Chapter 107 - Opening Act (5)

Yeon-woo clucked his tongue. He never imagined that these were the opportunities to fight that the Martial King was referring to. ‘But I have no reason to refuse.’

He could tell at a glance that the Martial King had brought skilled warriors. They only looked woebegone at the moment because of their fear of the Martial King, but they had the ability to fight Yeon-woo on an even playing field.

It was clear one of them was a team leader within Red Dragon, and he never would have met them on the eleventh floor if not for the war. He wouldn’t win against them in a melee, but it was possible to take them on individually. It would be a good way to test out his Heaven Wing Mana Control and Eight Extreme Fists. “I’ll do it.”

The Martial King nodded as if he had been expecting this answer all along.

Phante mumbled quietly behind him. “Yup, I forgot for a moment that hyung-nim also has a weird personality like this geezer. Ahem!” Krak! Phante rolled on the floor in pain after the Martial King flicked him on the forehead. “My dearest son, you can open your piehole any time you want, but you should always think of the consequences.” The Martial King smirked as he stared at Shanon’s back.

All the players were shaken, and Shanon was the first one to recover his composure. He realized right away that he was facing the Hoarder. He didn’t know what the Hoarder’s relationship to the Martial King was, but he wasn’t going to kick aside this opportunity to live. He slowly got to his feet. “If I can’t defeat the Hoarder…what will happen to me?”

The Martial King shrugged. “No idea.”

“What?”

“How can you guarantee life or death in a fight? If you’re talented, you live, and if you’re not, you die.”

Shanon’s eyes glittered as he understood the Martial King’s meaning. “Does that mean it’s OK if I kill the Hoarder?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” The Martial King snorted.

Edora shouted in a panicked voice. “Father!”

“I can hear you even if you don’t scream.”

“What in the world are you talking about? A fight to the death?”

“What? Do you want them to arm wrestle like some kind of friendly competition? What good would that do?”

“But!”

“Edora.”

Edora knew that she couldn’t speak further after hearing the warning tone in the Martial King’s voice and seeing his steely eyes.

“Do not forget. This is war. As soon as we show our backs, our heads will be hacked off. Did you think you were going on a holiday trip? If that’s the kind of despicable thoughts that are in your head, just go back.”

Edora clenched her fists and bit her lower lip. The Martial King was correct that they were in a warzone. She was whining about something that was part and parcel of it. Anyone could die here—it could be her, Phante, Yeon-woo, or even the Martial King himself.

After confirming that Edora would no longer be complaining, the Martial King shook his head. “You’re always like this when it comes to Cain. Phante, do you have anything to say?”

Phante only frowned. He wasn’t going to try to stop anything. Besides, it wasn’t like the Martial King listened to him anyway. “I think Father is right this time.”

“Good boy. However, you don’t deserve to say anything about my personality. Do you know why?”

Phante sulked like he couldn’t care less. The Martial King grinned and turned to Yeon-woo. “Because our people are all like this.”

Phante and Edora both set their mouths in a grim line. It seemed like they had a lot of things they wanted to say.

“Anyway, Cain. What about you? You’re not getting cold feet now, are you?” The Martial King asked with anticipation, as though he would be very disappointed if Yeon-woo backed out.

“Actually, this is something I wanted to ask from you, too.” Yeon-woo nodded as if it were obvious.

“I thought you would say that. Haha!” From the moment the Martial King had seen Yeon-woo trying to imitate him, he knew that they were two peas in a pod. He laughed in a contented manner and looked at Shanon as if confirming that he was up for a fight. Shanon’s expression hardened. He nodded as the rest of the group got up.

They didn’t have a choice. The only path to survival was to defeat Yeon-woo. If they lost to him—even if they managed to prove that their skills were at the same level—the Martial King would never allow them to live.

“What kind of fight will it be?” Shanon asked through clenched teeth. As his fear faded away, his will slowly increased and his eyes grew bloodshot.

“Just a simple one-on-one fight. You can choose the order of players.”

Shanon and the other players looked at each other. It was obvious the last player would have an advantage because Yeon-woo would be tired by the time they fought. The order of combatants was decided without much hassle as they already followed a hierarchy in Red Dragon. Shanon would be the last player to fight Yeon-woo.

Yeon-woo stepped forward. Everyone except for the first player stepped back to make room for them to fight.

“Shit. I can’t believe I have to fight with that newbie.” The player spit on the ground. Although Yeon-woo was infamous on the eleventh floor, he was still a novice. The player quickly got his sword out like he wanted to get the fight over with. A murderous intent filled the air around them.

Yeon-woo had both the Magic Bayonet and Carshina’s Dagger out. The Eight Extremes Fists could be used in various ways, and even if he had only learned the first section, he could still use two blades. Of course, if he used a weapon he hadn’t before, it would really test his new skills. With these thoughts, he slowly activated Heaven Wing Mana Control. The large and small circuits started to move, and the Cores in different locations began to add to his strength.

Whoosh!

Red light gathered around him suddenly and created wings of flame. The player’s face grew more hostile as Yeon-woo spread his wings, and a massive heat began to radiate in the air. Yeon-woo’s will to fight began to intimidate him, and he finally realized that something wasn’t right about the situation. But by the time he understood what the Martial King meant about having them test Yeon-woo, it was too late.

Boom! Yeon-woo ran towards the player. Swish! “Hup!”

Something shone in the player’s eyes, and before he knew it, Yeon-woo was already in front of him. “What kind of speed is this?” The player’s eyes widened in shock as he instinctively stepped back to create a space between them. However, Yeon-woo simply spun around and kicked him. Crash!

Yeon-woo followed the player and slashed the Magic Bayonet down from his head to his feet. Fearing that his head would be cut off, the player moved and swung his sword. A faint yellow light followed its arc; it was an Aura blade. Whoosh!

An explosion rent the air, but the Magic Bayonet was strong enough to meet it. At this point, no one could match Yeon-woo’s magic power now that he’d eaten the Akasha’s Snake and could use Heaven Wing Mana Control. He was now bursting with three times his original strength, which added fuel to his battle will and fire skill.

The player felt intense pain as the Magic Bayonet cut his arm off. The attack was followed by the fire skill that sent flames through his armor, and his stump blistered from the heat. ‘What kind of strength…?' Suffering from the heat and shock, the player couldn’t even follow what was happening. It felt like the world was spinning.

Yeon-woo quickly attacked once more. The Magic Bayonet clashed against the player’s sword and sent it whirling away as Yeon-woo tried to stab him in the chest with Carshina’s Dagger. The player barely managed to escape. Yeon-woo followed each of the player’s movements tirelessly, reciting the thirty-steps in the order that the Martial King had taught him. Every time he swung his arm, an intense gust of air followed.

The wind began to twist and condense until it formed a cyclone. When fire mixed into it, it was like a whirling, endless series of explosions. When Yeon-woo first learned the Eight Extreme Fists and Heaven Wing Mana Control, they hadn’t blended together well. The movements didn’t complement the magic power, but Yeon-woo only focused on one thing: ‘Imperfections.’

His Draconic Eyes burst open. Now that their proficiency was well over thirty percent, they exposed all the imperfections in his sights. Yeon-woo let his instincts take over his body, and the Eight Extreme Fists and Heaven Wing Mana Control began to work in harmony. Combat Will quickly activated, and his movements began to grow distinctly smoother as he fought.

It seemed like all of the elements together were made just for Yeon-woo, and it grew more difficult for the player to fend off his attacks. He was pushed here and there like a punching bag. His sword was shattered into thousands of pieces. Yeon-woo stabbed him in the chest with the dagger. Thanks to that, as time went on, the player barely fended off the attacks. He kept getting pushed back because of the difference in strength, and had to be his punching bag.

The player vomited blood and collapsed. Yeon-woo pulled the dagger out of the corpse and looked at the other players, whose faces were grim. The person that had just died was the deputy leader of a well-known subordinate clan of Red Dragon, Red Wolf. If he climbed just a few more floors, he would become a ranker, but he just suffered a one-sided defeat.

The Hoarder was stronger than they’d believed, and they knew now that it would be a difficult task to leave this place.

“OK. Next.”

The second player, Ruthor, stepped forward with a hard face.

***

“Next.”

Blood sprayed across the floor, and Shanon’s face twisted as he looked at the corpse of the fourth player. He hadn’t expected that he’d end up getting a turn. However, Yeon-woo was finally slowing down. He’d easily defeated Torrison, but he sustained some injuries, and each round left him more and more exhausted. His weaknesses grew more apparent with each fight.

Pant. Pant. Yeon-woo gasped for breath. The armor he was wearing was damaged in some places, and he was drenched in blood. It seemed as though he might collapse at any moment, but the eyes behind the mask continued to burn.

Shanon stepped forward like he had no other option. Since he’d already seen Yeon-woo’s weakness, he planned on getting rid of him right away before Yeon-woo could get a read on the fight.

Yeon-woo instantly knew that he was facing a player who was at a different level than the previous ones. Even his armor was of a higher quality and its design indicated that he was facing a squad leader of Red Dragon. It was even likely that the man was in charge of the forces in Kuram.

『Be careful around that guy. Even if you fight with all your strength, he’s a difficult guy to beat.』 As though he’d sensed Yeon-woo’s nervousness, the Martial King’s voice spoke in his ear. Yeon-woo turned to look at him. One corner of the Martial King’s lips was lifted, as if he were confirming that Shanon was the real deal. 『That guy’s a semi-ranker.』

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