Splash! A boat rushed through the water, waves pounding against its hull as it scattered white foam on the churning river. There was nothing beautiful about the sight. The River of Souls had an ashy color, and the air was sticky and acidic at the same time.
Ghostly screams rose each time the oars broke the surface, but the passengers of the boat didn’t care. The giant ship, which carried hundreds of passengers, was in the throes of an orgy. Men and women were both high from drinking and doing drugs. Their naked bodies twisted around each other like snakes, with scandalous scenes like multiple men with one woman.
Slaves kept the bars and tables full of wine, meat, and drugs. The music was loud, and the guests were equally noisy. When the excitement overcame them, they even strangled the people they’d just had sexual relations with, then tossed the bodies into the water and roamed around looking for new prey. It was no better than a frenzy.
Dozens of smaller boats followed the large ship like ducklings. The fleet was so large that it would make anyone’s jaw drop open.
〈Sea God’s Seawall〉
The Factors they possessed made them appear even more threatening, and they managed to find their way despite the orgy because they’d activated their powers. At the center of the party was a man who sat on the highest deck on a golden throne decorated with all kinds of jewels. His hair was as messy as a lion’s mane, and he was surrounded by beautiful, naked women. He filled himself with the drinks and meat they brought to him. “Kahalhalhal! It won’t be long now.”
The man lifted a piece of meat into his mouth with a hairy hand and suddenly stood. The women dozing in his lap jumped up in a panic. The women behind him quickly covered his naked body with a cape, but the man ignored them and continued looking at a spot in the horizon. “Tell all the crew members we’ll be arriving soon!” At his loud order, horns blared all over the ship.
The other boats blared their horns as well, and the crew members began to get up, one by one. The fogginess in their eyes vanished as though they had never been intoxicated, and they began to dress themselves in the armor that they had tossed onto the ground, turning back into disciplined warriors.
This was Triton, the mighty force of the ocean that had received Poseidon’s Factors. “Lana’s territory…” Benteke, Poseidon’s apostle who led them, smiled cruelly. “I don’t know why we’re looking for the Quartz Palace, but this will be fun. Kahalhalhal!” His laughter rang out loudly.
* * *
[The Predator has arrived. It is expressing its fury.]
“Hold on tight!” At Heidi’s urgent shout, the players and Cannibal Monster Humans grabbed onto the boat. Boom! The boat shook with a mighty explosion. The players who hadn’t gripped onto anything flew off with a scream. The players who had trouble holding on began to panic as acid strong enough to melt off their skins fell from the sky. Screams filled the air.
Heidi realized why one of Yeon-woo’s conditions was unquestioning obedience. He was warning them not to have regrets or dissatisfaction. It had been five days since they left the island, and they’d already managed to enter the twenty-ninth floor. They were growing used to the dangers, but they were still scared every time. It was impossible for them not to feel regret—anyone would feel the same if they saw the whale that was even bigger than the Summer Queen with dozens of shark-like teeth. It was followed by dozens of other whales just like it, and the pods of whales were so terrifying that it seemed like they could crack the boat.
There were countless monsters in the River of Souls, and the acidic, poisonous water made them especially vicious and fond of eating players. Once players entered the twenty-eighth floor, they faced two problems: finding the right direction and surviving sea monsters.
The sea monsters could only be defeated if the players worked together, and it was even possible to kill one or two monsters. However, the large whale was a sea king that lived in the middle of the River of Souls. It was a ravenous creature that left nothing behind, and other sea monsters didn’t even dare appear when the sea kings showed up.
The Predator was the most dangerous of the sea kings. Players hated them the most since they could spit out acidic Breath that could melt flesh. The Predators in the water tore at each other, pushing their teeth into each other’s wounds until blood shot up like a fountain to turn the ashy river red.
The smell of blood thickened in the air, and the screams of ghosts rang out as the Predators continued to hunt.
‘Why did the Hoarder choose this dangerous route? There are safer areas. Is there a reason for this?’ Heidi had so many things she wanted to ask the Hoarder, but she stayed quiet because he’d said that they couldn’t question him. Also, she had to focus on staying on the boat. She focused her eyes on the Predators.
Yeon-woo sat quietly as he pulled a sword from his subspace.
[A god of <Malak>, Azrael, is smiling at you.]
[Azrael blesses you.]
[A god of <Olympus>, Thanatos, is gleeful.]
[A demon of <Jie Sect>, Vimalacitra, looks at you with a strange expression.]
[Anubis is watching you.]
[Giltine is satisfied.]
[The gods and demons who have the power of death are amazed by you.]
[You received powerful Factors.]
Yeon-woo got rid of the messages that kept on popping up ever since the twenty-sixth floor which told him about the interest that the gods and demons of death had in him. Some asked him to be their Apostle, and others were just directly giving him Factors.
[Azrael is glad!]
[Azrael strengthens the ‘3rd Spirit’ with his power. You can do more things with it now.]
[Azrael awaits your choice.]
Azrael pretty much seemed to consider Yeon-woo his Apostle now. He was the most proactive out of all the gods related to death, but it was also probably because one of the four powers that Yeon-woo had chosen was his. Yeon-woo also had the highest proficiency in the Third Spirit.
Azrael’s influence over Yeon-woo grew larger, and he was pleased by the jealousy of the other gods and demons.
‘So, it’s true that he likes to show off.’
Of course, this only infuriated someone.
[A demon of <L’Infernal>, Agares, is warning the other gods and demons not to covet what belongs to him.]
[The gods and demons all ignore him.]
Although Agares was ranked second within L’Infernal, after he lost his power on the twenty-third floor, he became little more than a punching bag. Yeon-woo pulled Vigrid out, and as his four powers activated, Vigrid glowed white and trembled. Yeon-woo put black Aura around it. Boom! The Wave of Fire swept over the Predators like lightning. The atmosphere crackled and fizzed, and steam rose from the river.
* * *
Yeon-woo stepped on the quiet boat, although after the damage it had sustained in the past few days, it could hardly even be called a boat anymore and looked more like a tattered ghost ship. The Cannibal Monster Humans were busy repairing the broken sections.
The players looked at him in fear. They didn’t even worry about being on the same boat as the Cannibal Monster Humans because Yeon-woo was more terrifying than the aged and young members of another species.
Of course, Yeon-woo didn’t care. When he spread his palm open, blue emeralds poured into his hand. ‘The Sea King Monster Crystals.’ They were hidden pieces that could be refined into a source of magic power or holy power since they had the energy of souls. ‘Lana likes them a lot, as well.’
According to the diary, Lana loved gold and jewels.
She was not only materialistic, she was also capricious and unrestrained. Once upon a time, she had been a great pirate in the River of Souls.
I first met Lana in the middle of the River of Souls. Because I had Draconic Eyes, it wasn’t that hard to find the way, and as long as we fended off the sea monsters, we could cross the river fairly easily.
Occasionally, there were pirates, but they weren’t a big deal. Then, she appeared with dozens of boats, saying she was going to avenge her subordinates.
The confrontation with Lana actually came from a misunderstanding. Jeong-woo had fought with her subordinates and a survivor had reported what happened to Lana. In the end…‘Jeong-woo lost.’
His brother had been greatly shocked. He had been confident of victory over everyone on the floor because he’d reached the third step of the awakening and possessed Sky Wings. Most rankers couldn’t win against him either.
He later learned that Lana had become a ranker a long time ago, and she only returned because she missed the River of Souls. She was the de facto ruler of the twenty-eighth floor.
She’d taken Jeong-woo prisoner, and after a conversation with him, Lana realized her subordinate had made a mistake and let Arthia go. She had even cut the throat of her subordinate.
‘Jeong-woo completely fell for that.’ His brother had been obsessed with Lana. It was his first time to see such a free-spirited and courageous woman. Vieira Dune had been jealous, but his feelings were more of respect than love. Also, her swordsmanship and magic were so outstanding that his brother wanted to be like her. His brother stayed on the River of Souls as long as he could to learn from Lana.
Lana had been annoyed at first, but Jeong-woo followed her around like a puppy and reminded her of her little siblings, so she ended up teaching him many things, and their friendship continued for a long time. Lana had taken his brother’s side during the war against the Eight Large Clans, and her forces had been reduced to nothing because of that. She had no regrets about it, however, there was no way to find out what happened to her afterwards. The diary hinted that she was last seen at her home, the Quartz Palace.
‘I’ll probably be able to find her soon.’ Considering Lana’s personality, it was impossible for her to stay still, and she was likely raising forces secretly on the twenty-eighth floor. ‘And she might have already come back out.’
If so, she had likely become a pirate again. She was talented enough to avoid the clutches of the Eight Large Clans, and Yeon-woo wanted someone like that in his clan. Where was she? He needed to find where the Quartz Palace was first.
Unfortunately, his brother’s diary didn’t have the exact coordinates to the Quartz Palace because Lana had cast a spell on it to obscure its location. ‘But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way.’ Yeon-woo was thinking of someone when a player with a pair of binoculars shouted, “I-it’s pirates!”
Yeon-woo turned to look, directing magic power into his eyes. He saw something speeding towards him from far away—a large ship with damage all over it and the Jolly Roger hoisted high. A pleased smile appeared on Yeon-woo’s face. “There it is. Our guide.”
「So, is this the third bunch? I don’t even know anymore.」 He could hear Shanon muttering, but he just ignored him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter