“Hector!” Ibrahimovic ran over to Hector in surprise. Blood was pouring out of Hector’s right shoulder. Ibrahimovic quickly got out a potion and poured it onto Hector’s injury. However, it didn’t heal.
“You crazy bastard!” Hector attempted to run towards Yeon-woo with bloodshot eyes, but he paused in mid-step as a sharp blade pointed at his forehead.
“It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t touch someone without their permission in the Tower. You’re a captain of the Fantasy Regiment, and you don’t even know that?”
Thwack! Yeon-woo swung the Magic Bayonet without any hesitation. Hector’s head rolled on the ground, his expression still angry. Covered in blood, Ibrahimovic looked at Yeon-woo with frightened eyes. He suddenly remembered that the Hoarder had gotten his name not because he’d taken hidden pieces and karma for himself—it was also because he’d taken the lives of all the guys who’d picked fights with him.
“What? Do you have something else to say?”
Yeon-woo shook the blood off the Magic Bayonet and returned it to his waist as he went into the forest. Ibrahimovic trembled in fear. The blood from Hector was still hot.
* * *
The weather was hot and humid. Yeon-woo felt like his skin was being pricked by a million bugs, and the oxygen in the air was so thin that it was hard to breathe. He felt like he was underwater and quickly grew tired.
On top of that, there was poison in the air that likely came from the evaporation of the River of Souls. Anyone who stayed on this island for a long time risked physical deterioration. ‘I understand why the time limit is forty-nine days. It’s impossible to stay in a place like this for too long.’
Of course, some players who roamed around the twenty-ninth floor and thirtieth floor since there were always dropouts who were forced to stop when the time limit was over. However, Yeon-woo could guarantee that they weren’t people in their right minds. If his Demonic Dragon Body could already be so affected, how much worse would it be for ordinary players? Yeon-woo glanced around, thinking that he ought to leave as soon as possible. ‘There should be something around here.’
Yeon-woo opened his Draconic Eyes. The palm trees spread around the island reached up to the sky from the muddy ground, and venomous insects and cobras lurked everywhere. ‘Found it.’ Yeon-woo slowly moved in front of a tree. It looked like any other tree at first, but if you looked at it closely, you’d see two intertwined vines climbing up it. It was material he needed for the boat. ‘The Spectre Tree.’
All the trees on the Island of Souls are sturdy, which means that most players think that they can use any of them to build a boat. However, they’re overlooking something important: the River of Souls is acidic enough to melt even the sturdiest wood, and they risk sinking in the middle of the river.
Fortunately, our boat sank not too far from the shore, so we managed to get back to the island quickly. After racking our brains for several days, we managed to come up with a solution.
‘They had to find wood that was resistant to the acids in the river.’ And the Specter Tree, which Yeon-woo had just found, fit the bill. There were underground streams and rivers on the island, and the Specter Trees absorbed the water from one connected to the River of Souls.
Although they looked like the other trees on the island, they exuded an ominous atmosphere since they’d been nourished on the water of the River of Souls. Sometimes, these trees also mutated. As Yeon-woo approached the Spectre Tree with his Magic Bayonet out, it trembled and a vine split open to reveal a face.
The Specter Tree’s branches shook, and thorny vines lashed out like whips, emanating a poisonous gas that could crush rocks.
Whoosh! Unfortunately for the tree, Yeon-woo was easily its match. Holy Fire flared up like will-o’-wisps and began to burn its branches. Keeek! The Spectre Tree began to shake in pain. Yeon-woo swung his Magic Bayonet. Kashing!
* * *
“Captain! What happened?” The Ninety-Second Squad of the Fantasy Regiment, which had once been called Tree Image, was in shock. From the moment their clan had been founded up to the point that they joined the Fantasy Regiment, Hector had been a pillar despite his authoritarian nature. They couldn’t believe that someone like him would have his head cut off.
Ibrahimovic looked out of it when he returned completely drenched in blood.
Only after the clan members called him did Ibrahimovic pull himself together. The dark circles under his eyes had become even darker. He looked scary instead of his normal gloomy demeanor. “I can hear you, so don’t scream.”
The clan members moved back. Their co-captain was often frightened, but he grew violent once he was infuriated. It was almost like he had a split personality, and he was one of the reasons that the Ninety-Second Squad managed to join the Fantasy Regiment. His nickname, Two-Face, referred to his different personalities and he’d once been famous among the dark guilds. “The Hoarder killed Hector.”
“That guy again.”
“Shouldn’t we take revenge, Captain? Even if he’s strong, he’s probably busy gathering supplies right now, so…!”
“No. We’ll wait for the right time.” Ibrahimovic shook his head firmly. “He’s strong. You haven’t forgotten what he did on the twenty-sixth floor, have you?”
Since they were composed of numerous clans, the Fantasy Regiment had eyes on every floor, and they all shared information readily. This was how everyone had learned that Yeon-woo had massacred the snow monsters and even killed Apophis’ exuviae. They heard that he’d finished the trial in just two days.
Hector had downplayed this achievement, but Ibrahimovic thought differently. Snow monsters were strong, and it was almost unimaginable to pass them. Everyone on this floor had passed the twenty-sixth floor, but they had almost died doing so. In fact, many of their clan members had lost their lives.
“Hector made a mistake. Foolish bastard. I told him multiple times to control his temper.” Ibrahimovic was angry at the death of his friend, even though Hector was stupid. “Also, we have orders from above to scout the Hoarder. So, confronting him…is not possible.”
The clan members all bit their lips. The Fantasy Regiment had given them orders to treat the Hoarder well if they saw him and contact the headquarters right away. Hector had died because of his usual attitude since the Ninety-Second Squad hadn’t planned on encountering Yeon-woo.
“But Captain, we can’t step back like…”
“Fool. Do you think I’ll really just step back like this knowing that you’ll curse me for following orders?”
The eyes of the clan members widened. Ibrahimovic smiled coldly and pressed his temples. “We have to use our heads. Since we have the Fantasy Regiment’s name, shouldn’t we use that to our advantage? We still haven’t gotten our registration fee. Oh, here he comes.”
A clan member came panting from the forest.
“Any news about the Hoarder?”
“He’s currently gathering materials. But the things he’s collecting are…a bit strange.”
“Do you remember those Specter Trees that lashed out at us? He’s mostly cutting them and hunting strange monsters.”
“They’re probably hidden pieces. Since he’s taken first place at every stage so far, he’s probably overflowing with karma. He’s probably given Charon the biggest payment out of all of us.”
Charon could make thirty boats, and the Ninety-Second Squad could only afford one that was of medium quality. They couldn’t do anything about it because they had to ferry all of their clan members over.
“But since he’s alone, he won’t be able to push his boat. What do you think will happen then?”
“I see, so that’s how!”
The clan members exclaimed after understanding Ibrahimovic’s plan. The River of Souls was so large that almost couldn’t even be called a river, and it was difficult to push a boat into the water. You needed a helmsman, a navigator, crew members, and warriors who fought when necessary. It would be hard for the Hoarder to do all of these things on his own.
What could he do if he was surrounded by several boats in the middle of the river? He could fight. He might even win. But after that…what if his boat were destroyed. It would be the end for him. How terrible it would be if he met such an unfortunate accident.
If he was stuck in the middle of the river, the Hoarder wouldn’t be able to defend himself if he were surrounded by enemies. It was impossible to do the tasks of ten people on your own. There was only one of him and 500 of them.
Also, the headquarters had said to contact them as soon as they saw the Hoarder so they could send backup. That meant the rankers of the Fantasy Regiment would join, as well, and maybe up to a dozen or more boats would end up surrounding the Hoarder.
‘We can recruit him then.’ Ibrahimovic clenched his fist. It was easy to increase their numbers by creating situations to blackmail players into joining. Since the contract they made with the Fantasy Regiment was made with a demon, even the Hoarder wouldn’t be able to find a way out of it. That was how they’d recruited the players on the island.
‘If we can force the Hoarder to join the Ninety-Second Squad, our prestige will rise. We might even end up among the top ten.’ Just because they were registered in the Fantasy Regiment didn’t mean that they were on the same level as the other squads.
The First to Tenth Squads had caused a commotion in the Tower even before the Fantasy Regiment had been formed, and maybe the Ninety-Second Squad would leap in position to join them. At the very least, they would make it to the top thirty.
“Contact headquarters first, and give Charon more money so that he’ll make our boats before he works on the Hoarder’s.” The clan members began to move.
* * *
Boom! The thirty-first Specter Tree toppled over. Yeon-woo skillfully separated the parts he didn’t need and cut it along its imperfections to toss it inside Intrenian.
「Master, what kind of boat are you trying to build? Do you think you can man it without anyone to help?」Shanon spoke up in a slightly concerned voice. He’d already passed the twenty-seventh floor, and he was worried about Yeon-woo since he himself had struggled to cross the river. Silent Hanryeong was thinking the same thing.
Yeon-woo grinned. “What do you mean there’s no crew?”
“Don’t you know what kind of boat I’m making?”
「What is it?」
“A ghost ship.”
Shanon realized what Yeon-woo meant. It seemed like they were going to do some manual labor. 「Aw, shit.」Previous Chapter Next Chapter