After he’d been walking for a long time, Yeon-woo noticed that the traps followed a certain pattern. ‘The attribute points are given according to how I deal with the arrows.’ For example, if he struck a steel arrow, his strength rose, if he dodged, his dexterity rose, and if he was hit, his health rose. Of course, he couldn't be sure that this was the exact pattern but he considered it to be so as his stats raised differently according to how he dealt with each arrow.
‘Colored arrowheads are also mixed in with the other arrows.’ As his stats rose, he grew more sensitive, and soon, he could actually see the arrows. At first, he thought he’d been mistaken about the colors since the light was so dim, and it was hard to observe all the arrows at the same time as they rushed towards him from different directions. Also, aside from the colors, the arrowheads were similar, which made him doubt his judgment.
However, as his vision strengthened and his ability to see moving objects increased, his suspicion gradually turned into certainty. Some of the arrowheads were definitely colored. ‘What have I seen so far? Red, blue, and yellow?’ Yeon-woo was lost in thought. ‘What on earth does it mean? Why do they have different colors?’
Then he remembered something from the diary.
Now that I think of it, everything in the Tutorial is there for a reason, even the smallest little thing. Everything has a significance. The strangest thing is the colors painted on the arrowheads.
‘Jeong-woo didn’t know the secret of the arrowheads either. Is it some kind of hidden piece?’ His brother had barely passed Section A with his teammates, but Yeon-woo was going through it on his own. This difference seemed to be helping him find the hidden piece that no one had found before. Yeon-woo resumed moving, thinking he should test his theories.
Swish! Just in time, one of the six arrows that hurtled towards him had a blue arrowhead. ‘I can check my attributes and skills if this is the case.’ Yeon-woo avoided all the other arrows and struck the blue one.
[Your strength has increased by 1 point.]
['Sense Strengthening' skill proficiency has increased. 4.2%]
Messages informing him about the rise in his strength and skill proficiency appeared. His action hadn’t been ineffective, but Yeon-woo shook his head. ‘This isn’t it. There must be something else. There’s a reason they’re different from the other arrows.’
After a long time, another colored arrow rushed out. This time it was red. Yeon-woo turned around and dodged all the arrows except for the red one, which he parried. He could feel a twinge in his wrist and realized it was heavier than the others.
[You have blocked a red arrow.]
[Your strength has increased by 3 points.]
‘This is it!’ Yeon-woo grew serious. It was a noticeable increase in strength. "Status window."
[Player: Yeon-woo Cha]
[Magic Power: 21]
[Skills: Draconic Eyes (0%), Sense Strengthening (4.3%), Precognition (0%)]
Yeon-woo smiled faintly. As time passed, the rate at which his attributes points increases had slowed little by little, but he had found a way to increase the points significantly once again. “Each color must be related to a different attribute. Red is strength. Then, what about the other ones?” When he blocked the blue arrow, nothing happened. It was clear that each color required a different response. As soon as Yeon-woo realized this, his progress grew faster.
Swish! The blue arrow was faster than the others, and this time, instead of striking it, he dodged it.
[You have dodged a blue arrow.]
[Your dexterity has increased by 2 points.]
The yellow arrow was sharper. Because striking and dodging applied to the other colors, he put out his left arm to see what would happen.
[You have been hit by a yellow arrow.]
[Your health has increased by 2 points.]
‘This is crazy.’ Yeon-woo had barely managed to pull out part of the arrow before his expression turned into a frown due to the pain. He felt as though his arm were falling off. He had suppressed the nerves in charge of transmitting pain as much as possible and only got a flesh wound, but it was clearly something a normal person wouldn’t do. He started feeling dizzy from blood loss again, but he managed to barely hold it together thanks to his increased health. Without it, he would have already fallen.
Then, Yeon-woo coughed out a mouthful of blood. It dripped down from his hand, which covered his mouth. Suppressing his nerves didn’t make the injuries go away, and the pain still continued to spread from his left arm to the rest of his body. He retched, feeling like he was about to pass out.
His body was warning him that he wouldn’t be able to endure any longer, and that if he didn’t rest right away, he would collapse. Yeon-woo, however, gritted his teeth again. ‘This pain is nothing compared to what Jeong-woo went through.’
Even though Yeon-woo had not experienced it himself, he was aware of the pain his brother had suffered from watching the recorded images in the diary over and over. If he couldn’t withstand this, there was nothing he could do for his brother in the future. Yeon-woo forcefully pulled the yellow arrow out of his left arm.
His body had already reached its limit, but he had achieved his goal. ‘Red is strength, blue is dexterity, yellow is health.’ He only needed to react to each color appropriately. There was still a long way to go before the end of the passage, and his senses told him that there were still lots of traps left, which meant that he could earn more attribute points.
Blood pooled under his tongue, but Yeon-woo swallowed it back and began moving forward one tottering step at a time, his eyes blazing like flames.
* * *
"Ohyohyohyo. He is truly an amazing candidate. I don't think I've ever seen such a character." Thousands of screens floated in several rows in front of the Guardian Yvlke, showing all the players currently participating in the Tutorial. They all had different appearances. However, Yvlke’s eyes were fixed only on one screen in a corner where Yeon-woo trudged down a passage as if he were about to fall over any moment.
“I never expected him to be such an eye-catching individual.” In fact, there were plenty of other, more striking candidates—the siblings from the Cheongram family, the most anticipated participants from the One-horned tribe, the dumbass duo aiming to become high rankers, and a swordsman of Marcusian descent.
They were all strong enough that if they started climbing the Tower straight away, they wouldn’t fall behind. They had already entered Section E and were carrying out missions. Some of them were already reaching Section F. It was hard to tell who would get the highest score in the Tutorial, but Yvlke's eyes were oddly fixed on Yeon-woo, who had been struggling in Section A for days.
When he’d first seen Yeon-woo, he thought Yeon-woo would be dead after a few steps. Instead of fucking up, the little fucker without any ability completely exceeded his expectations. Many struggled to pass Section A even if they formed teams, but Yeon-woo not only made progress on his own, he even found the hidden piece in the arrowheads, and he was using them to steadily increase his stats through his iron will, even though he looked like he was on the verge of collapse.
“This guy is the real deal.” After being a Guardian for such a long time, Yvlke could sense this in his gut. The frontrunners were also great, but this was the guy who would turn the entire Tutorial on its head. "There are still a lot of dangers ahead even if he manages to break through this section, but if he can pass the other sections as well as he is doing right now...” Yvlke adjusted his monocle. Yeon-woo was already reaching the last part of Section A. “I think this round of the Tutorial will be a lot of fun. Ohyohyohyo."
* * *
[Player: Yeon-woo Cha]
[Magic Power: 21]
[Skills: Draconic Eyes (0%), Sense Strengthening (8.3%), Precognition (0%)]
As he walked down the passage, Yeon-woo checked his status window and clenched his fists. ‘All the attributes except for magic power have risen.’ He had earned a total of fifty-five attribute points. ‘In order to raise one’s attribute points, one has to train regularly or push past the limit. Even though I’m a solo player, this should be a decent number of achievements for one day.’ Actually, it was not just decent, it was great.
None of the other players had improved their attribute points by so much in such a short amount of time. ‘It’s not just this. My muscle strength, mobility, endurance, explosive power, and general power have all improved.’ It had been a physically difficult task, but he was satisfied with the results. He was a little disappointed that he couldn't increase his magic power, but he shrugged the thought off since he didn't feel like he had a need for it right now.
Yeon-woo pushed the iron gate in front of him with a slight smile. Creak.
[You have reached the arrival point.]
[Your wounds will be healed.]
Yeon-woo was beyond exhausted, covered in blood, and there were even a couple of arrows embedded in his flesh that he hadn’t pulled out yet. His head was burning from focusing too much on his senses. He didn't know what other traps were waiting beyond the iron gate but he still stepped through. However, all he could see was a room about thirty-three square meters in size.
Whoosh! A swarm of white lights rose along the bloody wounds, which were already leaking pus. The wounds started to heal slowly and the pus disappeared. Energy was also filling his worn-out body. The base was designed to allow players who were injured and tired from Section A to recuperate.
Yeon-woo felt both relieved that he could catch his breath and satisfied that he had improved to this level. Snore. He fell asleep without even realizing it.
* * *
‘Did I fall asleep?’ Yeon-woo’s body felt stiff. Just as the diary said, the arrival point gave players a chance to recover, and when he’d noticed his wounds being healed, he felt so relieved that he wanted to nap for a short while. But it seemed like he’d slept longer than he intended, and he opened his eyes to check the time.
"Peekaboo?" Suddenly, a man whose face was hidden under a hooded robe waved his hand at Yeon-woo. Yeon-woo was so surprised that he shot up and jumped backward. He quickly brought his hand to his waist, cold sweat running down his back.
‘What kind of person is this man? How come I never noticed there was someone next to me?’
His Sense Strengthening skill was active and had scanned the room, but this guy managed to avoid it, as if he weren’t part of the world. At that moment, information from the diary rushed into his mind.
Occasionally, merchants pop up at the arrival point to sell items that players need, ranging from ordinary food and potions to skill books and artifacts.
"A mysterious merchant?"
"Hoho!" The man in the robe let out a chuckle and clapped his hands. The space behind him distorted, revealing shelves stocked with miscellaneous items. "I'm glad you know who I am. Salutations, my gullible—I mean, lovable customer! I am A, a passing merchant."