Chapter 161: Opportunity and Crisis

Master Wusheng had told Lu Yin to contact him before he performed his first lockbreaking attempt. Now that he had obtained his first sourcebox, Lu Yin considered it for a moment before deciding to contact Master Wusheng first.

A while went by, but the gadget was unable to connect to Master Wusheng. Lu Yin canceled the call since the man seemed busy. Since he couldn’t contact Master Wusheng, Lu Yin was so impatient that he decided to immediately begin unlocking the sourcebox. He also started recording the scene as he wanted to upload his entire lockbreaking process of the clump of dirt onto his own Sourcebox Catalog channel.

Whenever someone succeeded in a lockbreaking attempt, they were also unlocking a secret of the universe since the sourceboxes were sealed and locked away by the universe. Lockbreakers were the key to unsealing these treasures, so every time someone succeeded, they were also contributing to the Lockbreaker Society; it didn’t matter if the lockbreaking attempt was paid for by an outside party or if the Lockbreaker was doing it for themselves. Each successful contribution was graded by stars, and there were many Bright-Eyed Junior Lockbreakers who still had zero contributions like Lu Yin. Technically, they were not true Lockbreakers just yet. Only individuals who had successfully unlocked a sourcebox could be considered to be a true Lockbreaker. Even with just one success, that was a one star contribution, and with that single contribution, they would have taken their first step as a true Lockbreaker.

A Lockbreaker with contributions was entirely different from one without any. One could only obtain a contribution by sending in a lockbreaking video. It could be recorded by the individual themselves or by a third-party. Since the sourceboxes were all unique, it was impossible to create a forgery. Generally speaking, if someone paid a Lockbreaker to unlock a sourcebox, then they were allowed to observe the process at the side of the Lockbreaker. It was rather convenient since they could help record the process, and it also removed any possible suspicions since the unsealed object would be handed over to the original owner right after.

If a Lockbreaker secretly hid something that they unlocked, they would face the wrath of the entire Lockbreaker Society. This was one of the professional codes of the Lockbreakers.

Lu Yin had finished preparing everything. He placed a hand on the sourcebox, closed his eyes, and then allowed his star energy to seep out of his body and onto the surface of the item in his hand.

That instant it made contact with the sourcebox, Lu Yin felt stupefied. The various energies that formed the seal covering the treasure were just too complicated, chaotic, and tangled. It wasn’t exactly big, but when he observed it with his star energy, it felt as immeasurable as a giant ocean, perhaps even another whole world.

The ambient star energy that permeated the universe could not be seen with the naked eye, but if it condensed far enough to become visible and tangible, then that was an indication that the star energy had been compacted to a terrifying degree. The surface of the sourcebox was exactly like that, and it was not made up purely of star energy. It was actually a complex mixture of various energies that had strangely reached a tenuous equilibrium.

Bazeer was right; this sourcebox was indeed not dangerous. But as the one unlocking it, Lu Yin had to use his Cosmic Art. Otherwise, it would be as hopeless as an illiterate person trying to operate a spacecraft.

This was the true challenge that a Lockbreaker had to face when unlocking sourceboxes. This sourcebox was of the lowest grade, but it was already so complicated. With this experience, Lu Yin found the complexity of that towering sourcebox in the very first Sourcebox Catalog video that he had watched unfathomable. An amateur could only see the theatrics, but an expert would be able to appreciate the Lockbreaker’s true skill.

Lu Yin was helpless in his current state, and he hurriedly activated his Cosmic Art. Eight stars revolved around him and enveloped the sourcebox. Suddenly, the seal on the sourcebox’s surface became as clear as day to him. It was still chaotic, like randomly interweaving lines. If he wanted to unlock it, he would have to unravel these complicated lines of energy one by one. He took a deep breath and then started.

Since he could see each individual line of energy, untangling them was more time consuming than difficult. Moreover, each twisted line was composed of materialized energy, and there were an overwhelming number of them.

Five hours quickly passed, and the surface became a little smoother. This was evidence that Lu Yin’s lockbreaking attempt was progressing positively. He raised his head and released a pent up breath. He needed at least twenty-some more hours to completely unseal the sourcebox. He grimaced at the thought but soon continued.

Without his Cosmic Art, Lu Yin had no hopes of succeeding. But even with Cosmic Art, he still spent twenty seven hours painstakingly working at the seal before finally succeeding.

When the final layer of thin, materialized energy vanished, an unremarkable piece of grey metal fell onto the ground with a dull thump.

Lu Yin’s body swayed and he almost collapsed to the ground. Continually using his Cosmic Art for twenty seven hours had driven him to his limits, and he couldn’t take it anymore. Luckily, he had succeeded in the final moment.

He picked up the unidentified grey metal, which seemed to have been a component of some machine once. However, too much time had passed, and the machine had disappeared, only leaving this single piece of metal behind. But since it had withstood the passing of eons, there was no way that this metal was something simple.

Lu Yin stored the metal shard away before activating his gadget and uploading the entire lockbreaking process onto the Sourcebox Catalog for review. With all the pressing concerns completed, he closed his eyes and fell into a long awaited deep slumber.

Time quickly passed, and Lu Yin was awakened by a beep from his gadget. His eyes sparkled when he saw that his lockbreaking video had been reviewed and successfully approved. He had officially obtained his first shining star on his personal page on the Lockbreaker network. Lu Yin was delighted as this was proof that he was now a real Lockbreaker with contributions; a Bright-Eyed, one-star Junior Lockbreaker.

The single star seemed so resplendent that it nearly blinded Lu Yin. With this star, his status had just spiked upwards again.

A Lockbreaker’s status and contributions were not only important for their status towards outsiders, but it was also important within the Lockbreaker Society itself. A key reason for this was the protection they received. Any Lockbreaker with contributions was invaluable to the society. If such a member was killed, then their killer would face the wrath of the entire Lockbreaker Society. To say that the Lockbreaker Society was just “very protective” was an understatement. And Lu Yin was precisely looking for this sort of overprotective organization. In fact, after he had earned his first star as a Lockbreaker, the Lockbreaker Society had immediately sent its congratulations along with twenty Sourcebox Catalog videos. Each one was done by a fellow Junior Lockbreaker, which suited his skill level and thus were very precious for him.

At that point, Lu Yin received a soft notification; someone else was trying to contact him—Master Wusheng. He accepted the call, and Master Wusheng immediately appeared on the display with a stern expression. “Student Lu Yin, you were too reckless.”

Lu Yin smiled. “My apologies, tutor. I couldn’t wait.”

“Do you know that every lockbreaking process is essentially gambling with your life? Lockbreaking is unlocking the universe’s secret treasures and snatching resources from the universe itself. It is a very dangerous matter,” Master Wusheng lectured strictly.

Lu Yin replied, “Tutor, that sourcebox had no intrinsic danger.”

Master Wusheng snorted disdainfully. “No danger? Who told you that? The person who gave you the sourcebox? What the hell do they know? A sourcebox’s danger cannot be understood by simple laymen. The dust sealing the sourcebox’s surface starts in equilibrium, but if it is manipulated carelessly, then it can lead to a disastrous chain reaction. Watch the Sourcebox Catalog videos that the Lockbreaker Society sent you and remember these words: Lockbreaking is holding firm to one’s determination to risk their life to Lockbreak. That is the Lockbreaker’s motto.” And with that, he ended the call.

Lu Yin could feel the gravity of Master Wusheng’s lecture, and he quickly opened the Sourcebox Catalog video that he had just received from the society.

In the darkness, a young woman was gripping a fist-sized stone with her eyes closed as she began unlocking the sourcebox. That stone was very similar to Lu Yin’s sourcebox in that it seemed completely harmless. She spent almost ten hours to barely smooth out the energy sealing the sourcebox. She then rested for a while before continuing. Suddenly, the material on the sourcebox’s surface distorted strangely and then violently exploded without any sign, causing the space to distort and nearly collapse. The woman’s entire body was swallowed without even a trace being left behind.

Lu Yin’s pupils shrank and his scalp turned numb. During her lockbreaking process, the woman in the video had failed to ensure the stability of the energy equilibrium on the sourcebox’s surface, which was the underlying reason behind this accident. This was a classic example of a failed attempt.

This video was very similar to Lu Yin’s lockbreaking attempt, but the difference lay in that he had succeeded while she had failed. One lived, and the other had died.

The energy on the surface of the sourcebox could be seen as an unconventional ecosphere in a delicate balance. Once that balance was lost, the entire equilibrium would collapse at once, and the resulting explosion of the materialized energy would be undoubtedly terrifying. Even a Limiteer might not be able to withstand it.

Lu Yin’s fear of lockbreaking grew even larger after viewing this video. Fortunately, his Cosmic Art had simplified the delicate energy system, or else he would have been in serious danger. He thought about it some more, and then decided to watch the rest of the videos that he had been gifted.

The second, third, and every video up to the seventeenth were all failures. The eighteenth was even more shocking to Lu Yin than the seventeen failures, however.

He saw a pair of hands that seemed to be lockbreaking yet another innocuous sourcebox. After dozens of hours, there was only a thin layer of energy left atop the sourcebox. But then, a strange snake with a bizarre appearance shot out from the sourcebox, past the pair of hands, and plunged into the Lockbreaker’s body. There was a tragic cry, and then the scene faded.

Lu Yin’s scalp turned numb once again. His view of sourceboxes had been turned upside down yet again. Evidently, what lay inside sourceboxes was not guaranteed to be an inanimate object; it could also be a living creature… Such creatures had purposely sealed themselves, and with the passing of time, had been gradually covered in dust. It was easy to imagine the terrifying power of these primordial creatures from ancient times.

There were a total of twenty Sourcebox Catalog videos, all of them failed lockbreaking attempts, and all of them resulting in the Lockbreaker’s death. A cold shiver ran down Lu Yin’s back. These cases made him acutely aware of just how dangerous lockbreaking could be. The Lockbreaker Society had sent him these videos the moment he had become a one-starred Lockbreaker both as a gift and as a warning about what being a Lockbreaker truly meant.

More often than not, opening sourceboxes did not lead to marvelous outcomes. Lockbreakers carried a responsibility, and while they could embrace the glory that came with the title, they also faced death with every attempt.

Lu Yin contacted Master Wusheng again.

“Finished?” Master Wusheng stared at Lu Yin through the display solemnly.

Lu Yin’s brows knitted together in consternation as he solemnly replied, “Yes.”

“Your thoughts?”

Lu Yin muttered underneath his breath for a moment, and then raised his eyes to meet Master Wusheng’s gaze. “Intense pressure, but compelling.”

Master Wusheng’s lips twitched upwards. “Compelling? Few would think that lockbreaking is a compelling profession. The Lockbreaker Society may be made up of hundreds of thousands of Lockbreakers, but the number who can truly unlock sourceboxes is much lower. And even within that select group, a portion of them have utterly shut lockbreaking out of their lives due to caution. I hope that you don’t become someone like that.” 

Lu Yin’s brows rose and he slowly bowed. “Thank you, Tutor, for your guidance.”

Master Wusheng nodded and a hint of praise shone out from deep within his eyes. “When you make a lockbreaking attempt, you’ll occasionally be able to rely on external objects. There are some mysterious objects in the universe that can greatly aid us Lockbreakers. For example, these-” Master Wusheng took out two dark green leaves and stuck them onto his head. Under Lu Yin’s questioning gaze, he continued, explaining, “These leaves focus my thoughts and enhance my reasoning ability. You’ve successfully completed a lockbreaking attempt, so you should understand why enhancing one’s reasoning ability can be very beneficial to the lockbreaking process.”

Lu Yin’s eyes shone and he immediately nodded; this was something that he had learned the hard way. If his calculating ability had been upgraded by several-fold during his previous lockbreaking attempt, then he might not have needed to waste twenty seven whole hours on it. These types of items were precious treasures that would vastly improve his lockbreaking efficiency.

Master Wusheng saw Lu Yin’s longing expression and smiled as he stored the leaves. “Don’t look at me like that—I only have two of these leaves. You’ll have to work hard to find your own aids. Come to the Lockbreaker Society’s headquarters when you are free. There are similar items that you can exchange for here. Of course, they all come at a hefty price.” He then abruptly disconnected the call.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Neshi/Nyxnox

TLC'ed By: OMA