Leveling with the Gods - Chapter 63
Leveling with the Gods
YuWon felt like a moth flying towards a flame as he stepped closer to the shimmering twilight fire.
After just a few steps, the Holy Fire suddenly engulfed YuWon.
The fire wasn’t hot. No, YuWon had to think that the fire wasn’t hot.
‘This fire grows by consuming fear.’
The Holy Fire wasn’t a fire that just burned hot. Taking on the form of ‘fire,’ it had the power to wear down those that feared it and burn them to cinders. That was the real reason why the Holy Fire was so dangerous.
‘I cannot be afraid of the fire.’
It was hot. As he walked deeper inside, the heat grew stronger and the flames became more intense.
It was something that people couldn’t help but naturally fear.
[Cinder Eyes resists the Holy Fire.]
[「Pyromancy Robe」 resists the Holy Fire.]
Fortunately, YuWon had quite a bit of flame resistance. On top of that, thanks to facing death multiple times while climbing the Tower, he didn’t really fear pain or death either. The problem wasn’t either of those…
The shimmering fire gathered together, forming images, changing constantly. It changed into hideous forms that couldn’t be described with words, messing with YuWon’s eyes.
[「?’s Egg」 opens its eyes.]
[「?’s Egg」 bares its fangs.]
YuWon could feel the egg twitching. Holding a tight grip on the inventory on his waist, he warned the egg, “Stay still.”
It was fine that it ate Orochi’s corpse, but the Holy Fire was a different story.
This was a test that YuWon had to overcome, especially if this was related to a god from outside the tower.
“If you eat this, there won’t be anything left for me.”
The Egg ate the entirety of Orochi’s corpse. That meant that it had the power to physically affect the real world. And if it consumed the Holy Fire like it did with Orochi, YuWon would be in a bit of a bind.
If MuJin was right, this was the process to obtain the Holy Fire.
YuWon didn’t believe in things like prophecies, but the system was trustworthy enough.
The Holy Fire continued to grow, and as he walked deeper into the fire of his own will, YuWon’s heart raced at a rapid pace. It was a sensation he hadn’t felt in a while.
“Outers” were beings that were beyond common sense and knowledge. Coming from a world outside the Tower, they could make you feel fear worse than death just by coming face-to-face with them.
That was exactly the situation YuWon was in right now.
The Holy Fire grew by consuming fear. It circled around YuWon’s body, eating his fear, and growing into a monster.
“I don’t know what you are.”
YuWon stared into the eyes of the purple flame monster that wrapped around him.
“But I’ve seen enough ‘Outers’ to be sick of them.”
He had already experienced more than enough psychological fear.
In order to fight against Outers, you needed a strong mental foundation, or you wouldn’t even be able to stand in front of them, let alone fight them.
And YuWon was a survivor of a war against those very same Outers.
He walked forward, thinking back to the war against the Outers, the fight against those bastards, the crumbling world and the monsters that were swallowing it up.
“I’m not afraid of you.”
He had become weaker from returning to the past, but YuWon’s mind was no different than back then.
In fact, it had become stronger.
“… Have returned to win against you guys.”
* * *
Suddenly the raging fire calmed.
MuJin, who had been watching over the Holy Fire for ages, had never seen this happen before. But of course, that was inevitable since there was no one who had seriously attempted to obtain the Holy Fire before either.
‘Did he give up?’ MuJin thought.
The Holy Fire that had been growing as if it would fill the entirety of the Heavenly Demonic Cave slowly died down. And from a distance, within the fire, YuWon’s shadow became visible.
“So he’s still alive,” MuJin remarked.
MuJin could only see YuWon’s back, but he was standing up.
Expecting the massive Holy Fire to return back to its normal state, MuJin waited. However…
… The Holy Fire did not return back to normal.
A purple fire was wrapped around YuWon.
MuJin’s eyes widened. “Could it be…?” he said in disbelief.
This was something he had wanted all along, but because things had stayed the way they were for so long, he questioned if the day would ever come.
MuJin looked at YuWon and the purple fire shimmering off his body. On top of that, the Holy Fire circled around YuWon like will o’ wisps.
YuWon looked at the Holy Fire that split into three pieces.
Unable to believe what was happening, MuJin quickly went over to YuWon and asked, “What happened?” MuJin looked at YuWon’s eyes.
YuWon didn’t look back at MuJin. Staring at the Holy Fire, YuWon’s eyes seemed hazy and out of focus.
And after a moment…
YuWon slowly collapsed forward.
* * *
* * *
With his closed eyes, he couldn’t see anything. But from within the darkness, YuWon felt like he was floating in zero gravity.
And in the darkness, a purple fire floated up. It was the Holy Fire.
The Holy Fire that floated around like a will o’ wisp slowly drifted around his field of vision.
This was a very different response than earlier.
‘So it doesn’t intend on fighting me.’
The Holy Fire was now following him. The appearance of the vicious monster was a temporary form for the test.
‘Being afraid of the thing in front of me would mean that I don’t have the qualifications to wield it.’
That was why YuWon didn’t fear the Holy Fire, and that was enough.
[You obtained 100,000 points.]
[Your Strength increased by 1.]
[Your Dexterity increased by 2.]
[Your Constitution increased by 1.]
[Your Perception increased by 1.]
[Your Arcane Power increased by 1.]
[You passed the test of the Heavenly Demonic Cult.]
[You have obtained a skill of a higher tier than the Colossal Fire. The skill perishes.]
[You have obtained Holy Fire.]
[You have obtained title : Vice-Lord of the Heavenly Demonic Cult.]
[You have obtained the right to move on to the 11th Floor.]
[You are now able to teleport to the next floor.]
With the ringing message, YuWon was able to confirm that the test was over.
He had actually managed to obtain [Holy Fire.]
His heavy eyelids slowly opened, and he could see the ceiling. YuWon was sleeping with a blanket. And it seemed to have become day, as sunlight pierced through the crack in the door.
The first thing YuWon did was check the condition of his body.
‘Do I have any burns…?’
He patted himself down, but he felt no pain.
YuWon thought back to the Holy Fire, which felt like a dream, along with the message that said he had passed the test.
Next on the list was to check his newly obtained reward.
ᗌ Rank : S+
ᗌ Proficiency : 0.00%
ᗌ A fire from [?]. Depending on the enemy’s emotions, it is able to exude greater power without any additional consumption of mana.
ᗌ It will not harm any targets you do not wish to hurt.
ᗌ Worsens wounds.
The description of the skill wasn’t far off from what he expected.
A fire that grows stronger by consuming emotions—it was a bit of an odd description at first glance. To begin with, there was almost no one that didn’t fear fire. Unless you were a High Ranker like Apollo or Surya or a fire-controlling Giant like Surtr, fire was something that was natural to fear. And the Holy Fire was something that grew bigger by consuming fear. The skill’s rank was enough to prove how powerful that was.
‘Being able to avoid harming allies is a big boon in large-scale fights. And being able to worsen wounds is also incredibly powerful.’
This was enough to put it among the top fire-type skills. On top of that…
‘This is even better than obtaining just any old skill.’
The fact that [Holy Fire] materialized into a skill had huge meaning for YuWon.
The Holy Fire was a power that came from outside the Tower, and from the long war, YuWon understood well the power that Outers had.
Their powers were infinite.
Because of that, there were many Rankers that sought out their powers, but none were successful. Yet here, out of all the unexpected places, YuWon had succeeded in doing that very thing.
‘This is so far beyond enough, it’s overwhelming.’
It was a reward that YuWon was satisfied with and worth all the time he had spent on it.
“‘The Vice-Lord of the Heavenly Demonic Cult’?” YuWon thought back to one of the messages.
To be the Vice-Lord of the Heavenly Demonic Cult…
A ‘title’ was a person’s secondary name or position. Hercule’s “Giant Slayer” and OhGong’s “The Great Sage, Heaven’s Equal” for example.
Normally, even Rankers struggled to obtain a single title, yet here YuWon had obtained one as a reward for the 10th Floor.
[Vice-Lord of the Heavenly Demonic Cult]
ᗌ Classification : Title
ᗌ Rank : B
ᗌ It possesses absolute dominance and command over cultists contracted to the Heavenly Demonic Cult.
ᗌ This title can be revoked by someone with the title of “Heavenly Demon.”
A B-rank title.
Titles were normally much harder to obtain than skills, so naturally, obtaining a high-rank title was as difficult as stealing a star from the night sky.
B-rank wasn’t as powerful as some of the titles that YuWon knew about, but it was still a pretty high-ranking title.
Of course, the power of the title itself wasn’t anything that impressive, but if you took the ‘authority’ into account, it became a different story.
‘… The Heavenly Demonic Cult?’
The Cult was an organization that had long been facing off against the Martial Guild. Though they had become weaker from being cut off from the outside for a long time, their power was still nothing to scoff at.
So it was impossible to calculate the value of a title that was capable of commandeering such an organization.
YuWon got up from his spot and went outside.
The female attendant that was waiting for YuWon promptly led him to the Lord’s Manor.
“So you’re here.”
Cheon MuJin was sitting at the same spot as yesterday in the same exact position.
YuWon was already mostly finished with packing.
“Is it still necessary for you to stay there? It’s not like there’s anything to guard anymore,” YuWon said.
“Habits aren’t so easy to fix. I tried going elsewhere, but I didn’t quite feel comfortable.”
The Holy Fire that MuJin had to protect was no longer there. It was now something for YuWon to carry.
“I obtained a title.”
“You mean the title of Vice-Lord?”
“Keep it. You’re plenty qualified, possessing both the Holy Fire and the Heavenly Demon’s Spirit.”
“Even if I become a Ranker, I won’t be joining the Heavenly Demonic Cult.”
“Do as you want. It’s not something that’s intended to tie you down anyway. It’s a reward you obtained by passing the test fair and square, so you can reap the benefits as much as you want.”
Despite it taking a lot of courage for YuWon to tell this to MuJin, his response was surprisingly indifferent. YuWon was worried that MuJin might pick him as the next Lord of the Cult, but it seemed that wasn’t the case.
That was a good thing for YuWon. He didn’t have any responsibilities but could still reap all the benefits, as MuJin said.
“Then I’ll take it gratefully,” YuWon said.
“Are you leaving right away?”
“I’ll stop by again when it’s time for the Grand Martial Arts Tournament.”
“Are you thinking of participating in the Grand Martial Arts Tournament?”
“I’m planning on it. That is, if I’m still below the 25th floor by then.”
The Grand Martial Arts Tournament was a tournament for players between the 10th and 25th Floors. Held three times a year, it was the most anticipated event in the lower floors.
“I see. So it’s almost time for the Grand Martial Arts Tournament…” MuJin mumbled as he nodded, recollecting an old memory. “I won’t see you out, since you don’t seem like the type that likes things like that.”
“You’re right on the bulls-eye.”
YuWon got up from his seat.
He had barely anything left to pack. Rations and other necessities were all already inside his inventory.
YuWon bowed his head to MuJin and left to climb up to the next floor.
“The Grand Martial Arts Tournament…” MuJin murmured to himself again.
With the Holy Fire finally finding its master, the hard shackles that had been holding him down for such a long time disappeared. MuJin, whose life mission had been protecting the Holy Fire, started wondering ‘What should I do?’ for the first time ever.
That’s when it came to him. The thing that the Heavenly Demonic Cult had wanted long before the Holy Fire appeared.
“I guess it’s time to return to the Martial Realm.”