Chapter 426

Hyeonu exited the emperor’s palace and headed straight to Derek Castle using the return scroll. He had no reason to delay. However, he was just a bit confused.

‘Does he know or does he not know?’

The emperor’s last words were very unpleasant. It was as if he knew where Hyeonu had been. Hyeonu had to worry about it. If the relationship with the emperor were broken...

‘It’s terrible just imagining it.’

It would be the worst if the relationship with the emperor were cut off. No, what if it were a hostile relationship? This meant building a much worse relationship. Cutting off the relationship was just on the level of ignoring each other. There would be no need to fight each other. However, hostility was different. It would be a relationship filled with fighting every time they met.

‘I should look for the appropriate timing and say it.’

Hyeonu wouldn’t be able to bear the consequences if he made a mistake. While thinking about all these, Hyeonu arrived in the center of Derek Castle. Before the guards could say anything, Hyeonu first revealed his identity and why he came: “Earl Gang Hyeonu. I’m here to see Marquis Maizel.”

One of the two guards quickly bowed to Hyeonu and told him, “I understand. I will contact the marquis straight away.”

Then that guard disappeared. Hyeonu approached the other guard and spoke again: “I have a few questions to ask. Is this okay?”

“Yes, ask anything you want, Earl Gang Hyeonu,” the soldier shouted while in a standard military posture.

“The Balder Mountains are noisy... Are the merchant groups really being attacked?”

The guard heard Hyeonu’s words and nodded. “It has been happening for a while—around one... or two months? Before that, the merchant groups reported some damage. At first, only relatively small merchant groups were attacked. Then recently, all merchant groups not directly related to the imperial family are being attacked as well.”

“What about the merchant groups of the East Continent? Did they receive damage?”

“It’s worse for them. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the merchant groups of the East Continent have suffered most of the damage. It is probably impossible to find a merchant group from the East Continent that hasn’t seen any damage.”

Hearing that, Hyeonu’s expression distorted slightly. The situation was more serious than he thought. It seemed like this quest wouldn’t end easily.

‘It isn’t just one or two...’

This wasn’t just a problem of the opponent being strong. The way they were attacking the merchant groups endlessly like this proved that the opposing party wasn’t small in number. Hyeonu stopped talking, and the guard quickly stepped back, returning to his original posture.

‘It shouldn’t take long...’ Hyeonu had no intention of spending too much time on this quest. There was the new land of gold that was the demon world, so why throw himself into a highly competitive ocean? It was best for Hyeonu to return to the demon world as quickly as possible with the ring. To do that, he had to finish the quest quickly.

‘I hope the marquis has accurate information...’

The marquis was also desperate to clear the quest quickly. While Hyeonu was thinking, the guard who disappeared came back again. “The marquis is here.”

“I understand,” Hyeonu replied.

After hearing Hyeonu’s response, the guard turned back around to lead the way. His action meant that he was going to guide Hyeonu to the marquis. Hyeonu noticed that and followed the guard. Derek Castle’s outer palace was empty. It was too unpretentious for the palace of the city that was the center of trade between continents. There really was nothing. The only thing he saw while walking for 10 minutes were training grounds and accommodation.

‘It’s almost like Phinis?’

Hyeonu also had a relatively simple castle in Phinis that was like Derek Castle. He didn’t stay in the palace, so there was no need to decorate it. However, Marquis Maizel was different. He was an NPC. He couldn’t abandon his territory and wander like Hyeonu, so of course, it was decorated to some extent.

‘He has a personality that dislikes such things.’

It was possible. If the designed personality pursued integrity and practicality, the castle might be like this. In the meantime, Hyeonu arrived at the marquis’ location.

“Enter this way, and the marquis will be inside,” the guard said.

Hearing that, Hyeonu nodded and stopped his train of thought there. He passed through the door that the guard indicated and found numerous weapons hanging from wooden stands in the training field inside. There were swords, spears, and single-edged swords hanging. Between the stands, a man who gave off a sharp air was wiping a sword. He had a strong body and deep blue hair reminiscent of the depths of the sea. This man was Marquis Maizel.

‘He is a typical warrior.’

This was Hyeonu’s first impression upon seeing Marquis Maizel—a typical warrior. Marquis Maizel gave off a similar feeling to Lebron.

Hyeonu strode up to the marquis wiping the sword and greeted him, “I greet Marquis Maizel.” 

“Earl Gang Hyeonu? It is nice to meet you. I am Marquis Maizel. You are indeed the duke’s only disciple... Rather, the rumors are lacking. Marquis Maizel placed the sword he had been wiping back in the scabbard. Then he got up from his seat and reached out to Hyeonu for a handshake.

‘Rumors? Were there such things?’ Hyeonu cocked his head slightly at the mention of rumors he was hearing about for the first time. Even so, he didn’t forget to shake Marquis Maizel’s hand. “Rumors about me? Was there something like that? This is the first time I’m hearing about it.”

“You are an adventurer, so you might not know. There are many rumors about you among the nobles.”

“Among the nobles?” Hyeonu asked again. He wasn’t particularly interested, but he judged it was better to know than to not know. It might be necessary one day.

“You are a disciple of Duke Lebron, who is the best knight of the emperor, and an adventurer favored by His Majesty. There has to be rumors.”

Upon hearing Marquis Maizel’s words, Hyeonu smiled bitterly and thought it was understandable. It was impossible for there not to be rumors. There was no better material for gossip after all.

“So there was such a thing... I really didn’t know.”

“Some people are just making noise, so don’t feel bothered by it. Those who just move their mouths can’t help it.”

Hyeonu abruptly changed the subject and revealed his purpose in coming here: “The reason why I came here is simple. I was ordered by His Majesty to come to Derek Castle.”

This time, Marquis Maizel looked surprised. The emperor’s order—for the nobles of the Yusma Empire, it took precedence over everyone else’s words.

“His Majesty gave an order?” The marquis asked. It seemed to be his first time hearing about it.

In a clear and calm manner, Hyeonu explained the quest, “I was instructed to help Marquis Maizel search and wipe out those behind the attacks on the merchant groups.”

“You mean that you are the support force sent by His Majesty?”

It was only now that Marquis Maizel looked like he figured out something. Simultaneously, a notification window signaling the clearance of the quest appeared in front of Hyeonu’s eyes.


[Conversation with Marquis Maizel 1/1]

[Information on the Attackers has been cleared.]

[Experience has been acquired.]


“Yes, I am the reinforcement,” Hyeonu answered with a smile.

Before Hyeonu’s visit to the palace, the emperor had already promised support to Marquis Maizel and had been thinking about who to send when Hyeonu came looking for the ring. It was a wonderful coincidence.

“The identities of those who attacked the merchant groups have been revealed to some extent. It seems that the remnants of Alkyl and some forces in the East Continent have colluded. The problem is that some adventurers are also involved, and it’s difficult to clean them up. They are stealing intelligence,” Marquis Maizel said.

The marquis was a typical warrior. He didn’t leave anything out. The moment Hyeonu was confirmed as the reinforcement, Marquis Maizel immediately spoke of everything he knew. There was no need for Hyeonu to do any digging.

“How many are there?”

“There are at least 300. This number doesn’t include the adventurers. Depending on exactly how many adventurers there are, the number will likely be much greater.”

‘300 NPCs...’ Hyeonu thought about it. This was quite a large number, but it also wasn’t that much. A significant number of people were needed to attack the merchant groups 300 people were only enough to operate one or two raids.

‘Even if there are players involved...’

A sneer appeared on Hyeonu’s face. He didn’t know which guilds were involved, but they had made the worst choice. It was a choice that opposed both sides—the East Continent and West Continent. There was nowhere for them to retreat.

‘Even if they can recreate their character...’

They would still die. Arena didn’t have the option to customize one’s appearance. So, in other words, it was over once a player was on the wanted list. This was designed by Quency to let things be handled internally in Arena.

“So where do I start, Marquis Maizel?”

“We’ve only identified that they have multiple strongholds somewhere in the Balder Mountains. We are lacking information and time, not troops who can fight.”

A quest was created the moment Marquis Maizel finished talking. It was the quest Hyeonu had been waiting for.


[Find the Attackers]

[There are a group of attackers raiding the merchant groups crossing the Balder Mountains.

They aren’t just NPCs but adventurers as well.

Find them and sort them out.

Rating: S

Conditions: Attackers killed 0/300, report to the emperor 0/1.

Rewards: Experience, imperial contribution, the emperor’s gift.]


“I understand. I’ll take care of the rest.” 

Hyeonu achieved his purpose in finding the marquis, so he gave a light farewell before leaving.

‘In the end, the only thing I got was a quest.’

This was the extent of Marquis Maizel’s information—just a bunch of numbers. There was nothing very important. It was crazy to proceed on a quest with this alone. It might be different if he had a lot of time, but it was crazy in an urgent situation like it was now.

Sigh... I have to pull in some hands from elsewhere.’

Hyeonu sighed.


***


Hyeonu lay on the sofa in the living room while calling someone on the phone. He had on earphones like he expected the call to be a lengthy one. Finally, the calling sound disappeared, and he heard a heavy voice.

-Hello.

“Hyung-nim, it’s me.”

-Me? I don’t know anyone called ‘Me’. Who is it?

“Hyung-nim, why are you doing this? It’s Hyeonu, Hyeonu. Your dongsaeng, Gang Hyeonu.”

Hyeonu had called Kim Seokjung, but the latter was sulking. Since the start of the Winter League, Hyeonu had been so busy that he hadn’t been able to contact Kim Seokjung. Kim Seokjung knew this was well, but he was still upset.

-Ah, Hyeonu? Did I have such a dongsaeng? I don’t remember though?

Since Kim Seokjung continued to ignore him, Hyeonu took a very strong stance and spoke as if he would hang up: “I seem to have the wrong number, sorry.”

The reaction was immediate; Kim Seokjung’s attitude changed instantly.

-Ah, it’s been a while. How long has it been? I almost forgot your voice.

Hyeonu let out a small sigh that Kim Seokjung couldn’t hear. Kim Seokjung was just like a younger brother. In short, he was immature. “I was so busy that I couldn’t contact you often. I’m sorry.”

-No, no. Dongsaeng is busy. I know that. Why did you call today?

“Hyung-nim, perhaps... do you know ‘dao’?”

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