“Welcome back, my liege.”

Mary turned her head, glancing down at the jackal-headed man kneeling to the side of the entrance. The root bracelet wrapped around her left gauntlet flashed amber, and a pouch appeared in Mary’s hand. She tossed it onto the ground in front of the man, the pouch clanking as it did so. Mary walked past the kneeling man and took a seat on her throne, her body slouching as she sank into the seat. She placed her elbow on the armrest and leaned her cheek against her palm, propping her head up. “Did you find what I wanted?”

“Yes, my liege,” the jackal-headed man said and took the pouch, putting it away into his own root bracelet. “We’ve located Hyeonnam Tokki on the fifty-third floor. However, as he despises our guild, we weren’t able to ask him about the invitation he was supposed to deliver. He also … skinned himself and turned his fur coat into an actual coat.”

Mary furrowed her brow. “He what?”

The jackal-headed man tapped on his root bracelet, and an image was projected into the space above him, in front of Mary. A skeletal rabbit wearing a fur coat, cowboy hat, and tall boots glared at Mary from within the image. Although the rabbit didn’t have any eyes, Mary had enough experiences with the undead to tell where the rabbit was looking. The jackal-headed man cleared his throat. “As you can see, rather than delivering your invitation, Hyeonnam Tokki must’ve gone to the basement and encountered a mishap.”

Mary snorted before holding out her hand. “Give me the walkthrough for the tenth floor.”

“Here you are, my liege,” the jackal-headed man said and tapped on his root bracelet. The image of Hyeonnam Tokki vanished, and a large but thin book appeared in his hands. He stood up, keeping his gaze pointed at the ground, and walked up to the throne before kneeling and presenting the book to Mary as if he were a knight offering up his sword to his queen.

Mary opened the book’s cover. Her eyes scanned over the table of contents. Then, she closed the book before tossing it to the side, standing as she did so. “Seems easy enough,” she said. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Yes, my liege,” the jackal-headed man said, keeping his gaze on the same spot as Mary walked past him. “Your loyal servant awaits your return. May the blessing of the Virtuous Hand be upon you.”

Mary ignored the jackal-headed man, repeatedly pushing her thumb against the handguard of her sword before letting it rest, causing the sword to sheathe and unsheathe. With every step she took, the sword clanked in time, the sound causing the jackal-headed man’s ears to flinch. Only after the metallic sound could no longer be heard did the jackal-headed man raise his head, revealing a pair of narrowed eyes, his lips parted in a smile that showed his sharp teeth.


Kim Hajun frowned. If he were the Fire Lord, where would he hide a hidden piece? Then again, Kim Hajun wasn’t even sure if the Fire Lord was the one who created and designed the temple or if the tower just decided to use the Fire Lord’s title. If he were the tower, where would he hide a hidden piece? In a distinct location, but….

“This place … is really … hot,” Miranda said while panting for breath. Her bald head glistened from the layer of sweat that had accumulated, even drenching her robes from the sheer volume. She fanned herself with her hands, her movements slow as if she were still half asleep. “You’ll heal me … before I die…, right?”

Vur nodded. The trial within the Temple of the Fire Lord was a simple one: walk from one end of the temple to the other without the use of mana. Although it was simple, that didn’t mean it was easy. Upon starting the trial, the walls disintegrated, revealing a wide, open desert filled with sand. The ceiling disappeared as well, leaving a red sun hanging in the sky. It was impossible to tell how far one would have to walk to complete the trial.

“You’re not hot?” Miranda asked, examining Vur’s body. She couldn’t even see a single droplet of sweat. Even if he was a dragon, without using mana and existing inside a human’s body, shouldn’t he have shown at least a tiny reaction? “How?”

Vur furrowed his brow and turned his head towards his other companions. Thanks to her phoenix imprint, Tafel was strolling along as if it were a clear spring day. Lindyss didn’t seem to mind the heat either, but it was hard to tell what her expression was like because of the large, tinted glasses she wore along with a wide-brimmed hat. Kax’s skin was red, and a few droplets of sweat could be seen on his forehead, but that could be explained by the exertion of carrying Jeffery, who was lying limp on the red-haired man’s back. Vur turned his head back towards Miranda. “It’s not hot, so I’m not hot.”

Miranda almost stumbled on the relatively flat ground upon hearing Vur’s answer. She did her best to speed up, catching up to the only other person who looked like he was suffering from the heat, Kim Hajun. “How are you … handling the heat?”

“Concentration and controlled breathing,” Kim Hajun said. “If you focus hard enough on a certain task, other things, including pain, hunger, thirst, heat, and cold, they become irrelevant.” The well-dressed man’s brow furrowed. “Is the hidden piece underground?” He turned to face Vur. “Can you check without using mana?”

Vur shook his head.

“How about the sun?” Sheryl asked from the sunlike rune on Vur’s shoulder. “Since there aren’t any landmarks, then the only thing that isn’t sand is the sun. It’s the perfect place to hide something.”

Kim Hajun raised his head. Although the sun was much bigger than the sun back on Earth, it was still impossible to interact with due to the distance. However, the group was inside of a temple. What if the sun really was just awfully small but really close instead of really large but far away?


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