"You want to learn Mugong?" Edora’s eyes widened at the unexpected request.
Yeon-woo nodded calmly. He figured he’d try asking even though he knew his chances were low since Mugong was a technique unique to the One-horned tribe, and his brother had even stated in the diary that the One-horned tribe was very reluctant to pass their skills to outsiders. Over the years, numerous rankers tried to acquire Mugong, but hardly any succeeded.
Some players with close connections to the One-horned tribe or who had provided great assistance had been granted skill tomes as a token of appreciation, but they were strictly prohibited from handing the tomes over to other people.
This was why Edora couldn’t easily answer his question. After some time, Edora finally said, "I'll ask Father first thing in the morning, but I don’t know for sure if he will allow it."
"Don’t worry too much about it. It's OK if he doesn’t." At Yeon-woo’s answer and nod, Edora sighed with relief. 'If he doesn’t give me permission, I can still try to learn Mugong on my own.' Yeon-woo thought about the Hoho’unmujin once more and how escaping from it had given him a basic understanding of Jinbup.
However, he hadn’t tried applying it to his Magic Circuit because there was a big difference between understanding and implementing. It would not only take a long time but also come with a number of risks. Still, if the Martial King refused to teach him Mugong, he would have to start reconstructing his Magic Circuit. 'I’ve got lots of examples to help me out.'
There were people with Mugong everywhere in the village, and he could use theirs to map out the creation of his own Mugong. Yeon-woo licked his lips in anticipation as he thought of this.
* * *
"Cain wants to learn Mugong?" The Martial King closed the book he was reading and raised his chin to look at Edora with his eyes narrowed. "Hehe. I see someone is trying to win a boy’s favor.”
A shallow furrow formed between Edora’s brows, but since she was the one asking for a favor, she put on a fake smile. "He’s a possible candidate for the Yin Sword."
"Oh, you have such a favorable view of him?"
"Don’t pretend you don’t understand, Father. I know you’re thinking the same thing as I am.” Edora's eyes glowed with the mysterious light of Insight.
The Martial King raised his hands in defeat, knowing that his lies couldn’t escape her eyes. "I wonder who brought you up."
"Yeah, I sometimes ask myself the same question, Father."
"Haha, OK, OK." The Martial King burst into laughter. "You're right. That kid Cain has great potential. And he has some guts, too. I can see how he managed to gather everything in the Tutorial.”
Most of the rankers had yet to pay any attention to the Hoarder, and they regarded him as just one of the many outstanding novices that appeared every now and then. However, unlike them, the Martial King was very aware of Yeon-woo’s accomplishments. At first, he’d only taken an interest in Yeon-woo because his children were following him around, so he had one of his men investigate the Hoarder.
But as he read through Yeon-woo’s records, he realized that Yeon-woo hadn’t done a single careless or trivial thing. He joined the Tutorial a week after it began, sped through it in only three weeks, and triumphed over several outstanding rookies including his children, Kahn, Doyle, and Vyram to become the final winner of that round. And of course, he had also single-handedly destroyed Arangdan in the process.
In addition to consuming the Neidan of Akasha’s Snake and breaking every single record up to this point, he also managed to breach their Hoho’unmujin. He had skills, intelligence, perseverance, and most importantly, charisma. He had the potential to become stronger and even greater one day.
A player with talent like this was hard to find even among the One-horned tribe, so the Martial King wanted to keep him by his side, take him as a disciple, and even push him to marry his daughter. However, he hadn’t done as he wished because of Yeon-woo’s eyes. 'They aren’t the eyes of someone who can be tied down to one place.'
Yeon-woo’s eyes reminded the Martial King of someone from the past whom he’d let go of because of their ambitions, and now, he’d lost that person forever. This time, he didn’t want to miss his chance, but it was impossible to force someone to bond with you. However, he saw the opportunity in Yeon-woo’s request. It was worth a try. A broad smile appeared on the Martial King’s face.
"Umm…So, is that a yes?"
"But it’s a yes if he agrees to some conditions." The Martial King dropped his playful smile, and he began to speak in a serious tone. "Now, Edora."
"You know what the restrictions on the successor of the Psychic Medium are, right?”
"You are the only one who has achieved the long-cherished wish of our tribe and attained Insight. Soon, you will be taking up the mantle of Psychic Medium for the tribe. Once you do, every word you say and every decision you make will be taken seriously, and some people will challenge you. So now, I am going to put your decision to the test. If you want Cain to learn Mugong, he will have to prove whether he is worthy of it or not."
"I understand, Father, and I am sure he will be able to pass with ease." Edora nodded gravely, her eyes filled with determination.
The Martial King looked at his daughter with a heavyhearted expression. He felt sorry for his daughter, who had to become mature and responsible from an early age. Her position meant that she would have to bear a heavy responsibility on her shoulders and tread on a thorny road.
* * *
When the ceremony ended, Yeonwoo slowly walked along the path that Edora had signaled him.
‘I hope it works out.' He didn't have high hopes, but something about Martial King made him think that he wouldn’t refuse his request. ‘He wants something from me.’
It wasn’t that Yeon-woo knew what the Martial King wanted, but he had a feeling that the Martial King would be willing to grant his wish in exchange. ‘Incidentally…’ Yeon-woo ran his hand along the chain and bracelet, the metal cold against his fingers. ‘Is this really made out of divine iron?'
Ever since he heard Edora muttering about it as she examined the bracelet, the divine iron occupied his thoughts.
Just as there are several kinds of herbs that could be used to create elixirs, there are also numerous types of metals that can be used to forge artifacts. Among all these metals, divine iron is said to be the very best.
Just a tiny piece of this metal can greatly boost the power of an artifact. It is also very rare, to the point that almost no one in the Tower has ever seen the material in person. Because of this, many believe that Allforone is hoarding divine iron for himself, and just as many doubt the existence of the iron itself.
But no matter what the rumors say, I know that divine iron exists because the goddamned sword that got me into this mess contains it.
The sword that had given his brother a mortal wound only had a tiny amount of divine iron, and it had been enough to seriously injure his brother with a single stab. But if what Edora said was accurate, the bracelet—and even the complete artifact—was composed of divine iron. ‘This means that the Black King had been bound with divine iron. But if he was that strong, how come no one knows about him?'
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes as he peered at the Black Bracelet. The light that reflected on the surface of the chain shifted. ‘I guess the only way to find out the Black King’s identity is to collect all the other parts.' Yeon-woo lowered his arm. There was no point in overthinking things.
He soon arrived at the annex on the outskirts of the village. He’d been assigned one of the rooms on the third floor, and he was ready to unpack his bag, get some rest, and call it a day. However, when he opened the door to his room, he saw a man sitting cross-legged on his bed. Yeon-woo recognized him right away; it was the guy who had picked a fight with him at the ceremony. ‘Wasn’t his name Brock?’
"Hey, new guy. What are you doing wandering around so late at night?”
The One-horned tribe had a unique perspective on guests. Although they were notorious for being very reserved, their village wasn’t completely closed off to outsiders, and once in a while, they let outsiders in.
They had strict criteria for choosing guests, and they only welcomed those who had something to teach the tribe or helped its development. In other words, if someone was a guest of the village, it meant that that they were an expert in something—which meant Brock was one, too, even though Yeon-woo saw him as a pretentious and incompetent idiot. Of course, things might be different when it came to his area of expertise, but Yeon-woo did not care.
'I don’t want to deal with his antics anymore.’ Yeon-woo slowly walked up to Brock without saying a word.
"Wh-what are you...?” Brock hurriedly put a hand on his halberd’s shaft as Yeon-woo raised his fist. Whack!
* * *
Brock knelt in a corner of the room with his arms raised in the air. He had two black eyes that made him look like a panda, and his face was covered in tears and snot. "I-I’m…sorry...” He couldn’t speak properly with his broken front teeth.
After a minute, Yeon-woo ordered him to explain why he was being so hostile. Brock confessed that he had received a request from the Baekseon family to avenge Jang. He also admitted that he had been planning to bully Yeon-woo and order him around like a servant. Other than that, he didn’t have anything else in mind.
The information wasn’t unexpected at all, and feeling tired, Yeon-woo kicked Brock out of his room and went to bed right away. The next morning at sunrise, when Yeon-woo got up and left his room, he saw black-eyed Brock was mopping the lobby on the first floor, looking miserable as he tried cleaning a smudge on the floor.
It seemed like he had been doing these chores for some time, and he must have believed he’d found someone else to do them now that a new guest had arrived. It was too bad for him that things didn’t go as he planned.
There was a dining room connected to the lobby area, and Yeon-woo saw that a variety of breakfast dishes had been prepared on top of a large table. As he looked around the room, Yeon-woo discovered a few of the guests sitting on a stool at the bar counter. One was eating, another was enjoying a cup of coffee, and two were chatting with each other. He was intrigued to see that the guests were all from different races.
‘An Elf, an Anthromorph...and is that a Halfling?' Yeon-woo recognized a couple of them from his brother’s diary, including the coffee-drinking sorcerer and the chatty Halfling. 'Those are Travia and Sylon.'
They were famous rankers known respectively as the Electro Master and the Chanting Hammer. They had disappeared back when Arthia was still around, and many wondered where they had gone. It turned out they had been in this village all along.
As Yeon-woo began to walk down the stairs, all the guests in the dining room paused and looked at him, all sorts of emotions flashing in their eyes. Yeon-woo ignored their gazes and walked to the lobby. He wasn’t interested in making friends, anyway.
"Oh, h-hello. D-did you have a good night’s sleep last night?" Brock stammered out a greeting as he moved out of Yeon-woo’s way.
Yeon-woo ignored him and grabbed a piece of bread from the dining room before immediately leaving the building.
"Good morning, Oraboni.” Edora was waiting for him outside.
"So, how did it go?"
"Hmph, is that the first thing that comes to your mind when you see me?” Edora pouted with a disappointed expression, but she soon broke into a pretty smile. "It went pretty well. He even gave you permission to enter the bronze-tier Skill Archive."
"It’s a library where we keep the tomes of all Mugong we have ever created."
Stunned, Yeon-woo clenched his fist without realizing. The Martial King liked him more than he’d thought.
"The Skill Archive is divided into four classifications—iron, bronze, silver, and, gold—based on the power of the Mugong they contain. We usually only allow outsiders in the iron-level archive, but…” A grin spread across her face. "Our father seems to like you a lot, Oraboni. Even our elders unanimously approved his decision. They said they were glad that they could finally give you something in return.”
The image of the Martial King appeared in Yeon-woo’s mind. ‘I really want to know what he’s planning.’
"He attached a condition.”
Edora nodded with a distressed look. “Father said you have to study the skill tomes and find enlightenment on your own without anyone’s help. He said you’ll have a test after four days.”
Edora’s voice got smaller as she finished her sentence. Mugong was not a skill that could be easily taught since it had been specially created for the people of the One-horned tribe. Moreover, the way Mugong used mana was different from the way mana was used in the Tower, which made it extremely difficult to learn Mugong by oneself. However, the Martial King had specifically prohibited Yeon-woo from getting help.
"But if you pass the test, Father promised that he will teach you Mugong during the war."
[Sudden Quest / Martial King's Test]
[Description: The king of the One-horned tribe, Nayu, sees great potential in you and wishes to test you. Teach yourself a new way to use your Magic Circuit by creating your own Mugong.]
[Time limit: 4 days]
1. Lessons from the Martial King
2. Eight Extreme Fists Skill Tome
3. The right to inherit Yin Sword + ???]