Leveling with the Gods - Chapter 62
Leveling with the Gods
The inside of the Lord’s Manor wasn’t that big, being only about 65 square meters.*
*PR/N: about 213 sq. ft.
What was waiting for YuWon there was the Heavenly Demon, who he had caught a quick glimpse of after he passed the first test.
“So you’re here,” the Heavenly Demon said while opening his eyes.
YuWon slightly bowed his head towards him.
Cheon MuJin, the Heavenly Demon. He was a living piece of history of the martial realm, as well as a High Ranker and the “sky” of the Heavenly Demonic Cult.
After attaining the position of a High Ranker through personal strength and the power of the Heavenly Demonic Cult, he had become a recluse in Mt. Heaven, stopping all external activities.
The only thing he did was oversee the tests, but as not a single person had passed the test, some even speculated that he might have died.
“I heard you called for me,” YuWon said while looking straight at MuJin.
He was a tall figure, towering over 2 meters.* His shoulders were wide, and he was wearing a bright red dragon robe that covered his entire body. He had a short beard that covered his jawline all the way up to his hairline. And his eyes were sharp, as if they could cut.
Despite sitting down, his eyes were almost level with YuWon’s, so YuWon waited for him to speak without sitting down.
“Is your arm okay?”
YuWon responded to MuJin’s question while shaking his arm, “As you can see.”
[Under the influence of night, your health regeneration speed increases.]
[Health Regeneration Speed : +102%]
YuWon’s sword, 「Edge of Nightfall,」 was a sword that really shone in darkness. Its effect of accelerating health and mana recovery allowed YuWon to start healing quicker once it had become night.
“That’s a good sword. It makes me want it.”
“I’m sure it’s not as good as the sword you own, sir.”
“I’m quite greedy in that regard.”
Despite being unmaterialistic for the most part, MuJin was quite greedy when it came to swords. Due to that, for a while there was even a rumor that the Heavenly Demonic Cult’s vault actually stored many of the weapons that had disappeared from the Tower.
“Sorry, but this is off limits. There’s an ahjussi that’d chew me out for failing to maintain my own weapon.”
“Are you talking about Hephaestus? He certainly has the right to do that.”
“You know Ahjussi?”
“I don’t, but I have had the opportunity to wield a few swords that he’s made.”
MuJin’s greed for swords was greater than expected. Hephaestus’s swords were something that were hard to buy regardless of how many points you had. So to have wielded multiple of his swords before…
“So why did you call for me?”
“You’re quite impatient.”
“You know what they say, ‘time is money.’”
“That’s not a bad mindset,” MuJin said while getting up from his seat.
With his over 2-meter-tall stature, YuWon almost felt like he was face-to-face with a Giant.
“Let’s start the final test right away,” MuJin continued.
It was an unexpected response.
YuWon said while shaking his broken arm, “My arm’s still like this.”
“Didn’t you say you were okay?”
“I meant that it was okay for me to move. I’m still in no condition to fight,” YuWon rebutted. If possible, YuWon wanted to take the test while he was at his peak condition. That way he could attain the best possible result. Because of that, YuWon wanted to avoid taking the test right now if possible, but…
“It doesn’t matter,” MuJin said while quickly turning around and walking away. “You won’t have to use that arm anyway.”
MuJin headed over to an empty wall with nothing.
Confused by MuJin’s claim that he wouldn’t need his arm, YuWon wondered why MuJin had walked towards the wall.
That was when…
With a small shimmer, MuJin disappeared.
‘Is it a barrier?’ YuWon wondered.
YuWon quickly used [Cinder Eyes] to investigate the spot where MuJin disappeared.
His hunch was right. Where MuJin had been, there was a small trace of a barrier.
‘This is different from the one that’s at the bottom of Mt. Heaven. It’s much more precise and complicated…’
“What are you doing? Why aren’t you entering?” It was MuJin’s voice.
Pressed by the Heavenly Demon, YuWon carefully walked into the barrier. Fortunately, the first step wasn’t hard to take, revealing a large open area where he’d thought a wall existed.
A noise rang inside his ears, and for a second his head became dizzy.
[Cinder Eyes tries to resist Requiem Barrier.]
[Cinder Eyes fails to resist Requiem Barrier.]
A barrier so powerful, [Cinder Eyes] couldn’t resist it.
‘I can’t break through this.’
If he lost his focus for even a second, he’d fall prey to the illusion of the barrier.
That was when…
A big hand grabbed his shoulder and yanked him inside.
[You’ve entered the Heavenly Demonic Cave.]
[The final test of the Heavenly Demonic Cult will begin.]
His spinning vision returned back to normal. YuWon shook his head once and then looked around.
He could see MuJin standing close to him. His surroundings were a dark, damp tunnel. It was a cave.
MuJin started striding forward.
YuWon started a fire to light up the dark, humid cave, holding it above his hand like a torch.
His tensions were at an all-time high as he followed MuJin.
“Did you learn the Heavenly Demon’s Spirit?” MuJin asked.
YuWon responded, “Yes. It was turned into a skill,” while walking behind MuJin.
“Then it’ll probably be easier to handle now. The world’s become a much better place.”
He sounded like an old grandpa, but YuWon could understand where MuJin was coming from. MuJin was one of the oldest Rankers alive, an Ancient Ranker.
“You’re an excellent fighter,” MuJin threw out a sudden compliment. “Take good care of it.”
“Take care?” YuWon asked in confusion, but he didn’t get a response back.
YuWon didn’t understand what MuJin could have meant by ‘take care.’
Inside the quiet cave, the footsteps of the two echoed loudly.
The fire in YuWon’s hand flickered, even though there was no wind.
And that wasn’t the only thing.
[「?’s Egg」 bares its fangs.]
[「?’s Egg」 salivates.]
The Egg started having a reaction.
* * *
* * *
Towards the end of the Heavenly Demonic Cave, a light could be seen in the distance, a purple, flickering light.
It was a sensation that was similar yet different from mana.
‘There really was something here.’
It was so faint, he could only feel it now that he’d gotten this close to it, but Yuwon was sure that this was a power that came from outside the Tower.
The Egg on the other hand had detected it much earlier.
‘It’s acting like some kind of Dragon Ball:trade_mark: radar.’
As he got closer to the fire, YuWon could see the identity of the light.
It was a ‘fire.’
[Colossal Fire is shaken by a mysterious power.]
A purple, shimmering fire.
The fire wasn’t that large. It was only the size of an adult male’s fist, and it floated up in the air like some sort of will o’ wisp.
He couldn’t feel any heat coming off of it, but YuWon felt an instinctive repulsion to the fire. It felt like just by getting close to it, his entire body would be burnt to cinders.
YuWon only managed to shake off the tension in his chest by taking deep breaths.
MuJin spoke while staring at the fire, “This is the ‘Holy Fire.’”
“That’s what we call it.”
A holy fire. YuWon thought how simple of a name it was. And in his memory, there were quite a few skills with that name.
‘It doesn’t even feel like a holy power,’ YuWon thought.
He thought the name was flawed to begin with, but there was nothing he could do about it. A name wasn’t always decided by something’s true properties but rather just by how people had decided to call it.
If this thing was called ‘Holy Fire’ for a long time, then the system would have already recognized this power as Holy Fire.
“There’s an old prophecy that’s been passed down from long ago, since the Cult decided to settle down on Mt. Heaven and discovered this fire. The Cult exists to protect this fire and find its master,” MuJin spoke with a sorrowful smile. “The first Heavenly Demon of the cult, the second Heavenly Demon, and even my master, they all passed after living for this purpose. It is the same for me as well.”
“A prophecy… I’m having a hard time relating to it.”
“It’s a boring old tale that can’t keep up with the times. But believing and following such things is a common habit among geezers like me.”
“Do you truly believe in the prophecy?”
“The Heavenly Demonic Cult is a religion first and foremost before it is a martial school. And religion is something where the foundation will falter when faith wavers.”
MuJin’s faith in the Cult did not waver an inch while answering YuWon’s question. Despite having lived a much longer life than his predecessors, he still placed all his faith in the Cult.
“However, in this Tower, there are factions much larger than the Cult, and there are also people much stronger than me. That’s why I had no choice but to use a trick to protect the Holy Fire from them.”
“Is that why you created a test with the Holy Fire as a reward?”
“That’s right. Thanks to that, the difficulty has become like this.”
Asking a 10th Floor player to nullify an illusory barrier. Making them last through a fight against a Ranker. YuWon finally understood how this unbelievably difficult test came to be.
‘By using the test as a guise, he could hide and protect the Holy Fire,’ YuWon thought while staring at the flame floating mid-air.
“Has anyone ever managed to make it this far?”
“The Sword Lord. He’s seen this before.”
Purple light could be seen reflecting in MuJin’s eyes as he stared at the Holy Fire.
“… But he didn’t manage to beat it.”
That was only natural. The power of an Outer God wasn’t something that a player who had just climbed to the 10th Floor could win against. It was a fire that even a Ranker would have a hard time beating, so of course the Sword Lord couldn’t do it as a normal player.
“However, this is most likely not an impossible test. If that was the case, the Administrator wouldn’t have allowed this test to exist,” MuJin said while looking at YuWon. “This is the final test.”
With those words, the Holy Fire that was only the size of a fist started to grow larger.
“Survive through this fire. Endure it…”
The fire slowly grew larger and larger.
YuWon still couldn’t feel any actual heat, but it still felt like it might swallow and melt YuWon to the bones at any moment.
“… Until you are acknowledged by the Holy Fire.”
[Endure the Holy Fire.]
[When you surrender, this test will end.]
Messages popped up with the announcement of what the test was.
YuWon looked at the purple, shimmering fire.
The Holy Fire quickly grew in size, already reaching the roof of the cave. Without even needing to move, it felt like the fire would soon swallow him.
The fire grew larger and larger.
MuJin stared at the purple sea of flames before looking over at YuWon.
‘So it’s hard even for him,’ MuJin thought.
Needing to walk into such a fire. It was honestly a ridiculous test.
There was a tale of the Great Sage Son OhGong enduring over 40 days inside an Eight Trigram Crucible. However, that was a test given to OhGong when he was nearing the top of the Tower.
‘It was the same way for Shin MuGuek.’
The Sword Lord Shin MuGuek managed to get directly in front of the Holy Fire. However, he was unable to actually challenge the test.
It was because of fear.
‘It might be better for him to give up. This is a fire that can even swallow a Ranker.’
MuJin knew very well that this was a difficult test. Even if YuWon had the skills to take on the Fist Lord’s punches, he was still just a normal human in front of this mysterious power.
‘Still, he managed to obtain the Heavenly Demon’s Spirit, so…’
In the midst of MuJin’s train of thought…
YuWon, who had only been silently staring at the Holy Fire, started to walk forward. And at the same time…
… The Holy Fire opened its mouth as if inviting YuWon in.