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icscib > Ashes of Gods > 56 Outside The Box
Terrible hands, elongated creatures, and deformed beasts—all made of shadows—were painted on the mist like it was a canvas. Screams, howls, and children's laughter merged into a cacophony of horror. All the while, Shesmu walked.

He knew that no matter the creatures wanted to harm him, they couldn't. They weren't on the same plane after all. But even if they could, he didn't really care. The only thing that was playing in his mind was the images of his daughter. Not the horrifying ones of the trial, but those of his past life. All the moments they enjoyed—he, Eva, and Sophie.

There was nothing he wished for more than to go back to that life. Even with all of its problems, hardships, and trials, he wasn't alone.

Once his thoughts reached that place, the image of Ryan and Leo flashed within his mind—stopping him dead in his tracks. He bit his lips and looked down at the ground.

"In the end, just what should I do?"

There was no answer to his question. The only feedback the world gave him was the screeches and screams of the ghostly creatures roaming the mist.

The creatures soon became less and less apparent, their screams and shrieks but dim background music to Shesmu's ears. The fog turned less dense, and he could finally see what laid behind it.

Walls made of grey rocks, a castle in ruin, and a door that led to a room underground. Light shone from within the basement, indicating that it was still in use. Shesmu walked down the stairs with caution—making sure as to check where he put his feet on, lest he activates a lethal trap.

Once he reached the bottom of the stairs, Shesmu received a notification.

[Welcome to the ruined dojo, mighty traveler. Life and death are but the two shores of the same river—and that river forms an unending circle in these ruins. May your wisdom guide your steps, and may your heart guide your path.]

The room was full of traps. The floor was around two meters below the stairs, and it was full of deadly spikes. The only thing Shesmu could step on was a set of wooden poles planted all over the floor.

Dammit. Now that I lost the reflexes of my past life, can I even clear this?

Shesmu pressed his lips thin and puffed his chest. He could do it—if he believed in it, there was nothing he couldn't do.

"Well, no matter if I could or not, I will give it my all," he said aloud.

He jumped on top of a pole with one foot and used both his arms to gain balance. However, as he flailed around, an arrow flew from the wall and into his chest.

Shesmu couldn't react. By the time he saw the arrow, it was already lodged in his chest.

Great, we're off to a fantastic start.

He gritted his teeth and took out the arrow. Fortunately, it didn't pierce his heart, else he would have died right then and there. Shesmu coated his eyes with Ki and looked around the room. He could see the blade of a giant ax peeking through a slit in the ceiling. There were also multiple magic circles engraved on the walls.

Shesmu memorized the location of the spells in his mind before jumping to the next pole. He landed on it with one foot, and before he could even gain his balance, it moved sideways. The sudden movement made Shesmu lose his balance and fall on top of the spikes.

[You died]

This was the second time Shesmu died within this timeline—and they were both in the same trial. Needless to say, he was pissed.

Shesmu spawned on the last step of the stairs. He jumped once again towards the first pole. This time, he was expecting the arrow and was able to block it with his padded sleeves. He took it out, threw it at the spiked floor before jumping at the second pole.

The moment he landed, he tilted his body to the right, the same direction in which the pole moved. As such, he was able to maintain his balance, even atop the moving surface.

Shesmu looked at the third pole and hesitated. It could move in any direction, or there could be another trap entirely

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