Chapter 143 - The Frozen Land (2)

Chapter 143 - The Frozen Land (2)

3.

The blizzard was sweeping across the frozen land, and the blizzard wasn't just satisfied with blinding the intruders.

[A powerful coldness has swept over you. All Stats will be decreased by 10%.]

[After 19 minutes, you will get frost bites.]

[The powerful cold has swept over your armor, and the coldness will decrease its durability.]

[The powerful coldness has swept over you, and your senses have been dulled.]

This had never been experience anywhere on Warlord before.  The intense cold was more terrifying than imagined.  In this terrifying cold, two Users were facing each other.  Sohank and Sinclair ignored the terrifying cold.  They held swords that was almost impossible to determine the market prices.  These expensive swords were pointed at each other.

This was their second meeting.

Of course, their first meeting hadn't been under such a dire situation.  It had been a long time, since the two had met...  They met during the time when the combined level of both Users were barely over level 100.  It wasn't a long meeting.  They just knew about each other's reputation.  Since they were just curious about each other's reputation, they looked each other's face, and they parted after shaking hands.  That was it.

There hadn't been any subsequent meetings.  Most of the 30 great guilds asked for help from the Hands guild, but the Hydra guild was firm in not negotiating with them.  Hydra guild put the most importance on gaining and protecting secrets.  Of course, this was the stance they would take.

Even after such a long gap between their meetings, they didn't share any small talks.  They were in a situation where they had to kill each other.  They had no doubts in their hearts.

Strikers.

They always pierced through whatever that is in their way in the front lines.  They was no reason why they should pay attention to their surrounding.

They only had one task to do here.

‘I'll kill him.’

‘I'll end this.’

They had to find a way to kill the other User.  That was it.

4.

There was why this frozen land was so harsh.  There was no place to hide from the blizzard.  If one stayed still, one would receive a penalty.  Moreover, when one reached the point of getting frostbites, one's HP started to decrease.  If one wanted a true rest in this frozen land, one had to make a shelter with one's hands.

The method was unexpectedly easy.

Igloo.

One had to gather a lot of snow to make a mound, and one had to dig in like a rabbit.  The igloo was surprisingly snug.

Natal was within this snug space, and the felt disgusted at sharing the same space with the User next to him.

‘The new officer of the Big Smiles, Apollo....’

Apollo was standing next to Natal.

‘I remember seeing his portrait, but I never thought he had such a skill.’

To state the obvious, Natal wasn't in the same Igloo as the other man, because he liked the other User.

It had been about two week since the Hydra guild had crossed to the other side of the Terube castle. The Big Smiles guild was close on the Hydra guild's tail.  The two groups were within a distance that could be travelled within 24 hours.  It took 24 hours for the field to reset.  Basically, the Big Smiles guild was able to see the track left atop the snowfield.  The chase had basically ended there.

‘At a glance, he just looks like a greedy big....’

The chase was pointless.  The only thing left to do was to fight.  This was why the two guilds agreed to a guild war.

The losing side would give up on exploring the Northland.  Each side would pick a champion, and everything would come down to a 1on1 battle.

This wasn't anything special.  

An all-out guild war....  

In the past, the Big Smiles and Triple Wing guild had put their existence on the line as they performed a guild war.  However, that kind of guild war rarely occurred.  However, the guild war that was occurring right now happened quite frequently between the 30 great guilds.

It didn't make sense to fight an all-out battle for an owner-less mountain.  It was better to determine the owner of the owner-less mountain through a single combat.  This was the most profitable way to come to a decision.  At the same time, if the 30 great guilds shed their bloods to claim ownership of this mountain, a third party would be reticent to object to the result.

When the deal was made, everyone except the combatants moved far away from the battle site.  If one watched the battle from up close, it would just increase the probability of something disgraceful happening.

Above all else, this was a courtesy given to one's opponents.  There would be no recordings allowed for this battle.  This wasn't for personal glory.  This was a fight for one's organization.  There was no reason to clap for the winner, and there was no reason why they should console the loser.  The only thing that needed to be recorded was the result of the fight.

‘I never expected him to be a genius tracker.’

At that moment, Natal wasn't thinking about the guild war, Sohank or Sinclair.  He was thinking about Apollo.

In truth, when Natal received the portrait, he hadn't even known that Apollo was an officer of Big Smiles.  Moreover, he didn't want to waste space in remembering him.  According to the information gathered by the Hydra guild, he wasn't anything special.  He could be ignored.

However, a pursuit team led by Apollo had caught up to the Hydra guild in just a week.

Natal was shocked when he saw the Big Smiles' guild symbol on Sinclair's chest, but the more surprising part was the fact that they had been tracked down so quickly.

“I'm guessing you are a new officer.”

This was why Natal had created this space.

‘I have to find out if Apollo is the genius tracker or maybe it's someone else....  I have to find this out.’

Sohank was fighting for his guild with his life on the line, so of course, Natal had to use his own method to fight for his guild.

There was no way Apollo knew what Natal was thinking.  Instead of an answering, Apollo smirked as he slightly nodded his head.

Apollo was overbearing as he sneered at Natal.

‘Does he have something?’

His smile made Natal nervous.  Natal was Hydra guild's Eight Head.  The User in front of him was a new face to the Big Smiles guild.  His position and reputation was all relatively new.  There was no reason why Apollo should be looking at him in such an overbearing manner.

In other words, there was a high chance that something allowed Apollo to act in this overbearing manner.

Natal didn't get mad.  He just continued the conversation.

“Your skill is great.  I can't believe you guys were able to track us down.  There had been a great distance between us.”

“I just chased after someone that was very careless with his pouch.  I wouldn’t call that as having a great skill.  It wasn't hard at all.”

After saying those words, Apollo overtly sneered at Natal.  There was no deep reason behind his smile.

‘Hydra guild isn't that great.’

Apollo was able to raise his nose high into the air with impunity against a Head of the Hydra guild.  It felt awesome.

‘Careless with one's pouch?’

Natal had the opposite reaction when he heard Apollo's words.  From Natal's disordered thoughts, a new suspicion was starting to build.

‘Perhaps?’  

Kah-ahng!

The ongoing blizzard was colorless.

Kwahng!

The ongoing blizzard looked drab.

On top of the white snowfield, Sohank and Sinclair was fighting a fierce battle. The snowfield was being greatly disturbed.  Sword Energies was sent forth every time the Cool Time ended.  The Sword Energies had the power to demolish the ground.  No matter how severe this land was, it was impossible to maintain its pristine condition when the sword strikes impacted on the ground.

The harsh lands couldn't stand up against the sword strikes, and of course, the armors worn by the two Users couldn't be in a good state after facing such attacks.

At the very least, the armors were maintaining its original shape.  The continuous attacks had laid bare the two Users' arms and shoulders.  It was hard to call those parts as being armored.  The helmets were also dented and split open.

However, the swords they held were fine.

Both Users had the best weapons one could acquire.  They didn't care if they fought with no armor!  This was the resolve that befitted the two of the greatest Strikers in Warlord.

However, the part that was tormenting them the most wasn't the damage inflicted by others.

[You are frostbitten.  Your health will quickly deteriorate.]

[In 10 minutes, you will be in a critical condition from the frostbite.]

[The coldness will start dominating your body.  All Stats have decreased by 20%.  Your movements have slowed.]

These wounds could easily be resolved by a Priest's Buff and Heal Skill.  However, without the administration of a Priest, the prior wounds were turning into critical wounds.

Moreover, the two had promised beforehand.  They agreed not to use any consumables.

‘There are too many variables changing on this stage.  Nothing good will come from taking my time.’

‘I shouldn't wait for luck to shift towards me.  I have to end this with my skill.’

The two didn't want to lean on luck.  They wanted to resolve this using their own skills.  This was evidence that they were confident in their skills.  At the same time, if luck was on the other’s side, it would mean the other User had no chance of winning.  This was the evidence of how much pressure was on them.  One could never predict as to who the Lady Luck will smile on.

The battle continued as no one could easily seize the victory, and they were close to reaching their limits.  They unconsciously started wishing for luck to be on their side.

‘I don't care what it is.  I want you to make a mistake.’

‘I can't lose here no matter what.’

At that moment, luck favored one side.

Kah-ahng!

Lady Luck smiled on Sinclair.

They were swinging their sword, and the sound of steel rang out as their swords collided with each other.  Then a goosebump inducing sound like grinding teeth was heard.  

Ggee-dook ggeee-dook!

Sohank was starting to be pushed backwards.

Why was he being pushed back?  

Instead of questioning his fortune, Sinclair let out a mighty shout, and he started pressing  harder against Sohank.  Sohank's arms flew backwards without him willing it to do so, and Sohank's chest was revealed.  Sinclair executed a Body Slam.

Ggwah-gwahng!

Accompanying the loud sound, Sohank fell over backwards.  Sinclair stepped on the chest of the fallen Sohank.  He didn't make any small talks.  Sinclair reversed his sword, and he brought it down.  The sword headed towards Sohank's chest region.

Ggee-ee-ee!

The armor let out a sharp sound.  It was the sound of steel being cut.

Poohk!

One could here the flesh being pierced.

When an expert reached their limits, one critical blow was enough to end the User.

‘I won.’

Sohank suffered a Game Over.  The first one to realized this was Sinclair, and at that moment, he was satisfied.

‘Finally, glory is in my hands.’

The satisfaction he felt was appropriate.

He had fought and won against a tough opponent.  Moreover, it allowed him to achieve something he always wanted.  He had suffered, and fought hard to feel this senses of satisfaction.  Of course, he was content.

This feeling of contentment stole the tension from Sinclair's body.

‘It's cold.’

He hadn't felt the cold before, but now he felt it.  It was as if his skin was being cut...  No, it wasn't that cold.  Still, it was cold enough that it didn't feel good.

Sinclair turned his head to look at the raging blizzard.  When he pierced through this blizzard, he would return to where everyone had stayed behind.  He thought about the glory that would unfold in front of him. There was a smile around Sinclair's lips.

At that moment, the sight in front of Sinclair's eyes darkened.

[You have died.]

As Sinclair's world became dyed in black, he heard that short phrase.

6.

Two piece of news was delivered to both Natal and Apollo.

Natal received an apology from Sohank.  Apollo received a message from Sinclair saying he's been ambushed by someone.

When they received those messages, both of them smashed through the igloo at the same time.  Natal gritted his teeth when he came out into the blizzard.

‘We lost everything.’

Sohank had lost.   Now the Hydra guild will have to retreat from this frozen land.  They'll have to return to the Terube castle wall.

They would be returning without gaining anything!

Natal thought about the time he had invested for this exploration quest.  It wasn't a loss that he could just get over after being sick to the stomach.

“Everyone gather!”

Apollo was swept up in his rage.  At Apollo's shout, the Big Smiles guild members gathered around him.  Apollo shouted as if he wanted Natal to hear it.

“How dare you screw me over!”

Natal had become despondent, so he was having a hard time understanding Apollo's reaction.

“We won the match!  So why did you take revenge on him?”

Natal thought for a brief moment when he heard Apollo's question.

In such a volatile situation, Natal didn't have much time to think.  Moreover, the questions he could ask at this moment was limited.  Natal worked his brain hard in that short amount of time to come up with the most forthright and effective question.

“Is Sinclair dead?”

“Do you plan on dodging the blame!”

Apollo's rage allowed the disarticulated thoughts inside Natal's head to start piecing itself together like puzzle pieces.  The thoughts inside his head started finding its old pattern.

Ha ha.

Natal couldn't help, but laugh.

On the other side, Apollo was getting ready to immediately start a small guild war.  It had been a one on one battle.  They had won fair and square, yet a third combatant had interfered.  Now Sinclair was dead.  Apollo couldn't stand idly by.

As the atmosphere was getting harsh, Natal swallowed the sneer he was about to direct toward Apollo, and he spoke.

“It wasn't us.”

Instead of answering, Apollo glared at Natal.  When they heard Apollo's words, the Big Smiles guild members took out their weapons, and they started their Magic Casting.  As if they sensed something was about to go down, the Hydra guild started getting ready for battle too.

“Even if we had lost, we wouldn't have been such an underhanded losers like you.”

“Where's the proof?”

“Proof?”

Natal retorted with a question to Apollo's words.

“Do you have proof that we attacked Sinclair?”

“If you look at the circumstances…….”

“You made a judgement after seeing only the circumstances.  You only have circumstantial evidence yet you are willing to break the deal by attacking us?”

At this point, Apollo closed his mouth.

“I'll say it again.  I accept our defeat.  The Hydra guild will pull out of the Northland.”

Apollo's thoughts became complicated as Natal continued to speak.

The victor, Sinclair,  had died from a sudden ambush.  If one looked at the circumstances, the probability of the Hydra guild being behind the plot was high.  Apollo determined the probability to be 99 percent.

On the other hand, the Hydra guild had just admitted defeat, and they were going to pull out of here.  It would be foolish to ignore the previous deal to attack the Hydra guild first.  It would be a burdensome act.

Moreover, their victory wouldn’t be guaranteed by attacking first.  It was a situation where the two guilds had lost their Ace Cards, and none of the other cards could guarantee a victory.

In the end, Apollo had achieved the desired result.

‘I gained what I came here to gain.’

He had carried out a guild war against the Hydra guild, and he had won.  Apollo's standing within Big Smiles guild would change after this.

In such a situation, he didn't want to force the issue.

‘Did they really not do this??’

Of course, he still had questions.  If the Hydra guild hadn't lashed out from their loss, then who killed Sinclair?  Sinclair had been clear in his message.  He said he had been ambushed.

Was he attacked by a monster?  Or was there really a third party?

Natal was the one that resolved Apollo's worries.

“We'll find the answer when we get to the place where the two had fought.”

Apollo yelled out instead of answering him.  

“Stand down!”

7.

When the fierce battle died down, the battlefield started to be covered by snow.

This was why when the Hydra guild and Big Smiles guild arrived at their destination, they could barely see the traces left behind by the battle.  Instead, they saw the two corpses lying next to each other, and someone was standing over them like a guardian.

It was a single User…… He was wearing leather clothes lined with white fur.  In the blizzard, it was hard to make him out.  However, Natal knew who this User was.

‘It's the Hahoe Mask.  Yes, if it was the Hahoe Mask....’

There was only one User that would conspire against the 30 great guilds by himself.

“Who are you!”

One didn't need to ask the question asked by Apollo if one had a decent head above their shoulders.  One would be able to assess the situation.

“This isn’t the first time we've seen each other.  It'll be more convenient for me if you are a little bit more quick on the uptake.”

“Hahoe Mask?”

It was as Natal had surmised.  The User in front of his eyes was the Hahoe Mask.

The Hahoe Mask had set this up.  When he saw Sinclair with the Big Smiles, Hyrkan wanted them to fight Sohank and the Hydra guild.  It worked out better than expected.  They readily fought each other, and they died easier than he had expected.

At this point, Apollo and Natal diverged in their actions.

“How dare you, Hahoe Mask!  Do you think you'll be fine after you meddled against the Big Smiles?”

Apollo raged.

On the other hand, Natal thought over the situation.

‘He didn't really have to reveal his role in this.  The fact that he revealed himself....  He plans on taking further action.’

Instead of facing the conflicted Natal, Hyrkan dealt with the raging Apollo.

“I don't have a good relationship with Big Smiles.  Moreover, didn't you try to fuck me over in the past?  Now I see you were from the Big Smiles.”

Hyrkan's finger was pointing at Cho-oohroong.  It was impossible to see his face, since Cho-oohroong was wearing his helmet.  However, Cho-oohroon unconsciously turned his gaze away when Hyrkan pointed at him.  It was to be expected.  There was something to feel guilty about.

Hyrkan's finger slightly moved to point at Apollo.

“I also fought with you before.  Your watch went to funding a good cause.  Thank you.  I always receive contributions from you.  I'm sorry.”

“You bastard…….”

Apollo's body was shaking as he was about to lose his temper.  Then Hyrkan's finger moved towards Sinclair's corpse, which was lying by his feet.

“Also, I have a personal grievance with this one.”

This was the first time Natal opened his mouth.

“Are you talking about Sinclair?”

Sinclair.

This was the first time Hyrkan had heard Sinclair's character name.  Hyrkan smiled as he nodded his head.

“This guy attacked me with the intent to kill before, but I got him with the Watchman Style.”

Watchman Style?

Everyone unconsciously dwelled upon that word.  Several Users had puzzled expression on their faces.  Hyrkan saw their expressions, so he answered after glancing at Sinclair.

“If you don't know what it is, you can ask Sinclair.  No, he could be listening to this conversation in real life right now.  The watch you gave me was contributed to a really good cause, Sinclair.  Thank you.  Ah.  Also, I want to congratulate you for killing Sohank.  You'll become so famous that it'll be hard for me to get your autograph.  Aigo.  I'm jealous.”

As Hyrkan spoke, the Users that were quick on the uptake realized that Hyrkan wasn't just giving a simple explanation.

“Well, let's get back to the main topic.  Apollo. You said I'll regret messing with the Big Smiles.  Didn't you say that?  From my experience up to this point, I've been pretty much unharmed after messing with the Big Smiles.”

It was a provocation.

“In truth, even if I did say I won't mess with the Big Smiles, the Big Smiles guild will still pursue me.  I'm about to pass by you, while licking my fingers after a meal.  Are you really going to let me just walk away, Apollo?  What if I summon twenty Skeletons to dance Beyonce's Single Lady in front of you?  Will you just watch?  Huh?”

“Son of a bitch…….”

It was a clear provocation.

“It doesn't' matter if I mess with Big Smiles or not.  There won't be any significant changes to our relationship.  I guess this answers the question you asked me before.”

Hyrkan was creating a situation where Apollo and the Big Smiles guild had to attack Hyrkan.

“I'll immediately…….”

It seemed Apollo was unable to hold back his anger.  He was about to explode.  However, the one to stop the explosion was Natal.

“Hahoe Mask.  I'm pretty sure our relationship with you isn't to bad.  Am I deluding myself?”

“Hydra guild has never messed with me.”

Natal narrowed his eyes. Hyrkan gave an additional explanation.

“First, Sohank's loss was legitimate.  Sohank can confirm this truth.  I didn't cause his death.”

'However, you bastard set it up so that our guild would clash with the Big Smiles guild!'  

……Natal didn't say those words.  He didn't have proof.  Circumstantial evidence wasn't proof in Warlord.  Moreover, the Hydra guild was the one, who chose to battle the Big Smiles.  They weren't pressured into making that decision.

Of course, Natal didn't plan on backing off so easily.

“Is that all you have to say for yourself?”

Natal once again tried to agitate Hyrkan.  Natal gave off the impression that he didn't care about the lack of evidence.  He appeared as if he was going to thoroughly punish Hyrkan.

Up to this point, Hyrkan had a playful atmosphere around him.  However, the atmosphere around him changed drastically at Natal's forceful words.

“If you don't like my answer, then I'm fine with it.  I request a guild war.”

He had declared a guild war.

Everyone had a blank expression on their faces.  This proposal was too unexpected.

‘Guild war?’  

‘Does this mean the Hahoe Mask has a guild?’

However, everyone came to their own answer to those questions.

‘Ah.’

‘Oh my god…….’

What would a guild battle with the Hahoe Mask mean?

“The method of battle will be a group battle.  The stage will be here.  It will be on this frozen land.  The losers will lose all claims to the Northland.  The two guilds could attack me in order, or you guys can cooperate with each other.  Either option is fine with me”

The Hahoe Mask had just requested a guild war against the 30 great guilds by himself.

This was why Hyrkan didn't need to explain himself any further.

“We'll fight until one side is entirely eradicated.”

Ssooook…….

With those last words, the Skeleton Warriors that had been hiding in the snow started to reveal themselves one by one from behind Hyrkan.

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