Soulmancer – Chapter 15: Gruesome training…

After an agonizing hour, Izel could finally move. Drenched in cold sweat, enough to fill a bucket, he found solace in the waiting room’s restorative effects. It alleviated fatigue, pain, and muscle tension, leaving his body in a pristine state.

“Inventory,” he whispered.

As always, an invisible rupture occurred as the blind man’s desire was fulfilled, materializing into his hand.

In his grasp lay the [Blood of the Gatekeeper], a sumptuous-looking portion that could fetch an insurmountable amount of Lupi if auctioned. Despite its value, Izel had other plans – he intended to consume it.

[You’ve taken the Blood of the Gatekeeper.]

“Hah!” The blind man exhaled sharply, the dense, bluish-dark substance gurgling down his throat and swelling through his gut at a rapid pace. Before long, another alert buzzed within his mind.

[The Demerit Condition had been activated.]

‘Here comes the devil,’ Izel’s heart skipped a beat. He swiftly double-checked and calculated his stats, then breathed a sigh of relief

[The Condition had been fulfilled by 1.]

[Demerit had been deactivated.]

After the echoed messages, a barrage of haptic feedback and notifications consistently pricked at his mind.

[A special stat ‘Inferno’ has been created.]

[Special stat ‘Inferno’ has been increased by 20.]

[All stats had been increased by 10.]

Suddenly, an oddly strong adrenaline surge coursed through his entire being. ‘Uh, isn’t this sensation… familiar?’ Izel swiftly recalled the sensations of ‘ecstasy and craze’ he experienced when he first took tricyclic antidepressants and fluoxetine pills. It resembled what he felt now but with heightened intensity. If he were to articulate this feeling, it would be like emptiness engulfing his mind, accompanied by a refreshing blast of air snaking through his entire body, as if he could surpass his current capabilities—something akin to that.

Simultaneously, another element unfolded, and his heart abruptly pounded.


The urge to vomit gripped him, yet he resiliently endured the overwhelming terror, gritting his teeth.

[The blood of the Gatekeeper seeps through every fiber of your being, hardening your soul, and bones and flaming your body, encapsulating the physique quality of a Gatekeeper.]

Clutching his chest in pain, Izel felt the agony subside quickly along with a fleeting message. Rising from the bed, he engaged in a light jumping session, alternating between clenching and unclenching his hands. As he stretched his body, he adapted swiftly to his new condition.

“This…” He exclaimed, surprised by the calm rhythm of his heartbeat, contrasting with the odd sensation of his body feeling both oily and strangely energized. Despite a speck of discomfort, his blood flowed exceptionally well, as if released from an invisible constraint. His bones, curiously hardened, lent an unexpected sturdiness to his frame. Overall, a sense of refreshment enveloped him, akin to emerging from a hot spring. In essence, the ‘Blood of the Gatekeeper’ proved to be remarkably effective.

‘…Is amazing!’ He exclaimed, a satisfying expression on the blind man’s face. He recognized that these visible changes were a result of enhanced stats and the sumptuous portion’s special effect. Undoubtedly, it was the most astonishing transformation.

He eagerly wanted to test this development right away… However, with a faint smile, his expression soon turned rueful. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ he sadly mused. It seemed his heart still grappled with the question of whether he could truly take a fellow walker’s life for his survival, and how he would endure when a walker threatened to end his life for their survival. After deep contemplation, he shrugged his shoulders, contradicting those thoughts, as he needed to prioritize his survival above all else. Yet, in all honesty, he wished to avoid murder if he had the choice.

[Name: Izel Ethalt Blind.

Age: 19 years old.

Strength: 45 Stamina: 53

Agility: 57 Mana: 36

Constitution: 32

Inferno: 20

Active skills

Gear: Flawlation (F)

Basic Swordsmanship (E)

*Soul Assimilation (E)

Hell Flame (D)

Hemostasis (E+)

Anesthesia (D)

Passive Skills

Sound Reading (Innate)

Fortress Currency

Verdes: 129]

As an improved status echoed through Izel’s mind, a brief moment of pride swept over him. Although prioritizing his safety, he hesitated at the thought of unnecessarily taking a walker’s life. Fulfilling such a desire seemed challenging in the Fortress of Dungeons or even on Elilaum. Still, he was determined to try. ‘How strong am I against other walkers?’ He questioned, mindful that each of them was growing as fast as he was. Experienced ex-hunters, dreaming of becoming the best long before he was born, added another layer of complexity.

“Damn, this is brain-racking,” he stressfully sighed. No matter how hard he unraveled his thoughts, figuring out his standing eluded him. Uncertainty lingered, and he couldn’t avoid the inevitable confrontation with others. But he shouldn’t think like that. Izel shook his head, denying such defeatist thoughts. The once dispirited blind man had gained confidence and experience since awakening in the fortress.

“I can do this!” Without a hint of doubt or hesitation, he clenched his fist firmly. ‘I won’t cowardly distrust my current skills, efforts, and perseverance up until now.’ No, he mustn’t. As his tightly clenched fist loosened, a few resolute words escaped his lips.

“I will succeed in this raid, no matter what.”

The B-rank dungeon raid starts in 12 hours, and 12 minutes.

As the countdown pressed on Izel’s mind, the ‘Blood of the Gatekeeper’ continued its potent journey through his veins, arteries, muscle fibers, cells, blood, and down to his very soul, fortifying and evolving them with escalating intensity. A sudden, sharp groan escaped his lips, reminiscent of being struck by lightning bolts, yet the shock seemed to emanate from within, scattering throughout his internals. His limbs abruptly weakened, causing him to drop to his knees. The astonishing effects of such substances working wonders within his body were beyond his prior belief. Before long, faint steam hissed from his flesh, akin to cold water poured on sizzling charcoal.

Izel felt a peculiar sensation, making him strangely coquettish yet more cushy than usual. Although the effect took its time to evolve, harden, and spread through every nook and cranny of his body, it soon dissipated. A hint of dissatisfaction lingered as the reward and odd sensation vanished, leaving Izel convinced that his body endurance had skyrocketed.

“Well, it’s already too late to worry about that,” he mused, taking a deep breath as he inspected the items in his inventory. He contemplated going easy on the Verdes this round. “Simply put, I wouldn’t buy anything besides replenishing my supplies and emergency rations,” Izel thought aloud.

“Trading center,” Izel uttered, creating a rupture out of thin air that only he sensed. In his mind, as always, the trading center’s catalog opened up.

[Otherworldly Wheat Bread (N/A)] X2

[10 Verdes have been deducted.]

[Otherworldly Waterskin (E)] X5

[25 Verdes have been deducted.]

[Otherwordly Jerky (N/A)] X3

[15 Verdes have been deducted.]

He surmised these would suffice for a while. In the blind man’s inventory, newly acquired supplies manifested. The inner monotonous voice narrated the catalog by category, detailing the advantage of purchasing specific portions without incurring a burdened demerit, offering the potential to replenish his health in dire situations. After a moment, he sighed in disappointment, ‘It seems such portions aren’t available.’

Perhaps the high traffic from multiple walkers making rapid purchases for the upcoming raid could be the reason. Regardless, Izel thought it was better this way and decided to close the trading center. He believed more useful items and skills would soon appear, making it a wise choice to save up some Verdes.

Above all, he trusted that his current equipment and skills would sustain him throughout the raid.

He sighed, pondering his blood quality, insufficient for [Hemostasis] to be forcibly deactivated. He hoped it would be enough to activate the skill when needed. Unbeknownst to him, the waiting room had already restored his blood quality, and the bluish hue over his body was gone. With the raid’s objective being ‘Battlefield Survival,’ Izel reasoned that the forum remained oddly silent as everyone awaited the impending raid.

Nervousness, tension, and anxiety permeated the forum, creating an uneasy atmosphere.

“Teams of three… huh?” remarked Izel, recalling the previous chat a few hours ago. This marked his first encounter with anyone in a week since awakening in the Fortress of Dungeons. Despite feeling a bit uneasy, the blind man found himself strangely excited. ‘How will each of the Walkers look?’ he pondered with folded arms, well aware of the diverse superior creatures inhabiting Elilaum. ‘Demons, giants, angels, or perhaps dragon kins?’ he wondered about the possible companions. Curiosity extended to their strengths, though he couldn’t disclose his own progress or compare to those with innate job-related traits. Humans in the mix, including Izel, were experiencing accelerated growth.

“Is every walker facing different challenges advancing more rapidly than those tackling ‘Extreme’?” He pondered aloud. Izel harbored curiosity, given the tight-lipped nature prevalent among forum participants, even during the heyday of its activity. ‘Hell, most aliases weren’t genuine names,’ he mused, keenly aware of the prevailing anonymity. Regardless, he surmised that each difficulty possessed its unique strength, and the Walkers demonstrated prowess by conquering all six raids within a mere week.

No matter his progress, Izel reminded himself not to succumb to arrogance. He mustn’t underestimate himself or others. With determination, he straightened his scabbard and activated [Hellflame].

[Hellflame (?) had been activated.]

His skin gleamed with an oily sheen, swiftly igniting a bluish-dark, searing sphere in his palm. A groan escaped him as strange humming frequencies jammed his [Sound Reading].


The sphere-like flame wasn’t stable; instead, it morphed irregularly, reminiscent of crude fire from a melted candle. This was clear evidence that he struggled to properly condense and mold the flame. Izel concentrated on the unsteady searing sphere in his palm, attempting to infuse it with mana. Yet, he couldn’t maintain a proper fixed form like the ‘Hell-flame’ that nearly burned him to cinders.

[Inferno: 20]

Izel’s mind absorbed the newly mysterious stat, realizing it likely explained the irregularities in his skills. At just 20, this stat served as the ‘fuel’ for the skill.


‘I suppose this hell flame demands a higher Inferno power with advanced mana control.’ The blind man concluded, noting the somewhat endurable and constant frequencies when mana was applied. Despite the instability, Izel managed to create a sphere-like flame with a mere 20 inferno powers, thanks to his body efficiency and exceptional mana control honed through fortress raids. The effect of [Blood of the Gatekeeper] also played a crucial role.


The unstable hell flame erupted, its power scattering like shrapnel, sending Izel crashing into the white wall. The impact lightly damaged the surroundings, both wall and ground alike.

Healing all injuries and status fatigue.

As the restoration effect in the waiting room instantly applied to his body, mending the damaged walls and ground, Izel clenched his fist with a faint smile.

“This is quite nice,” he remarked.

Izel had a higher goal beyond merely surviving the Fortress of Dungeons—he aspired to become the strongest. Climbing the ranks of ‘Elilaum’s continental hunter’ wasn’t just about power or wealth for him; it was about protecting everything precious, from his future wife and children to property, friends, and even his luxurious life.

‘No, this is undoubtedly pleasant,’ he thought cheerfully. Perfectly and quickly utilizing such a skill and improving its proficiency marked the essence of a genius. Even the mere activation, though unstable, was great for someone like him—a slow learner and achiever. He harbored no disappointment or disheartenment; after all, over time, this card of his could evolve into a bigger masterpiece in his arsenal.

A few minutes later, fully healed, Izel hurriedly resumed his training. He aimed to master his lopsided stats, gaining more control in agility both with and without the [Cloud Boots] at top speed repeatedly.

* * *

He moved on to the next step without hesitation. In an instant, Izel issued another intuitive command, and once more, a ripple surged through. Soon after, a shopping catalog unfolded in his mind. However…

“Hidden sort…” Izel added.

The feminine voice flipped the trading center catalog to the mysterious category discussed in the forum.

Do you want to disable the waiting room’s auto-recovery?


With that information, he selected “Yes”.

[10 Verdes have been deducted.]

The waiting room’s auto-recovery had been disabled. The Walker’s body will retain physical stress and fatigue, and injuries will not be restored to its former pristine state.

If the information gleaned from the forum aimed to enhance one’s tolerance and skill proficiencies through enduring physical pain, it could prove invaluable. Despite having honed his agility and other stats, the excruciating training ahead seemed inevitable. With a hesitant breath, he unsheathed his sword, battling his aversion to pain, and mustering courage.

“Argghhhhhhh!” The waiting room echoed with screams as blood splattered and rained down.

As time unfolded like an apocalypse, more horrifying screams filled the air, and the white linoleum floors became stained with blood. His legs shook and ultimately gave way. Izel, now doubled over on all fours, nearly vomited, bitter gastric juices churning onto the blood-soaked floor.

[Hemostasis (E+) Proficiency had increased by 2%]

Engulfed in searing heat, enduring excruciating pain that seized his body. He moaned in distress, uttering a strained “huuuu!”

Gasping, he exhaled vapor, gradually rising to his feet. With relentless determination, he continued slashing and thrusting, blood splattering as agonized screams escaped his lips. “Ughhhhh!”

[‘Anesthesia (D)’ Proficiency had increased by 7.8%.]

[Your body’s blood cells steadily drop.]

[‘Hemostasis (E+)’ Proficiency had increased by 4%]

[Agonizing pain and burns had crept through your body.]

Izel exhaled a deep sigh, finding relief in the enhanced [Constitution] and his newly improved body. The tension around him eased slightly, even as the aurora-heterochromatic aura seared his skin with every step.

[‘Anesthesia’ has negated the heat from the skin.]

[Your body’s blood cells steadily drop.]

[‘Anesthesia’ has gained additional tolerance against skin burns and terror.]

[Your body’s blood cells steadily drop.]

[‘Anesthesia (D)’ Proficiency had increased by 7.6%]


Izel clenched his jaw, biting down on his lower lip, Aurora’s shortsword poised as he thrust into his own legs. The excruciating pain surged through the blind man’s limbs, but he suppressed any screams, blood seeping between gritted teeth. A sinister aura snaked through his veins and muscles.


“Urghhhhhhhh!” Eventually, he couldn’t hold back the scream as blood splattered, the agony overwhelming.

[‘Anesthesia (D)’ is resisting the sizzling pain.]

[‘Anesthesia (D)’ Proficiency has increased by 5.5%.]

[Your body’s blood cells steadily drop by three-fold.]

[‘Hemostasis (E+)’ Proficiency had increased by 3.1%]

[Your body’s blood cells steadily drop two-fold.]

[‘Hemostasis (E+)’ Proficiency had increased by 3.1%]

In the throes of anguish, despair, and agonizing pain, Izel found solace amid repetitive torment as uplifting messages punctuated his beleaguered mind. His head throbbed relentlessly, and muscles felt like they were being torn from their joints, limbs splaying out in grotesque angles. A sinister aura seeped through, ravaging his insides, and squeezing his body like a wet rag.

“But I guess… it’s worth it,” he thought shakingly, replenishing his stamina with food and water, exhaling sharply and grunting. He repeated the grueling training until finally succumbing to a short nap by the cozy wall.

The B-rank dungeon raid starts in 1 hour and 16 minutes.

Suddenly jolted awake as if whacked by a cane, he quickly immersed himself in his daily rituals before meals—a routine accomplished in a mere 20 minutes.

Shortly after, he gathered a few loaves of wheat bread, jerkies, and waterskins, placing them into his half-burnt pocket-sized bag from his inventory. A familiar message dinged in his mind, notifying him that it was almost time.

The B-rank dungeon raid starts in 59 minutes.

[Flawlation (F) had been activated.]

After securing the special blindfold tightly over his eyes, he opted to activate the waiting room’s auto-recovery system.

Do you want to turn on the waiting room’s auto-recovery?

After nearly five hours of relentless training, Izel had significantly boosted the proficiencies of both [Hemostasis], a crucial skill for the upcoming raid, and [Anesthesia], acknowledged as the most challenging skill stat to enhance. Gasping for air, fatigue burdened his entire body, and pain tormented him without respite. These were the drawbacks of disabling auto-recovery, making the training markedly more difficult and less effective.

“Just like when I train in the Guild’s training room,” the blind man reminisced about all his past struggles, which led to slow yet steady development. In this case, the goal was to increase his skills’ proficiency, making the struggles worthwhile. Even after his usual 200 repetitions in each workout, he typically accomplishes them without a speck of fatigue. However, this time, he reached his physical limit rather quickly.

‘Even wielding my sword is incredibly exhausting,’ he mused, sweat streaming down his cheeks. Despite a five-hour nap and his enhanced physique, every muscle fiber ached, and the persistent pain lingered in his bones. His heartbeat pulsed through his body with each passing second. Only fueled by determination and perseverance, the fairly brown-skinned teen managed to stand on his trembling feet.

All in all, the repetitive infliction of pain and constant self-recovery have borne good fruit.

[Active Skill: Hemostasis.

Rank: E+

Proficiency: 23.8%

Effect: By using blood cells, the host can quickly recover from bruises and mild internal injuries.

Demerit: cannot recover excessively damaged muscles or severed limbs. Also, overuse of this skill could lead to hypovolemic shock.]

The constant recovery of his wounds within hours marked an astounding increase. To be honest, Izel couldn’t overdo it, as he had no desire to experience the demerit of the skill just yet. His mind hadn’t moved past the memory from the last raid, so he opted to endure a few bruises and deep wounds here and there.

“Damn it, I hate pain.” He clicked his tongue as he grunted. “Ugh!”

[Skill: Anesthesia (D).

Proficiency: 35%.

Effect: The user is resistant to physical pain by 20%, allowing him or her to power through serious injuries and continue to function.

Demerit: The user is only resistant to E to D painful impacts and attacks and immune to C-rank by only 2%.]

In other words, should he desire to enhance these skills intentionally, rather than haphazardly through battles or raids, it would amount to a form of self-inflicted torment. The existence of such loopholes in the Fortress of Dungeons was akin to achieving multiple objectives with a single effort. However, despite recognizing the advantages, Izel found himself unwilling to consciously endure pain to elevate his proficiencies. Nevertheless, the fact remained that torture, in any form, retained its essence.

“I wish I could imitate a skill or two,” he expressed aloud. This desire arose primarily because these moments provided unique opportunities for a walker blessed with exceptional memory and mimicry capabilities to repeatedly execute specific skills and thereby acquire them. Yet, unlike Izel, who had only grasped basic swordsmanship, his pursuits seemed devoid of significance.

Despite grappling with a multitude of injuries, he managed to achieve significant gains in just a few hours—an accomplishment that would typically be deemed impossible. Proudly shrugging his shoulders, he privately reveled in how cool he must appear. Izel couldn’t help but ponder the considerable cost associated with disabling the auto-recovery effect of the waiting room. Undoubtedly, constantly toggling it on and off when low on Verdes wasn’t a cost-effective strategy. Nevertheless, the blind man, armed with a surplus of Verdes, decided to experiment, hoping to boost his survival rate.

Amidst the grueling training, his movements became more efficacious, and his basic swordsmanship was flawlessly remastered, even though its proficiency remained stagnant. The waiting room bore witness to a series of abysmal slashes and thrust marks, evidence of his intense efforts.

As he clapped his hands, surveying the waiting room’s transformed state, a chill ran down his spine. “I guess that 10 Verdes is worth it,” he mused, exhaling deeply as he evaluated the outcomes of his unconventional training approach. ‘I don’t think I will stop training at this rate.’ he doubted aloud.

The B-rank dungeon raid starts at 10 minutes, and 16 seconds.

As the countdown interrupted the blind man’s train of thoughts, he responded with a decisive “Yes!” to activate the waiting room’s auto-recovery.

[10 Verdes have been deducted.]

The Waiting room’s auto-recovery had been turned on and on standby.

[Remaining Verdes: 60]

Momentarily, the sapphires embedded in the white ceiling lit up sequentially. Izel, unable to see a thing, paid little attention to the spectacle. Simultaneously, his body emitted grey vapor, reminiscent of cold water raining down upon blazing charcoal. His burnt, injured, and stiff body gradually relaxed and healed, while stamina and blood were swiftly restored. With all hindrances now removed…

The B-rank Dungeon Raid starts in 0 seconds. Time up.

Deactivating the ‘Extreme’ difficulty—fortress operating system; the Broker, Trading Center, Inventory, and Forums.

… It was the long-awaited moment to accept the next raid at last.

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