Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 50 Chapter 7

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Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 50 Chapter 7 – Advanced Training Hall

After successfully winning Emperor Geihar over to his side, Weed climbed on the back of a Baraag with his companions.

“I wish you a safe trip, then.”

“Thanks, master!”

He and his companions had decided to take a look around the Versailles Continent, riding on the flying Baraags. With Time Sculpting skill, he could always come back to a past event in history, but it was all the more reason why this trip was so important.

‘Not everything was recorded in history books. And quite a lot of information was misrepresented, too.’

It was necessary to take a good look at the continent in the past, in order to ensure that he would be able to use Time Sculpting properly when he might need it next time.

As they flew across the sky on the backs of Baraags, they landed whenever they spotted a city on the ground.

“By Gods… you lot must be insane, flying around on those dangerous creatures.”

“This is a problem that has the pride of humanity at stake! Before we knew it, those monsters had taken over our lands!”

“I don’t mean to question the Emperor’s accomplishments. But what about the portion that should rightfully be given to us humans? Why do we have to share our food with them?”

“That’s right. It’s us who did all the work to farm those crops.”

In cities and villages alike, humans abhorred the Baraags, and their opinions of sculptural lifeforms in general were extremely negative.

‘This is just as l expected.’

When Weed told Emperor Geihar about this, he made an announcement to his sculptural children, after having a drink.

“If our empire falls, don’t waste your strength and life for the sake of humans. You should all find a way to survive by yourselves.”

Besides the Baraags, all the Crocos and Boroks were crying mournfully, tears running down their faces.

“And if, some day in the distant future, a new kingdom for your kinds rises once again as my pupil says… please, lend your strength just one more time to help everyone live in harmony…”

At this point, if Weed played his cards right, he might be able to accept the Arpen Empire’s sculptural creatures as new residents for his kingdom. Of course, there wouldn’t be many sculptural creatures that would survive for such a long time after the fall of the Empire and remember the will of the emperor. Even so, if some of the remaining sculptural creatures were to make their appearance in the Garnav Plain, each and every one of them would be a precious citizen of the Arpen Kingdom.

‘Just like Yellowy, Gold man or Wy-3.’

Weed intended to equally exploit all those new subjects without any discrimination.

“I have a rather big favor to ask of you; would you care to do it for me? I will, of course, reward you handsomely.”

 

*Ding!*



< A Silver Coin Dropped in a Corner of the Village.

Zephyrus the stableman has lost his silver coin while he was drunk. He says he might have dropped it last night near the sewer, but he isn’t quite sure. With a bit of luck and some thorough searching, one may be able to find it.

Difficulty Level: F

Rewards: 2 horseshoes  >


An F-class quest that he hadn’t encountered in a long time!

‘For such a simple quest like this, it’s not likely to be continued in another linked quest.’

Receiving such low-level quests that did not even require any affinity level would be due to the fact that his high fame was not currently taken into account. Weed’s fame points were over 340,000 at the moment, but such was the effect of Time Sculpting.

‘It looks like my fame points are not reflected as normal when I’ve travelled back to the past.’

If it had been in the Versailles Continent of the present time, any crying child in the Central Continent, not to mention the North, would immediately recognize Weed’s face and stop their weeping. Weed had been taking part of all kinds of quests, hunting expeditions and artistic activities, so he had never had to worry about insufficient fame points before. But all of those events and accomplishments were to take place in the future, which meant that no one in this past time knew about them.

“This task is a bit too dangerous to entrust to a stranger.”

“Who? Weed? A sculptor? I don’t want to meet some complete stranger. You buy me a drink first for a night, and maybe I’ll spare some time to talk.”

“What are you talking about? Just buzz off!”

Weed found himself being rejected by the townspeople in the streets again and again. On the other hand, Zephyr and Python were doing a much smoother job talking to them.

“Your clothes look very fine. Would you be a nobleman, perhaps?”

“Hmm. That doesn’t look like any ordinary sword. I have a request related to getting rid of some demonic creatures; would you be up for the challenge? Of course, for a skilled warrior like you wielding such a fine sword, it shouldn’t be too difficult to deal with them.”

The residents responded to their attires or weapons; using high-quality equipment was one of the ways to meet the prerequisite of a high difficulty level quest when one did not have enough fame points. For characters with high Charm stats such as Hwaryeong and Bellot, it was possible to obtain new quests that could be cleared together with other companions any time.

‘Let’s just enjoy the easy life for now. Other adventurers or people with different professions might be able to take historical quests later, but it will be a long time before they can.’

Weed decided to take it easy, and continued travelling around the Continent with his companions on the backs of the Baraags.

– Kuuuaargh… I’m so tired…

“Fly faster. Wy-3 never took a rest even when he was flying overnight. Without sleep.”

– Who is this Wy-3 that has suffered so much serving you?

“He’s one of my proudest subordinates. I’d love to tell you how much Wy-3 likes me.”

– I just can’t believe that.

“Everyone thinks just as normally as you at first. But one eventually learns to appreciate the precious rare holidays in the constant stream of hard work.”

As Weed could not visit every single city and village, he instead took a general look at them from the sky. He checked the terrains, structures of the cities and buildings of the Arpen Empire in this past time.



You have taken some time to admire the architectural style of the buildings of the Arpen Empire during the Classical Era. As a sculptor, after having studied new types and styles of buildings, you can now build structures with the style of the Classical Era in the villages, castles or areas owned by you.

You can now construct new special types of buildings.



< Arpen Public Security Office

Construction cost: minimum 150,000 Gold

This building can be constructed to maintain public order and peace. It is managed by soldiers and local militia. The crime rate of the area will decrease. In the event of a monster invasion, this building can be used to hold them off for a short time. >



< Arpen-style Water Mill

Construction cost: minimum 40,000 Gold

A water mill is needed in a village in order to provide a playground for fairies. Sometimes, village children can join in and play with them as well. The building will increase the output of the region’s grain production as well as the local happiness level. It will also lead to improved affinity with fairies. >



< Arpen Salt Field

Construction cost: minimum 4,000 Gold

Gone are the days when you had to rely on the power of sunlight to evaporate the sea water to obtain salt! Paranchas, the race of fire, are going to take care of all the work. Whenever they take a nap, all the water evaporates from the place they laid on, producing high-quality sea salt. >



< Restaurant with Music

Construction cost: minimum 1,000 Gold

The residents of the Arpen love music, a joyous life with happiness and comfort. They consider it one of the greatest pleasures of life to have some delicious food while listening to wonderful music. This building will increase the happiness level of the residents and the degree of artistic progress. >



< Dwarf Workshop

Construction cost: minimum 6,000 Gold

This is a place for dwarves to gather and craft things. More than 10 dwarves can assemble and manufacture everything that’s needed. The working speed will increase if there is a beer brewery nearby.>



< A Garden of Blooming Flowers

Construction cost: minimum 20,000 Gold

This is a garden full of beautiful flowers. Taking a rest in this garden even just for a short while will rapidly recover life force and relieve stress. The visitors will be bestowed with special fortune. >



< A Nest of Baraags

A habitat for the creatures with flying ability. It is built by collecting solid branches and feathers, and offers protection from wind. It increases the incubation speed for the Avian eggs and quickens the early stage of growth of the hatchlings. >


As the king, Weed could bring some positive influence to his kingdom just by appreciating these structures.

‘It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a look at all the buildings from each historical era, if I ever get a chance to do that.’

Many users would be delighted if buildings of such a variety could be constructed in the Arpen Kingdom. However, if they were to lose in the coming battle in the Garnav Plain, their entire kingdom would fall to ruin in but a moment.

“Hmm. I’m not sure if it is wise for us to continue taking a tour like this. Don’t you think we should go back?” his companions asked, beginning to feel anxious. There were only three days left before the start of the war against the Haven Empire.

Weed smiled slightly.

“No need to hurry.”

“But… wouldn’t it be too late even if we leave right now? We might not have made enough preparations even if we had started earlier, and now…”

“Huhuhu. The Hermes Guild is probably feeling pretty uneasy right now. This is my tactic to cause confusion, by keeping the enemy in the dark as to what plans I have and what steps I’m going to take, to the last possible minute.”

He had guessed that the Garnav Plain would be teeming with spies, including Hermes Guild members with their identities concealed. If Weed showed up on the battlefield early, the Hermes Guild, having monitored the situation in the plain closely, would be able to come up with countermeasures. But since they had no way to know what on earth he was up to in the current state, it would make them even more anxious.

Seasoned Crab tilted his head curiously.

“But you have been with us this whole time; have you been preparing something in secret?”

Without hesitation, Weed answered, “Nope. Nothing.”

“…What?”

“Still, things look pretty legit, right? It LOOKS like there’s something, although actually there’s not. Besides, the hero always arrives in the most dramatic moment, right?”

“…”

 

***

 

Python, while he was visiting one of the cities of the Arpen Empire named Taho which he had happened to come across, got some unexpected information from a townsperson.

“Are you a warrior? You look pretty strong, judging by the greatsword you are carrying.”

“This is indeed quite a fine sword, I must say. Hehe.”

“Only strong people can wield a greatsword. Did you already pass the test of the advanced training hall in this region as well?”

Perhaps because of the fact that the Arpen Empire was established by the sculptural creatures uniting the continent, the humans had a cultural tendency to worship strong warriors.

“An advanced training hall?”

“Anyone who wields a sword or builds up their body wishes to visit this place; you haven’t heard of it?”

Python, of course, knew about those places well. Even Weed’s eyes opened wide at the mention of the word ‘advanced training hall’. He felt as if some unexpected money was falling from the sky.

‘There’s an advanced training center here.’

For the users of Royal Road, going through a training center was an essential condition in order to rise to the position of top rankers. The beginner training hall in Serabourg City of the Rosenheim Kingdom… It was where Weed had found a valuable friend in Doruk the Instructor while beating up a dummy, thereby obtaining a quest to become a moonlight sculptor. Of course, he had refused it without a second thought at first, thinking it wouldn’t make much money. In the flying city of Lavia, he received much rewards in stats and learned the skill ‘Lion’s Roar’ as he was mastering the basic training hall.

‘The Charisma stat and Lion’s Roar have come in handy so many times.’

Lion’s Roar was a useful skill for controlling the troops in a large-scale battle. Since Weed did not possess a wide range of military commanding skills like knights, the many battles he had gone through would have been a lot more difficult without this skill.

An intermediate training hall could only be cleared by those who had conquered at least the first three floors of the Tower of Heroes. After breaking through each stage, on the fifth and final floor, he was deployed to Phalranka Battle in the Sachsen Plain. In this most fierce field of war, he fought as a skeleton knight protecting Princess Remi. While the troops from seven different kingdoms were engaged in a heated fight, he was eventually killed when a stone thrown by a Cyclops hit him.

‘I haven’t been able to visit advanced training halls, since they are all within the territory of the Haven Empire.’

Weed had always wanted to go take a look at advanced training halls, but had not had an opportunity to do so until now, as they only existed in several regions in the Central Continent, including the Kallamore Region, or the Castle of Aren, the capital city of the Haven Empire.

It was said that one such training hall once existed in the North a long time ago, but the remaining records simply said that its location was lost to the world when the Niflheim Empire fell. The advanced training halls in the Central Continent had been managed by prestigious guilds that controlled each region from early on, and presently the admission to those halls was possible only with the permission of the Hermes Guild. Weed had thought of sneaking into them, but soon dropped the idea due to the risk of being subjected to the focus fire from the Hermes Guild users when caught.

Python was the first one to grin.

“There’s an advanced training center here; we must go and see right now!”

He also hadn’t been able to go further than clearing an intermediate training hall, the total number of which was said to be 12 in the whole Continent.

Naturally, Weed agreed with him.

“Let’s go.”

 

***

 

The Hermes Guild had once released a video of advanced training halls to the public in the past. The video scored more than six hundred million views in the Hall of Fame.

– Bard Ray’s Advanced Training Hall Walkthrough!

The video started with Bard Ray and other 30 members of the Hermes Guild accepting the challenge of the training hall.

“We shall all walk upon the Path of Struggle.”

“A Black Knight, searching for glory. We welcome your challenge.”

The advanced training hall for the warrior classes contained the Path of Struggle made by the Order of Batalli, God of Fighting.

A path where strong warriors and demonic creatures are awaiting the challengers! To complete it successfully, one had to fight their way through to the exit in a straight line; there was no other way.

‘Bard Ray had cleared it in 9 hours and 45 minutes.’

All the divine magic was blocked in the advanced training center. It was also impossible to use spirit magic, spells or curses, anything other than the combat skills that directly used one’s physical strength.

‘And one cannot even have any water or food until they pass through the path.’

Those with low stamina or patience would succumb to the exhaustion and could not proceed further. The only keys to success in this challenge were one’s strength and vigor. The Path of Struggle shown in the video was swarming with monsters.

– Wow. Look at the difficulty level. This is crazy.

– Does this normally have so many monsters? They’re just flooding in!

– It’s absolutely insane in those advanced training halls. They just keep coming without any break. You have to fight endlessly in order to move forward.

– Whoa… it must be really hard.

– Is this difficulty level even beatable?

Bard Ray and the other Hermes Guild members fought on, taking turns to have a break. There had been stories claiming that, through the summoning by Batalli the God of Fighting, the power of the demonic creatures that appear on the Path of Struggle were adjusted to the strength and capacity of the users.

The level of the monsters Bard Ray and the Hermes Guild members dealt with during their trial was shocking to the eyes of common users. Those with levels 300s or 400s were only for starters, and there were even monsters in level 500 or higher appearing every so often; this later made a huge issue after many broadcasting stations showed the live coverage of their ordeal.

– The Hermes Guild really lives up to its reputation as the strongest guild.

– They’ve certainly proved their raw strength with this video; that much is for sure.

– Bard Ray, the Godly Warrior. He is the most powerful user on the continent, period. Other users might boast all they want, but they could never ever beat him in one-on-one combat.

– But what if Weed shows up?

– Weed cannot even get his foot into an advanced training hall.

– That’s because of the Hermes Guild, though. Haven’t you seen Weed’s great performance in the Tower of Heroes?

– Still, what matters in the end is that Bard Ray has cleared the advanced training hall, and Weed hasn’t. Weed’s sculptural skills give him advantages in a large scale fight, but Bard Ray’s the strongest user when it comes to one-on-one. Bard Ray even killed Weed once.

– Agreed. For now, Bard Ray is at the top. Weed’s power is rather exaggerated because of the quests he did and his various other skills.

– Desert warrior? That’s not his current strength. Those days are all passed and gone now.

Weed did not feel hurt by those meaningless comments. Bard Ray’s videos attracted a lot of fans who were impressed by his great power, and since the Hermes Guild was monitoring the comments it was natural that there were a lot of praises for him. Still, Weed had to admit that he was quite intrigued by the video.

‘An advanced training hall, huh? I wish I could go there, too. It doesn’t look as difficult as people say, though.’

Weed had never grown stronger by slaughtering weaker monsters ever since he started playing Royal Road. He had always challenged powerful enemies, and hunted until he was knocked out exhausted. Did he rest then? No. Once he was knocked out like that, he would start working on his sculptures, even while lying down. He was used to hunting nonstop like this until his whole body was aching, and after some time his stamina and patience grew so strong that he didn’t have to worry about exhaustion anymore when he hunted.

‘I think it’s going to be fun. I probably won’t be able to use my sculpting skills in the Path of Struggle, but that shouldn’t matter too much.’

Although his Necromancer skills would be blocked as well, this huge disadvantage could not make him hesitate to take up the challenge of the advanced training hall.

 

***

 

Weed and Python, together with his other companions, arrived at the Church of Batalli in the city of Taho. The ground surrounding the church looked almost like a battlefield, with broken weapons and arrows scattered about everywhere.

“Wow… the atmosphere of this place sure is terrifying.”

“It’s the Church of Batalli. This is the first time I’ve been here in person.”

From the moment they stepped into the entrance, Surka and Maylon were startled by the scenery that greeted them. The male and female priests serving the order of the God of Fighting had many scars on their bodies. Another characteristic of the church was the various types of weapons hung on the walls, which meant that the followers there trained to fight with any weapon. It truly was a religious order for warriors.

One barbarian warrior who had been standing at the entrance spoke to Python in a rough voice.

“You. You look like a fighter who wields a greatsword.”

With his piercing gaze, he looked extremely intimidating, as if he was about to challenge Python to a duel any minute.

This was the reason why ordinary people were reluctant to visit the Church of Batalli.

Python mustered up his courage, held his greatsword at ready and said in a loud voice: “This is my weapon. I have come here to walk upon the Path of Struggle.”

He was a man who had no reason to feel small anywhere he went; Python replied in an equally rough manner, holding in his stomach tight, like a man.

‘This is my way of do things.’

The pride of a strong one.

The barbarian warrior nodded.

“I can see you’re an experienced fighter just by those scars. The one in your neck; was that left by a Mantelder ?”

“Yes.”

“If you survived the encounter with a Mantelder… I say you are sufficiently qualified to face the trial of the Path of Struggle.”

It was now Weed’s turn.

‘How is he going to get past him?’

The companions looked at him expectantly. Flattery and friendliness constituted Weed’s default stance, always ready to bow down his knees and back. Even Mapan had admitted that he could learn from Weed’s attitude when he was rubbing his hands together and bartering with people. And the persuasion skills he demonstrated when he entertained Emperor Geihar with food and drinks surpassed even those of an experienced salesman.

Weed lifted his chin haughtily as he addressed the barbarian warrior.

“Open the path right now.”

“Have you come here to face the challenge of the Path of Struggle as well? But this path only opens to those who deserve to step into it.”

“Shut up and open it. Before I kill you all and make my way in.”

“Do you truly mean that?”

The eyes of the barbarian warriors guarding the entrance glinted menacingly. Weed recalled a line from the cartoon he had once read and had been deeply moved by, and went on:

“Get out of my way. The only thing that can halt my footsteps is my own will.”

“…!”

With those few words, he had declared upon the barbarians that he was willing to kill everyone if they refused to step aside.

Weed had a vast amount of knowledge related to Royal Road. Those numerous pieces of information he had gathered until now included not only the data about dungeons and monsters, but also about the residents and history of the Versailles Continent. His detailed knowledge extended to even things like the preferences of the cleaner or the florist lady of the Serabourg Castle in the Rosenheim Kingdom.

‘The warriors of the Order of Batalli are straightforward to deal with. They think one’s power proves everything.’

They seemed similar to Geomchi and other Geomchi brothers, but not exactly the same.

‘During this time period, they would be particularly weaker towards strong people.’

A dark spot in the history of the Order of Batalli, which was also known as a group of combatants! It followed an incident during which most of the order’s truest warriors were massacred as they hunted down the demonic creature Khdertal, before the foundation of the Arpen Empire. The warriors who were currently remaining in the Church of Batalli were nothing but hollow shells. The Order of Batalli took roots again through countless sacrifices of its warriors during the Warring Age. There was no strength in those barbarian guards, only the false pretensions which were the remnants of their long-past glory days.

As per the normal procedure, in order to enter the Path of Struggle one would have get their qualifications acknowledged and pay a considerable amount of money as an offering, which was absolutely unacceptable to Weed.

“We, we are…”

The barbarian warrior drew himself up and tried to withstand Weed’s glare, but Weed continued staring at him as if he was facing a conman who had been caught while trying to bilk him.

 



< Your Fighting Spirit is activated. >

His Fighting Spirit stat of over 600, which he had accumulated through the hunting and occasional slaughter of countless powerful monsters, came into effect.

“Kuuuu….”

The barbarian warrior’s whole body trembled, and before long he gave in and stood aside.

“The Path of Struggle… is in the basement of the church.”

 

*Ding!*



< You have intimidated an enemy. Your Fighting Spirit stat increases by 1 point. >

< Battali the God of Fighting is gazing upon you proudly. He is greatly impressed by your attitude, which befits your strength.

With the blessing of the God of Fighting bestowed upon you, your Mentality, Courage and Charisma stats increase by 2 points each. >


A successful bullying!

Even when they were inside the church, Weed kept radiating his Fighting Spirit as he walked.

‘I mustn’t let my guard down. These rascals might try to steal my money any minute.’

He was determined to thoroughly destroy anyone like an arch enemy at the first sign of pulling a trick on him. The warriors of various races who served the Order of Batalli all stepped out of Weed’s way as he walked past. Parted into two lines, they stood well apart from each other, unable to muster the courage to challenge him.

 

***

 

A great statue stood in the basement of the Church of Batalli, the statue of the God of Fighting himself.

And a solitary path, opening up into the darkness.

They didn’t know what would show up in that path, but they could certainly feel the danger that filled up the whole space.

Timidly, the barbarian warrior said: “You’ll just have to… go through this path and reach the end. You must not eat anything in the middle of your journey, and you’ll fail automatically if you turn back. Even if you die, you must die on the path.”

*Ding!*

 



<
 You are facing the Path of Struggle.

This training hall has been constructed in order to train the true warriors of this land, in order to prepare for the time when a great danger befalls the Versailles Continent.

Walk upon the Path of Struggle, and prove your worth.

Reward: Improvement of combat related skills and increased limits on stats growth.

Difficulty level: Unknown

Quest Restrictions: if the player consumes any food or turns back in the middle, the quest fails. It cannot be attempted again. The player can have water in order to quench their thirst. >

 


‘Nothing I have done in this game has been easy. I will not back off, even just a step.’

Weed stepped into the path as he reaffirmed his resolve.

“H-hey!”

Even before Python had time to prepare himself, he was gone.

 

***

 

Once in the Path of Struggle, Weed rushed forward.

Clang!

He drew the Loa Sword, threw off his novice garment and changed into his armor. He did not have the Goddess’s Knight Armor now, since he had asked Fabio and Herman to melt it down and forge a weapon out of it.



< Fabio’s Sturdy Heavy Armor : Durability 250/250. Defense 241.

A suit of armor made by Fabio, a blacksmiths who knows how to hammer a piece of metal. This is one of the best-quality armors he has ever crafted in his life. It has been reinforced six times by mixing in special minerals. It is thick and heavy, but when equipped by a fighter who can handle it properly, this armor will inflict much despair on the enemies attempting to attack them. It is in pristine condition.

Restrictions: For Knights, Fighters and Warriors only. Level 520.

Additional effects: Maximum Life Force increased by 40%.

Physical damage decreased by 40%.

Magic resistance 3%.

Maximum 30% of damage reflection, depending on the physical toughness of one’s body.

Strength -35

Agility -140

Very heavy.

No damage taken from weak attacks. >


It was an armor Weed had received from Fabio when he gave Goddess’s Knight Armor to the blacksmith, in case he needed protection. It did not have many notable features, but its defensive capacity alone was absolute.

“Kuhehe. Intruders.”

“This is the domain of the God of Fighting. Off with you!”

The monsters guarding the Path of Struggle appeared before the party. They belonged to the race of Ulroof, which possessed huge bodies like those of barbarians. Warriors of a spider-like species, their long limbs and keen senses made them tricky to handle.

Headcount: 8.

Estimated level: higher than 400.

Weed jumped into the midst of the monsters right away.

“Kuhehehe. Quite bold, this one.”

“We shall break your defiance through our strength!”

The Ulroofs raised their spears and started attacking. As expected from a warlike race that reveled in violence, they said few words.

Before the spears were extended to their full reach, Weed blocked what he could and dodged the rest. An analysis of the enemy’s combat capacity flashed through his head like a bolt of lightning.

‘Overall, they are quite competent. Their long arms give them a greater reach and speedier attacks, but their defensive technique is not sophisticated, as is the case with most monsters. And they tend to parry the attacks with their strength, rather than just blocking.’

Weed read the breathing patterns of the Ulroofs, the manners, speed and strength with which each of their joints moved. It might be because of the fact that he had experienced so many combats before, but his senses were automatically analyzing the enemies without him actively working his brain to make calculations. It was quite analogous to showing an elementary school math textbook to a top student who was admitted to Seoul National University  through talent hand effort, or asking a chef working in a famous hotel restaurant to make a fried egg.

“Sculpting Blade!”

Weed’s sword lit up.

*Tri-ri-ring*!

The sword flowed continuously along two spear shafts. No less than five spears were entangled and struck among one another in a flash.

“Seven Celestial Footsteps!”

Weed stormed forward, slashing with his sword. His direction changed with each step, and the sword moved in his hand in an almost magical manner to strike down the Ulroofs one by one.

“Kuuargh??!”

The Ulroofs, so confident just a second ago, all turned grey in a blink of an eye and disappeared; they could not endure the critical hits targeting only their vital spots, on top of the attacking power of the Loa Sword.

Weed kept running along the Path of Struggle, pushing forward. Of course, he had completely collected all the loot dropped by the Ulroofs already.

 



< You have acquired the steel spear of Ulroof. >
< You have acquired a leather pouch. It has quite a lot of contents. >
< You have acquired a valuable shining rock. >


‘I must make an efficient use of my time and stamina.’

Wasting time in the beginning was not Weed’s way of doing things. His style of hunting was so quick and relentless that he would not only fry beans with a flash of lightning , but would roast some sweet potatoes on top of that while having a bowl of Ramyun in the meantime.

The next monsters that appeared were Volards, the fire leopards Weed had once fought in Jigolath.

“*Growl*!”

A group of Volards threatened him, but Weed charged in, unabated.

‘I’ve dealt with these monsters before. They take a quick leap to attack, and the speed at which they do that can be extremely befuddling to those who face them for the first time.’

Experience was important; knowing the strength and combat style of the opponent enabled one to devise an optimized tactic against them.

“Heraim Fencing!”

Weed held the Loa Sword with both hands and started swinging it like an axe, smashing the heads of the Volards that sprang at him in a sudden jump.

“Kiiiieeeennngghh!!”

 



< You have successfully made the first serial attack. Your Agility will be increased by 20%. >

Even with the life force and toughness of Volards, it was a painful strike. Through the effect of Heraim Fencing Weed’s movement gained in speed a little. He continued dodging and smashing the head of the Volard every time another one leapt at him.

< You have successfully made the second serial attack. Your Strength will be increased by 40%. >

< You have successfully made the third serial attack. Your Agility will be increased by an additional 40%. >

< You have successfully made the fourth serial attack. Your Strength will be increased by an additional 20%. >

< You have successfully made the fifth serial attack. Your enemy has fallen unconscious and lost all attacking abilities. >

< You have successfully made the sixth serial attack. Your Strength will be increased by an additional 50%. For each hit, there will now be a secondary area-of-effect strike caused by the shockwave inflicting 15% of the damage of the original strike. >

< You have successfully made the seventh serial attack. Your Agility will be increased by an additional 30%. Your Strength will be increased by an additional 20%. Using 1500 mana, you can now make a ranged attack. >

 


A merciless chain of strikes!

Weed’s combat abilities had reached the peak now. Heraim Fencing Skill was capable of defeating any enemy, however strong they might be, provided that one was able to make a continuous series of successful hits. Heraim FencingSkill would be cancelled with just one miss or dodge, but the Path of Struggle was narrow, and the ferocious Volards kept coming.



<
 You have successfully made the fifteenth serial attack. The pain you inflict on the opponent will be delivered to other enemies. The chained damage is 15% of the original attack. >

< You have successfully made the sixteenth serial attack. A critical strike has hit the target. The enemy has been destroyed. You are dominating the battlefield! >

< Your proficiency in sword skills has increased. >

< Your astounding accomplishment in combat has increased your fame by 580 points. >

< Your Strength stat increases by 1 point. >


Weed had successfully connected 24 chain attacks in total, devastating the Volards. He quickly gathered the remains of the dead Volards and the bounty scattered across the ground in all directions. He had used up some of his strength and stamina, but it was less than 5% of his total reserves thanks to the ridiculous amount of stats he had built up through countless hours of farming.

‘It’s quite easy for now.’

Even as he thought that, his body began to move. Weed rushed towards the next foe that would be waiting for him on the Path of Struggle.

Python was a fighter whose skills were good enough to boast on any battleground. Once he jumped into a dungeon with his great sword drawn, he never stopped until he successfully cleared it, even if he had to stay up all night. During the earlier days of Royal Road, the videos he uploaded would receive hundreds of thousands of views, and after he became more popular, they easily scored millions of hits.

“There’s a rumor claiming that Python, that fighter with superhuman strength, completely wiped out the Dungeon of Balharm.”

“Did you hear? They say Python moved a huge rock with his bare hands.”

Hearing the stories of his exploits that had spread among the townspeople each time he returned to a city after completing a quest or a hunt also gave him a feeling of great satisfaction.

‘There aren’t many fighters in this game whose skills deserve my recognition.’

That pride which once knew no limit had diminished a little ever since he had met Weed.

‘How is this guy so strong?!’

Despite his profession as a sculptor, Weed demonstrated incredible power in hunting grounds. The quickness, persistence and skillfulness with which he slew the monsters were difficult to catch up to, even for Python. He secretly stroked his chest in relief when he found out that Weed became a Necromancer after mastering sculpting skills.

‘For now, I’m still the strongest fighter there is.’

Python was intending to display his combat prowess alongside Weed in the advanced training hall — the training hall that took the Hermes Guild a total of 31 member to clear, including Bard Ray. If Python and Weed managed to break through this path together just by themselves, shoulder to shoulder, the video of their joint accomplishment was sure to spread among the public and greatly increase their reputation. He couldn’t think of a better event to be put on air right before the battle in the Garnav Plain.

‘Weed must have planned all this in advance. It’s going to be a difficult task, but together we have a fair chance of success provided we thoroughly complement each other’s skills.’

Python was a little delayed while he checked over his equipment and said goodbye to Surka and other companions, but it still had not been more than ten minutes since Weed’s departure.

‘Will he be waiting for me while fighting the first wave of monsters?’

He walked into the Path of Struggle unhurriedly, but all he saw was the remains of the dead Ulroofs.

‘Hmm. I guess he’s already dealt with them alone.’

Python nodded. Given Weed’s capacity in combat, he would easily have been able to fight the Ulroofs all by himself. Even with his sculpting skills and Necromancer spells sealed, he had plenty of experience and an excellent combat sense.

‘So, he went on without waiting for me? Then he must be fighting the next monsters.’

Python continued walking, taking a look at the signs of battle that Weed had left behind.

‘I could get there deliberately late until he asks for help… no, then he would give me an earful for taking so long.’

He imagined the face of Weed desperately crying out for help; it would definitely give him some satisfaction to see him in such a state, but he decided he shouldn’t do such a thing to a friend and companion.

‘Kukuku. I’ll show him the might of my greatsword.’

In the next fight location, he saw dead Volards scattered on the ground, expertly taken down.

Python was a little shocked at the sight of no less than 12 lifeless Volards, stripped of all their loot down to their very skins.

“Weed killed all of them on his own? They are quite tricky to deal with… This guy really is something.”

Volards were both dangerous and difficult monsters. The moment one lets themselves be assaulted by those fierce leaping attacks, they will lose balance, unable to break free from the creatures’ grasp.

What was even more surprising was the fact that these traces of Weed’s fight against the Volards weren’t scattered over several different places: he had killed them all in one spot. As it didn’t look like it had taken a long time either, Python could surmise that it must have been one epic battle.

“He sure knows how to fight.”

Impressed, Python decided to rate Weed’s combat capacity a little higher than he’d done until now. One’s level and skills did not always align perfectly with one’s strength. As was the case with most sports, not everyone who had great strength could make a perfect use of that strength; there were so many other areas that influenced one’s fighting ability, including one’s ability to think quickly, reflexes, and understanding of enemies.

“I suppose there’s a fair reason behind his power.”

Python kept walking, but in the third, fourth and fifth battle locations, he only found more remains of thoroughly slaughtered monsters. He had been expecting Weed to wait for him to join in as he was fighting the monsters but everywhere he went the fight was already over, with nothing but a cold breeze hovering over the place. In the case of the fifth wave in particular, there were bodies of huge demonic soldiers, which were known to be extremely difficult to deal with, left on the ground in a line — demonic creatures with a level as high as 510.

“Even these monsters, too?”

Python was now feeling increasingly pressed for time.

“It seems I might have dallied for just a bit too long. I should reunite with him as soon as possible.”

He slid his blade back in its place on his back and began to run. He knew it was a ridiculous sight, a famous user such as him whose reputation was widespread over the entire Versailles Continent sprinting at top speed not to miss more fights, but he could think of no other way for now.

‘It wasn’t like I was going THAT slowly. He could’ve just waited for me for a moment! And why is he eliminating these monsters so quickly?’

He risked burning up his stamina a little too quickly in order to run faster, but the Path of Struggle stretching out before him only awaited more evidence of monsters being eradicated.

‘This is bad.’

As Python was on a dead run, his mind was filled with only one thought: he, too, had watched the video of the Hermes Guild going through the Path of Struggle. Seeing 31 people moving and working together as smoothly as a cogwheel was certainly a sight to behold, but it did not leave a big impression on Python. He knew he would have done more than an average job if he had been one of them, and besides, nothing in that video looked overly dangerous to him; that much was evident just from the fact that Bard Ray and his 30 Royal Guards all managed to successfully clear the path in the end, unscathed.

‘If Weed doesn’t stop… things might get really complicated.’

After passing through the first few battles on the Path of Struggle, the challenger will face the Gate of Trial. Before opening that gate, they must choose: will they go alone, or together with friends? There had been a few people who stepped in alone at first, but they all succumbed to the waves of monsters. Once one passed through the Gate of Trial, for every step they took they had to face a swarm of those creatures. There was a limit to the time one could spend on resting to recover the lost strength, since they could not consume any food on the Path of Struggle. They either met their demise from exhaustion or chose to flee and return to the gate. As an advanced training hall did not allow a second try, that was to be the end of their challenge, forever. After a few of such cases, most people chose to face enter the gate with their friends or companions, as did the Hermes Guild. Even then there had been a considerable number of casualties, except for Bard Ray and his Royal Guards.

‘He’s just got to stop and wait for me, but… as absurd as it sounds, I wouldn’t put it past Weed to set off alone.’

What if…? Python was having a sinister premonition. He had a feeling that once Weed had immersed himself in fight, he might never stop to look back.

***



< Batalli the God of Fighting is satisfied with your battle.

A total of 37 chained attacks through Heraim Fencing Skill! You have dominated your enemies, and never stopped fighting until the end of combat.

Your Strength stat will be increased by 1 point by the blessings of the God of Fighting. >


While walking on the Path of Struggle, Weed realized one thing.

‘There is nothing better than Heraim Fencing Skill for breaking through this path.’

There were a few other combat skills, but they all consumed a significant amount of stamina or mana. Overusing big are-of-effect attack skills to deal with the great number of monsters appearing on the path was a sure way to exhaust oneself quickly, and one would not be able to exert the full extent of their power and skills in the end.

‘Things like special sword techniques and high level would not mean much in this place. On this path, one needs quick wit, adaptability, and courage.’

He confirmed this discovery once more after eliminating the magical knights of Galden which had been the ninth wave of enemies thrown at him. Wielding a huge shield and spells, their only purpose was to block his way. They attempted to tire out the challenger, forcing them to waste their stamina and mana. Weed had to create an unguarded moment in the enemy’s movement, an instant that was less than taking a breath, and tore through that gap using his Heraim Fencing Skill.

‘This kind of fight is quite fun, too.’

Weed smiled, for the first time after a long while. What would be the fun of it if he already knew all about the path and made it too easy? Finding and exploiting the enemy’s weak points, pushing himself forward every second with all his might… that was all he needed to succeed.

‘I can fight to my heart’s content here. And I open up my own path as I fight through the enemies. That’s why this is called the Path of Struggle.’

Through his accomplishments in combat, Weed earned some additional stats.

 



< An honorable victory!

For a brief moment, you exerted all your might to strike a group of Bardenhoffs to death.

You dominated the battlefield!

As great as their pride is, they would be glad to have submitted to a great warrior such as you.

Your Charisma and Courage stat have increased by 2 points each.

Your fame has increased by 1,381 points. >


It was not easy to earn such stat rewards in hunting grounds, but since the creatures appearing in this place all tested his limits just slightly, most of the fights Weed had had here led to combat accomplishments.

‘Being able to fight all I want… I like that.’

Intoxicated by the heat of battle, Weed penetrated lines and lines of enemies as they appeared. When he first stepped onto the Path of Struggle he was using his brain, thinking of what would be the best way to fight. But now, he merely threw himself into the fray again and again, swinging his sword in frenzy. Making his way through the path blocked by hordes of monsters, he had arrived in front of the Gate of Trial before he knew.

 



< You have reached the Gate of Trial.

The challenger can choose to step into this gate with friends, or they can walk upon this path alone. >


When Weed first decided to go through the Path of Struggle, Python was with him. Two was still a very small number, but it certainly made a big difference from going alone. At the very least they could watch each other’s back or force their way forward more easily.

Weed did not think even for a second.

‘It’s barely enough to clear this all by myself, let alone with somebody else.’

He opened the Gate of Trial, and strode forward.

***

– Arkhim: Urgent news: Weed has entered an advanced training hall.

Everyone on the Hermes Guild’s official communication channel could not contain their shock at this unexpected report.

– Boemong: There’s no way he can do that. Are you sure it’s not some false information?

– Arkhim: This info is indisputable, it’s leaked from the high-ranking officials in CTS Media. They’re supposed to receive at least a hint from Weed whenever there’s some big event.

– Phalanx: I just can’t believe this… yes, what’s the current situation in our advanced training halls?

– Denon: No intruders. Everything’s as it should be here.

With the war coming in three days, most of the members of the Hermes Guild were currently online. After receiving a report from Denon, a ranker who happened to be near the training hall at the moment, and just as they were expressing their confusion and frustration at this seemingly false rumor, Arkhim sent another message.

– Arkhim: I’m trying to get more information, but for now it is estimated that Weed has entered the advanced training hall thanks to his skill to travel in time to the past.

– Lafaye: That should be possible, theoretically. And there would be nothing we can do about it. How many people are helping him?

There was a delay in Lafaye’s response as he was busy making preparations for the fateful battle in the Garnav Plain. But if Weed and his gang had really taken a quest after traveling back in time just as he guessed, there was indeed not much the guild could do to hinder them.

– Arkhim: I’ll continue to gather more information now.

For half an hour as they waited for Arkhim, the Hermes Guild users thought of Weed who might manage to clear the advanced training hall. The stronger members of Royal Guard were feeling especially bitter to see Weed grow even more powerful, but there was no way for them to prevent it.

– Arkhim: I’ve obtained information about the people accompanying Weed, but it is…

When Arkhim appeared in the communication channel again, all the guild members listened to him carefully. All over the Central Continent, the sight of the Hermes Guild users suddenly going blank simultaneously could be seen.

– Arkhim: Python, the fighter of superhuman strength, joined him.

– Phalanx: And?

– Boemong: We all expected Python to be there, since he was already seen in the Wulhoff Reef. Is there any information about the others yet?

– Arkhim: Well… that’s it. There’s just him.

– Lafaye: What?!

– Arkhim: Those who have challenged the advanced training hall are Weed and Python, just two of them.

There was a long silence in the official communication channel of the Hermes Guild. At that moment, nobody was saying anything in other regional channels of the guilds or in most of the channels related to hunting, quests or socializing.

As overflowing with powerful users as the Hermes Guild was, there was only a portion of them who had actually managed to beat the advanced training hall. Even then, there were a lot of videos and articles on clearing the Path of Struggle that had been made public.

– Unless you are in the same league as Bard Ray and his Royal Guards, it is more advantageous to gather at least 50 people.

– It is impossible to consume any food on the Path of Struggle. Therefore, it would be of some help to eat a lot of stamina food regularly that grants a long-lasting satiety and fullness from three days before going into the path. The list of such food is…

– There is no map. The passage is all connected in one straight line and the number and types of monsters are completely unpredictable as well.

– The time for clearing this path is limited due to the fact that one cannot eat anything in there, and 20 hours is generally regarded as the maximum amount of time one can endure the starvation while going through a series of fierce combat. If you don’t manage to break through the path until after 20 hours, it is best to give up and turn back.

– Fortunately, your mana and stamina will recover when you take a break. There are 7 gears and skills in total that we recommend to increase the rate of stamina recovery…

– We suggest including Steel Fighters and Indomitable Champions in the storming party, which are two of the advanced professions for fighters. They possess nearly an unlimited amount of stamina, which makes it a lot easier to successfully break through the Path. It’d be better to have at least two of them.

Even the members of the Hermes Guild made preparations 2, 3 months in advance before challenging the advanced training halls. They organized shock troops, and adjusted their gears and skill settings for the occasion. Everyone was allowed only one chance to face the trial of the advanced training halls, and therefore this was an extremely high-difficulty level endeavor.

– Boemong: Just two of them? Are they insane?

– Calcus: There must be a mistake in this information. This is just impossible.

– Verdin: This is nonsense… it must be Weed’s trick.

– Barakuda: Choosing such a crucial moment right before the war to challenge the advanced training hall is in itself a trick! Don’t you think so?

The users who had already cleared the training hall were the first to refute Arkhim’s claim most angrily. In their perspectives, passing through the same training hall that they had been before with just two people simply did not make any sense.

‘Could there really be a chance of doing that, however small it would be? Even then, such a challenge is just so absurd!’

‘Is it even possible to pass through the whole path with two people? It doesn’t make sense. They’ll have to deal with at least several thousand monsters each.’

‘How could they? Why on earth did Weed decide to make such a crazy attempt?’

‘Even if they don’t make any mistake or get injured, they’ll still have to burn their mana and stamina. There’s no way they won’t succumb to exhaustion in the middle of the way.’

As every member of the Hermes Guild thought it was impossible, it was all the more difficult for them to know the true intention of Weed and Python.

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