Chapter 230 - Witch Hunt (5)

Red Dragon and the other clans moved forward on the path Yeon-woo had opened. The Elohim were at the very front, reaching the end of the canyons before everyone else. Ione, who was in the lead, paused. “Mm? Has it been cleared? Those witches. There’s nothing they can do.” Ione grimaced at the presences he could feel behind him. His eyes glowed with a golden light.

Not many knew that Ione had been born blind. However, despite this, he had still managed to become one of the most skilled people among the Protogenoi family because of one thing. 

<Omniscient Viewpoint>

It was an ability passed down in his family that was similar to Allforone’s Thousand Li Eyes in many ways. However, the key difference was that the Thousand Li Eyes allowed the user to see whatever they wanted, while Omniscient Viewpoint only allowed the user to look through the eyes of things called wards. 

Ione had placed his wards throughout Brocken Castle, which allowed him to quickly pass through the five barriers and observe the movements of those behind him. He could see that Red Dragon and the others were quickly catching up even though the Elohim had tried to put some distance between them.

Ione was extremely displeased by this. The Elohim, with the blood of the gods, couldn’t allow others to catch up to them. The Elohim were also the only ones who deserved a holy item like the Philosopher’s Stone. “Aether.” Ione picked out one of his many subordinates. 

Aether flinched as he realized what Ione was going to say. His expression turned frantic. “Ione, I…!”

“Stop the people behind us from advancing. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why I put you in charge.” Ione gave Aether a sharp look. 

Aether bit his lower lip. Ione was implying that he had to make up for his failure to catch the baby Dragon Human. Since the failure also resulted in the death of Hemera, a promising clan member, Ione’s attitude wasn’t unexpected. “Yes, sir. Understood.”

Aether had no choice but to listen to Ione. He was the object of glares from everyone: the Senate, Consul, and even the heads of some families. All sorts of emotions were on their face: contempt, hatred, displeasure, cynicism. There wasn’t a single positive gaze.

‘Shit.’ These were the gazes that always dogged him. They treated him like this because of his father, although he had worked so hard to be accepted. He’d backstabbed Arthia and did other disgusting things. He worked like a dog that always wagged its tail for its owner. ‘But you…you still! You still…!’

But he was always ostracized. His Senate membership was only a nominal position, and he had no other status. That was why he had reached out to the Devil Army, hoping that he could prove himself to them and receive acknowledgement. ‘If he comes down, I’ll make you all lick my feet, you despicable sons of bitches!” Aether watched the Elohim continue to climb up, with Ione still in the lead. His clenched fists shook. 

“Sir.”

Aether swallowed his anger as he turned to his subordinate. His eyes were cold and calm. “Are Ione’s wards here? They’re gone, right?”

“Yes. We’ve confirmed it.”

“Those bastards. They think we’ll die here.” The fact that Ione hadn’t set up any wards meant that they were willing to throw away Aether’s and his subordinate lives. They probably thought that they were only useful for distracting Red Dragon. However, Aether didn’t want to suffer as Ione wished. “Everyone, release the Demon Eyes.”

At those orders, an intense demonic energy began to whirl around Aether and the others. A thin line of blood appeared on their foreheads, and a symbol appeared that looked like eyes inside a triangle. 

Demon Eyes was a marking only given to servants of the demons. As a candidate to replace Yevich, the Ninth Bishop, Aether exuded an abnormal demonic energy. Black fog glittered around him—a sign that he was borrowing the demons’ strength.

What is it, Aether? Kindred reached out to Aether with telepathy after reading the change. Kindred and the other members of the Devil Army were following the Elohim through the path that Aether had shown them. 

“That’s…” Aether explained that he was being forced to stop Red Dragon and the others. When he was done, he explained, “So if you help…”

Stupid fool.

The cold voice made Aether shut his mouth as his fists trembled. That tone and that emotion was all too familiar to him.

Can’t you even do that yourself? Are you so useless? Tsk! Kindred continued after clucking his tongue. No, this might be a good opportunity. You said you want to be the Ninth Bishop?

“Yes…I dare wish it.”

Then this will be your test.

Aether squeezed his eyes, trying to focus. 

You’re standing at an important junction before anyone can reach the castle. As Ione commanded you, protect it as best as you can. Kindred’s voice was cold as ice, but Aether clenched his fists with determination. This might be his final chance. He couldn’t help laughing at himself. Arthia, the Elohim, and the Devil Army. He had sought a place where he could belong but failed each time. Once more, he was forced to struggle on his own. ‘Is this a curse? Jeong-woo, your soul is still binding me.’

Aether sensed Kindred and the other bishops moving away, and he kicked off the ground with his subordinates. They looked like a pack of starved wolves spilling demonic energy behind them. Just then, familiar people appeared: Red Dragon. 

“The Elohim? The Devil Army? Who are they?” Tom scowled at the appearance of an obstacle. They were already lagging behind the Elohim.

Without answering, Aether jumped off the ground and landed on Tom. In his right hand was the power of the Devil Army, and in his left hand was the power he’d stolen from his little sister. Flash!

<Demonic Soul>

<White Light – Thousand Lights>

A white light burst over Red Dragon. 

“Move, you mongrel!” Tom was planning on using the dragons’ power of Elemental Contact to twist the space around Aether when dozens of lightning bolts fell from the sky. 

* * *

‘I barely lost them.’ The Bow God Jang Wei pressed his left arm to stop the bleeding and tied a bandage around it. Since his entire body was already covered with bandages, the new one blended right in. 

The pursuit of the One-horned tribe had made Jang Wei almost lose hope. They followed him as if they knew exactly where he was and even pushed him to the brink of death several times. Jang Wei always managed to escape, but he couldn’t avoid accumulating injuries day by day.

When the Martial King himself appeared, he struck terror in Jang Wei’s heart. Jang Wei had been confident in his martial arts; he was Hou Yi’s Apostle, and he hadn’t forgotten his training either. But meeting the Martial King was like meeting a wall that couldn’t be torn down or even scratched. ‘A monster even among the Nine Kings.’ He felt like he now understood why even the arrogant Summer Queen avoided confrontations with the Martial King. However, the feeling of being chased without respite was…‘So fun.’

It was the best. It was like living on Earth again, the feeling of being able to die at any moment. As a high ranker, he had moved further away from the possibility of death, but he felt like it was returning to him. His heart beat faster. ‘Sister. I think it’ll still be a long time before I see you, right?’

Jang Wei giggled, but he knew that he couldn’t continue on this dangerous path. He needed a place to rest for a while so that he could face the One-horned tribe once more. Jang Wei wanted to land an arrow in the Martial King’s head at least once. ‘A place to hide, a place to hide. What’s a good place?’

He needed to hide his presence, and the more people there were, the better. As he thought it over, a torn piece of paper suddenly flew towards him. Jang Wei read it out of boredom and his expression changed. ‘They’re recruiting mercenaries?’

[Mercenary Recruitment Notice]

[The West Wind Union is recruiting mercenaries to fight Walpurgisnacht. The price can be negotiated separately from the quest’s rewards.]

While on the run, he’d heard a little about this situation. The Bureau was furious at Red Dragon for attacking the Kelat Auction House, but he hadn’t looked too much into it since he had his hands full with the Martial King. Walpurgisnacht.’

He grew interested. The West Wind Union was the largest among the unions. It was a perfect place to hide in, and he also needed money since he’d run out. ‘Since the other Large Clans are involved too, it might be a good chance to dip the One-horned tribe in the mud if necessary.’

It was best to redirect a difficult prey into a busy, chaotic environment. Jang Wei wet his lips. Prey. He liked that word as a way to describe the Martial King. ‘It would be nice if the Hoarder shows up, too.’

* * *

“This is the list of mercenaries who’ve signed up.”

Atran’s eyes glowed as he read the list his subordinate brought. “Fucking bastards.”

After Red Dragon messed up the auction, his reputation had collapsed just like the auction house. The union avoided him, and the VVIPs turned their backs on him. He hadn’t done anything wrong, but it was an unspoken rule that a merchant who failed to manage an auction would be ostracized. He had lost everything—except for one crucial thing. Money.

He still had all the money from the VVIP invitations, and Atran gathered all his wealth to hire mercenaries to take revenge on Red Dragon. He managed to lure S-Class mercenaries like Black Skull and Twice, solo players like the Ice King, and many others until he had almost 500 rankers.

And that wasn’t all. He’d contacted three well-known assassin guilds: Blade Assassin, Moon Shadow, and Black Hand. He hadn’t explicitly said that he was after Red Dragon when he recruited them, not because he was frightened, but because it was his preference to move more discreetly.

‘It’s better that I get in their way and make a mess, just like they did to me.’ Taking what Red Dragon wanted from right under their noses would be the sweetest revenge. Also, Atran was hoping that he would have a new opportunity if he managed to get his hands on the real Emerald Tablet. He would be able to move on and return to his former glory.

Of course, the entire endeavor was a gamble, but Atran had gone all-in ever since he was young. “Red Dragon, I’ll rip you apart.” Atran crumpled the paper. 

That night, another large portal opened in the Endless World of Night. 

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