Behind the mask, Yeon-woo’s face stiffened at being recognized. After his clash with Aether, he’d hidden his location and identity, but if the Blood Land recognized him, it meant that they likely knew that he and Brahm had been in contact. Was that attention because of Brahm or him? ‘It might be the both of us.’
At any rate, they might have sent a spy to watch him near the illusory world, and since he didn’t even notice it with his Extrasensory Perception, he had to be more careful in the future.
Lao quickly added, as though he wanted to alleviate Yeon-woo’s concerns, 『Not a lot of people know you’re here, so don’t worry.』
That didn’t make Yeon-woo drop his guard, however.
『There’s a lot of people who have their eyes on you. Since you’re with Brahm and the child, that’s only made the attention more intense, and many more will be looking for you.』
Yeon-woo’s eyes widened. Of course. It was impossible that only the Elohim would know that Brahm had Sesha. Maybe the Elohim had found out about it first, but after the Cheonghwado fell, the restructuring of the Eight Large Clans meant that the clans would be paying close attention to what the others were doing. ‘The Eight Clans are more involved than I expected. I should have known.’
Lao continued, 『Since the child is the last Dragon Human, a lot of people are interested in her, except for Red Dragon.』
Yeon-woo didn’t reply.
『We didn’t want to make a move because the Elohim was at the front and center of it, but then we found out you were also involved.』
Yeon-woo’s forehead wrinkled. 『How many clans know I’m with Brahm?』
『I’m not sure. Everyone has been scurrying around like rats, so I can’t say.』
Yeon-woo thought it over. It was likely that everyone who had a stake in the situation already knew, and the rest would soon find out. ‘My record in the twenty-first floor created too much havoc.’
He had been expecting a commotion when he made it a goal to take the first place, but he’d believed that the Eight Large Clans wouldn’t be interested in the events on the lower floor. However, it was clear that he’d been naïve about the situation. ‘I’ll have to be especially careful in the future.’
Yeon-woo had to admit to himself that he’d let his guard down too much. The news that he’d helped Galliard had likely spread even if Aether was too proud to admit what happened. He should have hidden his identity then, but things had happened so fast, and they would have probably figured out who he was anyway.
He grew determined to lower his profile until he grew stronger. The attention wouldn’t do him any good. ‘But since I’m involved with Brahm, I won’t be able to avoid the attention. What a mess.’
Yeon-woo’s head spun as he wondered what his options were. However, in the end, he had to admit, ‘It’s pointless to continue hiding now.’ He released the Magic Armor around his body. The plated armor and the helmet disappeared.
Phante and Edora looked taken aback.
“There’s no need to make things so complicated now.”
Phante scowled. “Sheesh! I went through hell putting this on.” He clawed his face furiously and threw the skin mask to the ground. Edora took off her magician’s robe, revealing her horn and her distinctive golden eyes.
Lao’s eyes widened. He hadn’t expected Yeon-woo to reveal himself so easily. He grinned, clapping. The players who had been fighting Phante glanced at each other and stood at attention.
“Now all the eyes around us have disappeared. It’ll be easier to talk.” It seemed like the reason that Lao and the Blood Land players had shooed everyone away was so that they could speak to Yeon-woo privately.
Yeon-woo said, “I’d like to ask you a few things.” Even though he was being watched, he wanted to clarify a few points.
Lao nodded. “Ask me anything.”
“Do you know where Brahm is?”
Lao shook his head. “We only know that he created an illusory world for the Dragon Human on the twenty-third floor. If we knew more than that, we would’ve attempted to contact him first.”
“Then how did you know that I would come to De Roy Lake?”
“Because of your habits.”
“Yeah, the habits of a hoarder. Don’t you feel better only when you have all the hidden pieces? There was a fifty-fifty chance that you would come here to take the hidden piece.”
“How did you recognize me? I concealed my appearance well.”
“Ah, there was nothing you could do about that. It’s because of my skill.” Lao pointed at his eyes. His irises separated and became compound eyes, like those of an insect.
Yeon-woo clucked his tongue when he realized what it was: Nine Snakes’ Eyes. It was a skill that helped you examine the traits of your opponent. It couldn’t be compared to Draconic Eyes or Insight, but it was still a superior skill.
It was at that point he realized why they’d sent Lao. With that skill, he would be able to identify Yeon-woo no matter how much Yeon-woo disguised himself. ‘The reason he stayed so still while Phante was running around was to search for me.’
Lao said with a smile, “Are you done with your questions?”
“Then please allow me to formally introduce myself. I’m Baron Lao, here on orders from the emperor. I came to invite you and Brahm to visit the emperor as he has taken interest in you.” The players of the Blood Land were organized into eight different levels: soldier, knight, baron, viscount, count, marquis, and duke. At the top was the emperor.
The Gluttony Emperor or the Lord of Greed swallowed everything he desired. He had adjusted the trait of a Lord and had thousands of followers. In terms of numbers, the Blood Land might have more members than Red Dragon, and wasn’t too much of an exaggeration that the Blood Land was called a country.
But unlike Red Dragon, which only cared about the floors from the fiftieth and above, the Gluttony Emperor didn’t mind extending his reach to the lower floors. He was always hungry and was always reaching out to grab what he wanted to eat: people.
Although the Gluttony Emperor was always hungry and ate a lot, he was extremely picky. It was said that this made the Blood Land struggle quite a bit. The Gluttony Emperor had ever referred to Yeon-woo’s brother as a delicacy and tried to consume everything he had: Sky Wings, Wave of Light, and even the Dragon Body.
The Gluttony Emperor’s trait absorbed abilities through eating, and it was no surprise that he was considered the craziest person in the Tower along with the Head Bishop of the Devil Army. Why was the Gluttony Emperor interested in meeting Yeon-woo and Brahm? ‘Does he still want to eat a dragon? He really is a psycho.’
The only thing he hadn’t eaten was dragon meat, which was why he wanted Yeon-woo’s brother. It seemed like he hadn’t given up on this goal, which meant that he was probably less interested in Brahm than in Sesha.
Yeon-woo didn’t know why he kept getting entangled with crazy bastards like the Elohim, and the Blood Land.
Lao seemed to read Yeon-woo’s thoughts in his cold eyes. He smiled and waved his hand. “I know what you’re worried about. You think that the Emperor might hurt you and your friends, right? But don’t worry. Those are just rumors that people spread to ruin our reputation.” He pounded his chest. “We’re an empire, and we’re also warriors who have the Tower as our territory. Why would we hurt our own guests? We don’t betray trust like that. I swear it on my honor and the emperor’s name.”
The Blood Land was famous in the Tower for twisting words and reframing situations according to what benefited them, which meant that everything Lao was saying was bullshit. “The Emperor thinks that your bravery, Brahm’s wisdom, and the Dragon Human’s potential will be a big help to the empire. But you’ll probably reject us if we suggest that you join right away, so the emperor would like to share a meal with you first. I don’t think it sounds like such a bad thing, right?”
Yeon-woo didn’t answer right away. He figured that since he was evading the Elohim, he had to get as much information as possible. ‘And I can use them as a shield against the Elohim.’ Out loud, he said, “Fine. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, for now.”
Lao smiled. “Hoho.”
“But I can’t guarantee anything. I can’t control Brahm and the Dragon Human.”
“Everyone knows about the Exile’s stubbornness, and I’m grateful that you’re considering the situation favorably. Also,” Lao began to speak with a great deal of emphasis, “aren’t you close to Galliard? Since the Emperor is interested in Galliard as well, he’d be happy if you can convince him to come as well.”
Yeon-woo nodded silently, but his thoughts were whirling. ‘So they also know about my friendship with Galliard? If they know about what happened in the Tutorial, it means that they’ve investigated me pretty well.’ As Yeon-woo told himself that he’d have to really be careful, Lao smiled in satisfaction. It was either that he didn’t understand what was going on or else he was confident that Yeon-woo wouldn’t reject him.
It was probably the latter since the loyalty of the Blood Land to their emperor was comparable to the Devil Army’s loyalty to the demon they served. Yeon-woo asked casually, “If so many forces are interested in me, does that mean there are other clans aside from the Elohim here?”
“They’re testing the waters right now and only sending a few scouts. They’re very wary of the Elohim.”
“The Blood Land doesn’t seem to care.”
“We’re following the emperor’s wishes. He’s willing to confront the Elohim because that’s how interested he is in you and your friends.” Lao’s face was flushed as though it were a huge blessing.
Yeon-woo was a bit dumbfounded. ‘If they’re already testing the waters, that means they’re getting ready to make a big move when they get the chance.’ Yeon-woo thought that might happen if the Elohim and the Blood Land ended up clashing or if Brahm and Sesha were endangered by the Elohim. It could also be the moment that someone found the illusory world.
Yeon-woo continued to ask questions, which Lao answered as though it were no big deal. Yeon-woo realized, ‘The chessboard is a lot bigger than I thought.’
Lao said that he was only an emissary, and there was actually someone else in charge: Marquis Caliburn. No one knew his real name, but he was famous for choosing his alliances, and it would be tricky to deal with him.
Yeon-woo also discovered that the Elohim had reinforcements, and that Hemera had appeared. He didn’t know if they’d summon more people, but it seemed like one thing was for sure: the Protogenoi were especially interested in the situation.
‘This is just like the eleventh floor. I don’t know why fools keep showing up.’ Yeon-woo was a bit annoyed, but he didn’t show it. However, something suddenly occurred to him: it wasn’t going to end here. He had a feeling that he was smelling blood as though he were on a battlefield. After he found out all he wanted to know, Yeon-woo got up. “Good. I learned a lot from you. Like I said, I’ll try to convince Brahm and the others.” Yeon-woo made sure that he left a door open for himself. “But before that, I have something to deal with.”
“Is it the Ceratopsian Dinosaur?’
Yeon-woo nodded. “Yeah. It’s important to us.”
“If you want, we can help you. From our investigations, it seems like a tricky creature to handle. They say that it’s worse than the Kraken on the twenty-second floor.” Lao tried to offer his help, but Yeon-woo rejected him firmly. There was no need to be in debt to him.
Lao stepped back since there was nothing else he could do. However he said that they would watch the surroundings so that Yeon-woo wouldn’t be disturbed during his raid. However, Yeon-woo only scoffed to himself, knowing that they were taking this chance to observe his abilities. No one knew much about the Hoarder’s abilities aside from the fact that it was equal to the strength of Allforone’s simulation, so of course, they would be curious.
However, Yeon-woo smirked behind his mask. ‘I don’t know if this is going to go the way you think it will.’ It was fun to think of how he would fuck over the Eight Large Clans.
“What do we do now?” The dinosaur was supposed to be around eighty meters tall, and Phante was already excited at the thought of fighting such a huge creature.
“It’s simple.” Yeon-woo grinned. “Just get eaten.”
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