Chapter 194 - Demons' Forest (9)

“Ugh, it’s so uncomfortable.”

“Shut up and just do it.” Edora smacked Phante’s back. Since a lot of people knew that the One-horned tribe’s royal siblings were associated with Yeon-woo, they had to hide their identities, too.

Edora was dressed in a robe and looked just like an ordinary magician. Phante still kept his horn, but his boyish face was now middle-aged. Yeon-woo was surprised by Phante’s appearance and looked at him questioningly. Phante scratched his face and grumbled in response, “It’s a skin mask.”

“Skin mask?”

“It’s a special thing that our tribe makes but most outsiders don’t know about it. We use it when we need to do things secretly.” It was a painstaking process to apply the ointment to the face and then wait until it was dry. Phante kept scratching his face, but the mask stayed on and looked completely natural.

‘If I need to, I could use that instead of my mask.’ Yeon-woo was tempted. His black mask had become too noticeable after his fame grew. Sometimes, he switched it out for the white mask, but it would be much better to have a couple of skin masks. “Do you think I could have some, too?”  

“It’s a special item that we don’t really give outsiders, but if it’s you, Father will probably agree.”

Yeon-woo nodded, making a note to ask the Martial King someday.

“Anyway.” Phante frowned as he looked at the busy crowd around the lake. “Why are there so many people here? It’s a little annoying. What’s so interesting about these ruins?”

After Yeon-woo’s fight with Aether, the area around the lake had been completely decimated. It was little more than a wasteland now, with only a few Devil Trees starting to grow again. However, the players didn’t seem to care and roamed around the lake. Some of them were even having a battle of wits.

“It’s probably because they’re trying to capture the dinosaur.” The Ceratopsian Dinosaur in De Roy Lake was a Demonic species that had become stronger after eating other Demonic species. It occasionally showed up every few months to hunt, and this was about the time it appeared.

“Didn’t you say that the Ceratopsian Dinosaur is a hidden piece?”

“I also said it should be embarrassed to call itself a hidden piece at this point.”

“Ugh. I don’t like that.” Phante shifted his feet like someone had taken his favorite food away from him. He turned his head. “Can’t we just chase them away?”

“Leave them alone.” Yeon-woo spoke in a very firm tone in case Phante tried to cause trouble. He said that Phante could return to the village or go off on his own if he didn’t want to listen to Yeon-woo. It wasn’t that Yeon-woo wanted to stay still, but since Aether and the Elohim might not have left the twenty-third floor, they had to keep a low profile.

Even though Yeon-woo was strong, he wouldn’t be able to defeat Aether if they fought directly. He’d only managed to help Galliard before because of the element of surprise, and he doubted he’d be so lucky again. ‘Only if I finish the Philosopher’s Stone will I be able to go toe to toe with high rankers.’

He had to be extra cautious. ‘And the Elohim guys might be lurking around here.’ Yeon-woo had activated his Extrasensory Perception as soon as they arrived at the lake. Because of the Elohim’s proud personalities, they had unique characteristics that were easy to spot, and he was prepared to leave right away if they appeared. “The players are probably making some kind of complicated deal to get the dinosaur. I think we should join them.”

“Eh? You’re going to hunt with them harmoniously while holding hands and singing songs of peace? With your personality?”

Yeon-woo didn’t like what Phante was implying about his personality, but he pretended that he didn’t hear him. “When we get a chance, we have to steal it.”

“Ha! That’s what I expected from hyung-nim! He is truly my father’s disciple!”

“Do you ever worry that someone might throw you into that lake?”

“Hehe. Hyung-nim, don’t you know that I’ve been following you for such a long time already?”

Yeon-woo shook his head as Phante laughed shamelessly. The brat was becoming a bigger smartass as time went on. “For now, don’t aggravate anyone. If we get caught, I’ll kill you,” Yeon-woo growled, lifting his fist. 

Phante smiled in an unabashed manner. “Haha. You’re so funny. If someone heard you, they’d think that I’m someone who causes trouble wherever he goes. Don’t worry. Patience is my middle name,” Phante confidently answered, pounding his chest. 

However, this only made Yeon-woo feel more concerned. 

***

An hour hadn’t even passed when Yeon-woo’s worst fears were realized.

“What? You’re saying that you’ll take everything?” Phante pounded on the face of the condescending player. 

“Shit! Get that guy!”

“Haha! That’s right! Come at me, you bastards!” Phante grabbed a player and held him in the air as he punched him.

Yeon-woo tried to calm himself. If it weren’t for his helmet, he’d be furiously rubbing the bridge of his nose. To no one’s surprise, it hadn’t taken much for Phante to start fighting.

A group had suddenly appeared and ordered everyone to leave because they were going to catch the Ceratopsian Dinosaur. They even said that they would let the other players watch as long as they stayed 100 meters back. The players murmured among themselves, but no one stepped up because there was a ranker called Lao, the Venom Ice Snake, in the group.

He’d acquired his nickname from the smooth way he moved to attack his enemies with Ice Poison. There were rumors that the Blood Land, one of the Eight Clans, had their eye on him, and so no one dared confront him. He didn’t speak a single word since the group arrived, but everyone just assumed that the Blood Land would appear on their heels, and many players just turned around and left. 

However, Phante obviously couldn’t stay still, and as usual, he couldn’t resist punching someone who stood in his way. This was only to be expected of someone who liked to say, “Strike the first blow.”

The players ran towards Phante, screaming, and Phante clenched his fists and beat them up as though he were giving them a very violent welcome. He’d clearly gotten stronger because everything he threw a punch, lightning flashed from his fists.  

Edora massaged her forehead with her hand. She had seen this happen too many times as they climbed the Tower, and she was sick of it by now. Perhaps Phante had a disease that made him fight all the time.

Phante was wrong when he said that Yeon-woo had the Martial King’s personality. Even the elders agreed that of all the Martial King’s children, the one most similar to him was Phante. Edora turned to look at Yeon-woo and said in a concerned voice, “Oraboni, um…”

“No. Wait.” Yeon-woo cut Edora off before she tried to stop Phante. He had considered it, too, but now he thought it was actually a good way to proceed. ‘I never expected that the Blood Land would show up here.’ 

The Blood Land considered themselves a country. They didn’t consider themselves the survivors of a destroyed world nor did they occupy a large territory, but they were sure that they would one day claim their promised land. In a way, they were caught in the past because they wanted to revive the past world of the Tower.

They had such a strong resolve and trained very hard because of this goal, and because of their discipline, no one wanted to get into any scuffles with them. It was very unusual for them to suddenly appear on the twenty-third floor. Why were two big powers, the Blood Land and the Elohim, on the same floor? ‘And during this time? It can’t be a coincidence.’

Even if the Ceratopsian Dinosaur were famous, Blood Land wouldn’t have sent a ranker to handle it. ‘They’re probably here because of the Elohim or Brahm. Or maybe they’re here to scout me.’

Now, not only did he have to hide from the Elohim, he also had to figure out what the Blood Land was up to. He was going to make an assessment based on how they reacted to Phante. ‘Maybe something amusing will happen.’

The Elohim and the Blood Land were the clans with the most pride. ‘I don’t know what Lao is thinking, though.’ Even as his subordinates moved farther away, Lao just sat there.

Those who couldn’t bring themselves to fight Phante peered at Lao with desperate eyes, but he just observed the fighting almost apathetically and clearly had no intention to participate.

Boom! Phante blasted the final player away, leaving him with broken arms. There was no one left to fight him. Crunch. Crack. “What’s this? Is this it? You were all so confident earlier, and now you’re not even making a peep?” Phante curled his lips and spoke coldly. As he walked forward, the players who were still standing stepped back. 

Their faces were red, and they were terrified of this one person’s aura. A relatively brave guy finally decided to speak up, his legs shaking. “You, you bastard! D-do you think y-you think you won’t face any consequences for attacking us?”

Phante scoffed. “What consequences?”

“We have the B-Blood Land backing us!”

“Oh really? Aw, that’s scary. But what should I do? As you can see, I have the One-horned tribe backing me. Since you attacked me too, I guess that means it’s now war between the tribe and the Blood Land?” Phante said, displaying his horn.

“Eek!” The player collapsed to the floor, his pants wet. 

Phante tsked. He didn’t know what they were thinking if he could frighten them with such a small threat. “Well, if you guys aren’t going to make a move,” Lightning sparked from his fists, “Then I guess I should.”

The players went pale, and Lao suddenly stood up. Phante laughed. “Oh! Is your leader finally going to do something? I was thinking how fun it would be to fight a ranker…Huh?”

Lao moved past Phante and suddenly stopped in front of Yeon-woo. Their eyes met, and a strange expression appeared in Yeon-woo’s eyes. 

“I think this is enough. How about we stop this now?” At the same time, Lao used Open Speaking to speak only to Yeon-woo. 

Our emperor would like to invite you and Brahm over. What do you think, Hoarder?

Previous Chapter Next Chapter