Chapter 2: Tower of Trials (2)
「 All stats, skills, and innate ability have been reset to initial values.
「 The following challenger’s stats are already equal to the initial values.
「 Halting the reset process.
At first, I just stared blankly at the holographic message.
「 Starting the tutorial trial.
A message about a ‘tutorial trial’ came out of nowhere.
As soon as I saw that message, I felt a wave of heat escape my body.
‘What’s going on? What is this?’
Starting with the most basic questions about my current state of affairs.
‘Tower of Trials? Is this the second coming of the Great Calamity?’
I even stipulated what the current situation could be about.
The influx of thoughts ricocheted around my throbbing head.
But even that was temporary.
「 Providing a weapon.
Following the message about a weapon, a sword fell before me.
One with a sharpened edge, unlike the wooden ones I used to use at the training center.
The knife spanned about 30 inches.
There’s no way a single can of beer could get me this drunk.
Although it’s almost nonexistent, my alcohol tolerance was heightened when I awakened as a player.
‘There’s no way that’s making me dream like this.’
I quickly looked around and analyzed my surroundings.
The place I was standing was no longer a bench in a winter park, but rather a random desert.
No, could you even call this a desert?
The place was covered in sand and an occasional row of cacti.
Although it seemed normal at first glance, the boundary where the sky met the horizon said otherwise.
It was vast and spacious, but clearly synthetic.
If this was a dungeon, I would have needed to pass through a gate, so that isn’t a possibility.
As I was about to fall into a state of confusion—
「 Sand golem is appearing.
The sandy floors quaked, and pillars of sand rose from the ground.
Then the pillars started to come together to form a humanoid shape.
The towering golem must have been at least 20 feet tall.
My heart stopped when the golem laid its sand-dripping scarlet eyes upon me.
At the same time, another holographic message appeared.
「 Survive the sand golem.
「 Time left – 9min 59sec 」
A trial telling me to survive.
And all the unanswered questions in my head.
Everything seemed to connect as soon as I came face to face with the sand golem.
I couldn’t feign ignorance even if I tried.
I quickly picked up the sword from the floor and ran as fast as I could.
Impossible considering our size difference.
Even a graze from a sand golem is enough to kill a grown man in an instant.
A low-tier player like me wouldn’t fare much better.
Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!
Every hair on my back stood on end as its roar vibrated through my body.
I wanted to run faster but I couldn’t.
My feet got buried under a pile of sand every time I took a step forward.
“Fuck fuck FUCK!”
The desert was holding me captive.
At the same time, the stomping sound was approaching faster than my legs could move.
Even if I did manage to run, the only thing waiting for me was a wall that reached up to the sky.
I’d either be killed by being caught up to or by reaching the end of this field.
There might not even be an escape from this place.
My only hope was the time limit that I could glance at from the corner of my eyes—
「 Time left – 9min 12sec 」
It’s not possible to keep running for 9 more minutes with my stamina.
I may have stood a chance if I had slightly higher stats but…
‘I can’t keep running until the timer runs out either…!’
I should have known what they wanted as soon as they provided a sword.
Die running or turn around and fight.
I kept peeking back to the golem as I ran.
‘Fuck, how am I supposed to beat that?’
But I didn’t have another choice.
There’s no way this sword would do anything to the golem.
‘I have to fight.’
If running away wasn’t the answer, there had to be another breakthrough.
I drew on all possible knowledge I had on sand golems.
One thing I gained from the last 7 years of training is an abundance of theory matched by even the most experienced of hunters.
There had to be at least one method that would apply to this situation.
Monsters like golems stop moving when you break their cores.
And low-tier monsters like sand golems don’t even hide their cores within their bodies.
They are evaluated to be E-rank monsters because they keep their core on the outer layer of their body.
I could see a scarlet core bulging from its body.
But I didn’t have the confidence to be able to get that close to it.
Even if I was able to get close, it was obvious what level of damage this sword would do to that core.
No, I didn’t know if this sword would be able to leave even a crack on it.
‘I have to go…!’
Looking back, it seemed that the golem was about 50ft away from me.
Would I be able to run at the golem and dodge its attacks?
No, I couldn’t think like that.
Contemplating more wouldn’t alleviate this situation.
‘I have to dodge it!’
I ran toward the golem after I made my decision.
50 feet… 40 feet… 30 feet… 20 feet…
The closer I got, the more strongly I could feel the physical difference between us.
The gigantic E-rank beast made my heart shrink with a glance.
I felt like throwing up, but I kept running.
The only other monster I had ever faced was a small goblin in the hunter exam.
I had no choice but to succeed now.
I kept my eyes on the golem as I approached the base of its foot.
The rough sediment arm ripped through the air and accelerated towards me.
An attack strong enough to immediately rip me to shreds.
I stared straight at it and jumped in its way.
When the colossal arm reached the front of my face, I slid right below it and just barely managed to dodge it.
Sand blasted everywhere as it followed the thundering boom of the impact.
Due to its massive size, there were huge delays between each of its moves.
By the time I realized this, I was already running.
My body knew even before my head.
I had to thrust this sword into the golem’s core if I wanted to live.
I nimbly approached the core as the golem still struggled to recover its stance from the last attack.
The tip of the sword rang as it made contact with the golem’s core.
A golem’s core wouldn’t be broken with an impact like that.
The core was left with a slight fracture…
And the golem was on its way to throw a second attack.
When my eyes caught that, I threw my body with no time to react.
The follow-up blow just barely missed the top of my head.
There was nothing else that could describe this.
I didn’t stop despite the sand scraping all of the skin off my leg.
Please… Please break this time!
At the moment when the sword hit the core—
「 Sand golem’s core has been destroyed.
The system message blocked my view as the light in the golem’s scarlet eyes dimmed.
As they dimmed, the golem’s body crumbled back into a pile of sand.
「 Time left – 7min 8sec 」
「 Tutorial trial over.
I collapsed as soon as I saw the message.
My legs burned as the sand crawled into my scraped skin and my hands couldn’t stop shaking.
My lungs felt like they were about to rip open and my leg continued to bleed.
But for some reason, I felt a rush of adrenaline I had never felt before.
The feeling of victory that I hadn’t experienced in 7 years.
I was only able to figure out what really happened after I caught my breath.
“……I killed a sand golem? Me?”
Someone who couldn’t even hope to kill an F rank monster…
Managed to kill an E-rank monster when his life was at risk.
But I became depressed again after looking back at what had happened.
‘…I barely managed to survive.’
If this was a different E-rank monster, I would have died within 3 minutes.
Sand golems are slow and have a clear weakness.
If this was a slightly stronger player, this would have been an easy tutorial.
It didn’t matter.
That was reality.
When I was finally about to feel a wave of relief—
You have overcome the Tower of Trials floor 1.
The message continued after the congratulations.
「 As a reward, you have received ‘Unlock innate ability.’ 」
「 As a reward, you have received ‘1000 points.’ 」
「 As a bonus reward, you have received the skill ‘Accelerated Regeneration(E+)’ 」
「 As a bonus reward, you have received ‘500 points.’ 」
I finally remembered the message I saw when I first entered this field.
‘It did say that…’
「 Trial success reward – Unlocking innate ability 」
I wasn’t able to process it properly at the time, but there was definitely a reward.
“An innate ability…”
It was something I couldn’t even imagine unlocking over the last 7 years, let alone an additional reward of a skill.
‘I couldn’t even increase my stat after training for 7 years…’
I was more dumbfounded now than when I first entered the tower.
The next couple of messages seemed to confirm what had just happened.
「 Innate ability unlocked.
「 Innate ability ‘Necromancy(F)’ has been imprinted on the player.
I won against a monster for the first time in my life and was able to see progress that had been halted for 7 years.
There were feelings I couldn’t even begin to describe with words, but that didn’t last long.
Almost as if it didn’t want to give me time to wonder—
「 Please move to the waiting area.
A blue portal appeared where the body of the golem once stood.
I guess I was supposed to go to the ‘waiting room’ using that.
That alone explained a lot.
“This is really a tutorial…?”
Dungeons resolve after it has been completed but that didn’t seem to be the case for the ‘Tower of Trials.’
I couldn’t deny my reality any longer.
What I had just experienced was a tutorial.
Preparation for what’s to come in this tower.
Meaning, I will need to go through trials like this again and again with no end in sight.
I had no idea what to think of this, but that also didn’t last too long.
Gasping for air, I got up with a groan.
‘Damnit, it hurts like hell.’
There was not a single unscathed part on my body.
I must have rolled in the sand too much trying to dodge the sand golem.
Well, I shouldn’t complain considering that I was still alive.
As I was about to pass by the sand pile that used to be the golem—
“What is this?”
A scene overwhelming enough to make me forget my pain for a moment.
The pile of sand that used to be the golem emitted a black fog.
I was hesitant at this unreal phenomenon, but for some reason, I reached out my hand.
「 Activating innate ability ‘Necromancy(F)’ 」
「 Would you like to absorb the spirit of the sand golem? 」
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「 Y/N 」
Yet again, a message I’d never seen before appeared in front of me.
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