Chapter 18. Black Route (7)
Yeon-woo’s body was experiencing extreme changes. Mana was stimulating every corner of his body, causing his internal balance to collapse and restoring it at the same time.
A long time passed.
[‘Flame Heart and Frost Crest’ has been completed. You have acquired a new body, Reinforced Physique(强化骨).
[Affinity towards fire element has increased by 30%.]
[Affinity towards water element has increased by 30%.]
As always, mana scattered throughout his entire body, leaving behind only traces of it.
Contrary to his initial expectations, It seemed like it would take him a little longer to get accustomed to mana. But everything else had been successfully achieved.
Yeon-woo breathed out a long breath. Then all the fatigue he had piled up seemed to vanish, making him feel alive once again.
[Player: Yeon-woo Cha]
Traits: Cold-blooded, Reinforced Physique
Strength: 81 Dexterity: 83 Health: 89 Magic Power: 21
Skills: Draconic Eyes(5.2%), Sense Strengthening(25.9%), Foresight(0.0%), Physical Resistance(10.2%), Combat Will(7.1%), Bathory’s Vampiric Sword(3.2%)
Yeon-woo was very pleased with his improved stats.
Thanks to the energy of the monsters he had drained via Bathory's Vampiric Sword, his stats had gone through an incomparably steep increase. But there was something else that made Yeon-woo content the most. It was his new trait.
[Trait: Reinforced Physique]
Description: Heart of flame and flesh of frost. The fire and frost element fused together granting great immunity and resistance. Fatigue does not build up easily.
* Flame Heart: A heart embracing fire energy. Increases cardiorespiratory endurance and healing power. Stamina is greatly increased.
* Frost Crest: Makes the body tougher. Increases resistance against physical impact and curses.
Reinforced Physique toughened up the body and made it tireless.
In particular, the self-healing ability gave him the advantage of reducing his chances of suffering a serious injury during critical situations. However, there was another reason why Yeon-woo needed this trait.
[Body improvement has been confirmed. The vessel is strong enough. The halted succession process will resume. 6%... 7%... 12%....]
[Current progress: 21.3%]
[Your current status will be changed from ‘Incomplete Dragon Body' to ‘Immature Dragon Body']
‘I made it.'
Yeon-woo clenched his fists.
There were a couple of reasons why he needed this strengthened body. One reason was to gain an upper hand in the strenuous competitions that occurred throughout The Tower, but the biggest reason was to resume the succession process of Dragon Body.
The completion of the succession process required a strong vessel. Reinforced Physique was the essential element for making such vessel.
‘But this is just the beginning. I have to keep refining my vessel.’
Even so, the framework was already in place so he only had to keep advancing steadily as he had originally planned.
As he enjoyed the feeling of his changed body, Yeon-woo recalled the system message that was left pending. It was the quest he had received when he first entered this dungeon. It was now time to claim his rewards.
[You have acquired 1,500 Karma.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional Karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 500 additional Karma.]
[Additional rewards will be provided. Please select your reward.]
1. Blood-Magic Blade
2. Pearl Sabre of the Deep
3. The Brave
1. Kanusha's Unbreakable Spirit
2. Swift Strike
3. Snake Eyes
Yeon-woo grinned as he scanned through the ‘Rewards List’.
It was the first time he could choose his reward from a list, instead of just being given a random reward. He recognized some great items that he had previously seen in the mysterious merchant’s catalog.
It was a bit disappointing to have to choose only one out of the whole list, but Yeon-woo didn’t fuss over it for long before scrolling down to the bottom of the list. There, he found what he wanted.
98. 2000 additional Karma
He got everything he could get from Section B, ranging from Bathory’s Vampiric Sword to Reinforced Physique.
He presumed there were many more rewards to gain from this point onwards, so nothing else in the list could grab Yeon-woo’s attention.
Anyhow, what Yeon-woo lacked the most right now was Karma points. Of course, even when adding this, he would still need a lot of Karma to achieve the top score he wanted.
Yeonwoo tapped on reward number 98 right away.
[2000 additional Karma has been selected as your reward.]
[You have acquired 2,000 Karma.]
Additional messages popped up after he received his reward.
[Your ranking in the tutorial has been updated.]
[Do you want to register your name on the ranking list?]
‘I'm finally in the rankings.’
The tutorial provided real-time rankings of players within the top 300 spots.
Big announcements were made especially when there were significant changes within the rankings in order to encourage the players.
Getting a message to register his name on the ranking list also meant he had made it to the top 300. However, Yeon-woo only put significance on the fact that he was in the ranking, and he didn’t want to put his name on the list.
There was no advantage in registering. It was only going to provoke hostility from other top rankers towards Yeon-woo. So he shook his head.
[Registration denied. You will be shown as ‘unknown’ in the ranking. You can change this setting at any time.]
1. Edora (57,111 Points)
2. Phante (55,982 Points)
3. Kahn (50,473 Points)
281. Unknown (6,700 Points) (You)
‘I’m at 281st place.'
He had had a late start, but he was finally starting to catch up to the leading group to some extent.
The total Karma he had accumulated so far was 6,700 points. Anybody would hardly believe that he had gathered all that before passing Section B.
But his joy did not last long.
‘I’m glad I’m in the rankings, but why is the gap so big?'
Yeon-woo narrowed his brows as he scrolled up the list again.
"Maybe it’s just that the leading players are better than I predicted.’
He was told that normally, the players with the most amount of Karma could gather around 50,000 points at most.
His brother had collected about 52,000 Karma, and he had placed second at the end of the tutorial.
However, even though there was still plenty of time left before the tutorial ended, there were already three people with more than 50,000 Karma,
‘Edora, Phante, Kahn. Who are they?’
If they had joined the tutorial at different times, each one of them would have easily achieved first place.
But Yeon-woo had to compete with all of them in the same round.
Yeon-woo closed the ranking list as he burned their names into his mind.
‘At this rate, it won’t do. I'll have to speed up a lot.’
There was a gap of 50,000 Karma points between him and the leading group. Considering they were also proceeding fast, he needed to advance a lot faster.
‘First things first, I have to reach Section E as soon as possible.’
The next hidden piece Yeon-woo was targeting was in Section E. It was where ‘that guy’ who he was looking for was living.
There was nothing interesting to see in Section C and D. He was planning on skipping through those sections as quickly as possible.
As he arranged his thoughts, Yeon-woo put his dagger back to his waist.
He started moving on towards the exit.
* * *
As he ventured down the passage to leave the dungeon,
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes and looked at the direction of the exit. Then he pulled the dagger back out and held it tightly in his right hand.
Beyond his range of sight, he sensed two unfamiliar figures.
The sound that monsters and players made were quite different, so he wouldn’t mistake them.
‘But I've never seen any other players while I’ve been here.’
He was wondering whether someone else had found this place.
Yeon-woo hoped to not run into anybody if possible, but there was only one exit, so he moved with caution.
What made Yeon-woo nervous were their skills.
‘They might be tough.'
Judging by his senses, he could tell their levels weren’t any lower than his. Even with Bathory’s Vampiric Sword and Reinforced Physique, he wasn’t sure if he could win.
‘Maybe they are after me.'
Yeon-woo clasped his dagger.
He pondered about how experts like them could still be at Section B. It made more sense to him to think that it wasn’t just luck that brought them here, but instead revenge. They might be players from Arangdan wanting to avenge the players he had knocked down when he was helping Yul.
Although it was unclear as to why such powerful men were working as lackeys in Arandan, Yeon-woo couldn’t let them have their way, so he kept his presence hidden.
And the moment when the two figures turned around the corner and showed their faces,
Yeon-woo swung his dagger aiming for the head of the innermost one. He was a boy with disheveled hair, sleepy eyes, and a baby-faced look.
The boy noticed the attack, and opened his eyes wide. He tried to turn himself aside instinctively, but it seemed like it was too late.
Just then, the young man who was walking next to him swung his sword as he pulled the boy to his side.
Yeon-woo’s dagger was blocked midway through its attack, and seemed to bounce off. However, the dagger was in fact snapped in half. It seemed that the sword the young man was wielding was of higher quality.
Yeon-woo realized that his ambush had failed, and he jumped back, far from the two players. Then he took out two more daggers and held them in both hands.
Doyle, the boy who got ambushed by Yeon-woo, collapsed on the floor roughly gasping for air with his face pale.
Kahn, the young man who had managed to save his brother, flipped out and screamed at him.
"What the hell are you doing?!"
Yeon-woo squinched his eyes underneath his white mask.
"Arangdan, aren’t you?"
"What do you mean by Arangdan?"
Yeon-woo intuitively realized that the two in front of him were not related to Arangdan. If they were here to harm him, they wouldn’t be talking with him instead of attacking him. Besides, the reflexes that saved Doyle and blocked his dagger were that of an expert.
Of course, it could very well be just an act to throw him off guard. But with his expert level of skills, there was no need for him to lie.
"Then why were you following after me?"
Kahn was a little surprised at the fact that Yeon-woo had noticed them tailing him, but frowned soon after.
“Still, that doesn’t mean you should attack people without asking them why.”
“What if you were being stalked by someone whose intentions were unknown? Of course, you would assume that they are up to no good. Am I wrong?"
Every single word he said was perfectly correct. Kahn was struck dumb by his logic.
‘The fuck? How is he so good at speaking?’
He had thought that Yeon-woo would be the blunt and silent type because of his eerie white mask.
But he couldn’t just chicken out of here.
In the meantime, Doyle got over his shock and managed to stand up. Even though it happened because he was caught off guard, he was so shocked when he saw Yeon-woo’s eyes emitting a savage aura incomparable to the atmosphere he had felt from him in the waiting room.
For a second, Kahn glared at Yeon-woo, but soon he gave out a big sigh.
Even though they were the ones who were ambushed, they were also the cause of the problem. He owed Yeon-woo an apology at least for that. Plus, he couldn’t make a bad impression of himself when he was here to recruit him.
Kahn stuck his sword he was holding into the ground and said,
"I'm sorry. I didn’t think that through."
Kahn made a clear apology. Doyle also bowed his head.
Yeon-woo's eyes gave out a brilliant shine below his mask. He thought players in general had great affection towards themselves, that they were full of pride.
Even if they were caught in the wrong, most of them tended to act innocent. But these two were innocently admitting their mistakes.
Yeon-woo then realized they didn't have any bad intentions, so he let his guard down.
He asked as he put his dagger back next to his waist.
"Okay. State your business."
Just then, Kahn gave a mischievous smile and shouted confidently.
"You should join my crew!"
A short straight speech without any reasoning or logic.
Doyle standing right next to him turned away his head in shame.
Yeon-woo unwittingly narrowed his brows.
‘Who the hell is this moron?’