Chapter 44. Two Hearts (2)
But after a while, Yeon-woo’s expectations ended in disappointment.
Contrary to his thoughts, there was a limit to the number of souls that could be bound to the artifact.
[Number of bound souls: 150]
‘Is this the limit, or can it go over 150?’
Yeon-woo thought it was the latter one.
As he continued capturing souls, he got the feeling the artifact was getting fuller. It was like the vessel was large, but it had several barriers inside blocking souls from entering. He could only guess that the barriers would disappear over time or that they would unlock once the seal was lifted.
It wasn’t the picture he wanted, but he wasn’t disappointed.
‘This will do.’
There were plenty of other ways to increase the power of the explosion.
Yeon-woo gradually deactivated Draconic Eyes.
He noticed that the souls had gone far away from him, as if they were afraid of being sucked into the Black Bracelet. But they didn’t seem to be completely avoiding Yeon-woo. Rather, they were banding tightly together and following him around like a tail.
‘Do other players also have souls following them?’
Yeon-woo took a look around Galliard, but he didn’t seem to have any kind of soul following him.
He didn’t know whether he could only see souls that were following him or it was only him who had these souls around. But his interest ended right at that point. It looked like souls couldn’t make interfere physically or put a curse on him. If so, it was fine if he didn't pay attention to them.
Yeon-woo checked the rewards from Monster Outbreak.
‘I had 4 rewards pending in the quest window.’
When he pressed the receive button, several messages started to pop up in succession.
[You have acquired the title ‘Monster Hunter'.]
[Your Strength has increased by 10 points.]
[Your Dexterity has increased by 15 points.]
[You have acquired ‘Goblin King’s Eye'.]
[You have acquired ‘Monsters’ Five Colored Jewel'.]
[You have acquired 3,000 additional Karma.]
One title and two artifacts.
Yeon-woo quickly checked the title.
[Title: Monster Hunter]
A title given to a player who has driven countless monsters into chaos. The owner of this title will inflict greater damage when hunting monsters.
However, the monsters killed by the player possessing this title will turn into ghosts and follow the player even after their death.
Effect: +10 Strength, +15 Dexterity. +15% chance of inflicting critical damage to monsters. Better chances of provoking monsters.
‘So that’s why.’
Yeon-woo was getting a vague idea as to why so many souls were following him. It seemed to be the penalty in exchange for granting such outstanding options. But of course, that wouldn’t stop him from using the title.
Next, Yeon-woo identified the remaining two artifacts. Both were jewelry type artifacts. One was the eye of a monster. Lots of veins were sticking out on the surface of the eye as if it had just been cut out from its socket, its pupil staring back at Yeon-woo. And the other was a strange gem that shone in different colors depending on the angle from which it was viewed.
[Goblin King's Eye]
Classification: Jewelry. Amulet.
Description: An eye left by the Goblin King, Kranum. He left this eye so as to not lose track the enemy who killed him even after its death. Simply by wearing it, the player can be affected in various by the rancor of Kranum.
If handled properly, it can be a good artifact.
* Enemy of the Goblin King
Kranum's eye will always turn towards the enemy who killed him. It will constantly give off its valor and rancor to prevent his enemy from being killed by others.
Influenced by the artifact, the owner can emit a thick wave of aura and gain 10% increased attack power. The artifact will also keep watch for invisible attacks such as curses and poison, providing a 15% chance of blocking such effects.
[Monsters’ Five Colored Jewel]
Description: Jewelry created by the feelings of enmity of five races of monsters: Goblins, Kobolds, Gnolls, Lizardmen, and Orcs.
Brings out and provides the wearer with one of the characteristics of five monsters.
* Feet of Goblin
Will have faster feet.
* Ear of Kobold
Will be able to hear smaller sounds.
* Nose of Gnoll
Will be able to smell fainter odors.
* Eyes of Lizardman
Will be able to see further into the distance.
* Hands of Orc
Will gain stronger physical power.
‘Why do I only get things like these?’
Yeon-woo burst into laughter in spite of himself.
It seemed that the impact the Monster Outbreak had on them must have been enormous. Because every single one of them had expressions like ‘rancor’ or ‘enmity’ in their description.
Their options were mostly based on those emotions, making them well suited for Yeon-woo.
Excluding the Unique items, Goblin King's Eye was in fact the best artifact available in the tutorial. It had a Rating of B-. Considering the fact that the lowest grade of artifacts available in The Tower was C, it was quite high.
In addition, the artifact had the ability to protect its owner from curses and poison. Thanks to this, Yeon-woo could now be shielded from attacks that he couldn’t feel with his senses, especially those from a distance.
And the thing he liked most about the Goblin King’s Eye was the aura it emitted.
‘It goes so well with the Black Bracelet.'
To state the obvious, negative emotions like rancor and magics like curse were effective in enhancing dark elemental power, meaning that he could increase his attack power with them.
‘The same goes for the Five Colored Jewel.’
It would be a little inconvenient to have to go through each option to disable one and select another option whenever he wanted to switch, but still, he liked the fact that he had obtained another way of enhancing his senses.
The eyes, ears, and nose could support him when using Sense Strengthening, whereas the hands and feet could enhance Shunpo.
‘It's like everything was prepared just for me.’
Yeon-woo couldn’t stop his laughter from coming out of his mouth.
But it was not unusual for this to happen. The system of The Tower tended to give players things that would suit them as much as possible when handing out rewards. The larger the achievement players made, the greater such tendency got. It was a system designed to help players to enhance their characteristics.
Yeon-woo finished checking his rewards. He packed up the quest rewards and headed back towards Galliard’s cottage.
* * *
"Hmm? A chain?"
"Yes. Anything that can be fastened will do."
Galliard narrowed his eyes at the Yeon-woo’s sudden request, but soon gave a smile.
"Did you get something like a jewel or a rune as a reward?.”
"I’m also a blacksmith, so I could help you make it into an artifact if you want, but... You don't have much time left, do you?”
Yeon-woo nodded gravely.
Players usually preferred to get jewels or runes as quest rewards. The reason was because they were not only easy to carry, but could also be attached to their artifact as ornaments.
They would have the same effect as wearing them, while reducing the hassle of actually wearing it.
However, the combination required a blacksmith with metallurgy or alchemy skills, one with a high level of proficiency. If they were to be left to a poorly skilled blacksmith, the option could be lost, as was often the case, or in the worst case scenario, both the material and the artifact could be destroyed.
Moreover, Yeon-woo could not immediately combine the jewelry with an artifact even though he met a somewhat skillful blacksmith named Galliard, because of a simple reason: he didn’t have much time left in the tutorial.
For the time being, Yeon-woo had to convert it into a necklace or a bracelet in order to get its effects.
"If that's the case... Wait here for a second."
Galliard entered the warehouse and began to rummage through a pile of items.
Soon, he came out holding something in his hand. It was a steel chain commonly used as necklace. It had a thorny part protruding right in the middle of the chain, presumably used to hold a jewel tightly onto the necklace.
Galliard handed the necklace to Yeon-woo.
"It can hold a jewel on that."
When Yeon-woo asked the price, Galliard waved his hand in denial.
"It was rotting in the warehouse anyway. Just take it. Seriosuly, that is nothing compared to what you’ve done for me."
Yeon-woo once again expressed his gratitude and attached the Goblin King’s eye to the steel chain.
Strangely enough, the eye fit perfectly in the socket.
When attached, the necklace gave off a red flash as a sign of completion.
Yeon-woo hung the necklace on his neck. At that moment, the eyeball fixed on the necklace came alive and rolled madly in every direction. It seemed to be trying to find Yeon-woo.
Galliard burst out laughing at the sight of a familiar eye.
"That’s Kranum’s eye, isn't it?."
"That monster, as smart as he is, he would never let go of his enemies. But I've never seen his eye moving like that even after death."
Yeon-woo nodded his head along, as he hung Monsters’ Five Colored Jewel on his belt with another small chain.
‘Once I get inside The Tower, I'll have to go ‘there’.’
Yeon-woo looked back at Galliard as he grabbed his backpack currently packed with parts of monsters.
"Thank you so much for your help."
"You’re leaving now?”
"You’re going straight to Section F, then?”
Yeon-woo silently nodded without saying a word.
"Well, you got everything there was left to get from this section, so I guess that would be the natural thing to do."
Galliard gazed at Yeon-woo with a strange look.
It was something he had been feeling since the time Yeon-woo had seen right through his Shunpo, but he seemed to be a guy who refused to be normal with every fiber of his being.
He couldn’t tell who exactly, but this guy reminded him vaguely of someone he had known in the past.
When Galliard saw his eyes showing behind the mask as white as the face of a ghost, one question arose in his head.
‘What kind of past does this kid have?’
Galliard tried to take off Yeon-woo’s mask when he cured his body with Undine’s Goblet, but the mask didn't let go of his face. That must have been the option of the artifact.
But Galliard didn't ask why Yeon-woo was wearing such a weird mask.
If he were to talk about ‘weird’, he knew he was by far the weirdest one by staying in the tutorial for several rounds.
Each and every player who wishes to enter The Tower had an unfortunate and regretful story. And such regret becomes their motivation, driving them to climb up The Tower.
However, it was a whole different story for players who have let go of their regrets like Galliard. Without their motivation, most of them didn’t know what to do next.
As for Galliard, because of all those years he spent looking for the lost pendant, he had already lost the desire to climb up The Tower. And without someone to welcome him, he didn't feel the need to go back home. However, he also knew he couldn’t stay in the tutorial forever wasting his time.
But still, it was something he should think carefully about, so he decided to rest a little longer and take his time making his decision.
"Oh, I almost forgot. Here, take this."
When Yeon-woo turned back to see what Galliard was giving him, he saw a sword thrown towards his head. He quickly dodged by twisting his upper body and snatched the sword.
A sword that was a meter long and as narrow as the length of a finger. The green thread tied into a unique knot at the end of its hilt made it look impressive.
"What is this?"
"Remember the guy that came for you? It’s the weapon he had with him. It’s a pretty decent sword, and I thought it’s a shame to let a good sword go to waste so I brought it here. Use it if you want, and if not, just pack it up in your bag and sell it to the mysterious merchant. It’ll make for a good trade.”
Yeon-woo swung the sword a few times. Its blade was solid and very well balanced. Even he could tell it was a well crafted sword.
However, Yeon-woo usually wielded swords with short blades that could be held on one hand just like daggers. A long sword like this had no use for him.
But still, he considered packing it in his backpack to trade it later to the mysterious merchant as Galliard said.
Then suddenly, Galliard asked a strange question.
"By the way, how did you get into a fight with Arangdan? Their base camps are right in front of Section F’s entrance, they’re gonna stir trouble for you when you get there."
Yeon-woo looked back at him, wondering what he was talking about.
"What do you mean Arangdan?"
“Hmm? Weren’t you just fighting with Arangdan?”
But Galliard seemed even more startled at his answer.
"That green string on the sword, it’s a symbol of Arangdan.”
At the moment, Yeon-woo's eyes grew wide.
‘So they weren't just a random group of scavengers, but players from Arangdan? From Cheonghwado?
All the pieces were finally falling into place.
The scavenger syndicate that his brother had destroyed. The sudden appearance of Arangdan in the tutorial. A human farm with an organized system.
And Kahn and Doyle, who left abruptly.
If Arangdan was the force behind the scavengers, and they had been deceiving all the other players under the cover of justice...
And if the reason Kahn and Doyle had left him was to stop this injustice...
When Kahn and Doyle pushed him out of their group, he had known it wasn’t on purpose. But the way he had to go was different from theirs, they ended up parting ways.
At that time, he didn’t know how big of a danger they would be in. He was sure Kahn and Doyle would be victorious against anyone who stood in their way.
But the enemy they went to fight with turned out to be Arangdan. He didn't know how many players there were nor how strong they were. And behind Arangdan, there was Cheonghwado, one of the top 8 clans in The Tower.
Could the two of them defeat an enemy as big as them?
If Kahn and Doyle had destroyed Arangdan already, there would have been word of it all throughout Section E. But all this while, he hadn’t heard anything about them. It must mean they lost their fight against Arangdan.
And then, Yeon-woo started to ponder about how much they meant to Yeon-woo.
Were they strangers or friends? Did he want to get involved or stay out?
But the more he thought of them,
The images of Kahn's confident laughter and Doyle's always-so-sleepy yet sharp eyes kept appearing in his mind.
What else could it mean when he couldn’t take them out of his head?
Hyung, you’ve always been my hero. And I hope you don’t lose yourself even when I’m gone.
There were the words that his brother had left him in the diary.
In the end,
Yeon-woo realized his answer was already set.
Unknown whether he was refering to Kahn and Doyle, to Arangdan, or to his brother,
As he muttered to himself,
Yeon-woo rose from his seated position with a cold glow in his eyes.