Clatter. A bronze scarecrow suddenly approached at a rapid pace, blocking Yeon-woo's way. He twisted to avoid it, but the scarecrow dashed towards him, narrowing the distance between them. Yeon-woo tripped the scarecrow’s leg as it ran towards him. His leg ached because of the scarecrow’s toughness, but the pain was tolerable, thanks to Yeon-woo’s well-developed muscles.
Then, another scarecrow appeared ahead of him. Yeon-woo bent his arm and elbowed the scarecrow in the chest. As the scarecrow staggered, he slid under its arm and dashed past it. Several traps were activated in unison, but none of them could stop Yeon-woo.
[Your dexterity has increased by 1 point.]
[Your health has increased by 1 point.]
['Sense Strengthening' skill proficiency has increased. 15.6%]
['Sense Strengthening' skill proficiency has increased. 16.9%]
His stats rose as he broke through the traps. Yeon-woo’s movements became more sophisticated as his attributes increased, causing his skill proficiency to also increase correspondingly. Then, with his improved senses, he passed through more traps, and his attribute points rose once more.
An increase in attribute points led to an increase in skill proficiency, which led to a further increase in attribute points. Because of this cycle, Yeon-woo managed to achieve remarkable improvement in the blink of an eye. 'It's a lot faster here than Section A.'
Yeon-woo was feeling confident, and his feet felt lighter while his hands brimmed with strength. When there were only about ten scarecrows left ahead of him, one of them flashed its sharp teeth for the first time. As if it were human, it squared its shoulders and tackled Yeon-woo from the side.
Bang! He felt as though he’d crashed painfully into a wall. It was the same pain that he felt when he’d been struck by a steel arrow for the first time. He flew several meters back as the suffocating pain twisted his face.
The scarecrow didn’t budge from where it had tackled Yeon-woo. Unlike the previous scarecrows, this one seemed to have a reddish tint on its surface, as though it were made of copper. Its strong shoulders were intimidating. 'Is this the one who imitates players?'
[A scarecrow that mimics the movements and actions of the player. It is also capable of attacking within a certain range.]
His brother had made a special note about the scarecrow.
The real boss of Section A is not the ordinary scarecrows but the ten copper ones waiting near the end. They can imitate players’ movements and irritate them.Their bodies are also as strong as hell, so we couldn’t get past them for a long time. There are two ways to break through. The first is through direct combat, the second is—
'To dominate them.' Yeon-woo held his dagger tightly. The copper scarecrows tested what players had developed and acquired in Section A. The number of scarecrows corresponded to the number of players in a team, whether it was three or five. The scarecrows would copy the players' skills and force them to overcome themselves. If they were successful, they could leave the boss room. If not, they would be stuck forever. And if they couldn’t even do that, the only alternative was death.
However, Yeon-woo had repeatedly surpassed his limits by going through Section A several times. The copper scarecrows were annoying, but he didn’t think that they would pose a problem. He was more concerned that his plan to rush through the boss room in one go was being hindered by a mere automaton. He opened his Draconic Eyes wide and found the imperfections scattered throughout the copper scarecrows.
As soon as he tried to stab the scarecrow, a voice said from the corner, “It operates with a sensor. Find the sensor and destroy it!" Yeon-woo was already aware of the stranger’s presence thanks to his senses, but he had ignored him because he didn't want to get involved.
The copper scarecrow raised its hand and aimed at Yeon-woo’s head. Yeon-woo bent slightly to the side, grabbed one of its joints, and twisted it. Crack! The scarecrow’s forearm bent at a bizarre angle. Yeon-woo then charged into its chest, holding the dagger in a reverse grip, and stabbed its imperfections three times. Finally, he adjusted his grip and struck its abdomen as hard as he could.
Bang! The copper scarecrow exploded into dozens of fragments, splattering in all directions like a firework before they turned into dust. Yeon-woo brushed the dirt off his shoulders.
"Wh-What just happened?” the dazed voice behind him said.
* * *
Yeon-woo glanced behind him. There was a young man hiding in the corner where the light couldn’t reach. He was shrouded in the shadows, and he was startled when their eyes met. However, his expression grew bolder and he stared at Yeon-woo as if he didn’t want to back down.
As Yeon-woo walked over to him, the young man clenched his teeth and glanced from side to side to check his surroundings. When he realized that Yeon-woo was approaching, his stare grew more intense. However, despite his fearless expression, his legs were trembling a little. He was trying to look strong despite his fear, just in case Yeon-woo was planning to harm him. However, he only gave Yeon-woo the impression of a rain-soaked puppy with its tail erect while facing a tiger. Yeon-woo stopped in front of the young man and asked in a blunt tone, "How did you know?"
"Know what?” The bridge of the young man’s nose wrinkled.
"That the scarecrow operated with a sensor. I'm asking how you knew this piece of information."
"What? That's...” For a moment, the young man couldn't answer properly, but Yeon-woo didn't rush him.
He stared patiently, waiting for the young man to answer. ‘This is one of those guys who were stuck in the boss room for a long time. Where did the others go?’ During the six days he spent in Section A, a team had been struggling with the scarecrows in the boss room. At that time, he hadn’t been interested in them so he didn’t pay any attention. But now it seemed that everyone was gone except for this young man. At first, he thought that they had died from battling the copper scarecrows, but that didn’t seem likely. There weren’t any corpses scattered around, only traces of someone who had been eating alone. ‘I see, he’s been abandoned.’
It wasn’t unusual for teams to ruthlessly discard members during the Tutorial if they were useless. On Earth, people would condemn this cruel behavior, but it didn’t matter here. In the Tutorial, players only cared about achievements, and teaming up was a matter of necessity, not friendship.
The young man was on guard, but Yeon-woo could see just by looking at him that he was weak. His eyes were filled with embarrassment as he looked at Yeon-woo. He wanted to run away but couldn’t because there were too many scarecrows around.
Yeon-woo began to wonder why the young man thought he had a chance to enter the Tower and how he even got qualified to participate in the Tutorial. Yeon-woo had planned to ignore him and leave him alone since he didn’t care about anything except for advancing through the Tutorial and catching up with the frontrunners. There was no reason to go out of his way and do something inconvenient. However, the words the young man had shouted had gotten his attention.
Yeon-woo was only dimly aware of the copper scarecrow’s sensor thanks to his enhanced senses, and he thought it was something the average players wouldn’t even notice. He was curious how someone so weak could see it. The answer was probably very simple. It was possible that the young man noticed a pattern in the copper scarecrow’s movements after being trapped in the boss room for so long. ‘Or he read the flow of mana inside the copper scarecrow as it operated.’ Magic power was mana, the problem that dogged Yeon-woo. He stared at the young man for some time.
Finally, after mumbling for a while, the young man finally spat some words out. "I-I saw it."
"You saw it?"
“Yeah, the threads of mana surrounding the copper scarecrow...”
As they conversed, an idea appeared in Yeon-woo’s mind, and he immediately activated his Draconic Eyes. The pupils of his eyes sank, and reptilian eyes emerged in their place.
"Huh?" The young man gasped in surprise at the vertical pupils that appeared. It was a natural reaction to be scared.
Ignoring his reaction, Yeon-woo examined him from head to toe. Then, he chuckled. “Why did you take on this appearance?”
The young man flinched. “What?”
“Your appearance. It’s a disguise.”
Unable to speak, the young man's face stiffened.
Yeon-woo put more power into his Draconic Eyes. He saw a very small presence inside the imperfections around the young man. “Are you around ten years old? You’re really young. Very small, too. But your face is too blurry. You're not a normal human, are you?”
The young man clenched his teeth and moved his hand towards the sword he had left on the floor. He was ready to pick it up if necessary. "What are you planning to do with me?" he asked abruptly.
Yeon-woo tilted his head, not understanding. "What do you mean?"
"I said, what are you planning to do with me?"
“That’s because I...” The young man was going to say more, but he bit his tongue and shut his mouth.
Yeon-woo snorted at him. "I know what you mean, but I don't care who you are or what you look like."
“I'm interested in how you can see and control mana. I want to know how to do it. Can you tell me?"
“What?” The young man’s eyes opened wide.
Yeon-woo nodded towards the exit. “Of course, I won’t ask you to tell me for free. I see you've been stuck here for quite some time. I'll help you out in exchange. You can't get any food or attend to anybusiness in here. How does that sound? It's not a bad option for you, is it?"
The young man's eyes were filled with confusion. Yeon-woo’s words were unbelievable.
"If there are some reasons you can’t tell me or if you think it’s not a fair trade, well, I can't help it." Yeon-woo thought it would be a great opportunity to learn how to handle mana from this young man. The ability to see mana meant that the young man had an extreme affinity to mana.
If Yeon-woo could acquire the same ability, it would help him learn to control mana. Even if it was a secret that the young man wasn’t allowed to share, Yeon-woo would be able to dig it out since the young man was only a child. He didn’t care about anything else.
Of course, if the young man asked for something preposterous, he would decline. He could find another way to handle mana later. Seeing as the young man didn’t reply, Yeon-woo took his attention away and turned around. "It seems like you’re not interested.”
"W-wait! Hold on for a second."
Yeon-woo looked back at the young man. "What's the matter?”
"Is it true? You really don't know how to control mana?"
"I don’t have any reason to lie, do I?”
"N-no way! Are you saying you did that without mana?" The young man looked at Yeon-woo incredulously. He and his teammates had tried so hard to defeat the monster, but it wouldn’t even budge a single inch. It withstood all of their attacks without gaining even a scratch. Yeon-woo managed to destroy the scarecrow with a few strikes and yet he was saying that he didn’t know how to control mana. It was simply incomprehensible.
Similarly, Yeon-woo could not understand the young man. "Well, I just did."
Speechless, the young man remembered a man in his hometown who had painted a wonderful landscape and said, “It’s that easy.”