The 31st Piece Turns the Tables
[Translator – goguma]
[Proofreader – Karane]
The room Changsik guided Seol to was more than what Seol expected.
“Woah! It’s super big!”
Even though her room in the Empire was still much bigger, Karen made a loud fuss about the room.
The lodging Changsik prepared was definitely way too big for just one person.
As such, Karen commented to Seol about it.
“Seems like he’s pretty serious about this.”
“He probably is.”
Since Seol had experienced the Labyrinth of Penance before, he could understand Changsik’s feelings somewhat.
Seol suddenly became curious about something and asked Karen.
“Were there labyrinths during your time too?”
“There were. We called them something else, though.”
"We called them graves. Rumors were, they really were someone's graves, and the people who went there never returned."
“No one returned?”
“Yup, no one. After that, Jin scared everyone by saying no one should ever go there, and the attention surrounding it died down. Well, there were crazy people back then too, and grave robbers that went in on their own, but… obviously, no one came back.”
‘So labyrinths have existed since way back then.’
Since it wasn't made recently, it was hard to discern someone's intent for creating it. Not to mention that because it was so old, even if there was intent behind it, the reasoning must have become quite blurred.
‘Who made the labyrinths? Why did they make it?’
Seol had no way of finding out the reason now, nor was it particularly important.
The most important thing for Seol right now was that he had to clear one.
‘Still, the Labyrinth of Penance is at least doable compared to the other labyrinths.’
The difficulty of the other labyrinths was already notorious among players to the point that it didn’t even need to be mentioned.
Still, the Labyrinth of Penance was still challenging. It was only easy when compared to the other labyrinths.
‘Especially when you consider the fact that we’re entering one so early…’
The difficulty would obviously be nightmarish.
Seol wouldn’t have entered a labyrinth so early if it were a regular situation. It was impossible for any piece to clear a labyrinth this early in the game.
Despite knowing all of this, Seol still decided to enter the labyrinth.
The labyrinth tested everything about a person.
It tested their strength, wisdom, and even their mental fortitude.
Even so, Seol had reasons to enter the labyrinth now.
First, he was confident.
He already attempted the Labyrinth of Penance with two of his pieces and gained a lot of information through that. Therefore, he was confident he could clear it as long as there weren't too many problems.
The other reason he was trying to clear the Labyrinth of Penance was because of the Blood Saint who cleared the Labyrinth before him.
‘I wonder if I’m stronger now than when I cleared the labyrinth with them…’
If Seol’s memories were true, he had also cleared the labyrinth relatively early with the Blood Saint. Obviously, though, that was still much later than where he is now.
And for that reason… It wasn’t strange at all for Seol to have some feelings.
‘I’ll go down the route the Blood Saint took.’
Seol was filled with a sense of inspiration and exuberance.
Though it was still a bit early to attempt clearing a labyrinth, it was a good test to answer a question in his head: How far had he come thus far?
He wouldn’t allow himself to be behind his previous pieces, whether it was in strength or wisdom.
“Master, but the Labyrinth of Penance… it won’t be easy, right?”
“...It won’t be.”
“Even the name is a bit off-putting.”
The Labyrinth of Penance focused more on an individual’s spirit than their strength.
All of Seol’s final ten pieces, the strongest of them all, failed in their attempt at Ascension.
If Seol couldn’t clear the labyrinth here, it was clear what his future would be.
‘I can do it. I’m stronger at this point in my journey than they were!’
Knock, knock, knock.
Someone knocked on Seol’s door.
He then heard a voice from behind the wall.
“It’s me, Changsik.”
“Okay, I’ll open the door for you now.”
Changsik’s face didn’t look well.
“There’s a bit of an… awkward problem.”
* * *
Translator - goguma
Proofreader - Karane
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* * *
In the early morning, a few days later…
Seol straightened up his clothes and then headed out with Karen.
Audenin was a city where the five major guilds of that city led its transferees.
As such, the influence transferees held on the city could not be understated.
What symbolized their influence the most was the ‘Lighthouse of Faith’ that stood tall in Audenin.
The building was only a lighthouse in name. In truth, it was just a structure made from luxurious stones. Even so, no one could deny its majesty.
Seol and Karen were now headed there, wearing robes over their bodies.
Eyes followed them with each step they took.
The people watching them were the guild members of the five major guilds already there, awaiting Seol.
“He’s supposed to be Private? He looks completely normal.”
“How did Changsik convince him?”
“That fucking coward is still pretending like he’s the leader… sigh…”
Transferees were doubting and slandering each other at the Lighthouse of Faith.
Seol wondered why they had to be so contradictory with one another to combine their efforts.
Even though Seol didn’t want to get involved with something like this, he was forced to come here after what Changsik said that night.
Seol sat down before a round table.
“Welcome, erm… Private?”
The guild masters of the four guilds Changsik was in disagreement with were already seated at the table.
- In truth, there is still a heated discussion about the last token.
The consensus in the guild alliance was that failure wasn’t an option since it was their last token.
And since Changsik had already failed once, he lost the alliance’s trust.
Currently, the public opinion in the alliance was this: The strongest individual should be the one to challenge the Labyrinth of Penance.
Even if Changsik was the alliance’s leader, he wasn’t allowed to monopolize the opportunity.
Still, there was a reason why Changsik’s faction didn’t back down either.
- They don’t know anything about the labyrinth. Even the transferees who entered the labyrinth the second time are all refusing to go back too. Despite the terror of the labyrinth, all they're doing is weighing the pros and cons... The problem should not be about who is best suited to enter the labyrinth. It should be about who can endure it.
It wasn’t as if the guild masters were unaware of this either.
Anyone could tell the labyrinth was extremely difficult, given they had already squandered two opportunities.
- So, the conclusion we reached was to listen to the words of the person who invited the most suitable individual. After all, the person who enters the final door is the key to clearing the labyrinth. In fact, it might not even matter who the other four people are.
As such, Changsik invited Seol as a candidate to be the person to take on the final door.
- But… it turned out they brought their own candidate. In the end… I think you need to prove yourself. Is that… alright?
Those were Changsik’s words to Seol.
And Seol answered him.
To Seol, this process wasn’t a matter of whether he could prove himself or not.
It was simply… annoyance.
This was nothing more than an additional step he had to take to enter the labyrinth.
Those were the feelings in Seol’s heart as he walked in here today.
One of the guild masters, a woman who introduced herself as Son Juyeon, asked Seol a question with a quizzical look on her face.
“...Are you listening to me?”
- (While picking his ears)
- (While playing with his phone)
- To be honest, I’m not interested in it at all LMFAOO
Even her name, Son Juyeon, was something Seol would forget after this “test.”
Seol had no reason to put in the extra effort to remember her.
"Since this is a necessary process to decide who would enter the labyrinth fairly, I hope for your understanding."
“Yeah, I understand.”
“However… Changsik, is he really not going to reveal his nickname?”
“Does he have to reveal that? Even if you say so, I won’t allow it. It’s troublesome for me as well since that wasn’t the condition the two of us agreed upon for me to invite him.”
Changsik’s response gave the other guild members an excuse to complain about the situation.
“Aren’t we supposed to bet our lives on him? And he can’t even share that?”
“Does he think he’s a K-pop idol or something? Or is he just trying to cosplay as someone mysterious?”
“Still, is that really true?”
“Is what really true?”
"That he has more than 3 million points. I'm pretty sure everyone around here who surpassed 1 million points could be counted on with just our hands…"
“That’s what they say, but… we’ll have to see to know for sure.”
Juyeon and Changsik continued arguing with each other after this too, disguising it as a part of the meeting.
After multiple exchanges, Juyeon, exhausted, gave up and said,
“It’ll never end at this rate. We’ll just bring out our candidate as well.”
“You should have just done that from the start… All we did was waste our energy.”
“The rewards would have been split equally if you just let our candidate go in… you’re making things more difficult than they have to be.”
“Haha... that's because it isn't just once or twice I've fallen for your lies like that. I’ll make sure to split the rewards properly, so why don’t you just let our guild in instead?”
“I can’t allow that. We don’t trust each other, after all.”
“Like I’ve said over and over again, if we send in someone inexperienced, they wouldn’t make it out alive.”
“Hah! And those are just your assumptions. Boseok!”
A man donning a black robe entered the room.
The man had a disinterested look on his face as he asked Juyeon a question.
“Is it still not over yet?”
“It seems like we need you to do a couple of things in the end, Boseok. You… remember our deal, right?”
The guild members whispered to each other in the back.
“I-Isn’t he… that person?”
“Yeah… He’s the guy who entered the Black Pilgrims as a transferee, right?”
“Yeah, Kang Boseok… woah… why is he here?”
T/N: 보석/Boseok also means gem or jewelry in Korean.
“Wasn’t he the person who had over 1.5 million points?”
Seol turned his head without thinking.
‘The Black Pilgrims? A person who’s a part of the Black Pilgrims is here?’
The Black Pilgrims were a group dispatched by Varanoa, the Holy Nation.
Their distinctive feature was wearing black holy robes despite being rather secular.
‘They were also fairly strong… and quite dirty.’
Unlike the name ‘Pilgrims’ suggested, they weren’t particularly noble or clean. They acted sort of as ‘cleaners’ for Varanoa, taking care of its private, messy matters.
‘Also known as… maggots.’
Despite being called ‘the Holy Nation,’ Varanoa was practically a gang of thugs who did all sorts of heinous actions.
However, what Seol didn’t understand right now, was why a Black Pilgrim was here when Varanoa was on the opposite side of the Great Forest.
However, his question was answered quickly.
“My name is Kang Boseok. My ordination might have been done informally, but as you can see, I am a Black Pilgrim. Ah, the Black Pilgrims are unrelated in this. But even so… must we really go through this unnecessary process? Why don’t you just yield your right to the labyrinth? It would look better if you did. There’s no reason for us to work ourselves up, is there?”
Seol understood it now.
There were people near Boseok who had attire similar to his.
‘They must have been dispatched for another mission… and then he came here alone after catching wind of this?’
Boseok was likely telling the truth earlier too.
Seol was worried about what he would do if he claimed the Black Pilgrims were behind this, but since Boseok didn’t, Seol felt much more relieved.
The pilgrims all had T-shaped tear tattoos near their eyes.
Boseok, obviously, had them as well.
Seol spoke up.
"It seems like neither of us intends to yield. Perhaps we should engage in a friendly sparring match."
“Hm… I doubt we need to do that to know the results, though… Don’t tell me you think you have the advantage just because your point total is higher than mine? If you knew what I went through—”
“Oh, were my points higher? I didn’t know.”
“...Alright, then. Well…”
Karen quickly stood up while kicking back her seat.
“She’ll be fighting instead of me.”
“...Are you joking with me?”
“I am not.”
“Alright. Why don’t we fight right here then?!”
Juyeon quickly stopped them.
“F-Fighting here might damage the building…”
Seol looked at Karen and asked.
“Can you do it without damaging the building?”
“Yup! No problem.”
Seol then looked at Boseok.
“What about you?”
“...I can as well, obviously.”
Boseok grabbed his large battle hammer.
[JewelryKang used Unwavering Faith.]
[JewelryKang’s Strength increases slightly for a long while.]
In truth, Boseok wasn’t confident in avoiding damage to the building. After all, a hammer was a tool to break things.
Boseok followed up by using multiple skills to buff himself.
[JewelryKang used Endure Pain.]
[JewelryKang will not flinch from attacks below a certain level of damage.]
[JewelryKang used Prayer of Purpose.]
[After targeting a single individual for a short time, all stats increase by 10%.]
Boseok charged forward, swinging his massive battle hammer. Karen’s body was barely in the way of the hammer’s swing.
At first glance, it looked like Boseok’s attack was about to land perfectly on Karen.
Karen quickly dashed into Boseok’s chest.
[JewelryKang used Repel.]
[JewelryKang repels anything that comes into contact with him for 2 seconds.]
Karen stopped her fists in front of Boseok’s face, then twisted her body in the air to avoid his returning hammer.
Boseok was shocked for a moment, but he quickly regained his coolness.
He was confident he could win with just one successful attack.
But that was a colossal misunderstanding.
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