Chapter 84. Mythical Beast (7)
Yeon-woo's eyes widened at the unexpected request.
"I don't mind, but…."
『You are worried that by giving her a name her existence will become tied to you, are you not?』
Yeon-woo nodded with an apprehensive look.
Granting a name to a spiritual being isn’t as simple as it sounds. Doing so could bind it down, just like his Spirit Familiars.
Though Mythical Beasts and Spirit Familiars were of a different kind, both belonged to the spiritual world. He didn't know what would happen if he named the hatchling.
But the Phoenix gently laughed as if to reassure him.
『Do not worry, as her life is already closely knitted to yours. She is also very fond of you, so she would love to receive a name from you. Besides...』
the Phoenix continued with a gentle voice.
『It will be of great benefit to you. Forming a spiritual connection with a legendary beast will let your ‘tier' ascend.』
Her gentleness warmed Yeon-woo's heart.
『If you ever become a higher being, it will be very helpful in the future.』
‘There should be no reason to refuse.’
Eventually, Yeon-woo accepted the request.
* * *
Like every baby animal, the newborn Phoenix was very cute.
『Though she is just a child, I see great potential within her. One day, she will grow to be a wonderful Phoenix.』
Yeon-woo stood restlessly as he held the baby Phoenix chirping in his bosom.
Unlike how big her mother was, the baby Phoenix was so tiny, almost too fragile for him to handle.
Yet the baby Phoenix kept on happily flapping her small wings while in his arms. Thus, Yeon-woo had to take extra care not to drop the bird every time she wriggled.
『It seems that even someone like you can find some things hard to deal with.』
There was an amused look on the Phoenix's eyes as she looked at Yeon-woo.
Yeon-woo carefully moved the baby bird to one arm and began petting her head with his free hand.
Although the bird's feathers were made of flames, they didn't burn his hand. Rather, they were so warm that he almost didn't want to let go.
The baby bird chirped happily.
『Now, have you thought of her name?』
[The Phoenix is asking you to name her third child. Will you accept her request?]
Yeon-woo then spoke the name he came up with after much consideration.
[Are you sure you want to name the Phoenix's third child as ‘Chirpy'?]
As Yeon-woo was about to nod at the message, he suddenly felt a strange gaze pouring down on him.
Turning his head, he saw the Phoenix looking at him with a sour look on her face.
"Is something wrong?"
Yeon-woo tilted his head with a serious look.
『...No, nothing is wrong. Hmm, I suppose... that will suffice.』
Yeon-woo wondered why the Phoenix would stutter.
[You have named the Phoenix's third child ‘Chirpy'. You have established a bond with Chirpy. Chirpy's Affinity towards you has increased greatly. You will be under the influence of Chirpy.]
[Affinity towards fire element has increased by 50.]
[Affinity towards wind element has increased by 50.]
[You have formed a contract with a Legendary Beast. Due to the influence of the Legendary Beast, all Mythical Beasts except for Demonic Beasts will now be less vigilant against you.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional Karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 2,000 Karma.]
[You have acquired 1,500 additional Karma.]
Yeon-woo felt something welling up from inside his body.
It’s hard to express it in words, but it seemed to be the effect of his soul's ‘tier' advancing thanks to the connection.
[Spiritual growth has been confirmed. The halted succession process will resume. 99.1%... 99.2%....]
[Current progress: 99.5%]
It also affected the succession process.
It seemed like his vessel had grown to match the growth of his spirit.
Now, there was only 0.5% left to complete the process.
Yeon-woo gently patted Chirpy's head as he savored this peaceful moment.
* * *
After coming out of the Phoenix's nest, Yeon-woo spent some time training in order to get used to the new artifacts and abilities he obtained.
The first thing he did was to try out the combinations of skills he had come up with while talking with the Phoenix.
The previous combination of Black Blade and Flame Infusion he had developed in the past had been upgraded into a combination of Black Energy and Flame Infusion. Thanks to the upgrade, it could now create more powerful explosions.
And the newly found combination of Combat Will and Goddess's Weapon allowed Yeon-woo to tolerate the aftereffects of thought acceleration much better.
He also organized three small units with his Spirit Familiars and had Boo, Nol, and Ka take charge of each unit.
Thanks to possessing intelligence, the previously useless spirits began to learn how to fight and were now doing their share in hunting down beasts.
The Spirit Familiars had now reached a point where they could go hunt monsters even without his commands, drawing spirits into his collection and developing various abilities on their own.
Despite the many things Yeon-woo discovered through this training, however, not everything went as smoothly as he would’ve wanted.
"What am I supposed to do with you?"
Yeon-woo was lost deep in thought while fidgeting with Aegis on his hand.
The nine-layered shield did not serve just as a ‘shield'. As a godly artifact, it must have various functions yet to be unveiled.
In efforts to find out those secrets, he tried examining Aegis with Draconic Eyes, but his effort yielded only a small success.
‘I know that it's lighter than it looks.'
Ridiculously enough, Yeon-woo barely felt any weight while holding it in his hand even though the shield consisted of nine layers of strong metal panels.
‘And I know I can spread them out or separate them into nine different shields.'
Yeon-woo found out that he could spread out the eight layers of metal panels from the central piece, like the petals of a flower, to form a large barrier, and that he could also detach each one of the layers and make nine small shields.
He presumed that it was intended to block attacks coming from all sides.
‘Maybe I should try infusing it with mana.'
Yeon-woo drew out mana from his Mana Circuit and infused it into Aegis.
At that moment,
Aegis began to tremble, and with a tingling sensation, Yeon-woo felt Aegis being connected to him by an invisible string. It felt similar to when he was connected to his Spirit Familiars.
If something was different, it was that he felt like he could manipulate the shield by just thinking.
Yeon-woo put Aegis down on the floor, reached out his hand and thought about it floating in the air.
After a few shakes, Aegis slowly rose into the air.
‘Could this be some sort of Psychokinesis?'
Although he didn't know why or how it worked, he didn't care.
When he imbued more mana into the shield, it quickly rose up and reached his head.
‘This is much simpler than I thought.'
He would be able to adjust its position just by thinking of it.
His brother had repeatedly mentioned in his diary that most Unique items were very hard to handle, with only a few exceptions.
It occurred to him that Aegis could be one of those few exceptions.
But Yeon-woo promptly dismissed that idea.
The moment he separated the shield into nine pieces, he also felt the connection breaking up into nine separate strings, dividing his attention.
The nine metal plates dropped onto the floor accompanied by loud clangs.
‘Do I really have to focus on all nine pieces if I want to use all of them?'
Yeon-woo tried to manipulate the nine disjointed shields, but they refused to budge. Giving up on controlling all nine pieces, instead, Yeon-woo focused on just one piece that was closest to him.
This time, he lifted it as easily as he did before separating them.
Clenching his teeth, Yeon-woo extended his left hand and looked at another piece of metal.
Now, two metal pieces were drifting about in the air.
‘I changed my mind. This is harder than I thought.'
Yeon-woo licked his lips and tried to wield both shields at the same time.
But when he focused on one, he lost control of the other one, and when he tried to regain control of that one, he lost control of the first one.
If he wanted to use all nine pieces, he would have to do the same with seven more pieces.
‘I have to train myself to split my consciousness in order to use the entire shield.'
Only then did Yeon-woo realize how difficult it was to handle Aegis smoothly.
Logically, a godly artifact that could easily fend off attacks, and even inflict enemies with a petrifying curse, would require great concentration to handle well.
‘I should have seen that coming. Damn, this is not going to be easy.'
The biggest problem was that he wouldn't be handling just Aegis during combat.
Just controlling his four extremities and trying to come up with ways to defeat his opponents would require his full attention.
‘Athena truly is the goddess of war and wisdom.'
Despite everything, Yeon-woo was still relieved to have his traits—Diamond Physique and Cold-Blooded, which helped him remain calm and make quick decisions during a battle.
Though it would be tough at first, he expected to be able to handle at least three or four at the same time once he accustomed himself.
Then, it was now time to practice.
"Boo, Nol, Ka."
The three Spirit Familiars immediately turned to Yeon-woo.
"I'm going to do some training and I need your help."
The three of them tilted their heads.
"All you have to do is scatter somewhere around the forest, and when I give you the signal, come back and attack me. Try to stick to hit and run strategies."
The three then desperately shook their heads as if saying they could not do such a thing to their master.
The rather cute reactions unbefitting of their beastly appearances made Yeon-woo let out a little chuckle.
"Don't worry. I'm only going to be blocking your attacks. And I won’t be using the shield that has Gorgon’s head."
The three spirits then lowered their heads and began to walk away from Yeon-woo.
Once the monsters got far enough from him, Yeon-woo activated Combat Will.
A great deal of information began to pour into his head. On top of this, Yeon-woo opened Gyges' Eyes to expand his cognitive domain.
As he rubbed his aching head, Yeon-woo first imbued his mana into two of the eight remaining shields.
But then, he felt a sudden dizziness.
‘Controlling Aegis while simultaneously using other skills, it’s even harder than I thought it would be.'
Yeon-woo then tried to stabilize himself.
The Spirit Familiars began to move.
Yeon-woo quickly moved two panels to the direction where the spirits were running.
* * *
Through his training, Yeon-woo was able to find out a few more things about Aegis.
First, it was Aegis’ durability, or more precisely, its ability to absorb impacts.
Ka, previously being a boss monster, possessed strength which could easily tear a human body apart.
But when Yeon-woo used Aegis to block the charge of such a strong monster, the shield barely budged—or even trembled.
Next, it was Aegis’ mobility.
Because he could make them float around him just by thinking, he could cover his blind spots with them and prevent possible ambushes.
‘Theoretically, I can block any kind of attack as long as I’m able to react to it.'
Now that he had figured out the characteristics of Aegis, he could plan things properly.
His training method was simple. First, he used one shield to block their combination attacks, then added one more shield once he got used to it.
It wasn't that difficult to control one, as it moved just as he thought. But it became drastically harder once he added another shield.
‘I can force myself and try to control three, but I can’t control them as freely as controlling just two.'
Yeon-woo did not rush to increase the number and decided to do it once he got used to controlling the current number of shields.
Later on, once he became somewhat familiar with handling three shields, he started to move and avoid the attacks instead of trying to add another shield.
‘The best advantage I have is my mobility. I can’t just let it rot while I’m using Aegis.'
Yeon-woo ran as fast as he could while sending Aegis to stop Nol from approaching.
It felt as if multiple Yeon-woos were running around the forest.
His head was spinning from having to process all the information pouring in from the strands of consciousness he had distributed to each shield.
His vision became blurry and his vertigo got worse.
But Yeon-woo increased the intensity of his training even further.
The Mana Circuit circulated mana frantically, and his entire body started to heat up because of the overload.
Still, Yeon-woo ran and ran as much as his body could hold.
* * *
It was not until midnight that Yeon-woo finally returned to his beast egg’s nest.
Yeon-woo went for a soak in a hot spring he had found nearby.
Feeling his fatigue melting away, Yeon-woo recalled the training he had just finished.
For the first time upon entering The Tower, he had exhausted all the mana from his Mana Circuit.
It was particularly amazing since his body contained a considerable amount of mana thanks to consuming the Snow Ginseng and Akasha’s Neidan.
Perhaps that showed how demanding the training had been.
‘I need to hurry up and finish what remains of the succession process.’
Yeon-woo sighed as he thought about the last one percent he had been stuck at for quite a long time.
Though there were some tiny increases every now and then, none of them were enough to bring it to 100%.
Yeon-woo presumed he might need a certain ‘catalyst’ to break through this bottleneck.
‘Well, it’ll eventually grow if I keep climbing up The Tower.’
Yeon-woo summoned the status window as he submerged his body further down into the water.
‘It worked better than I thought.’
[Player: Yeon-woo Cha]
Traits: Cold-blooded, Diamond Physique
Title: Monster Hunter
* Attribute Points
Strength: 235 (+23)
Dexterity: 245 (+29)
Health: 239 (+14)
Magic Power: 320 (+22)
Draconic Eyes(25.1%), Sense Strengthening(43.2%), Foresight(1.0%), Physical Resistance(30.1%), Combat Will(25.5%), Bathory’s Vampiric Sword(15.5%), Flame Infusion (52.1%), Shunpo (39.1%), Magic Circuit(18.2%)
The difference from when he first stepped into The Tower was noticeable.
His growth speed could definitely rank among the fastest ever seen throughout the whole history of The Tower.
What’s more, he had numerous great artifacts in his possession.
If someone were to see his items and stats, they wouldn’t believe they belonged to a player on the lower floors.
Nevertheless, Yeon-woo didn't neglect his training. Instead, he pushed himself even harder. And thanks to that, his skills experienced rapid growth in proficiency.
This time, Sense Strengthening’s proficiency had increased surprisingly fast.
‘Maybe it’s because I focused all my senses on controlling Aegis during training.’
Yeon-woo still had a lot of practice to do in order to get used to controlling the separate pieces of Aegis. And by raising Sense Strengthening’s proficiency along with it he was killing two birds with one stone.
Yeon-woo then began to plan out his future training programs. He intended to focus on this for the time being. There was nothing special he could do before his egg hatched, so he had lots of time to kill.
‘That’s that, but...'
Yeon-woo creased his brows as he closed the status window.
‘What’s taking them so long?’
It had been six days since Yeon-woo first entered the 11th floor.
But he hadn’t found any signs of Phante and Edora arriving on this floor.
Although the 10th floor’s trial was hard, it shouldn't have taken them so long, especially for Edora with her Insight.
Yeon-woo quickly opened up the ranking window.
1. Edora (25,000 Points)
2. Unknown (23,900 Points)
3. Jeong-woo Cah (20,100 Points)
‘They did pass the trial.’
Edora had taken the first place which had previously belonged to Yeon-woo. And Phante’s name was also registered as number 5.
But the fact that they didn't show up on the 11th floor meant that,
‘They’re not in The Tower right now… but why?’
Yeon-woo easily figured out that both of them were currently at the Outer District.
But the fact that the three of them had talked about coming to 11th floor made him even more curious as to why they had suddenly left.
‘Well, at least I know they finished the 10th floor. They’ll come back once they’re done with their business.’
However, Yeon-woo decided not to think too much of the matter.
Phante and Edora were the royal blood of the One-horned tribe. They could look after themselves.
If anything, his concern was that they wouldn’t make it before his egg hatched.
‘I’ve changed a lot.'
Yeon-woo further immersed his body into the water and looked up at the night sky. The night grew darker as the moon slowly set.
* * *
However, five more days had passed there was still no sign of Phante and Edora arriving at the 11th floor.
Meanwhile, Yeon-woo had focused on training himself so now he could wield three layers of Aegis at will, and his Spirit Familiars had also grown to the point where they began to ‘think’ on their own.
‘I think I can manage in an actual fight.’
In order to set forth, Yeon-woo strapped Vigrid and Aegis back on his back and hung Magic Bayonet and Carshina’s Dagger next to his waist.
『I see you are preparing for battle. Have you finally decided to complete my quest?』
Then the Phoenix, who was supposed to be busy taking care of her children, spoke to him.
Yeon-woo gave a nod as an answer.
『It is quite a late start.』
"I had a lot to prepare for."
『I recommend you to hurry up. Your egg is almost ready to take the Flame of Life. Oh, and do not worry about your egg for I will keep my eyes on it.』
Yeon-woo expressed his gratitude and left the forest.
It was now the time to create the vessel to carry the Flame of Life.
 The hatchling’s gender is not confirmed as Korean pronouns don’t differentiate. I’m just assuming it’s female to make the writing less clunky. It might change later on.