- Growth (3)
After that day, the party was busy, like the rest of the Tower.
Boo focused on making the dungeon, and Brahm was busy healing Ananta and restoring the Outer Space.
Shanon and Hanryeong gave their all on understanding the Monkey King’s inheritance and Rebecca on recovering her holy power.
Everyone agreed with what Yeon-woo said, and they realized many things from the war with the Red Dragon.
‘We’re still weak.’
They had all contributed a lot in the war.
However, they had only taken advantage of the confusing situation. There was almost nothing they did with their own strength.
They realized that the world they knew was small.
Hanryeong, who had been the Saber God, found that his peak wasn’t worth anything after watching the Martial King’s battle.
Also, through this war, Yeon-woo had clearly revealed himself to the world. Now, he wasn’t a rookie to look forward to but someone to be wary of.
Because of that, it was hard to make plans like they had until now. A lot of people would be watching and bothering them.
To protect Yeon-woo from those dangers, they had to become stronger first.
Everyone focused on their individual training. No one said anything about climbing the Tower.
One could climb the Tower anytime, but having the time to train was rare.
Yeon-woo also focused on his training.
He looked over his skills and powers again, and worked hard to completely master the 3rd step awakening.
His desire for the sword became greater.
On the 20th floor, he had continued to train after learning Aura, but unlike magic, he didn’t make that much progress with the sword.
Shanon and Hanryeong gave him advice for this.
「Most people think that they arrive at the end of martial arts once they can create Aura. That’s a ridiculous thought.」
「Aura isn’t the destination. It’s the beginning, because that’s when you learn what the meaning of the sword is. If you’re proud of merely knowing the meaning, you won’t grow.」
The two had walked different paths, but what they were saying was the same.
This was only the beginning.
They said that expanding his knowledge of the sword and engraving it into his body was the most important.
“Then what should I do to know its meaning?”
「Extend your consciousness onto the sword.」
「It’s not just focusing on your sword; you have to become one with it. Then, you’ll be able to complete the body that you want.」
Yeon-woo understood the gist of what that meant.
Becoming one with the sword. The One-horned tribe called it the Body and Sword as One.
The public said that the peak of the sword was becoming an expert.
From then, Yeon-woo began to train his sword again.
Vigrid always shook like it was glad to see him.
Every day, Yeon-woo did his best to focus his consciousness on the blade.
A few months flashed by like that.
* * *
In the slower world, Yeon-woo swung his sword again for the millionth time. This was the world of his consciousness, where time ran ten times slower than the rest of the world, so he was now familiar with the movement.
All of his consciousness was absorbed into his sword. Aura occasionally sparked and was bound to his consciousness.
Aura had various forms, but they were all called Aura blades.
You were already a master being able to use Aura, so sword users only focused on refining their Aura and didn’t think beyond that.
However, the One-horned tribe split this into 3 different categories.
Sword Energy, Strong Energy, and Formless Strong Energy. Formless Strong Energy was also called Consciousness Strong Energy, and it was still too far for Yeon-woo to reach.
However, Strong Energy was different.
After Yeon-woo’s thorough efforts, he was able to use Sword Energy easily. He was working on moving onto the next step.
The power of concentrating your magic circle and fixing it with your consciousness, Strong Energy.
Yeon-woo wanted to accomplish this and chased again and again after someone in the world of his consciousness.
‘The Palgwae and Martial Extremes.’
The power that the Martial King had used against the Summer Queen. Yeon-woo had thought of it so many times that he could clearly replicate the fight with his eyes closed.
The King of Martial Arts. The man truly deserving the honorable name. If Yeon-woo could touch the Martial King’s feet, he would be able to escape the limits of where he was.
The Strong Energy that gathered at his blade lost its form, and time sped up again.
Yeon-woo let go of his sword from the pain of being flicked out into the world and was pushed back from where he was standing.
“…..It’s still not working.”
He clicked his tongue seeing his bloodied right hand. Dragon’s Blood circulated to quickly close his wound. It was his Regeneration skill.
The past few months had been torture to Yeon-woo.
On the Five Mountains of Penances, he had also worked this much, but there, he was limited by the penances so he was able to grow quickly. This time, he couldn’t.
He had to test the limits of his body and focus on mastering it, so it was an endless cycle of boredom.
There was only one movement. Striking his sword down. Although he was putting his consciousness on it, repeating the same movement thousands of times made him feel like he was going to go crazy.
Of course, Yeon-woo didn’t just train his sword.
In fact, Yeon-woo learned a lot during all this time.
The Demonic Dragon Body with the Dragon’s Blessing and the Demon’s Blessing. The Philosopher’s Stone in his Cores. The 3rd step awakening he had forced open on the 21st floor.
His body quickly grew, but his consciousness couldn’t catch up.
He didn’t know where his limits were and what his potential was.
That was why he used Time Difference and pushed himself to the extremes.
At first, it had been effective.
Occasionally, he would awake his powers and break through his limits.
He did it because he trusted in the ability of the Regeneration skill.
He was able to gain the most from the bloodline magic that Brahm advised him about.
Of course, he only learned the basics and used it with his rune magic.
He didn’t even think of touching the harder ones, leaving it to Boo.
Even with just that, Yeon-woo had changed noticeably.
But for some time, he had been blocked by a large wall.
His magic growth paused, and his body didn’t change. The only thing he had left was the sword.
He had arrived at his last limit.
The problem was after this.
He no longer grew.
It would’ve been nice if he made a little progress, but there wasn’t anything like that. The wall was too high. He had swung his sword against it again and again, but he failed every time. Everything was useless.
Yeon-woo wasn’t strong enough to aim for the Palgwae or the Martial Extremes. However, he was at the beginning.
He could begin to learn it, and this was done using Strong Energy.
But he failed to.
He had enough magic power, his body was enough, and his level was enough. He definitely put enough of his consciousness on it too.
However, he was missing one thing.
He just didn’t know what it was.
He went to the Martial King for advice, but he only received an unclear answer.
“It’s because it’s not your path.”
Yeon-woo didn’t understand what that meant.
“What do you mean, sir?”
“Figure it out on your own.”
The Martial King didn’t give him an answer and just smirked.
Yeon-woo sighed. It wasn’t just this time he felt the Martial King’s teachings were like this.
Whenever he asked a question, the Martial King just told him a vague answer and told him to figure it out himself.
Yeon-woo knew he needed to make his own path, but he would’ve liked it if the Martial King was a bit nicer. Although he’d probably never be nice.
In fact, since he knew that he would gain more if he heard this kind of answer, he couldn’t complain. Looking back at it now, the Martial King’s answers were always to the point.
‘He’s probably not saying I’m unfit for the sword. He wouldn’t have tried to teach me the Yin Sword if so. Then what is it? Is he saying Strong Energy doesn’t fit me? That’s probably not it either. Palgwae? The Martial Extremes? Or am I just doing it wrong…..’
Yeon-woo just felt frustrated. He had used all kinds of hidden pieces to get where he was and forced Time Difference to improve himself.
There were only a few obstacles when he learned Aura.
He had struggled this hard.
That was why the ‘wall’ was even scarier to Yeon-woo. He didn’t know what he should do from now.
It wasn’t like he could absorb additional Dragon’s Blessings or Demon’s Blessings.
His body was at the right balance for the 3rd step awakening. If this balance was broken, his body could be destroyed.
He also wanted to seek advice from Shanon and Hanryeong, but they had been silent for a while. They were also focused on their individual training deep inside his shadow.
Yeon-woo wasn’t able to find the answer. The time came for him to sit down blankly and organize his thoughts.
He felt extremely dejected.
* * *
He coincidentally met Galliard, who was holding a basket that was filled to the brim, while going to the forest.
“What are you doing here? You looked so depressed.”
“What are you doing here? What’s that in your hand…?”
Yeon-woo’s words faded away. He realized that he had only spoken to Brahm and Sesha after entering the village.
He hadn’t spoken with Galliard recently. He didn’t know what he was up to these days, and the same probably went for Galliard.
Yeon-woo quickly answered with a smile so Galliard didn’t feel upset.
“I wasn’t making any progress with my training. I was in the middle of figuring things out. You’re…..”
“Oh, this? Actually, these days, Sesha has been really picky. I was researching how to make vegetables tasty.”
Galliard grinned looking at the fruits and vegetables in his basket.
There probably wasn’t anyone who was more attentive to Sesha than Galliard. Brahm was busy with Ananta, and Yeon-woo focused on his training. These days, the time he spent with Sesha had decreased.
On the other hand, Galliard was busy taking care of Sesha’s diet and all kinds of other things. The daughter he had before he came to this world was about that age, so Galliard was attentive to Sesha.
His greatest interest was Sesha’s pickiness for food.
Galliard was an Elf from birth, so he only ate vegetables, and Brahm didn’t eat meat frequently. On the other hand, Sesha couldn’t get enough of it. Of course the adult menu wouldn’t taste good for her.
“Try mixing bean meat inside the meat. Last time I snuck it in there and she liked it.”
“Hm? Bean meat? What’s that?”
“Grinding beans to make it look like meat. It tastes like meat, and with some sauce on it, the smell of the beans isn’t noticeable.”
“Oh! I can do that? Can you teach me how to make bean meat?”
Yeon-woo needed some rest from his thinking so he nodded.
It wasn’t that hard to make anyway.
He followed Galliard into Brahm’s house, and Sesha ran over to him.
“Aw, our cute little puppy. Were you reading?”
Yeon-woo lifted Sesha. In Sesha’s right hand, there was a book that was the size of her head.
<Qualities of Bloodlines That Are Split by Rune Magic> was the title of the book. It was a book they had stolen from the Summer Queen.
“Yeah! I’m reading it well! I’m a good girl! But, Uncle.”
“Hehe. Are you here to play with me today?”
Yeon-woo smiled bitterly looking at Sesha, whose eyes sparkled. It seemed he had been too indifferent these days.
His frustration was swept away when he saw his niece so happy to see him. She had missed Ananta so much, but she wasn’t able to speak with her. He should’ve come here more often.
“Yeah. I came to play with you.”
“Are you going to eat too?”
“Whew! That’s a relief.”
Sesha put her tiny hand on her chest and breathed out in relief. She was so cute that Yeon-woo laughed.
“You always make yummy food! The food that Galliard makes me is bad!”
Galliard gripped his heart with a hurt face. Sesha just smiled, not caring.
Yeon-woo stroked Sesha’s head. Her tail wagged on the floor. She was as lovable as a puppy.
* * *
“Thanks for the tip! Haha.”
After the meal, Sesha fell asleep.
Galliard lightly stroked Sesha’s head and chuckled. Sesha didn’t know, but one-third of the stir-fried pork she ate today was made of beans.
“She might notice it, so you have to adjust the amount carefully.”
“Got it. It seems like I’ll have to use the sauce well too. It was a nice meal, and the texture was good, too.”
Yeon-woo nodded and pinched Sesha’s cheek. Her chubby cheeks rose up and down. She was tightly holding onto Yeon-woo’s forefinger as she slept.
Yeon-woo’s face was all smiles. He always smiled when he looked at Sesha.
He pressed Sesha’s other cheek with another finger. Sesha slightly groaned and frowned in her sleep. She was such an angel.
“It’s interesting everytime I see it.”
Yeon-woo playfully teased Sesha while she was sleeping and lifted his head at what Galliard said.
“You. You seem to have more emotions now. Before, you were just cold. You have these caring sides of you too.”
Yeon-woo smiled sourly.
“I think it’s because of Sesha.”
“Because of Sesha?”
“Yes. I can’t just show a stiff side of myself to her.”
“I suppose so. Our Sesha is pretty cute after all. I heard she’s loved by all the boys in the village.”
“Is that so?”
No uncle would be mad that his niece was popular. No. He did feel a bit anxious actually. What if some fool received Sesha’s attention?
Yeon-woo crinkled his face thinking of what to do if someone made Sesha suffer.
Then, he lightly laughed. Galliard was right. Even when he was in the Tutorial, he never had these thoughts. Right now, he only had one wish. It was for Ananta to wake up so she could hug Sesha.
He hoped that Sesha’s face wouldn’t be dark anymore, like the gaze that Galliard and himself were giving her right now.
Children at that age should just grow receiving the love of adults.
“Did you know? You changed a lot too.”
Galliard smiled bitterly. He didn’t deny the fact. In Sesha, he had found happiness that he couldn’t find in his old life.
His lonely life as a hunter chasing Akasha’s Snake was over. Out of Phante, Edora, Brahm, Shanon, Hanryeong, Rebecca, and Boo, he was the only person who was relaxed.
Galliard wanted to say that this was all because of Yeon-woo and Jeong-woo, but he changed the subject because he felt shy.
“But why were you sitting blanky in the forest? You looked concerned about something.”
“I’m saying this because it doesn’t seem to be just ‘nothing.’ I’m not one to delve into these things, but if you have something bothering you, you can tell me. I may not be able to solve it, but I can be a good listener. Tell me what’s on your mind.”
Yeon-woo smiled bitterly. He hesitated. It wasn’t that he was embarrassed, but he didn’t know where to start.
Everything was on the tip of his tongue. It was only after some time that Yeon-woo began to speak.
His growth, hindered by a wall. The Aura that disappeared. His evaporating consciousness.
He felt a lot better after speaking about his concerns.
But Galliard didn’t say anything and was deep in thought. Yeon-woo looked at him with surprised eyes, not expecting an answer, and Galliard suddenly burst up.
“Since Sesha’s sleeping, wanna follow me to the backyard?”
Yeon-woo didn’t know what Galliard was thinking, but he nodded his head and left the cottage with Galliard.
In the backyard, Galliard plucked a branch from a persimmon tree. It was a thin branch that was as long as his arm. It looked weak, like it would break with just a touch.
What was he trying to do? Yeon-woo quietly looked at Galliard, and Galliard swung the branch around and nodded with a satisfied face.
Then, he pointed at Yeon-woo with the branch.
Yeon-woo’s eyes widened.
“What are you…..”
“Like I said. Attack me. Let’s return to when we were in the Tutorial. Something that’s different is that I’ll fight back. But I won’t use Aura. Of course, you can use it. But just use the basics.”
What did Galliard want to do? Yeon-woo couldn’t read his mind. He got that Galliard wanted to teach him something, but he couldn’t guess what he was trying to do with the branch.
This kind of fight didn’t make sense.
Yeon-woo was already stronger than most rankers. If he used his powers on top of that, he was confident he could fight against high rankers too.
On the other hand, Galliard wasn’t much different from when he was in the Tutorial. He was at the level of a ranker.
There was no way he could fight against Yeon-woo without using Aura.
However, Galliard just waved the branch at Yeon-woo to provoke him.
Galliard was normally a quiet and calm person, so it seemed like he was trying to teach Yeon-woo something right now.
Yeon-woo pulled out his Magic Bayonet. As he took a step forward, he aimed at Galliard’s left stomach.
It was an effect of the Eight Extreme Fists, moving the sword forward to change it into any direction necessary depending on the defense of his opponent.
He was just about to counter the branch that was striking down on the Magic Bayonet, but the branch suddenly wrapped around the Magic Bayonet like rubber and swept across Yeon-woo’s lower body.
Yeon-woo fell forward from the intense pain.
He felt numb.
It had happened so fast that he didn’t know what happened. What was the thing that twisted space, and how did the branch stretch out to hit him?
There definitely wasn’t any magic power in it, but his right leg throbbed.
More than anything, what shocked Yeon-woo the most was…..
‘How…..is that possible?’
He had definitely followed it with his Draconic Eyes and Extrasensory Perception, but the speed of the branch was incomprehensible. It wasn’t possible.
‘It was like the branch wasn’t a branch…..’
While he was making all kinds of guesses, Galliard rested the branch on his shoulder and smiled faintly.
“Do you wanna go again?”