"Zwei!" The numbers in their names represented their rank within the organization, and the fact that the second strongest Zwei had been killed like this—
"Neun! What the hell happened..."
"Stay away, idiots! You’re gonna get yourselves ki—"
Some of the scavengers were shocked by the sight of their teammates’ decapitated heads. Eins tried to warn them, but it was too late.
Swish! A blade suddenly dropped down from the sky next to Eins. Zehn grabbed his throat with his hands as he gurgled and collapsed, frothing at the mouth, to reveal Yeon-woo standing in his place with a cold smile behind his white mask.
Yeon-woo swung his arm and sent several daggers fanning towards the other scavengers and piercing their necks. They clutched their wounds to stop the bleeding but ended up collapsing anyway as their blood sprayed all over the ground. The remaining scavengers finally came to their senses and stepped forward to kill Yeon-woo.
However, Kahn and Doyle, who had been looking for an opportunity, sprang forward. As soon as they joined the skirmish, the scavengers were swept away, especially since their formation had been broken.
"Stop those three! Do whatever you can to stop them!" Eins yelled at the top of his lungs in his fright. As soon as their ambush had turned into a melee, their chances of winning the battle diminished. Yeon-woo dashed from scavenger to scavenger like a wolf killing a flock of sheep. Swords swung from every direction, but none of them could bypass Yeon-woo’s senses. He skillfully dodged the attacks as if he had eyes everywhere, stabbing his opponents’ muscles and arteries with a dagger held in a reverse grip while throwing other daggers at their necks.
Kahn and Doyle battled just as fiercely as Yeon-woo. Doyle quickly slid to the side as he summoned a swarm of flamebugs, making them explode among the scavengers and wreaking chaos. Kahn fought among the scavengers, and blood flowed in rivers as he wielded his sword, as if to prove where his nickname “Blood Sword” had come from. The scavengers were like a city engulfed by a tidal wave, and they turned from predators to prey.
"You sons of bitches!" Eins struggled as hard as he could to turn the situation around. But before he knew it, Kahn was right in front of his face. He hurriedly swung his sword despite his surprise, but Kahn had already sent his blade swinging towards Eins’s neck. Shuck! His head fell to the ground.
* * *
The scavengers collapsed quickly, their morale hitting rock bottom as their reinforcements never appeared and their leader, Eins, died suddenly. They abandoned their weapons one by one and surrendered, knowing that they had no chance of winning.
"I-I surrender! Please, d-don’t kill me!"
"We were just forced to follow Eins. Believe me!"
"Y-yeah, he's right! We had no choice but to take part! B-but I've never killed any player, so please, spare me!"
They were hoping to work on Kahn’s and Doyle’s compassion after seeing how the two had taken responsibility for the players even though they were strangers. They thought that Kahn and Doyle might spare their lives if they surrendered.
However, Kahn looked at the kneeling players and asked coldly, “What's the difference between you and Hargan?"
"I’m asking what makes you different from Hargan, who consumed his own kind, shitheads!"
Kahn stuck his sword into their throats ruthlessly. The scavengers realized they had misjudged him. They’d believed he was still a green player, but they were dealing with Blood Sword, the son of a ranker in a Tower who had made his name as a swordsman without riding on his father's coattails. They should have known he wouldn’t be swayed by compassion needlessly. "At least Hargan cried when he saw his wife and his babies were dead. But what about you? You must have been laughing the entire time you sold players to the monsters! And you even murdered the rest of the trapped players!"
The scavengers realized that it was too dangerous to stay, and they began running away one by one. Although there was a risk that they would fall into the Lizardmen’s clutches by running into the swamp unarmed, they had no choice. However, escape wasn’t going to be easy. In the same manner he’d eliminated their reinforcements, Yeon-woo hunted them from the shadows. For a long while, horrible screams echoed around the forest. By the time the heavy smell of blood drifted along the wind, the scavengers had already disappeared.
When Yeon-woo returned after getting rid of the last remaining scavenger, he saw Kahn and Doyle sitting down, full of sorrow. They had believed that they’d rescued victims of the Lizardman King. But the true victims were already dead, and the only ones left were scavengers who tried to kill them. It must have been a tremendous shock.
Yeon-woo didn't say a word. He had experienced this situation many times in Africa, but it was clearly their first time. They would grow apprehensive towards other humans and filled with anger towards perpetrators of crimes like this. With all these emotions stirring their minds, there was no way to console them. The only thing he could do was wait for them to organize their thoughts and get to their feet. ‘People usually end up doing one of two things: go crazy or let go.' In the meantime, Yeon-woo wiped the blood off Carshina’s Dagger with a cloth and sheathed it at his waist.
Kahn looked at Yeon-woo with a hollow expression. "How come you’re so calm after this?"
"I’ve gotten used to it."
"I have no idea…what kind of life you have lived. What about the other people in your world, are they just like you?"
Yeon-woo shrugged. "If they were, the whole world would go mad."
As if he were exhausted, Kahn lightly rubbed his eyes with his index finger and thumb. Then, he rubbed his face with his hands and looked at Yeon-woo with a serious expression. "Can I be honest?"
Yeon-woo nodded calmly. He had a rough idea what Kahn was about to say.
"These crazy bastards who had been pretending to be victims caught us off guard, but…truth be told, we’re both a little scared of you, too."
Yeon-woo didn’t respond.
"I don’t understand how you can remain cool in a situation like this. I can’t help thinking that you’ve been suspicious of them from the beginning.” Kahn's expression grew more despondent. "You’ve never trusted anyone from the start, have you?” Kahn added silently, ‘Including us.’ However, Yeon-woo knew what he was thinking.
'I guess it’s time to leave.’ The only thing he could think of now was parting from them. Yeon-woo didn’t trust anyone in this world, while Kahn and Doyle wanted to establish a team based on trust. It was bound to break apart, especially Kahn and Doyle, who wanted to open their hearts to Yeon-woo. They were hurt to find out that Yeon-woo only considered them mere business partners.
Yeon-woo felt a bitter aftertaste. Despite his nature, he didn’t consider them complete strangers—the cheerful Kahn and the warm-hearted Doyle each had a unique charm. However, they had their perspective, and Yeon-woo had his. If things didn’t match, they had to break up.
"Then I'll be on my way." With a short farewell, Yeon-woo left. Doyle stepped forward as if he wanted to say something, but Kahn reached out and held him back.
And just like that, they parted ways.
* * *
“Hyung! What have you done?” With a sad expression, Doyle watched Yeon-woo disappear before shouting at Kahn. Doyle usually didn't show much emotion, but he was genuinely angered. He’d seen something indescribable behind Yeon-woo’s back.
"Tell me! Why did you do that? Even if we had to part, you know how much Cain..."
"I told you, sit down," Kahn said in a low, serious voice.
Doyle came to his senses and noticed something strange in Kahn's voice. His deep-set eyes were serious. "It’s for the best."
"Did you not see this?" Kahn pointed to one of the swords that a scavenger had dropped. It looked quite ordinary at first; it was a sword that anyone could easily purchase with two strength points from a mysterious merchant.
Just as Doyle was about to ask what Kahn was talking about, he noticed a string made up of white and green threads woven in a unique pattern dangling from the hilt of the sword. Doyle's voice trembled slightly. "Wait, is that…?"
"Yes, it's Arangdan’s mark."
Doyle's face froze.
"Actually, I’ve always thought it was a little strange that Arangdan or the Cheonghwado would go out of their way to keep order in the Tutorial.”
Doyle couldn’t speak.
"They always make excuses saying it’s to help them procure new players, but people like us know that’s a load of crap.”
The main power behind Arangdan, the Cheonghwado, was one of the ten biggest clans in the Tower. The clan valued chivalry and worshiped swordsmanship and gallantry, and they always had plenty of applicants without needing to put any effort into attracting newbies.
When the Cheonghwado had announced that they’d set up Arangdan to watch over the Tutorial, other clans and rankers wondered about their intentions, but without any evidence, they could only let them be. But it seemed like the entire thing was a scheme to take over the scavengers.
"The Tutorial runs via a series of complex systems that differ from the ones in the Tower. I don't know what they're after exactly, but if they are trying to take advantage of the system…” Kahn had to pause as he clenched his teeth and hold back the anger welling up inside him. "It makes sense, right?"
Doyle nodded in silence. "Come to think of it…they founded Arangdan right after Arthia wiped out all of the scavengers in the Tutorial.”
"They probably needed a better management system."
Doyle gritted his teeth. He finally understood why Kahn had to send Yeon-woo away with a ridiculous excuse. He didn't want to drag Yeon-woo into a dangerous situation since he seemed to have important business to attend to. Kahn didn’t want to distract him. "Hyung, then are you—"
Kahn nodded gravely. "Yes. I’m gonna see that idiot Bild before I can carry on. You should go ahead and head to Vigrid’s location.”
Vigrid was a hidden piece and the reason why Kahn and Doyle needed to obtain Hargan’s Crown. It was the goal they hoped to reach in the Tutorial and the only way Kahn and Doyle could catch up with Edora and Phante, who had been stacking up karma points with incredible speed.
"Don’t be silly, hyung." Doyle had a big smile on his face. "You’re not the only one who wants to see those bastards’ faces. I'm dying to know what he’s going to say about this." He had also decided to abandon their opportunity.
Kahn shook his head as if he’d expected Doyle’s reply. "You know, I think you’re the dumbest person there is. I mean, you pretend to be smart and all, but in the end, you end up making the dumbest decisions."
“Look who's talking.” As always, Kahn and Doyle giggled as they joked with each other. Then, they began heading in the opposite direction from Yeon-woo, towards the western territory where Arangdan was stationed.
* * *
Yeon-woo stopped for a moment and shifted his gaze towards the west. “Idiots.” He had a vague idea where the two were heading and why they’d abruptly parted ways. But he had to go east. There was something he had to do, and he wouldn’t have a second chance.
However, if they had asked him to go with them before he left or if they had asked him for help, he didn’t know if he could have refused them. Without knowing what he would have said, Yeon-woo continued to move east to the location of the hidden piece Akasha's Snake.Previous Chapter Next Chapter