Chapter 7: Chapter 7
As if downing a hot drink, the feeling of the catalyst flowing down his esophagus was intense. Su-hyeun put the empty bottle down beside him. He could feel the same intensity that he had felt when he first had the low-grade mana catalyst.
Focus, focus. Like a spell, he chanted it twice in his mind. From now on, the value of the catalyst would vary depending on how focused he was. The 700 points which he spent might be for naught if there was no effect, but on the contrary, it could also worth thousands of points.
The catalyst that went into his body started reacting. It was the real deal now.
The magic’s build started growing after reacting with the catalyst. Its properties did not change. If it did change, it would have meant that the magic level had increased.
Greed was taboo. Instead of the properties, it was more important to focus on the maximum amount of mana, which in this case was the magic factor.
[Your magic factor has increased by 1 point.]
[Your magic factor has increased by 1 point.]
[Your magic factor…]
As the magic properties increased, the magic factor increased as well. Su-hyeun tried to ignore the message that popped up in his head. If he lost focus now, all that he had done up until now would have been for nothing.
At that moment, some changes were visible in the magic properties. Now is the time.
Although he tried not to be greedy, the situation changed. The effect of the catalyst was beyond his expectations. Su-hyeun quickly focused on the remaining catalyst. The magic properties changed rapidly in response to it. The color changed slowly from one to another until it was one of a better grade.
[Your magic level has increased by 1.]
Compared to the first time, the effect had exceeded expectations.
“Huuuu—” After the last message popped up, Su-hyeun let go of his breath, which he had held for so long. At the same time, he let go of his concentration, and the magic that gathered at the catalyst had dissipated.
But the magic that had undergone change once would not change anymore. After sweating it out, Su-hyeun laid on the floor. As expected… It’s tiring.
Extreme concentration brought severe fatigue. As his vision blurred, all his energy left his body. He needed to rest.
Great. Awesome. Unlike the fatigue in his body, Su-hyeun’s mind was feeling quite refreshed. Magic level of 3. On top of that, he also attained a magic factor of 16. The maximum amount of mana had definitely changed. Not only that, but the magic properties had also increased to a higher level.
I’ll rest for awhile… Su-hyeun took smaller breaths and closed his eyes.
And move on to the next floor.
Su-hyeun headed out to the square after taking a rest. The second floor of the Tower of Trials was a city so vast it was as if it had no end. In the city existed several squares, and most of the squares had portals that were linked to the upper floors.
“Looking for people to challenge the third floor! Willing to compromise on the level!”
“Cleared level 5 challenger attempting level 4! 2-person party, looking for one more to join!”
It was as if looking at a scene from a game. There were those who were reluctant to head up to the next floor on their own. They introduced themselves and started to look for parties to head up with.
“Are you going up to the next floor?” An amiable looking young man appeared beside Su-hyeun. He looked almost the same age as Su-hyeun. It seemed like he, too, would like to challenge the next floor.
“I want to go to level 8. Do you want to join? You seem to be quite skillful, judging by your equipment.”
Level 8. A fairly high-level challenger. Seeing that the young man was as well-equipped as Su-hyeun himself, it seemed that he had passed the first floor with a high performance.
Where have I met him before? Su-hyeun did not answer immediately, but instead scrutinized his face — it looked familiar. Soon, Su-hyeun was able to recall where he had seen the young man.
He was labeled as a genius amongst the promising magical awakeners at a certain point in time. Unfortunately, he had lost his life in an accident. He had seen him a few times before, but he did not look this young even then. More accurately, it wasn’t just his face that was different.
His aura feels different. The Hak-joon he remembered was not this affectionate and sociable. Even his expression was different. That was why Su-hyeun couldn’t recognize him at first.
Some events had caused people to change, and it seemed that it was before the accident happened. That accident… which guild’s extermination was it?
The accident was the wipeout of the guild that he was in. It was a relatively large guild, and the future Hak-joon was a highly skilled magical awakener. News of a guild being wiped out was the talk of the town. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t strange if one had enemies amongst the magical awakeners. Hak-joon was finally acquitted when the relationship between him, the guild, and the syndicate came to light.
Level 8… Although he did challenge a higher level, Su-hyeun shook his head.
“I’m sorry.” Hak-joon smiled awkwardly with a look of regret on his face at Su-hyeun’s refusal.
“Haha. It’s quite a high difficulty, isn’t it? If I can’t get anyone to join me today, I might have to head up on my own.”
Most would not bother to challenge level 8. It was because the moment one cleared level 5, the subsequent levels’ difficulty would increase exponentially. Hak-joon thought that it was because of the high difficulty that Su-hyeun had to consider joining him. But it was actually the opposite, and Su-hyeun did not bother to explain.
“Don’t you want to lower the difficulty?” Su-hyeun became curious about the man standing before him. As Hak-joon passed on too early, he never had the chance to talk to him. On top of that, the Hak-joon he remembered wasn’t such an amiable person.
Something must have triggered a change in him. Exactly what had made him change? Hak-joon answered Su-hyeun’s question. “I don’t.”
“Why must you challenge level 8 then?”
“The higher levels seem to be a lot tougher…”
“Isn’t level 8 of a high difficulty as well?”
“Of course, it is.”
“Well…” Hak-joon shook his head to avoid answering the question.
“It’s nothing. If it’s tough for you, I’ll just go by myself.” Su-hyeun also had no intention of forcing an answer from him. Eventually, Su-hyeun left Hak-joon and went into the square.
Hoping to find others who would join him, Hak-joon approached some others who were equipped well enough. Others had also expressed interest, but only for a while.
Although some saw Su-hyeun’s equipment and approached him to clear the levels together, he rejected them all.
No one would want to attempt level 10, right? Even if there was someone, he wouldn’t want to do it together.
Su-hyeun went into the portal located in the center of the square. His vision turned white, and he felt his body float in the air. Soon, a message appeared in his mind.
[Kim Su-hyeun, your second-floor trial starts now.]
[Choose the level of difficulty.]
[The difficulty gets higher as you go up the levels. The reward after you clear the level would also get better.]
His decision had already been made. “Level 10.”
Although he could choose the level of difficulty at each floor, Su-hyeun had already decided on the difficulty himself. High risks, high returns. This absolute principle would never fail on its own.
[Level 10. The second-floor trial will begin.]
The white space in Su-hyeun’s eyes was colored again. The landscape and the temperature on his skin changed. It was not clear if the surroundings changed with Su-hyeun in the center, or if he fell into another world. But this feeling was not bad. Su-hyeun observed his surroundings.
There were the calls of some unknown species of birds and a chilly wind blowing. Before he knew it, Su-hyeun was standing in the middle of the deep forest.
[The trial begins now.]
[You are being pursued. Your opponents are the Shayres, a species that dominates this forest.]
[You must take the Shayres’ treasure and escape from the forest. If it is stolen or if you die, you will fail this trial.]
[Protect the treasure.]
As soon as the message ended, a necklace appeared in Su-hyeun’s hands. He didn’t know when he started carrying the necklace. It was most likely the treasure that was mentioned before. The treasure of Shayres.
He knew what species they were. Although they were categorized as a species, the magical awakeners identified them as monsters that moved in tribes.
Hunter-type monsters. They were excellent at tracking. It definitely would not be easy trying to escape from them in this dense forest. Although the Shayres did not have exceptional physical abilities, they were hard to deal with, especially for someone who was just about to take on the second floor’s challenge.
Su-hyeun wore the necklace that he was holding onto. There was no effect from it. It didn’t look like a treasure at all. It could also be that only after clearing the trial that the necklace show its effect.
It would have been better if the necklace were sealed. Sealed items had a far better effect than ordinary objects. Treasure of the Shayres…
A terrible cry could be heard from somewhere within the woods. It was the cry of a Shayre. It seemed outraged by the fact that its treasure had disappeared.
“It seems to be quite angry.” Su-hyeun grinned.
Protect the treasure, escape, and survive. Now he clearly understood the objective of this trial. If so… “Forget about escaping.”
Su-hyeun started walking towards the Shayres’ cries. I’ll face them head-on.
* * *
A monster with an oval-shaped face, no facial features, and white skin appeared before him. The Shayres were quite intelligent monsters. While their physical abilities were not particularly outstanding, they were civilized and moved in groups, which made them a species that was quite difficult to deal with.
The Shayres were outraged. The reason was simple: their treasure had disappeared. Tens of Shayres sat on the trees above and looked at one side of the forest. The treasure was nearby; the Shayres knew this because a unique scent had been sprayed on the necklace for them to track it easily.
It was him. The human who had stolen their treasure. The human was coming closer — not escaping, but returning again? It was weird.
The Shayres were intelligent creatures. There was no way that the human would return here without any reason. But even so, they would not be scared enough of just one human being to retreat.
The leader of the Shayres raised his hand. The others widened their formation and got prepared. It was not for pursuit, but to prepare for defense. The culprit would soon enter their territory.
The human walked in slowly. He wore thin armor and had a sword and spear slung over his shoulders. He was strolling. Su-hyeun greeted the Shayres.
“I’ve heard that you are the predators in this part of the forest.” Su-hyeun spoke as he held the sword and spear in each of his hands. “So…”
Unable to understand Su-hyeun, the Shayres’ leader tilted his head to one side. At that moment —
The spear came flying and pierced the Shayre leader’s head into the tree. As soon as they were angered, Su-hyeun raised his sword. “From now on, I will change the predators of this forest.”