Chapter 85. Flame of Life (1)
"It should be somewhere around here."
The first ingredient Yeon-woo went for was the egg of the monster bird, Albatross.
‘Though it’s just a bird, an Albatross is a powerful and gigantic beast, big enough to bite off a player’s head.’
An Albatross is a giant fowl that can grow up to 5 meters tall. It has a powerful beak and sharp talons that could easily shred metal to pieces. And its swift wings made it an even harder monster to kill.
But Yeon-woo wasn’t too worried about it. He wouldn't have come here without a plan.
Yeon-woo followed the map recorded in the diary, searching for the Albatross' habitat. But after treading around the forest for a bit, he suddenly stopped walking.
After some point, the vicinities were devoid of any presence. This was proof that he was inside the Albatross’s territory.
Yeon-woo raised his head.
There was a huge creature perched on top of a tall tree about 15 meters above the ground.
It was an Albatross.
The bird unfurled its huge wings and let out a horrible shriek.
Ordinary players would have shrunk with fright upon hearing that cry, but Yeon-woo only gave a cold smile.
[Hidden Quest / Albatross Hunt]
Description: A monstrous bird that lives in the northern area of the Dream World.
Albatrosses are known to devour everything in sight. Because of their gluttonous appetite, the beasts that dwell near the forest live in fear of being eaten.
Hunt down an Albatross and retrieve its eggs to prevent them from hatching.
*This quest is linked to the ‘Flame of Life' quest.
Reward: All stats +5, Albatross's Comb
‘This is what I like about the 11th floor.’
The hidden pieces, located in several places throughout the 11th floor, were great for acquiring materials to hatch one’s desired beast but were also treasure chests containing plentiful rewards.
At Yeon-woo’s call, a haze of black smoke rose from the ground.
From within the haze appeared Boo, Nol, Ka, and seven other Spirit Familiars. And as soon as they appeared, the spirits went straight towards the Albatross despite the absence of Yeon-woo’s order.
The Albatross quickly flapped its wings in an effort to take off. However, Nol had already reached the Albatross with its swift legs and landed a hit on it.
Smashed by Nol’s front leg, the Albatross lost its grip on the branch and plummeted to the ground.
The bird then quickly picked itself up, trying to get away, but it was too late. The remaining Spirit Familiars had already surrounded the bird.
Attempting to fly away, the Albatross began to flap its wings. However, the bird was once again stopped from flying, its body suddenly becoming limp.
It was Boo’s Health Down curse.
Though it was a simple debuff, stunned by the sudden turn of events, the Albatross couldn’t budge its wings as if they were strapped to its body by an invisible chain.
The bird found itself in a helpless situation and began to let out a mournful cry.
In the meantime,
Yeon-woo drew Magic Bayonet and Carshina’s Dagger and flung himself towards the Albatross.
* * *
Yeon-woo opened his left palm and brought it to the neck of the Albatross that was lying on the ground wheezing out its faint breath.
The serrated teeth pierced through its skin and began to suck out its blood at an alarming rate.
[You have absorbed vitality and energy]
[Your Strength has increased by 1 point.]
[Your Dexterity has increased by 2 points.]
[‘Bathory’s Vampiric Sword’ skill proficiency has increased. 15.9%]
A nightmarish shriek echoed throughout the woods.
The Albatross squeezed out its last bit of strength and flapped its wings in a struggle to break free, but its movements quickly died down.
Yeon-woo then, with his Draconic Eyes, spotted the soul of the Albatross escaping through its mouth.
He quickly captured the soul in his Collection before it was too late.
‘I probably can't convert the soul into a Spirit Familiar right away because of its grudge, but I’m not going to let it sit there and rot either. A soul like this is hard to come by. I’m going to have to find a way to subdue it later.’
The Albatross’s soul was second only to Vulka’s. It would make a great Spirit Familiar in the future.
[Hidden quest (Albatross Hunt) completed.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional Karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 1,000 Karma.]
[You have acquired 500 additional Karma.]
[All of your stats have increased by 5 points.]
[You have acquired ‘Albatross’s Comb’.]
Yeon-woo read the message with a contented smile and then looked back at his Spirit Familiars.
"Good job, everyone."
[The Spirit Familiars are rejoicing at their first victory in a group battle.]
[Morale of your Spirit Familiars has increased.]
[Affinity of your Spirit Familiars has increased.]
Because of their wild instincts, they seemed to be delighted.
"And then... here’s your reward."
Yeon-woo handed out a bead of compressed dark energy to each of his Spirit Familiars.
The spirits joyfully took the beads and swallowed them right away. Then, their murky grey bodies glowed red for a second.
[You have used Spirit Beads on your Spirit Familiars.]
[Boo (Witch Doctor) has been strengthened. All stats have increased by 1 point.]
[Nol (Giant Gnoll) has been strengthened. Dexterity has increased by 3 points.]
[Ka (Vulka) has been strengthened. Strength and Health have increased by 2 points.]
Spirit Bead was a feed Yeon-woo had created based on the idea that Spirit Familiars were made with dark energy.
According to Yeon-woo's knowledge, there was a set limit to how strong the Spirit Familiars could become no matter how hard he trained them.
This was because each soul is categorized under a certain ‘tier’, which sets an upper limit to one’s stats upon death.
Therefore, he had to find a way to raise their tiers.
‘That way, they can evolve them into a Lich or a Death Knight.’
Fortunately, the Spirit Beads had proven to be very effective. Their overall stats, as well as their intellect, were enhanced each time Yeon-woo fed them the beads.
In particular, Boo, who previously could only cast simple buffs, had now become capable of using more diverse spells.
Not only that, but the spirits also tried harder in order to get rewarded with beads.
‘The hunt was even more successful than I expected.’
In fact, Yeon-woo didn't even have to take part in it. The Spirit Familiars had killed the Albatross on their own.
The only thing Yeon-woo did was to watch the show and step up at the very last second to drain its power with Bathory’s Vampiric Sword.
He could just sit back and raise his stats. Things couldn’t get any easier than this.
‘Seems like getting the rest of the ingredients will be just as easy.’
Yeon-woo went up to the tree to take the Albatross’s eggs sitting in the nest.
There were five eggs in total, all of them about the size of a human head.
Yeon-woo handed the eggs over to his Spirit Familiars and went back down.
‘Next one is...’
Yeon-woo opened up the quest window and looked for the second item on the list.
‘Shadow Snake's Apple.’
Perhaps the system listed whichever was closer to the Phoenix’s nest, as the habitat of the Shadow Snake wasn’t very far from his current location.
Yeon-woo led his group of Spirit Familiars and headed towards the next place.
* * *
Trinity, unbefitting its great name, was a very humble team consisting of three insignificant players who each took the role of tank, healer and damage dealer.
But Dellan, June and Heidi had a friendship so close and intimate that there hadn’t been a single conflict between themselves ever since they decided to form a team in the tutorial.
And that friendship continued to prosper even on their way to raid the ‘Shadow Snake’s Tunnel’.
"Huff… Huff… God Damn it, this is exhausting...."
"Does this tunnel ever end?”
"Cheer up guys. Sylph just told me we’re almost at the end."
"If you say so, maybe it is. Okay then, let’s keep going."
The Shadow Snake’s Tunnel was the most challenging dungeon they had raided so far.
The height of the tunnel was so low that they had to slightly lower their heads to fit through. It was also very narrow, allowing only two people to stand side by side.
And swarms of snakes kept emerging from the ceiling, walls, ground and every possible place. It was virtually impossible to take a moment of rest.
What’s worse was that they were almost running out of antidotes, the only cure for the venom of Shadow Snakes. If they allowed one more bite, they were dead.
If it were a usual raid, they would have retreated a long time ago. Because Trinity always chose safety over risk.
But this time, none of the three thought of turning back. They had come too far to go back now.
Besides, waiting at the end of the tunnel was a reward that would make up for all of the hardships they were enduring.
‘Shadow Snake’s Apple… once we get it...’
‘We won't have to go through all this pain, not again. We’ll be able to beat this kind of dungeon with just one finger.’
Shadow Snake’s Apple had the reputation of being a very effective Elixir.
A single bite could heal any physical wounds, eating a whole fruit could boost one’s health, and eating more than one could exponentially increase one’s mana capacity.
And they happened to obtain information of the place where such amazing fruits grew.
The three of them regarded this as a god’s present for how pitiful they were.
According to the information, deep down this tunnel, there was a grove full apple trees which produced tons of these fruits.
It was reliable information, and so they firmly believed it to be true.
Though probably not as many as they were told, there should be enough apples for them to become experts.
And after a few more battles...
Listening to their captain Dellan’s cheer, the other two members, June and Heidi, cried out loud in joy.
Far away in the distance, there was a huge iron door, presumably the entrance to the boss room.
"I know how happy and thrilled you are, but it's too early to celebrate victory. The real challenge still lies beyond this door. So let's calm down a bit and get ourselves ready for battle."
At Dellan's persuasion, June and Heidi calmed themselves down and began to prepare for battle.
Just like he said, the difficulty of the boss room must be greater than the tunnel itself.
The damage dealer of Trinity, June, drew the Dragonian’s Dagger he had purchased with the Karma his team had been saving up, while the healer, Heidi, summoned a Sylph to support her teammates.
"Now, if everyone’s ready I’ll open the door."
The tank of Trinity, Dellan, took the lead and opened the iron door.
June and Heidi took a big gulp as they prepared to launch an attack as soon as the boss monster showed up.
Their eyes were filled with determination.
Beyond this door lay a forest full of Shadow Snake’s Apples. The Elixir that would help them become experts…!
"What the fuck?
The members of Trinity were agape at the unbelievable sight of the boss room.
What greeted them inside the room was a forest full of bare trees and fruitless branches.
Only the leaves that were rolling about on the floor were there to tell them that something had already swept through this place.
* * *
[You have made an achievement….]
[You have acquired….]
Yeon-woo set aside the message window that kept giving him the same notifications over and over again.
Now that he had seen them so many times, he was hardly impressed by them.
 Originally written as three, but the quest requires five. Probably the author’s mistake.