The Vice-Captain of the Asta Guild, Vesta, received a message from his subordinate, who was stationed at the entrance of the Grancia Forest.
- Sir, two new ones have entered the forest.
He replied immediately.
- You had someone follow them?
- Keep up the good work.
- Yes sir!
"Two more have come in," Vesta said to Arcol, who was beside him.
"How many in total?" Arcol asked.
Arcol was the guildmaster of the Asta Guild.
"Mm. Fifteen," Vesta said.
They were both friends in real life, and they had created the Asta Guild together as well.
The reason the guild was called Asta was because they'd combined parts of their names: 'A' from Arcol and 'sta' from Vesta.
Although they were technically guildmaster and vice-captain respectively, they held equal power regardless of their established positions.
"Tch. A ton of them came in."
Arcol clicked his tongue.
"It can't be helped. We'd draw a lot of attention if we closed off the area."
The Asta Guild had mobilized its entire force in order to capture the white monkey.
But what if they were to close off the entire area, disallowing anyone from entering?
That'd be like sending a signal to the entire world, saying 'The Asta Guild's looking for something here.'.
"And if word got out that we were monopolizing the Grancia Forest, then we'd get in trouble with the other guilds," Vesta added.
"That's what bothers me. If we were one of the 5 great guilds, would we even be having this conversation?"
The 5 great guilds were massive guilds. Each of these guilds had created their own territory, and continued to increase their power and influence.
"No, we wouldn't."
Vesta nodded his head.
"In order to become an even greater guild, we need to catch that invisible monkey," Arcol said, emphasizing 'invisible monkey'.
"We'll catch it!" Vesta strongly said.
After coincidentally hearing about the mysterious life form, he had gone and gathered information on it.
This led him to Andrea's adventure journal, which stated that this mysterious life form was, in fact, a monkey that can go invisible.
However, it wasn't just any form of invisibility.
After closely looking through the journal, he realized that its invisibility was without peer.
'What if we could gain this invisibility?'
The reason he'd come to this line of thinking was because of his class, 'Monster Scholar'.
A Monster Scholar studies monsters and is capable of learning their special abilities, skills, and magic.
By using an ability called 'Present Thesis', a Monster Scholar was able to contain a monster's special ability, technique, or magic into a scroll.
'A scroll containing perfect invisibility! That could become our ace in the hole.'
After discussing this matter with Arcol, they decided to mobilize the entire guild in order to capture the monkey.
At the same time, they disguised their actions as an annual event so that they wouldn't draw any attention.
The amount of time and resources that had gone into this was tremendous.
However, their efforts hadn't paid off yet.
"Tch. It's tough to find that damn monkey," Arcol said angrily.
"Yeah, it's definitely not easy to find."
At that moment...
He received a message from his subordinate.
- We've found it. It's to the east.
"It showed up," Vesta said.
Arcol and Vesta sprinted to the eastern region.
* * *
The Grancia Forest looked like any other forest, as it contained all sorts of trees and grass.
However, there was one facet that made it different from other forests.
"It's unusually quiet," Eder said.
They didn't hear anything, aside from the sound of grass or leaves rustling in the wind.
"That's because animals don't live here," Kang Oh said.
"But I don't see any monsters either."
Though there weren't any animals here, there should be some plant-type monsters here.
Eder recalled the plant-type monsters he'd fought at Kudal's Laboratory.
The Cocurion, Parle, and Gallud.
If such plant-type monsters existed here, then there was no way it'd be this quiet.
"There's one right next to you."
Eder looked to his side in shock.
It was just a straight branch from a chestnut tree.
"Ah, c'mon. You surprised me."
"That chestnut tree could be a Grancia."
"What are you talking about?"
"A Grancia disguises itself as a normal tree."
That's why some players called Grancias 'Ghost Trees'. Apparently, they believed the trees were possessed by ghosts.
"Then let’s hit every tree we come across."
Eder struck the chestnut tree with his mace.
Its bark fell to the floor, but there was nothing extraordinary about it.
"It's better to use fire. Fire is its weakness."
Kang Oh took out a torch and kindled a fire.
He placed the torch directly onto the tree. The bark merely burnt; it didn't attack him.
"This isn't one."
A Grancia was weak to fire, so it would unveil its disguise when near it.
"Here, take this."
Kang Oh passed him the torch. Obviously he was saying, 'You check the trees from now on.'.
Eder carried the torch in his right hand and his shield in his left. He let his mace hang on his belt.
Grancias were weak to fire, so he'd use the torch against any that might pop up.
"This is worrying."
Kang Oh furrowed his brow.
"What is?" Eder asked.
"It looks like someone's following us."
Kang Oh felt the gaze of someone secretly watching him.
It felt similar to Halt and Itar, two PKers who'd followed him in the past.
"Being followed... Is it the guys from the Asta Guild that we met at the entrance?" Eder whispered.
Kang Oh whispered back, "Probably. They're looking for the white monkey too, so they're probably keeping an eye on anyone that enters the forest."
The Asta Guild still hadn't found the monkey; he was sure of it. If they had, then they wouldn't need to watch them.
"Hmm. If we defeat the monkey first, then they won't just sit still."
"Obviously. So if that happens, we gotta run."
If Kang Oh and Eder defeated the white monkey, then the Asta Guild would PK them immediately.
That would be troublesome, so running would be the best option.
"Do you have a return scroll?"
"Yeah, I have one for emergencies."
Most players kept a return scroll on hand just in case. Of course, Kang Oh was one of them.
"Just one? What about me?"
"I can just summon you."
"Ah, you're right."
"In any case, let's act like we're hunting and keep an eye on what the Asta Guild is doing."
At the moment, they needed more information.
"But I wonder what that spy is going to do..." Kang Oh continued.
If he continued to watch them, then their actions were limited.
Therefore, they would have to either lose him or take care of him in some other manner. If not, then they could use him too.
"Let's think about it as we go."
The two advanced forward side-by-side with Eder continuing to check each tree with his torch.
* * *
Eder placed the torch near a tree and before it even made contact, the tree began to change.
"It's a Grancia!" Kang Oh yelled.
A round face containing eyes, a nose, and a mouth appeared on its trunk. It also combined its branches into thick arms.
The Grancia swung its arm in a wide arc. Eder was within its attack range.
Eder positioned his shield and put pressure in his thighs.
The Grancia and Eder were in the midst of a power struggle; but then, the Grancia swung its other arm.
That's when Kang Oh came in.
His demon sword and its arm clashed, but it turned out that his sword was tougher and stronger.
Kang Oh forcefully pushed the tree arm away, and used that opportunity to strike at its body.
A white line came for the Grancia.
However, its tree bark mouth moved up and down.
He didn't hear an incantation, but a dirt wall rose from the ground and blocked his blade.
Once his blade made contact, the dirt wall crumbled, but the Grancia was safe and sound.
"I forgot to tell you, but the Grancia can use earth magic," Kang Oh said.
As a tree monster, the Grancia couldn't move.
Regardless, it wasn't a monster that could be taken lightly. It had a wide attack range via its arms, and could use earth magic as well.
Eder forcefully pushed its arm away and pushed the torch forward.
The Grancia's mouth went up and down once more.
The ground beneath Eder's feet began to roll around like a wave.
Eder lost his balance, causing the torch to point somewhere else.
Kang Oh's feet shook as well, which caused him to stumble.
The Grancia's arm came flying towards him.
He blocked it as well as he could, but he lost his balance and fell over.
Of course, he didn't fall on his butt. He tumbled backwards and stood up once more.
Kang Oh charged.
A wooden arm came flying over.
He swung his sword twice in an X pattern. He shredded the arm's bark, and leaves and shards of light flew into the air!
Kang Oh prepared his next attack.
Although the Grancia had plenty of time to cast another spell at Kang Oh, it didn't attempt to do so.
It had no choice but to create an earth wall to block Eder's torch.
'This is my chance!'
Kang Oh swung downwards.
His sword cleaved its arm.
Not only had it left a wound, but Fang Bearing Blade had activated, causing black shards to burst from the area of impact.
Was it because he'd caused so much damage in a short period of time?
The Grancia's body shook.
Kang Oh forcefully swung his sword, pressing his advantage.
The Grancia raised its arm and blocked his sword. However, his jet-black blade cleaved through the arm.
But then, Kang Oh felt a chill at the bottom of his feet. His Hyper Intuition was warning him.
Kang Oh quickly withdrew his sword and retreated.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!
Sharp spikes shaped like awls popped out of the ground. The Grancia had cast 'Earth Needle'.
The Grancia, having sensed the danger of Kang Oh's impending strike, had cast the spell to keep him away.
Casting a spell at Kang Oh gave Eder the freedom to move.
Eder, who'd pushed through the earth wall with his shield, jabbed with the torch.
The Grancia couldn't cast another earth spell and helplessly raised its arm.
Its face distorted.
At the same time, dark red shards of light burst forth. Fire was definitely its weakness.
It immediately threw dirt at Eder; it was like a hail of dirt.
Eder retreated in order to avoid the attack.
This time, Kang Oh managed to get an attack in.
He swung his sword as if he were swinging a baseball bat, and struck the tree trunk.
After that, a similar sequence of events followed. Whenever Kang Oh blocked its attack, Eder would attack, and vice versa.
Ultimately, the Grancia, having been cut apart and burnt, withered away.
[You have defeated a Grancia.]
"That was easy," Eder said.
"In the end, it's just a tree."
Kang Oh and Eder were back on the move in order to trick their pursuer.
"A Swordsman and a Warrior? It doesn't look like they've come for any other reason than to hunt..."
The bandana-wearing Asta Guild member continued to follow them.Previous Chapter Next Chapter