Bild’s brows trembled. "Team 2 was annihilated?"
"I’m afraid so." Team 2 was in charge of supporting Arangdan behind the scenes by supplying them with what they referred to as “materials”.
"It must be them again."
The subordinate lowered his head without replying, but it was enough. Bild continued in an irritated voice, “You said Team 2 was good enough for this task so I let you have the chance, but you’ve failed me. Ha! It’s as if we just let them take Hargan’s Crown for free."
The subordinate kept his head low as he bowed. He knew that making excuses would only make his problems worse. Two days ago, Bild had ordered Team 2, the scavenger troop, to get rid of Yeon-woo’s team. Arangdan had supplied information that said the three of them had headed towards Hargan's Lair as soon as they entered Section E.
It was for that reason that he had set up a trap, but the three unexpectedly managed to exterminate every last one of the scavengers that participated in the mission, from the bait to the reinforcements. And not only that, but they also took Hargan’s Crown, which Bild had been saving for the end of the Tutorial. It was quite gut-wrenching for him. "You fools. Do I have to personally manage a task like this?"
"I-I’m terribly sorry."
Bild had put a lot of work into preparing Team 2, and his efforts had ended in failure. He couldn’t let them get away with this. If he didn’t settle it, punishment would be headed his way from the Isle. "Put Team 1 on standby."
"Y-you mean the Team 1?" The subordinate’s eyes widened in surprise. The members of Team 1 were known as elite players in Arangdan and were being specially trained to enter the Cheonghwado. Each one was among the top rankers in the Tutorial. However, the biggest surprise was that it was the first time Bild had ever ordered the whole team to assemble. It seemed like a waste to go through so much trouble just to deal with three people.
"The three of them destroyed Team 2. Blood Sword, Foxy Tail, and the masked one—they’re better than I expected.” Bild leaned back in his chair. "It’s not that bad. This will serve as a good combat experience.”
The subordinate bowed his head in agreement. Even from his perspective, the players in Team 1 were conceited, so convinced that they would be the next leading players of the Cheonghwado that they often ignored Bild's words. Bild was planning to make use of the opportunity to get rid of the thorns in their side and give Team 1’s pride a dose of cold reality.
"I will also be moving along with them."
The subordinate’s eyes widened in shock once more, but he lowered his head again. Prior to becoming an executive in Arangdan, he had been a player who had made some modest achievements in the Tower. No matter how good players in the Tutorial were, there was a huge gap between them and the players already in the Tower. 'Those high rankers are dead now.’ He clucked his tongue in pity.
Players from the Tower would receive a severe penalty from the Guardian if they intervened in the Tutorial. But Bild had decided to risk the penalty because the three posed such a huge obstacle to him.
"Are you thinking that it’s possible they noticed Team 2’s identity?”
Bild nodded slowly. "There’s no reason to leave any loose ends behind. Besides, we can't let them get away with what they did to us, can we?" Bild frowned as he ordered, “Assemble all members of Team 1 immediately. Warn them that those who fail to comply will be cut off from the clan on the spot."
Bild clucked his tongue as he watched the subordinate leave. "We were almost done collecting the sacrifices. I didn’t expect this setback." When he first heard what happened to Kaen, Bild had thought he could easily run Yeon-woo off. But now, he couldn't just stand by after all the trouble Yeon-woo had caused. 'Still, Blood Sword and Foxy Tail have such impressive backgrounds. It’s also possible that the masked guy is a dark horse contender from another clan. He must have someone’s backing.'
Bild had already excluded the possibility of Yeon-woo acting alone. As far as he knew, no player could reach that level of ability without any support. He couldn’t dismiss Yeon-woo’s ability to clear the Inner Area as a solo player, even going as far as speedrunning through it. He had to get rid of the three as discreetly as possible and leave no evidence behind.
Of course, it wasn't that he was afraid of their backgrounds. The Cheonghwado’s power in the Tower was really unmatched, but he didn't want to arouse suspicion from the other clans and rankers. “After Arthia’s downfall, the forced peace of the Tower has been gradually chiseled away. Now, it’s just like a bomb that might explode at any moment. But before it does, we have to gather as much strength as we can.”
Without anyone noticing their actions, Arangdan had been supplying the necessary materials to help build their strength, and because of this, Bild couldn’t forgive Yeon-woo’s party for destroying Team 2. Bild puzzled over how he could eliminate them, but he was soon interrupted. Clang!
"We’re under attack!"
"Damn it! What the hell is going on?"
An explosion shook the whole command post violently, and there were loud noises at the entrance.
"B-Bild!" The subordinate Bild had ordered to gather Team 1 rushed back into his room.
Bild asked with a frown, "What’s happening outside?"
"Blood Sword and Foxy Tail!"
"What?" Bild rose from his seat with an irritated look. Before the subordinate could continue, Bild said with a curled lip. "They’ve saved me some trouble since they’ve came here on their own."
Boom! Suddenly, the wall to his left was blasted apart, and Kahn appeared with Doyle, both of them covered in dust and blood.
"Bild!" Kahn said in a towering rage, his face twisted savagely as he looked at the man who had turned the Tutorial into a hell. Rumble! A murderous aura rushed through the room like a windstorm.
Some clan members had run into the room after the two players, but most of them were blown away by Kahn’s aura. Those remained spurted out blood and fainted. The ground shook and the smell of blood rose in the room. Drenched in blood and holding the bloody Dragon Slayer, Kahn looked like a demon straight out of hell. This was the true form of Blood Sword that had drawn the attention of various clans and rankers in the Tower.
Bild slowly drew his sword, unveiling his own murderous aura. He felt a tingling sensation all over his body, but the sneer on his face grew. "I was getting bored stuck here in the Tutorial. Let's enjoy ourselves, son of the Iron Lion."
Boom! Bild and Kahn flung themselves at each other, and explosions rocked the room once more.
* * *
As Bild and Kahn fought, Yeon-woo finally reached the eastern area of Section E. The lush forest came to an end, and the black, rocky mountains started to show their spiky heads. The wide and barren desert was the Orcs’ territory.
Orcs were pig-faced monsters that possessed solid physiques and bulging muscles. They were two meters in size, bigger than the Lizardmen, they were known to be aggressive to players, attacking them as soon as they showed up. Their behavior made it difficult for players to hunt them, but it didn’t matter to Yeon-woo at all.
As he ventured around the eastern desert, four Orcs suddenly attacked him during their patrol. Slash! However, Yeon-woo easily sliced the gullets of three of the Orcs, and severed the muscles of the remaining one’s limbs, making him fall to the ground. Yeon-woo climbed on his body and held a dagger against his neck.
"Chwik! H-human! Strong! S-spare me!" Players and monsters were all the same, begging for their lives in the face of imminent death.
Yeon-woo said to the Orc with a cold smile, "I kept you alive because you look like the smartest one in your group."
"R-right! Chwik! I am the smartest in the tribe! Chwik!" Orc nodded eagerly with a pale face.
However, the truth was that Yeon-woo had only picked him at random. "Let me ask you a question: have you seen a cottage nearby? It should be somewhere on the mountain or in the branches of a tree.”
"You'd better think hard. There are lots of other Orcs around that I can ask.”
The Orc quickly put his brain to work. For the sake of his survival, he forced himself to remember things in great detail, like what he had eaten five days ago. The cold blade of the dagger began to slide into the skin on his neck. Blood dripped out of the wound, but the Orc was too terrified to feel the pain. However, soon enough, he managed to conjure up a memory he had about a house. "Th-there is one! Chwik! I have never seen it! But my friends were scouting, and they saw a strange house on the Baotri! But they said it was too high up so they just came back!"
Yeon-woo's eyes shone behind his mask. ‘That must be it.' It was the place where the guide who could lead him to the hidden piece, Akasha’s Snake, lived. "Where is that?"
The Orc realized that the dagger had stopped digging into his throat, so he quickly answered, "You have to walk, a little bit left towards the sunrise, takes two meals of time."
“Northeast, about half a day from here.”
The Orc then shouted urgently. "L-let me go—urk!" He hadn’t finished speaking when the dagger penetrated deep into his neck and cut off his artery.
“W-why...?” As his life faded away, the Orc spat out one last word, wondering why Yeon-woo had killed him even though he’d cooperated.
"I was only asking you a question. I didn't say I was going to let you live.”
At Yeon-woo's cold reply, the Orc wheezed out his last breath in shock. Yeon-woo immediately took out a dagger and began to cut the dead orcs' stomachs open to take their ribs.
Orc bones were very dense and were perfect for crafting various artifacts. As he dissected the carcasses, Yeon-woo meticulously planned out his next steps. 'Akasha's Snake is a tricky monster. It only shows up at certain times and under certain conditions. Without his help, I’ll never be able to find it.’
Akasha’s Snake was a monster that lived deep underground in the eastern desert area. It was not an ordinary snake, but a predator that could swallow and devour anything. His brother had left various notes about Akasha's Snake in his diary, not only from the shock that he’d experienced when he first faced Akasha's Snake, but also because this was the moment that Arthia had become who they were. Yeon-woo was thinking of killing the monster on his own.
It was larger than five mountains combined and immeasurably long. I even wondered how a monster like that could exist in the Tutorial. It’s said that Akasha's Snake sometimes has to come out to the surface to breathe, and while it's on the surface, it also fills its hungry stomach. We tried to kill this monster without any previous knowledge about it, and it’s no wonder we almost lost the fight. But luckily, we met him.
Yeon-woo’s brother was referring to the person who had saved him and Arthia during their battle with the snake. My first master, Galliard.
“Snake hunter, Galliard." Yeon-woo muttered the name of the person he would be meeting soon.
Of course, if he knew I was calling him something cheesy like “master”, he'd run here to punch me in the face. Anyway, he is a man who seems free but in fact, he is imprisoned by memories of the past. It’s the reason he has been hunting Akasha’s Snake for decades.
Galliard had a rather unique history. He was a player, but he had never stepped into the Tower. For decades, he only stayed in the Tutorial. It wasn’t because he was weak—after his brother took the sixth position in the Tower’s rankings, he’d realized that Galliard was just as good as the other rankers, perhaps even as good as the top ones. If he had left the Tutorial and tried to climb the tower, perhaps Galliard could climb even higher than his brother.
His brother had thought that it was a waste that a player with such great skill was stuck in the Tutorial. Galliard didn’t have any reputation in the Tower, but he knew what Galliard was capable of. He had used pass tickets to try to persuade him again and again, but Galliard refused every time. When his brother asked for a reason, Galliard didn’t give him a proper answer. He could only guess that Galliard was trapped by a regret that involved Akasha’s Snake and that the memory was preventing him from leaving the Tutorial.
'Jeong-woo could find Akasha's Snake with the help of his teammates. But I don't have time to make such preparations, so I’ll have to find Galliard first and get his help.' Galliard may have had a precious bond with his brother, but Yeon-woo wasn’t concerned by it. He was going to take whatever he could from Galliard. 'Even his skills, if possible.' The white mask faced the northeast. 'If not, I’ll force him.'Previous Chapter Next Chapter