremely frustrated.
“Tweet! Tweet!” Once again, only Chipy made happy sounds like a child bragging to its mother how big its friend was. However, Yeon-woo didn’t even notice, so deep in thought that nothing reached his ears. ‘This is almost like shoveling sand against the tide.'
Despite the delay, he could feel without a doubt that his connection to the egg was growing stronger, and the egg’s happiness was as clear to him as if he were feeling it himself. Unfortunately, he could only sense its feelings and not its thoughts, as if it were intentionally hiding them from Yeon-woo as a joke.
‘Can it really be just pranking me?’ The situation couldn’t be that easy since Mythical Beasts were beings with simple but profound natures. 'I’ll be stuck on this floor for a long time if nothing changes.’
Although the bartender had said that the war’s first battle would most likely take place on the eleventh floor, it wasn’t guaranteed, and a lot of things could still happen in the meantime. 'Even if a battle does take place on this floor, I have to finish the trial before it starts.’
The Phoenix carefully voiced a suggestion about the egg after organizing her thoughts for a while. 『Perhaps this could be the reason…』
Yeon-woo’s head jerked up at the Phoenix’s murmuring. "What is it?"
Yeon-woo was puzzled. “Motivation?”
『Yes. As you know, dreams are paramount to all Mythical Beasts. They feed off dreams and are always in pursuit of them. And I have heard that no Mythical Beasts are born in places where there are no dreams at all.』
Yeon-woo’s eyelids began to quiver. He could see where the Phoenix was going with this.
『To my knowledge, most humans have dreams, big or small.』
And he felt the Phoenix’s eyes staring into his very soul.
『But human, do you have a dream?』
Yeon-woo was struck dumb at her question.
『It seems like you do not.』
He laughed bitterly. 'Dream…' It was true. He didn’t have one. If anything, his only dream was revenge, but that wasn’t a dream either. It was more like a goal that he had set for himself. Players who climbed up the Tower usually had dreams of gaining power or becoming a god, but Yeon-woo had no interest in these. Power was merely a means of achieving his mission, and he didn’t even wish to become a god. In fact, Yeon-woo thought that dreams were nothing but trivial and rather cumbersome things to have.
'Is that what’s causing this?' Yeon-woo was running into difficulties he had never expected to encounter, and he had no idea what the solution was. 'I guess a trial is really a trial.’ It brought him not just physical challenges but mental anguish.
Yeon-woo glanced at his egg with a slight frown on his face, still sensing the egg’s happiness. He raised his head to look at the Phoenix, and even though he didn’t say anything, she could see the desperation in his eyes. 『Take your time to clear up your mind. Hasty decisions will only delay the progress of your work.』
Yeon-woo answered with a grave nod.
* * *
'Dream.' Yeon-woo sat quietly at the edge of a cliff and started to organize his thoughts. 'It’s a tough problem. It’s not something I can just make up.' He had never thought about a dream, and he was only focused on revenge. Besides, he had a mountain of things to deal with: the trial, the imminent war between the two giant clans…he didn’t have time to waste.
After breathing in some fresh air, he felt his head clearing up a bit. Chirpy flew over, flapping his tiny wings adorably and sat on Yeon-woo’s lap. “Tweet?” Chirpy stared at Yeon-woo with his twinkling eyes and started jumping around his lap while opening and closing his beak as if he were trying to tell him something. “Tweet! Tweet!”
"You came here to cheer me up?"
"You’re saying that your friend is just sleeping so I don’t have to worry too much?" Yeon-woo couldn’t hold back his laughter.
"OK, I’ll stop laughing."
Thanks to the contract he made with Chirpy, Yeon-woo was able to read his thoughts to a certain extent. He was trying to defend his friend, saying that the beast inside the egg did not mean any ill will. He looked so cute trying to persuade Yeon-woo that he started petting and playing with the little bird.
Chirpy looked up with anxious eyes as Yeon-woo petted him without answering. Chirpy had misunderstood something. He believed that Yeon-woo was depressed by the egg’s refusal to hatch, but in fact, Yeon-woo was preoccupied by something else. 'You want me to have a dream? What if I make you so full that you won’t even need my dreams?' Yeon-woo's eyes glowed with a strange light.
If there was anything he had learned as he climbed the Tower, it was that there was more than one answer for a problem in a trial. ‘Do you think you can continue being stubborn and stay like that even if I give you tons of energy to feed on?’ Yeon-woo planned to continue feeding the egg with the Flame of Life until it hatched. If it continued to refuse, he had a backup plan. ‘I’ll bring you the energy of the other three Legendary Beasts.'
The Abyss Turtle, the Void Dragon, and the Sabertoothed Tiger. As far as he knew, the other Legendary Beasts also gave their energy as a reward to players who completed their quests. Yeon-woo had chosen the Phoenix’s Flame of Life because he needed a Mythical Beast with the fire and wind property, but he couldn’t stick to his original plan anymore. 'Maybe this will be even better.’
No beast in the Tower’s history had ever hatched with the energy of all four Legendary Beasts.
If he was successful, his egg would be the first. He’d also collect tons of karma points during the process. ‘If that still doesn’t work, I'll bring you every kind of food I can find on this floor. Let’s see how much you can eat.' Yeon-woo’s lips began to curl up.
The egg, which had been sleeping in the nest, suddenly twitched awake and began to shake crazily. Chirpy, who didn’t know what was going on, tilted its head and made a puzzled sound. “Tweet?”
* * *
That night, Yeon-woo prepared a new plan. ‘Before I feed my egg, I need to know its current status.' He had to make sure if it was OK to provide his egg with such overwhelming amounts of nutrients. After all, he didn’t want the egg to shatter. However, his Draconic Eyes didn’t show him any detailed information about the egg. He needed Edora's Insight. ‘Where the hell are they?'
He was certain that Phante and Edora hadn’t entered the eleventh floor yet because the mark he had left in the starting point had not been removed. ‘Maybe their absence has something to do with the coming war.’ Yeon-woo was pondering this when the Phoenix said, 『Excuse me. You have a visitor.』
"A visitor?" Out of habit, Yeon-woo raised his head at the Phoenix's voice even though she wasn’t present. She began to transmit images to his mind. Yeon-woo was startled at first, but he soon got used to it. He saw a man with long, bushy hair confronting two beasts blocking his path.
Although he didn’t know who the man was, he could easily guess his origin thanks to his golden eyes and the horn sticking out of his temple. "One-horned tribe?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter