Chapter 16. Black Rat Nest

"Haahp."

The Demon Sword Ubist bisected one of the Black Rats.

The demon sword radiated a wave of darkness; Darkness Strike!

Peok.

The Black Rat flew towards the wall.

Ah, it was a double!


[You have defeated an Old Black Rat.]

[Stats have been stolen through Darkness Strike.]

[Physical +1]


From beside him, Darion rushed forward, piercing a Black Rat's heart with his gladius.

One more Black Rat dead.

Eder wasn't just twiddling his thumbs either. He formed a sharp bone spear within his hand.

And proceeded to throw said spear!

Swish.

The spear cleaved through the air, skewering three Black Rats.

As expected, magic specialized in single powerful strikes.

Jjijik!

Jjik Jjik!

The dungeon was rife with the sound of the Black Rats' screams.

He could hear new Black Rats coming from afar to replace the ones that were just slain.

The Black Rats, which are sensitive to sound, had heard the confrontation between fellow Black Rats and Kang Oh's party and were rushing over.

Thus, once they had defeated five Black Rats, another group would replace them and attack.

And the cycle continued; whenever they killed one group of Black Rats, another group came running over.

An endless rush of Black Rats!

'For all the good it will do them.'

Whenever he swung the demon sword, the Black Rats would scream.

These rats were like Zerglings against a Dark Templar without the presence of an Overlord.

The rats were at their wits' end.

Soon, bodies began to pile up around Kang Oh's party.

Then, the ground parted.

Dirt-colored Tunnel Snakes had come for the Black Rats' corpses.

One of the Tunnel Snakes silently came nearby Kang Oh and opened its mouth. It was attempting to eat one of the Black Rats.

"Who do you think you are!?"

Kang Oh glared at the snake and he swung his sword.

Swish.

Kang Oh cut through the Tunnel Snake's skin; their scale was famed for its toughness.

Kyaa!

The Tunnel Snake angrily straightened its head.

"What!?"

Kang Oh slashed the Tunnel Snake once more.

The injured snake didn't just stand by and take it. It responded by moving its head.

Tunnel Snakes specialized in digging through the ground, and to that end, their heads were sharp, like the ends of a shovel; the snake was using its sharp head to lunge at Kang Oh!

However, Kang Oh's Hyper Intuition activated, so it was pointless.

Dodge. Dodge. Dodge!

Moreover, the Tunnel Snake was just a half-assed snake, as it didn't possess any venom.

Kuhureu.

The snake made a sound akin to a balloon popping and died.

Eder also killed the Tunnel Snake with ease. The one he'd faced had been surrounded and crushed with bones.

After that, Eder defeated several Tunnel Snakes with his powerful bone magic.

'As expected of a boss monster!'

Kang Oh nodded his head. He was doing well for someone who was working for free.

Whereas Darion, who was working for three silvers, was having difficulty with a single Tunnel Snake.

Without Kang Oh's Hyper Intuition, the Tunnel Snake's head movements were dangerous for him.

'Live up to your looks!'

Kang Oh clicked his tongue as he witnessed Darion frivolously dodge the snake's head.

But then again, there's that saying 'even if it's rotten, it's still a herring'. Befitting of a student of Burkan, Darion was able to slay the Tunnel Snake.

And thus, the Tunnel Snakes, which had sought after the Black Rat corpses, were exterminated.

"It's pretty much over."

Kang Oh scanned his surroundings.

Black Rats or Tunnel Snakes didn't appear anymore. They had killed all of the monsters in the vicinity.

"Darion, you pick up all of the junk and Eder..."

"Yes."

"What do you think about summoning an undead monster with these bodies?"

Summoning undead monsters was a Necromancer's forte! Of course, this didn't apply to every Necromancer. 

"My specialty isn't in undead summoning, so... the best I can do is summon a Skeleton Warrior or mage."

"But you should keep practicing to get better at it."

"My level and proficiency won't go up, so..."

"Tch."

Kang Oh looked regretful.

Eder was a half-assed Necromancer that couldn't summon powerful undead monsters.

"Instead, I'll support you with my bone magic and curses, Sir Kang Oh," Eder said.

"Mm. I got it. But when we get a new body for you, like a Lich's body, will you be able to summon powerful undead then?" Kang Oh asked.

"A Lich... it should be possible."

Right now, Eder's ability only amounted to that of a level 70 - level 80.

Because Eder couldn't level up normally, he would eventually become useless at some point.

However, his power would increase immediately if he were to gain a new body, like replacing the engine of a car.

'Tch, nothing's free.'

He could work him like a horse for a while!

But to keep using him, Kang Oh would need to take care of several things he might need.

'Well, he's at least way better than Darion.'

Kang Oh decided that while he was searching for hidden dungeons, he would also find a way to procure a powerful body for Eder.

* * *

"Let's go."

Once Darion had collected all of the junk, Kang Oh continued his hunt.

In order to make use of Darion even just one more time!

And thus, Kang Oh's party began to search every nook and cranny of the Black Rat Nest.

Countless monsters became experience points for Kang Oh.

The Black Rat Nest had an outlaw of their own; with its many legs, the Broom Centipede swept through the Black Rats. 

Sasasak.

Whenever it moved, it sounded as though a broom was dusting the ground.

It had around 70 legs. In other words, it was about level 70.

It spewed incredibly potent poison, and its hideous appearance would draw out a primitive fear from its victim; an incredibly difficult monster to face!

"You're supposed to be really good for stamina, right?" Kang Oh asked.

Of course, that may be just a folk tale, as it'd never been medically proven. 

Even so…

"Is that true?"

Darion's eyes gleamed.

He'd originally believed that these centipedes were useless, but upon hearing about their possible effects on his virility, Darion's eyes became fixed on the centipede. 

Eder wasn't much different.

What's worse, he was a spirit.

The two, acting very much like religious fanatics, killed the Broom Centipede in the blink of an eye. 

'Oh, they've never shown such strength before.'

Kang Oh picked up the junk items, which consisted of centipede meat and its legs. He gave it all to Darion.

"Are you really giving it to me?" Darion asked, staring at him in disbelief.

"Why, you don't want it?"

"No, I do."

Darion immediately stashed away the centipede meat and legs.

Eder just watched the exchange, sucking on his fingers. 

Then…

"Do you want to hunt for a few more days and get some more centipede meat and legs?" Kang Oh said, luring in Darion.

However…

"No thank you," Darion firmly refused.

"Tch."

He wouldn't be fooled.

"Is this good for one's stamina too?" Darion asked, staring at the Black Rat's prey: mushrooms, cockroaches, and earthworms. 

"Nope."

They softly stopped on the cockroaches and worms and went on their way. 

Kang Oh's party began exploring the Black Rat Nest once more.

Sometime later…

They discovered the Black Rat Leader.

The Black Rat Leader was much larger than the average Black Rat.

"Stami…" Darion began.

"Give it a break, will you?" Kang Oh interrupted. 

"Ahem."

Darion avoided Kang Oh's glare. Eder was still sucking on a finger.

"And you, stop sucking on your bony fingers. Concentrate."

There were over one hundred Black Rats behind their leader.

Jjik?

Once the Black Rat Leader noticed Kang Oh's party, it attacked.

The Black Rat Leader and its followers rushed forward within the crowded narrow passageway.

'Jeez, there're so many of them.'

He felt like he was a Marine shooting an endless wave of Zerglings from within a bunker.[1]

However, Kang Oh wasn't a marine; he was a large and powerful Ultralisk[2].

Eder, with his bone magic, was like a Lurker, while Darion was like a Zealot[3].

Regular Black Rats, as well as their leader, were obviously no match for them.

The Black Rat corpses continued to pile up more and more!

The Black Rat Leader resisted until the very end, but in the end, even it was killed; it had fallen with its tongue protruding from its mouth.

But once their battle was over, a group of Cat Hunters appeared, possessing cat ears and tails.

Most of them were men equipped with bows or swords. However, there was one catgirl.

"Oh my!"

The sole female catgirl widened her eyes, looking astonished.

"These are all Black Rats!"

She had a cute and child-like face and bore pointy ears and a smooth tail.

"Excuse me, you handsome gentlemen. May we take a few Black Rats, nya?" the catgirl requested, smiling with her eyes.

'She really said 'nya'!'

Darion went to heaven while Eder's shoulders heaved. 

"You can."

"Yes, you can."

Darion and Eder simultaneously replied.

'Oh boy. Who decided that?'

Kang Oh wouldn't let her have a single one.

"No," Kang Oh firmly said.

Then, Darion and Eder stared at Kang Oh, their eyes filled with resentment.

He just ignored them.

"Do you want to stay with me a few more days?" Kang Oh stared at Darion.

"N-No, I'm fine." Darion immediately shook his head.

"Then can we trade this for it, nya?" The cat-eared girl passed him a round ornament.

'You use this when you raise your closeness with the cat tribe.'

It was far more valuable than the Black Rat's meat or skin.

"You have a deal."

The hunters took 10 of the dead Black Rats, and the catgirl bowed her head.

"Thanks. Then I'll be going now, nya."

As she left, Darion and Eder diligently waved their hands and said goodbye.

After she'd gotten a fair distance away, the catgirl locked arms with one of the hunters. .

"Honey, looks like we don't have to hunt today. We can go home early."

"And do what?" the male cat said impishly

"Ah, who knows?"

Darion, who'd been watching, looked as though he'd been betrayed.

"She was married!"

"I-I'm jealous," Eder said.

He'd been a bachelor the longest of the three.

Clap.

Kang Oh clapped and brought them back to reality.

"Let's keep going."

Kang Oh's party then entered the area that the Black Rat Leader had been guarding. 

The female Black Rats were inside.

Suksak.

Once they finished off the female Black Rats, the quest was finished.


[You have completely conquered the Black Rat Nest.]

[You have acquired the title, Butcher of the Black Rat Nest.]

[Return to the Adventurer Guild to receive your reward.]


Though he had finished the quest, Kang Oh continued his hunt through the Black Rat Nest.

In order to squeeze out maximum value out of Darion till the very end!

And ultimately, the clock had struck 6:00 pm.

"Just a little longer..." Kang Oh said.

"No thank you," Darion refused flat out.

"I'll give you overtime pay."

"I'm good."

"Hmph. Let's return to Altein."

With no other choice, Kang Oh was forced to return to Altein.

* * *

"I'll get going now."

Darion left as soon as they arrived in Altein. Their week-long mercenary, no slave contract was over.

That cold-hearted bastard; he left before he could stop him!

"Tch. I really should've used him even more."

Kang Oh licked his lips in frustration.

'Eh, there should be another chance later.'

Kang Oh and Eder headed to the Adventurer Guild.

"I finished conquering the Black Rat Nest," Kang Oh approached the middle-aged quest-giver and said.

"Let me see... Oh! You killed more than 400 Black Rats," the middle-aged man said.


[You have completed the quest.]

[You have become an Apprentice Adventurer.]

[Your credibility within the Adventurer Guild has increased.]


An Apprentice Adventurer was the lowest rank of Adventurer.

The difficulty would increase, but the rewards would likewise increase, so becoming a higher rank Adventurer was a must.

In order to raise one's Adventurer rank, one needed to complete the Adventurer Guild's quests and increase their credibility with the guild.

Of course, one could also take out loans from the Adventurer Guild based on their credibility. 


[As an additional reward, you may pick two pieces of the Apprentice Adventurer Set.]


"I'll take the leggings and boots please."

"Here."

Kang Oh accepted the leggingsand boots, which bore the mark of the Adventurer Guild, the hummingbird.

The Adventurer Set increased experience gain from killing monsters!

With just two pieces of the set, one's experience gain would increase by 5%!

Kang Oh immediately equipped the Adventurer Set. In terms of armor, Kang Oh had the Hero's Ghost-Pattern Armor equipped already.

"By the way, I heard rumors of you wielding a strange sword. Are you perhaps interested in any other swords?" the middle-aged man asked.

'A different sword... Could it be a demon sword!?'

He could tell that the middle-aged man was trying to give him a clue regarding a new demon sword.

"Of course," Kang Oh replied immediately.

"I heard the ruined Loxia family possessed an extremely ominous sword."


[You have heard about the Loxia family. A quest will be created if you acquire more clues.]


"Where is that sword?" Kang Oh asked.

"I don't know myself."

The middle-aged man shook his head.

"Is there anyone that can tell me about the sword in detail?" Kang Oh asked.

"Find Tino at the Jurento Bar. He's lived a long time so he knows a lot."

"I understand."

Kang Oh headed for the Jurento Bar immediately.

"I'm looking for Tino," Kang Oh said.

The man, seemingly the owner, pointed to a table.

He saw a small old man with his face flat on the table.

"Tino?" Kang Oh called.

Tino slowly lifted his head.

"Huh? Who are you?"

His dim eyes looked at Kang Oh. He must've been drunk, as his face was red.

"I'm an Adventurer and my name is Kang Oh. Do you know about the Loxia family's sword?" Kang Oh asked.

"Loxia, Loxia... I've heard that name somewhere before... I'm dizzy so I can't remember. I think I'll remember if you can get me some honey water," Tino said.

In other words, if he wanted to know more, he'd have to buy him some honey water.

"Ahem. Please bring a honey water over here."

"That's 1 gold. You have to prepay."

The owner extended his hand. Honey water was 1 gold.

"Why is it so expensive!?"

"It's wild honey," the owner said shamelessly.

"Water... honey water!" Tino urged from beside him.

Kang Oh glanced to his side at Eder.

"You have any money on you?" Kang Oh asked, scowling. If you have some, give it.

"No, I don't."

Eder turned his robe pocket inside out; all that came out was dust.

'Damn it.'

Kang Oh shook as he took out a gold coin.

The owner snatched the gold coin and quickly readied the honey water.

The honey water looked light, so it definitely wasn't wild honey.

"Ahem. Here you go."

Tino downed it in one go.

"It's not enough. How about a seafood soup too... Hmm, I'm finally starting to wake up."

Kang Oh glared at him, eyes filled with killing intent, so Tino immediately changed his tune.

"So where was I?"

"I wanted to hear about the Loxia family's sword," Kang Oh said, emphasizing the word 'Loxia'.

"The Loxia family's sword..."

Tino stroked his beard.

"I've heard rumors that there was an ominous, mysterious sword stored within the Loxia family's secret storehouse."

"Where is that secret storehouse?" Kang Oh asked.

"I don't know. Several people attempted to find the storehouse once the Loxia family fell, but no one has ever found it."

"Do you have any other info?" Kang Oh asked. 

He'd drank honey water worth 1 gold, so he should give him some more info.

"If you go to the Altein Central Library, there'll be a book there called The Loxia Chronicles. That book might help you."


[You have heard about the Loxia family's secret storehouse. If you acquire more clues, a quest will be created.]


"Is that all you have?"

"That's all."

"I understand."

Kang Oh left the bar and immediately headed for the Altein Central Library.

"What brings you here?" the librarian asked.

"I came looking for The Loxia Chronicles."

"Please wait a moment."

The librarian soon came back and handed the book to him.

"Mm, it's thick."

The Loxia Chronicles was 1,500 pages.

"Eder."

"Yes."

"Read this and find any info regarding the new demon sword."

Kang Oh passed The Loxia Chronicles to Eder.

"Why me?" Eder asked.

Kang Oh had expected such a response, so he wasn't surprised. 

"What do you mean why? Do it unless you want to die."

Kang Oh brandished his sword and threatened him.

"T-That's a violation of the contract..."

"The contract says nothing about ensuring your safety."

"The quest definitely..."

"It states that I have to keep your body safe. It didn't say anything about keeping your soul safe as well."

Kang Oh smiled wickedly.

It was the same wicked smile that he'd worn when he'd formed the contract with Eder!

At that moment, Eder looked as though he'd been had.

Of course, his skull was obscured by the smiling mask, so Kang Oh didn't notice.

Kang Oh pushed his sword right in front of Eder. The tip of the blade was touching Eder's smiling mask.

"What's it going to be? Do it or die?"

[1] Starcraft reference, Marines and Zerglings are pretty basic infantry units.

[2] Another reference, an Ultralist is one of the endgame units for the Zerg faction and is the toughest Zerg unit.

[3] More units from starcraft, Lurkers and Zealots are higher infantry tier units.

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