Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 50 Chapter 8 – A New Achievement
Although there had been some delay, the news of Weed and Python challenging the advanced training hall reached the Garnav Plain, with various broadcasting companies delivering the information as breaking news even in the middle of their regular programs.
“An advanced training hall?”
“According to LK Games, only those who have mastered an intermediate training hall are eligible to face those trials.”
“They say you might as well not bother going there unless your level is at least 400.”
“But that’s just some minimum stats requirement. We all know level itself doesn’t mean much when it comes to Weed-nim.”
“Yeah, he’ll succeed, as always.”
“It’s not like that. People say it’s beyond comprehension that only the two of them have gone to take the challenge. Just look at how flabbergasted those MCs are.”
KMC Media, CTS Media, LK Games… every broadcasting station quickly made arrangements to set up a studio to directly report the news about the advanced training hall. The video of Bard Ray and the Hermes Guild members arduously struggling their way through the said training hall was on screen as well. The show hosts seemed as if they were quite unsure what to say.
– I just can’t wrap my head around this. Of course, Weed and Python, they both possess tremendous competence and skills.
– Yes. They are truly strong. Both know how to put up a good fight.
– However, I can’t help but think that going headlong into the advanced training hall is too reckless, even for them. Weed won’t be able to use his strongest skills such as sculpting techniques or summoning undead.
– Abilities like stopping time or summoning undead are indeed extremely powerful weapons. Even the Hermes Guild would have a difficult time dealing with them. But none of those can be used in the advanced training hall. They have no unexpected going for them.
– They need to get across the whole path using only pure combat skills… the problem is, there are simply too many monsters inside.
– Well, technically, you don’t have to eliminate all of the monsters on the Path of Struggle like the Hermes Guild did. You just have to pass through them, in any way. You could even run away from them.
– But avoiding the fight is not an easy thing to do in that place either, as you’d know.
– How about taking things slowly and making their way forward just one fight at a time?
– Even warriors with their great stamina will eventually get tired after a long battle. There will be some decrease in their life force, as well. They could recover by taking a rest, but taking too much time in the path will only lead to them starving to death.
– The difficulty level of that path is atrocious beyond one’s imagination. It is simply impossible to beat it with just one person.
– Some even say that clearing an advanced training hall is more difficult than mastering the combat-class skills.
“Watch this video showing the Hermes Guild. It isn’t possible to clear this with just two people.”
“Then why did they decide to take up the challenge?”
As more information about the advanced training hall spread, users of the North were feeling quite confused.
“They’re just going to die, at this rate.”
“Dying for nothing? Just like that?”
“And if they HAD to die, why now? We’re facing the most important battle in Royal Road!”
“Maybe they were planning to have an epic one-on-one fight against Bard Ray after clearing the advanced training hall?”
“This is ridiculous. I can’t believe they’re acting in such a foolhardy way.”
“If things go south, Weed-nim might not even be able to attend the battle.”
If they die in the advanced training hall, they cannot go online again for the next 24 hours. That was equivalent to 4 long days in the game, considering how the time flows differently in Royal Road compared to the real world. This meant that Weed would arrive late for the battle in the Garnav Plain, or might even fail to show up.
“It wouldn’t come to that… would it?”
“Considering the difficulty of an advanced training hall, it wouldn’t be too surprising even if they really die there. You can see what kind of place it is just by watching the videos or broadcast.”
“But Weed-nim has made so many miracles possible… Seeing all of his accomplishments, I think he will succeed this time, yet again.”
“Didn’t you see the broadcast? He can’t even use sculpting skills there. There’s no way to go through the place other than fighting your way through countless battles.”
“Weed-nim is not a Knight or a Fighter, after all.”
As the words began to spread, the users gathering in the Garnav Plain were struck by a sudden feeling of apprehension. This anxiety got even worse when a newsflash appeared in the middle of a live program on KMC Media.
– Weed is challenging the advanced training hall alone.
Even the Northern users who always trusted and followed Weed could not help their puzzlement at the moment they received this new report.
“We’re about to have a big battle to save the whole Versailles Continent. He can’t do this if he truly understands the gravity of it.”
“It’s as if he said a big ‘Screw you’ to at least a hundred million people.”
“If Weed dies, he sure will leave a big mark in history… in the worst possible sense, of course.”
One after another, many users in the Garnav Plain began to react against Weed’s sudden decision to enter the advanced training hall, as the whole situation was too absurd for them to expect Weed to succeed this time.
“Whoa. It’s already hard with just two people, yet he…”
“It’s the Weed-nim we know, all right.”
“Yes, one can never realize how reckless he can be until they really get to know him.”
“What on earth was he thinking…?”
Pale and the rest of Weed’s companions who were waiting at the entrance of the Path of Struggle heard the news as well. None of them were surprised; they merely felt that yet another mishap had occurred, which, frankly, they’d almost grown used to at this stage.
‘He’s always been like this, come to think of it.’
‘Simple and violent. Well, he gets things done, in the end.’
‘Compared to all those adventures he’d been through… it might not be a piece of cake, but I guess he was confident he could handle this.’
These companions, who all knew Weed well, thought positively about Weed’s trial in the advanced training hall. Pale, Surka, Irene and Romuna… Each of them was a high-level user, with plenty of combat experience. From a common-sense point of view, one would predict that he would fail this venture, based on the information that had been revealed about the advanced training hall. However, their view of the world had kept getting broader and broader as the time they had spent by Weed’s side increased. The moment they heard the news of Weed stepping into the training hall alone, they came up with a more fundamental question.
‘An advanced training hall that cannot be completed by one person alone? That sounds fishy. If that’s really true, they should only accept people coming in groups in the first place. It doesn’t make sense that there is the Gate of Trial in the middle, where people can choose to go alone.’
‘Fighting the thousands of monsters blocking the way without using any other profession skills? Hmm. Few users train a variety of skills of many kinds to a high level of expertise like Weed-nim does anyway. And you can’t even eat anything in that place? Why do such restrictions exist?’
Based on the rules of the advanced training hall itself, they suspected that there would be a hidden solution. However, a vague hunch was all they could come up with at this time.
The users who had managed to clear the advanced training hall had all been members of prestigious guilds, mostly the Hermes Guild. A few of them had had a similar suspicion about the training hall, but they did not dig any deeper.
‘There’s already a walkthrough of the advanced training hall.’
‘I can join the next shock troop and break through.’
Once one fails to pass through the advanced training hall they cannot make another attempt, but fortunately there was a known solution to clear the path, which meant that the users had no reason to take unnecessary risks and put everything they had on the line.
Pale was convinced of Weed’s success.
‘Weed-nim could do it alone. Being the first to do something is nothing difficult for him.’
The fact that cockroaches still exist in this world was the biggest evidence that supported his confidence: there was no way that Weed, possibly the only living being that is more tenaciously resilient than cockroaches, would fail.
Many broadcasting companies including KMC Media were facing a serious enigma.
“Why did Weed make such a dangerous decision and enter the advanced training hall? Why now?”
“I think he must have thought of some hidden plan.”
“Plan? What plan? Unless he’s planning to drive everything in complete ruin.”
Almost every broadcasting station around the world had made a contract to broadcast the battle of the Garnav Plain. So naturally, they had all been put on emergency alert, unable to decide what steps they should take from now.
“Mr. Kim, what is the current situation? Any news from Weed yet?”
“Nothing yet, sir.”
In the project meeting room of KMC Media, even the director general had made his rare appearance. The whole company was taking this issue very seriously, with every team director and manager attending the meeting.
“It’s already been quite a while…”
“Yes, it’s been 30 minutes since we received the news.”
“And how are users responding to this?”
“After the newsflash was broadcast, it appears that all of them have fallen into a state of panic. Most of the sculpture construction work has been suspended as well.”
“I see… indeed, they wouldn’t be able to carry on with making the sculptures after all this mess.”
The director general let out a deep sigh. The company had mobilized the entirety of its equipment and manpower for the upcoming battle. And then there were the problems of advertisement contracts with major corporations, the promotion cost that they had spent until now, as well as the crews and guest stars. They had put off the entire broadcasting schedule until after the battle in the Garnav Plain, and now Weed had entered an advanced training hall.
“Well, this is not a situation that can be reversed; what happens to the battle if Weed dies?”
“I believe the battle will proceed as normal, since it has been prearranged.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to postpone the battle for a few days? If it can be delayed by three or four days, Weed will be able to revive again and fight.”
“There are a hundred million users in that plain, sir. Besides, do you really expect the Hermes Guild to agree to put off the battle?”
The people of the broadcasting stations were all feeling quite lost as to how they should deal with the situation, but one thing was for certain: nothing could be more futile than Weed perishing inside that advanced training hall. This could potentially become the worst catastrophic event in the history of Royal Road.
The director of the Foreign Cooperation Team suggested tentatively, “Perhaps we’ve made a wrong decision taking the side of Weed?”
The grim face of the director general turned towards him.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it looks like things will not go favorably for Weed from now on. If he loses to the Hermes Guild by any chance, our company will also be put into quite an uncomfortable position.”
The uneasiness was quite plain in the faces of the other staff members, too.
“Should the Hermes Guild win, it will also pose a problem in negotiations for broadcast rights in the Central Continent.”
“Some users are outright refusing to give an interview to our company. The loss we’ll have to suffer will be tremendous if this kind of hostility continues.”
“This battle means a lot to people. If Weed dies and fails to show up, he will be subjected to a hail of backlashes and blames, and will not even be able to bounce back ever again.”
“We’ll also need to take into account the possible scenario in which the population of Royal Road itself suffers after Weed’s downfall. Viewing rates are sure to plummet if a hero disappears.”
The people in the meeting room saw one thing and had to worry about ten possible bad things that could happen because of it. Weed’s defeat would have a harmful influence on their company in many ways, too. Most of the broadcasting stations related to Royal Road had established a cooperative relationship with each other and agreed to side with Weed. The reason was nothing complicated: the broadcasting companies needed viewers to sustain themselves. Weed was the biggest draw of the entire game world, and the passion of the Northern users for their Arpen Kingdom was like a wildfire blazing furiously. It was quite a natural move for the companies to take the side of Weed instead of the Hermes Guild which was full of negative images in the eyes of the public, for the sake of viewing rate. In particular, KMC Media especially could not let itself be left out from this trend because broadcasting Weed’s adventures was the crucial factor behind its huge success and which led them to the position of major broadcasting company with high average ratings.
Manager Kang shook his head.
“I understand these concerns shared by you. However, considering the countless achievements Weed had made thus far, I don’t think this kind of crisis would be enough to shake him.”
“But this was such an incredibly reckless move, don’t you think?”
“What if he was truly confident that he can clear the training hall? He just has to clear this and that’s all the problems solved, right? The situation will turn positive again.”
The other board members of the company who had been watching this conversation between Manager Kang and the Foreign Cooperation Team director didn’t quite know what to say. Weed had gained popularity with the users by walking the hard and difficult path (so insistently one would even suspect that he was doing this deliberately at times), and every time he did this the viewing rates increased dramatically as well. They wouldn’t have such enthusiastic viewers if Weed had always played it safe in the normal way. But, as absolute a living legend Weed might be, a successful outcome was the most critical factor this time. Whether he really manages to pass through the advanced training hall would determine which of the two extreme directions the whole situation would take.
As the people in the meeting room were struggling to decide on the company’s stance, the youngest member of the writing team opened the door carefully and entered.
“We’ve just received a call from Miss Jeong Seoyoon.”
There wasn’t a single person in the whole staff of the broadcasting station who didn’t know who Seoyoon was — the person who once took care of all matters big and small in the Arpen Kingdom, and the Goddess of the Grass Porridge Cult. A sudden liveliness returned to the eyes of the men who had been feeling drained by this endless meeting that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
The director general cleared his throat and asked, “What did she say?”
“She said that she wishes to meet the representatives of the broadcasting companies, including KMC Media.”
Naturally, the gaze of the staff members in the meeting room turned to Manager Kang, as he was the person in charge of all matters related to Weed. Manager Kang’s bald head broke out in a cold sweat as he felt the furious stares from the other male coworkers.
“Well, I think I need to go and meet her, for certain. I should hear her opinions on the current state of affairs.”
The meeting was adjourned until Manager Kang returns from his visit to Seoyoon.
“So, when and where are we meeting?”
“In one hour. And the place is…”
“In Gimbap Heaven , across the street in front of the company building.”
The directors and executives of various broadcasting stations related to Royal Road from across the world were gathering in Gimbap Heaven, including those from Korean companies.
The US, China, Japan, Russia, India, Thailand, the UK, Brazil, France, Germany… the number of countries alone was 32 in total. As each of these international companies had a branch in Korea, those who were in charge of this matter were rushing their way in.
“Haha, this is just…”
The staff members from various broadcasting stations were sitting around the tables, looking embarrassed. There were still 45 minutes left until the time at which Seoyoon promised to show up.
“What should we order?”
“Well, some gimbap…”
“There’s still some time before the meeting, so I guess we can go for some fried rice, even?”
When in a Gimbap Heaven, one had to order something once they had taken a seat.
“Excuse me, I’ll join this table since there are not enough seats…”
People representing rival companies were forced to squeeze in the same table. Some of them thought the choice of place was rather inappropriate, but that was nothing compared to the topic they would discuss later.
‘She’s bound to look worse than she does on the screens, even just a little.’
‘Maybe there’s some effect of the stats. She might have increased her Charm stat abnormally high…’
Before long, at the moment when Seoyoon finally showed herself in Kimbab Heaven, the representatives were instantly bewitched.
‘Exactly as she looks in the videos… it’s as if a halo appears around her head.’
Even in a simple t-shirt and a pair of jeans, Seoyoon dominated the sight of those who beheld her — the beauty that enraptured people regardless of their nationality!
“I’d like to thank you all for gathering together in this place in response to my invitation. The battle in the Garnav Plain will proceed according to plan, so please, trust us and make all due preparations as normal.”
Seoyoon spoke in her clear voice that sounded like morning birds tweeting pleasantly.
JHG of Japan.
The representative member of this giant broadcasting company boasting overwhelming viewer rates in Japan had intended to make some severe criticism in regard to this matter.
‘He has decided to head to the advanced training hall without any consultation with our company in advance, which has seriously jeopardized our broadcasting schedule. If things lead to an unfavorable outcome, we will make sure to demand some compensation for the breach of contract, and…’
He had prepared enough lines to shoot at her for more than twenty minutes, but the moment he laid his eyes on her he felt as if his head was hit by more than one bolt of lightning.
‘I… I can’t say such things. Never mind my job, this is not a way to respect such beauty.’
Not only would he be targeted by angry and blinded rebukes from the delegates of the other broadcasting companies, it would leave a memory which he shall regret for the rest of his life.
“If you have any other opinions or inputs, please tell me.”
There wasn’t a single person who showed any sign of complaint about Seoyoon’s words.
“Also, feel free to speak up if there have been any inconveniences in general when you were collecting news.”
“…or if there is anything lacking in the current policies or direction of ruling of the Arpen Kingdom.”
A simple unification of the press, without a single conflict of opinions!
At that moment, Manager Kang tentatively raised his hand.
“I have my utmost faith in Weed-nim and trust he will clear the advanced training hall, but as we all know, an advanced training hall is not an easy place to beat. It is even more absurd that just one person should go to face the trial of that place.”
Other representatives also nodded their heads in agreement. This was the reason why they had decided to assemble here, while in a state of huge shock. Taking up a challenge to beat the advanced training hall in such a crucial moment… It made them worry about the possible failure caused by his decision to venture alone. When Weed went on all those numerous adventures alone, they didn’t make an issue out of it because they didn’t know exactly how difficult those adventures could be. But in case of the advanced training hall, everyone was aware of its extreme difficulty level (especially when faced by a single person) thanks to all the resources available.
“Yes, I agree.”
“So… does Weed-nim have any secret strategy to clear the advanced training hall?”
With this question from Manager Kang, Seoyoon recalled a certain moment that happened a while ago. After watching the video of the Hermes Guild, she also gave Weed a passing question as to whether he was really confident that he could clear the advanced training hall. What Weed had said to her in reply still made her cry whenever she recalled it.
Seoyoon answered Manager Kang’s question, clear drops of tear streaming from her eyes.
“He said he can just starve.”
“He said… that he couldn’t understand what was so difficult about starving. He said that he was used to it, though other people might not be.”
The atmosphere in the Garnav Plain was still quite unsettled. The users from the Central and Northern Continents had gathered around together, deeply occupied with watching the broadcast programs on Weed and the advanced training hall.
– You know, when it comes to combat there are certain factors to consider: which side is stronger, or which uses better tactics? Thing is, in this case he’s fighting alone — which means there’s nothing more to consider; he’s a dead man.
– Weed’s ‘No Defeat’ legend? That kind of story includes a lot of exaggerations. The claim that he will keep succeeding just because he has never failed before is purely groundless belief.
– I agree. He has received the absolute support of the common users and, with the help they provided out of sympathy, he has been able to use the human wave strategy against the Hermes Guild. But Weed himself was once killed by Bard Ray-nim in the Melbourne Mine, wasn’t he?
– His overflowing ego fed by the crowd praising him to the sky has eventually led him to self-destruction. Frankly, he’d be much better off now if he had decided to just wash his feet and go to bed.
– A way to clear the advanced training hall alone ? There’s been a lot of investigation, but none has been revealed so far. Besides, there have been more than just a few people who have cleared the training hall. They didn’t just decide to go in groups because they were fools; Weed’s attempt to clear it alone is simply too risky.
– There’s a reason why it’s called the Path of Struggle: it’s because you have to fight. A lot. All those tricks Weed has used until now won’t work in there.
Players who were among the top 500 rankers of Royal Road and other so-called experts appearing on the programs were giving their opinions, all of which were pessimistic. While it was true that Weed’s new trial indeed looked very reckless to their eyes, their united voice was also largely influenced by Lafaye’s secret instructions to the Hermes Guild.
– During interviews, you must repeatedly emphasize that Weed’s challenge has been the worst possible choice. We need to swing the public sentiment into thinking that he will fail this time and it will eventually lead to the defeat of the Arpen Kingdom.
Weed had already set up a number of plans in his favor in the Garnav Plain, and Lafaye was attempting to interfere by shaking up the crowd mentality.
At first, the Garnav Plain remained moderately unaffected. But as people watched the broadcast, fear began to build up, which soon led to deterioration of the overall atmosphere.
“I trusted him because it was Weed… How could he betray us all like this?”
“He could’ve waited for just a few more days… He couldn’t be arsed to do that?”
“I just can’t understand people who behave like that right before such an important event. I mean, who does he think we’re doing all this hard work for?”
“Dammit, forget it all! I quit!”
“Everyone, let’s just stop working and play. Why do we have to put all our efforts like this? It’s all over anyway!”
The general mood was darkening in the Garnav Plain, centering on the users from the Central Continent. Spies that had been urgently sent from the Hermes Guild also expressed their dissatisfaction and beguiled the public opinion.
They were trying to cause riot!
“Hey, let’s just go and have a bite somewhere. I’m hungry.”
“Drat, I don’t even know why I bothered coming here. I wasted a lot of money for using the teleport gate.”
“I’ve ridden all the way from the Rosenheim Kingdom on horseback. *Sigh*. Was it all for nothing?”
“Hello, could we have a bottle of soju, no, whiskey over here?”
Inside restaurants and pubs in the Food Alley, various alcoholic beverages including beers and wines were being sold at a frightening speed. The users who had gone through so much hard work making preparations for the battle against the Hermes Guild were now expressing their rage as well.
The minds of the crowd had caught fire in the Garnav Plain!
If by any chance the one hundred million users gathering in this place should disperse and fall apart, things would truly become irremediable.
However, there were still countless users who were busily carrying and piling up building materials in silence.
3,700 gigantic sculptures were presently under construction — this historical undertaking that would completely change the whole scenery of the Garnav Plain was now entering its final stage. As people had set up such an extremely lofty goal, they had to work day and night in order to complete the sculptures on time.
“We’re running short of stones. Please bring some more.”
“Sure. We’ve used all the stones in the nearby areas, so people are bringing some extra stones from outside.”
“The Mapan Trading Company has provided some carriages for us; if there are any carriage drivers here, lend us a hand, please.”
Those who were moving constantly for the construction work made up more than 60 percent of the entire crowd in the Garnav Plain.
Bella, a reporter from KMC Media, interviewed a few people after informing them it was part of live coverage.
“Hi, nice to meet you.”
Bella approached a user who was carrying a stone slate larger than his own body. Even as he was giving the interview, he continued walking, one struggling step after another.
“First, could you give us your name, please?”
“I’m Soft Tofu, a user from the Northern Continent.”
“Okay. The mood in this place is quite unsettled after Weed-nim went to challenge the advanced training hall, yet you are still here, giving assistance to the people building the sculptures, is there any reason why-…?”
Soft Tofu put down the stone slate for a moment and straightened his stooped back.
“So, what changed?”
“Did Weed-nim ruin any of our plans?”
“Well, he entered the advanced training hall, and-…”
“And? Did he die there?”
“No, but this time it doesn’t seem he will be able to clear this training hall by himself…”
Soft Tofu gave a good-natured smile.
“Every time Weed-nim went on a new adventure, there have always been people who said he would fail. Those people who are giving interviews on TV programs now, they also said similar things before, correct?”
“Well, I mean, they…”
Experts and top rankers had indeed been keeping their pessimistic stance whenever Weed started an adventure. On the other hand, the users who started playing Royal Road in the Arpen Kingdom held absolute faith — the faith that, without Weed, their life would have been much more unhappy.
“He’s not truly dead until he actually dies. Making predictions for his death is also pointless. It’s understandable if you think he will not be able to make it here when we’re fighting the Hermes Guild… but we still don’t know that, either. So why should I stop doing my duty?”
Soft Tofu’s interview was broadcast live through the KMC Media channel.
“He’s right, you know.”
“Yeah. It’s a loss for all of us if we give up fighting or get defeated.”
The interview was enough to calm the atmosphere in the Garnav Plain, which had been growing worse after Weed’s venture into the advanced training hall, if only by a small amount.
“Everyone, there’s only a very short time left. Let’s cheer up and continue preparing for the battle while making statues and enjoying the festival.”
“Let’s just do our best. We can blame Weed-nim once we find out he’s really let us down, but… he hasn’t done anything yet.”
The users from Morata took the lead in spurring the construction of the sculptures.
In the meantime, there had been several meetings within the Grass Porridge Cult in which they discussed their true identity.
– What is the point of our existence?
– Until when do we have to continue fighting for Weed and the Arpen Kingdom?
So far, the Grass Porridge Cult had actively involved itself in numerous battles or other matters that improved the national power of the Arpen Kingdom. Its influence was expanding on a daily basis, evidenced by the tremendous increase in the number of porridge groups. Yet the cult members had no reason to hold grudges against the Arpen Kingdom, as they were enjoying a free life, not subjected to any compulsory rules or orders from the kingdom.
– We don’t have to live our lives for Weed-nim. Let’s live in order to make our lives more enjoyable.
– The reason why we put our strength together whenever there’s a war? Indeed, a lot of people wonder about it. We’re not doing it to show our loyalty to Weed-nim; we’re doing it for the sake of all of us.
– We don’t believe that the Arpen Kingdom belongs to Weed-nim only. We have built this country together, and we are fighting to protect something that belongs to all of us… What’s so strange about that?
– The battle in the Garnav Plain. Let’s all fight together. Weed-nim is not the only one who made all those things possible.
The users of the Grass Porridge Cult decided to move freely between the construction work and the festival. As nobody was forcing anyone to do anything, people were merely following their own hearts.
The first group of enemies Weed faced after opening the Gate of Trial was an order of 50 Goblin Knights.
“Salutations to the one who possesses courage. You’ll have to defeat us to move forward. Kuku.”
Weed’s sharp eyes told him that the area of the open ground on which the goblins were standing was about 300 square meters. The Path of Struggle had widened up a little, enough to stage a larger scale battle.
‘An order of knights… this sounds fun.’
Although they were mere monsters, the Goblin Knights seemed to be in the middle to late 400s in terms of levels. They weren’t easy opponents, nor were they overly difficult to deal with; it would have given him a bigger headache if they had appeared in combination with archers, mages, shamans and priests. Goblins were also equipped with poor armors and shields.
‘Crash in, break them, and I win.’
Weed raised the Loa Sword.
“Challenger, come forward.”
He rushed through the lines of goblins, slashing one at a time. At first he appeared to be focusing on precise strikes, but the main characteristic of Heraim Fencing was that it grew stronger with each accumulating blow.
After about ten successful strikes, Weed’s attacks had become extremely quick and powerful. The intensity of his blows threw off the shields and slammed the bodies of the goblins into the wall even when they defended.
The Goblin Knights had been sneering at the sole challenger a minute ago. Weed jumped straight into the enemies and swept around like a storm.
< A quick battle.
Swiftness is a warrior’s deadly weapon. You have completed the combat with the most quick and precise attacks. As a result of a record-breaking battle against multiple enemies:
Your Strength increases by 1 point.
Your Dexterity increases by 3 points.
Your Fame increases by 3,213 points. >
On the Path of Struggle, one could easily earn bonus stats by fighting well. Even when he was not in this kind of place, Weed always engaged in combat focusing heavily on being as efficient as possible, to the last 1%.
‘How do I increase my hunting speed? I need a way of efficiently taking blows to increase my toughness… and a faster way to collect loot, too.’
The result was that he could boast a hunting speed that was so fast other people couldn’t keep up with it. The efficiency of perfect farming! Every time he engaged in a battle, through his superb concentration ability, a message appeared for each stat which could be obtained!
The comment Weed made after eliminating the Goblin Knights was a short one. There was nothing to salvage from their swords or armors. Normally, he could still make something out of them with his blacksmithing skills if he picked them up and melted them. Even if they were made of very poor materials, he could still hand them to Mapan and dispose them appropriately as miscellaneous items. But as one could not eat any food on the Path of Struggle, there was a time restriction… which meant that he could not sit there and smelt the low-quality metal or fashion it into sculptures or armors. As the rest of the chipped swords and cracked armors were too heavy to carry, he didn’t have a choice but to leave them.
Weed giving up the spoils of battle!
What had just happened was quite akin to a nightmare.
“No items worth picking up… This is the worst kind of place.”
Weed continued running down the Path of Struggle.
The next wave of enemies charging to face him was a legion of bull-like looking monsters named Zhevenods.
“Now, you lot, at least leave your hides behind as you die!”
Weed’s sword danced in the air. He even pulled out Thunder Spear, an excellent weapon against groups, which he started swinging and thrusting.
Bolts of lightning flashed and exploded, dealing damage over the whole area and paralyzing the enemies.
< You have successfully made the 19th serial attack.
Your Dexterity will be increased by 30%.
Enemy’s weak points have been detected!
The effect of precise striking is activated. >
A sword and a spear: he was wielding two weapons simultaneously! With the Loa Sword he pierced and slashed, and with Thunder Spear he smashed and flicked. Weed was hunting and was keeping the enemies at bay at the same time.
A combat technique for facing multiple opponents using one’s movements, speed and sense of distance!
This was possible because the Path of Struggle went only in one straight line, and the monsters kept charging at him rather than fleeing.
< Overpowering enemies!
With the bravery of a warrior, you have completely defeated the charging Zhevenods.
A combat accomplishment deserving the highest of praises!
Your maximum Life Force increases by 150 points.
Your Strength increases by 2.
Your Charisma increases by 3.
You have gained 2,381 points of Fame. >
< Your level has increased. >
On top of all the stats improvements, the amount of experience points he was receiving was also significant; it was even comparable to the ridiculous amount of points he would earn when he was hunting as a Necromancer and leading at least one hundred undead minions.
‘This is a great place to train oneself to get stronger. Except that it’s difficult to pick up all the junk items… and that’s one critically big drawback.’
He felt as though he would never forget this particular time and place for the rest of his life. Even when he becomes an old man in his 80s or 90s, he might still feel bitter whenever he recalls this adventure in the Path of Struggle.
Weed picked up only the hides of the Zhavenods and moved on, leaving all the bones and meat behind.
As he pushed further into the Path of Struggle, the level of monsters increased and more dangerous situations unfolded before him.
‘A new challenge every time. This is fun.’
Marching ever forward, Weed continued breaking through waves of monsters.
< Having engaged in a strenuous activity, you are now feeling a little hungry. >
The hollow feeling in the stomach.
‘About six hours have passed since I started fighting. I guess that is equivalent to skipping lunch.’
He had been taking just enough rest to avoid suffering from exhaustion.
Currently, his remaining Life Force was 73,492 points.
‘This should be enough to fight, and it’s recovering well, too. It’s certainly not impossible to take this challenge alone; just quite difficult.’
Stats were the basic factors that determined one’s physical abilities. Weed had been improving his stats over various fields of skills including hunting, adventuring, sculpting and crafting.
1869 Strength and 1255 Dexterity; people would find these stats almost unbelievably high if he posted it on online forums, and he had achieved this through an outrageous amount of effort. Ever since his earlier days as a novice user, he had been constantly farming bonus stats through hunting while other people were looking for equipment that increased their Strength by 10 or 20 points. Those small accomplishments, which everyone else dismissed as a waste of time, had accumulated little by little to eventually result in his current status.
Another reason behind his high stats was the fact that he had not invested any points in Art whenever he leveled up.
‘I cannot afford the luxury of increasing Art stats.’
This meant that he had to try several times harder than normal people to become a master sculptor, but he had endured that hardship.
His Stamina was 325, which was relatively low compared to his Strength and Dexterity, but it was still extremely high and he was not easily exhausted by any normal amount of activity. Additionally, he had 1321 Perseverance and 631 Toughness; these truly were his main physical stats, which overwhelmed those of warriors at a similar level and which he had improved by deliberately getting hit by monsters within an inch of his life. With Weed’s current status, most common weapons wouldn’t do any damage to him even without any armor. His Will and Endurance wouldn’t lose out with 358 and 451 respectively; both were ridiculously difficult stats to improve, which he had tenaciously accumulated bit by bit through adventures and hunting, holding out in some of the most severe environments and defeating monsters all night long. On top of this, all of his stats were improved by an additional 405 points thanks to his sculpting skills and further adventuring.
A true stats hoarder: an accomplishment made through endless farming!
Of course, Bard Ray and the other top-tiers users of Royal Road who competed with him would possess one or two considerably high stats, too. Those who had warrior-class professions would have invested heavily in Strength and Dexterity; taking into account the combat accomplishments they could obtain frequently in addition to that, Weed’s stats might even be lower than theirs in terms of those two abilities alone. However, when it came to numerical values over all stats, Weed was in a different league that absolutely flattened any user.
‘My abilities are better suited for long-term fights rather than short ones. I think I can do this without too much trouble.’
He was a little suspicious of the Path of Struggle, but took it simple.
‘I can’t eat any food here. I’ll grow hungry and weary the longer I stay in this place, which means I just have to endure it and push forward.’
A full-frontal breakthrough that makes use of all the stats he had improved so diligently!
The main reason why an advanced training hall was so hard to clear was the fact that one could not have any food, to which the simplest solution was just to fight your way through while starving. Minimizing stamina and mana consumption was something he was very accustomed to, as he had never relied on his combat skills alone. Depending on the type of enemies, he could also reduce the duration of combat by fighting effectively.
‘I have plenty of experience in starving. I would probably be able to last up to 50 hours thanks to my high Patience and Endurance.’
One could drink water in the Path of Struggle. Weed was an expert when it came to going hungry, even in real life. Indeed, there had been numerous occasions where he chose to skip meals to cut down on food expenses, and he used to often fill his belly with some rice in a bowl of water without any side dishes.
‘Just one day is fine. I may start to feel a little dizzy after that, although it could vary quite a lot depending on my body condition.’
The conviction that he could easily clear the Path of Struggle as long as he could at least fill his stomach with water while fighting! This was a strategy that was only usable by Weed, who had spent many days in starvation ever since his novice days, and by no one else.
‘I must keep going, even if my stamina runs low and my body condition deteriorates. I choose the straightforward solution.’
Weed stepped forward, swinging his Loa Sword and Thunder Spear. The more you fight, the stronger you become… a familiar concept in Royal Road, but Weed on the Path of Struggle was getting stronger after every combat. He thought about nothing but the battle; everything else was unnecessary. In the face of a difficult challenge, he was even more focused than usual, and fully immersed himself in the fight. After dealing with a particularly shabby-looking group of monsters, he didn’t even bother to rifle through their belongings in order to save some time, for even one or two seconds could accumulate into a considerable length of time.
9 hours, 45 minutes and 13 seconds.
This was the time taken for Bard Ray to beat the Path of Struggle. Given that he was supported by thirty Royal Guards, it was hard to estimate how much longer it would take for Weed alone. In this advanced training hall, the level of the monsters appearing on the path was adjusted in accordance with the challenger. If it was actually possible for a single person to pass through the Path of Struggle, Weed was confident that he would certainly be able to do it himself; he knew it was very rare to find someone who had trained oneself as painstakingly as him.
‘Recover the lost stamina while walking. Aim for 100 percent efficiency in everything. Then I can surely break through this path.’
Weed began to enjoy the battle. As soon as he concluded that clearing the Path of Struggle was quite a difficult task, his concentration reached his peak and his senses became sharp. Vividly feeling inspiration lifting his spirit, he eliminated the enemies and moved forward.
He had slaughtered well over one thousand monsters so far since he stepped through the Gate of Trial, and right after he defeated a flock of strange alien creatures called The Eyes of Hollan a message window appeared:
< You have surprised Batalli, the God of Fighting.
He is complimenting on your untiring strength, tough courage and splendid combat technique. The blessing of the God of Fighting has been bestowed upon the true warrior.
Your Strength increases by 4.
Your Dexterity increases by 2.
Your Stamina increases by 5, and your wounds have been cured slightly.
The Cleansing of debuffs by the God of Fighting has been activated; the effect of your Starvation status decreases by 7%. >
“Oh, this is nice.”
Weed was quite content with the God of Fighting’s blessing. Permanent stats improvement was one of the best rewards one could obtain in Royal Road.
‘This also relieves my starved condition a little. I can now fight a bit more flashily.’
He thought this had greatly increased his chance of clearing the Path of Struggle; even just a single egg that one had eaten to sate their hunger could make a big difference when they were at the point of starving to death.
‘I’ve got some stats bonuses too. This isn’t half bad.’
The next enemy awaiting him was a corrupted demon soldier.
“Challenger. I see you have come to face the trial of Batalli. I am a soldier of massacre, from the land of blood that has gone dry-“
Weed jumped right at him, not having time to listen to the self-introduction of the demonic soldier.
“Radiant Sword Skill!”
The secret technique of swordsmanship that he had learnt from Zahab! In this particular place, where Divine Magic could not be used, this was the best skill against enemies of dark nature.
The demonic soldier attempted to quickly step backward, but Weed had already predicted his move. He tracked the monster, changing his directions seven times using Seven Celestial Footsteps.
< A critical strike!
47% additional damage has been dealt.
This attack has cancelled the casting of the Black Magic spell ‘Head Entombment’ by the demonic soldier Hieger. >
Weed’s sword thrust forward in a flash, and swished in the air as if dancing. In pursuit of the sword’s pathway, his legs moved and his palm opened. Maintaining strength, speed and the balance of the body, he made a flurry of attacks covering various places and angles that were impossible to dodge, each of the strikes nearly as critical as a deathblow.
“M, my flesh feels like it’s burning!!”
A demonic soldier at level over 560!
He pulled out a huge scythe that was well over 2 meters in length, but it was not enough to block the incoming strikes. Just as the definition of blitz tactics, Weed left no chance for the enemy to try or prepare anything. Even with his many powers including a range of killing spells, body enhancement and recovery, the enemy could not stand the series of chain attacks using Radiant Sword Skill for long, and soon perished; a death which was quite unbecoming of a demonic soldier. Weed’s combat abilities were indeed excellent, but the core of his tactics was to focus fully on the fight and penetrate the opponent’s weaknesses.
< You have obtained Hieger’s Scythe of Dancing Souls. >
< You have obtained the boots of a demonic soldier. >
A few serviceable items had been dropped, as he had just killed a boss-level monster, and yet another message window appeared.
< The eyes of Batalli have widened. Even among the countless battles he has witnessed until now, defeating Hieger is one of the more astounding accomplishments.
You now have the attention of Batalli, the God of Fighting. The blessing of unstoppable power has been bestowed upon you.
For the next 100 days from now, your attack power will be increased by 15% whenever you move forward.
Your Strength increases by 1.
Every stat related to combat increases by 1.
The effect of your Starvation status decreases by 4%. >
Weed read the message window quickly as if he was skimming through the receipt after having a shopping in a supermarket. He was also planning to appraise the value of the scythe and the boots as he ran further along the path. Receiving bonus stats was naturally a welcome event, but he assumed that he was rewarded with stats improvement particularly often simply because he was on the Path of Struggle. Hence he also guessed that Bard Ray and the other Hermes Guild users must have gotten just as many bonus stats while they made a number of combat accomplishments when they were fighting in this same place.
‘I can’t be the only special case here.’
However, as everyone else before Weed had chosen to step onto the path as a group, they did not, in fact, receive any blessings from Batalli. One must face the challenges of the Path of Struggle using their own strength, proving their bravery as a warrior and overcoming their limits — this was the true meaning of existence of the advanced training hall, and the blessings and rewards of the God of Fighting were only given when one managed to narrowly break through their limits. Therefore, making a lot of preparations to clear the advanced training hall only resulted in poorer rewards for the challenger.
At the end of the message window, Weed found out that the negative status effect of Starvation had further decreased by 4%.
This increased his chance of completing the Path of Struggle even more. In the worst case scenario where he was both famished and exhausted, he was determined to carry on even if he wasn’t able to kill all the monsters, but as he received a blessing that relieved his hunger a little, he could afford to be more relaxed. Weed’s eyes, which were presently full of venomous resolve just like they had been during his childhood years, also softened slightly.
‘Doesn’t this make things a little too easy, though?’
He had already embraced starvation as part of the difficulty level of this place, and now that he was provided with an unexpected solution, he was actually feeling discontent. Through rough and fierce battles his blood had boiled and his mind cleared, and now it felt as if he was suddenly taking a break, licking a cone of ice cream while sitting comfortably on a chair. Of course, ice cream would normally be delicious, but not in this specific situation.
‘It will just get boring if this kind of rewards keep popping up. I hope there will be a lot of stronger monsters next.’
It had been two days since Weed went out of contact after heading into the advanced training hall.
Bellot, Seechwi and Seasoned Crab were so worried they could hardly eat.
“Will Weed-nim really be okay?”
“I’m afraid things aren’t too good there. Tssskktt.”
“He would have at least responded to us if the situation was manageable. Seeing that we’ve lost touch with him, it must be…”
Seasoned Crab gave out a subdued sigh.
‘Why did he have to do such a stupid thing? The public opinion among the users in the Garnav Plain has turned quite unfavorable…’
Pale and the other companions had sent him private messages, but none had been answered.
‘By now, he must be regretting his decision to go there alone so stubbornly. I thought they would at least have a bit of chance if they had stuck to the original plan and let Python-nim clear the path in the frontline while Weed-nim supports him at the back…’
From the beginning, Seasoned Crab objected to the idea of making an attempt at the advanced training hall. He thought it would be better to put it off for later and find more allies, considering the fact that they were expecting a very crucial battle soon, but it seemed that Weed and Python just could not help stirring up some more trouble. Even worse, Weed had decided to step through the Gate of Trial alone.
‘Crazy, that guy. He as good as dead.’
Seechwi and Seasoned Crab were already convinced of Weed’s death.
‘Even if he hasn’t been killed yet, he must be starving and exhausted, as it’s already been 37 hours after he’s taken the challenge of the advanced training hall.’
‘Maybe he’s collapsed on the ground, unable to even move his body after fighting a bunch of monsters. That’s going to be one solitary death, quite unbefitting of Weed-nim.’
But while they were anticipating the news of Weed’s demise in dread, another group of people sitting around the table just next to them were having a small feast with roasted and fried chickens.
“*Burp*. Help yourselves, everyone. This city has some really good fried chicken.”
“The beer tastes amazing.”
“I really like the spices they use in this region, too. Did you say the chef is a gnome? People will be able to enjoy some nice food if he joins the Arpen Kingdom later.”
Weed’s oldest companions including Maylon, Pale, Surka, Irene, Romuna and even Hwaryeong showed no signs of concern.
‘Have they always been his good friends in show only? I have no idea what kind of people they actually are…’
‘Maylon-nim… I’ve only seen her as a calm, professional broadcaster, and now I see she’s in fact a beer maniac.’
‘How could they just sit there and eat chicken now?! We only have about 14 hours until the battle in the Garnav Plain begins, and in this crucial moment that has the very fate of the Versailles Continent at stake, they are having a chicken party?”
As their disappointment grew, Pale the Battle Slave turned and spoke to them.
“Come here and have some chicken. Trust me; you’ll regret it later if you don’t have it now.”
Seasoned Crab asked him, not moving a step from his position, “Why?”
“Because Weed-nim is someone we just don’t have to worry about.”
As this was an incredibly unconvincing argument, he still refused to eat the chicken. Sure, they all had gone through a lot of hardship while hunting with Weed ever since they first got themselves somehow tangled up with him. But still, people should at least show some respect if they have even the remotest concept of honor and loyalty, for heaven’s sake!
However, not long afterwards, Weed sent a message on their private chatting channel.
– Weed: It’s almost over now.
The first word after almost 38 hours of silence.
– Seasoned Crab: Where did you-… *sigh*. Never mind. Just don’t worry too much about your level and the skill proficiencies you’re going to lose. I’ve found out that the skills you have already mastered do not lose any proficiency.
There were a lot of things Weed would lose or suffer penalties if he died in the game; namely, his character level and various skill proficiencies. However, a master sculptor’s expertise in his field of profession should not regress just by dying once.
– Weed: Pardon?
– Seasoned Crab: It would probably be better to just take your own life if you’re feeling too hungry. That would at least save some time. The advanced training centre sure is a tough place, right?
– Bellot: I understand. I’ve seen the video footages of that place, too. It looked really difficult.
Bellot chimed in even before Weed had any time to respond. Pale and the rest of Weed’s old companions were still eating chicken, even as they were beginning to think ‘Did he really…?’
– Weed: This advanced training hall… it’s pitifully easy.
– Seasoned Crab: …What?
– Weed: Sure, the rewards are pretty big, but it was really a piece of cake, overall.
– Seasoned Crab: That just cannot be true. I remember how hard it looked when Bard Ray and the Hermes Guild were trying to break through that place…
– Weed: You just have to fight and kill everything inside, what’s so difficult about that?
– Seasoned Crab: ???
An advanced training hall was certainly a very difficult place to clear. As it was meant as a test of one’s worth by the God of Fighting, one could not guarantee that they could successfully beat it even if they had a high level. The place summoned increasingly stronger enemies according to one’s level, skills, and the overall competence they displayed during combat.
Yet Weed possessed unnaturally high overall stats, and a vast range of combat experience on top of it. He had even improved his mental abilities such as judgment and reflex as he trained sword techniques in the Dojang.
All of these factors resulted in Weed completely destroying the difficulty level of the advanced training hall.
– Seasoned Crab: This is so weird. It really doesn’t make any sense…
– Weed: What doesn’t make sense?
– Seasoned Crab: If those walkthrough videos aren’t wrong, you must have encountered the 10 Knights of Velhodan in the middle. How on earth did you defeat them?
In the recent videos of the Hermes Guild going through the advanced training hall, the 10 Knights of Velhodan could be seen making their appearance. They were some of the most powerful knights, each of them at a level above 550.
– Weed: Well, they only came at me one at a time, talking about their chivalry and such.
– Seasoned Crab: Still, they must have been extremely strong. And you’d have to fight them in succession, without giving them any break.
– Weed: They still die once you hit them hard enough, all the same.
– Seasoned Crab: They aren’t the sort of lot you can beat so easily, though…
– Weed: Well, they all had developed a few bad habits in sword wielding, as well as some structural flaws in their armor… but even when not counting all of those, they were still weaker than the subordinates I used to have at my side in the desert.
The expression on the faces of Pale and the other companions soon changed to ‘Yeah, thought so.’ They had yet again confirmed that gnawing at drumsticks was a far more meaningful thing to do than worrying about Weed.
– Pale: Well, we’ll wait for you at the entrance of the Path of Struggle, then.
The two days of sweet holiday was now coming to an end. But just as they were about to put aside their lingering holiday mood and leave,
– Weed: You don’t have to. I’ll go to the Central Square in Taho when I’m done here.
– Pale: You’ve had a long day; it’s the least we could do to go and pick you up. We’ll bring some fried chicken, too.
– Weed: Well, I have already completed the Path of Struggle.
– Pale: …What?
Even Pale could not help but be startled by this.
– Pale: That quickly, all by yourself? I mean, in terms of the time taken, it might be possible for you… but where are you now?
– Weed: I’ve made some accomplishments while I was in the Path of Struggle. This led to a new event, and… right now, I’m in the God of Fighting’s Coliseum.
– Pale: I’ve never heard of that place. But judging by the name…
– Weed: Yep. Batalli the God of Fighting is here.