Charon looked flustered. Most people didn’t reject a Guardian’s offer of help, but Yeon-woo just scoffed because he knew what kind of being Charon was. ‘If Charon tricks you, you’ll be on a path to failure.’
Charon was definitely helpful. After players arrived at the land beyond the River of Souls, his hints could help them lessen their journey time. ‘But most of his hints aren’t specific enough, and the important information is expensive.’ He would say that information was valuable and had a price, which was something that Guardians weren’t supposed to do. ‘It’s bullshit.’
Yeon-woo didn’t need any help from Charon since he had the diary, which was basically a book of cheats. Charon tried to persuade Yeon-woo, but Yeon-woo’s cold eyes made him turn around with a sigh.
“Look here.” Yeon-woo stopped Charon. Charon looked back with sparkling eyes, planning on accepting Yeon-woo’s offer. “I want some information.”
“Ahem! Of course. It’s not easy to cross the River of Souls within the time limit. Give me an offer. Cash is fine, and items are good, too. I’ll give you a priceless hint that’s equal to…”
“What are you talking about? It’s obvious that a Guardian can only give information necessary to clear the stage.”
Charon wrinkled his nose at the implicit threat. “That’s not possible. Giving something without taking something in return isn’t fair.”
“Really? Oh well.” Yeon-woo nodded. Then, he opened the system window and quietly fiddled with it.
“What are you doing?”
“Making a report to the Bureau.”
“From what I know, the Bureau is in charge of protecting the stage and supporting the players so they can focus on clearing the stage. I heard that giving advice is part of the Bureau’s responsibilities, so I’m asking why there’s a fee.”
“W-wait!” Charon frantically stretched his hand out to grab Yeon-woo’s hand.
Yeon-woo looked at him with narrowed eyes. Sweat was beading on Charon’s head, unbefitting of an ogre. “What?”
“Wh-what do you want?”
Yeon-woo touched the system with his other hand, turning away from Charon. “I just want to check.”
“I-if there’s anything you want, just ask me! I’ll tell you!”
Yeon-woo smirked and dropped his hand. The Guardians weren’t supposed to accept money from players in exchange for special information since they were bound to the system. Any deals like this would be punished severely. However, there was a loophole that it was acceptable if Charon gave the same information regardless of the amount he received. He wouldn’t be disciplined if he treated all the players fairly.
‘So technically, it’s a scam.’
Charon provided the same hint regardless of what players gave him. However, he made it sound like the more players offered, the more information he could provide. He’d almost managed to rip off Arthia, as well. ‘Although they avoided it, thanks to Jeong-woo’s Draconic Eyes.’
Yeon-woo didn’t care about Charon’s advice anyway, so he was able to make Charon bend to him. Charon glared at Yeon-woo and sighed. “I’ve heard the rumors about you, Hoarder, but I never imagined that you would threaten a Guardian. Even though I look like this, I’m a High Guardian.”
“If a High Guardian exploits a loophole in the system, that means the problem is even greater. Well, I guess the punishment that you’ll get will match the severity of your crime.”
“You don’t lose a single argument. But let me off for this one thing. After what happened to Laplace, everyone’s being careful these days.”
Yeon-woo didn’t miss the significance of Charon’s words. He’d heard that Laplace of Myo had been removed as a Guardian for doing something he wasn’t supposed to. Lupi of Hai had even asked Yeon-woo what Laplace had told him. Yeon-woo was curious about what happened to Laplace, but he didn’t pursue it.
“I won’t tell the other players. I have no reason to.”
“Of course, you have to hand over all the information you have.”
Charon’s face fell, and he shook his head. Before he’d left the Bureau, Yvlke mentioned that he had to be careful around the Hoarder, and it looked like he was right. Yvlke said that anyone who wasn’t cautious would end up losing. Still, Charon liked players like this.
The cleverer a player was, the longer they would live, and the more floors they would climb. The Tower wasn’t a place you could conquer on strength or wisdom alone. You had to have the right abilities, the right strategy, and the right judgement. Players who had all three Guardians a vicarious sense of satisfaction.
That was the reason why Yvlke liked Yeon-woo, but of course, Charon still preferred money. “Mm. Well, there are two ways you can cross the river.” Charon held up two fingers and then put down his middle finger. “The first way is to swim across. Guys who are confident in their magic power often take this route, but I don’t recommend it.”
Yeon-woo nodded. He knew that some people jumped into the River of Souls fearlessly, but it wasn’t a good idea. ‘They become a part of the river.’
There were souls that couldn’t move to the Beyond still living in the River of Souls, and it went unsaid how they would react to a living person.
“I see. As expected, you already know what the consequences are.” Charon chuckled and put down the second finger. “The other way is to build a boat. Of course, you may be wondering how you’re supposed to do that within the time limit. However, if you have the necessary materials, I can make it for you for a small fee and…”
“I’d prefer if you remembered that I’m a Guardian.” Charon complained as he put his hands in his pockets. His attitude contrasted with the other Guardians, who’d been exceedingly polite. Charon also gave a few hints about the things that Yeon-woo would need on the way to the thirtieth floor. However, Yeon-woo’s expression didn’t change. He clucked his tongue to himself. ‘I already know all this.’ He had been wondering if his brother had missed anything, but it seemed like everything was covered. Just as he was about to turn away—
“I suggest that you don’t go too far into the opposite end of the island.”
“Are you talking about the Cannibal Monster Humans?” Cannibal Monster Humans were the natives of the Island of Souls.
Charon grinned. “Seeing as you know about them already, I suppose there’s nothing else I can tell you about this island. Anyway, that’s all. Even telling you all of this information is a bit much.”
Yeon-woo silently nodded.
Charon chuckled. “Then I wish you luck. Oh, if you need a boat, call me anytime through the system.”
Yeon-woo lifted his hand towards the status window.
“OK, OK. Picky guys like you aren’t popular with girls, you know.” Charon sulked and quietly disappeared into a green portal.
Yeon-woo began walking away from the shore towards the interior of the island. ‘So I need materials for the boat first, huh?’
The River of Souls is acidic and poisonous, so most boats don’t survive. However, the quality of the boats you can commission Charon to make differs according to the amount you pay. Also, he asks for so many things, there’s a reason that people say those who listen to Charon inevitably fail.
Still, you can’t avoid building a boat, and you just need to have high-quality materials so he’ll drop the price a little. Most of the materials are deep inside the island, and of course, it’s not easy to get them.
Yeon-woo thought about the materials he would need as he was about to enter the forest when he heard a voice call out behind him. “Wait!” There were two people behind him. One was a giant, and the other was a depressed-looking muscular man.
The giant said, “You’re the Hoarder, right?”
Yeon-woo silently nodded.
“I’m Hector, and this is Ibrahimovic.”
“Eh? You haven’t heard of us?” He spoke like it would be natural for Yeon-woo to know who they were.
However, Yeon-woo only narrowed his eyes without any recognition, leaving Hector flabbergasted. When he realized that Yeon-woo really didn’t know him, fury flooded his face. “I’m the Ninety-Second Captain of the Fantasy Regiment. This guy here is my co-captain.”
Yeon-woo had heard of the Fantasy Regiment. After the Cheonghwado fell and Red Dragon descended into internal conflict, the Eight Large Clans were shaken. They were still more outstanding than the rest, but their hierarchy had changed.
The Devil Army.
The Blood Land.
Sea of Time.
The Daud Brethren.
White Dragon and Black Dragon had taken over the Cheonghwado’s empty spot, and although they had splintered from one large clan, they were still as powerful as other large clans. The leader of White Dragon, the Spring Queen Waltz, had even managed to defeat the three consuls of the Elohim at the same time, shocking everyone.
The Tower’s long-established hierarchy had been shaken so badly that new forces began to emerge and threaten the dominance of the Eight Clans. The Fantasy Regiment was one of them. They consisted of 108 small clans and teams who had swept through the lower and middle floors. Their ranking had been rising at a respectable rate in the past year, and now their reputation had spread so widely that most ordinary clans and rankers were wary of them.
However, it was Yeon-woo’s first time meeting any members because of the time he’d spent training in the One-horned tribe’s village. He didn’t care much about them since he was after the Eight Large Clans, not a bunch of small fry boasting about catching up one day. His reaction to meeting them would inevitably be fairly indifferent.
Hector growled, not satisfied with Yeon-woo’s attitude, but he didn’t try to pick a fight. The abilities of the Hoarder had become well known after the fight between Red Dragon and the One-horned tribe. Of course, Hector had believed that most of it was exaggerated because he was the Martial King’s disciple, but the Hoarder was not someone he could take lightly. He had even received a report from his subordinates on the twenty-sixth floor about what Yeon-woo had done. There was no need for them to fight.
Hector began to speak again, managing to calm himself down. “You’ve probably heard from Charon that he needs a lot of materials and money to build a boat. Let’s work together.”
With a gloomy face and dark circles under his eyes, Ibrahimovic added, “We heard that the Hoarder always does solo playing without the Cheongram siblings. However, even you won’t be able to gather all the materials in the allotted time, so let’s…”
“It’s fine.” Yeon-woo shook his hand in the air as a sign of refusal. Technically, these two were right. You needed to be strong to gather all the materials, and even if you could, it would take too much time. Also, the price for building the boat wasn’t inconsiderable, so it was good to pool money with as many people as possible.
However, Yeon-woo had no concerns over money since he was being sponsored by By the Table, and he was confident that he could gather the materials himself. If he needed more manpower, he could make his Guai do it. There was no need to work together with them. ‘They’re also bullies.’
There were about 500 people on the island, and not everyone was part of the Fantasy Regiment. They were probably forcing the other players to work for them under the guise of collaboration. ‘They’ll just leave the exhausting work to others. Also, if they exert control over these players, it’ll be easy to absorb them into the Fantasy Regiment. This must be how they’ve grown their clan.’
With his senses, he could tell that most of the players on the island were unhappy, but they couldn’t speak up about it. There was an atmosphere of oppression. Yeon-woo was about to enter the forest because their conversation was over when Hector moved to grab his shoulder.
“You son of a bitch! I’m talking to you, but you’re not even listen—!” Hector was scowling, offended by Yeon-woo’s attitude, when suddenly—crunch!
“Aaghh!” His right arm was torn off like a piece of straw, shooting up in the air.Previous Chapter Next Chapter