Chapter 36. Akasha’s Snake (4)
After leaving Galliard’s cottage, Yeon-woo hurried to the spot where Akasha's Snake was supposed to appear.
According to the scenery he saw in the diary, the place should have been filled with several tall rocks standing like trees in a forest.
But when Yeon-woo arrived, the whole place was in complete ruins.
‘How the hell did they know about this place? Nobody should know about it except for Arthia.’
As far as he knew, Akasha's Snake should only have appeared in the past three days. But the traces left here pointed to at least a week ago.
Yeon-woo scanned through the nearby area just in case the snake that Phante and Edora had fought could have been a similar fake.
‘Damn it. You’ve shattered my expectations.'
Yeon-woo was able to find the body of the nearly torn apart Akasha’s Snake beyond the collapsed rocks. A snake as big as a few rocky mountains combined was now lying dead in front of him. Each scale was as big as Yeon-woo himself. Its body was also so long that it seemed to be endless. Despite being death, its ferocity still lingered on its body. The mere sight of it overwhelmed him greatly.
Yeon-woo meticulously examined Akasha’s Snake’s carcass with the last hope that Phante and Edora might have left something important behind.
But even his effort was futile. They had already taken the most important parts of Akasha's Snake, such as the essence and the venom gland.
It was the evidence pointing that Phante and Edora had hunted Akasha’s Snake with a ‘purpose’ in mind, just like Yeon-woo.
‘But how the hell did they kill it?’
Yeon-woo clicked his tongue as he stepped a few meters away from the carcass. Even then, he still couldn't capture its entire body within his field of view.
And the more he looked, the more he wondered.
Akasha’s Snake wasn’t a monster that could be so easily hunted. Its strength was as great as its size, so usually it was difficult to even approach it. In particular, the venom that oozed out from its fangs was strong enough to melt rocks. Not even ten or twenty players would be enough to kill this monster.
But how did the two of them kill it?
Did that mean that their power was unmeasurable? Or was there something else he didn’t know?
‘I don't understand how they managed to summon Akasha’s Snake in the first place.’
Even if they used Undine's Goblet, how did they summon Akasha's Snake so soon? Could it be a magic? Or maybe another way he didn't know of?
All sorts of thoughts were crossing through Yeon-woo’s head. And after a period of pondering, only one thought was left in his mind.
‘What do I do now?'
Yeon-woo took off his mask for a moment and swept up his bare face with his hand. It was almost the first time he had taken off the mask since entering the tutorial.
That's how messy things were now in his head. He felt the need to feel the wind in order to get his thoughts organized.
The hidden piece that he had been aiming for ever since the start of the tutorial had now vanished into thin air. The sole reason as to why he was so confident in catching up with the front runners was because of Akasha's Snake.
But on a second thought, he felt he had been too complacent. Now he could understand how Phante and Edora were able to stack up such unbelievable amount of Karma points.
But there was no use in crying over spilt milk. All his efforts had already been wasted,
so he had to do something to make up for it.
Yeon-woo quickly opened the tutorial ranking window.
1. Edora (64,571 Points)
2. Phante (58,774 Points)
3. Kahn (57,300 Points)
40. Unknown (40,980 Points) (You)
"There’s a 20,000-point gap between me and Edora. The gap is still steadily shrinking.'
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes.
‘What if I hoard as many Tokens as possible in Section E, clear all the hidden pieces left in Section F, and make a turnaround in section G?’
Yeon-woo racked his brain and tried to hypothesize various situations, but none of them seemed possible.
‘Time's too tight. At best, I’ll end up overtaking the 11th rank. Maybe 8th if I get lucky. There’s no way I can reach first.’
Yeon-woo had to finish the tutorial in first place. Only in that way he would be one step closer towards the day of his revenge. It was all in vain if he couldn’t be first.
Besides, to complete the succession process he needed the essence of Akasha’s Snake. So now that he couldn’t get his hands on it, everything had been messed up.
At this point, he had to revise his plan altogether. But for now, there was nothing he could do but to do his best to gather up Karma points until the last minute of the tutorial.
In the end, Yeon-woo decided to leave the place thinking that he should be spending his time on getting more points.
‘Wait a second… What is that?’
Yeon-woo saw something just before walking away.
It was on the other side that he hadn’t searched properly. Several footprints were found along the head of the snake, and there were traces of strong impacts on its skull.
At first, he thought it had been done by Phante and Edora during their fight with the snake.
‘No. This wound was definitely made after its death. It’s even recent.'
It was evidence that there were other people who had come here before Yeon-woo besides Phante and Edora.
‘There must be something to it.'
Yeon-woo’s instinct was telling him there was something. On the other hand, he thought he should be moving on in order to stack up more Karma points.
‘Let’s go check it out.'
Yeon-woo decided to trust his ‘instincts’ this time.
On the battlefield, following this kind of animal instinct often brought unintended results.
Yeon-woo’s body shot up into the air as his feet struck the ground. His movements were now much lighter thanks to the change followed by learning Shunpo. They were definitely more polished and quicker.
[You have learned how to handle your body movements freely.]
[‘Shunpo’ skill proficiency has increased. 1.2%]
Yeon-woo was able to reach the head of the snake after stepping on its body a couple of times. Near the top of its skull, there were several marks, as if it had been struck with a large axe over and over again.
‘Whoever they were, they tried to get something out of the skull. What could it be? The brain?'
As far as he knew, the only useful parts of Akasha’s Snake were its essence and venom gland.
The rest were large pieces of body parts but of little use.
And they had taken the brain. But why?
By looking at the size of the footprints left behind, Yeon-woo could easily infer the identity of the group that took the brain.
‘They are Orcs.'
Yeon-woo suddenly recalled what his brother had said in his diary.
Many different monsters lived in packs in Section E.
Groups of Lizardmen were normally seen in the northern swamp, and the western jungle was inhabited by Goblins and Kobolds organized in villages. Orcs had settlements in the eastern desert area, and only the Trolls and Ogres lived independently in the southern region.
But just because Orcs were present in large numbers in the eastern desert, it didn’t make them the owners of the land.
Deep underground, there lived Akasha’s Snake.
Sometimes, Akasha's Snake came out to the surface and attacked their settlements, for the Orcs, it was a symbol of dread and fear. Hence, they had the custom of worshiping Akasha’s Snake as a god. And it seemed like the Orcs had noticed the death of Akasha's Snake and pulled out its brains with something in mind.
‘What were they planning to do with it? If they were doing rituals, they could have either done it here or taken it to their settlements.’
But the traces were leading elsewhere. The opposite direction from where the Orc settlements were located.
‘There must be something over there!'
Without further delay, Yeon-woo rushed out following the trail.
The trail was leading past Akasha’s Snake’s body and further into the ruins.
As he traveled deeper along the trail, the wasteland started fading away with the appearance of bigger and steeper rocky mountains. It was a place where even his brother hadn't been.
He traveled so far that he soon ended up reaching the end of Section E..
Yeon-woo was stopped by a cliff that stood endlessly high.
‘The Great Wall. This is the eastern end of Section E. Then...'
Yeon-woo scanned the cliff with his Draconic Eyes. The Orcs’ traces ended in front of a tunnel at the bottom of the cliff deftly hidden by rocks and trees.
‘What are they doing in a place like this?’
Yeon-woo stepped into the tunnel immediately.
At that moment.
[You are the first player to enter ‘Akasha's Snake Tunnel’.]
[You have acquired 1,000 additional Karma.]
Yeon-woo looked up at the unexpected message.
A snake tunnel?
Something that has to do with Akasha's Snake?
Yeon-woo felt his heart pounding loudly.
Not to mention his brother, even Galliard did not know about this cave. That’s why Galliard had to wait for a set time to face Akasha's Snake each time the tutorial reset. But if it had a cave, it would be a whole different story.
‘There could be an egg, a snakeling, or its mate inside this cave.’
And the fact that the Orcs came here carrying its brain, must mean there was something hidden inside. At least something equal in value to Akasha's Snake.
Yeon-woo tried to be as stealthy as possible and moved inwards into the tunnel. The deeper he went in, the louder the noises coming from the Orcs became.
Then, as Yeon-woo entered a large cavity, he witnessed dozens of Orcs lined up along the vast open space.
‘What is this?'
To the sound of the drums, the Orcs were offering a deep bow in a reverent manner. It was a scene reminiscent of a solemn religious ritual.
At the end of the altar was a pile of dead Orcs and Lizardmen, and above it was a tray containing the brain of Akasha’s Snake.
‘These Orcs, they're insane.'
Yeon-woo frowned at the swirling madness of the Orcs and he lowered himself as much as he could.
He felt like he could end up trapped in there forever if he cause any disturbance.
What looked like an Orc Shaman got up from his seat, stomping hard at the floor with his cane as he shouted a prayer in a voice filled with madness.
"Chwiiik! Our God, murdered by the wicked humans! Arise from your death! Take our warrior's souls, bring yourself back to life and help us punish them!"
As he chanted the prayer, the Orc Shaman took out a torch from a brazier next to the altar and set the sacrifices on fire.
As if they had been oiled beforehand, a fierce flame shot up from the bodies and devoured them completely.
At that moment, something strange occurred in front of Yeon-woo’s eyes.
When a body is burned, it should turn into black ashes giving off a burnt smell. But in this case, the burnt offerings on the altar began to turn into a column of murky smoke the moment they burst into flames. Then the smoke gathered in the air, and soon, it was sucked into the brain of Akasha's Snake that was laid on the tray.
Just like a sponge absorbing water, the smoke quickly disappeared into the brain. The offerings that had been piled up on the altar vanished, and the brain started to wriggle as if it was alive.
By the time all the sacrifices were gone, something tore out from within the brain.
When Yeon-woo saw what it was, he couldn’t help but to strain his eyes wide.
It was a snake.
A snake of surprisingly small size compared to Akasha’s Snake, but still it still seemed to be more than three meters long.
A young Akasha’s Snake.
The snakeling screamed out of hunger.
Then, a message appeared in front of Yeon-woo.
[Hidden Quest / Resurrection Ceremony]
Content: The body of Akasha’s Snake is composed of half substance, half spirit. Given enough energy (Akasha), Akasha’s Snake can be resurrected at any time.
Orcs are trying to bring Akasha’s Snake back to life with their ancient ritual. Stop the resurrection ceremony and kill the snake before it grows bigger.
Yeon-woo opened his eyes wide in surprise.
It was a quest telling him to stop the Orcs from resurrecting the snake.
But to Yeon-woo, only one phrase entered his sight. The phrase that said Akasha’s Snake could be revived.
At that moment, a great idea crossed his mind.
The tip of Yeon-woo's lips curled upward.
"If I can grow Akasha's Snake bigger than before, and take its essence...!’