Chapter 14: New Trial (1)
Barriers, Strongholds, Command, Call to Arms and Authority.
The competition for the best hunting grounds would be fierce in the near future, so the Barrier and Stronghold skills were a must. Even if there were to establish themselves first, there would always be some wolves roaming to get a slice of the pie.
Command was obviously a must since it gave him the ability to establish a certain hierarchy, delegating power to those he trusted most. Naturally the most important decision would still be made by him, but it was still a good thing to have a commander that could act somewhat independently.
Call to Arms and Authority were needed in case of emergency situations. Calling over an entire 10 man party as well as their commander could be critical in certain situations. Likewise, if a certain situation arose where disobedience couldn’t be accepted, the Authority skill could be used.
Of course the other skill had their own advantages, but since he didn’t see a use for them in the near future, he left them alone for now. There would still be many opportunities to earn points, such as climbing a tier, also one could achieve skill points with a good performance in the upcoming Canyon battle.
“To impeach a Silver Crown leader, it now requires 60% of members to be in agreement.”
“You can advance in tier by killing another Silver Crown holder. Of course, you can once again promote to the next level by reaching tier 10, but that isn’t possible within this tutorial.”
Killing ten Bronze Crown holders would also allow him to advance a tier, but since he felt it was far too inefficient of a use of his time, he decided to focus on other things.
“Do you have any questions?”
“I’m looking forward to our next meeting, bye!”
After Eve disappeared, Woohyuk handed Lee Jaesung a Bronze Badge. Since they were only eleven members in the group, only a single Commander could be appointed for now.
“You guys head back to camp first.”
“Will you be going off alone?”
“I have a few things to take care of, so you might not see me for a little while.”
He no longer had any reason to stay at the Base camp. Most of the better rewards were located in the center, so staying at the camp that was in the outskirts was simply too wasteful.
Woohyuk gave Lee Jaesung some brief instructions regarding how to use his new powers of command, before mounting his Jabber Wok and taking off into the forest infested with roaming zombies.
* * *
In the past, not much had been known about the Primordial forest since it had disappeared 15 days after the start of the game. It was only later that the survivors had shared information and sifted through Adventurer Logs to figure out what they had missed.
Even then, that would only cover a small part. There were always people that weren’t willing to share their secrets, resulting in a lot of information being lost. Still, Woohyuk hadn’t given up. He had even gone so far as to hire an archaeologist to study nameless manuscripts and explore ancient ruins. In that way he had obtained a few clues.
‘First things first, I’ll need a flying mount.’
A Dragon’s egg would only hatch after the Canyon battle, so he would have to tame his own for now.
Having made his way over to the Central Lake, he climbed the mast of the Galley and stared at some Three Clawed Eagles in the distance.
‘It probably wouldn’t be comfortable on its back.’
However, he wasn’t in a situation where he could be picky. He used a blade of grass to let out a loud whistle, and was able to attract the attention of one of the eagles which flew over.
He quickly struck with his whip when it got too close, wrapping it around the Three Clawed Eagle’s ankle. After that, no matter how much it flapped its wings and struggled to break free, it couldn’t win the contest of strength against Woohyuk.
Lowering his center of gravity and yanking hard on the whip, he managed to slam the eagle hard against the ship’s mast.
The rest wasn’t too difficult, once it was dazed and sprawled on the deck, he had only to mount it and train it strictly using his whip.
‘Hopefully it won’t have any trauma.’
Despite it being a monster, there were cases where it might lose its mind after being forcefully tamed. That would of course be very dangerous if that were to happen while flying at high altitudes.
However there wasn’t much he could do in that regard, since there wasn’t any better flying mount within this tutorial.
Climbing up on its back, they headed back into the forest. Seeing the scenery of the forest from up in the sky was a real treat. There were lots of hills and rocks spread out across the forest.
After a long flight, they finally arrived at one of the Abyssal Gates from which the Zombies dropped.
‘Here it is.’
In the Primordial forest, there were several of such gates which would move around, spelling disaster for any wandering adventurers.
Interestingly enough they never approach the Central Lake or Paradise Lost. Maybe it was designed so that those zones only encouraged competition between adventurers, after all they were dangerous enough as they were.
Regardless, Woohyuk was very much interested in this Abyss, since it was connected to the 72 Demon Kings, something that no one could have possibly known back then.
‘It’s worth a shot.’
Although it acted as a dimensional gate, adventurers weren’t able to use it. Still, it was possible to destroy it using magic, that was if you were able to withstand the thunderbolts which would strike periodically.
Not to mention that in his current situation, he had to defend the Three Clawed Eagle from any strikes as well. It sounded like an impossible proposition for any beginner adventurers, so Woohyuk was certain that there would be a hidden reward.
This world was known for rewarding players for unusual or unexpected actions.
As he approached the Abyssal Gate, a bright purple bolt of lightning struck him, but it was instead absorbed by the Ghost Queen Star Snake.
Raising Grandia with both hands, he attempted to find secure footing atop his eagle, and then swung down towards a crack that had appeared within the vortex of the Abyssal Gate, activating the magic runes engraved on the sword.
For but a moment, the black vortex shone a dangerous red, before returning back to its original color. At the same time however, another purple lightning strike dropped on his head.
Woohyuk felt somewhat dazed from the attack. He didn’t suffer any damage because it had been absorbed by his barrier, and was instead consuming his mana.
‘I’ll need to start using the magic crystals.’
He had been saving them for later since they could be used to increase his Intelligence Stat, but he had no choice. Retrieving a crystal from his Sage’s Pouch, Woohyuk stared out into the Abyss.
‘This will take some time.’
In the first place he knew that it wouldn’t be an easy task. Although he had made great progress, in the grand scheme of things he was still very much at the beginner level. It might even take him half of a day simply to get rid of that dam Abyssal Gate. It was a situation where he could only pray that he’d be successful before he ran out of Magic Crystals.
As he found his footing once more, Woohyuk raised Grandia up high.
* * *
Lying down on the ship’s deck, Woohyuk stared up at the clear blue sky, watching a pearl white cloud sail above.
‘That was a tough one.’
It had been several times more exhausting than when he had soloed the Queen Star Snake. The battle had been very long, and his mana was constantly being depleted which put him in and out of a weakened state.
The Three Clawed Eagle was likewise exhausted and was resting while perched atop the sail’s mast. Although he had rewarded it with its favorite fish, the battle had still taken quite a toll and asking it to battle some more would be simply too much for it.
As he felt the lake’s cool breeze brush past him, Woohyuk raised the reward he had just obtained.
Effects: Can only be used within a specific location.
As soon as he had managed to sever the Abyssal Gate in half, a treasure chest covered in bones had dropped. From it, he had obtained this Small Trumpet as well as a piece of the Central Lake map, but it’s location wasn’t clearly indicated.
“There must be some reason for it.’
It was highly likely that the crucial information was hidden by a concealment spell, and that it simply wasn’t possible for him to remove it at his current level.
He first thought about seeking help from the Elder dragon, Adakar, but he felt it wouldn’t be too fruitful of a visit. After all this was the guy that only gave him a single Dragon egg, and was such a stickler for rules.
‘Is there anyone else?’
There was possibly a designated guide hidden within this world, some NPC-like character that would help him in his quest.
Woohyuk looked at the trumpet, as he thought back to all the creatures that lived in the forests or lakes.
‘Mermaid? Siren? Satyr? Fairy?’
There were a number of possibilities that might have a connection to Paradise Lost. After all it was the key location in this tutorial. The Central Lake being simply too dangerous due to the amount of sharks.
Woohyuk stood up and called the Three Clawed Eagle down to the deck. It promptly came to him and leaned over to help him get up.
“Let’s head to the island.”
The Three Clawed Eagle soared into the sky with a piercing shriek, as it acknowledged its owner’s command.
As it steadied itself at a certain altitude, Woohyuk looked back at the forest. The Abyssal Gates had all disappeared and there was no longer any opportunity for others to obtain such a trumpet.
‘Things seem to be progressing well.’
The clues he had previously picked up on had all pointed to a final destination within the tutorial, and now he just had to find a way to arrive there.
Fortunately his first attempt with the Gates had worked out, but he still had to stay on his toes. This wasn’t over with until he got what he wanted.
Upon arriving on Paradise Lost, Woohyuk unsummoned the Three Clawed Eagle. Using the system, once he’d tamed a creature he would be able to call it out at will.
‘Let’s see if we can find this guide.’
‘It was his third time coming here, so he tried to focus on areas he hadn’t been to before. If it was able to evade the detection of the many players that had come here, it was either a magical being, or was innately talented at stealth.
As he was walking around examining some trees, Woohyuk cut down the Star Snakes that attacked him using Gandia. It was different from the time he had come with Seo Changseop, since he didn’t need to waste any effort on these snakes. The Magic runes on Grandia wasn’t something these snakes could resist with their level of defense.
‘It shouldn’t be Medusas or Lamias.’
Their temples were both located in a space. Although there were many snakes on Paradise Lost, it seemed to be connected to the Original Sin, rather than to any creature that might act as his guide.
On the other hand, it seemed more important to pay attention to the trees and forest. Both Elemental and Fairy, maybe….
Nymphs were Elemental spirits, and among them was a type which shared their vitality with trees, the Dryads. They were small and beautiful creatures, proficient in magic.
If they wanted to hide within a forest, they certainly had that capability. They were cautious by nature, so there was a good chance it would be them.
Woohyuk wandered around Paradise Lost, searching for specific trees that a Dryad might inhabit. Although apart from the Paradise and Life tree, all the others looked pretty much the same, Woohyuk was using his vast experience and instincts to spot minute differences.
‘The Elves would surely know.’
Since they are a people of the forest, they were sure to have communicated with Dryads in the past. Well, actually they might not because of all the Elves he’d talked with in the past, none had mentioned anything about Dryads.
As Woohyuk let his mind wander, he appeared before a large oak tree. It emitted a certain air of ancientness, as if it had taken root a very long time ago. He could also feel a small trace of magic, although it was very faint.
Woohyuk proceeded to pull out an axe from his Sage’s Pouch. He knew that it wouldn’t show itself if called upon, so he put on a little show of taking an exaggeratingly large swing.
“ Kaaaak! Stop!”
The voice of a young girl rang out from atop one of the branches, as the oak tree emitted a green energy.
Woohyuk looked up at the Dryad. She was a true beauty, with bright green hair and clothed in nothing but leaves. The pupils within her deep blue eyes however shook in fear.
“Why are you screaming?”
“If you cut down this tree I’ll die!”
“Are you a Dryad?”
“Stop pretending to be so ignorant. I’ve seen you searching the forest for me.”
The Dryad pointed at Woohyuk accusingly, upon which Woohyuk put down the axe in his hand to reassure her.
“I mean you no harm, I’m just in need of your help.”
“You already took all the treasures here and you still want more?”
She had been observing him from the very start, so she knew that he was looking for something other than treasure.
“That much won’t be enough to put an end to this game. That’s something you should be aware of right?”
Hearing Woohyuk’s question, the Dryad became quite surprised.
‘He isn’t your everyday greedy human?’
Now that she thought about it, he seemed to have far too much knowledge for a beginner adventurer. Even back then when he had killed his companions, he had known about the red marker as well as the Hidden treasures.
Maybe he had returned due to some quest.
“My name’s Lyla, what about you?”
“What can I help you with?”
Woohyuk then lifted up the partial map for her to see.
Immediately Lyla’s eyes widened.
“Is your ability sufficient to decipher it?”
“Sure, that’s what I’m here for.”
She prepared some vague answers, but seeing his straightforward attitude by directly showing her the map, she decided to jump straight to the key point.
“But I have no intention of doing this for free. Don’t even think of using any threats, you’ll have to play nice and get me to like you if you want my help.”
Although she had previously pretended to be feeble, the truth was that she could easily knock Woohyuk down on his ass. She held complete authority within this island.
Looking down at Woohyuk, Lyla crossed her arms condescendingly.
‘She appears rather prideful, so any attempt to seduce her might backfire.’
“Then I’ll give you a suitable gift in exchange.”
At first Woohhyuk appeared worried, as he pulled out a few feathers from his pouch.
Upon seeing them, Lyla’s eyes glowed in wonder.