Chapter 176: Shadow Dojo (1) (Start of Volume 8)
“It’s a relief that you like it.”
Henova chuckled. He was usually pouting all the time, but he looked like he was in a good mood right now.
There was nothing Yeon-woo could say except for the words, ‘thank you.’
[This is the 21st floor, gate of the ‘Shadow Dojo.’]
When everything was set, Yeon-woo bid farewell to the One-horned tribe, and set to climb the Tower again.
Other than a few words with the Martial King, he didn’t say much.
He looked like he was deep in thought.
Shanon and Hanryeong didn’t say anything either. They sensed that there was something about Yeon-woo and Henova’s relationship. Only Rebecca brought it up.
[What ‘s your relationship with that old man?]
Rebecca tilted her head.
But Yeon-woo didn’t respond. What else should he call the only person who missed his brother?
[It seemed like he’s fond. Of you.]
Like a parent.
Rebecca didn’t say anything after that. She belatedly realized that it wasn’t something she should talk about.
Yeon-woo lightly pat his face with his hands to wake himself up. Henova was cheering him on with the rare material.
It was time to focus on the Tower now. The 21st was important to Yeon-woo.
As soon as he passed the door, a message popped up.
[The trial of the 21st floor is beginning.]
[Trial: A shadow has always been faithfully with you, silently. However, some shadows gain their own will and do what they want.
They try to take the bodies of people passing by.
The 5 doors where the shadows are are divided into 33 different sections.
Now, choose a door and battle shadows to clear at least 20 sections.
The more shadows fought, the more their will to fight will decrease.]
Yeon-woo checked the message and headed inside. He already knew what it said, and he would need as much time as possible to go around all the sections.
Then, a green portal opened in front of Yeon-woo. Yeon-woo stopped in his tracks. Green meant that someone was teleporting. It was a portal that Guardians used. Who was coming?
He never saw any of the Guardians after meeting Laplace on the 16th floor, so he was curious as to who it could be. The Guardians didn’t appear on the higher levels unless it was an emergency.
Then, the face of a scared little child popped out. There were tears in the child’s eyes. The child seemed to be hesitant to get closer to Yeon-woo.
Yeon-woo’s eyes shined.
‘The Hai of the Twelve Earthly Branches, Lupi.’
The highest rankers Guardians were known to be as powerful as high rankers. So most of them were arrogant and mysterious.
But Lupi was different.
Like his weak appearance, he had a lot of tears and fear. He would cry at the drop of a hat and the other Guardians were tired of him.
Even among players, Lupi was treated as a nuisance. Guardians usually gave hints about the stage, but Lupi just cried.
There were girls who liked Lupi, because he was cute.
But people who knew Lupi well tried to avoid him as much as they could.
Although he looked timid and weak, there was a reason why the Tower appointed him as the highest Guardian.
Lupi was a hedonist. He didn’t care about other things, and he only sought thrills. The tears he spilled were only a prop to set up his stage.
Why was he here? It seemed like he was here for him.
“Are you #, ###?”
“Y, You’re d, definitely as scary a, as I h, heard.”
What kind of rumors had spread about him? He just looked at Lupi with a calm gaze.
“I, If you look at me like that it’s s, scary…..”
But Yeon-woo still didn’t answer. It was not a good idea to get tied up with Guardians. More so with Lupi. So he waited until Lupi could calm down and speak.
Lupi squirmed, hesitating to speak, and slowly opened his mouth.
“###, d, did Laplace come b, by?”
Yeon-woo tilted his head. Why was he looking for him suddenly?
Lupi read Yeon-woo eyes and slightly flinched.
“I, I guess he didn’t c, come here.”
“Is something wrong?”
“L, Laplace is currently i, impeached, and u, under custody. S, so we’re investigating h, his s, surroundings.”
A high Guardian impeached? Yeon-woo widened his eyes because he had never heard of something like this.
‘Was it because he was a messenger last time?’
When he entered the 16th floor, Laplace had told him to be careful of Urd, saying it was a message from a demon, and disappeared. Was it related to that?
But Guardians frequently acted as the messenger of gods and demons.
And that wasn’t reason enough to get him impeached. Was there something else involved? Or was he completely off?
But then he was even more confused, because there was no reason for Lupi to come finding him like this.
“I, If not…..t, that’s good. T, thank you.”
Lupi opened the green portal again. Just when he stepped inside, he carefully turned his head.
“Uh, d, do you need assistance on the 21st f, floor?”
“Not at all.”
“A, alright then.”
Lupi quickly bowed and disappeared through the portal.
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes. Laplace, a member of the 12 Zodiac, getting impeached was a big deal. He was extremely curious as to what had happened.
But the business of the Guardians didn’t bother players. That was the system of the Tower.
He folded his thoughts and entered the yard.
“I didn’t see him for a while. He’s back.”
“I heard he spent quite some time on the 20th floor. Did something happen? I heard that the Sadhu that were there disappeared.”
As always, gazes followed where Yeon-woo went.
What happened on the 20th floor had spread all the way up to here.
He fixed his mask and looked around.
‘I guess they’re not here either.’
Yeon-woo looked around with his Extrasensory Perception and smiled bitterly. He couldn’t see any trace of Kahn and Victoria.
After he left the 20th floor, he had ordered the Night Watch to find them.
However, they said that they couldn’t. He had spent a full moon in the outer sections, but they couldn’t be found in that time either.
‘Are they on the run from the Devil Army? But I don’t think so.’
Another thing that was on his mind was that the Devil Army wasn’t taking any action towards him.
It might’ve been because they couldn’t approach him easily since he was with the One-horned tribe.
‘If they were that cautious, they wouldn’t be called crazy bastards.’
There was nothing clear about what happened in the Monkey King’s Palace.
But since he knew he couldn’t let his guard down, he always had his senses up.
Thinking those thoughts, he arrived inside the building.
The faces of those who were looking at him changed. It was because Yeon-woo was standing in front of the door with the least difficulty.
You only had to clear one door to pass.
But the people who knew that Yeon-woo always chose the most difficult path thought him strange.
Yeon-woo didn’t look at them and just opened the 5th door.
[You have selected the 5th door.]
[The shadows of players ranked 165th to 133rd on the 21st floor’s hall of fame will appear in order. If you can endure at least 5 minutes or defeat the shadows, you can move to the next section. Once you defeat at least 20 shadows, you can clear the trial.]
Five minutes didn’t seem that hard.
But they were alter egos of the greatest rankers of the 21st floor.
The level of players continued to change as time went on, but it wasn’t easy to take down the people in the hall of fame.
And you couldn’t just run away, because the space was limited.
Players desperately tried to find their weaknesses to discover them.
But Yeon-woo knew that he wouldn’t grow if he used the same methods as them, so he was planning on setting limits on himself.
‘First I’ll clear the doors. Completely.’
Even if Yeon-woo was someone who was registered on the hall of fame for every floor, it wasn’t simple to defeat the shadows.
Especially within 5 minutes.
Soon, light appeared in front of Yeon-woo, and he was in a new location. He was surrounded by stone walls.
The 21st floor took place in individual instant dungeons. If not, there would be too many players in the same place.
So this meant that Yeon-woo could use all the strength he wanted.
[Soon, the fight with Craden, 165th place, will begin. Prepare for the fight in the remaining time.]
Then, with the message, black fog appeared and slowly took the form of a human.
The red eyes of the shadow stood out.
It was a familiar face that Yeon-woo saw in the diary.
High ranker, Greed.
‘Did he look like this when he was younger?’
Like his name, he was greedy, and he was a nuisance to his brother back then.
He didn’t join an organization. He just wandered around getting what he needed.
‘Was his speciality using fake sword techniques?’
Greed slowly pulled out his sword from its sheath. But Yeon-woo didn’t miss how he moved his left hand behind his back. There were probably small daggers behind his belt.
It was similar to how Yeon-woo fought. Yeon-woo also pulled out Carshina’s dagger from his belt.
It was Carshina’s dagger, but it had been a long time since the dagger changed.
It was impossible to attack during the waiting time.
Instead, he could set up magic or look for advantageous locations to fight from.
Yeon-woo didn’t do anything other than getting his two swords ready.
[What should I do?]
Then, Rebecca appeared with crossed arms.
Yeon-woo could make the Monster Portents, the undead army, or the spirits move for him, but he didn’t.
“Just stay there. This is something I have to take care of by myself.”
Yeon-woo firmly shook his head.
Rebecca nodded and stepped back. Then, she crossed her arms and looked at Yeon-woo. She knew Yeon-woo had hidden powers, but she didn’t exactly know what they were, so she had to check.
Since he was the master she had to serve, she wanted to see what she could help with her.
[The time for preparing is finished. The trial of the first section is beginning.]
As soon as the count began, Yeon-woo hit the ground.
Then, a blistering heat whirled around him.