Tick tock tick tock!
It was like I was hearing the sounds of a ticking clock. When I opened my eyes again, the first thing I saw was Al Araxar who was wearing a most unpleasant expression on his face.
“What on earth have you done?”
Al Araxar. The one who watches over the altar and acts guardian to the Ancient One. He was so powerful an existence that most monsters weren’t even worth being mentioned in the same sentence as him. And yet here he was, making a face that betrayed how clueless he was as to what I had done.
“How…how have you assimilated the Ancient One’s power? This, this is incomprehensible!”
Was he hoping that I would fail to take in the Ancient One’s power and die? Although if I hadn’t newly reconstructed that power with my personal desires, there would have been serious issues in receiving the Ancient One’s power.
My newly gained authority unique to me, Universal Man. It was the possibility of everything. A power that didn’t set my limit, but only pushed on forward! What could I do? Anything was possible, and at the same time it was an ability that could reach the pinnacle. The moment my authority was named Universal Man I gained a small enlightenment on how to use it.
‘Magic, swordsmanship, sorcery, and even summoning…’
Magic swordsman? It wielded both magic and the sword but it was a class that wasn’t capable of reaching the pinnacle, however, Heaven Man Earth was different. It could rise to the top, even go beyond it. It was even possible to go for so much more than just magic and swordsmanship.
‘As long as my effort and desire is sufficient!’
It wouldn’t be easy, however, nothing was impossible. More than anything, I was confident that I would lose to no one when it came to effort alone; to strive forward tirelessly no matter what. The reason I could even get near those who were hailed as true ‘geniuses’ was because of my efforts. Desire was also something that couldn’t be done without, because it was what fueled the possibilities of Heaven Man Earth.
‘20 Magic power…!’
What shocked me the most was that 20 Magic Power had risen, for it was the most difficult among all stats to raise. Magic Power increased the utility or destructive power of skills, but more importantly it would raise the ‘prestige’ of a person. Some would joke that reaching 150 Magic Power would turn you into a god.
Especially among special beings there were those who wouldn’t give you the time of day if your prestige was low. Sealed weapons and the like also chose their owners according to prestige. On the contrary, strength was simply strength; it could grant you herculean power. Agility was related to momentary bursts of speed. Constitution increased endurance and allowed you to withstand the recoil of magic and the like. Intelligence determined learning speed. Even if two people learned the same skill, the one with higher intelligence would be faster in raising proficiency or skill levels, and it was also a large factor in magical defense.
All stats were important, but if the best had to be named then it was definitely ‘Magic Power’. Even in my previous life I couldn’t raise my Magic Power over 90.
“For thousands of years I had safeguarded the Ancient One’s Heart. Most who came here heeded my advice, turned back where they came from and power was ‘shared’ with them, although there was none who could properly take it in. At times, truly rarely, there were some who would accept my trial but they were all defeated in the fight against themselves. And yet you overcame all of this and even conquered the final trial of the heart. How was that possible?”
Al Araxar’s questioning was almost akin to a scream. He didn’t believe, could not believe, yet it was already reality. If he was speaking the truth, then only by overcoming three trials of the ‘Ancient One’s Altar’ would a challenger be able to obtain the complete authority.
‘Because I jumped back in time.’
I couldn’t tell the truth. Simply put my existence was a cheat. But it was strange…trial of the heart? So it wasn’t a simple matter of my choosing?
“Al Araxar. What do you mean by trial of the heart?”
“It means that you have won against the Ancient One’s specter.”
Specter he said. It had a strange ring to it.
Al Araxar appeared half-resigned.
“The one who consumes the heart is swallowed within the Ancient One’s soul. You were supposed to have lost your sense of self and become the Ancient One’s puppet.”
I gave a short whistle.
So it meant that if I was charmed by that power of ‘observation’ and tried walking the road of a ‘Keeper’, tried to completely take in that power, then I would have been swallowed up by the Ancient One. But I acted in defiance, drawing out my desires and thus re-created the Ancient One’s power to suit me.
‘Detestable to the very end.’
When I toured the world and observed its people I became ‘aware’ to an extent. I learned of the six worlds and realized how humanity came to be placed on the road to destruction, which triggered me to resolve more strongly than ever to live as I ‘desired’ — this was clearly far from an ordinary reaction. Of course if it were a normal person they would have lost themselves in that ability and power, simply nodding in acceptance to say: I would gladly succeed you, Ancient One.
“However I didn’t become its puppet. Will you slay me?”
I took a combative stance as I questioned Al Araxar.
He was a knight. From what I saw of his behaviour, he truly followed the ‘knight’s conduct’. I had already won and obtained the Ancient One’s power, fair and square. It should be only normal if he felt all the more remorse for not having warned me of the previous dangers.
Al Araxar shook his head as expected.
“I will not. I have no such right.”
“Then will you follow me? I have assimilated the Ancient One’s power, so it wouldn’t be wrong to call me your new master.”
“That is not so. Your power is already different from that of the Ancient One. The spell binding me has also been lifted. However…I have been placed under an even greater binding.”
That was a pity. Gaining Al Araxar would have been the equivalent of gaining a one-man army. However, the following words spoken by Al Araxar came to me as quite the shock.
“Now that the Ancient One’s protection has disappeared my sanity will gradually wear away. According to the will of the “Great Star”, as time passes I will turn into a monster and invade other worlds. This is the fate of all beings that exist within the abyss.”
The space itself was fluctuating.
Finally, countless holes began appearing around Al Araxar. They were ‘gates’. If my eyes did not deceive, they were gates. And all of them…were purple. Within those gates dwelled unique monsters; unimaginably powerful beings. The monsters within purple gates were designed to invade Earth after a fixed period of time, and that time would be clearly written in rune language at the top part of a gate.
That was the number written on the purple gate. 5 years later, Al Araxar would attack Earth. It was also my first time seeing this kind of phenomenon. Could it be that this was how purple gates were formed? If so, was there a process as well in the creation of the other gates?
“It appears time is up.”
Al Araxar spoke with a look of resignation on his face, as if resistance was futile, and then chains flew out from the gate. The iron chains bound Al Araxar, and a spot of black began to very slowly taint his ocean colored body.
“I…From the beginning I was fated to follow the will of the ‘Great Star’. I had only resisted until now with the Ancient One’s power. If you truly mean to walk a different path, I hope that you will take into your hands all of the Keepers’ powers and save us all.”
One of the chains came flying toward me.
In the same instant the waters of the lake surged to block that chain. Al Araxar had squeezed out the last of his strength and protected me.
Al Araxar shouted to me, and I instinctively began to run. Staying here further was dangerous; my instincts were yelling at me.
The further I ran, the more clearly his screams sounded in my ears from behind me.
The altar collapsed. Even the engraving of the Ancient One cracked to pieces and scattered onto the ground.
I dropped onto the coarse ground and took deep breaths. The gnolls that followed me out also flopped around onto the ground.
“Huk, Huk, Hu-uk!”
The ragged sounds of my breathing didn’t calm down, but my mind was clear. So clear that I almost felt sick.
‘A purple gate appeared. Al Araxar’s gate.’
There were six types of gates: golden, orange, purple, blue, white and black!
The most dangerous among these were purple and black. Transcendental monsters with unique traits were all lined up waiting within the purple gates. Like a promise, they would wait until the indicated time on the gate passed before emerging and invading Earth. As for black gates, it was speculated that they lead deep within the abyss where beings such as Demon Lords existed, but the biggest immediate threat to humanity was the purple gates.
Who could have known that purple gates were created this way. This was a truth that no one of humanity knew. But the bigger problem was that ‘Al Araxar is coming to town after 5 years’.
‘It’s too soon.’
My expression hardened.
The only reason I won that time against Al Araxar was because he had matched my physique; if he were to get serious that Seoul would disappear off the map within hours. Monsters of this level were supposed to have started emerging at least 10 years later. Maybe it was because he was only barely holding on with the Ancient One’s Power, but a mere 5 years later Earth, Korea, will be attacked by Al Araxar. Will Minshik grow fast enough to be able to face Al Araxar during those 5 years?
No matter how much a fast development the magic swordsman class could provide, it wasn’t possible within 5 years. Even if we fended him off one way or another, it would end up in staggering losses. In the end, I had to do something about it. I was the one to sow the seed, thus it was only right that I reap it.
‘I’ll have to pack my schedules tight.’
The power of Universal Man. I may just turn the impossible into the possible if I moved with my life on the line for 5 years.
But then abruptly, an popped up in my head and I hastily rummaged around my pockets.
My hand grasped onto a key in my pocket.
It was an orange key; the other reward I had obtained at the same time I gained the Ancient One’s Power.