Yeon-woo looked at his hand and took it wordlessly. Something flashed in Duke Tuan Tien’s eyes. ‘This is…’ He truthfully hadn’t been expecting much on the way to the forty-second floor. Although it wasn’t publicly known, the Blood Land was facing a grim situation as White Dragon steadily escalated against them.
White Dragon was stronger than expected, and their leader, the Spring Queen, was monstrous. The Gluttony Emperor had immediately tucked his tail between his legs after realizing their predicament, and their allies were leaving one by one.
No matter how fiercely the Blood Land tried to resist, White Dragon’s attacks took up their attention, and they couldn’t look elsewhere. Black Dragon, who was now observing the situation, was a problem too.
Then, they happened to hear that the Hoarder had finally reappeared. The Blood Land suspected he had gone into hiding out of fear when the war began, so they were displeased. However, they needed any help they could get. Normally, they would have sent a messenger who was either a count or viscount, but the situation was so urgent that Duke Tuan Tien had come himself.
However, once he met the Hoarder, his negative thoughts began to change. The Hoarder’s power was greater than he’d expected. He heard that the Hoarder had been victorious in the fight on the Five Mountains of Penances that involved many rankers, mercenaries, Necropolis, and others.
Still, because it had happened on the lower floors, he’d disregarded it, thinking that it was simply an embellished tale. Now that he could see the Hoarder’s ability with his own eyes, he realized how wrong he had been.
The Hoarder’s subordinates alone were decimating the magic alliance’s war mages and the Head Cutters.
‘If he’s at this level now…he’ll be a Lord soon. Or has he already reached it? He might become like the Vampiric Lord someday.’
The Vampiric Lord Bathory, to whom the Summer Queen had been compared, had nearly ruled the Tower. She sucked out the life of anything that touched her and could take familiars just by blowing her breath into them. Because of this, death always followed the Vampiric Lord, and her familiars could create mountains.
Whenever a skilled player became her familiar, her rivals were on edge. No matter how much they cut down her forces, she replenished them easily. Her comrade of yesterday could be her enemy the following day.
Finally, an alliance of clans was so threatened by her that they chased her to her region in the Tutorial to stab her to death. However, the horror of the Vampiric Lord still lingered in the Blood Land.
Duke Tuan Tien thought Yeon-woo would one day reach the level of the Vampiric Lord since he was skilled enough to be one of the Martial King’s disciples, and his own familiars were fearless.
‘From what I can tell, he’s at the level of a count or marquis. With the power of his familiars, he might even be a duke. Good. I have to get him on our side.’ Yeon-woo had all the requirements to jump into battle right away. In the future, he would grow even stronger.
As he completed his calculations, Duke Tuan Tien put on a bright expression and gave the skeleton insignias he’d collected to Yeon-woo. “It seems like you need this; I’ll give them to you.”
“I accept them gratefully.”
[You have collected ‘Skeleton Insignia × 5’ from the red team.]
[You have successfully collected all skeleton insignias.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 50,000 karma.]
[You have acquired an additional 30,000 karma.]
Duke Tuan Tien had been on the red team, and Yeon-woo didn’t ask how he managed to gather all the insignias. The Blood Land members weren’t one to get things done with words.
“Actually, I should have brought a nicer gift since you are His Majesty’s friend, but because the situation is urgent, I hope you forgive me for this rudeness.” Duke Tuan Tian bowed courteously as though he were truly sincere. His etiquette was impeccable. Players who knew the Blood Land would have been shocked to see him. Members of the Blood Land were known for being elitist, and it was unimaginable that they would have such respectful attitudes to outsiders.
Yeon-woo’s lips were twisted in a smirk as he watched. ‘They must be under a lot of pressure.’ He’d been planning on interfering in the battlefield anyway, but if they wanted to come like this, he was ready to welcome them with open arms. ‘However, I don’t need to give in easily.’ His smirk deepend. ‘I have to get what I can.’
His eyes flashed behind his mask. ‘And I should reset the game to my taste.’ He didn’t plan on just dominating the Blood Land and White Dragon. Yeon-woo had a bigger picture in mind. He wanted to create a deep pit where all forces in the Tower would fall in.
Duke Tuan Tien was the right person to help him get this done. Since the duke seemed to have something on his mind, all Yeon-woo had to do was toss him the bait.
「Whew, another victim for the conman has shown up. That temperamental…」 Shanon was blabbing about something, but like always, Yeon-woo ignored him.
“As I promised, I’ll help you to the best of my abilities.”
Duke Tuan Tien’s expression grew even brighter, but then it changed after Yeon-woo’s following words.
“But as you can see, I’m not in an easy situation.”
Yeon-woo was still on the forty-second floor, but the battlefield of the large clans was on the sixtieth and even higher. It was natural for them to stay on the upper floors. The battle between Red Dragon and the Cheonghwado that had occurred on the eleventh floor was an anomaly. Duke Tuan Tien didn’t realize that it was a result of Yeon-woo’s scheming, although he did think it was strange.
The Blood Land had assumed Yeon-woo was a ranker all this time. After all, who would think he was a lower-floor player based on his accomplishments? However, it was difficult to make him climb to the higher floors quickly. No matter how outstanding he was, some trials simply required a lot of time. “I can help you until the fiftieth floor. Our kingdom has a method of clearing floors, and we’ll support you with anything you need.”
Yeon-woo’s smile deepened. ‘It’ll be a good chance to peek at their strategies and plans.’
Each large clan had a secret method to clear the floors which revealed their strategies and courses of action. They guarded this secret religiously since its revelation would mean that everyone would find out about the clan’s main forces. Yeon-woo would take it gladly if Duke Tuan Tien offered it.
He could lie back and clear the floors easily while studying the Blood Land’s weaknesses. They didn’t know that they would be showing him their vulnerable belly.
He could even find hidden pieces the Blood Land knew of that his brother hadn’t been able to discover. ‘And the artifacts that come with them will be a plus. I’ll be able to acquire the Skeleton King Tablet faster than I thought.’ The floors that numbered in the forties contained the legacies of a being called the Skeleton King.
Not much is known about the Skeleton King—just a few legends that have passed down. Some say he existed during the time of the Draconic species and disappeared because of a curse from the last Giant king. There’s another rumor that he made a contract with otherworldly gods.
However, the tablet that you can make after gathering all his legacies is very nice.
Jeong-woo had learned about it through the special benefit. Learning about the Skeleton King could be very helpful. He had the folklore of the Giant species, which was rare in the Tower, and had made connections to gods of other worlds.
‘Boo will use it well if he has it.’ Even though he didn't state it, after remembering his identity as Faust, Boo desired to return to those days. Yeon-woo wanted to give Boo the Skeleton King Tablet so Boo could grow.
The first things he needed in order to complete it were the skeleton insignias in his hand. He had twenty in his hand now, and he had to collect all 100 of them over the next five days while progressing with the trial. The other materials were also spread around the other floors numbering in the forties. He’d been expecting that it would take him some time to clear the stages as he collected the materials, but if he had support, things would go faster.
Not realizing Yeon-woo’s dark thoughts, Duke Tuan Tien continued, “However, as you’re aware of, our assistance won’t be possible on the fiftieth floor. Of course, I’m not saying that you won’t be able to pass the Wailing Wall on your own, but we won’t be able to help you then. We also don’t know how long it will take you to clear it.”
Yeon-woo nodded. As the duke said, the famous Wailing Wall of the fiftieth floor wasn’t a place that just anyone could pass. It was the motherland of the Draconic species that had become totally extinct with the death of the Summer Queen.
To current players, it was famous as a historic site of Draconic species. As befitted a place that was left behind by the dragons, there were more unexplored places on that floor than explored ones. There wasn’t a specific method to clear it, and each player was given different trials, which made it even harder. Still, those who passed through this floor were called “rankers” and acknowledged as true players.
However, to Yeon-woo, this place had another significance: ‘It’s where the ancient dragon Kalatus has fallen asleep.’ He only heard his voice during the first Dragon Body awakening, but Yeon-woo thought that he might still be alive. No one else could have sent Jeong-woo to Earth. What was more, at some point, Yeon-woo had felt as though a being from afar were watching him.
[Halphas looks at you with interest.]
[Hel watches you excitedly.]
[Osiris silently observes you.]
[Vimalacitra is awed by your dream of a big war.]
He was still receiving messages from the 5,000 or so gods and demons watching him, but farther away, he could feel a faint Channel.
It was just a gaze that never revealed a name, but it felt familiar. It didn’t have the same energy as the gods or demons, and Yeon-woo guessed that it was Kalatus or some being related to him.
He was going to reach the fiftieth floor using any means possible. However, he would face a problem when he reached it. ‘It’s not easy to enter the labyrinth under the Dragon Temple.’
The Dragon Temple had a hidden stage that most people didn’t know about.
When I arrived at Kalatus’ summons, I felt like I was looking at a new world. The mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor is probably something like this. Or the pyramids of the pharaohs. That was how grand the haven of the great, ancient dragons was.
Jeong-woo wouldn’t have discovered it without Kalatus’ guidance either. It was his grave, which was commonly called the Dragon Labyrinth.
Yeon-woo planned on opening this location, but he couldn’t do it without the permission of its owner. That meant Yeon-woo had no other choice. ‘I’ll have to force it open.’
As to be expected of a haven, the Dragon Labyrinth had several guards and traps which Yeon-woo would have a hard time dealing with. The close one got to the center, the more dangerous it would be. ‘But if I have chess pieces to move, that changes everything.’
Yeon-woo was going to use the Blood Land to help him enter the Dragon Labyrinth. He believed he could bait White Dragon and force the escaping Black Dragon and Green Dragon there too. As self-proclaimed successors to dragons, they would find it difficult to resist the haven of an ancient dragon. ‘It’s also attractive for the Devil Army and the Elohim.’
Nobody knew what the ancient dragon might have left behind, so rankers would be pulled in as well.
「So, in other words, you’re going to scam a bunch of clans and rankers to enter the labyrinth, hm? Wow, our temperamental king never ceases to impress. Amazing.」 Shanon marveled.
‘Should I toss the bait now?’ Yeon-woo’s eyes glinted as he said out loud in a solemn tone, “Since we’re on the subject, I’ve been planning on discussing this with the Blood Land.”
“Hm?” Duke Tuan Tien’s eyes widened, and he cocked his head to the side.
“I discovered this on the 41st floor.”
Duke Tien looked over the object Yeon-woo held out to him. It was an old, faded map. As he thought it over, he had a feeling that it seemed familiar. “Hm, this is…?”
“As you can see, it’s a map of the fiftieth floor.”
“That seems to be the case, but…”
“Yes. It’s probably different. This is the reason why I disappeared for nearly a year.” Actually, it was because he had been in Tartarus, but there was no way the duke would know that.
The duke looked more interested since this was an object that had grabbed the Hoarder’s attention, and his eyes widened when Yeon-woo said, “I think this is the map to the grave of the last dragon king, Kalatus.”
「King Temper tossed the bait, and you swallowed it!」 Shanon’s giggling voice rang out.
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