Chapter 119 - Mercenary (3)

Yeon-woo couldn’t show his anger, and so instead, he laughed and said, “Sorry I’m late. I wanted to come right away, but it didn’t work out.”

“It doesn’t matter that you’re late. All that’s important is that you’re here now.” Phante patted Yeon-woo’s shoulder as though they were close friends. All the players watching them were surprised.

“Never knew Bahal-nim and the Hoarder were close.”

“I heard he scouted him himself outside the Tower, but I didn’t realize they’d gotten this friendly.”

“If they’re that close, why didn’t he come earlier?”

“Hm. He’s an interesting person.”

They muttered among themselves, puzzled, but Yeon-woo knew why Bahal was behaving so warmly to him. It was quite simple: ‘He wants to raise his standing within Red Dragon.’

The Hoarder was well-known among Red Dragon. Some saw him as a rookie they needed to get rid of right away, but that also meant that he was a significant character. He was a novice that killed a semi-ranker, a disciple of the Martial King, and a rookie with great potential. If Bahal were seen as the person responsible for getting someone like this to switch sides to Red Dragon with the Martial King’s children in tow and bring useful information about the Cheonghwado to boot, it would be a jackpot for him. ‘His standing will increase. He must’ve liked the present.’

It was also good for Yeon-woo. The bigger the welcome, the easier it would be to find a position within Red Dragon.

“Is it OK for the Martial King’s children to fight on our side? He’ll be displeased.”

Thankfully, Phante wasn’t completely clueless. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s been a while since I listened to my father.”

“Really? I guess the children of Cheongram are so talented that even the tribe can’t touch them. Anyway, welcome.” Bahal had a big smile on his face as he led Yeon-woo and his friends inside. “Come in, come in. We’re having a conference right now, and there are a lot of people to meet.”

***

There were about ten rankers in the war room waiting for them. In the center was a player with a strong aura. None of them hid their presence at all, and Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes at them. ‘Eighty-One Oculus.’

If the Cheonghwado had five Martial Gods, Red Dragon had eighty-one high rankers in their center called the Eighty-One Oculus. The name came from the story that a dragon’s eye contained dozens of compound eyes. Each member of the Eighty-One Oculus had independent powers and led their own fighting squads. ‘There’s a lot of familiar faces.’ Yeon-woo recognized a few of them from the diary. ‘White Draconian, Flame Beast, Blaze, Corona Anaconda, Red-Ringed Band…Are they planning on flipping the eleventh floor?’

When Yeon-woo’s eyes shifted to the last face, he was taken aback to see someone he’d never expected: a beautiful woman with long blue hair that reached to her shoulders. Yeon-woo recognized her instantly even though her hair had once been red, and she wore comfortable, ordinary clothing.

“What’s wrong, hyung-nim?”

“It’s nothing.” Since she didn’t seem to want to reveal her identity, Yeon-woo pretended like he didn’t recognize her. However, his thoughts were in chaos. ‘Why is that person here?’ What was someone who detested the lower floors, who believed they were places for insects, doing here? The war had grown bigger than he thought.

Bahal introduced Yeon-woo and his friends. “This is the Hoarder and the children of the Cheongram family from the One-horned tribe. Even if you’re not interested in the lower floors, you’ve heard of them, right?”

A few nodded their heads. Some people showed interest, and others, wariness. But most didn’t seem to care, and their eyes clearly said, “So what?”

‘Hm, is it because they don’t respect Bahal?’

Bahal was in the same position as Leonte was. People from Arthia were considered traitors, and not entirely welcome at other organizations. However, at least Bahal was known to be favored by the Summer Queen for his talents and wits.

“Fine, you don’t care? Let’s see what your reaction will be after you see this.” Bahal placed a pile of papers on the table, and the rankers all turned their attention to it. “Do you know what this is?”

“What is it?”

Bahal grinned. “Locations of the Cheonghwado’s troops.”

“Is that true?” Raul, who had been fighting with the Cheonghwado that morning, jumped up from his seat. The indifferent expressions of the rankers changed to ones of surprise.

“Of course. Do you want to check?” Bahal threw the map to Raul, who quickly caught it and spread it open. It was a detailed map of the eleventh floor with red crosses marked in different spots. Raul had an idea where the troops were, but he hadn’t known the exact locations. “And the people that brought this?”

“Our friends here.” Bahal proudly patted Yeon-woo’s shoulder. The map was the present that Yeon-woo had given Bahal. He’d memorized the map in the Martial King’s office with his Draconic Eyes and made an exact copy. Of course, he left out any information that might hurt the One-horned tribe, but what he’d given them was enough to help Red Dragon change the tide.

“What do you think?”

Raul flinched at Bahal’s question and coughed lightly. “I think we’ll need to confirm the information first. It could be a trap from the Cheonghwado, right?” He narrowed his eyes at Yeon-woo and Phante.

Bahal nodded. “Shouldn’t you go check that at Red Wolf?”

“I’ll go confirm right now, sir.” Raul quickly left the strategy room looking excited.

Bahal looked around. “If the map is real. These kids have done a great favor to us. What do you all think? If there are no objections, I’d like to reward them appropriately.”

No one said anything, but they all paid close attention. Bahal accepted their silence as approval. “I take it that everyone agrees. Cain.”

“Yes, sir.” Yeon-woo stepped forward and bowed his head.

“The position of Team 2 leader in the Foreign Legion is empty. I’d like you to take that spot. What do you think?” Yeon-woo’s eyes gleamed. The Foreign Legion was 3,000 strong and composed of mercenaries. It was difficult to join it, and being team leader meant commanding hundreds of players. No outsider had ever taken a spot like that before, but Yeon-woo’s gift had been so priceless and his talent so sought-after. Yeon-woo welcomed the offer. He would accomplish a lot more in a higher position. ‘I’ll stay here and climb my way up.’

He was going to hunt the Saber God, Leonte, Bahal, and all the others if he got a chance. ‘This is a war where swords and arrows are flying around all the time. It won’t seem unusual if someone has an accident.’ A warzone might be a place of fear and horror to some people, but it was as comfortable to Yeon-woo as his own bedroom. He’d already spent half of his twenties in a warzone, and even though there was more magic this time around, the essentials hadn’t changed. The Saber God? Leonte? Bahal? No matter how talented they were, Yeon-woo was sure that he surpassed them in war experience. ‘Jeong-woo, just wait a little bit longer. It’s boring with just Bild, huh? I’ll send the other guys your way soon.’

The first person he would kill was the Saber God, then Leonte, and finally, Bahal. He had already decided on the order and created a detailed plan. The map was only the first step. ‘That woman bothers me but it doesn’t matter. No. It’s actually for the best since things will grow even more chaotic the bigger the chessboard gets.’ Yeon-woo’s eyes glinted. ‘But first, I need to build up my credibility with Bahal.’

And so, hiding his thoughts. Yeon-woo bowed his head once more. “I’ll do my best.”

***

“I’m telling you now that I don’t trust you guys. It’s best if you stay under my radar.” The person who took them to the Foreign Legion on Bahal’s orders was named Amber.

‘Head of White Draconian, member of Poison Owl.’ Yeon-woo dug through the information on Red Dragon in the diary. Amber had also been Shanon’s boss, which explained why he was glaring at Yeon-woo like he was going to kill him. He was annoyed that they were meeting as allies, and his will to avenge his subordinate was palpable. If he had the chance, he’d probably stick a knife in Yeon-woo right away.

Yeon-woo figured that Amber would try to make his life as uncomfortable as possible, but he’d been expecting something like this, so he wasn’t too concerned. Amber glared at the impassive Yeon-woo then kicked open the door to the headquarters of Team 2 of the Foreign Legion.

Bang! The door almost broke. It seemed like they’d arrived during a break because there were about 250 people inside. They stopped smoking cigarettes and gambling and stared at them, sending out a sharp aura.

“This is your new team leader, Cain, and these two are new members, Phante and Edora. Greet them however you like.” Amber scowled at Yeon-woo one last time and turned to leave.

“Team Leader?”

“I did hear someone would be sent here. I guess it was true after all.”

“But isn’t he a stranger? Who the hell is he?”

“Isn’t the One-horned tribe allied to the Cheonghwado? Is it OK for them to switch sides like this?”

The team members narrowed their eyes at Phante, Edora, and Yeon-woo, looking them up and down. Mercenaries were fierce and preferred to set a hierarchy among themselves to judge who was the strongest. Some of them looked at the pretty Edora with lingering gazes, and she frowned slightly in displeasure. However, Yeon-woo didn’t seem concerned by their attitudes and slowly walked to the center of the room. Everyone’s eyes followed him, and a few people made faces as though they’d suddenly realized something.

“Hey. That mask…isn’t he the Hoarder?”

“What?”

“I think you’re right. A black mask that makes him look like a ghost, that armor, and the One-horned tribe siblings. It’s definitely the Hoarder.”

As the information spread, so did the scowls on their faces. A few pulled out their swords, remembering how much they’d suffered when Yeon-woo had hoarded all the hidden pieces of the eleventh floor.

“Hyung-nim. I guess you got more popular when we weren’t around,” Phante giggled.

Yeon-woo’s eyes were annoyed. Although he expected something like this, it didn’t make it any less annoying. A few mercenaries stood, holding their axes and swords with a clear intent.

“Look here, Team Leader. We’d like to speak with you.”

Phante shook his head at them as though they were a bunch of clowns. “Geez, there’s a lot of ways to commit suicide, huh?”

Edora just quietly nodded like she agreed.

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