They fought as hard as they could. Kang Oh shielded himself with Ubist, and then activated Devil Trigger. Eder covered himself with bone armor and summoned two bone shields, one for himself and one for Kang Oh.
They weren't your ordinary bone shields. They were Munra's Bone Shields! Their inscriptions imbued them with a mysterious power, one that decreased the power of any magical/elemental attack.
'I wish I could make a bone wall too...' Eder looked disappointed. However, he hadn't had enough time to cast a Bone Wall.
Once Kang Oh was finished transforming, he cast Abyss Shield. He didn't have enough time to use Abyss Transfer.
Fierce flames swept through Kang Oh and Eder.
[You have been exposed to extremely hot flames.]
[Abyss Shield melted away instantly.]
[Munra's Bone Shield has very slightly reduced the intensity of the flames.]
[The Draka set has reduced fire damage by 30%.]
[You have been burned.]
Kang Oh HP went down significantly. However, the combination of Abyss Shield, the Draka set, and Munra's Shield had kept him alive. Eder was in the same boat. He too had just barely survived. His face was burnt black, mirroring the color of his robes, but at least he'd survived!
Of course, Kang Oh and Eder had nothing to celebrate over. After all, there were still three Talamanders in front of them.
'We can't win!' Kang Oh immediately concluded.
In their current state, killing three Talamanders was impossible. If that's the case, then running away was their best option. However, they suddenly heard the sharp clang of weapons from deep within the cave.
Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!
The Talamanders were attracted by the noise. They ignored Kang Oh and Eder, and instead turned around and went back the way they came.
"Haa, we survived." Kang Oh wasn't sure what just happened, but he'd managed to survive, so he heaved a huge sigh of relief.
"Hoo." Eder followed suit.
However, they couldn't stay here and rest. After all, the Talamanders could come back at any time.
'Do we go deeper into the cave, or do we leave.... That's the question.'
Kang Oh decided on the former. After all, the Death Eagles and rhinos were fighting outside. He didn't want to return to that chaotic battlefield.
"Let's keep going."
"Yeah. It should be safer to find refuge inside than to go back out there. That's what I think at any rate."
"I'll follow your lead, Mr. Kang Oh."
Kang Oh and Eder made their way through the cave.
* * *
A flowing river of boiling lava. There was a bridge that crossed over it, which was where a fierce battle was currently taking place. 100 warriors, armed with the finest equipment, fought against five Talamanders.
Kang Oh and Eder hid behind a pile of rocks and watched on.
"If I'm right, then... Those are the Black Hammer Dwarves!" Kang Oh's eyes gleamed.
The Black Hammer Dwarves, who'd purportedly chosen to hide in Despia. It seemed like that's who the warriors were. Taking into consideration the quality of their weapons, their tout bodies, and their short height, they were definitely dwarves.
Anyhow, the Dwarven Warriors easily defeated the Talamanders, as if they were used to fighting them.
The final Talamander fell to the floor.
"Collect the bones and the fire. Make sure to pick up their hearts too," the dwarf leader said. As per his orders, the warriors began to disassemble the Talamanders.
'I have to meet with them no matter what!' Kang Oh rushed out of the rocks and onto the bridge.
"Huh? Mr. Kang Oh?"
His flaming eyes shook at the suddenness of Kang Oh's actions. He was definitely taken aback. However, he soon calmed down, remained behind cover, and watched how the situation unfolded. Then, he slightly raised his scythe. If need be, he'd use magic to assist Kang Oh.
Meanwhile, Kang Oh greeted the heavily armed warriors.
"Hello, my name is Kang Oh," Kang Oh yelled.
The warriors said nothing, but they all turned their heads towards Kang Oh.
"A... human?" the leader said, surprised.
"That's right. You're all dwarves, right?"
"How did you know that?"
"Do you remember Mr. Honadan?"
Honadan was the man that Kang Oh had rescued from Lalka's Ziggurat. Anyhow, Honadan was the one who'd guided the Black Hammer Dwarves to the western desert region, so he believed they'd respond to that name.
As expected, the leader knew who Honadan was.
'They're definitely the Black Hammer Dwarves.'
After all, the only dwarves who should know about him are the Black Hammer Dwarves.
"I don't have any ties with that damn dragon. I just wanted to ask you something." Kang Oh stretched out both of his hands. 'I'm not a threat, I swear!'
"So could we please talk? It'd be even better if we could talk someplace safe."
It seemed as though he'd piqued the dwarf leader's interest. Thus, he decided to accept Kang Oh's request.
"I have someone accompanying me... Summon Eder!"
Eder reappeared beside him.
"He can come with us."
"We're heading back to our hideout!"
Kang Oh and Eder followed the Black Hammer Dwarves to their hideout.
* * *
The dwarves had created a hideout by digging a tunnel through the volcano's walls.
"Igriham, Book, follow me and the outsiders. The rest of you, do your duties and then rest."
"Yes, Chieftain!" the Dwarven Warriors yelled simultaneously.
"This way." The dwarf leader led Kang Oh and Eder to his own personal room.
The Dwarven Warriors, Igriham and Book, were the last ones in line. They were there to keep Kang Oh and Eder from doing anything stupid! But Kang Oh and Eder weren't here to make trouble, so they didn't do anything that would draw their ire.
Anyhow, they finally reached the dwarf leader's room.
"I'm the Black Hammer Dwarves' Chieftain, Randelhoff. This is Igriham, and the other is Book.
Randelhoff introduced himself without taking off his helmet or armor. His subordinates didn't either.
"My name is Kang Oh."
"I am Eder."
"Are you undead?" Randelhoff looked at Eder and said.
"He's human, but due to situations outside of his control, he's currently using an undead body," Kang Oh replied.
"Well, I suppose everyone has their own set of problems," Randelhoff said bitterly.
"True. That's why I came here," Kang Oh agreed.
"How do you know Mr. Honadan? And how did you get to this god forsaken land?" Randelhoff asked.
He'd come to Despia so long ago, yet this was the first time he'd ever seen a human here.
"It's a long story. Let me start from the beginning."
"Go ahead." Randelhoff seemed relaxed. He had plenty of time, so he was all too willing to listen to his story, no matter the length.
"So this is how it went..." Kang Oh began explaining how he'd tracked the whereabouts of the Black Hammer Dwarves and came here.
He started with the quest that Valan had given him. Then, he explained how he had gotten a clue to the Black Hammer Dwarves' whereabouts from the Adventurer Guild, and had gone to the Great Forest. From there, he visited the Sand Tribe.
"Mr. Honadan was the only one who knew where you had gone. But when I went to see him, he was in danger. I saved him from Lalka's Ziggurat."
"Mr. Honadan taught me how to get to Despia. I suppose it's more accurate to say that he taught me how you all got here."
"You're referring to that crazy plan of deliberately getting eaten by Liviola."
Randelhoff's face was covered by his helmet. Even so, Kang Oh could tell that he was smiling.
"That's right. Eder and I were eaten by Liviola on the night of the full moon. We went through quite a lot to get here."
"Did you come here for us?" Randelhoff asked.
"That's not all of it. The biggest reason is because of him." Kang Oh pointed at Eder. "If he's to regain his human body, then he needs to find the Temple of Death that exists somewhere in Despia. That's why we were forced to come here."
"The Temple of Death..."
"Do you know where it's located?" Eder suddenly asked.
"I don't know where exactly it is. But I do know that it's not here."
"Not here? What do you mean?" Eder tilted his head. 'The Temple of Death should be somewhere in Despia...'
"To be more specific, it's not on this floor."
"Is Despia divided into floors?" Kang Oh asked.
"That's right. Of course, the floors aren't connected by a stairway or a passageway. To go even further underground, you need to find the door."
"Where is that door?" Eder asked.
"I don't know." Randelhoff shook his head. "And... it seems like you have something to ask of us."
"Yes. I'd like you to make me a sword," Kang Oh asked politely.
"I'm sorry, but I can't do that," Randelhoff firmly said.
"May I ask why?" Kang Oh kept calm.
"Hoo." Randelhoff suddenly took off his helmet.
Kang Oh and Eder looked shocked. Scales, which looked like black diamonds, were all over his face.
"The Black Dragon, Inarius, dragged us into his lair and used us like slaves. As if that wasn't enough, he changed us too," Randelhoff said roughly, his eyes burning with anger. "We just barely escaped his grasp and came here to hide. And we made a vow. That we'd never, ever make another sword or piece of armor for anyone else!"
They would never again forge weapons/armor for an outsider, and wouldn't be used against their will either! True, there was no one in Despia that they could make weapons for, but all of the Black Hammer Dwarves had taken that solemn oath regardless.
"We'll never break our vow," Randelhoff said firmly.
He'd never heard someone so determined before.
"Mm." Kang Oh furrowed his brow.
His meeting with them was good. However, he couldn't ask them to make a demon sword for him. Kang Oh was at his wit's end. His resentment towards Valan suddenly welled up in his heart.
'Seriously, that guy never gives me any easy quests!' For the time being, Kang Oh decided not to ask them about the demon sword. 'Let sleeping dogs lie.'
He planned on slowly convincing them.
"I understand. But would you be willing to allow myself and Eder to stay here?"
They needed a safe home base if they wanted to stay in Despia. And there was no better place than the dwarves' hideout.
"The Black Hammer Dwarves treat guests with care. We'll provide a room for you, so stay for as long as you wish."
Kang Oh and Eder bowed their heads.Previous Chapter Next Chapter