A dwarf with a sharp jaw and stubborn eyes, Hoffman, carried the adamantium gemstone over his shoulder.
As it was considered the toughest metal in the world, adamantium was extremely heavy. But for someone who was one step away from becoming a Master, it was manageable.
He stepped into an area that was even deeper in than the smithy. It was underground, and it was dark, damp, and cramped like a prison.
Hoffman dropped the adamantium on the ground, and wiped the sweat off his face.
Once he hit the wall-mounted lamp, the interior was illuminated.
Various sized hammers laid on one side of the room, and all sorts of materials were contained inside the metal storage closet.
It contained the materials Kang Oh had brought him, which included the Kaitan's Horn, the Death Eagles' eggshells, a bottle of Draxek Powder, and the still beating Kalvaidum's Heart.
An anvil lay at the center of the room. On the other side of the room, there was a giant device made of fire stone. It was like an old, giant stove.
This place was Hoffman's personal workroom! Even Randelhoff couldn't enter it without his permission.
"Hoo." Hoffman approached the device and opened the door. Flames surged from within, threatening to devour Hoffman whole.
The dwarves' hideout lay within the volcano, and the stove was a device that drew upon the volcano for heat. Of course, Hoffman had created it himself.
'I'm ready. Let's begin.'
Hoffman pulled out a small statue from his breast. It was a statue of the Blacksmith God, Orgon.
He placed the statue on a small table and knelt before it. Hoffman then slowly, reverently bowed his head.
"Orgon, I will burn my very soul. I will not waste a second of your time. So please, allow me to bear a great child of steel amidst the song of fire and metal."
'Child of steel' was what the dwarves called their creations, while a 'great child of steel' referred to a masterpiece.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
Hoffman slammed his head into the ground thrice.
The stove's great flames burned him from behind. It began burning his clothes too, making him half-naked.
However, Hoffman didn't care about his physical condition. He was completely focused on his goal: creating a sword capable of slaying Inarius.
Hoffman stood up, picked up the adamantium gemstone, and threw it into the fire.
It looked like it'd melt instantly, but it didn't. If he wanted to melt it, then he'd need more heat.
'That's why I need this.' Hoffman took out the bottle of Draxek Powder, and threw it into the fire.
The bottle broke, and the Draxek Powder went everywhere.
At that moment...!
White flames arose from the stove.
Hoffman's eyes shook. The surface of the adamantium was slowly melting.
'This part is crucial!' Hoffman didn't pry his eyes off the adamantium. No, he couldn't afford to.
He couldn't afford to be a second too early or a second too late. Hoffman had to pull it out at the exact moment, and then begin the process of transforming it into the alloy, Halium.
It wasn't an easy task.
However, it was something he had to do, and he promised himself he'd do it.
Hoffman stood firm and completely unwavering. He didn't move an inch!
* * *
A small house sat atop a hill, as pretty as a picture. This hill was located near Trisha City, the location of the Hercules Guild's headquarters.
However, there was something quite interesting about this mansion. One could enter the giant underground cave underneath by going through the fireplace!
The underground cave was teeming with powerful monsters. Moreover, the monsters respawned quickly, and each monster yielded a significant amount of experience, so hunting in a party there was an extremely effective way of leveling up.
It was called Hercules' Farm!
This dungeon allowed Hercules' members to level up quickly.
And this is precisely where Kang Oh's party showed up.
'This is definitely one.' Kang Oh's eyes gleamed as he looked at the mansion.
The underground cave gave off an unnatural smell. The monsters gave way too much experience, they respawned way too quickly, and it was constructed in a way that made hunting in a party extremely advantageous.
This was only possible in a soul dungeon!
"Shall we go?"
"Yeah." Asu narrowed her eyes. The gatekeepers wore an insignia on their chests; the insignia of the Hercules Guild! They were the mortal enemy of her and her guild mates!
"Phew." Sephiro couldn't help but sigh. However, he soon shook his head slightly and hardened his heart.
'It's already too late for me. The only way out is forward.'
Sephiro looked grim, and Waryong copied him. Waryong had kept growing, resulting in a larger body, so it looked somewhat intimidating now.
"Stop right there. This land belongs to the Hercules Guild," one of the gatekeepers opened his palm and said.
Kang Oh drew Demon Sword Blood. His body radiated hostility and murderous intent.
"He's an enemy!"
Sensing his readiness to kill them, the Hercules Guild members immediately got ready for battle.
Kang Oh stepped forward, one foot after the other.
"Who the hell are you!?" one of them yelled. However, Kang Oh didn't dignify that with a response.
"I said, who the hell are you!?"
"Forget it. As ordered, we'll kill the trespassers."
A portion of the gatekeepers rushed at Kang Oh. The rest shot arrows and spells at him, or cast healing spells on their allies.
They were definitely from the Hercules Guild!
These gatekeepers were much better than the ones previous. Unfortunately, their battle ended the exact same way as the allied guilds' gatekeepers.
"Ask for reinforcements!"
They fell to the floor, overwhelmed by Kang Oh's strength. Several of them had also been taken out by Sephiro's arrows. Asu did her part, angrily cutting them down with her blade.
Kang Oh, who finished off the last guild member, immediately entered the mansion. Asu and Sephiro followed behind him.
[You have entered the dungeon, Furon Underground Cave.]
Kang Oh's party went through the giant fireplace, and at some point, a system message popped up.
Hideous monsters with two snake arms attacked them.
"Be careful. Don't get bitten by the snakes. They have venom."
Kang Oh's party quickly took care of them and moved on.
"I sense several presences approaching," Sephiro said.
"It must be the Hercules Guild," Kang Oh said curtly. He was right.
In order to kill the invaders, the guild members already hunting in here gathered together and approached them.
"You bastard!" Haggler, who supervised the Furon Underground Cave, appeared with 50 guild members.
However, they were all weak.
After all, the guild's strongest were currently in the Ekrast Plains.
At his level, Haggler shouldn't be supervising the dungeon. However, the executive that'd previously supervised this dungeon was called to the frontlines, so he was substituting for him.
Kang Oh suddenly swung Blood.
A mighty golden tiger struck Haggler and the guild members.
Sephiro shot an arrow, his eyes sharp like a hawk.
Sun Piercing Arrow!
His arrow flew straight at Haggler's head.
"Not a chance!" Haggler deflected the arrow with his axe.
Kang Oh suddenly appeared in front of him. While he was distracted by the arrow, Kang Oh had closed in.
"What!?" Haggler widened his eyes, and instinctively swung his axe. However, Kang Oh was much faster.
Festival of Blood!
"Keok!" Haggler's face turned ashen. A single strike and it was game over for him.
After that, the one-sided slaughter continued.
Asu was the angriest of the three. Kang Oh and Sephiro understood her circumstances, so they left the most to her.
"Why did you do that to us, you jerks!?" she yelled bitingly, and swung her sword.
"What did we do..."
She felt refreshed whenever she killed one of them.
Revenge truly was sweet.
* * *
With all the guild members dead, Kang Oh had no one left to stop him.
'This is it.'
There was a giant magic circle deep within the Furon Underground Cave. Even without his Hyper Intuition, it was clear that it contained some sort of secret.
However, there was no way for them to solve the secret.
'It looks like it'll open a portal to the hidden dungeon if you have the right item...'
Just in case, Kang Oh placed all the items that the monsters here dropped onto the magic circle.
However, the magic circle didn't light up or activate.
If he had the item already, then his Hyper Intuition would've activated when he saw it.
"What do we do now?" Sephiro asked.
Kang Oh pulled out a Sabra's Contract, and copied the magic circle onto it. There wasn't really any thought behind it; it was just the only paper he had.
"I'll ask Mr. Grano about this magic circle," Kang Oh said.
Grano, a mage in contention for the next Professor spot, should be able to tell him more about the magic circle. If he's unable to solve the mystery, then he could just move on and attack the Hercule Guild's other soul dungeons.
"Good thinking." Sephiro nodded his head. If you need medicine, go to a pharmacist. If you need help with magic, call a mage!
"Let's end it here for today."
Kang Oh's party ripped their return scrolls.
* * *
"All forces, charge!"
The Raon Alliance and the Hegang Alliance clashed atop the Ekrast Plains once more.
This was their second battle.
"Viewers, are you seeing this!? This huge battle!"
"Ah, Ms. Snow Flower's Leopard Squad is pushing through the Hegang Alliance! They're strong, so very strong!"
"Shion has summoned giant tree monsters. They're tremendous. Those caught by the tree monsters' vines, roots, or branches become dried up husks!"
"Aah, the Breaker Guild's Mage Squad has burned the tree monsters to cinders!"
"They're dead even!"
"The guilds' elites are showing us a spectacular performance!"
"Breaker's elites, the Steel Sword Squad, and Hercules' elites, Hades's Revenge, are fighting head-on!"
The networks didn't miss this huge battle either. Their correspondents yelled at the top of their lungs, and tried to convey how dynamic and exciting the battle was.
They only stopped when the sound of pipes and drums resounded throughout the battlefield.
Bong! Bong! Bong!
"Aah, that's a signal to retreat!"
"The battle is over."
"Both sides sustained heavy casualties. Look at all those corpses. I'm glad this isn't real."
"We at GBS will analyze the state of the war, and estimate how many casualties either side lost!"
Once the battle was over, Hercules' leader, Shion, met with the Hegang Alliance's leaders.
"How did it go?" Shion asked. He was referring to Paton's plan to weaken the Cerberus Alliance, which would weaken the Raon Alliance as a whole.
"I've gotten in contact with them, and they replied favorably."
Shion and Arthand looked relieved.
"But they're really greedy. Both of them want ownership of the Ecle Palace."
"Not happening!" Arthand said decisively. The mysterious scroll! Steel Heart had to take possession of it no matter what.
Only those who have improved their production skills would understand.
Let's assume there's a single seamstress here. If they wanted to become a skilled seamstress, then they would have to master Sewing, create 1,000 Mysterious Threads, have exquisite skill with their hands, their needlework, with scissors, etc. There were so many obstacles to becoming a seamstress that created the finest of goods.
However, it felt so useless when a player sewed all night long, yet their proficiency went up by less than 1%!
Since it was filled with production workers, Steel Heart needed the mysterious scroll, as it would speed up the process greatly.
"I know. The Hegang Alliance must take possession of the mysterious scroll. We'll act like we're giving it to them," Paton said.
"That's a relief."
"In any case, I'll negotiate with them directly tomorrow." Paton sounded extremely confident.
"Then when will the plan go into effect?" Shion asked.
"I'm looking forward to the day!" Shion smiled wickedly.Previous Chapter Next Chapter