Solo Max Level Newbie Chapter 178

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Chapter 178: Sword Saint’s Secret Techniques

“……”

Having tasted the collaboration of stinky tofu and mint chocolate, Ellis had become very docile.

It wasn’t a metaphorical expression; she really looked as if she had lost her soul, blankly staring at the sky.

A green streak of mint chocolate ran down the corner of her mouth, but she seemed unable to even contemplate wiping it off…

I did wonder if it was a bit too much… that’s nonsense.

It feels like the pecking order is finally getting established.

‘It’s been proven that even delicious mint chocolate can’t beat stinky tofu.’

Jinhyuk had a satisfied smile across his face.

Then.

“When I think of you… I feel that the monsters in the tower aren’t really all that bad.”

Cheon Yuseong was playing with a beer glass and silently shook his head.

“As for me, I’m decent. And people who like both stinky tofu and mint chocolate usually quite fancy it, right?”

Mixing them would result in one dying without the other knowing.

The problem is that it could actually lead to a real death.

“……Let’s just stop there.”

“Instead, which faction have you chosen? You’ve been getting a lot of love calls everywhere, haven’t you?”

While not as much as Jinhyuk, Cheon Yuseong had also caught the interest of multiple factions.

It was due to the flashy achievements he had accumulated so far.

“Yeah, I got a lot of offers. But……”

Cheon Yuseong glanced at Jinhyuk as he said that.

“I, too, have not chosen a faction.”

Hoho.

If he had chosen somewhere else, I would have had to bring him over by force.

Thankfully, the great Sword Saint seems well aware of his own fate.

“Tell me. You held off choosing on purpose to join my faction, right? Huh?”

“Don’t talk nonsense. I’m simply unimpressed by the others.”

“Sure, sure. As expected of you. So, are you going to join? If you come in now, as an initial member, I can give you some extra perks.”

“If I join your whatever ‘Stagnant Water Corporation,’ I could stab you in the back anytime. Are you okay with that?”

“We’ll see. That’s not going to happen.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Cowardly victories aren’t your style.”

Jinhyuk chuckled.

That guy always talked that way, but in reality, he was a foolish traditionalist who valued the proper methodology more than anyone else.

That’s why he has never managed to win until now.

“I can’t beat you in words. Fine. Defeating you is the reason I’m climbing the tower. Being together will increase those opportunities too.”

Cheon Yuseong nodded.

[Player ‘Cheon Yuseong’ has accepted your invitation.]

[First member joined your faction.]

With that…

The first member had joined the faction.

‘Might as well take care of the rest quickly then.’

Ellis and Theresa, as well as distinguished talents like Yu Yeonhwa and Lee Taemin, had to be secured in advance.

Their prices would skyrocket once they began to stand out in earnest.

Jinhyuk activated the ‘Faction Status Window’.

[Faction Information]

Name: Stagnant Water Corporation

Faction Owner: Kang Jinhyuk

Size: Small (2/3)

Grade: D

Description: A newly created faction with only a minimal influence on the tower for now, the performance of the player Kang Jinhyuk, who leads the faction, is worth continuing to watch. Numerous factions in the middle floors of the tower are paying attention to the ‘Stagnant Water Corporation’. The ‘deities’ of the upper floors of the tower have acknowledged the emergence of the new faction.

A different kind of status window appeared than the personal one.

This is the ‘Faction Status Window’ that can only be seen by those who own a faction.

‘So the limit is 3 members for now.’

The number of players one can have in their faction is also limited by the size of the faction.

Naturally, if you want to increase the number, you have to pay a fitting price.

And of course.

In the Tower of Trials, that basic currency is ‘coins’.

Jinhyuk checked the coins he had accumulated up until now.

A total of 1,637,218 coins.

He earned his worth as the video of saving China from despair surpassed 50 million views in less than a day.

Furthermore, due to the algorithm, the synergy between the videos boosted the views of other videos, causing them to skyrocket as well.

‘This is proof that the subscribers are steadily increasing.’

If he continued posting high-quality videos like this, in the future, he could wake up to a substantial amount of coins.

Satisfied with a smile, Jinhyuk invested coins to increase the number of ‘faction members’.

[Faction members can now increase to a total of 23.]

50,000 coins per person.

It took a whopping 1 million coins to increase by 20 members.

It was expensive, but an absolutely necessary investment.

If he could secure a faction to support him, he could prevent any potential variables that might arise.

Subsequently, Kim Heewoong also joined, following Yu Yeonhwa and Lee Taemin.

“I’m sorry. I am…….”

Only Theresa seemed to trail off uncomfortably.

“It’s okay. I only made the offer. It wasn’t coercion.”

Even without saying it out loud, he knew which faction she had chosen.

As a paladin, she must have joined hands with that place for the future.

‘The Empire’, or more precisely, the ‘Sacred Kingdom’.

‘It’s for the best, actually.’

In reality, this situation would be a great help in designing future plans.

Having sorted out his thoughts, Jinhyuk went back to enjoying the drink.

How much time had passed?

They ate, drank, laughed, and chattered, and before they knew it, dawn was approaching.

Even Cheon Yuseong, who pretended to be tough, and Theresa, who had always been weak to alcohol, had fallen asleep with their heads on the table.

Even Yu Yeonhwa, who claimed to never lose to liquor, had collapsed; the rest was obvious.

Amidst that, two people remained perfectly sober.

Jinhyuk and Ellis.

“How are you still so clear-headed? Are you really not a vampire?”

“I used to do missions on broadcasting where I’d chug soju straight from the bottle.”

Drinking a bottle of Chamisul one after another for 1,000 star balloons naturally improved his tolerance.

Now that he thought about it, those were memories too. Of course, it was more like a fight for survival at the time.

“Are you heading back to the tower tomorrow?”

“Yeah. I have to meet Yang Ho-Myeong, and I’ve postponed climbing the floors. Above all, I’ve arranged a meeting with the Empire in a week, so this is the end of my break.”

He had information from Cheon Yuseong and a transit pass that Ellis got from Yang Ho-Myeong.

All the cards were now in hand.

***

A vast natural cavern.

There, hundreds of masked individuals had gathered.

Drip! Drip!

Despite the crowd, the place was so silent that even the sound of water droplets falling could be heard…

The cave was steeped in silence.

Everyone was waiting for a man to speak.

“This is irritating.”

Finally, the man spoke.

Yang Ho-Myeong, the leader of the Black Wind Society (Heifu Hui).

A member of ‘Martial Forest’ (Wulin), he ruled the middle floors of the [Tower of Trials].

Yang Ho-Myeong glanced at the holographic clock in the air.

[12:00]

The clock indicated the exact time, neither more nor less.

“If I’m not mistaken, it seems that the time we agreed upon has come…”

His voice, tinged with anger, made the air grow even heavier.

The appointed time.

That’s right.

This was the reason why so many people were waiting here.

“I’ll, I’ll check it right away.”

One of the masked individuals bowed.

But just then.

“No need. He’s arrived.”

Clomp.

Someone entered the cavern entrance.

A man with a motorcycle helmet struggled inside.

“Considering this floor is a jungle, it was a monstrous task to find this meeting place. Why go through this trouble instead of a decent coffee shop? Even with the transit pass, it was a close call with death. Seriously, even with ten lives, it wouldn’t be enough.”

“Are you the errand boy sent by Unknown?”

“That’s right. Think of me as a delivery service.”

“The goods we agreed upon?”

“Got them right here.”

The man took out a book from his person.

An ancient book that looked very old.

“It was a hell of a job getting this thing. Honestly? Just for ‘Pre-heaven True Energy Vitality Pill,’ I feel like I’ve been shortchanged.”

“Bargain based on who you’re dealing with. I’m not patient enough to take your nonsense.”

A thin threat of killing intent rose from Yang Ho-Myeong’s body.

The man flinched and waved his hands.

“…Just kidding, a joke. It’s like people who practice martial arts in a cave… humor is completely blocked over here. Here, take it.”

The man handed over the ancient book to Yang Ho-Myeong.

“Where’s the elixir?”

“Wait. I have to verify the authenticity of these secret teachings first.”

“Come on, do I look like I’ve been scammed? I have a reputation for trustworthiness, you know.”

Despite the man’s shout, Yang Ho-Myeong dismissed his words.

Thump! Thump!

His heart was racing.

He was about to finally obtain the [Sword Saint]’s arcane techniques.

How long had he waited for this day?

Yang Ho-Myeong opened the first page of the ancient book with trembling hands.

[7.15 Weather Clear]

[Today I went on a walk with dad and Poppy. It was hot, and Poppy seemed tired. I’ll go out in the evening from tomorrow. Only one week of vacation left. It was a truly enjoyable day.]

……

A heavy silence fell.

Yang Ho-Myeong pressed his temples, closing his eyes.

As if he wished that what he had seen was just a dream.

But when he opened his eyes again, nothing had changed.

The uneven handwriting.

The man standing awkwardly in front of him.

Everything was still there.

This was a cursed reality.

“This… madness.”

Profanity burst from Yang Ho-Myeong’s mouth.

Fury was an insufficient word to describe his feelings.

Only the thought of tearing the man to shreds filled his mind.

“How dare you mock me? Did you think you could survive doing such nonsense here!”

Kwa-Kwa-Kwa-Kwa-Kwa-Kwa-Kwa!

The whole cave shook with the energy he unleashed.

[‘Black Sky Power’ (Heitian Gong) has been activated!]

A sinister yet black internal energy.

This was the unique ability of Yang Ho-Myeong, the leader of the Black Wind Society and a top ranker in Martial Forest.

Under the terrifying aura, the man stepped back.

“Calm down. You asked for a book written by Sword Saint? That’s a genuine article from when the Sword Saint was in elementary school. I went personally to his teacher to verify it.”

“This bastard… until the end… Alright. I’ll personally burst your insides.”

Suddenly, Yang Ho-Myeong’s form disappeared.

The distance closed in a blink.

Kwaang!

A punch imbued with full internal energy struck the man’s abdomen.

The force was enough to split him from top to bottom.

But.

“……!?”

Yang Ho-Myeong hurriedly increased the distance.

“This… this is…”

Unbelievable.

It wasn’t just because the man hadn’t died from the attack.

The aura emanating from the man.

It was strikingly similar to his own.

No, even darker and more ominous than that, a black flame flickered.

“That’s why I said to calm down.”

The man brushed off the dust buried in his stomach.

“Gasp!”

“Incredible…”

The masked observers who watched the fight bug-eyed.

Even as they brought their internal energy to the limit, just in case.

The killing intent piercing their skin made them shiver all over.

“It can’t be! How could you know about the ultimate techniques in the scripture that became extinct centuries ago!”

The antecedent of Black Wind Society.

Techniques that ‘he’ alone used.

So intricate and nonsensical that they were beyond understanding.

Merely remaining as secret techniques.

Effectively, it was martial arts that could be said to have vanished.

But why…

“You bastard! What trickery have you used!”

The technique that shouldn’t exist, that couldn’t exist, was now being performed right before their eyes.

It was an impossibility.

An unthinkable event.

Yet, they couldn’t deny the reality of the martial arts unfolding in front of them.

Just then.

The man slowly took off his helmet.

A face all too familiar was revealed.

Kang Jinhyuk.

The appearance of the ranker known as the strongest in Korea.

‘I can copy the abilities others use.’

And the abilities created through copying and fusion…

Become the ‘higher version’ of that category.

[‘Tomb of Swords’ and ‘Black Sky Power’ merge.]

[The fusion was successful.]

[The copied ability will be stored in ‘World’s Memory.’]

[‘Black Heavenly Demon Emperor Power’ (Heitian Maohuanggong) has been activated!]

A power of a different caliber.

Flames of dark crimson began to engulf the entire cavern.

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