[The tenth floor’s trial will now begin.]
[Description: You are in the Realm of Void, an outside world, isolated from those of the living and the dead, where the laws of time and space do not exist.
But a living being such as you does not belong here. Escape from the Realm of Void by any means possible.]
"So, among the Beginner Zone, this floor is where the second largest number of players end up dropping out. I can see why.’
It was said that the difficulty of the tenth floor’s trial was harder than those of all first nine floors combined.
A trial where players who may have been on a roll until now could suddenly meet a wall.
Conversely, a trial where players who had barely managed to clear the previous floors, might suddenly find it easy.
As such, the trial of the tenth floor was very unpredictable. What was tested on this floor was one simple thing.
Mental strength and physical strength are two different things.
Solitude can devastate any physically healthy person’s mind. The more confident they are in themselves, the most adverse effect it has on them.
And that was exactly why his brother and his team, Arthia, reached a deadlock during their winning streak.
Being forced to play alone in a trial where they couldn’t even tell whether there was progress or not. Such feeling of apprehension slowly took over their heads and made them go out of their minds.
His brother mentioned that he also had a hard time because of this.
‘It won't work on me.'
Years of experience on the battlefield had made Yeon-woo dull to such negative emotions.
Rather, he had trained himself in order to be able to keep his rationality under much harder conditions.
‘There must be a door somewhere around here.’
But it wasn’t just one door.
‘A total of 10 doors, all different in colors and shapes.’
Yeon-woo closed his eyes. He activated Sense Strengthening and tried to pick up any abnormality.
Dozens of eyes slit open from the lines drawn on his armor.
Then suddenly, Yeon-woo opened his eyes and swung Magic Bayonet to his side.
The bayonet made a hitting sound as it stopped mid-air.
He pulled the bayonet downward and sliced what seemed to be an empty space.
As the space sliced open, it revealed a red door.
* * *
The tenth floor’s trial was somewhat like a labyrinth. A labyrinth full of doors that connected to other blank spaces
Finding doors in this world full of nothingness was a difficult task, but the most troublesome part came after finding one. Because each space contained more than just one door.
In each space, there was a total of ten doors, each one of them different in color and shape.
And when players faced these doors, doubts would sprout in their minds.
Why do all doors have different colors?
Did I open the wrong door?
Should I have settled with one color?
Is there any order to it?
Could there by any hidden trick with these doors?
‘This place, it digs deep into the psyche of players.’
There is a Chinese term, Heart Devil.
It means that doubts, even small ones, can grow in one person's mind. Eating away at them from the inside, and in the end, making them go insane.
Most players fell prey to their doubts and ended up dropping out of the trial.
He heard that many of the dropouts ended up suffering from mental disorders. Some even committed suicide while they were trying to figure out the answer to the doors and to the trial.
But sadly enough, the answer to the trial was very simple.
‘Just go enough times through any of the doors.'
There was no hidden trick nor problem to the color or the shape of the doors. The doors were just doors, all leading to the next section of the labyrinth.
Whatever door the players may select, if they kept opening them, they would eventually make it outside.
The only things required were mental strength and faith in one’s choices. Only the players who could overcome their self-doubt were allowed to pass the trial.
And of course, there were players who entered the tenth floor with this information at hand. But the problem was that coming up with a plan was one thing, and putting it into practice was another. Even if they knew the answer to the doors, the players going through the trial couldn’t act as they originally planned.
Some spaces had doors at places where they were easy to find, but some didn’t.
Wandering around the vast expanse of nothingness while trying to find those doors, players easily forgot about their plans, advice or whatever they got from the outside.
But that was a problem for other players. Yeon-woo didn’t have to worry about it at all. All he had to do was to scan through the area based on his strengthened senses, move straight toward any door he detected, and go through the door to enter another area.
But at some point, Yeon-woo’s steps began to slow down.
He even started to turn back after finding a door and go for another one.
‘Not this one.'
‘Not this one either.’
‘And this one... no.’
Yeon-woo didn’t give a second glance at the doors he found useless.
In fact, what Yeon-woo was after was not the exit of the tenth floor.
‘There are hidden pieces lying somewhere beyond these doors.’
Hermes’ Key was the hardest hidden piece to complete among all the other ones in Beginner Zone. In fact, it was harder than completing all the other keys combined.
And that was exactly the reason why only a handful of players succeeded in opening Olympus’ Treasury.
To complete Hermes’ Key, he had to collect 100 shattered pieces of the key that were scattered through each trial.
And if he opened the door that leads to the exit before he could find all the pieces, it would end the trial, making it impossible to complete the Hermes’ Key.
In other words, he had to go through the labyrinth while being careful not to finish it by mistake.
What a ridiculous task.
However, Yeon-woo was confident in himself. He trusted his senses and looked for the unique mana that the hidden pieces possessed.
But above all,
He had Gyges’ Eyes with him.
At Yeon-woo’s command, the dozens of eyes engraved on his armor started rolling in all different directions, searching for the pieces.
And thanks to them, he was able to feel what lied beyond the doors.
The reason why Yeon-woo had wasted a whole month in the Outer District.
Without this artifact, he wouldn’t be able to complete Hermes’ Key.
‘Well, to be precise, I could probably make it.’
If he groped his way through the labyrinth with his strengthened senses, he would be able to find all 100 pieces.
‘But not in time to acquire Hades’ Key.’
Concluding his assumptions, Yeon-woo kept on walking forward.
With each step he took, Gyges’ Eyes busily rolled around in search of the hidden pieces.
And a few more hours later, Yeon-woo brought together all 100 pieces he gathered throughout the labyrinth.
As the ‘Hermes’ Feathers’ snapped into their places, they started to take the form of the key.
‘This is the end.'
[You have set the greatest record on this floor. Will you register your name in the Hall of Fame?]
[You have refused to register your name.]
[Your record has been deeply engraved in The Tower. You can register your name later on whenever you wish to.]
[All the trials of the Beginner Zone have ended.]
[Your time spent on clearing the Beginner Zone is 151 hours, 35 minutes and 1 second. You have broken the previous record of ‘Jeong-woo Cah’ by 83 hours, 2 minutes and 9 seconds.]
[You have set the greatest record of the Beginner Zone. Will you register your name in the Hall of Fame?]
For a very bried moment, Yeon-woo silently stared at the name ‘Jeong-woo Cah’ registered in the Hall of Fame.
‘It's been so long since I’ve seen your name.’
In a flash, all kinds of thoughts went through Yeon-woo’s head.
But soon, he shook his head and spat out a short answer.
[You have refused to register your name.]
[Your record has been....]
[You have acquired ‘Hades’ Key'.]
[You have acquired ‘Ring of Ice'.]
[You have acquired ‘Skull Crest'.]
Though there were a lot of rewards, there was only one thing that caught Yeon-woo’s eye.
A key carved out of amethyst.
It was the Hades’ Key. The same hidden piece his brother acquired.
Yeon-woo put Hades' Key and Hermes' Key on the floor, took out the rest of the keys and spread them out next to the two keys.
Just then, the twelve keys shone with brilliant colorful lights.
[You have gathered all twelve keys of the Olympians. The new key will be created.]
Just like how they were created, the twelve glowing keys merged together, creating one single key.
Visually, the new key looked too ordinary, unlike the other twelve keys.
It was silvery-white in color, without any complex design. But Yeon-woo could feel the mysterious energy emanating from the key.
[You have created ‘Olympus’ Key’. You are now qualified to enter the Olympus’ Treasury, the vault containing gold and treasures that the Olympians had accumulated during tens of thousands of years.]
[You can take only one item from the Olympus’ Treasury.]
A golden door appeared before Yeon-woo’s eyes.
‘This must be the door to Olympus’ Treasury.’
Yeon-woo found a keyhole below the doorknob.
Without any hesitation, he pushed the key into the door and turned it.
With an unlocking sound,
The Olympus’ Key disintegrated into fine sand.
Thinking about all he had gone through to acquire that key, it was a very forlorn end.
However, Yeon-woo quickly shook away his frustration and pushed open the golden door.
When he opened the door, he was greeted by a world of pitch darkness.
A world that was the opposite of the Realm of Void.
And only when he stepped through the door, he was able to see an immeasurably huge iron gate lying just ahead of him.
The giant gate was engraved with a sculpted painting of what looked like a description of Titanomachy, the war between the Titans and the Olympians.
The mere sight of it made him feel overwhelmed. Similar to what he felt when he saw The Tower, but this was more close to a feeling of awe.
And when he turned his gaze towards the bottom of the gate, he found a man sitting right in front of the gate looking at him with eyes full of interest.
The man in a winged helmet and winged sandals, and a rod entwined with two serpents in his hands.
‘He must be Hermes.’
The very great being laughed as he spoke to Yeon-woo.
"It's you. The man who shocked all the Guardians."
As the god who could move freely between the worlds of mortals and the divine, Hermes was given a task.
The gatekeeper of Olympus’ Treasury.
Because he could look into the world of mortals, it was his task to keep his eyes on the mortal world and protect the Olympians' treasures from those who coveted them.
But in other words, this also meant that he was always watching down at the mortal world, observing everything that happened all around the world.
And because of that, he gained a nickname from the mortals.
"I've had visitors before, and it has become frequent as of late, but I don't think there has been any mortal as surprising as you."
Hermes expressed his admiration as he looked at Yeon-woo.
"I have never seen a mortal like you."
It seemed he was genuinely shocked by Yeon-woo
"I'd like to enter the treasury."
Yeon-woo turned a deaf ear to Hermes' praise.
He wasn’t in the mood to stand and chat with Hermes. Because he was dying to enter the treasury as soon as possible.
He had already thought of the artifacts he wanted.
"Zeus’ Astrape and Athena’s Aegis."
Astrape, a spear that annihilates the enemies by launching lightning attacks. And one of the best weapons one could get in The Tower.
Aegis, also known as one of the best shields, with durability that allows it to fend off most attacks. And with Gorgon's head embedded in it's center, it can even paralyze or petrify one's enemies.
Both artifacts, each representing a god, have made their name several times in myths.
Holding gods’ names, the wielder of the artifacts could also obtain the power of the gods.
"Haha! I see your heart is already set on opening the treasury. Very well. I will attend to your wish."
Hermes clapped his two hands with a cheerful laugh.
The iron gate began to open on its own with a thunderous noise. And through the gap, a beam of golden light brilliantly poured down onto the once pitch dark world.
End of volume 3