The 31st Piece Turns the Tables

REAPER SCANS

 

The 31st Piece Turns the Tables

[Translator –  goguma]

[Proofreader – Karane]

 

Chapter 122

Seol let out a breath in the pitch black darkness. Even though he clearly exhaled, he couldn’t hear any sound at all.

‘So it’s the Gate of Emptiness.’

He couldn’t see or hear anything. In fact, he couldn’t smell anything either.

Seol took steps, but he couldn’t tell what he was stepping on. He didn’t know whether it was flat land or mushy mud.

But then, suddenly, he saw options.

 

[[You wander through a mysterious place. Here, there is nothing, and you are unable to discern anything. What do you do?]

1. Stand still.

2. [Required: Istia's Ray] Clear away the darkness.

3. [Required: Aether's Bell] Ring the bell to dispel the evil influences around.

4. [Required: Sylvie's Feather] Leave this place.

5. [Required: Sagacity] Ponder to comprehend your surroundings.

……]

 

‘Haah… Istia’s Ray? Aether’s Bell? Even though it’s been a while since I saw it, it’s still the same.’

There were no options more detestable than these.

Istia’s Ray, Aether’s Bell, Sylvie’s Feather, etc.

All the items required to select the options were extremely difficult to acquire artifacts.

‘Basically, it’s saying if you want an easy way out… you need to bring at least a Treasure-quality artifact.’

Those items, if Seol had to give them a quality, were at least Treasure.

Using a treasure to clear just one gate was undoubtedly a waste.

‘In the end, you just have to go through it.’

The Blood Saint also cleared this gate without using an artifact. He cleared it with just his willpower.

‘Now that I think about it, he really was ridiculous.’

The Blood Saint was an incredible piece, to the point that even now, Seol felt a bit envious of him.

Seol defined the Blood Saint as a ‘good, but also strong individual.’

The Blood Saint had already established his own skill system in place when he entered the Labyrinth of Penance so there was nothing a gate like this could have done to stop him.

Seol continued onward, stepping through the sometimes soft and sometimes hard floor.

‘It slowly feels like… I’m going upwards.’

Seol wasn’t sure, though, as all of his senses were dulled. Even so, he continued. It wasn’t as if standing still was the correct option, after all.

‘How long did the Blood Saint take to clear this gate again?’

Even though Seol didn’t remember it perfectly, he knew that it still took a few days.

‘And back then, I…’

Since the only option worth selecting then was ‘Walk while deliberating about it,’ Seol probably just brute-forced his way through the Gate with that option.

‘Haah…’

In truth, it was the same method that Seol was trying now.

Someone who saw this scene might say something like this,

 

You haven’t changed at all.

You’re still the same. Nothing about you has improved.

 

‘No, I have changed.’

In fact, Seol entered the Labyrinth of Penance much earlier than when the Blood Saint first entered it.

There was another thing that was different too.

Fwiiirl!

Seol’s body was enshrouded in shadows.

 

[You enter the Night Crow form with Shaman ‘Jamad, the Volcanic’.]

[You absorb Jamad, the Volcanic’s stats.]

[Your class is changed to Fighter.]

 

With this, Seol’s stats were combined with Jamad’s.

‘Which would cause my Wisdom stat to increase greatly, and…’

 

[You are in a sagacious state.]

 

‘Alright, I cleared the minimum requirements.’

Seol could now choose an option that even the Blood Saint couldn’t choose.

 

[Insight activates.]

[You feel as if you’re close to understanding something.]

 

‘Damn it. This means I have to keep walking again.’

Seol continued thinking as he walked.

Since Seol didn’t know of any other methods, this was the only thing he could do.

He walked, and walked some more. During this entire time, he continued to think.

The floor was soft and squishy at times, then hard and rigid. And before Seol realized it, he began smelling something strange.

‘I’m slowly regaining my sense of smell.’

Seol focused on his senses.

The floor began swaying as a strong smell pierced through his stuffy nose.

Where was this?

‘What did the Blood Saint experience again? Oh right, there…’

The stomach of a giant whale.

Randomly enough, the place the Blood Saint wandered when he was inside the Gate of Emptiness was a whale’s stomach.

Seol remembered the players around him chuckling when they found out about it.

 

- Hahaha! That’s crazy!

- I didn’t expect that at all!

 

Since Seol had lost one of his pieces to the Labyrinth of Penance before, he concentrated on the situation more instead of just laughing like the other players.

‘The most dangerous parts of the Gate of Emptiness are its unpredictability and the mental damage.’

The more random the location, the more difficult it became to think, and the mental damage continued to accumulate throughout the process.

‘I can’t take too much damage during this Gate.’

Given that Seol hadn't even reached the main sections of the labyrinth yet, sustaining excessive mental damage would be extremely troublesome, as recovery from it was impossible.

Especially more since the mental damage was lethal.

‘A foul smell… the ground that shifts from soft to hard randomly… and the occasional inclines…’

Seol felt as if he was escaping out of the thick fog the more he pondered to himself.

‘This smell… it’s blood.’

It was a smell he was familiar with due to recent events. Even so, it was intense, to the point that he could feel it to his bones.

‘The smell is strong… there must be a lot of blood here.’

Multiple images flashed through Seol’s head.

‘A place with a lot of blood…? A slaughterhouse? A lab?’

Seol was given more information the more he pondered to himself.

‘The floor… I think I know what it is.’

He realized why the floor was randomly soft and hard, and why it was occasionally inclined.

A shiver ran down Seol’s spine as he fully grasped his surroundings.

 

[You have received a mental shock.]

[Your mind is tainted.]

 

Seol, in an attempt to relieve his heart, began thinking.

‘Right now… I’m in the Labyrinth of Penance…’

Faaaade…

The black fog lifted to fully reveal Seol’s surroundings.

 

- 🤢🤢🤢

- What the fuck…

- I got chills 😨

- Seriously, I stopped eating because of this.

 

Corpses. Seol was surrounded entirely by corpses.

The corpses all had quizzical looks on their faces as the smell of their rotten flesh filled the air. There was no way the floor would be stable when it too was covered in skeletons and rotting corpses.

Seol observed his surroundings with a calm expression. 

‘The door.’

He then tried letting out a sound.

“Ah, ah. I can finally hear now.’

Seol looked down at the floor once more.

The corpses were all looking at him. Almost like they were trying to say, ‘You’re going to end up like this too.’

Seol realized that they were those who had lost their lives to the labyrinth.

With a carefree smile, Seol looked away and stepped toward the door.

Creaaaak….

“Take care.”

 

[You have overcome Emptiness.]

[Emptiness disappears from the Labyrinth of Penance.]

[Mental Contamination: 13/100]

[You have overcome Emptiness in the shortest amount of time.]

 

* * *

Reaper Scans

Translator - goguma

Proofreader - Karane

Join our Discord for updates on releases! https://dsc.gg/reapercomics

* * *

 

A couple days had passed since Seol overcame Emptiness.

What appeared after that was an arid wasteland.

The soil was cracked as if a drought had struck it, and all of the trees were withering and crumbling away. It was a place covered in dense fog as if it was trying to lull your senses.

Seol continued to walk in that wasteland as well.

However, he wasn’t alone this time. He had Karen to his left and Jamad to his right.

 

- Do you enjoy gore or something, Snowman?

- His mental really is insane LOL

- This dude was literally just rolling around in rotting corpses a while ago.

- Really? He looked like he just came back from Chuck E. Cheese, though?

- I’m sure that’s the amount of mental damage he took.

- Rather, Chuck E. Cheese might be more dangerous!

 

Seol was delighted with his current condition.

It was because Seol realized what the trial was in an instant.

‘It’s Doubts.’

Seol had a trait limited to those who had cleared all the Gates previously: composure.

‘If this is the Gate of Doubts… It’s going as I predicted.’

The order of the trials that the final flagellant had to go through was random.

Even Seol didn’t know which order they would appear in. However, because Seol knew he had to eventually go through them all, he was ready for it.

Karen asked Seol.

“What’s wrong, Master?”

“Hm?”

“You look happy.”

“Leave him alone, elf. It’s not like this is his first or second time acting like that…”

Jamad and Karen shared a few words back and forth.

Seol’s two shadows, who hadn’t been able to help him during the previous Gate, were now by his side, trying to be useful.

‘My Mental Contamination is 24… I still have a lot of room left, but… it’s steadily increasing.’

This gate was simple. The flagellant who entered the room had to just think of it as a dream.

But would anyone be able to remember how their dreams started? Dreams were like a hazy blur, unable to properly distinguish where one thing started and another ended.

The Gate of Doubts was similar to that.

‘I’m sure this fog is affecting my mind too. I can feel my judgment slowing down.’

A lot of things were influenced by, ‘slow judgment,’ that those words weren’t enough to describe how awful the situation was.

Your sense of direction, objectives, ability to trust, your understanding of yourself, etc.

The Gate of Doubts influenced all of those, which made the flagellant start to doubt everything.

‘Am I going the right way?’

‘No, am I even in the Labyrinth of Penance?’

‘Was I abandoned?’

‘I didn’t choose to enter the Labyrinth of Penance!’

‘What… am I?’

The Gate of Doubts made the flagellant begin doubting everything in the end.

But the worst thing about the Gate of Doubts was that it affected your ability to trust others.

As Seol continued thinking to himself, Karen spoke up.

“This place is awful, isn’t it? Don’t you agree, Jamad?”

“It is. I can’t believe it’s already been two days too. All we’ve done these past two days is walk without being able to properly eat.”

“Seriously! It’s awful, really.”

Seol looked at Karen with dim eyes.

‘I have to doubt everything.’

And like that, it was a boring time.

After walking for a few days more, Seol finally arrived at a door.

“It’s the door! Master, the door!”

“......”

However, there were too many of them.

“There’s… three doors?”

“What should we do?”

Seol then asked Karen back a question.

“I don’t know, which door do you think it is?”

“Me? Are you asking for my opinion?”

Karen opened her eyes wide.

Seol nodded and waited, calmly. Karen thought for a moment before picking the left door.

“This one.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I feel an energy behind it.”

“What about you, Jamad?”

Jamad mocked Karen while crossing his arms.

“She’s lying. It’s the middle door.”

“Don’t make me laugh…”

As the two fought with each other once more, Seol began seeing options.

 

[[After an arduous journey, you have finally arrived at the end. In front of you, there are three doors. Which door do you enter?]

1. Trust in Karen and open the left door.

2. Trust in Jamad and open the middle door.

3. Ignore both of them and open the right door.

4. [Forced: Mental Contamination 100] All of them are fake! There is no door out of here!

5. [Required: Duran’s Stick of Truth] Uncover the truth.

……]

 

‘...I can’t even trust these options anymore.’

Even these options felt like they were pressuring Seol to choose a specific one, almost as if he had no choice but to pick from them.

As Seol was thinking, Karen and Jamad’s fight was getting bigger. It seemed like they were doubting each other.

“Jamad! Are you saying I lied?”

“Lied? Hm… Yeah, you did lie.”

Jamad’s eyes glowed a fiery red.

“You’ve been lying this entire time!”

Fwoooosh…

Cruuush!

Jamad reached his arm out and grabbed Karen by her thin neck.

“Krgh…”

“There’s no way that damned elf would call me by my name. Wouldn't you agree?”

“Grgh….”

“Did you think you could devour us with a petty trick like this? How bold…”

“Kyaaaaaaaaa!”

Snap!

Jamad crushed Karen’s neck.

However, Seol didn’t stop him at all.

A few moments later…

Fsssss…

Karen’s body disappeared like smoke.

Seol nodded to himself.

‘As expected, it was a ghost’s trick.’

Jamad scoffed.

“Hmph, I knew it was the evil spirits of the labyrinth. I finally feel better now. Alright, let’s go! The real door is the middle door.”

 

- I believed in you, Jamad! I fucking believed in you!!!

- I knew you’d do it!

- Jamad’s carrying the party like always!

 

Unlike Seol’s viewers, Seol had a cold, menacing gaze.

“It seems like you weren’t able to read everything.”

Jamad, feeling something off, asked Seol.

“...What are you doing right now?”

“The ghosts in the Labyrinth of Penance read the flagellant’s memories to taint their mind.”

 “What are you…”

“You… are unable to read all of my memories, aren’t you?”

Jamad’s face contorted and twisted for a moment.

“...How did you know? Is this not your first time in the labyrinth?”

Jamad’s body slowly faded before revealing a ghost of the labyrinth.

 

- I didn’t expect this at all 😲

- I can’t believe it was all just an act… I believed in you 😭

- What the hell? Was everything fake, then?

 

The ghost of the labyrinth laughed as it spoke to Seol.

"Hahaha… There's something peculiar about your memories. It’s missing here and there... Nothing is fully intact. I only took the portions that seemed normal, so I didn't anticipate you discovering it... Where did it go wrong? Could you please tell me so I can fix it for next time?"

“Everything.”

“There’s no way that would be the case… I behaved like them almost perfectly.”

“And that’s the problem.”

Before Seol entered the labyrinth, he made a single request to his summons.

 

- Don’t do anything until I specifically ask for help, no matter what. Trying to help me will only complicate things further.

 

Seol's summons now had such unwavering faith in him that they would believe whatever he said. If Seol uttered something, they would accept it as an unquestionable truth.

When looking at the results, Seol’s preparation was perfect.

‘Well, I couldn't even recall that when I was first sent to the wasteland... I'm just glad I managed to remember it, even if it's now.’

The ghost pretending to be Jamad asked Seol.

"...Have you been waiting for us to pick the door for you?"

"I knew it would take a few days to find the door on my own. It was like that last time as well."

Seol ignored the fake Jamad and headed to the right door.

The ghost of the labyrinth tried to stop Seol.

“Wait! How did you know?! My imitation was perfec—”

Fwoooosh!

Seol created a giant hole in the fake Jamad’s chest.

“Krrrgh…”

Seol’s body suddenly turned black. In the Night Crow form, Seol was practically a tank on the battlefield.

And the fact that Seol could enter that form… was also proof that Jamad was still inside Seol’s shadows.

That's why, no matter how perfect the ghost's imitation was, it was impossible to fool Seol.

“...My Mental Contamination is still increasing. Regardless, take care.”

Ghosts began appearing by Seol’s side as he tried to leave.

 

You’ll fail… the labyrinth will devour you.

You will despair when you reach the end.

You will regret not begging us to kill you… hahaha…

 

All of them were waiting for Seol to choose the right door.

In truth, this was the only option left for Seol too. However, as he approached it…

‘...Huh?’

Flinch.

An eerie feeling bolted up his spine.

 

[Insight activates.]

[For some reason, it feels like you shouldn’t enter that door.]

 

“...You’re pretty good, huh?”

 

What?

 

“I can’t believe all of them were fake.”

At that moment, the options in front of Seol vanished.

 

[[After an arduous journey, you have finally arrived at the end. In front of you, there are three doors. Which door do you enter?]

1. Trust in Karen and open the left door.

2. Trust in Jamad and open the middle door.

 

No way!

How… How did you know?!

 

Seol pointed at his golden eyes.

“It’s because I have some pretty good eyes.”

Seol began following the trail of energy the Eyes of Perception showed him.

After taking a few more steps and reaching the end, a door suddenly appeared from the void.

 

[Eyes of Perception see through the truth.]

[Insight’s proficiency greatly increases.]

[Eyes of Perception becomes much stronger.]

 

Once again, Seol reached the end of the Gate much quicker than he did with the Blood Saint.

 

- You just activated my trap card!

- I was aiming for that! You just activated my trap card!

- I aimed for you aiming for that! You just activated my trap card!

- I aimed for you aiming for me to…

- Please stop already, you assholes…

- We just share the same brain cells 😀

 

One of the ghosts began cursing Seol as he was on his way out.

 

Not yet… The labyrinth did not even start yet… The labyrinth is waiting for you…

 

These were ghosts who had now become a part of the labyrinth.

Seol responded to the ghost while opening the door to the next Gate.

“I didn’t start yet either.”

 

[You have overcome Doubts.]

[Doubts disappear from the Labyrinth of Penance.]

[Mental Contamination: 28/100]

[You have overcome Doubts in the shortest amount of time.]

 

However, another message popped up at the end.

 

[An individual’s mind has been completely tainted.]

____

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