Chapter 157 – Heard Fortress (2)
- What should we do?
Apollo asked the question again, but the answer had already crystallized in Sinclair's head.
‘This is the golden opportunity to catch the Hahoe Mask.’
It wasn't an exaggeration to say the Hahoe Mask was the single most valuable being one could kill in Warlord.
‘No. I have to catch him no matter what.’
He had to catch the Hahoe Mask before he became a bigger variable. He had to kill the Hahoe Mask even if it was an unreasonable task.
However, he was given a chance to catch the Hahoe Mask, so there was no reason why he should turn down this opportunity.
There was only one problem.
Would the Big Smiles guild really be able to kill the Hahoe Mask?
‘Finally, luck is with me.’
They wouldn't be able catch the Hahoe Mask.
The situation was completely different from the time when Sinclair went out to face the Hahoe Mask at the Cursed Castle. At the time, the idea of the Hahoe Mask winning against Sinclair was laughable. His Skeleton Warriors weren’t even an annoyance against Sinclair.
What about the current Hahoe Mask?
It was useless to compare levels.
The difference in Item Setting was too large. This was beyond the Hahoe Mask slightly exceeding Sinclair in terms of Item Setting. Currently, no User could come close to the Item Setting possessed by the Hahoe Mask. He had the Deposed Prince's Sword, Argardo's Armor, Secret Society's Token, Corrupted Arbiter's Ring, Corrupted Destroyer's Necklace... He was pretty much like an end-game boss.
What about the Skeletons possessed by the Hahoe Mask?
A Hahoe Mask fan broke down a battle footage released by the Hahoe Mask. The gear worn by a Skeleton Warrior on average was worth 23,300 gold.
However, this was an estimate from the time when he faced the Frost Knight. The Hahoe Mask hadn't released the footage yet, but there was a rumor going around that he had summoned a Death Knight when facing the Skull Collector. The rumor was from a User that had passed through the Voodook's Tunnel. The Hahoe Mask was much stronger than the time he faced the Frost Knight.
What would happen if the Big Smiles guild tried to hunt him down? If this was a regular hunting ground, they would have a chance of winning. However, this was the Black Continent. If one moved a large group of Users, it would just lead to a war of attrition with the Monsters.
Even with all these factors against them, Sinclair thought they would be able to catch the Hahoe Mask if luck was with them.
The reason being...
‘It is fortunate that the Clover Unit is nearby.’
The Poker team had pulled V&V guild into the ranks of the top guilds. One of the Poker team called the Clover unit was heading toward the Heard Fortress.
‘Apollo's exploration team and the Clover unit can merge. There would be a total of 40 Users. Apollo's team can be used as bait, then the Clover unit can step forward…’
He trusted the Clover team. Sinclair's backers was the Hands guild, and they had put in a considerable effort in making the Clover unit.
At that moment, Sinclair thought about the final worry he had.
‘The Hahoe Mask and the Stormhunters guild must not meet. We have to prevent the two of them from teaming up at all cost.’
He worried about the worst possible outcome. After he worried about the possibility, Sinclair finally opened his mouth.
Sinclair’s answer was late, since he had thought over his options. However, Apollo didn't act impatient with Sinclair.
“Let's kill him. Let's use this opportunity to kill him.”
- The Hahoe Mask?
Apollo seemed slightly surprised, so Sinclair immediately forged ahead with his words.
“It'll be possible if you cooperate with one of the Poker team. The V&V guild's Poker team is nearby you.”
- I'll do as you say.
His reaction couldn't be seen, but Apollo had a big smile on his face at Sinclair's answer. The flesh on his face bunched up together as he smiled.
Hyrkan's secret weapons were beyond his expectation. They were great. The Mini Ogre Skeleton Warriors chased down the swift runaway Users, and they tormented the Users that were caught.
When their ankles were caught by the Mini Ogre Skeleton Warriors, the Hahoe Mask appeared, and the User would give up on running away.
“Fight me! Fuck. Let's see who'll win!”
These Users had played the game of Warlord for several years, and they had experienced the ups and downs of this game. The Users struggled fiercely against Hyrkan, and they showed a fiery spirit.
Of course, their fiery spirit was useless against Hyrkan's summoned Skeleton Warriors and Knights. It was a pointless struggle.
He was a frightening predator.
This was the moment when a new mask appeared behind Hyrkan's current mask.
‘As expected of the 30 great guilds, they use expensive Items.’
Of course, it didn't take long for this frightening predator to morph into a hyena that roamed around to find rotten meat. Hyrkan searched the bodies of the dead Users.
In Warlord, consumable Items had to be carried around on one’s body. Of course, when a User suffered a Game Over, the consumable Items on one's body fell to the floor. Even when one revived 48 hours later, the consumable Items weren't restored to the User. Only the stored Items inside the wristwatch was retained.
Normally, the consumable Items were treated as trash Items in PK. Everyone focused on the wristwatches. Hyrkan also followed this behavior.
However, it was a different story on the Black Continent.
‘These hunts feels different.’
Instead of the wristwatches, Hyrkan was taking the consumable Items first. He smiled when he noticed this.
Of course, Hyrkan also took the wristwatches.
The sword he held came down on the wrists of the Users, and he took their wristwatches.
‘The Deposed Prince's Sword is awesome. It is great for dicing.’
Deposed Prince's Sword.... It was a masterpiece forged by the Blacksmith Olf. It was given to heroes, who had defeated the Immoral Prince. It was meant to be used to save the world. If Blacksmith Olf saw his sword being praised for being a good butcher’s knife, Hyrkan's stomach would be struck repeatedly by 'Olf's Hammer.'
Of course, Blacksmith Olf wasn't here now, so he didn't have to worry about such a scenario.
Hyrkan had a smile as he looked at his full pouch. It was as if a hamster had stuffed its food into its cheek. This was one of the happiest smiles he had put on in the Black Continent.
However, the smile didn't last long.
When the Users disappeared, the monsters showed up to torment Hyrkan.
The role of pursuer and the pursued flipped constantly in this hunting ground. However, Hyrkan didn't plan on bypassing these monsters.
Of course, the riled up monsters drew aggro from the only User left alive!
Hyrkan smiled as he saw the monsters run towards him without reserve.
‘This really is a fucked up game.’
Ahn-jaehyun's eyes were open as he lay on his worn mattress. He kept staring at the old wallpaper on his ceiling.
‘Ah, I want to move to a different place.’
Recently, this phrase was never far from his mouth. After getting up, Ahn-jaehyun put on his cheap horn rimmed glasses. He reflexively turned on the Tablet PC that had been placed next to his glasses. However, it felt as if his Tablet PC was more sluggish than normal. He might be mistaken, but Ahn-jaehyun's expression turned sullen.
In the end, a sigh came out from his mouth.
‘I can't believe I've reached this point.’
The thing he had wanted the most was now in plenty supply. It was beyond plenty. He was overflowing with money.
However, he didn't have the free time to spend his money. His days were scheduled into blocks, and he had to be constantly inside the game. He didn't have the time to eat out or even order food.
In recent days, he was nervous most of the time as he went through his busy schedule. He had built up his tower through hard work, yet he was afraid a momentary mistake would make it the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He had to keep his schedule.
Maybe that was the reason?
Ahn-jaehyun was getting new influx of money from his paid videos and other miscellaneous earnings, yet it didn't feel like his own money.
Maybe, if he was able to recklessly spend his money on the Items within the game, he might have felt differently. However, he hadn't done that.
This was why he unconsciously turned away from the numbers that had excited him to no end before. He started searching for Warlord-related articles instead of looking at his his bank account.
The search words mainly focused on 5 guilds including V&V and Big Smiles guild.
His search turned out a lot of information.
The V&V, Big Smiles, Sweepers, Wul-gwahng and Blossoms guild were explicitly showing their desire to monopolize the Black Continent. The Black Continent was the stage of the Ruined Kingdom episode, so this became a hot issue. A hot issue always created a lot of content online.
As he went through the related articles, Ahn-jaehyun clicked his tongue.
‘Well, they obtained several ace cards they could use to attempt the monopoly. This could bring change to the final outcome.’
The topic that brought the most bitterness to Ahn-jaehyun's mouth was the accomplishments of the Poker team. They were the V&V guild's strongest force.
He read the articles related to the Poker team, and he watched the battle footage they had released in the Black Continent. He let out a bitter sneer.
‘I thought these bastards planned on breaking all the record times for the Raids.....’
Until the Stormhunters guild caught the Blaze Slime Dragon, the Poker team was still systematically attacking the record time for the Raids. They centered their core contents around this concepts.
However, they were suddenly operating out of the Black Continent now.
In truth, this should be taken lightly by Ahn-jaehyun.
‘It is quite impressive.’
The 30 great guilds were able to move massive amount of money through the live channels. This wasn't all their money. There were backers and investors. There were a lot of other people's money sunk into their venture. Since the money didn't belong to them, they couldn't easily change directions.
However, the V&V guild had executed this change too easily. This was something he should be worried about.
In the end, the V&V guild would be on the opposite side of Ahn-jaehyun. They would never help him.
Recently, the Stormhunters guild was being quiet, but they had stepped onto the Black Continent first. They could suddenly become a variable that could torment Ahn-jaehyun in the future.
Ahn-jaehyun took off his glasses, and he covered his face with his two hands.
There was only one solution to this problem.
‘If they catch my tail, it is the end of me.’
He had to change this competition into a race.
He had to change it into a game where the person in first place was the victor. It didn't matter if there were several hundred or several thousand Users behind him. He had to make it so that there would be only one User that could reach first place.
After taking away his hands from his face, Ahn-jaehyun put on his glasses as he got up from his seat. Ahn-jaehyun went to a sink nearby. The kitchen sink was worn and rusted. However, there was a high quality coffee machine atop the sink. It gave off an elegant atmosphere.
He had recently purchased this pod coffee machine.
He had spent a good amount of money to purchase this one. This machine brought home the fact that he had made a lot of money recently.
Moreover, this machine was worth its cost. He placed his stained coffee cup on the machine as he put in the classy-looking pod. Unlike his old acidic coffee, the new coffee was fragrant.
Still, Ahn-jaehyun dropped the oft used grape flavored candies into the coffee.
Afterwards, he brought the coffee to his mouth, and he nodded his head.
“Mmm. It's good.”
‘I feel like a New Yorker. I'm glad I bought it.’
There were enormous cliffs facing each other, and there was a forest in front of the ravine. Large stone pillars arose from between the forest, and there were remains of large buildings besides the pillars. Moreover, one could faintly see that a fortress had blocked the entry into the ravine in the past.
Hyrkan had saw this from far away, and he let out a big sigh.
As Hyrkan started breathing normally again, one could see 19 Skeleton Warriors and two Skeleton Knights lined up behind him. They were in their combat-ready stance. One could already see traces of battle on them, and it meant that a battle had been performed not too long ago. Moreover, it was a sign that more battles was in the near future.
This was why Hyrkan treasured this time where he would be able to take a brief breather.
‘As expected, things have change from what I know.’
Hyrkan searched through his memories, and he thought about the first base that had been formed in the Black Continent.
Before he came to the past, the first base hadn't been located at a ravine. It had centered around a lake with black water.
The name wasn't the only thing that had changed. Basically, the stage itself had changed.
He had held out hope that only the name had changed. Now he decisively quashed such sentiments.
‘Still, it feels as if I have seen this before······.’
At that moment, he was looking at a stage that was different from what he remembered, but he kept having a sense of deja vu. He tilted his head in confusion.
‘An enormous ravine······ Which location had a ravine as its stage?’
However, he wasn't given time to ruminate over his worries. His break didn't last long either.
Hyrkan turned to look over his back.
It was as if the monsters were letting out a roar for courtesy's sake. The sound coaxed Hyrkan to move forward.
‘I have to avoid being in 2nd place.’
He had to avoid being in 2nd place at all cost. Before he could fully catch his breath, Hyrkan headed towards the Ruin of the Heard Fortress.
[You've entered the Ruins of the Heard Fortress.]
[You've gained the Title 'Heard Fortress Excavator.']
[You've gained the Title 'Explorer of the Ruined Kingdom.']
[You've gained the Title 'First Discoverer.']
The Heard Fortress was in a terrible state. However, Hyrkan was given an awe-inspiring gift for being the first visitor.
Hyrkan was finally able to smile when he received the Titles.
‘I avoided being in 2nd place.’
He had worried about the possibility of other Users coming here first. His worry melted away.
Hyrkan immediately checked the fruits of his labor.
[Heard Fortress Excavator]
Title Effect : All Stats +15
[Explorer of the Ruined Kingdom]
Title Effect : Magic Power +20
Title Effect : Stamina +40, Magic Power +40
The Title Options were fantastic. Hyrkan glanced at his Stats Window after the Titles Effects were applied.
However, he didn't sentimentalize over it. After he checked the rough estimates of his Stats, he immediately put the Wooden Conch to his ears. This wasn't the end. He wanted the real treasure. This wasn't the true reward given to the 1st place winner.
- Find our flag. Our flag.....
The Wooden Conch once again pointed out the next path to Hyrkan. Hyrkan turned his head to look at his surrounding.
He searched his surrounding with the eyes of a hawk. Suddenly, Hyrkan's eyes went out of focus for a little bit. He had been earnestly searching around his surrounding, but now his head was tilted in puzzlement.
‘I'm pretty sure I've seen this somewhere.’
Something was bothering Hyrkan once again.
‘I'm pretty sure I've seen this place somewhere. I'm sure I saw it in a footage regarding the Ruined Kingdom Episode.’
However, Hyrkan's questions disappeared when he saw a mound made out of rocks. The mound was as big as a farmhouse. Moreover, there was flag sticking out at the top.... The flag itself was decayed, and only the pole remained. Hyrkan rejoiced when he saw it. There was no sense of deja vu when he saw it.
When he was near the stone grave, Hyrkan once again placed the Wooden Conch to his ears. However, the Wooden Conch didn't emit any sound. It basically meant the Wooden Conch had served its purpose. He threw the Wooden Conch over his shoulder.
Afterwards, Hyrkan unsheathed the sword on his waist to unearth the stone grave. His Strength Stat was so high that most rocks flew away like pebbles.
When he came across a large boulder, he used the Crying Sword to break it apart.
It was a grave meant for someone or something. However, Hyrkan didn't hesitate in becoming a grave robber.
Hyrkan continued to dig through the stone grave, and he finally found a black box that was hidden below the stone grave.
‘It is the Black Treasure Box. As expected, it is a Transcendent Rank.’
Hyrkan used his sword to open the Black Treasure Box. It was as if the Items within the box had escaped the ravages of time. He saw three intact scrolls.
This was the ultimate reward given to the first person to arrive here.
Hyrkan picked up one of the Scrolls, and he untied the red string.
[Will you release the Ancient Power?]
Hyrkan immediately made his choice when he heard the System Announcement. Hyrkan didn't hesitate.
‘Of course, I······.’
It happened at that moment.
[The sleeping souls within the Heard Fortress is waking up.]
The new System Announcement made Hyrkan pay sharp attention to his surrounding. He couldn't feel any big disturbance. If one watched the movie, Indiana Jones, didn't Harrison Ford face immediate danger when he found the treasure he had been searching for?
This was to be expected.
This was a natural order of events. He had to do this if he wanted to make the Heard Fortress into a base within the Black Continent. He had to face the Boss Monster that was protecting the Ruins of the Heard Fortress.
‘Whoever it is, come at me!’
The System was polite in giving the identity of Hyrkan's enemy.
[Anugas is awakening. He is a giant that eats the sleeping souls within the Heard Fortress.]
[The Quest 'Recapture the Heard Fortress!’ has started.]
When he heard the announcement, Hyrkan's mind blanked out. From a short distance away, there was an earthquake, and the ground started to split open. A one-eyed giant with four arms appeared.
Hyrkan finally knew where this place was.
‘This is the Bizult's Ravine! This is Bizult's Ravine where the Anugas appears!’
Hyrkan finally realized the reason behind the sense of deja vu he had felt.
‘Hahoe Mask. That asshole is really fast.’
Apollo’s mission was changed from exploration of the Heard Fortress to finding the Hahoe Mask. Every time he received a report Apollo shook his head.
This stage was overflowing with monsters, yet the Hahoe Mask was showing incredible hunting speed. Moreover, his swift hunting speed allowed him to travel at a rapid pace. In truth, there was a small voice inside his heart that had acknowledged this premise. The premise being it was impossible to chase down the Hahoe Mask....
At that moment....
The fact that a small portion of his heart had already accepted this as fact made him feel rage and irritation. It was ripping his insides apart.
At that moment, he received another report.
- We've found the Hahoe Mask!
The hunting party that was tracking the Hahoe Mask alerted Apollo. The Hahoe Mask had just appeared. Apollo asked in delight.
“Where is he?”
- The location.... Anyways, the Hahoe Mask just changed direction from his original path.
- It seems he is running away from something.
“Is he being chased by a monster?”
- I don't see any monsters chasing after him.
When Apollo heard those words, he gave his orders.
“Do everything you can to block him! Even if you have to put your life on the line, don't let him run away! You have impede his progress no matter what!”
His subordinate gave an immediate answer, yet Apollo hadn't heard his answer. He had changed the Voice Talk channel before he heard the answer.
“Clover unit. Clover unit. This is Big Smiles. We've found the Hahoe Mask. We'll buy you some time. He is located at....”
- This is the Clover unit. We'll be moving towards the location you mentioned.
The conversation was short. When it ended, Apollo had a triumphant smile on his face.
‘This will be your funeral, Hahoe Mask.’Previous Chapter Next Chapter