Chapter 71. The first floor (3)
[You have entered Obelisk.]
[You will soon be summoned to the first floor's waiting zone. The first floor’s trial will begin once there are enough players.]
As Yeon-woo walked through the passage, the surrounding area began to change. And before he knew it, he found himself in what appeared to be a spacious meeting hall.
The hall was entirely made out of white marble. There was a chandelier hanging down from the ceiling, illuminating the whole area with soft ambient light, and other pieces of furniture like fluffy couches conveniently placed at each corner.
Two long corridors full of doors along their walls were lying at two opposite ends of the hall.
‘So this is the waiting zone.’
The place that players must visit before carrying out the trials given by The Tower, also called ‘Missions’ by the system.
The waiting area was already packed with players. There were some who were making friends with other players, and some who were making deals.
Just inside the meeting hall, there were roughly 50 players gathered
“Yup, there they are again.
A sudden silence fell over the boisterous hall.
All the players were looking in his direction with vicious looks in their eyes.
Yeon-woo tilted his head slightly, wondering what was this about.
These players were all strangers to Yeon-woo. He couldn’t understand why every one of them was looking at him with such hateful eyes.
But soon, he realized their gazes weren’t focused on him.
‘They are looking at these two.’
However, Phante and Edora didn’t care one bit about their glares.
"Let’s see what we’ve got here. I think it was somewhere around here."
"Don't even think about drinking again. Don’t you remember the mess you made last time?"
"Hehe. I’ll just drink a glass or two. Is that okay?"
Phante rummaged through a shelf looking for leftover alcohol, and Edora tried to stop him but soon gave up and sat down in a corner and began reading her book.
It was as if the two were isolated from this whole area full of players.
‘Right. That’s just how they are.’
Yeon-woo remembered that these two were originally the first and second ranks in the tutorial.
The royal blood of the One-horned tribe.
They were the ‘chosen ones’. They had learned various martial arts and trained both physically and mentally from an early age.
To other normal players, it was as if there was an invisible wall between them. They couldn’t even think of getting close to them.
And while he was lost in thought, Yeon-woo noticed people looking at him with similar eyes.
"That's him, right?"
"Yes. He’s the Hoarder."
"God damn it. It’s a lost cause from the start."
"Maybe we could get a free ride."
"You think they’re just gonna stand and watch us do that?”
The news of Yeon-woo's participation in the upcoming round seemed to have spread among players on the lower floors.
Yeon-woo thought it was rather good for him. Because he wasn’t going to make friends with them.
In fact, he didn’t want to make friends with anyone in The Tower. Even Phante and Edora’s company wasn’t in his plans.
As he had told them outside, Yeon-woo was going to leave them behind if they got in his way.
He had only one plan in his mind.
‘My goal is to clear the first ten floors within ten days, no, nine days. That’s easier said than done.’
That was the only way he could acquire Hades’ Key.
In addition, there was another secret hidden inside the Beginner's Zone.
‘I also have to find the keys hidden on each floor.’
One from the tutorial. One after clearing the Beginner's Zone.
There were still 10 keys remaining to complete the key to the Olympus’ Treasury.
All of those ten key were hidden as hidden pieces on each of the floors of Beginner's Zone. Sometimes as a hidden quest, sometimes hidden somewhere unexpected.
In other words, Yeon-woo had to go through a double whammy of clearing ten trials in quick succession and looking for ten hidden pieces at the same time.
‘If I remember correctly, the key hidden on the first floor was Hera's Key.’
After recalling the method to acquire Hera’s Key, Yeon-woo rubbed his eyes from the sudden headache.
‘I feel tired already just by thinking of it.’
Yeon-woo cursed at the Guardians for designing hidden pieces with such an outrageous difficulty as he sat down and closed his eyes.
As he sank in meditation, he focused on the movement of the mana flowing inside his Mana Circuit.
Contrary to his earlier thoughts, he had never considered failure. Because he had all the stats and skills he had built up so far and various artifacts that would aid him in combat.
And above all, he had Gyges’ Eyes.
The mana circulated faster inside his body.
* * *
"Welcome, players. My name is Aaron, I am the Guardian that will be guiding through the first floor’s trial."
Unlike Yvlke, the Guardian of this floor was a tall, pale-skinned man with a pair of fangs sticking out from behind his red lips.
‘He’s a Vampire.’
Yeon-woo wondered whether all Guardians had appearances of different monsters.
In his sharp tuxedo, just like Yvlke’s, The Vampire gracefully greeted the players .
Four days had already passed since Yeon-woo entered The Tower, before the Guardian showed up.
Thankfully, each player was given a room to stay in during the time they had to spend waiting.
Each room was securely protected so that no one could enter without the owner’s permission.
Yeon-woo, therefore, was able to focus entirely on checking his artifacts and meditating inside his room during those four days.
The ‘time record’ for acquiring Hades’ Key only started once the trial took place, so he didn’t have to worry about it.
In the meantime, the amount of players arriving at the first floor’s waiting zone steadily increased, and now there were almost a hundred players gathered in this place.
But during those four days, there was something started to bother him.
It was that the players were overly wary of Phante and Edora. Even more than of Yeon-woo who had made a name for himself in the tutorial.
It even felt like the reason why they were wary of him was not because of his title of ‘the Hoarder’, but because of him being often seen next to Phante and Edora.
‘Come to think of it, Phante said that he and Edora had tried the first floor before. But why are they still on the first floor? Did something happen?’
He couldn’t imagine the siblings failing the first floor’s trial.
If they did fail, things must have gotten really messy, or maybe they got into a fight with their own teammates.
And judging by the atmosphere, the latter sounded more plausible.
‘I'll have to ask them later.’
He couldn’t let them ruin this round once again.
While Yeon-woo was lost in thought, Guardian Aaron was giving a speech in front of the hundred players.
He was talking about things players should be wary of, and gave a list of items players might find useful for climbing up The Tower, and so on.
But they were things that Yeon-woo had already read in the diary, so he didn’t pay much attention.
And when the speech was over,
"Let’s move on to the trial. Now, I'm sure some of you are already familiar with the rules I’m about to explain, but for the first timers, I’ll go over the rules in detail once again.”
Aaron put on a wide grin on his face.
"But, I won’t repeat them even if you miss something, so please listen carefully.”
Aaron clapped his hands.
Just then, the space surrounding Yeon-woo and the players began to warp, sending them to a different place.
And when they arrived,
A sudden gust of wind threw the players off balance. But they managed to regain balance and stand on their feet.
And when they came back to their senses and looked at the surroundings, they unconsciously started to spit out curses .Because they were standing on the edge of a cliff of a giant canyon.
Right in the front, there was a huge gap beneath their feet, covered in dense mist, making it seem bottomless.
One misstep meant certain death.
And on the other side of the gap stood a cliff just like the one they were standing on.
Between the two cliffs, there were only three rope bridges connecting both sides.
The bridges were made of wooden boards and ropes, swaying dangerously in the wind.
‘This is the stage for the trial.’
Yeon-woo eyes glistened at the sight of the stage he had seen in the diary.
At that moment.
A huge message popped up in the sky.
[This is the double cliff stage of the first floor.]
[The first floor’s trial will now begin.]
Then, a pool of light emerged just beneath the message, and turned into five palm-sized blue crystals.
The message continued.
[Description: There are two big cliffs lying across each other. On each cliff there's a team of 100 players, both with five crystals. Protect your team’s crystals and steal or destroy the enemy team’s crystals. The team that steals or destroys the most crystals within a set time will be the winner.]
When the message was over, the five crystals fell on Aaron's palm.
Aaron smiled and began to explain in further detail.
"As explained in the message, the cliff on the other side has another team of 100 players just like your team over here. And they were given five red crystals. For convenience, I’ll name your team ‘Blue Team’, and the enemy team ‘Red Team’."
Aaron continued his speech as he looked around the players whose eyes were fixed on the crystals.
"You are allowed to use any means possible to protect your crystals. You can hide them somewhere else, or leave them to a single strong player. You’ll have to think well of what strategy the Red Team might employ.”
Players frowned as they turned their gazes to the cliff on the other side.
There were only three rope bridges connecting the two sides, wobbling from the blowing wind.
If they wanted to cross to the other side, they had to fight on those bridges.
Moreover, neither the wooden boards nor the ropes seemed strong enough to withstand much pressure. They would snap even from the smallest impact.
‘The difficulty is insane for the first trial.’
Yeon-woo clicked his tongue.
Though the tutorial was difficult too, it was still possible to clear it as a solo player.
On the contrary, in The Tower such possibility was closed off from the very beginning.
Players were required to work in tandem with other 99 players who they most likely did not recognize.
And to acquire Hera’s Key, Yeon-woo had to accomplish one more goal.
‘To get hold of all 10 crystals of both colors.‘
But the problem was that this goal was contradictory to part of the original goal for passing the trial.
That players could steal or ‘destroy’ the crystals.
But the moment even one of the crystals was destroyed would mean he wouldn’t be able to acquire Hera’s Key in that round.
It was a bit annoying, but there was nothing he could do to change that.
Yeon-woo didn't have time for such things.
‘I will destroy anyone that stands in my way.’
Yeon-woo's eyes shone coldly.
‘First things first, I’ll have to take all the blue crystals.’
Yeon-woo’s eyes were fixed on the five blue crystals on Aaron’s hand.
Aaron continued with a smile.
"Let’s start distributing the crystals. Who would like to nominate themselves?"