Chapter 73. Hidden Oasis (2)

Somewhere in the Bariton Desert...

"It's here," Kang Oh said, bending down and grabbing a handful of sand. 

"Are you sure?"

Grano looked at him in disbelief, adding, "This spot isn't dangerous."

He was right.

Kang Oh had led them to a quicksand pit. 

However, it wasn’t dense enough; if someone fell into the pit, then they’d easily be able to get themselves out. Not only that, but the quicksand pit was small and had a weak pull. 

Anyone who managed to get caught in this and die was an idiot.

 It only appeared like quicksand; it didn't actually possess the inherent danger of one.

What's worse, this wasn't one of the areas that Grano had led them to. It was merely a quicksand pit that they'd coincidentally found while they were looking for the most dangerous areas. 

"This is it. My Hyper Intuition skill activated," Kang Oh said with surety.

His Hyper Intuition wouldn't activate just anywhere. This quicksand pit was definitely the entrance to the hidden oasis.

"It's because it's not dangerous that people haven't slipped through and discovered the hidden oasis. Since anyone can just get out before they sink all the way through," Kang Oh said.

That was the other reason why he was sure that this was the entrance to the hidden oasis.

"Hmm."

Grano looked doubtful. He trusted Kang Oh's ability, but he also felt that this couldn't possibly be the right spot.

"If you can't trust me, then I'll go in myself and check, but... I think we should return to the Hapdala Oasis first."

Kang Oh threw away the fistful of sand.

"Why go back?"

Eder looked at Kang Oh suspiciously.

If Kang Oh truly had the Hyper Intuition skill and that skill had directed him here, then that meant that this really was the entrance of the hidden oasis. Thus, there was treasure waiting for them below.

Yet Kang Oh, who was obsessed with money, wanted to leave? That didn't make any sense.

"We're not completely prepared for that fat ass yet."

Obviously, he was referring to Modune.

If he could, then he'd immediately dive into the quicksand and stake his claim over the treasure.

However, he was worried that Modune would backstab them, so he couldn't just yet.

"Are you absolutely sure that this is the right place?" Grano stared right at him and said.

"You said you trusted me. So please, just trust me on this one."

Kang Oh didn't avoid Grano's gaze; his gaze didn't waver in the least.

"I understand. Then let's return to the Hapdala Oasis and ready ourselves for some pig hunting," Grano said.

He'd decided to trust Kang Oh. Kang Oh's eyes didn't show any signs of deceit.

"Then I'll trust you too," Eder said.

"Yeah, just trust me. They say good things happen to those who have faith."

Kang Oh grinned.

* * *

Grano entered their base in the Hapdala Oasis.

He cast a spell that created a veil around them, blocking off all sound and preventing anyone from overhearing them.

"I've learned something important."

Grano sat next to Kang Oh.

"What is it?" Kang Oh asked.

"I contacted the magic tower. They informed me that Modune is an insect mage."

"An insect mage... They specialize in summoning and controlling insects, right?"

As their name implied, an insect mage was capable of summoning and controlling insects.

Kang Oh had heard rumors that some players who started in the eastern three kingdoms had changed into this class.

"Yes. They mostly operate within the three kingdoms, or the Arabas, Delas, and Baiyan Kingdoms," Grano said.

"The sudden appearance of so many Sandurions in the Bariton Desert may be Modune's doing."

Kang Oh recollected the quest he'd received from the Adventurer Guild.

The insect mage, Modune, and the earwigs, the Sandurions. Everything was fitting into place.

"Yes, the Sandurions are most likely Modune's doing," Grano said.

Modune had scoured the desert in his search for the hidden oasis. If that's the case, then he would've used his insects to help.

"Since they're capable of controlling insects, they should be able to use them to watch us or eavesdrop on us," Eder said.

"There are Sandurions everywhere, so it won't be easy to escape his surveillance," Grano said.

"Hmm. Then they may follow us into the hidden oasis," Kang Oh said.

"Indeed. Since they don't want to lose the treasure to us," Eder said.

"Or they may target us when we're weak, after we've found the treasure," Grano said.

"We need someone to keep an eye on Modune."

Kang Oh had just the person. 

'I need to call Sephiro.'

The Wind Archer, Sephiro! It was time to give him a new job.

"Do you know someone who can help us?" Grano asked.

"Yes. I know a skilled archer called Sephiro," Kang Oh said.

"I see. I'll also request reinforcements from the magic tower in case of an attack."

Grano was the water magic research director of Altein's magic tower. Thus, he held a considerable amount of power.

If such a figure was put in danger, then the magic tower would surely dispatch battle mages to protect him.

"Is Modune the only insect mage?" Kang Oh asked.

"There are likely about 20 of them, considering how many Sandurions there are in the Bariton Desert," Grano said.

"Last time you said that Modune had about 150 troops, right?"

Kang Oh recalled what Grano had told him before.

"There have been some unidentified, armed mercenaries riding atop camels recently. They say that there are about 100 of them."

"They're Modune's men."

"It's likely."

"Then we're facing 100 mercenaries on camels and about 20 insect mages; the rest is unknown."

Kang Oh combined all the information they had thus far.

"How strong do you think the mercenaries are?" Kang Oh asked.

"They're mercenaries, so they shouldn't be too strong. However, those who've seen them have claimed that they seem well trained."

"Hmm. If they're soldiers, then they must be the best of the best."

If possible, Kang Oh wanted to ambush them or take them down one-by-one, rather than fight them head-on.

"How about Modune and his insect mages?" Kang Oh asked.

"The magic tower believes he's around level 200. The other insect mages should be weaker than him," Grano said.

"Alright."

Kang Oh felt as though he'd gotten all the information he needed.

"Now all we need to do is figure out a plan to take care of Modune while we wait for reinforcements."

Kang Oh's eyes sharply gleamed, as if he were a savage beast aiming for its prey.

* * *

Three days later.

Kang Oh's party, having completed all their preparations, returned to the quicksand pit. 

"I'll go in first and contact you with this."

Kang Oh fiddled with the communication earring hanging from his ear.

Grano too, wore a communication earring on one of his ears to stay in touch.

"If you find yourself in danger, please use the magical device I gave you," Grano said.

He had given Kang Oh a magical device containing the Hawk's Talon spell.

Hawk's Talon was a spell that pulled someone into the air like a hawk capturing its prey.

This particular device was made of glass and shaped like a bird's talon.

If he shouted 'Hawk's Talon' or exerted enough pressure to break the glass, then the spell would activate.

"That shouldn't happen." 

Kang Oh smiled.

He'd picked the right place, so he shouldn't find himself in danger.

Kang Oh walked towards the center of the quicksand pit step-by-step.

With every step, his feet sank deeper into the sand.

His feet didn't feel stuck, unlike if he were in a mudflat or a swamp.

Ultimately, Kang Oh stood where the sand was being drawn in. His body began sinking into the sand.

However, he sank extremely slowly and its pull was weak, so he could escape whenever he wanted.

'Seriously. I don't think anyone has ever gotten sucked into this thing.'

He yawned as he was sucked into the quicksand pit.

Grano watched him and said, "It seems like you're right, Mr. Kang Oh."

"What do you mean? That this quicksand pit leads to the hidden oasis?" Eder asked.

"Not that. The fact that no one's ever been sucked into this, so no one has ever found the hidden oasis," Grano said.

There were several quicksand pits that were really dangerous in the desert.

Moreover, there were plenty of people that got trapped in them and couldn't return.

If the hidden oasis was truly below one of those dangerous areas, then someone should've found the hidden oasis by now.

However, that hadn't happened thus far, since no one had ever returned from being sucked into a dangerous pit of quicksand.

"That's true. By the way, is Modune watching us right now?"

Eder took a look around using his peripheral vision, rather than turn his head.

He didn't see any Sandurions or any insects like them anywhere.

"He probably is."

"Then he'll probably follow us, right?"

"It doesn't matter whether they follow us in or wait for us to come out; they're trapped in the palm of our hands."

They had a plan, no matter what Modune chose to do. Their preparations were perfect.

Moreover, Sephiro was following Modune.

Modune believes that he's the one watching them, but he was actually the one being watched.

"Tch, tch. Pitiful bastard."

Eder clicked his tongue.

"He's gone."

Then, the sand completely engulfed Kang Oh. After seeing that, Grano spoke.

Eder nodded his head.

"Indeed."

* * *

'Mm.'

As Kang Oh sunk deeper into the ground, his entire body felt an immense pressure. Perhaps it was the feeling of wanting to take off layers of clothing.

Fortunately, it didn't hurt since he was in-game, and he didn't feel the fear of death either.

Unfortunately...


[You cannot breathe. You have lost HP. Stamina drops.]

[You cannot breathe. You have lost HP...]

[You cannot breathe...]

[You cannot...]


He was about to get a game over.

Kang Oh could, of course, push through the sand and surface since he was holding Grano's one time use magical device.

Despite that, he decided not to leave.

He kept receiving messages about his lost HP.

How long did he stay like that?

Eventually, Kang Oh started feeling anxious. 

'This is getting dangerous.'

His HP was fast approaching 0.

Yet there weren’t any signs of the hidden oasis, so Kang Oh started to think.

Kang Oh gripped the magical device even harder.

'Should I use it or not?'

He was conflicted. Should he use the magical device and escape, or keep going?

But he then realized that his Hyper Intuition, which detects danger, hadn't warned him of anything.

Even though he was in such a pickle! In other words, this situation didn't pose any danger to him.

Ultimately, he loosened his grip on the magical device.

'Let's just keep going!'

Kang Oh decided to trust in his Hyper Intuition. After all, it had never been wrong before!

'If my Hyper Intuition does detect danger, then I'll use the magical device immediately.'

If his Hyper Intuition warned him in a situation like this, then the danger was real. Thus, he would use the magical device immediately.


[You cannot breathe. You have lost HP. Stamina drops.]

[You cannot breathe. You have lost HP.]

[You do not have much HP left. Danger.]


His HP kept dwindling.

Despite that, his Hyper Intuition hadn't warned him of danger.

'I trust you, Hyper Intuition!'

Kang Oh gritted his teeth and continued to endure.


[You cannot breathe. You have lost HP.]

[Danger.]

[Danger!]

[Remaining HP: 25]


He didn't have much HP left.

'Hurry!'

Kang Oh hoped he'd see the entrance to the hidden oasis or a portal.


[You cannot breathe. You have lost HP.]

[Remaining HP: 13]

[Remaining HP: 9]

[7, 4, 3...]


'Am I... wrong?'

If that's the case, then Kang Oh would have to pay the price: a game over!


[Remaining HP: 1]


In the end, his HP dropped to 1 and he should've gotten a game over quickly after.

That's what should've happened, but...

The situation suddenly changed.


[Remaining HP: 1]

[Remaining HP: 1]

[Remaining HP: 1]


His HP didn't drop below 1, and he finally got the message he was waiting for.


[You have completed the Taruman Balk.]


'The Taruman Balk!'

The Taruman Balk, or the Final Journey in the ancient tongue; it was a phrase that was connected to the hidden oasis and something that Kang Oh had been looking for.

In other words, he'd made the right choice!

'I was right!'

He suddenly felt something tugging at him. It wasn't just a feeling.

Whoosh.

Kang Oh, who was buried in sand, was instantly drawn deeper into the sand.

By the time he'd gotten a hold of himself, he was in a completely different place.


[You have discovered the hidden dungeon, Oasis Tainted by Greed.]

[You are the first to discover it.]

[Fame has increased.]

[Experience is doubled when hunting in the Oasis Tainted by Greed. Item drop rate is also doubled.]

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