On occasion, a huge monster army appears in the Phamas Mountains, which resides in the eastern part of the continent. No one knew why it appeared, where it came from, or how so many monsters had gathered in one place.
What was certain was the fact that it'd leave the Phamas Mountains and head for the port city that bordered the eastern coast, or the Arabas, Baiyan, and Dellas Kingdoms. Any one of these locations would sustain heavy casualties!
Thus, the Baiyan and Dellas Kingdoms, which lay adjacent to the Phamas Mountains, had dispatched an army to deal with it. Normally, this army would include the Arabas Kingdom's forces too, but they were in no condition to do so; they were in the middle of a civil war after all.
The Port City Alliance hired mercenaries and sent them into the Phamas Mountains. To be more specific, they sent Dion, Darion, and the 100 Fighters to deal with the monster army.
Their job was simple.
While the Baiyan/Dellas Alliance engaged the monster army head-on, they would act as a detached force and kill small pockets of monsters in the Phamas Mountains!
"We're going over there!"
"Reinforce the right flank!"
The 100 Fighters fought bravely against hundreds of monsters.
Their commander clearly stood out. He was known as the Indomitable Gladiator, Dion. He relentlessly swung his dual gladiuses, killing any monster in his way.
All of a sudden, something fell from the sky.
"The devil?" someone muttered.
It possessed ominous dark red wings, and a breastplate seemingly coated in blood. An unpleasant darkness wafted from its body, and two horns protruded from its mask. It even had a beast's tail.
Is this what the devil looked like in those childhood stories?
However, a clear voice could be heard from behind its mask.
"It's been a while, Mr. Dion."
"That sword... Are you Kang Oh?" Dion saw Demon Sword Ubist, and realized that this was Kang Oh.
"Why are you here?"
"We'll talk later. Let's kill the monsters first." Kang Oh, wielding a demon sword in either hand, rushed into an area with a high concentration of monsters.
A fearsome roar rang out, one that struck terror into the hearts of the monsters.
Kang Oh killed the monsters with greater power and speed than even Dion himself.
"Attack! Don't let down your guard, and kill every last one of them." Dion's voice resounded throughout the battlefield.
"Oooh!" the 100 Fighters exclaimed.
The battle ended soon after. Hundreds of monster corpses lay on the floor.
Kang Oh deactivated Devil Trigger, and approached Dion.
"Hello again. It's been a while."
Dion nodded his head. He had a sharp jaw, big bright eyes, and a manly face.
"It has. Last time we saw each other was back in the snowy plains, right?"
"Why are you here?"
"I came here to kill a Kalvaidum."
A Kalvaidum was a giant monster that occasionally appeared in the Phamas Mountains. It looked like a hornless rhinoceros, but it was covered in brown fur.
Kang Oh needed its heart.
"I was in the air looking for one, but then I saw you and the 100 Fighters. That's why I'm here." Kang Oh grinned.
"I heard a monster army appeared on the Phamas Mountains. I saw it from above; it was seriously no joke." Kang Oh pointed at the sky.
"The three eastern kingdoms, no, the Dellas and Baiyan forces will deal with it."
"What if they lose?"
"Then it'll become a pain."
"Anyhow, the 100 Fighters' job is to go around the Phamas Mountains and kill small pockets of monsters, right?" Kang Oh asked.
"Yeah. That's our job," Dion said.
"Then let me help. Looking for a Kalvaidum by myself when the mountains are teeming with monsters is a pain."
"Do what you want."
"Yo, Darion." Kang Oh raised his hand at Darion, who was in the back, sporting a sullen expression.
"It's been a while," Darion said.
"Yeah, it has. Let's get along." Kang Oh tapped his shoulder.
* * *
Soul dungeons were a hot topic.
Whenever players gathered, all they'd talk about were soul dungeons, and the community sites were flooded with rumors, information, etc. However, one post drew more attention than the others.
A famous explorer, Belmor, posted an article on Arthstory.
Have you heard? Soul dungeons give you special items that can't be gained anywhere else.
Materials, potions, scrolls, etc. They all vary in type and effect.
However, I'm most envious of the mysterious scroll that increases a skill or spell by one whole rank.
As you know, proficiency increases really slowly in Arth. Thus, you're forced to concentrate on a few skills or spells.
But this mysterious scroll eliminates that problem. You can learn ten or more skills/spells without sacrificing proficiency.
It's the most unique soul dungeon reward that I've come across.
Ah, I can't tell you which soul dungeon this comes from. So please don't ask me!
A mysterious scroll that increased the rank of a skill/spell! If it really existed, then it was an overpowered item; one that completely broke the balance of the game.
Thus, people's opinions on whether it existed or not were divided. Even if it did exist, people argued that you had to pay some sort of price, or that there was some kind of limitation to it.
Although he requested that they not ask him about the dungeon, plenty of people did so anyway. However, Belmor didn't tell anyone which dungeon it was. People accused him of lying, and some lost interest too. It seemed like the mysterious scroll would remain buried.
But then, information brokers began to pass out information on the mysterious scroll.
"It's the Ecle Palace. If you acquire that dungeon, then you can gain the mysterious scroll."
Information was everything to an information broker, so they wouldn't sell unverified information. That bit of information came from an information broker at quite a hefty price.
The intermediate guilds acted first.
These guilds dreamt of becoming large guilds, but they just didn't have the opportunity! The mysterious scroll was their golden ticket to becoming a large guild.
"Let's go!" Atrocity, the leader of the Atrocity Guild, led his members to the Ecle Palace. The Atrocity Guild was notorious for their poor behavior.
Ecle Palace was located in the Red Thorn Forest, which was filled with powerful plant-type monsters. That's why most people didn't come here.
By the time they got there, however, there were a ton of other people there.
"Tch, we're heading straight for the palace."
The Atrocity Guild could literally feel the tension as they entered Ecle Palace.
The fact that soul dungeons were located within hidden dungeons was already widespread knowledge. After all, it was written in Song Lee Shen's book.
Which meant that if you wanted a soul dungeon, you had to first find the hidden dungeon.
The intermediate guilds here desperately searched for the hidden dungeon.
Their fellow competitors were right there with them, so the tension couldn't be helped! It was as though the timer of a bomb had ticked down to 1 second.
"We have to find it no matter what!"
It sounded like a device had been activated.
"Someone found the entrance. Get a move on!" Atrocity instinctively yelled.
Ecle Palace was an incredibly vast dungeon, and the entrance to the hidden dungeon was found in the throne room.
The ground opened up, revealing a stairway that led underground. However, that discovery led to a huge fight.
"We found it first. Get out of the way!"
In an instant, several guilds engaged in battle, and those that'd arrived later entered the fray. It was complete chaos.
Clang! Bam! Whoosh!
Weapons, magic, arrows, roars, and screams filled the room.
The Atrocity Guild didn't participate in the battle, and merely watched from a corner. His sharp eyes watched the battle, waiting for his opportunity.
"Follow me! Don't look back!" Atrocity rushed at the stairway. Then, his guild members followed him as fast as they could.
However, Atrocity's actions caused even greater chaos. Some of the other guilds, which had also been watching and waiting, copied Atrocity and ran for the stairs!
"Block the entrance. No one can go in except us!"
The chaos only got worse. Everyone was engaged in battle now. It was hard to differentiate between friend and foe. They just attacked anyone they saw.
"Get out of my way!"
"Ugh, save me!"
How much time had passed?
Only a few players had survived the battle.
However, ordinary players and the small guilds had arrived. The intermediate guilds' reinforcements arrived too, and they battled once more.
No one had won. Everyone there had sustained heavy casualties.
"At this rate, we'll all die. Let's agree to a temporary ceasefire," Atrocity said to another intermediate guild's leader.
"How can I trust you? You could just stab me in the back," the Iron Mace's guildmaster said sharply.
"Then what, you want to keep fighting?" Atrocity snarled.
"Aah, let's all calm down and call a truce. We can all enter the hidden dungeon together. We can decide things once we're inside. Let's not do this outside," the Lapis guildmaster said.
"We're all going to block the entrance together, so that no one else can get in. In three hours, we'll all take our guild members inside," Atrocity said.
"Hmph. Be careful. He might stab you in the back," the Iron Mace guildmaster said.
"Worry about yourself." Atrocity flipped him off.
Three hours later...
Five intermediate guilds, including the Atrocity, Iron Mace, and Lapis guilds, entered Ecle Palace's hidden dungeon.
[Entering the hidden dungeon, Steel Princess's Underground Labyrinth.]
"Let's all go our separate ways now," Lapis's guildmaster said.
"Fine by me."
The five guilds went through separate tunnels. If they came into contact later, then they'd fight then, but not right now.
However, they weren't worried about the future; they were only worried about the present. Their main priority was finding the soul dungeon's guardian.
"Hurry up! We have to find it before the Atrocity Guild!"
* * *
The news that the mysterious scroll was located in Ecle Palace spread like a wildfire. Everyone's attention was drawn to the Ecle Palace, and the Ecle Palace and Red Thorn Forest were filled with battle.
Jegal, who'd plotted all this, saw how things turned out and smiled wickedly.
"Everything's going as planned."
The man standing beside him was Belmor. He was the one who'd made the post about the mysterious scroll.
It seemed like he had no connection to the Empire Guild, but he was actually Jegal's pawn.
"It's unfortunate that the top 20 guilds are acting exactly as expected. They aren't moving at all. If they broke my expectations and took the bait, then things would've been a lot easier."
"They don't act recklessly. When they act, they see things through, but it's hard for them to take the first step," Belmor said.
"Indeed. So we should give them a little push. They can't link it back to us."
"Leave it to me."
"If she shows up, then everything will fall into place. She's not the type to show herself that easily, so... Try to get Shion to act as planned."
Setinel's Sage, Shion. He was the leader of the Hercules Guild (one of the 5 great guilds), and was recently pushed down to rank 10!
"That'll be easy." Belmor grinned.
"I'll leave it to you."
"For the Empire!"
"For the Empire!"
Jegal believed it wouldn't be long before the Empire Guild realized their ambition.
One empire that controlled the entire continent! That was slowly becoming a reality.Previous Chapter Next Chapter