Solo Max Level Newbie Chapter 241

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Solo Max-Level Newbie

Chapter 241: The Return of the Heroes (2)

“I hereby bestow upon you the ‘Heaven’s Mandate Stone’.”

“……!”

Upon hearing Reinhardt’s words, a tremor shook through Jinhyuk’s pupils.

“Majesty?”

“Isn’t that item only meant for the descendants of the royal bloodline?”

“Preposterous! This is unacceptable!”

“I must agree. No matter if they are heroes, this is simply an outrageous act!”

The ministers voiced their protests in unison.

“I’m sorry, but my decision is final.”

“……Is this truly your will, Majesty?”

Vainsturlean’s eyes turned cold.

“Yes……. It is indeed my will.”

“Then we have no choice but to comply. We shall follow Your Majesty’s decree, hoping you do not come to regret this decision.”

Vainsturlean stood up slowly, and the nobles following him rose from their seats as well.

Their reaction was insolent, yet at the same time, it was evidence of the duke’s power that it had come to surpass the Emperor’s.

‘This is like walking on thin ice.’

Understandably.

Everyone erupted with such a reaction.

The ‘Heaven’s Mandate Stone’ was a kind of communication conduit.

Namely, it allowed one to converse with the deities of the upper echelons.

Considering he had obtained the ancient kin ‘Sweet Potato’ when he met the Egyptian deities…

One could imagine just how preposterous this reward was.

‘Jackpot. No, this is sheer madness.’

Though the deities were inherently whimsical and unpredictable, and whether they would respond was unknown.

‘If they find favor, the reward could be so game-changing that it would completely shatter all existing balance.’

Greed filled Jinhyuk’s eyes.

Of course.

“This reward is far too great for us. We were merely doing what we had to do.”

The words that left his mouth couldn’t be farther from genuine.

“No. Thanks to you, we were able to prevent innocent civilians from harm; it is only right that I offer you this much. Actually, I regret not being able to give you more.”

“Once again, we are grateful for your generosity.”

Ugh. The cheesiness was creeping up on him and his mouth felt like it was filled with thorns.

But he had to maintain his expression to the very end.

This was part of navigating the social landscape of adults, after all.

“There’s something I need to finalize, so once that’s done, I’ll personally guide you to where the Heaven’s Mandate Stone resides.”

Reinhardt’s gaze shifted, as if he remembered something.

“And. Sir Ebraheim?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Could you escort them? With you there, there’s no need for multiple royal guards.”

Ebraheim, confidant of Vainsturlean and the Grand Swordmaster, was an unexpected choice by Reinhardt.

Especially since the duke had just openly shown hostility, and Ebraheim was not his ally, meaning he could turn into an enemy at any moment.

“I will heed the Emperor’s command.”

After alternating his gaze between Reinhardt and Jinhyuk, Ebraheim finally nodded.

***

During the short break that ensued.

Jinhyuk was assigned the same room he had stayed in before.

Finally, a place with a proper fluffy bed and a warm meal.

Teresa and Cheon Yuseong, along with Pesis, were in the room opposite, so he could meet them later.

“Haa. Finally some rest. I’ll take a quick nap.”

Elise immediately buried herself in the bed.

That girl, not even bothering to wash up before sleeping.

“Ah! Sister. Me too. I want to sleep with you.”

“Alright, come here.”

Andria snuggled next to Elise.

“Fluffy!”

Sweet Potato also rolled around on the bed, seemingly enjoying the softness of the mattress as it purred contentedly.

“Master, I will keep an eye on this Ebraheim. Even if he’s a double agent, there are too many doubts to be at ease.”

After wrapping things up with Namgung Chun and then with Andria and Wolyoung, the room suddenly felt like a crowded market.

It was all good, but kindly move to another room.

With so many rooms to choose from, why did everyone have to crowd into this one?

“Huff.”

A deep sigh escaped Jinhyuk’s lips.

But with the noisy ones quiet for the moment, he could now examine the items obtained from Antrad.

Jinhyuk spread out four items from his spacial inventory.

‘Nine Tails Orb’.

‘Sword of Scorching Flames’.

‘A Culinary Book of 1009 Dishes for Gluttons’.

‘Waters of Oblivion’.

Each was a superior-grade artifact, emanating extraordinary power.

The ‘Culinary Book of 1009 Dishes for Gluttons’ would be handy when tackling the 15th floor which housed the Witch of Lamentation…

Now it was time to examine the ‘Sword of Scorching Flames’.

The warmth spread from his fingertips to the top of his head.

[Sword of Scorching Flames]

Acquisition Difficulty: SS

Attack Power: 13,500

Weight: 82kg

Durability: 10,000/10,000

Special Effect: This beloved sword of the intermediate demon Antrad comes with a ‘Fire Attribute’, boosting its attack power by 10% for 1 minute when used with skills or abilities that share the attribute. Moreover, the wielder’s resistance to all flame attacks increases by 50%.

…Jackpot.

The attack power alone was tremendous, but what made it scandalously overpowered were the two options attached to it.

It was optimized for both offense and defense, and the percentages were almost too good to believe.

‘The only downside is its weight, but that’s something I can handle.’

I can resolve it through Master Orun or even pawn it off to Rick for a hefty sum.

Being, essentially, on Easy Street as far as wealth was concerned.

Jinhyuk then picked up a translucent orb flickering with flames.

[Nine Tails Orb]

Acquisition Difficulty: SSS

Function: Grants the ability to transform into the model ‘Gumiho’, or Nine-Tailed Fox, when possessed. The transformation primarily alters physical appearance and grants increased movement speed, along with additional skill enhancements. (Note: Ownership cannot be transferred and is restricted to females only.)

Abilities optimized for speed.

There was one perfect candidate for it.

“Andria. Can you come here for a moment?”

“Yes?”

“I have something for you.”

“For me from Jinhyuk…?”

Surprised, Andria quickly bounced out of bed, her eyes round with anticipation, like a squirrel spotting a sunflower seed after hibernation.

“Hold this with both hands.”

“Alright!”

As soon as the orb made contact with Andria’s hands, a bright light burst forth.

Woong!

[Suin transformation complete.]

[The power of the ‘Gumiho’ awakens!]

Andria’s figure began to shift slowly.

Her ears pricked up and nine white tails fluttered gently in the air.

She was the spitting image of a Gumiho from legends.

Despite the sinister reputation they had.

“Wow…”

Andria marveled joyfully, fascinated by the change.

Beyond the physical transformation, the quality of the mana emanating from her had changed.

“If you control your mana, you can toggle the transformation state as needed.”

“Really… Thank you so much, Jinhyuk. To receive such a precious gift…”

“You’ve been through a lot at my bidding, haven’t you? Think of it as a reward, so don’t feel burdened.”

She was meant to feel burdened.

And to remember the continued hardships she would have to endure.

Securing this debt of gratitude meant she would make full use of her power and the Fifth Tier in the future.

Good.

Now that the orb was dealt with, only the hidden piece remained.

Jinhyuk left a grateful Andria behind, then turned his attention to the unfamiliar liquid in his hands.

[‘Gluttonous Eye’ has identified the target!]

[Waters of Oblivion]

Acquisition Difficulty: Indeterminate

Function: Enables ‘mass memory manipulation’ targeting all players across the world, as well as non-players outside the tower. The duration of the altered memories depends on the completion level of the Waters of Oblivion. (Current Completion: 7%)

Incredible…

A single item capable of manipulating the memories of every player and non-player worldwide.

He’d never heard of such an item before.

Immediately, dozens of potential uses for the item went through his mind.

A treasure with limitless potential utility.

‘None of the rewards I’ve received this time are discardable.’

It was almost terrifying how much luck overflowed.

As if even being hit by a meteor while walking outside would be too good for him.

However, he didn’t let his surging excitement show outwardly.

The most important reward was yet to come.

‘The Heaven’s Mandate Stone’.

A meeting with the higher deities was imminent.

***

The Hidden Place of the Empire, ‘The Emperor’s Tomb’.

It was the resting place of the former emperors, heavily guarded by numerous barriers and magical protections.

Jinhyuk gazed around the interior of the tomb with sentimental eyes.

A tomb filled with ‘colored’ holy relics was a treat for the eyes.

‘I’ve really made it big, coming here.’

In the past, even at his peak, he couldn’t set foot in this place.

He’d failed to change the Emperor’s mind, and unlike his influence now in the struggle for superiority in the mid-floors, he had no comrades to break through the tough battlefields.

‘After all, there was no one who would join me on such difficult challenges.’

But now, things were different.

Though there was bickering, he had people he could trust and work with.

Well… not a bad feeling.

Unlike the lonely path he once had to walk alone.

‘Especially since I can grow beyond what I considered my limits in the past.’

At that thought, his heart began to beat with a pleasant rhythm.

That’s when…

“Hmm.”

Jinhyuk’s eyes landed on a beautifully crafted statue.

A 2-meter tall marble statue modeled after an angel and interspersed with colorful jewels – the ‘Heaven’s Mandate Stone’.

“Amazing item. The magic power is… endless.”

Teresa swallowed nervously.

“Indeed, an interesting toy.”

Even Elise’s eyes had narrowed.

“We’re lucky to witness such a rarity.”

Pesis and Cheon Yuseong similarly looked upon the Heaven’s Mandate Stone as if it were unbelievable.

“With the defeat of the three demons, I will give you three of these. But be mindful, the Heaven’s Mandate Stone is merely a medium to communicate with the upper deities. To garner their interest, one must possess the qualities worthy of their attention.”

The chance to receive divine help was undoubtedly a huge merit.

Yet, for the average person, the stones could be curséd relics that drew either mockery from the deities or, worse, their wrath.

“A cursé, you say?”

Teresa’s expression darkened slightly at the mention of a cursé.

Even if the link to the deities was alluring, she didn’t want a fate bound with a curse.

“Don’t worry too much. If you’re not worthy, you simply need to return the stone to the angel statue immediately.”

“That’s… a relief.”

Sighs of relief echoed quietly around.

“There are a total of 37 remaining Heaven’s Mandate Stones.”

As Jinhyuk counted the stones, he finally spoke.

Reinhardt’s lips quivered ever so slightly, as if he had understood Jinhyuk’s mention of the number ’37’.

“That is correct. There are exactly 37 left.”

From past to present, there had been a total of 38 members of Reinhardt’s royal lineage.

Yet, there were 37 stones remaining.

This meant that only one of them had been recognized by the deities through the stones.

“Does this imply then that none of us are worthy to succeed the late Emperor?”

The founding emperor Reinhardt I, an emperor who had ruled with overwhelming force and iron-fisted governance, a sovereign with absolute power that no one dared to challenge, had been chosen by the deities.

He wielded their support to maintain peace across his empire until his last breath.

But that golden era was much too brief.

After the first generation, there wasn’t a single member of the imperial family suitable to maintain the imperial authority with the Mandate Stone.

“Was it your intent to give us these precious stones because we, who have vanquished the demons, might be recognized by the deities?”

“Hehe. Sharp as always. That was indeed the reason.”

“There had to be deep consideration behind your decision, but what will you do about the nobles? No doubt, it will stir those who question the imperial authority.”

The decision made by the Emperor a few hours ago essentially had given the nobility the pretext to wield actions.

The underground factions were likely to start baring their fangs now.

“Imperial authority, huh…”

Reinhardt slowly weighed the words.

Years-old wrinkles crossed his face, reflecting the lonely memories of an emperor.

“More than such things, I value the people of my empire.”

He wanted to protect them.

The empire his ancestors had established.

The lives of the people who lived each day under the guise of peace.

For that, he dedicated his life and believed there was no regret, even if he had to burn his own body to ashes.

“But alone, I am not enough.”

A puppet emperor.

The duke Vainsturlean already held the core powers of taxation and national defense in his hands.

A few loyalists remained, but they were too few to turn the tides.

Day by day, the gap only grew more severe. Despair engulfed him, and he spent far too long in darkness, hopelessly living each day.

“As you feared, a widespread rebellion is indeed imminent. The truce with Murim was possible because talks with the nobility had concluded.”

“You were aware…”

He wasn’t utterly ignorant, despite being figuratively blind and deaf.

If he proceeded knowing this, then Reinhardt must have made some sort of firm resolution.

“When I first met you, I felt hope for the first time. Hope that it hadn’t completely disappeared. And now, that vague expectation has turned into certainty. Please, save the empire.”

The emperor had lost everything.

He was now requesting the salvation of everything.

There was not a shred of pretense in his earnest voice.

“I…”

As Jinhyuk was about to respond…

[All barriers are being deactivated!]

[Defensive magics are being rendered ineffective!]

[Intruders have entered the Emperor’s Tomb!]

Red alert messages appeared one after another.

Someone was coming.

Into this tomb.

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