“You’re definitely not a normal person. I hadn’t seen how you had passed the intricate first test with your thick skull, but looking at how easily you took care of the Battle Golem personally created by Eckheart…”
The flying book spoke with its pages fluttering about as though it were alive.
“You might be good enough to be a mid-grade guild master or the general of a small nation, right?”
It wasn’t the first time that he had seen a familiar. He had received several familiars from his friends in the past, but whether it be plant or animal, they’d all died quickly in his hands.
“What are you?”
Sungchul asked the book.
The large book stopped its movements, and Sungchul nodded impassively.
“I am Bertelgia. A living book, as you can see. I have ended up as your familiar. Not that I want to be.”
She spoke like a tsundere, but her attitude wasn’t what mattered to Sungchul.
“What are you capable of?”
This was the only question that mattered.
Bertelgia was struck dumb for a moment, before speaking again in a depressed voice.
“It’s very rude how you are treating me like a tool, but seeing as I have no personal desire to get close to you either, I’ll accept your behaviour. As you can see, I am a living book.”
Bertelgia began opening her pages on her own accord, revealing the contents written within to Sungchul. Some of Bertelgia’s pages contained elaborate formulates and calligraphy, complete with images, all working towards a common vision of Alchemy.
“Contained within me is all of the knowledge left behind by Eckheart, self-proclaimed Eighth Hero. Eckheart wasn’t a very smart guy, so the knowledge isn’t all that great, but… Hey! Don’t touch!”
Sungchul found himself forcefully flipping through the pages.
“If you want to see something, you can just tell me! I’ll find it and show it to you!”
Bertelgia struggled desperately, trying with all her might to break free of his grasp.
Sungchul let go of her. Bertelgia, finally freed from his monstrous strength, shot up to the ceiling before floating back down to where she had been before.
“Yes. Just ask away. Eckheart was a mediocre alchemist, but he also had some clever tricks.”
Sungchul gazed off into the distance, before staring sharply at the book.
“Can you undo the Curse of Extinction?”
At the mere mention of the curse, a memory he had been suppressing bubbled up in his mind. Bertelgia twirled from left to right.
“Oh? That? That guy also tried solving it, but he didn’t succeed.”
He wasn’t disappointed because he didn’t have any expectation in the first place. He bent down to pick up the other book from the floor.
Type: Class Transfer (Compact)
Effect: Legendary Class Creationist Acquired
Note: My beloved daughter shall lead you to the True Path of Wisdom.
“What is this?”
Creationist; a legendary grade class. It was a class that Sungchul, who was steeped deep in the lore and knowledge of Other World, had never heard of before. Not only that, but the requirement was also odd. It was unreasonable to request something from the daughter of someone who was at least a few thousand years old.
It wasn’t long before Bertelgia began to speak again.
“Can’t you read? That is the Creationist’s Tome.”
“And where is Eckheart’s daughter? Won’t she be dead by now?”
“Who died? She’s right here.”
Bertelgia put herself on display like some kind of bird as she flapped her pages. Sungchul stopped breathing and focused his sharp senses to search through his surroundings, but he couldn’t sense any other presence around him.
“Where is ‘here’?”
After Sungchul asked for clarification, Bertelgia shoved her paper-packed body towards him and spoke as she sighed.
“Really, you can’t even see who is right in front of you… I’ll reintroduce myself then. I am the child of the self-proclaimed Eighth Hero, Eckheart’s daughter, Bertelgia. I am your familiar who will be guiding you on the path of becoming the Creationist.”
He had gained 15 Intuition, a never-before-seen class, and a familiar who claimed to be the daughter of Eckheart. He would have to wait and see how the Creationist’s Tome would work along with Bertelgia; nevertheless, this must all have been a test of some sort.
“Hello? Mr. Muscle-head? Can you hear me?”
Sungchul smirked as Bertelgia let out her sharp words.
Night had already fallen by the time he reached the plaza. Sungchul headed towards a clearing near the training center where the Preselected were staying. Everyone had followed after Yuhoon and went to sleep. Sunghae appeared to be sleeping, her arms were wrapped around the staff, but on closer inspection, she was actually cautiously looking over in his direction with her barely opened eyes.
Sungchul headed towards his own spot further away from the main group. An appreciated guest was waiting at Sungchul’s sleeping space made from the clothes of the dead.
It was the Sky Squirrel that was following Krill Regall. Like before, there was a pouch with a message tied to the tiny paws of the Sky Squirrel. He fed the creature some bread crumbs before retrieving the message.
[1. More bribes needed. Urgent.
2. Rules of the next rank match changed. Pacman Rules / Tam Tam
3. Requested standard for distribution of rewards: 1st – 100% / 2nd – 80% / 3 – 60% / 4 – 40%
P.S. Without additional bribes, I might not be able to send out this guy anymore.]
After grinding the note into powder with his fingers, he sat up on a training dummy and began to contemplate.
‘It’s Pacman rules, with a Tam Tam included to boot.’
It was the worst combination of the most difficult rule with the worst of the monsters. Pacman rule was one of the many different types of rank matches that distributed scores based on the number of people who managed to survive against a powerful creature within the time limit. It might be argued that other rulesets still allowed the survivors the opportunity to fight back; Pacman rules, however, offered no such opportunity. They released a monster that even a mid-grade fighter, not to mention the newbies, would not stand a chance against alone. The only way to stay alive against such a monster was to keep away from it until it managed to eat its fill.
The creature, Tam Tam, was one of the weakest monsters that the Summoning Palace kept. It was one of the more popular monsters to be hunted. However, there was a valid reason that this monster was called the nightmare of all newbies. While other monsters hunted humans solely to serve as food, the Tam Tam would play with its food. The number of casualties it caused had not once fallen below that of the other monsters.
‘Are the Preselected within the Blanche plaza lacking? I thought the Order of Iron Blood Knights was a big name around here, maybe they still hadn’t completely recovered from the Demonic Force’s second invasion?’
Blanche Plaza wasn’t the only plaza that had preselecteds. All four of the plazas had powerful factions backing their own group of preselected. There was a group of preselected within each plaza, all receiving their own special privileges, but if you look past the individual plazas, there was an even larger problem inside the Summoning Palace. There was a discrepancy of privileges among the preselected as well.
The preselected backed by the most powerful faction within the Summoning Plaza had the easiest trials, while others would receive much more challenging trials. The Blanche Plaza had received the trial that was rumoured to be the most difficult of all trials, the Tam Tam.
Sungchul vividly recalled the disfigured, oversized monkey; the brutal, savage monster that toyed with its victim as it senselessly rampaged, killing many people; His companions who had numbered over 500 were reduced to below 50 in just one match. The plaza, soaked completely in blood, was a scene he could recall vividly even to this day. This might have been why Krill had emphasized his need for additional bribes. He knew that the Tam Tam would be in the next match and had no expectation that Sungchul would survive.
Sungchul pulled out a rose-tinted ruby and placed it into the Sky Squirrel’s pouch, then pet the squirrel’s head with a bent finger.
The Sky Squirrel disappeared into the night sky.
Sungchul closed his eyes and began his planning to the sound of the preselected stirring in their sleep.
‘The difference in rewards between ranks is larger than I’d expected.’
According to Kill’s information, the highest ranking plaza will earn more than twice the reward of the lowest ranking plaza. This means that, within the last ranking plaza, there will be a limit to how much an individual can earn as it would be split by what is effectively 40% of the first rank’s total reward. This difference will be critical. Being in a lower ranked plaza will lead to earning relatively fewer Palace Tokens.
There was also another problem, which was the Tam Tam’s presence. Leaving it alone would not only guarantee Blanche Plaza’s continual last place but would also make the following Death Match rules all the more difficult for them. There was only one way to avoid this disaster; he would need to get rid of the Tam Tam.
He now needed to find a way to kill it without being discovered. The Pacman match would inevitably draw a crowd of onlookers that would come to enjoy the senseless violence and chaos within the Summoning Palace. If he revealed his strength at that time, he would immediately draw their attention, and various nations and guilds would start sending their executioners after him. There was no other way to solve it; Sungchul looked back at Sunghae, she was cautiously watching him through the slit of her eyes with an anxiously beating heart.
It wasn’t like there was a strict standard or anything, but a large demonic creature would usually be classified as a monster. To be more exact, large demonic creatures that had a lower intelligence would be classified as monsters. Tam Tams were smarter than most monsters, but still weren’t smarter than the average creature and were thus classified as a monster. The Tam Tam was a 12 meter tall, massive primate. It could run quickly, use its extended arms cooperatively with its legs, and like a human, was able to freely manipulate objects. Its strength was lacking in comparison to other monsters, but it could still split a man in half with just its spear-like teeth. This did mean, however, that it wasn’t a completely impossible threat for the newbies to face.
There was an appreciable amount of strength gathered by the summoned since the first ranking match. There will be those who have come to realize their true potential, others who went to explore the woods seeking to train. Attempting to gauge this potential would be like trying to gather infinity from zero, but Sungchul still wanted to try raising their potential significantly.
‘There doesn’t need to be a lot of them. I only need to gather a few useful people. These people can be the ones to injure the Tam Tam while I will be the one to use the explosion scroll to finish the job without needing to draw too much suspicion on myself.’
The preselected were the ideal candidates for this purpose, but most of them had already acquired the Divine Elixir of Escape. They couldn’t be counted on for his plan. They would secure their own survival by slathering on the contents of the elixir and going to hide in a corner.
Fortunately, there were also a few among them who haven’t received the Divine Elixir of Escape. Ahram and Sunghae were the ideal example of this. In total, there were four such people, including that pair, who haven’t gotten the elixir; Sungchul approached the one he was already acquainted with: Sunghae.
“…What do you want from me? I believe I’ve kept my promise, haven’t I?”
She quickly drew the staff behind her as she spoke out nervously. Her voice caught the attention of two nameless preselected men who began to approach her from the side. It seemed as if someone had predicted that he would approach her, and had prepared a few bodyguards in advance. However, this kind of petty planning meant nothing to Sungchul.
“I didn’t come here to take away the staff. I’m just here to give you a warning.”
Sungchul pointed to above his head, and her tension dropped by a small bit.
“Didn’t your guide tell you? What the upcoming rank match would be?”
“I’ve heard of it. Pacman? He said it would be Pacman rules.”
“You know which monster is going to be in this Pacman game, right?”
“Mmm, maybe I do…”
“Tam Tam? That’s a funny name.”
“It’s a funny name, but it doesn’t act funny. Do you have an item that can replace the Divine Elixir?”
Sunghae pulled out Moonlight and spoke in a trembling voice.
“Isn’t this enough?”
Sungchul looked at the staff with chilling eyes and shook his head.
“That kind of thing can’t guarantee your life.”
Sungchul turned around, a heavy voice rang out as he faced them with his broad back.
“If you want to live, come find me with everyone that doesn’t have an Elixir in the forest.”
No one would have imagined that something like this could ever have happened when they were summoned. The man, with the most pitiful appearance among the 25 preselected, would now be looking down and commanding the most glamorous woman among them, but a week’s time had been long enough to completely change all the former rules.
“You there… Hello?”
Sungchul looked out to the three preselected who were cautiously approaching from the direction of the forest entrance.
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