Chapter 212 - Philosopher's Stone (5)

[All restorations have been completed.]

[The stage has been unsealed. The trial is restarting.]

After the messages popped up, all the Guardians left the stage, patting each other’s backs. In a barren, empty field, a hand suddenly burst out of the red sand. 

“Damn.” The Bow God Jang Wei slowly rose from the ground with a grimace. How much time had passed? He hurt all over. As he stood up, objects that looked like pieces of flesh dropped to the ground from his body. They were the corpses of the monsters he’d used to protect himself. 

His pursuit of Yeon-woo had led him to the twenty-third floor. However, he found himself in a dangerous situation because of Agares and Hermes’ descent. Even though he was an Apostle of Yi Ye, without a blessing from the god he served, he was swept away by the power of the two higher beings, like a shrimp caught up in a battle between whales.

In order to protect himself, he not only summoned monsters but also entered a comatose state underground. If he was going to die anyway, he wanted it to be painless. Also, compared to other players, he was used to having his life endangered. Thankfully, Yi Ye seemed to have blessed him after all, and Jang Wei was able to escape without any severe injuries. He was weaker, but if he got enough rest, he would be fine. 

Jang Wei opened subspace to grab a piece of jerky. He needed to get a grasp on the situation first. Fortunately, Agares and Hermes seemed to be gone. However, the situation had changed, and it would be difficult to go after the Hoarder now. ‘Where should I go?’

At that moment, Jang Wei sensed that a gigantic portal was opening somewhere near the start zone. Was it a team sent to survey the situation now that the twenty-third floor was open again? It seemed like members of the Blood Land and the Elohim were among them. There was also a presence that was similar to Jang Wei. ‘Marquis Caliburn.’ He was one of the many swords of the Blood Land.

‘Didn’t the Hoarder meet the Blood Land near De Roy lake? The Elohim was heading in that direction, too.’ If he could use them to help him, he might be able to catch the Hoarder. Jang Wei rubbed his lip with his thumb and slowly headed towards the start zone. 

However, Jang Wei stopped in mid-step. A horde was leaving the start zone and heading towards him, emitting a piercing murderous intent. Jang Wei couldn’t detect the presence of humans, and so he immediately realized who they were. “The One-horned tribe.”

Had they found out he killed Yanu? But he had cleaned up the murder scene. He had multiple questions popping up in his head, but it was too dangerous to stay still, so he raised the Sun-Shooting Bow.

***

Yanu is dead.』 The Psychic Medium’s words caused a huge stir among the One-horned tribe.

“Yanu? What happened?” The Martial King’s face hardened. Yanu hadn’t even been participating in a war as a mercenary. He had been on his way to ask something from Henova, how could he be dead? However, the Psychic Medium’s divine powers didn’t lie, and she was certain of his death, especially since Yanu had been among those who were candidates to succeed her.

I don’t know what the tails are. However, I can sense…the smell of things burning, blood, iron…a bow and arrow…monstrous things. The child died with great suffering.

The Martial King ground his teeth at the thought that a child he cherished had died in such a manner. This was a direct challenge to him and a provocation towards the tribe.

Members of the One-horned tribe simply didn’t die running errands. They might die on the battlefield or get injured while working as a mercenary. Those were the tribe’s proud traditions. However, a death that no one could acknowledge was something else. The One-horned tribe would get revenge and eliminate everything around the killer. That was also one of their traditions.

Edora cared greatly about Yanu. How would she feel when she found out? He needed to find the murderer as fast as he could. “Bring that guy to me.”

At the Martial King’s command, a hunting party was quickly assembled. The Psychic Medium assessed that the killer was a high ranker, so two Elders joined to ensure the mission’s success. The hunting party quickly began their pursuit.

After they investigated the location of Yanu’s death, they discovered that the method used to kill Yanu pointed to the Bow God of the Cheonghwado. They found traces of the guy trying to remove evidence, but the path of the Arrow of Light hadn’t been completely erased. 

They began to search for the Bow God and confirmed that he was headed towards the twenty-third floor. They grew worried that he might be after Yeon-woo and the siblings, who were on the twenty-third floor then. However, the stage had been ruined by Agares and Hermes, and so they couldn’t enter just yet. 

However, as soon as the stage was unlocked, the hunting party entered and rushed after the Bow God. No one could hide from the eyes of the Psychic Medium and the feet of the tribe. 

Bang! Boom! The battle began as soon as they met each other. Since Jang Wei already knew that the hunting party was headed his way, he had prepared an ambush, knowing that it would be futile to talk.

He had also thought of running away since all that mattered to him was winning. Retreating wasn’t a bad choice, but he knew that the One-horned tribe would continue pursuing him. He decided that he had to thin out their ranks first.

Jang Wei hid in the leaves of a large Devil Tree and began shooting arrows when the hunting party arrived. 

<Sojeung>

The power that Yi Ye had given him exploded, and the Arrow of Light split into dozens of fragments over the heads of the hunting party. 

“Spread out!” However, the hunting party had been expecting something like this, and the fifteen-strong party quickly moved according to the Elder’s commands.

“Gather!” At the orders of the other Elder, they circled Jang Wei and ran towards him. 

Puck! Puck! Puck! Puck! Puck! Jang Wei put five Sojeung on the arrow and shot them at the ground this time. 

Boom! A cloud of dust floated up and blinded the hunting party. Jang Wei leaped over them and shot Sojeung at the dust cloud one after the other. Hundreds of Arrows of Light pierced through the dust cloud. 

<Sojeung – Rabid Showers>

Smaller explosions continued to blast out, and the newly grown forest was destroyed once again. Flames shot up in front of Jang Wei. The clothes of the two Elders who had been giving orders to the hunting party had become little more than rags, but their burning eyes were focused on Jang Wei. 

Bang! The three collided with each other in mid-air. Jang Wei easily blocked the combined attacks of the two Elders. Even though he specialized in long-range attacks, he had experience with martial arts, as well. 

A large explosion forced them apart. Jang Wei landed on top of a nearby Devil Tree, scoffing at the two Elders in front of him. “People have praised the One-horned tribe too much. Is this all you can do? White Horse King and Black Ship Soldier, you’re only staining the tribe’s name.”

The faces of the Elders hardened. The short White Horse King and the long-limbed, sticklike Black Ship Soldier were famous for conquering the Tower together. Individually, they were already powerful but their combined strength was enough to battle Gandam of the Nine Kings. 

However, Jang Wei was belittling them and mocking their reputation. The two immediately grew furious, even as they privately thought that Jang Wei was a lot stronger than they assumed. 

The White Horse King and Black Ship Soldier exchanged glances. Even though they didn’t speak, they were close enough to know what the other was thinking. 

‘No, right?’

‘Nothing we can do.’

They had planned on taking him back to their village, but now that seemed too difficult. As soon as they decided to use their full strength to kill him—whoosh! Strong winds suddenly began to gust around the two Elders. Their tattered clothes fluttered as they prepared to use their full power.

The dust cloud had settled, and the members of the hunting party started to gather one by one. Two of them had died from the explosion, and the remaining members’ minds were only filled with thoughts of revenge.

Jang Wei smiled at the nervousness he was feeling. He hadn’t felt it in a while—perhaps this was what he’d been longing for. “Will you be able to make me smile?” Jang Wei ran towards the White Horse King and Black Ship Soldier again. At the same time, he summoned monsters, and the ground quaked as four appeared to attack the hunting party.

***

“Wait, so what you’re saying is that you used the hidden pieces that you were going to give us?” After Yeon-woo checked his new powers, he had gone to look for Phante and Edora. However, the first thing Phante had asked was what he’d done with the hidden pieces. He hadn’t forgotten Yeon-woo’s promise to make him an elixir with purple Devil Flowers and the hearts of the Ceratopsian Dinosaurs. Yeon-woo flinched. He’d used up all the hidden pieces for the Demonic Factors in order to fight Agares.

Phante began to grumble saying that Yeon-woo had taken all the good things for himself and stormed out. It was a completely unexpected reaction. Yeon-woo looked at Edora, not knowing what to do, and Edora smirked. “It’s because he’s shy.”

What was that supposed to mean? “Shy?”

“He thinks that you’re going to talk about serious and personal things now, so he feels shy.”

Yeon-woo laughed in bewilderment. That guy had a cute side like that? It seemed like he had realized that Yeon-woo was going to talk about the reasons for the mask. 

Edora grabbed Yeon-woo’s hand and stuck her pretty face in front of his eyes. “Don’t feel that you have to tell us right away. It’s fine.” She was hinting that Yeon-woo should stay with them longer.

Yeon-woo nodded as he looked at Edora. He was starting to trust the two siblings. Feeling that her chance had come, Edora began to move as though she were in a trance, reaching out to lift Yeon-woo’s mask—then the door burst open and Phante stuck his head in. “Whatever happens, I’m on your side.”

Phante immediately withdrew after those words. Yeon-woo’s eyes widened, and he grinned. He was confident that out of the many people he’d met in the Tower, these two were among the truly special.

Unfortunately, Edora could only grind her teeth now that Phante had ruined the mood. 

***

They left the Tower and headed for the One-horned tribe’s village. As Yvlke warned, they wouldn’t be able to avoid the attention of the Large Clans. Those who were after Brahm and Sesha would also come after them, and so they decided it was dangerous to stay on the twenty-fourth floor. 

However, when they arrived, they found the village in an uproar. 

“Father, what’s wrong?” Edora’s face hardened as she saw the tribe members bustling around. The smell of blood filled the air. It meant that someone was sick. 

The Martial King nodded with a grim expression that rarely appeared on his face. “Old man Karam died.”

“Sorry?”

“So did Tayna, Srave, and Yan.”

“Please speak more slowly. What are you talking about?”

The Martial King explained Yanu’s death and how they had assembled a fifteen-strong hunting party to chase after Jang Wei. Six people had died, including the White Horse King and the Elder Karam. The rest were critically injured. 

“Yanu…” Yeon-woo caught Edora as she almost collapsed. She wasn’t the kind of person who normally wavered like that, but she was greatly shocked.

Yeon-woo’s eyes were wide with surprise as well. ‘Bow God? Why is he suddenly after the One-horned tribe?’ In fact, had he been after Henova? It concerned him that the location of the murder was close to Henova’s smithy. 

“What about that guy then? What are you planning on doing, Father?” Phante asked with fire in his eyes, grinding his teeth. If Jang Wei were around, Phante would have tried to chew him up already.

“We have to go after him again. Since he’s dared confront us like this, it means that he sees us as fucking dumbasses.” The Martial King bared his teeth. “I’m going to twist his neck.”

***

If the Martial King moved, it meant that the entire tribe would move as well. A new team was assembled around the Martial King, and they immediately chased after Jang Wei. It was clear that Jang Wei wouldn’t have any other choice but to escape.  

The Tower was already bustling with news about the twenty-third floor, and Jang Wei’s actions made everything even noisier. Everyone was sensitive to the movement of the Large Clans after the war with the Red Dragon and the Cheonghwado.

In the meantime, Yeon-woo went to Henova’s smithy. 

“Hm? I thought you would come back after you’d climbed the Tower a little more. What are you doing here?” Henova tilted his head in confusion. He hoped that the weapons he made for Yeon-woo weren’t already broken. He seemed oblivious to the events outside, and Yeon-woo breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that Henova wasn’t injured at all. He got straight to the point. “I have something to ask of you.”

“What is it this time?” If it had something to do with Yeon-woo, it was sure to be a pain in the ass. Henova frowned. 

Yeon-woo asked with a slight smile. “Do you know about the Philosopher’s Stone?” His tone implied that he was sure Henova did.

Henova’s frown deepened. “What kind of shit are you talking about? Is this some shit from a constipated bull? Are you selling drugs?”

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