Never before had I seen a jewel with such brilliance. It was the size of an adult’s fist and contained a strange mana which stole my attention. But the information regarding it didn’t appear even when I continued to stare at it. Therefore I opened ‘Mind’s Eye’ to examine, and only then could I know what this jewel was.
The heart of a member of the Yaksha race. A jewel that contains the life of a Yaksha.
Has undergone a change due to merging with the core of a shadow kaim.
User will be branded with the ‘Black Yaksha’s Seal’ upon consumption.
Here I found the remnant of the shadow kaim. In other words, this meant that after being caught and eaten by the preta, it merged with the Yaksha stone which was inside the preta’s stomach first…
‘So this was where the Yaksha race inhabited.’
Blue gates were connected to places inhabited by other races, but it was actually unknown as to what kind of other race made their homes on Rakshasa Mountain. Yaksha race. It was a race I’ve never heard of as well. So did the preta eat up the Yaksha as well? But that still left a question unanswered: Why a monster that inhabited the 50th level and above was on the 25th level.
‘Black Yaksha’s Seal.’
This, was what had the highest potential. Black Yaksha’s Seal! Branding one’s body with a seal was the foundation of tattoo magic.There were those who gained special powers through tattoos, though there weren’t many of them.
Holding the Yaksha stone, I rubbed my chin.
‘A tattoo-user isn’t bad per say as long as there’s a method of development.’
It was a class commonly known as ‘Inkmaster’. To be specific, they could borrow the power of spirits, brand tattoos to raise physical stats, or limit themselves using ‘sealing tools’ that gather potent power, etcetera. They were variously classified, but they all shared a common point in that their methods of development were difficult. However, a tattoo that was branded by an Inkmaster who has attained a certain level of mastery definitely contained power. There was a high chance that the Black Yaksha’s Seal fell under that category also. Only, I couldn’t rule out the possibility that it was something related to ‘curses’. But I had Jörmungandr, who gave me immunity to ‘curses of the night’, meaning I had nothing to worry about. I was fast to act once my worried thoughts ended.
‘I just need to swallow it, if I remember correctly.’
I opened my mouth as wide as possible and held it in my mouth, and in the same instant the Yaksha stone began to melt like jelly.
Soon after, I felt a severe pain as if my heart was on fire as all the veins on my body stood out. It felt like all the mana in the jewel was concentrating towards my heart. But the helical mana threaded like spider webs gave off a tremendous sense of stability; in mere moments it had neutralized the mana from the Yaksha stone. Following that the Yaksha stone’s mana flowed along my middle energy center to the upper energy center, then stopped near my right earlobe.
[User has been branded with the Black Yaksha’s Seal.]
[User has gained freedom of movement between 1~50th levels.]
[User has hunted a preta — ‘Warrior’s Ritual’ completed.]
[Entry into ‘Rakshasa Citadale’ has become possible.]
A 印 mark was branded on my right earlobe. Although my stats didn’t rose, nor did a skill appear, I had gained something much more beneficial than that; freedom of movement between the 1~50th levels. And also, entry into Rakshasa Citadale…
It was my first time hearing the name. In addition, what was the Warrior’s Ritual about? I closely looked at the message, and the related information popped up.
A ritual carried out when a Yaksha reaches adulthood.
A Yaksha that has hunted a preta will earn a ‘Yaksha’s Seal’ and will be acknowledged as an adult, and will gain the right to enter ‘Rakshasa Citadale’.
So it’s the Yaksha’s coming of age ritual. But I wasn’t of the Yaksha race. Despite that, the reason why I was notified of the ritual being completed must be because I had swallowed a ‘Yaksha’s heart’. I now understood how the small preta had descended levels as well. A Yaksha in the middle of carrying out the coming of age ritual failed and was eaten, and the small preta could come down to the 25th level because of the Yaksha’s heart.
‘A small preta can be reborn into a great preta by consuming a dragon.’
I wondered whether it had come down to the 25th level with thoughts of eating Etaqua in the first place, because pretas evolved further by consuming powerful beings, and gobbling up a dragon would allow one to immediately join the ranks of great pretas. It was an amazing series of coincidences, but thanks to that I could discover the true nature of Rakshasa Mountain. Rakshasa Citadale…the name alone made it obvious that it was the ‘center’ of this mountain.
‘I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself.’
Growing stronger comes first.
Freedom of movement between the 1st and 50th levels…this was an extraordinary privilege. Rakshasa Mountain was acknowledged as an ‘ultimate hunting ground’, but there were certain levels on the mountain where people gathered in particular. However, as rumours flew, all kinds of groups began to gather, monopolizing and controlling each levels. They had either made it a requirement to pay an entry fee, or made entry impossible to those unaffiliated to those groups. But…right now I was the only person here. Moreover, I had gotten hold of a ‘free pass ticket’.
‘It’s the perfect combination.’
It couldn’t get any more perfect than this! Like a fish meeting water. For a while, at least, I could hunt and grow stronger without reservations.
‘Would this be called power-leveling I wonder?’
The expression ‘power-leveling’ was used to refer to crazily leveling up a character in a MMORPG type of game. Although I could only remember it dimly now, this relatable situation unexpectedly evoked that memory to mind. A hard-to-suppress excitement welled up inside me, for this wasn’t simply an opportunity to enhance my stats, but also to obtain equipment! An opportunity to obtain what I want when I want, with no competitors around, no one to hinder to me…indeed the ‘time for power-leveling’ has arrived.
As he beheaded a zombie, Minshik shouted,
“Do not falter! Zombies target those who show their back first!”
Everywhere there was blood, and screams resounded throughout the cave.
“Fuck, fuck, fuuuuck!”
“Please die! Die already!”
“Sa-, Saintess-nim, he-, heal m-…aarrgh!”
It was pandemonium. If there was a hell, perhaps it would look like this. They swung their crude weapons in a bid for survival, but the zombies didn’t die easily. They either needed to be cleanly beheaded or completely incinerated, but it wasn’t realistic to expect modern people, only recently awakened, to be capable of such things right away. They were struggling to survive of course, but what used to be a group of over 50 people had dwindled down to 40 within the span of three days.
In the midst of it all I was moving without rest. Using the spirits of light, I looked after the people and healed them. But there was a limit with my power alone.
“Saintess-nim. Please, my leg, please reattach my leg!”
“I can’t put it back. I’m sorry.”
I shook my head, facing the man who had crawled to me carrying one of his legs.
‘I can’t fix what has been completely severed.’
Bone-deep wounds I could manage to heal somehow, but it was difficult to reconnect a body part which had multiple nerves severed. If I were to challenge myself in vain, I would end up expending a huge amount of mana as well. Mana which could be used for another 10 people would be used up for a single person. Hansung Oh…included among his warnings, he had told me to ‘save as much of your mana as possible before facing Zombie King Akshiz’.
“Stick it back! I know you can do it! You bitc-…aagh!”
Zombies had pounced on him the moment I tried to stop his bleeding, and at the same time the spirits of light created a shield, protecting me. Minshik hurled his sword and killed the zombies, but the man had already stopped breathing.
‘This is hell.’
I was being called a Saintess instead of a healer, for some reason, but I was powerless. That’s why I had to further harden my heart, for everyone would die if I were to falter here. Minshik had removed the way back, meaning, it was impossible to return society without killing Zombie King Akshiz. When the battle in the den of zombies finally ended, 38 people remained. Four people had died within a mere 20 minutes of fighting. Minshik searched around the surroundings, and picked up a thick book from a table that was completely rotten through.
“Magic book of Orbion the specter. The first person to read this book can inherit the class ‘Specter Magician’. Who wants it?”
The majority of those present had covetous looks in their eyes. The people who had obtained a class had grown strong these past few days. They exhibited miraculous abilities and could survive with more ease. But only a few could get a class. It was rare in proportion to its value, and competitors were aplenty as well. However, ‘Specter Magician’ he said…the name sounded more powerful than the classes we had come across until now. Minshik dropped another line for added insurance.
“As the name says for itself, a Specter Magician has command over specters. It’s quite a good class; when the quality of a specter in your command grows high, it can even be made to fight in your place.”
Almost everyone raised their hands. One among them approached Minshik and shouted loudly.
“Give it to me! Yea? I’ll give you money if that’s what you want. Will a billion do? Or else two billion? Just say the word!”
Minshik struck the youth with a fist. The youth was the eldest son of a CEO who headed one of the 100 big enterprises in Korea, but Minshik’s expression remained cold and unchanged.
“Looks like you’re still out of it. There’s nothing you can do here with that insignificant money of yours.”
Minshik shook his head as he continued speaking.
“And if you wish to obtain it, fight for it. Struggle for it! Nothing exists in this world that comes for free. All the more so in the world to come!”
Minshik tossed Orbion’s magic book on the ground, and then…
“It-, it’s mine!”
Chaos ensued. Minshik simply watched it play out with his arms crossed. I bit my lips, and opened my mouth with difficulty.
“This kind of method isn’t good.”
“And why is that so?”
“Why are you creating a hierarchy, and make them hurt each other?”
Those who had already obtained a class were chuckling as they spectated the ongoing chaos. Already, a hierarchy was in the making from within. Minshik heaved a sigh.
“Weren’t you, Syria, someone from a prestigious military family? If so, then you should know well how potent an organized power is.”
“Even they didn’t use a method of forcing people at each other’s throats.”
“This is also a way of survival. Survival of the fittest! A world will come, where the weak are weeded out and the strong live on. You still can’t trust in me?”
Minshik…he was an unusual person. It was as if he knew of the future. Everything he spoke of would come true, and every one of his actions held a meaning behind it. That’s why Shaoting and Linlin, the Chinese siblings, followed Minshik. I, as well, wouldn’t have even come to Korea, if not for a letter whose contents hinted at the past and future. Therefore…he must be right about it this time also; that, in the end, the world would become a place only for the strong, and as he had also predicted, chaos would come find us as monsters would invade on a global-scale. But this whole atmosphere of distrust didn’t sit right with me.
“You are twisted.”
“Those people will come to thank me in the end. They would have died anyway if not for me. What’s more, many, many would rejoice if they were to die, as these people have already committed sins, and they will have gained a chance at redemption if they do survive.”
Minshik had filtered out a select crowd of people and gathered them within the ‘gate’. Most of the people here were those who had already committed a big sin.
“So you decide their life and death. As if you’d become a god.”
“If you don’t like me doing so then you decide. Regardless, it makes no difference to the fact that their fate, life or death, rests in your hands.”
At the end of his words, Minshik spoke no further. Instead he simply watched the ongoing chaos with a calm gaze. His words were certainly not wrong, but it couldn’t be considered as going about it the right way either. He had a personality of only looking at the result. It seemed that to him, the means didn’t need to be just as long as the outcome was good.
‘I just can’t believe he’s friends with Hansung-nim.’
Hansung Oh…he was also hiding many things. Minshik, as well, showed a completely different appearance toward him, as opposed to the one being shown now. They were both keeping secrets from one another. How to put it…to Minshik, Hansung was akin to a sore spot that should never be touched. What’s more, they possessed complete opposite natures as well. Like heat and cold, should I say. And here I was, confused, in between them.
‘Right now…there’s nothing else but for me to try harder.’
I, Syria, proved through actions rather than words. I had no thoughts of criticizing Minshik with words only. I will save them. I would make it so that none die in vain, at least. The least I could do was to prevent further deaths from being caused by that twisted hero.
29th level, Alamoor’s Shelter.
After defeating the monsters called ‘remnant soldiers of the desert’, I had discovered their depot.
‘Almost all of it is trash.’
The depot was large, but most of its contents were either rotten or damaged. But I managed to fish out several relatively intact items after combing through the entire depot. Such as,
<Shield of Galápagos (Value – 700)>
🌑Can obtain the class ‘Shieldbearer’ upon equipping.
<Alamoor’s Straight Sword (Value – 4,300)>
🌑 Str, Agi+1
🌑 Durable and sharp.
The place was full to the brim with all kinds of equipments that were heirlooms, and unexpectedly, there was even a decent sword. However, I already had the class ‘Universal Man’ which was much superior to anything else. There was no particular need to obtain a class like Shieldbearer or Spearman.
‘Alamoor’s Straight Sword. This is pretty good.’
Although I finally managed to get my hand on a single sword at the end of a long bout of hunting, its quality wasn’t bad. And there was no need to be disappointed so soon. There were still many places to go.