Players battled in the Red Thorn Forest day after day. The Breaker Guild and the Cerberus Alliance were steadily gaining the upper hand.
It was because the Cerberus Alliance and the Breaker Guild had joined forces. The Cerberus Alliance sought to retain ownership of the Ecle Palace, while the Breaker Guild's main goal was to weaken everyone else.
Steel Heart and Hercules had similar goals. They wanted the Ecle Palace's mysterious scroll! Moreover, their leaders were extremely prideful, so neither side wanted to be the first to ask for help. Thus, they couldn't beat the combined might of the Breaker Guild and the Cerberus Alliance.
When they were driven into a corner, things changed.
If they lost this war, then they would have bigger problems than not obtaining the Ecle Palace and the mysterious scroll. The losing side would have to pay huge reparations!
It'd be enough to completely bankrupt a guild. Would they even be able to make a comeback after losing so much money and resources? They would also lose their position as one of the 5 great guilds.
Ultimately, it was a matter of survival. Arthand and Shion knew their guilds were at risk, so they joined forces.
"Let's beat them first."
It was morning, a week after the outbreak of war.
* * *
News that the Storm Guild had attacked the Empire Guild's headquarters spread like wildfire. They had almost conquered it too.
"They would've been in a lot of trouble if Dukeram hadn't shown up."
'Almost' was the key word.
The Storm Guild's elites had made it all the way to the Empire Guild's treasure house. But then, Dukeram, the Brown Bear Squad, and the Glacier Squad appeared. With their help, the Empire Guild was able to repel the Storm Guild.
It was said that Dukeram's role had been huge. He had defeated the Spear King, Hernandez.
However, footage of the battle couldn't be found anywhere.
The Storm Guild had lost, so they didn't want people seeing it. On the other hand, the Empire Guild was embarrassed that their enemies had gotten so deep, so they too didn't show the footage.
Although their attack had failed, the Storm Guild had managed to steal the Empire Guild's dungeons, which was their main source of income. Thus, they hadn't lost out in this exchange.
As the Empire Guild couldn't afford to pull out of the civil war, they had no choice but to grit their teeth and allow the Storm Guild to do as they pleased.
With this, the battle between two large guilds quietly came to an end.
* * *
The Oracle Guild was one of the guilds working alongside the Hercules Guild. They were an intermediate guild, but they had a close relationship with the Hercules Guild, so they rode on their coattails and acted quite arrogant.
Moreover, they owned a dungeon, which didn't suit the guild's small size.
An Alkartan was a bird with steel wings. If you kill one, they drop a Steel Wing. Melting this down would produce the highest grade steel.
High quality steel had infinite uses. This dungeon, which allowed you to safely procure a steady supply of high quality steel, was essentially a gold mine.
It wasn't a dungeon that should belong to an insignificant intermediate guild like the Oracle Guild. The dungeon would've been stolen a long time ago had it not been for the Hercules Guild's protection.
'Moreover, there's a high chance that this is a soul dungeon.' Kang Oh's eyes gleamed as he stared at the entrance.
It was rumored that Alkartan's Nest was a soul dungeon.
There was one huge clue that'd tell you if a dungeon was a soul dungeon or not.
If the dungeon's interior noticeably changed, then there was a high chance that it was a soul dungeon. The dungeon's master either changed the layout of the dungeon, or expanded it.
Of course, there were some dungeons that changed, even without being soul dungeons. However, those dungeons were quite rare.
Anyhow, Alkartan's Nest looked a lot different than when it had first been revealed to the world.
It was completely different!
As the owner of three soul dungeons himself, Kang Oh knew what set a soul dungeon apart from a normal dungeon. And all those features applied to Alkartan's Nest.
'The soul dungeon's guardian is within a hidden dungeon. However, a guardian is about as strong as a boss monster. Thus, there's a high chance that bossless dungeons are soul dungeons.'
It was widespread knowledge that Alkartan's Nest didn't contain a boss monster.
He was about 90% sure that this was a soul dungeon.
"Let's get going." Kang Oh glanced back. Sephiro looked hesitant, while Asu looked ready and willing.
"Are you really taking that? Oracle is under Hercules' protection. The Hercules Guild is one of the 5 great guilds!"
Sephiro didn't have a strong backer behind him. He didn't like working in large groups, so he hadn't joined a guild.
Because of that, he was free to enjoy the game as he pleased. Conversely, it meant that he would need to keep an eye out for the large guilds sometimes. When they looked your way, you had to kneel down and surrender. He didn't want them to target him. Sephiro felt the same way now too. He didn't want to mess with the Hercules Guild for no reason.
"Don't you remember almost dying to the Empire Guild's Assassination Squad? You know, the one that came after us because we killed Kainshell's boss?" Sephiro asked.
"That went well, didn't it?"
Back then, he'd asked Burkan for help. With his help, they showed the Empire Guild's Brown Bear Squad and its leader, Ridgeley, who's boss. Was the Mad Dog, Kraal there too?
"Went well? The Empire Guild's probably just waiting to kill us."
"I welcome it. We're already being targeted by the Empire Guild, so what's one more?"
"What do you mean 'what's one more?'? It'll get even worse!"
"Either way, you're on my side, Mr. Sephiro. Do you think you'll be safe if I make a mess of things?"
It was spread far and wide that Sephiro was one of Kang Oh's companions.
"That's why I'm trying to stop you."
"You want me to just sit here? They hurt my girlfriend. I can't let that pass." It was as if lasers were coming out of his eyes.
Asu, who'd been quietly listening in, said, "Mr. Sephiro, if you can't avoid it, then just enjoy it." She patted his shoulder. Once he got involved with Kang Oh, his fate was sealed.
"Ahem." Sephiro bit his lip.
As if trying to comfort him, Waryong rubbed its cheek against his pants.
"Alright, let's go." Sephiro gave up.
"You were always going to say yes. Why even bother saying no?"
"Never mind. Let's go." Kang Oh strode forward, and a pouting Sephiro followed him.
Asu sported a cold expression. She couldn't forgive the Hercules Guild; they'd killed her fellow guild members, who were like family to her.
* * *
They approached Alkartan's Nest, but they were stopped by two of Oracle's guild members.
"Sorry, but you can't go in."
"Yeah, just leave."
Kang Oh looked them over.
'You small fry.'
He took another step forward.
"Phew." Sephiro sighed.
"I said stop! If you don't, then you won't like what I do!"
"Seems like you don't know who we are... We're the Oracle Guild, a guild allied with the Hercules Guild!"
Kang Oh snorted. It was completely ridiculous.
"Call for reinforcements," one of them said. He had sensed something off about Kang Oh.
"If you take another step, then I'll attack!"
Kang Oh immediately took another step forward.
"This is your fault!" The Oracle guild member thrust his spear. It was so slow that he wanted to yawn. However, Kang Oh didn't avoid it.
[You have been attacked while defenseless.]
[This counts as self-defense.]
[Hostility with the Oracle Guild has increased.]
[If hostility is maxed, then you can kill each other without becoming a criminal.]
Kang Oh raised his fist. It felt wasteful to even use his sword.
Kang Oh's fist struck the guild member's face.
"Shit!" the guild member cursed. He was only punched once, but he had lost half of his HP.
At the same time, Asu rushed in and slashed with her sword.
If a teammate is attacked, then self-defense applies to everyone in the party. Thus, she had nothing to worry about.
Her blade was sharp. Aside from her singing and dancing practice, her time on TV, and her dates with Kang Oh, she spent all of her time playing Arth.
Moreover, Kang Oh gave her a Potion of Explosive Growth every month, allowing her to grow extremely quickly.
Her current level was 312. It wasn't really that high of a level, but it wasn't low either. It was right in the middle.
Asu was quite skilled, so she was able to move better than her level would suggest.
"Ugh," the guild member cried out.
A harpoon-like arrow flew through the air, and struck the top of his head. That was all it took.
Kang Oh's second punch finished off the second guild member too.
[You overdid it.]
[Notoriety has increased.]
[Hostility with the Oracle Guild is increasing quickly.]
Kang Oh's party stomped on the fallen bodies, and made their way into the dungeon.
[Entering the dungeon, Alkartan's Nest.]
Several Oracle guild members rushed out.
"Let's take them out quickly and then search for the hidden dungeon."
Kang Oh pulled out Demon Sword Blood. He'd recently been dual-wielding, but his opponents were too weak to warrant using both swords.
"Who are you?"
"Who do you think you are!?"
"If you leave now, we'll let it go!"
The Oracle Guild kept spewing crap.
Kang Oh just kicked off the floor, and got in the middle of them.
The Oracle guild members swung their weapons at Kang Oh.
Red Butterfly's Dance!
Kang Oh's body became faint, leaving behind an afterimage wherever he moved. At the same time, he smoothly swung his sword.
Mad Wind's Sword!
Once, twice, thrice... The more he attacked, the faster Demon Sword Blood became.
It was a one-sided slaughter.
Asu and Sephiro didn't really need to intervene, but Asu leapt into the air and sliced through one of them anyway.
Waryong spewed flames, and Sephiro began actively participating, realizing that it was too late for regrets.
The battle ended instantly.
Kang Oh's party walked through the dungeon.
He meticulously examined every inch of Alkartan's Nest.
If this was really a soul dungeon, then his Hyper Intuition would surely activate.
* * *
Oracle's guildmaster, Otler, learned about the invaders.
Dozens of his guild members were in the Red Thorn Forest, fighting alongside the Hercules Guild.
- Gather our members and take care of him. I'm fighting a war right now. Do I really have to deal with this right now? Deal with it yourself!
- But they're saying he's extremely strong. Our guild members were killed instantly. We need the Hercules Guild's help.
- We don't know when the fighting will start up again. We're not in a situation where we can send you troops. So try dealing with it on your own. If you can't stop him, then I'll let Hercules' guildmaster know.
Otler received a completely unexpected system message.
[Alkartan's Nest's guardian, Alkatrasha, has been defeated.]
[A Sacred Duel, which will determine the dungeon's master, will now begin.]
[Your proxy, Excal of the Hercules Guild, will fight the Sacred Duel in your place.]
[If Excal refuses to take part in the Sacred Duel, then you will have to take his place.]
[Excal has accepted the Sacred Duel.]
[The Sacred Duel will soon begin.]
[Would you like to go to Alkartan's Nest?]
Just in case, Otler had made Excal, one of Hercules' high rankers, his proxy.
'That was a good idea.'
He knew his limits. Without Shion, he was nothing! However, he was really good at flattering people.
"I'm not going," Otler said.
Excal will be able to deal with the intruder. Him going there wouldn't help.
But only a few minutes later...
He saw a shocking message.
[Excal has been defeated.]
[Ownership of Alkartan's Nest has been transferred.]
[The Oracle Guild and any guild associated with it cannot enter Alkartan's Nest for a week.]
Someone of Excal's caliber lost!?
He was called the Armored Shark, and was a master at wielding serrated knives! Yet Excal had lost in only a few minutes flat!?
'What's going on?'
Otler felt like this was all a nightmare.
'If it's a dream, then please let me wake up from it!'
However, it wasn't a dream; it was reality.
He realized how grave the situation was, so he looked for Shion. He needed to tell him what had happened.
At that moment...
"Those Cerberus bastards are coming!"
"It's the Cerberus Alliance!"
"Everyone, prepare for battle!"
They battled with the Cerberus Alliance once more.Previous Chapter Next Chapter