In reaction to the deaths of four loyal servants, an ominous aura emanated from somewhere deeper within the castle. The pressure from the dark aura was immense, easily penetrating through castle walls.

Somehow, Marcello felt a sense of jovialness mixed in with the aura’s dissatisfaction over the servants’ deaths, even though that made no sense. Why would the lord of the castle be happy to learn that his loyal servants were killed? He shuddered to think of the reason why.

All seven surviving party members felt the oppressive dark aura, grounding them in the reality that they hadn’t encountered the most dangerous enemy in the castle yet. Despite Sarah’s death, despite everyone already teetering on the edge from that last grueling fight… this trial was far from over.

“Sarah,” Alice mumbled. She looked like a broken doll, her eyes expressionless as she sat near the wall. This was the first time that Alice had experienced death so far in the Tutorial, and she was not taking it well. She had lived a sheltered life as a pretty blonde girl from a nice and normal family back on earth, and was not accustomed to dealing with this level of gut wrenching goring and profound grief.

“Stop moping around,” said Emma, scolding her. The black haired girl in dark mage robes kicked Alice in the thigh. “Get up. You’re the only healer now, and Jason needs medical help NOW.”

Marcello coughed, his balance still a bit unsteady from the previous fight. The situation was not looking good. Jason received some serious injuries from his one-on-one wrestling match with the rat, Troy had some nasty werewolf claw wounds on his arm, Emma was nearly out of mana, and on top of that, their highest level healer was dead and the second highest level healer was close to mental breakdown.

Alice reluctantly got up to her feet and walked towards Jason, extending her healing staff towards him. A tendril of mana connected from the top of her healing staff to the gash on Jason’s ribcage. But she couldn’t prevent her eyes from wandering to Sarah’s gnawed through neck, her spine exposed and her eyes still open. Alice retched, the tendril of mana growing thinner for a moment as the blonde healer threw up at the side of Jason. Nevertheless, she held on and continued to heal.

Marcello set up two bear traps at each entrance to the kitchen, and alternated keeping watch with Michael and Nolan. The surviving seven members of the party rested up for roughly two hours, allowing Alice to patch them up while waiting out potion cooldowns and allowing their bodies to passively regenerate some of their health and mana.

Alice’s mental state did not improve by much over the course of the resting period, but her focus on healing let her take her mind off of Sarah’s death at the very least. She continued with her healing rather dispassionately, until finally Jason and Troy were healed up to full.

The loot distribution was a bit better this time around. Troy and Nolan prevented Michael from grabbing the loot before it could be evenly distributed using lots. Thankfully, Troy had saved some things for the purpose of drawing lots. Why he had the foresight for that, nobody knew. Then again, it wasn’t uncommon for a gangster to be an expert on things like this.

[Werewolf’s tooth (rare)] – A prized item that may be found in the cabinet of a noble’s family as a means to boast about their combat prowess, or a valuable ingredient in a dark magic ritual. This fang is from a young werewolf, and contains potent magical energy within.

The werewolf dropped an item with a rare tag, which sparked the interest of all the party members. Since everyone’s gear was all in the (basic) tier, it was expected that something (rare) would draw lots of attention even if the practical uses of the item were a bit far-fetched for them at the moment. But at the very least, it could probably be sold for a decent amount of currency later on. Lots were drawn using some leftover chopsticks that Troy had saved from the second area canteen, and the rare item went to… Michael again.

“You see, it wouldn’t have made a difference either way,” Michael laughed.

“This way is how it should be done,” Troy said adamantly. “You don’t fuck around with family matters.” Troy once again showed his roots in organized crime, as he pointed his finger at his neck tattoos. Now that Marcello looked at him more closely, he could see a series of vertical lines tattooed onto the side of the man’s neck. If he had to hazard a guess, each line probably represented a person he put down back on earth while working with his family.

The next item was something familiar.

[Banshee’s essence (uncommon)] – A desirable item that is the ingredient of many dark magic rituals, a banshee’s essence may be harvested from the corpse of a fallen banshee. The essence is normally orb shaped, and its size varies based on the age of the banshee when killed.

It was the same item as last time, except the orb was slightly bigger and a bit darker in hue.

“That one’s mine,” Marcello said. “I got the notification for solo contribution for the kill, so it’s my right to have it.”

“Fair point,” Troy replied. Criminals had their own codes of honor, and in some cases they were more fair than not. He tossed the orb to Marcello.

The rat did not drop anything, ironically, despite it being the monster that dealt the most damage to their team. And thus ended the drab auction held in the midst of a sea of death. They basically set the auction right next to the werewolf’s corpse, as if that helped with the mood or something.

Sarah’s belongings were split amongst the team. Her exit pass went to Jason, and her remaining health and mana potions were split evenly between everyone.

The party made their last minute preparation as Alice finally finished up healing Jason. The two of them headed to the rest of the party, with Jason giving a little nod to the party to show that things were back to normal.

“It’s time,” Jason said with anger in his voice. “Let’s go kill that son of a bitch.”

“Let’s just focus on finding the exit and getting out of here,” Nolan replied. “I’m sorry but there is no way in hell we can fight that lord. You saw what his servants did to us, right? Do you think the lord is gonna be some kind of pushover?”

“Nolan is right,” Michael said, running his fingers through his sleek brown hair. “The trial completion condition is to simply find the exit and go through it. If we can avoid confrontation with the lord of the castle, we should. That is the only way we can increase everyone’s chances of survival.”

Troy scoffed. “As much as I hate to agree with Nolan and Michael, they’re right Jason. Let’s not fight the thing if we can. I’m already getting the shivers just feeling its aura, so it must be really fucking strong.”

Marcello agreed with what they were saying logically, but for some strange reason, he had a hunch that he should confront the lord. He did have an ace up his sleeve after all, the Scroll of Summon Ice Elemental that he bought for a whopping eight thousand points, nearly his entire points bank that he painstakingly earned from the first hard trial.

For now, Marcello decided that he would stay with the rest of the party. But he just couldn’t shake that feeling that he was starting to overtake them, and that they would only start to hold him behind in the future. After all, he alone was level 9, while the rest of the seven survivors ranged between level 6 and 7, with Alice lagging behind at 5.

Marcello had confidence that he was the highest level player in their entire tutorial, besides possibly only Agnis. Seriously, who the hell else could possibly be level 9 already?


Gabriel wiped the blood off his healer robes, the werewolf laying dead in a pool of blood underneath his feet. He had snuck up onto it by using He who hides in the Shadows, getting the first attack in before he ended up killing it with his new ability, Draining Touch.

He just reached level 11. At level 10, he received the option to change into a new class called the Necrotic Healer. Gabriel gladly accepted the option, seeing as how his other options were just additional healing crap that he didn’t need right now. As a lone healer taking on the second area white door challenge by himself, he needed all the firepower he could get.


All seven surviving members of Marcello’s party were huddled around Nolan, who currently had a scroll in his hand.

Marcello remembered seeing that scroll in the tutorial shop.

[Tutorial Scroll of Pathfinding]: Points an arrow towards the [Exit] of a trial. 600 points.

The price was a bit ludicrous for such a simple spell, so he decided not to buy it. Nolan had other ideas though, and right now Marcello felt incredibly thankful that Nolan ended up shelling out the points to purchase it. Pathfinding was seriously in need in such a convoluted maze-like castle, and even their portal door back to the second area via Exit Pass was somehow moved from the original starting location. The portal back to the second area was visible on the scroll, but nobody in the party had any interest in resetting their trial progress after already coming this far.

Their progress had a blood price to it, and retreating now would be both insulting to Sarah’s death and possibly suicidal, since the majority of the party would not go. The odds of the strongest seven man party in area two finishing a hard trial that was already half over was a lot higher than the odds of a single Nolan or a single Michael being able to solo their way through an easy dungeon. Maybe Jason or Emma or Marcello could do it, but none of those three had any intention of leaving.

Validating its 600 point price, the black arrow on the scroll constantly shifted as they walked like a compass. Unfortunately, it had the same weaknesses as a compass. Namely, the scroll did not point out the correct path to take through the maze to get to the end goal. It merely showed which direction the end goal was.

And so the party meandered through doors and hallways and doors and stairs and hallways and rooms and rooms and more rooms… all the while staying at high vigilance and respectful when breaching each room. After Sarah’s death, the party was more vigilant than ever, and Marcello even placed two traps in the doorway after they exited every room. It was a tedious crawl with him having to rearm the traps after each and every room, but if another lord’s servant showed up, the double traps would be a big advantage for them.

Troy, Emma, Alice, Michael, and Nolan were more than okay with the tedious, methodical crawl through the castle after the carnage that ensued earlier. They waited patiently for Marcello to set up traps, and even encouraged him to do so when he wanted to skip a room.

Only Jason was a bit restless, still clearly unsettled by Sarah’s death. Apparently, she reminded him of his daughter that he left back on earth, so her death really stoked his biggest fears that his family would not be safe in this new world.

Finally, they reached a large hallway completely carpeted in red, with two suits of armor with plumed feathers on their heads standing guard at each side of the door, their hands resting on statues of swords pointing down into the ground.

Right as Jason was about to open the door, Marcello pulled him back.

“Wait,” he said. “Take a look at the scroll again.”

The scroll with the arrow on Nolan’s was unmoving, pointing at the large door and just a few degrees slightly to the left. The arrow was resting at roughly the fifty-five minute mark based on the minute hand of a traditional analog clock.

“I think the exit is in this room, past this door.” Marcello motioned at Nolan. “But let me prove it. Nolan, can you walk back and forth here, so we can see how the arrow reacts?”

“Sure,” Nolan replied, a bit perplexed at the request. He began to walk to the right, and then to the left, taking about fifteen paces to clear from one wall to the other in the large hallway leading up to the door.

The entire party looked on as the compass arrow made a wide angled movement on the scroll, slightly confused but starting to catch on quickly as Marcello continued his explanation.

“So far, when we move from room to room, the compass’s arrow will change angles significantly because we’re covering lots of ground. But here, Nolan is only moving fifteen paces away and the arrow is making such a huge movement.”

“Here, Nolan, try to do the same thing at the other side of the hall. Let’s go,” Marcello said, as the party retreated through the long hallway roughly sixty paces away from where they were standing previously.

“Going now,” Nolan said, as he walked back and forth again. The angle of movement on the arrow was far more narrow than before now that they were further away.

“See what I mean?” Marcello continued. “The difference in the angles is so big that I’m pretty sure that the exit is right behind that door.”

“Well look at that, mister encyclopedia here strikes again, dishing out the golden advice,” Troy replied with a smile. “ I passed highschool math believe it or not, so you’re right about the angles. Just count me glad that you’re not busting out the sines and cosines, it’s been too long…

“Anyway, you reckon the boss is in that room?” he added.

A note from HereBeTreasure

Thank you Evan Desmond and RanaSuilep! 

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