Chapter 417 - Dragon Temple (4)

[You are at the beginning of the labyrinth.]

The entrance to the labyrinth was so elaborate that it seemed impossible that it was only an entrance. It was wide enough to let thousands in at the same time, and there were various marble structures and paintings that depicted the legends of the Draconic species.

At the end was a massive door about ten meters tall. It was so thick that it seemed impossible to budge. There were statues of humans in front of it sitting in lotus position with their eyes closed. They were so realistic that it seemed like they might come to life at any second. Bloody corpses lay on the ground around them, and there were signs on the ground and iron door that an intense battle had taken place.

“I heard the advance party didn’t wait and attempted to get through. As you can see, the damage was quite bad.” The Gluttony Emperor walked past his bowing subordinates and kicked the corpses on the ground with a grimace.

“They must be the guards that I’ve been hearing about.”

“Probably. They’re not your average guards. I’m sorry that I couldn’t keep my promise. I’ll take responsibility and punish the advance party.”

Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes as he looked at the stone statue.

Although the labyrinth under the Dragon Temple was also Kalatus’ grave, more importantly, it serves as a type of museum that showcased the glory of the Draconic species.

It’s divided into multiple sections that have their own specific tests. The ones that supervise the tests are the graveyard keepers, and since Kalatus was such an outstanding dragon king, there are many of them.

Each graveyard keeper is named after a legendary dragon king, and they all live up to their names. They are as powerful as high rankers and can take on even the Nine Kings.

They have been given on only one command: to ensure that their master is not disturbed. Even those who enter by accident will be removed. Even though I am Kalatus’ descendant, I wasn’t exempted.  

There are five graveyard keepers that you need to be especially wary of, especially Balnanta. He’s a battle automaton created by dragons who wanted to experiment to see how strong a player could be.

While he was clearing the Tutorial, Yeon-woo had encountered copper scarecrow automatons in the boss room of Section A. They had been based on Balnanta, who was quietly slumbering in front of the iron door.

A simple question a dragon had once asked had led to multiple dragons coming up with their ideas of the ultimate player. Kalatus himself had designed Balnanta, which was why it was so powerful.

Most of the time, the automaton was calm, its functions suspended. But once a trespasser tried to creep through the labyrinth’s entrance, Balmanta was programmed to wake up and immediately attack. The corpses scattered around it had likely tried to go through the door.

Blood Land and Yeon-woo had promised each other to pass through the door together after their preparations were finished, but it was clear that they’d violated their promise and made an attempt to enter first.

‘Not that I expected anything different.’ It was impossible to be disappointed if you didn’t have any trust in the first place.

However, the Gluttony Emperor seemed to feel guilty, so he scolded the advance party that was examining the entrance. The captain of the advance party bowed, saying that he was willing to be punished. Yeon-woo didn’t pay too much attention to this farce and approached Balnanta.

“U-um…!”

“It’s danger—!”

The Gluttony Emperor and the advance party tried to stop Yeon-woo, but Yeon-woo walked just close enough to Balnanta without activating him. He attempted to project his thoughts into the automaton.

[You are attempting to contact the combat automaton (Balnanta).]

[You have failed.]

[You lack the qualification.]

‘I guess I can’t.’ Yeon-woo clucked his tongue. He had been wondering whether he’d manage to control Balnanta. ‘Even if Kalatus is alive, he can’t influence the defenses of the labyrinth…is that how it is?’

It wasn’t going to be easy to reach Kalatus. ‘I guess I have to go with my original plan.’

Yeon-woo continued to send his thoughts into Balnanta.

[You are attempting to contact the combat automaton (Balnanta).]

[You have failed.]

[Due to repeat hacking attempts, the secondary defense system has been activated.]

[Current system phase: 3]

[The system is in a constant mode of activation.]

Flash! Suddenly, Balnanta opened its eyes. Although it was a stone statue, a sharp light appeared in its eyes, which rolled from side to side. They were as fierce as the eyes of a beast hunting its prey.

Instantly, the entrance grew deathly silent. The Gluttony Emperor, who had been scolding the captain, and the advance party all shut their mouths and stared. Since the advance party had already fought Balnanta once, they were especially wary. They were ready to move, but Balnanta seemed content to glare at Yeon-woo without budging.

“Hmph! That was dramatic.” The Gluttony Emperor approached Yeon-woo, grumbling as he wiped his sweat with a handkerchief.

Balnanta was too tricky even for him to handle. Since they didn’t know if there were any other violent monsters inside the labyrinth, he had to conserve his power. He couldn’t waste it all carelessly.

‘The preparation is done with this.’ Unlike the relieved Gluttony Emperor, Yeon-woo was smiling behind his mask. The defense system progressed through different phases whenever trespassers appeared. Balnanta had been set up to stop intruders once phase two had been activated, but Yeon-woo’s hacking attempts had made it more tolerant.

As the Gluttony Emperor and the others sighed in relief at Balnanta’s inaction, the statue was identifying and analyzing all the living creatures around it to determine the quickest way to eliminate all of them. If a battle began here…

‘It’ll quickly get to phases four and five and maybe even beyond that.’ Obviously, the higher the phase, the more Balnanta’s combat power would increase. If the Lion Alliance, the Devil Army, the Elohim, and White Dragon were tossed into the mix? It would be pandemonium.

Even if they somehow managed to defeat Balnanta, the other guards connected to the system would immediately take action and disorient them. Yeon-woo held back his sly smile and turned to the Gluttony Emperor.

The Gluttony Emperor grinned in a manner that he probably thought was awe-inspiring, but the way his skin flapped only triggered disgust. “Anyway, now that you’ve seen the labyrinth, you’re going to get started right away, hm?”

“Yes, Your Majesty. Once everyone appears.”

At that moment, Duke Moglay approached and bowed. “We have news that the Lion Alliance is headed towards our headquarters. The Devil Army, the Elohim, and White Dragon also acted right away after their meeting.”  

“Hahaha! They’re not gentlemen either!”

Blood Land had planted a spy in the Lion Alliance who’d passed on the information that the Devil Army, the Elohim, and White Dragon were meeting. The Gluttony Emperor was wondering when they would make their move. He chuckled and turned to Duke Moglay. “Moglay!”

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Duke Moglay knelt humbly.

“You are aware that you have sinned against Cain and me, yes?”

“Indeed, Your Majesty.”

“Then you must lead those scumbags here, even if it costs you your life. Understood?”

“Your wish is my command!” Duke Moglay bowed once more and quickly left. He was going to return to their headquarters, which would be surrounded by their enemies at this point.  

‘Psychos. They say they’re citizens, but they’re just used like cows.’ It was obvious how many Blood Land players would die as bait. As he watched the duke go, Yeon-woo quietly murmured, “Hanryeong.”

I’ll take my leave. The shadow that fell from Yeon-woo silently merged with Duke Moglay’s.

In the forest, mercenaries and players such as old Triton members moved on Ivan’s orders. Magicians buffed them from the sky.

‘I’ll have the Hoarder’s head…no matter what it takes.’

The Lion Alliance moved from the north, the Devil Army from the east, the Elohim from the south, and White Dragon from the west. After they’d agreed not to get in each other’s way, they approached from the most convenient direction with one goal: to kill the Hoarder.  

Despite their differences, they agreed that whoever eliminated the Hoarder first would be the victor. Needless to say, Ivan didn’t plan on holding back at all. He was still fuming at the way the Head Bishop, Waltz, and Magnus had patronized him. He wanted to crush their arrogant faces and shout that he wasn’t inferior to them—and that the soon-to-be-empty spot among the Nine Kings would be his.

“Cain!” He roared, pushing away the soldiers of Blood Land who tried to protect the Hoarder. “Cain!”

Boom! At that exact moment, the focused attacks from the magic alliance pierced through the barricade. A neat formation of mercenaries immediately followed Ivan to breach Blood Land’s base. At that moment, he saw the player who had been repelling trespassers steadily: Duke Moglay. The Nan of Blood Land was covered in blood. Duke Moglay instinctively turned around and repelled the attacks aimed at his neck. Then, he realized his opponent was Ivan and frowned. “Iron Lion…!”

“Cain! Where is the Hoarder?!”

“Do you think I’d tell you?”

“Then…I’ll kill you if I must!” Boom! Ivan released his rage, offended that a duke that wasn’t even one of the Nine Kings had dismissed him. He began to push against the duke with even more strength.

Lion Mobilization

The berserker skill that allowed him to become the mercenary king activated. Explosions followed it. Duke Moglay also activated his Disturbance and swung his sword up.

Rumble. The ground shook, and clouds of sand soared up.

“What are you doing?! Sing louder!” At Duke Moglay’s words, the clan members of Blood Land all raised their voices to sing the military song.

Boom, boom, boom! When the ground shook with their footsteps, a powerful turbulence made the battlefield quake. The clan members’ hearts thumped faster, while their faces turned as red as tomatoes.

“The cheers…!”

“The cheers have stopped, and the red flag has risen, like the embodiment of the battlefield.

Spread it far! Let our song raise hurrahs! Let our flag shake the world.”

The clan members of Blood Land prepared for death as they began to push away the trespassers. As the battlefield grew even more intense, the Head Bishop watched his subordinates fight from far away. “I don’t see him from here.” He clucked his tongue.

While Ivan was clashing with Duke Moglay, he learned that Yeon-woo and the Gluttony Emperor weren’t at the base. “Since the Ruyi Bang pieces are important, they can’t be allowed to run free any longer.” He pulled out a small, milky bead and smashed it. “O Seven Great Demon Kings. Please summon the touch of the Wind Demon Lord to this location.”

Swish!

[The Wind Demon Lord responds to your summons.]

[‘Celestial Wind and Waves’ is activating.]

A wind suddenly wrapped around the Head Bishop and spread along the battlefield to find Yeon-woo. Something similar was happening in the south and the west.

“Tsk! Is this Gluttony bastard playing some trick?” Magnus clucked his tongue and fixed his gaze on the sky.

[Many gods are with you.]

[The godly society <Asgard> is participating.]

[The godly society <Deva> is participating.]

Magnus was receiving enough blessings from many gods to become the Roman Dictator. He shouted, opening more Channels as the powers of the gods reached the lower world to crush Blood Land’s defenses. Magnus chased after Yeon-woo’s tracks among the ruins.

Waltz ripped apart the Blood Land soldiers with an indifferent expression as she continued marching forward. When she realized that Yeon-woo wasn’t there, she created ten different Nascent Soul Bodies and let them loose, expanding her senses.

The three kings of the Tower chased after Yeon-woo in their individual ways, and nearly at the same time, they reached a portal that led to an unknown destination.

“You can’t enter!” Duke Moglay realized that the three kings were coming towards him and tried to push Ivan away, turning his sword to the portal. Swish. Kashing!

However, it was impossible to stop the three kings from entering when he could barely deal with Ivan. There was a flash of light, and his right arm still holding his sword flew into the air, and his left leg was cut below the knee.

The three kings were quickly sucked into the portal deep inside the base without a care for the fallen Duke Moglay.

“Dammit! Everyone, stop fighting and follow me!” Thinking he’d lost his chance to gain a head start, Ivan turned away from the duke and jumped into the portal with only the bare minimum of forces. The other soldiers all rushed to follow their leaders, and the chaotic battlefield grew silent.

“Keekeekeek. Morons. They jumped in like moths to a flame, not knowing this is all His Majesty’s will.” Duke Moglay leaned against a rock, exhausted. However, he laughed at the thought that they’d all entered the portal. Although countless Blood Land citizens had lost their lives and he’d lost two limbs, they’d managed to trap three kings and four large clans. They’d gained more than they’d lost. Their enemies would be sent into a location where the guards of the labyrinth would be waiting to sweep them away.

News of Kalatus’ grave would then spread throughout the Tower, and more forces and rankers would be sucked in as though it were a black hole. Duke Moglay believed without a doubt that the last person standing in the mess would be their emperor. This sacrifice would become a solid foundation for their soon-to-be-completed empire. He believed in this so faithfully that he smiled, not feeling the pain of his injuries. The relief that he’d accomplished his mission was so great that he would have kept smiling until the surviving soldiers of their headquarters retrieved him—except for the voice that suddenly whispered in his year.

Sorry, but this arrangement was created by our king, not yours. You’re no different from them.

Duke Moglay quickly turned at the sudden threat. He swung his remaining arm. Standing over an exceptionally long shadow, Hanryeong smiled at him as his swords swung.  

‘Trai—!” Duke Moglay couldn’t finish saying “traitor” because swords suddenly flew towards his blind spots. His head flew into the air, still with a shocked expression on it.

Hanryeong and Rebecca looked at each other’s eyes, then moved to take care of the remaining people at the base. Shadows spread like inkblots, and the Spirit Guai rose.

“Wh-why is…aaack!”

The massacre began.

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