I slowly opened my eyes, feeling the throbbing wounds all across my body. It was as though my every bone was broken.
Growling, I tried to take a seated posture, but since my left arm was unresponsive, I failed miserably.
My gaze shifted towards my limb, marked by a trail of elongated claws etched across the flesh of my forearm, while my shoulder seemed to be basically torn away.
It would be a surprise to anyone that I could maintain even a shred of consciousness with so much pain.
Yet, to me, this injury held little significance. My pain threshold was simply above human standards.
With my remaining healthy right hand, I reached into the Spatial Ring, retrieving a Potion containing a vibrant red liquid that sloshed within.
Swiftly consuming the health potion, I allowed myself to lay on the floor for a few more minutes, until every part of my body except for my shoulder was fully healed.
The potion worked its mending magic flawlessly, leaving behind a mere ache where once there were raw wounds and torn flesh.
Struggling to raise my heavy body from the ancient wooden floor, my eyes fell upon the remnants of the demon's existence—a heap of ash. Amidst the ashes, a black sphere rested, emanating an aura of Dark Mana that permeated the surroundings.
It was a Demon Core, similar to the Mana cores, but due to the excessive amount of Dark Energy within them, it was unfit for human consumption.
As I lifted it from the pile, my gaze fixated upon the darkness swirling within. A golden radiance emanated from my eyes, while I directed some Mana into the core, causing the essence to twist and seethe.
"I'll have some use for you later on..."
Throwing the core into my Inventory, I quickly left the ancient bedroom, not bothering to avoid the macabre splatters of blood splattered everywhere. I was already drenched in blood from head to toe, so what's the point?
Walking through the towering spire, my footsteps quickened, since I've just eliminated a Demon belonging to a Great Family. It was impossible that there wouldn't be anyone coming after me and Demons are known for being very fast and sneaky, so gaining access to the Dungeon in the wild lands posed no obstacle for their kind.
I don't want to be paranoid, but if I don't hurry up, I might die.
As I turned the handle and pushed open yet another door, I was greeted by the sight of an ancient bathroom.
However, my attention was immediately drawn to a peculiar phenomenon - something purple swirling behind the translucent shower curtains.
I wasted no time in tearing apart the obstructing cloth, unveiling a purple portal concealed within the bathtub.
Without hesitation, I jumped into the swirling crack, feeling my consciousness flick and the world around me turn white for a second.
The world around me spun, but I managed not to lose my balance.
Although my body slightly trembled, my face was calm.
I could feel pressure on my feet and a high-pitched noise ringing in my ears. At that moment, everything turned dark, I found myself in the dark pathway.
Thud... Thud... Thud...
I began walking, my steps echoing through the corridor as I moved forward. The dim light flickered overhead, casting eerie shadows along the tapestries. The tapping grew louder, becoming more distinct with each step I took.
Finally, I reached the end of the corridor, where a small wooden door stood. Without hesitation, I pushed it open, only to be greeted by blinding sunlight and the unmistakable scent of saltwater.
I found myself standing on the deck of a ship, surrounded by the vast expanse of the ocean. The waves rolled beneath me, their rhythmic crashing filling the air. The ship creaked and swayed with each swell, as if caught in the midst of a storm.
The tapping sound that led me here seemed to come from a figure standing at the helm. As I approached, I realized it was a weathered sailor, his ancient clothes making him look like a decoration. His gaze was fixed on the turbulent waters ahead.
I cautiously approached the sailor, my eyes narrowing as I noticed the bone-white hand gripping the wheel. It was a skeleton, devoid of flesh and life, yet somehow it retained its ability to navigate the treacherous waters.
His empty eye sockets seemed to meet mine, and he raised a bony finger, pointing towards the distant storm clouds gathering on the horizon.
I followed his gesture, squinting through the blinding sunlight.
I muttered under my breath, following the skeletal sailor's bony finger pointing toward the dark, billowing masses gathering on the horizon. It was no ordinary storm. The air crackled with Mana, and a sense of foreboding filled my gut.
With a sinking feeling, I realized that this skeleton was my only chance of survival amidst the brewing tempest. I had no knowledge of sailing, and the prospect of facing the wrath of such a storm without guidance was certain doom.
Gazing into the empty sockets of the sailor's skull, I hesitated for a moment, weighing my options. Could I trust this creature? Would it lead me to safety or into an even greater danger? There was no way to know for certain.
All I knew was that in the last trial, one is not supposed to kill anything.
Taking a deep breath, I made my decision. Trusting the skeletal sailor was a gamble, but I had no other choice.
"Lead the way..."
I said firmly, my voice cutting through the salty air. The sailor's bony finger remained pointed towards the storm clouds, and without hesitation, he turned the wheel, setting the ship on a course straight into the heart of the tempest.
As the ship sailed further into the tumultuous sea, the winds grew stronger, howling with an otherworldly fury. The waves rose higher and crashed against the ship's hull, causing it to rock violently. But the skeletal sailor maneuvered with an expertise that defied his lifeless form, skillfully navigating through the treacherous waters.
It was then that I noticed a change in the atmosphere. Whispers carried on the wind, faint and indistinct at first, but growing louder as the ship ventured deeper into the storm. I strained my ears, trying to make sense of the ethereal voices that surrounded me.
"Jump... Jump... Join us..."
The disembodied voices urged me, their words filled with a strange allure. Ghostly apparitions emerged from the misty spray of the ocean, their translucent figures reaching out towards me. Their faces bore expressions of longing and sadness, their eyes brimming with a haunting plea.
However, I only sneered, looking at their ghostly figures. These mental attacks were pathetic.
With each passing moment, the storm intensified, lightning illuminating the sky with jagged bolts, and thunder reverberating through the air. The ship was tossed like a fragile leaf in the tempest's grip, yet it held together, battered but resolute.
As the storm raged on, I could feel the power of the Mana surging around me. The air crackled with electricity, and the water churned with an almost sentient force.
ραпdα -n?νe| , c?m I tightly held onto one of the wooden fences, trying to survive the storm.
As the storm reached its climax, a deafening roar filled the air, drowning out the sound of crashing waves and thunderous booms. Suddenly, a massive water vortex emerged, swirling ominously just ahead of the ship.
Before I could react, the ship was pulled into the vortex's powerful grasp. The force was immense, tearing at the wooden planks and threatening to swallow the vessel whole. I clung desperately to the railing, my fingers white with the strain, but the sheer power of the vortex was overwhelming.
With a violent lurch, the ship was sucked downward, plunging into the depths of the sea. The world around me became a swirling blur of water and darkness as the ship was dragged deeper and deeper.
Finally, the ship came to a sudden halt, jolting me violently. I released my grip on the railing and found myself standing on the deck, surrounded by an eerie silence. The storm above had vanished, replaced by a tranquil underwater world.
"What the fuck is happening!?"
Taking a cautious step forward, I peered over the edge of the ship and saw an astonishing sight. Spread out before me was an abandoned coral reef that resembled a village frozen in time. The vibrant corals formed structures that resembled homes, towers, and even winding pathways.
For some reason I could breathe underwater without a problem.
I tried to look for the skeleton to see if he survived, but the monster was gone, either lost somewhere in the sea, or crushed by the massive ship.
As I descended the steps of the ship and made my way onto the coral reef, I felt a strange calm wash over me. The water was crystal clear, allowing me to see the intricate details of the reef's architecture. Vibrant fish darted in and out of the coral structures, adding a sense of life to the abandoned village.
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