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    A week had passed since entering the Sky Road. It had been a long time since Do-joon had stayed in a labyrinth for this long.

    During that time, Do-joon had been looking straight ahead without being distracted. In fact, even if he wanted to be distracted, he couldn’t.

    There was nothing else to look at anyway.

    The only path was the single way leading upwards, so heading up was the natural thing to do.

    However, even after running for a week, it was still stairs.

    An endless journey. Still, the reason he could continue without giving up or stopping halfway was because of his goal and achievement.

    The goal was simple. It was to catch the boss of this labyrinth, who was probably at the top, and advance to the next labyrinth.

    There was no way there wouldn’t be a boss, so this path would eventually come to an end.

    As for the achievement…

    Kwaaang!

    Thud!

    From time to time, very rarely, it meant breaking the stone statues that appeared and extracting their power sources.

    [Successfully copied.]

    [‘Power Source of the Untold God’ that became the material has been destroyed.]

    [The copied ability is adjusted according to the item’s ‘classification’.]

    [Additional Option]

    – Attribute: Mana Recovery Lv7

    In just a week, the level of Mana Recovery he had achieved was already 7. Compared to when it was at level 1, the efficiency had increased incredibly.

    ‘At level 1, it was just a supplementary thing.’

    He could feel the difference, but that was because something that didn’t exist before had appeared. In fact, the amount recovered through this attribute itself wasn’t that significant.

    But now it was different.

    Now, a meaningful amount was being recovered even in battle.

    Even if the mana supply through breathing was blocked for some reason, it seemed like it would be okay for a while. With just this attribute, he could endure to a certain extent.

    That much was steadily coming in through his whole body.

    ‘It’s a pity that it doesn’t increase the mana capacity itself.’

    But that couldn’t be helped.

    What if it was an option that increased the mana container itself?

    Then this power source item would become an absurdly ridiculous item. It would mean an item that constantly increased the mana capacity just by leaving it alone.

    If it had such an option, it would have to be at least a legendary grade, not a rare one.

    ‘Recovery alone is good enough. It’s helping quite a bit in this labyrinth too.’

    This attribute was already providing great help in this labyrinth. With increased recovery, he could rest less.

    During that time, he could move his feet one more time to climb the stairs, and recover little by little while climbing.

    A virtuous cycle. Thanks to that, he was able to climb quite a lot in a week.

    The problem was that even after climbing this much, forget seeing the top, even the scenery didn’t change.

    Also, this wasn’t the only achievement of the past week.

    ‘I’ve also mastered the footwork to a certain extent.’

    The footwork of generating wind at the tips of his feet to shoot his body forward.

    The principle itself was simple, but it wasn’t easy at all. The power of the generated wind had to be gathered entirely on the legs without being dispersed, and in the process, no sound should be made. The fact that there was sound was a big weakness in itself.

    And it was a problem even after manifestation. He had to be able to maintain balance of the bouncing body and freely choose between landing and walking.

    If it was just shooting the body forward, it was just a jump. It couldn’t be called a method of running.

    Now he could control all these processes, albeit imperfectly. He had completely mastered it.

    Of course, further raising the level from here was a task for the future. He was still far from the level of stepping on the sky that Kalish had mentioned.

    By the way, when Do-joon perfectly executed the footwork…

    ―The name of this footwork is Heavenly Steps.

    Only then did Kalish tell him the name.

    ―Knox is known to ride a horse that steps on the sky.

    “A horse that steps on the sky?”

    ―According to mythology, there are many who fly in the sky. But the only one described as ‘stepping’ was Knox’s beloved horse. It is said to be able to run to the other side of the continent in a single dash without resting, and that time doesn’t even take three days. To the beings of the Lower World, that sight was truly like lightning, so it was named Heavenly Steps.

    Kalish, who told the origin of Heavenly Steps at the same time.

    Listening to it, a question suddenly came to mind, so he asked.

    “Didn’t you say that at a high level, one can step on the sky or something like that?”

    ―I did.

    “But listening to the story, it sounds like a technique that was originally created for that purpose from the beginning?”

    At first, when he heard about stepping on the sky, he simply thought that such a feat was possible when martial arts reached its peak.

    But now, after hearing the name and origin, doesn’t it seem like it was made for that purpose from the beginning?

    ―Well, I don’t remember exactly, but it’s probably like that. I hate ambiguous things.

    “Ambiguous?”

    ―Most of the martial arts and martial techniques in my knowledge are like that. There are many that have become strange by trying to incorporate some useless philosophy. Just thinking about it makes me suffocated, really.

    Kalish spoke in a fed-up tone.

    “You mean Kalish’s martial techniques are different?”

    ―Of course! From the beginning, I thought very simply. The scenes in Knox’s mythology that made my heart race, let’s try to recreate those scenes one by one. And very specifically at that.

    A martial technique created by the continent’s greatest martial artist with a clear will could not possibly be shoddy.

    One of them was Heavenly Steps.

    He said he was inspired by Knox’s horse, the only one described as stepping on the sky in mythology, and wanted to recreate it.

    To do that, he studied how simply flying and stepping were different, and pondered how to step on the void.

    In the end, it wasn’t that such a feat became possible when the level was high, but rather, it was a martial technique created from the beginning to perform that feat.

    “Nice.”

    And Kalish’s philosophy really resonated with Do-joon. When one wanted to collapse from exhaustion, what made a person take one more step was a concrete goal and expectation.

    Wasn’t that the same reason Do-joon ventured into dangerous labyrinths and dungeons and trained without rest?

    Imagining the sight of his daughter’s illness being completely cured, graduating from college like others, getting a job, meeting a good person, starting a family…

    He was constantly whipping himself with that image in mind.

    ―Right? Originally, martial techniques aren’t difficult. They say that the novice learns them to cut down enemies, while the expert learns them to overcome himself. In the end, martial techniques are about becoming the best version of myself that I imagine.

    So perhaps that was why Kalish’s teachings were always straightforward and clear. It felt like they scratched the itchy spots just right.

    Do-joon’s rapid achievement was also thanks to his good teachings.

    Chatting like that while running, the unchanging scenery didn’t feel boring. If he had been alone, it would have been quite a hardship.

    Sleeping, eating, running.

    Two more days of repetition like that.

    “Huh?”

    Suddenly, Do-joon felt like he had passed through something. This was the first time he had felt this way, so he stopped his feet.

    He looked back at the path he had come from, but…

    ‘There’s nothing?’

    There was nothing out of the ordinary.

    However, he couldn’t ignore the sensation just now. That was because from that moment, he felt like the surrounding air itself had changed.

    ‘It’s like I’ve come to a completely different place?’

    But the visible scenery remained the same. A place with only clouds, fog, and stairs.

    Feeling uneasy, Do-joon slowed down his pace of climbing the stairs.

    And a little later.

    For the first time in 9 days, he discovered a scenery other than stairs.

    It was a small, cozy estate.

    *

    “What’s with the building?”

    “I don’t know…”

    Do-joon approached the estate with a lot of wariness.

    What he saw was a wall, a large gate, and the roof of a tiled house visible above the wall.

    It looked just like a house that would appear in a history book.

    “I guess this is the top.”

    “Then there must be a boss monster.”

    “Maybe.”

    Creak-

    Do-joon opened the front gate and carefully entered.

    What kind of boss would there be? Would it be a stone statue this time too? That was the most likely possibility.

    However, there was no one inside.

    There were buildings and a small pond on one side. And a tree bearing clusters of fruit. What kind of fruit was it? Peaches?

    Do-joon entered while examining the courtyard. Just in case, he was ready to use the return skill at any moment.

    But then suddenly…

    Creak. Thud.

    The sound of the door closing from behind was heard. It wasn’t abruptly closed like in a horror movie, but slowly like an automatic door.

    Do-joon turned around to check the door. Although it wasn’t sudden, it didn’t feel good. Seeing the entrance to the boss room closing on its own…

    ‘If anything, I can return or climb over the wall.’

    Still, he wasn’t too worried. The door had only closed, but there were plenty of escape routes.

    Thinking that, he looked back at the courtyard.

    There was something there.

    “…!”

    Until just a moment ago, there had been no one there. But now, something had appeared like a ghost without a sound.

    He couldn’t help but be surprised by this. Do-joon reflexively gripped his spear. However, the tip of the spear wasn’t as sharp as usual.

    Because what had appeared looked like a person, not a monster.

    “It’s the first time a guest has come.”

    An old man with white hair. He muttered bluntly.

    “Who… are you?”

    There was a being that could speak in the labyrinth? That in itself wasn’t surprising. Wasn’t Kalish, whom he was holding right now, also found and brought from a labyrinth?

    However, just because it could speak didn’t necessarily mean it was an ally.

    When Do-joon asked without letting go of his wariness, the old man glanced at his stance holding the spear.

    “Put away that unsettling thing and come in. I’ll at least serve you a cup of tea.”

    Then he turned around and started walking towards the pavilion with heavy steps.

    Seeing his back turned without hesitation, Do-joon slightly relaxed his stance. Still, he didn’t put away Kalish.

    As the old man walked with his back turned, Do-joon used [Insight] on him.

    Then…

    [???]

    – Compatibility Rate 0%

    Do-joon widened his eyes at the information window that appeared.

    ‘This is…’

    It was the same situation as with Sivellin. When he had been told to regain his name…

    [A hidden quest has been created.]

    [Quest]

    – Collect the forgotten name.

    – A name is the reference point of existence for oneself to be distinguished from all the nameless things in this world. A soul whose name is forgotten will eventually have its existence forgotten and perish.

    – If you find the name, that soul will once again leave a mark in the memory of the stars.

    After seeing the old man’s information window, a hidden quest appeared. This was the third hidden quest he had received.

    The content was exactly the same as the ruined temple labyrinth where he had brought Sivellin.

    The only difference was…

    ‘Sivellin was a ghoul and her compatibility rate was over 70%.’

    The other party’s condition was different. Unlike Sivellin when they first met, that old man looked like an ordinary person on the outside. The compatibility rate was written as 0%.

    Did 0% mean he had no combat ability?

    However, as if denying that thought…

    “…Be careful. He’s a considerably strong person.”

    Kalish spoke in a low, sunken tone. It was a completely different, most serious voice compared to usual.

    ‘He didn’t have such a solemn voice even when fighting the elf.’

    Come to think of it, the elf from that time, Eldora, also had a compatibility rate of 0%. Nevertheless, that guy was strong. He would have been stronger than a decent A-rank hunter.

    ‘Compatibility Rate isn’t necessarily a measure of strength.’

    It could be a common standard, but not an absolute one.

    It wasn’t unreasonable to think that way, since he had discovered exceptions twice in such a short time.

    “What are you doing? Not coming in?”

    The old man looked back and said. He didn’t particularly have a welcoming atmosphere, but he didn’t show any hostility either.

    “……”

    Kalish was quiet. If there was any hostility that Do-joon hadn’t noticed, Kalish wouldn’t have missed it.

    The fact that he was quiet meant that there really was no hostility from the other party.

    Eventually, Do-joon slowly followed the old man. Kalish remained slung over his shoulder.

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