Leveling with the Gods - Chapter 57
YuWon, who had exited the training chamber after almost a month, looked skinnier. His face was thinner, and his skin was a pale white from not having seen the sun in such a long time.
‘Has he been sick and not training?’
‘Is it because of the medicinal ingredients?’
‘By the looks of it, he won’t even last a single technique, let alone three…’
HaMuk and JaRyong’s heads were filled with all different thoughts on YuWon. Though you weren’t supposed to judge a player by their outward appearance, that was how bad YuWon was looking.
“Are you guys here to welcome me?” YuWon asked HaMuk and JaRyong who had been waiting at the entrance of the training chamber.
Despite his sickly appearance, YuWon was walking just fine. In fact, his gait looked even more stable than before.
HaMuk didn’t fail to notice this detail.
‘Did he learn a stepping technique while he was inside?’
YuWon had gotten pretty close to him, and HaMuk responded while trying to hide what he had just thought.
“We just stopped by in passing. So, did you manage to make any progress while you were inside the…?” HaMuk suddenly shut his mouth mid-sentence.
YuWon put on a new pair of clothes from the female servant that was waiting for him nearby.
There was a thick smell of medicinal herbs surrounding YuWon, which was the reason why HaMuk stopped talking.
“I heard that he grabbed all sorts of medicinal ingredients from the medical house…”
That was something that HaMuk had heard plenty of times. He had heard the rumors that because the challenger took a huge amount of medicinal ingredients and antidotes, the medical house was short on supplies.
HaMuk had wondered what he’d needed so many medicinal ingredients for. Getting injured during martial arts training wasn’t uncommon, but there was no way he would need so much medicine.
“Did you actually consume all of that?” HaMuk asked.
JaRyong also picked up on the thick scent of medicinal herbs from YuWon and ran inside the training chamber. He wanted to check if the inside of the training chamber also stank of herbs.
“I’m hungry,” YuWon said while rubbing his stomach that had only seen bitter medicinal ingredients and antidotes for a month. “Let’s first grab some food.”
* * *
YuWon ate up his food like a savage. After tearing apart a chicken leg and shoving it in his mouth, he pointed at the vegetable stir-fry with his chopsticks before he was even done chewing. And at the same time, he looked around at the other foods on the table.
HaMuk, who was dining on the opposite side of the table, stopped his hand and asked, “Did you starve yourself for a month or something?”
There were grain balls inside the training chamber. Though they weren’t delicious, one could satiate their hunger and get the necessary nutrition by eating them.
There could have been some mistake and the training chamber might have had no grain balls, but if that was the case, he would have left the training chamber much sooner.
“I had planned on coming outside at least once so I wouldn’t have any reason to eat those nasty things.”
“… So you did starve?”
After answering, YuWon continued to feast.
To have actually starved himself for a month… HaMuk couldn’t believe it. He then thought how technically YuWon hadn’t been starving since his stomach was full of something, just not food.
‘I can’t believe he actually ate all those medicines,’ HaMuk thought.
The scent of various medicinal ingredients still hadn’t dissipated.
‘Where did he use all those ingredients? He doesn’t look injured. Was he poisoned or…?’
HaMuk’s train of thought came to a halt and his eyes widened. Poisoning. That would explain all this.
Among elixirs, there were a few that were hard to consume due to their strong poison. In those cases, the poison was often more powerful than its effect as an elixir, so it was more common to simply use them as poisons instead.
But (not-so) hypothetically speaking, what if someone could get an infinite amount of antidotes provided to them, regardless of how many points they were worth…
‘That adds up. A poisonous elixir…’
But there was still a lingering question in his mind.
‘How poisonous was the elixir?’
HaMuk had stopped caring about the meal. He was busy staring at YuWon, who had cleared almost all the food on the table, including his own.
Then, as soon as the meal was over…
“I’ll be on my way then.”
With his stomach now full, YuWon got up without any hesitation.
After just a single hearty meal, YuWon’s pale and sickly appearance was nowhere to be seen.
“Where are you headed?”
“I’m headed to the martial arts library.”
“To the library?”
Now that YuWon had finished his first order of business, it was time to prepare for his next course of action.
‘Figures. As a player, training martial arts for two months is bound to be better than leveling up a couple of times…’ thought HaMuk.
For the first time since YuWon had made it to the Heavenly Demonic Cult, his actions seemed reasonable.
HaMuk nodded his head as he spoke, “Just remember that there are restrictions to the books you can check out.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Well then…” YuWon gave a short goodbye to HaMuk before leaving.
After asking the servant assigned to him, he was guided to a large building with dozens of martial artists on guard.
While following the servant, YuWon closely observed the martial artists.
‘They all seem like players.’
He couldn’t tell if they were Pure-Bloods like HaMuk or JaRyong, but they were all players that had climbed somewhat high up the Tower.
Among them, there was even a player that appeared much more skilled than HaMuk. YuWon guessed that he might have even been pretty close to being a Ranker.
‘No, there might even be a real Ranker amongst them.’
YuWon looked over at the man that was standing guard right in front of the library. He had the most normal-looking face, and he was wearing a plain outfit, but YuWon was sure that he was the one in charge here.
‘The security is tight.’
They had placed one of the few Rankers of the Heavenly Demonic Cult here.
‘I guess that’s only natural.’
The martial arts library was the most important place of every martial school since the records saved inside were basically the roots and foundations of their schools. It was essentially everything for a school.
So of course it would be even more sacred for the Heavenly Demonic Cult, considered the strongest martial school, as well as the origin of the Heavenly Demon, the strongest martial artist.
‘This means that it’ll be impossible for me to view any information beyond what I’m permitted.’
This wasn’t just a test of the Heavenly Demonic Cult. The martial schools of the Martial Realm’s tests were recognized by the Tower’s system, and the Cult was no different. This was the Tower’s test. And the Tower’s test wasn’t so flimsy as to easily let someone view information beyond what they were permitted.
“Is this really necessary? Even without a guard, I wouldn’t be able to see it anyway,” YuWon asked, annoyed by the watch of the guards following him.
The martial artist who YuWon thought was a Ranker answered, “It’s a standard procedure. Please follow it.”
He was at least more respectful than HaMuk. YuWon had heard that most of the martial artists of the Cult were combative and lacked manners.
After hearing his answer, YuWon stopped complaining. Since he was in the middle of taking the Cult’s test, he knew that they wouldn’t interfere or butt in with what he was doing…
‘As long as I stay within the lines that is.’
After complying with the simple procedures, YuWon was able to step foot inside the library.
The building had a high ceiling, and there were bookshelves stacked all the way up to it.
Even YuWon couldn’t help but voice his amazement.
How many books could there be in here? Hundreds of thousands? Maybe millions?
It was simply one massive library.
“You are not allowed to go into the area connected by that door. Please keep that in mind, but feel free to browse any books inside here.”
After telling him that, the head guard stepped to the side of the room so as to not get in his way.
YuWon was surprised by the fact that there was a dust-covered steel door where the head guard had pointed to. He was amazed that there were even more books.
‘Does that mean that these are all just the low-rank martial arts?’
The Heavenly Demonic Cult had a history of thousands of years. They existed even before entering the world of the Tower, and they endlessly worked to create, invent, and advance martial arts. And this martial arts library was the essence of that very cult.
‘It’s even more impressive than I had imagined.’
YuWon had previously seen the martial arts library of various martial schools, like the NamGung Clan’s. He had been invited by martial schools that had wanted to leave a good impression on him, as he had been a player that was soon to become a Ranker.
‘It’s got to be at least three… no, four times larger than that of the NamGung Clan’s.’
YuWon grabbed the first book that was within his reach and checked it out.
The letters of the martial realm were automatically translated by the system.
‘This must be a fist technique that’s based on the Eight Extreme Fists. It’s more complicated, which results in more destructive power, but at the cost of defense.’
Since he opened it, YuWon thought he might as well try it, mimicking the drawings in the book.
As he had previously managed to pass the test on the 10th Floor, he already had some knowledge of martial arts.
Mimicking the forms didn’t last very long.
YuWon closed the book.
‘I already knew this, but martial arts just don’t suit me.’
In the Tower where the power of the system existed, martial arts was a slow and frustrating field of study. Unless one had real talent for martial arts, learning them to become stronger simply wasn’t efficient.
After putting the book back in its place, YuWon started looking around the massive library. There were an endless number of books. It made YuWon wonder how he would ever manage to read through all of them.
Still, he didn’t have a choice. Looking through a single library would beat searching through every nook and cranny of the Heavenly Demonic Cult.
‘There’s no way three months was just given arbitrarily.’
The Tower did not test the impossible because an impossible test lost its meaning as a test. That was the unchanging law that YuWon remembered.
But this test had a nearly impossible level of difficulty for a normal player.
‘Not only do I have to withstand three techniques from a Ranker, it’ll be the Fist Lord’s, no less.’
This wasn’t a test that should have been given to a player who had only just reached the 10th Floor.
When the test was first explained to him, YuWon thought something was odd. Of course, he thought he was capable of passing the test, and he did try to challenge it right away, thinking that he could gain a bigger reward by completing it faster, but that didn’t brush away the feeling of oddness.
‘The key things for clearing this test are the three months of time and the resources provided to the player.’
And that’s why YuWon came to the library to find it.
‘There’s two months left.’
YuWon started thoroughly searching the martial arts library.
‘I need to find it within one month, max.’
YuWon opened up a book, flipped through the first chapter, and put it back. There was no need to read it thoroughly. It was a daunting task, to skim and sort through hundreds of thousands of books one by one.
In reality, it was an impossible task to read all these books. One couldn’t decide which of these countless books to learn by first reading through them all.
There were plenty of ways to cut down time, such as checking the category of the book, inspecting the exterior and title, as well as skimming through the first chapter, because YuWon already had a hunch.
‘This is a cultivation technique. This is a sword technique. This is… a meditation technique? There was something like this?’
What YuWon wanted wasn’t something like a sword technique, a dao technique, or a stepping technique.
‘It has to be here…’
The Fist Lord was one of the leaders of the Heavenly Demonic Cult, not to mention a Ranker, as well as one of the strongest martial arts masters in the Martial Realm. There had to be a clue somewhere in here on how to go up against Pung BaekLim.
‘… The origins of the Heavenly Demon God.’