Chapter 460 - Central Bureau (2)

Second Life Ranker

[This is the 51st floor, the gate of the ‘Mountain of Blazing Fire’.]

[The trial of the 51st floor is beginning.]

[Trial: Throughout history, fire has been revered as an element that can purify sins and evil deeds. According to some legends, people all have a flame in their hearts that they burn over the course of their lives. When they die, the flame turns into smoke which floats up to the sky to become a star. In some places, fire is the symbol for the origins of wisdom and civilization, which rejects ignorance and savagery. Fire symbolizes cleanliness, purity, and the soul.

Before you stand great mountains filled with the essence of the fire. They are an accumulation of the passion of those who climb the Tower, and they perpetually blaze to test players. You must now climb this mountain. Although you reached the 50th floor with hard work, it’s likely that something vicious has grown inside of you, as well. To scale this Tower, you must leave all your grudges and worries behind and reclaim your reverential heart. Purify your soul and become a new being. A new, hidden world will greet you.]

‘It’s hot.’ The heat was the first thing Yeon-woo sensed when he entered the fifty-first floor. He was most familiar with the fire element, and his Mugong had reached the level of Heat Cold Resistance, so it had been a while since he could be affected by extreme temperatures. But the heat on this floor was markedly different.

It wasn’t his body that was suffering from the heat, it was also his soul. This was all due to the Flame Mountains, which reached past the clouds. They were not typical mountains; instead of green grass, red flames blazed along their slopes, and they appeared in the sky instead of the ground. They were roughly triangular in shape, and each of the seven mountains was stacked on top of the other.

The flames at the foot of each mountain were different colors. The mountain at the bottom had red fire, the mountain above it had orange fire, the next mountain yellow, and the succeeding mountains had green, blue, indigo, and purple flames. The heat also increased from bottom to top, and the purple fire seemed equal to Yeon-woo’s black flames.

The challenge was to scale the mountains. The mountains that players called the Heavy Mountains were intimidating just to look at, and it was hard to muster the strength or courage to climb it. Even the red mountain was so hot that it felt like you’d turn to ashes if you just approached.

There was another issue: ‘Fire resistance and having an affinity to fire doesn’t help at all.’ The fire of Heavy Mountain was from one’s soul. The more worldly, stubborn, and delusional you were, the hotter it would be.  

Master, this place is really warm! Nike, who had woken up, shouted with joy.

When only darkness and chaos existed in the universe, there was a great explosion which produced the Fire of Origin, the first fire that fell to earth. It’s the same fire behind the Light-Bringer Lucifer’s fall a thousand years ago. The fire of the Heavy Mountains is derived from the Fire of Origin, but its flames are no less powerful. They are said to be the origins of Holy Fire and Divine Fire and can’t be put out with normal methods.

The great explosion also created the basic particles that compose everything in the universe, while the Fire of Origin is responsible for creating the components of the soul. As such, it isn’t affected by the laws of physics.

The fire of the Heavy Mountains purifies the souls that are nearby, washing away corruption and sin, which destroy the soul.  The fire attempts to restore souls to their original condition. Single-minded pursuers of strength, ambitious people, and evil people who enjoyed betraying others have difficulty moving ahead of this place. Unless you’re a monk who’s lived without any greed, this floor isn’t easy.

In other words, the purpose of the fifty-first floor’s Heavy Mountains was to help players refine the pure ascetic mind they had when they’d first entered the Tower. At the same time, the floor motivated players to focus and set forth on a new path.

Players could be divided into three different groups: seekers, believers, and rulers. Seekers needed to gain great enlightenment to surpass their limits in order to become supernatural beings. Believers thought that they could find salvation in their religion, and their goals were to become an Apostle to spread the gospel of the divine being they served. Rulers wished to conquer their surroundings and ascend to become a Lord.

Although transcendents, Apostles, and Lords ran in different directions, they were all extraordinary. And at the end of the journey was exuviation and the gaining of transcendence. The only person known to have achieved this was Allforone.

Those who had become rankers after passing the fiftieth floor used the fifty-first floor to set their paths. Would they become supernatural beings, Apostles that followed gods and demons, or a Lord who ruled over others? The path of their future would be decided here.

Most of the time, there weren’t any great changes as most of them had already made their decisions even before reaching the fifty-first floor, but Yeon-woo’s situation was a bit different from theirs. He had already stepped on all three paths.

Seeking self-discipline and abstention was the same as training with Mugong, so he was already walking the path to become a supernatural being. After being given the Throne of Death by Hades, he had been enlightened with holiness, so he had the potential to become an Apostle as well. And with the Black King’s power, he had many familiars, so he could be a Lord.

‘I can’t clear this place. Even if I do, it’ll take a significant amount of time.’ Yeon-woo could tell that the fifty-first floor would be a great obstacle for him. Even if he cleared the stage, he wouldn’t be able to leave a new record and make achievements like on the other floors. He was walking various paths, and his thoughts were muddled. Most likely, he wouldn’t even be able to climb to the top of the first mountain. He’d also been feeling uneasy ever since he entered the fifty-first floor.

Urrrng. The Cast of the Black King trembled as though it were reluctant to even approach the mountains. The Heavy Mountains born from the Origin of Fire were likely an anathema to the Black King, who symbolized chaos and emptiness.

It was impossible to climb the Heavy Mountains with the Cast of the Black King. ‘That doesn’t mean there isn’t a way.’ If the standard method didn’t work, he could always just use a shortcut. And if that shortcut was a far-reaching one: ‘I’ll bring the Heavy Mountains down.’ If not one, but all seven mountains came crashing down, the stage would never be able to bear it. ‘And the Bureau will go crazy.’

Yeon-woo looked sharply at the mountains. He wanted to clear the fifty-first floor and make contact with the Bureau to gain permission to enter the Tutorial. The Bureau had denied all of his previous requests, saying that a player like Yeon-woo would cause uncontrollable variables that would affect the judgement of the novice players.

Moreover, there wasn’t much time left before the end of the Tutorial, so the Bureau was keeping a close eye on Yeon-woo’s every move, especially since they saw him as a troublemaker.

Yeon-woo hadn’t expected the Bureau to agree, so he wasn’t concerned. Instead, he was glad that he could use this as an excuse for his shortcut on the fifty-first floor. It was likely that many Guardians were watching him anxiously right now, and Yeon-woo smiled widely for them before he released his strength.

[5th-step Dragon Body awakening]

[Release of all powers]

Swish. With his Dragon Body awakening and the Throne of Death’s holiness, an intense energy storm began to spin. Scales grew over his skin, his wings unfurled, splitting space, and his tail lashed the ground. The Black King’s power also awakened bit by bit. The chains whipped around his right arm as a black haze whirled around him.

[Sky Wings]

When he spread his Sky Wings open and connected to all the Channels, the intense storm expanded in all directions and shook the stage. Rumble!

“Wh-what’s going on?”

“I-isn’t that the Hoarder…Heaven Wing, I-I mean Shadow King?”

“Why’s he here?! He’s still on the fifty-first floor? The fuck!”

Other players recognized him and cursed, shocked that one of the strongest Nine Kings was still lingering on the fifty-first floor. The energy storm he was exuded was more incredible than words could describe. He had gotten even stronger.

The keyword to Yeon-woo’s right wing was “fight”, and the more gazes and achievements he accumulated, the more powerful his keyword’s strength would grow. He had already made great accomplishments by bringing down Blood Land and the Elohim, who’d ruled the lower world, and standing against Olympus. Since he had even clashed with the Crawling Chaos for a while, the power of the keyword had been immensely amplified.

The more he fought, the stronger he grew. Yeon-woo didn’t forget this trait and used it to the best of his ability. As he overwhelmed the stage with his strength, he spoke with magic power: “All players on the stage, heed my words.”

His voice echoed throughout the floor, and everyone climbing the Heavy Mountains immediately reacted. Those who’d ignored his energy straightened their backs and were forced to listen. That was how authoritative Yeon-woo’s words were.

“This is a warning. Approximately five seconds from now, I’m going to bring the Heavy Mountains down. Leave the stage before then. If not, I can’t be held responsible for what happens.” The words sounded mad, those who were clever enough instantly understood the meaning behind them. The stage would be destroyed soon! Anyone who stayed still would be swept along.

Instantly, countless players activated their emergency escape magic or ripped portal scrolls to get away. They didn’t even have time to protest. Many knew that unlike the generous Heaven Wing, the Shadow King was famous for his ruthlessness. He carried out his plans without caring how many would be affected.

After numerous players escaped, portals opened in the sky of the almost-empty stage. The Guardians warned Yeon-woo. This is a warning in the name of the Bureau. Shadow King, stop what you’re doing immediately…!

You are intentionally disrupting the trials of countless players, according to Article 41, Clause 12 of the Bureau…!

[Time Difference]

[Extrasensory Perception]

Yeon-woo quickly sped up his consciousness and drew the entire stage, including the Heavy Mountains, within his attention. The fire of the seven Heavy Mountains couldn’t be put out using physical means—a fact already stated in the message window and known among players.

‘But nothing’s impossible.’ After all, it was only derived from the Fire of Origin and not the Fire of Origin itself. If he had a greater firepower than it did, then it would be possible to put it out. ‘And I want to test my limits too.’

He hadn’t been able to use his full power dealing with Blood Land, Elohim, and Olympus because he couldn’t tell what his own limits were. An uncontrollable, unknown strength was like a blade without a hilt; it could hurt him. However, this was a place where a hiltless blade could be wielded, and he was confident that he could escape if things went wrong.

What would happen if he used his full power? Would he be stronger than he expected, or would there be no difference from his usual strength? And would it be effective against those classified as superior divine beings?

‘I can test that out now.’ He spread his hands forward. It was time to use the new ability he’d only been able to think about: an ultimate skill of his own.

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