Chapter 12. Black Route (1)
[You have entered the Black Route.]
[Safely go across the pond and reach the opposite side.]
Yeon-woo wiped some of the blood from his dagger and placed it back next to his waist.
Maybe because he hadn’t experienced any bloodshed for a while, he now felt like his whole body was burning with excitement.
‘It was useful to some degree.’
Although it was just a clash against some small fry, it had been worth the try.
Clearly, Yeon-woo was still lacking in some departments, be it in terms of skills or abilities.
The experience of going through life or death situations on the battlefield, the instincts taught by those very ordeals, and the determination required.
Those were never easy to come by.
Yeon-woo had an accurate grasp of his strengths and weaknesses.
“Skill and ability are areas I can catch up on. I don’t need to be in a hurry. I just have to continue advancing as I’ve been doing up till now. I am not wrong.’
Yeon-woo took a look around while organizing his thoughts.
‘So this is the Black Route, the hardest difficulty.’
The Black Route had a very simple layout.
Along the wide cavity, there was a huge pond.
‘Are you telling me to get through here?’
The pond stretched over the long curvy cavity.
It seemed the goal was to swim across this pond.
[Pond of Heavyweight Water (千重水)]
The pond is made of water that giant Mimir accidentally spilled while transporting. No ordinary life form can live in this pond.
Yeon-woo leaned down and dipped his hand in the water.
It did not feel like normal water at all. It was rather dense.
Just to make sure, he threw in a small stone he found lying around his feet. The stone quickly crumbled apart and sank beneath the pond.
‘Just as I thought.’
Yeon-woo drew his brows together.
‘It’s not ordinary water. It wasn’t a lie to call it ‘Heavyweight Water’. Was it named after its heaviness?’
It was so high in density and pressure that it could not be compared to normal water.
If an average person were to dive in, they would be crushed flat. Even if the body could withstand the pressure, their stamina wouldn’t last long.
They wouldn’t even be able to rely on buoyancy to float on this water.
‘If I try to swim across without knowing the pond’s depth and width, I’ll be dead soon. I don’t even know what’s inside.’
Yeon-woo concentrated on the line ‘No ordinary life form can live in this pond’ in the information window.
In other words, extraordinary life forms could be living inside.
Even if not, at the very least, there should be some sort of trap set up underneath the surface.
Yeon-woo didn’t jump the gun.
‘It must be here somewhere.’
He carefully scanned the walls of the path leading to the pond.
Dozens of flaws were drawn along the walls.
Yeon-woo found a spot where the flaws were all tangled up and pressed it with his hands.
In that moment, he noticed the wall sliding inwards.
The wall stirred up a cloud of dust as it began to turn sideways. Then it stopped with a thunk, and a new staircase heading downwards emerged.
‘There we go.’
A little smile flickered on Yeon-woo’s face.
It was the hidden piece buried in the Black Route, the fourth difficulty. It was the place where ‘Bathory’s Vampiric Sword’ was hidden.
[You have entered the dungeon.]
[You have found the hidden piece, ‘Room of Frost and Flame’.]
[You have acquired 300 Karma.]
Yeon-woo ignored the pleasant sounds in his head and descended into the dungeon.
The spiral staircase led to somewhere deep inside.
Perhaps because it was a deep cave, from some point onwards the light was cut off and the staircase was no longer visible.
However, Yeon-woo did not worry too much.
[Sense Strengthening: 17.8%]
Thanks to his high skill proficiency, which had once again increased by nearly 3% after clearing the boss room in Section A, it was now possible for him to recognize the surroundings through different senses without having to concentrate on his eyesight.
No, it was possible to take in more information by doing this, rather than by relying on just his eyes.
The surrounding sounds, the terrain’s layout, his own movements…
Everything was felt as it was. There was no blind spot.
Had it been just a few days ago, he would’ve had to consciously concentrate on maintaining his skill active, but now he was so used to it that he could have it constantly active without having to pay much attention.
It could be said that his active skill had turned into a passive skill. Thanks to this, Yeon-woo was able to move through the dungeon without any difficulties.
Who knows how far down he had gone.
Soon after, a piercing wind blew from inside,
The stairs came to an end and a new cave appeared.
The cave was full of a white colored moss along the walls.
A type of moss that bears the essence of the moon. It can cause illness if eaten. It doesn’t taste good either.
The explanation was as simple as it could be.
But Yeon-woo was well aware of the hidden effect of the White Moss.
It was only later that I discovered that as difficult as the Black Route was, it also had many different solutions. One of the solutions was White Moss.
The White Moss was a substance full of moon essence. Many animals feed on this as their staple.
However, it does not suit human constitution, so even if one eats it, the body cannot absorb the energy and often gets sick.
So, players who somehow managed to find dungeons usually avoided White Moss.
Therefore, players who chose the Black Route often turned back soon after finding this cave.
Because there was no light, they couldn’t even see their hand in front of their face, and the cave was worthlessly long and full of useless things. No one wanted to waste their time in a place like this when they were busy moving forward.
Even Yeon-woo’s brother didn’t know about the secret this place held until very long after.
However, I learned about it after hearing it from my close friend from the Yeon-dan family. That White Moss is a kind of material, and there is a unique way of consuming it.
‘White Moss is too fragile. Because it’s thin, it just melts when ingested. However,’
Yeon-woo stopped thinking and turned his eyes towards the sound coming from somewhere.
Something stuck its head out through the White Moss out of a sudden. It was a centipede as big as person’s forearm. Its reddish exoskeleton seemed pretty hard.
A centipede that feeds on White Moss. Because it dwells in aquatic caverns, its eyes have atrophied and has developed other senses. Sometimes it prefers meat over moss.
As if thinking the intruder was after its food, the centipede moved its dozens of legs and approached Yeon-woo at a furious speed.
It crawled down from the ceiling along the wall.
It was a scene that would make any ordinary person feel both surprised and disgusted.
Yeon-woo, however, stepped forward.
‘Insects and beasts that eat White Moss as their staple have evolved to artificially radiate heat in order to absorb the moon essence. And that kind of heat emanates from their heart which contains the fire(火) property.’
He felt the touch of the dagger with his fingertips.
‘On the other hand, White Moss’ property is water(水). If you consume both heart and moss at the same time, the two properties will synergize with each other and become an elixir that hardens the bones and muscles.’
Numerous elixirs exist in The Tower. Some can augment magic power, and some affect certain stats or properties. Among them, Yeon-woo went for the elixir that would help him nourish his bones and muscles.
The human body is too weak. It easily falls ill, breaks, and tears. But the combination of White Moss and the heart of a fire property beast can transmute such body. It could make bones much stronger, muscles much sturdier. It could transform one’s body into one more suitable for combat.
Yeonwoo bolted forward, throwing the dagger he held in his hand. The dagger penetrated the hard armor of the Red O-Kong, splashing blood and body fluids.
The centipede expressed anger and twisted its body as it spread its forcipules.
The ground under the centipede caved in as it crawled over it.
[Flame Monster has appeared]
[Hidden Quest / Frost and Flame]
Content: The Room of Frost and Flame is filled with unique monsters that feed on White Moss. If they come out of the dungeon, the outer ecosystem could be thrown into chaos. Hunt down as many monsters as you can.
Reward: Rewards will be given according to the number of monsters hunted.
– 100 or more: 100 Karma
– 300 or more: 300 Karma
– 500 or more: 500 Karma + Additional rewards according to achievement
– Over 1,000: ??
The Room of Frost and Flame had one more advantage besides the benefit of obtaining Bathory’s Vampiric Sword and toughening up the body.
According to the number of monsters hunted, additional Karma could be obtained, and there were also additional rewards if the number exceeded 500.
The more he hunted, the stronger his body would become, and he would also horde Karma and rewards. It was basically a treasure trove.
‘No matter how, I have to win the reward for hunting a thousand monsters.’
Yeon-woo chose not to engage head-on. Instead, he quickly shifted his body sideways and narrowly avoided the attack.
In the spot where the Red O-Gong rammed its head, some rocks were being crushed by its forcipules.
‘The monsters here are very strong. Even with this stronger body I honed in Section A, they’re not easy to kill. It will be really dangerous if I let them crush from the front.’
As soon as Yeon-woo finished measuring up the Red O-Gong, he aimed for its trunk.
‘Yup, it’s hard. Too hard.’
The dagger bounced off of it’s surface, leaving behind only a scratch. But even that was enough to aggravate Red O-Gong, so it squirmed its body to catch Yeon-woo with its forcipules.
Once again, Yeon-woo narrowly avoided its attack and continued racking his brain.
A cloud of dust rose up as a deep pit had been created in the place where he had been standing.
‘Normal attacks won’t do any harm to it. The exoskeleton is too sturdy. The dagger I just threw pierced its skin by luck but… it’s too shallow. It’s not enough to weaken it.’
However, he could not let this battle turn into a war of attrition.
He didn’t know how much health the Red O-Gong had, and this was still just the entrance of the dungeon.
Due to not knowing how deep the dungeon was, he had to end the battle as quickly as possible.
Once again, the Red O-Gong rammed its head towards the spot where Yeon-woo was standing.