Kang Oh visited Krohn. He was garbed in traditional Nuwak attire, with two daggers hanging at his waist.
"It's been a while, Mr. Kang Oh," Krohn said.
"Yes, it has. Have you been well?"
After briefly greeting each other, Krohn brought out some tea.
"What brings you here today?" Krohn asked.
"I'm tracking the Black Hammer Dwarves' whereabouts. Chieftain Shula told me that your father helped them in the past," Kang Oh said.
"That's supposed to be a secret... Chieftain Shula actually told you that?" Krohn stared at him suspiciously.
"I'll keep it a secret so that neither the Nuwak nor the Black Hammer Dwarves get hurt. I'm just trying to find out how they got into Despia," Kang Oh said honestly. His closeness with Krohn was quite high, so he immediately believed him.
"I see. Certainly... my father did help them."
"Do you happen to know where the dwarves went?" Kang Oh asked.
"I don't. But... I know someone who helped my father back then."
"Please introduce him to me."
"His name is Honadan. He's an old friend of my father's, and currently lives in the west."
"Yes. The Sand Tribe lives near the western desert. You should be able to find Mr. Honadan there."
'The western desert... He must be referring to the Starving Desert. But I've never heard of the Sand Tribe before.'
For several months, Kang Oh had worked as a mercenary in the west. However, this was the first time he'd ever heard of the Sand Tribe. It must be one of the countless small tribes that live there.
"Please write me a letter of introduction."
A short while later...
Kang Oh left Krohn's house with the letter of introduction.
'Honadan. Honadan, huh...'
Does he really know where Despia is?
* * *
Finding the Sand Tribe wasn't difficult. He asked the Mercenary Association about them, and they immediately pointed out where their village was located. The Sand Tribe lived around an oasis, which was located at the entrance to the Starving Desert.
"Please come in."
Kang Oh was given a warm welcome by the Sand Tribe. Most of the western tribes were unsociable, but Kang Oh was an exception. It was because of his fame and reputation as the Hero of Kasten!
"Welcome, Hero of Kasten. I am the Chieftain of the Sand Tribe, Ugrim."
The Chieftain, Ugrim, was an old man wearing white, loose clothing. He didn't look much different from a human being. However, he and the rest of the Sand Tribe were capable of transforming into sand.
"Thank you for the warm welcome." Kang Oh bowed his head.
"You've come a long way. What did you need?"
"I'd like to meet Mr. Honadan."
"Mm." Chieftain Ugrim grimaced, adding more wrinkles to his already wrinkled face.
"Honadan has gone missing."
"Pardon me?" Kang Oh widened his eyes. 'What are you talking about all of the sudden!?'
"He is..." Ugrim began explaining the circumstances of his disappearance.
Honadan was originally from the Great Forest, but moved here after marrying a woman from the Sand Tribe. The pair were eventually blessed with a child too.
However, his daughter caught an unknown disease, and Honadan tried everything in his power to heal her.
"But nothing worked," Ugrim continued, sporting a bitter expression.
Once his daughter's condition worsened, Honadan headed for 'Lalka's Ziggurat'. It was said that its purifying water was a cure-all. Of course, the place was so dangerous that no one returned alive. Nevertheless, Honadan was willing to risk his life to procure the purifying water.
"And he hasn't returned yet," Ugrim said, finished with his explanation.
'Lalka's Ziggurat. It, along with the Bernice Canyon and Mt. Verastan, are considered the most dangerous places in the west.'
Kang Oh had some information on it, but nothing in detail. It was teeming with monsters over level 300, and there were traps there that were even more dangerous than the monsters themselves!
"How long has it been since he's left?" Kang Oh asked.
"It's been three months already."
"Hmm." Kang Oh furrowed his brow.
'Three months, huh...'
How likely was it that Honadan was still alive? And what were the chances that he could be brought back safely? It seemed extremely unlikely.
'Phew, now where do I get my information?' Kang Oh was at his wit's end.
A woman entered the chieftain's home and kneeled on the floor.
"Please save him!" Her face was the epitome of 'sincerity'.
"That's Honadan's wife," Ugrim said.
"Please, Hero of Kasten!" she yelled earnestly.
"I need to meet him, so I'd like to help out, but... It's unlikely he's still alive," Kang Oh said.
Then, Honadan's wife pulled out a lamp and held it up with both hands. It was a glass lamp with a lotus-shaped support. A weak fire burned from within.
"This is called a 'Life Lamp'. It only burns when someone is alive. He's still alive," she said, and a quest popped up.
Rescue Honadan, who is located somewhere within Lalka's Ziggurat. You must hurry. He may die at any time...
Difficulty: Extremely difficult.
Minimum Requirements: High reputation and fame.
Reward: Honadan's information.
Failure: Reduced reputation and fame.
'The fact that I've gotten a quest means that there's still a chance for him!'
Kang Oh steeled himself.
"I'll save him."
[You have accepted the quest, Save Honadan.]
"Aah, thank you!" Honadan's wife said tearfully.
"Thanks!" Ugrim bowed his head.
Kang Oh stood up immediately. "There's no time. I need to leave immediately."
"Do you know where Lalka's Ziggurat is?"
"Please take this Life Lamp with you. The flame will lead you to him." Honadan's wife passed him the lamp.
"Understood." Kang Oh accepted it.
"Please bring him back safely."
"I'll do my best."
Kang Oh blew his whistle, summoning a black horse. Then, he got on top of it and forcefully pulled on the reins.
"Go as fast as you can!"
His horse dashed forward, piercing through the wind.
* * *
A ziggurat. It was a large, square-shaped tower created by the ancient Mesopotamian civilization. Lalka's Ziggurat was no exception. It too was a large, square-shaped tower. However, the building itself was constructed underground, so only the upper portion was visible. Thus, he couldn't tell how large the building actually was.
'I'll get a feeling of how big it is once I go in.' Kang Oh entered Lalka's Ziggurat.
[You have entered the dungeon, Lalka's Ziggurat.]
He was greeted by the sight of yellow and gray walls, as well as a dark, humid, quadrilateral passageway.
'Traps!' Kang Oh immediately threw his body out of the way.
A pillar of fire arose from his previous location. But that wasn't all. Liquid fell from the ceiling as well.
'Oil!' Kang Oh ran forward as fast as he could.
The blazing fire filled the passageway and chased after Kang Oh. He quickly turned a corner, avoiding the flames.
"Hoo." Kang Oh caught his breath.
'What a warm welcome.'
This was nothing but a taste of what's to come. Many more traps awaited him, all of which would prove several times more dangerous than the ones he'd just encountered. Even so, he couldn't afford to take his time and carefully explore the ziggurat in fear of the traps.
'I have to advance as fast as possible, even if it means I get caught in a few of the traps.' Kang Oh pulled out the Life Lamp from his inventory.
A weak flame. That meant that Honadan wasn't in good condition! He had to find him ASAP, before the flames went out completely.
The flame pointed in a certain direction, and Kang Oh followed. Obviously, he was caught in several traps along the way.
Arrows shot out from the walls, and spears rose from the ground.
'Full speed ahead!'
With the help of his Hyper Intuition and his high evasion, he just barely avoided the arrows and spears and made his way forward.
Now, the ceiling began to fall.
Kang Oh quickly slid forward and he heard a 'thud' behind him! The path was closed off by the fallen ceiling.
'This way.' Kang Oh was faced with a forked road, but followed the lamp's directions.
Once his foot touched the ground, the ground began to crumble.
"Tch!" Kang Oh forcefully jumped, and made it out alive. "Hoo, hoo."
He didn't stop. Rather than disarm the traps, he continuously set them off and pushed through, following the direction of the flame. The only direction he knew was forward!
* * *
He obviously faced some monsters along the way too.
An angry blowfish looking monster came rushing at him. It had a round body, and rakes on its hands and feet. An exploding monster, Meat Bomb! It was a grenade without its safety pin.
Rather than swing his sword, Kang Oh just threw the incoming Meat Bomb away. That's what you do with a grenade after all!
The Meat Bomb's body turned red midair and then exploded! Spikes the size of his forearm went flying everywhere. Kang Oh swung Blood and deflected any incoming spikes. By doing so, he dealt with the Meat Bomb without taking much damage.
One of the Meat Bomb's spikes had hit the ceiling, springing a trap.
The ceiling opened up, dropping a massive round boulder that filled the passageway. It began to chase him as if it were locked onto him.
"Damn it!" Kang Oh ran like crazy.
A short while later...
"Haa, haa." Kang Oh, who'd somehow avoided the boulder, caught his breath.
However, monsters were quickly approaching him from afar.
They were giant, one-eyed monster scorpions, otherwise known as Creepers! They were about level 300. However, they came in a group of more than ten.
"I don't have time for this!" Kang Oh extended Blood.
The powerful lightning blast filled the passageway, sweeping through any scorpion in its way.
The Creepers got a proper taste of lightning. It was too much for them, so they couldn't move.
Kang Oh pushed through them and swung his sword. 'Here, here, here, and here!' Guided by his Hyper Intuition, he accurately struck all of their weak points.
Bam, bam, bam!
Red shards of light flew through the air, and Blood greedily absorbed them. Kang Oh attacked a few more times. Then, when fifteen red stars manifested on his blade, he released a blood red explosion.
Those affected by the Blood Bomb could move no longer. Kang Oh finished off the remaining Creepers and then checked the Light Lamp.
'This way.' He followed the direction that the flame was pointing towards.
* * *
'Mm?' Kang Oh, who'd been running at top speed, suddenly stopped. He was at a dead end. However, the Life Lamp was pointing at the wall.
His Hyper Intuition had activated, giving him that strange feeling that there was something behind this wall!
Kang Oh began patting the wall. 'Is this it?' One piece of the wall sunk in.
Once he pushed in the stone, a secret passageway opened up.
'I hope Honadan's at the end of this hidden passageway.' Kang Oh pushed through the pitch black darkness.Previous Chapter Next Chapter