When he pulled out Blood Sword, Kahn grimaced as he cut his palm. He had been on his way to the Dragon Labyrinth after hearing that Yeon-woo had opened it, but the floor was now closed. He had to go back to the Outer District once more. ‘Heaven Wing, Heaven Wing…’
Yeon-woo had already warned him in advance about his real identity. Still, Kahn couldn’t help feeling surprised when Yeon-woo told the world he was Heaven Wing.
Kahn remembered the turmoil Heaven Wing caused and had been one of the people who mourned his tragic death. In fact, Heaven Wing had a huge influence on his decision to go to the Tutorial with Doyle. The fact that Heaven Wing’s twin brother was causing turmoil that was on the level of an earth-shattering disaster made his heart thump faster.
He managed to meet Creutz’s Illusion Knightage below Laputa, and as they waited, an Elf named Heidi appeared, followed by her own forces called the Children of the Forest.
They were an up-and-coming clan that Kahn had heard news of occasionally, although not because of their combat power. There were plenty of more powerful clans throughout the Tower. The Children of the Forest were considered remarkable because of their characteristics. They were always everywhere. They weren’t picky about new clan members; they accepted them all, from the dropouts of the Outer District to merchants and inhabitants on each floor. The members all had different jobs, as well. They included bards, scientists, poachers, traffickers, mercenaries, knight-errants, magicians, and members of different tribes.
They had nothing in common, not even their home worlds, backgrounds, goals, and missions in life. Only one thing tied them together: they had been abandoned by the world. They’d all put their weapons and pride down at some point and could no longer be considered players.
Most clans had clear goals—to subjugate floors, expand their forces, or gain more power—but the Children of the Forest didn’t do any of that. They only provided shelter to those who needed it.
“The world may have abandoned you, but we will not” was their slogan. Those who were exhausted from the extreme competitiveness of the Tower and longed for the warmth of companionship began to join, and the number of clan members grew exponentially.
When those who had been at the top of their fields before retiring joined, the power and numbers of the Children of the Forest grew by leaps and bounds.
Because their clan members were scattered through each floor, they were able to synchronize with each other. They gathered information from various sources to learn important things and manipulated public opinion. Players who used martial arts gathered teams to clear floors. Not only did they have an intelligence network, they also had independent forces.
As the large clans clashed with each other, the influence of the Children of the Forest grew day by day. And now, their leader had come in person to become a subordinate to Arthia.
Kahn was taken by surprise. Heidi said that she was here to pay back a favor she owed Yeon-woo. Since the Yeon-woo that Kahn knew was famous for his bad temper, that situation was unheard of.
There were many other forces who came to work under Arthia: the Eight-Step Pirate Crew, Greenshade Star, Cursed Half-Moon, Sophie’s World, Monstrance Gate, Godly Lightning, and so on. They had once been under Arthia or enjoyed good relationships with them.
The news that Heaven Wing had returned and reformed Arthia after killing three of the Nine Kings encouraged them to return. Although they weren’t part of the four new clans like Infinite End or Iron Throne, some of the clans were at the same level.
They probably wanted to observe the emerging star, Arthia, before making a decision to join. Their standing would be greatly affected by whether or not they chose to be with Arthia. Thanks to all of them, Kahn could see the sudden change in Arthia’s status with his own eyes.
Until only a few days ago, Heaven Wing had been considered an unlucky hero who had been in the wrong time and wrong place, or even an Icarus figure or a fallen star—someone who had once risen brilliantly only to fall after losing all of his light.
Although people mourned and respected him, there were also those who mocked him for disappearing without being able to complete his goals. They were jealous because they hadn’t been able to match his strength.
Things had changed, and Heaven Wing’s fame was even more brilliant, and it spread like vines tightening around players’ necks. Many feared Heaven Wing would take revenge on them for ridiculing him.
However, Kahn, who knew who the real Heaven Wing was, felt melancholy. The group of people that had appeared were nothing more than a bunch of hyenas trying to feed off Heaven Wing’s former glory and honor, unable to sense the danger lurking in the darkness.
Still, he knew that they were needed as a stepping stone for Arthia to become a large clan, and Arthia would need them to get through the long war that was coming. In the end, he didn’t say much and just observed them.
It was around that time that forces hostile to Arthia’s allies arrived: the Elohim and the Devil Army. Kahn was struck dumb. As far as he knew, it was impossible for the two clans to cooperate. The Elohim were second to none with their elitism, and they considered themselves descendants of gods. On the other hand, the Devil Army believed that they worshipped the true god and all other gods and demons were false idols. They could never work together.
Although they had worked together to destroy Arthia in the past, it had been more of a mutual understanding rather than a direct alliance.
But not anymore. They had decided to temporarily put aside their beliefs and grudges to get rid of their enemy, Heaven Wing. Kahn especially couldn’t believe who was at the head of the Elohim.
“So that’s where the clan house is? I’ve missed it. I do wish I could see it again.” The famous traitor of Arthia, Anti-Venom Bayluk, stroked his chin with an amused expression. When he noticed Kahn silently glowering at him, he smirked. “You must be the one who’s going to take my position?”
Bayluk’s voice sounded easygoing, but Kahn didn’t miss the murderous intent within it. ‘Bayluk’s resentment of Arthia is great.’ It should have been the other way round, but from a different perspective, Bayluk probably had his reasons for committing such a cruel act.
‘But that’s not my business.’ Kahn wasn’t interested in Bayluk’s reasons. Now that he was with Arthia, he would have to clash with Bayluk anyway!
“We shall help.”
“It’s not much, but we’ll help too.”
At Creutz’s command, the Illusion Knightage all summoned their wyverns to soar up to the sky, and the Children of the Forest quickly pulled out their weapons on Heidi’s orders. The other clans and parties were caught in the middle.
“Shit, what is going on…!
“Do we have to fall back for now?”
They hadn’t decided to join Arthia yet. They had only shown up to straighten out their relationship with Arthia and make deals to see what they could gain. Even if Arthia were thriving, they needed more forces if they wanted to fight a drawn-out war.
Although Heaven Wing was a king, and each of the Arthia members were strong, it wasn’t enough to surpass White Dragon and the Elohim, who had a solid foundation with all their skilled players. Not only that, there was a huge difference in numbers.
The forces believed that it would be hard for Heaven Wing and Arthia to emerge victorious from the war, but they might be able to shake the foundation. They stood a chance of gaining something from the war, and that greed drew them here, even though they said they had come because of their past friendship.
However, they couldn’t be expected to stand by Arthia before ironing out a deal. They tried to leave since they had nothing to gain from antagonizing the Elohim and the Devil Army.
“Where do you think you’re going?” But Bayluk smiled coldly, and the soldiers with him raised a wall of shields, extending their spears between the gaps like a porcupine’s spines. The clans couldn’t get past them.
The Infallible Corps Soldiers, or the Infallible Soldiers for short, were a famed group of elite soldiers of the Elohim. They were separated at birth from their parents to receive military training and they only lived to ensure the Elohim’s prosperity. They were feared by many since they were skilled in all aspects of combat: magic, horsemanship, swordsmanship, spearmanship, archery, and defensive formations.
Bayluk had already been given the title of Dictator by the Elder Assembly—the first outsider to ever receive it—and he’d also been made a general with all the power that came with the position. The Elder Assembly had given up on having a balance of power and bestowed everything on him. Because of this, the Infallible Soldiers, who lived to follow the commands of their superiors, listened to him without any question. What was scary was that Bayluk didn’t seem to have any of the fighting spirit that soldiers had.
“We’re still not on Arthia’s side. Please let us go on our way.” A man stepped up with a stiff face.
“Hanatan, leader of a small clan called Iron Throne.”
“Blade Master. I’ve heard about you.” Iron Throne was a clan of soldiers famous for starting out as mercenaries. However, they switched paths because their goals didn’t align with those of Iron Lion. Hanatan was known for his swordsmanship skills, which were on par with Iron Lion’s. Even though he wasn’t a king yet, he was only a step away.
Relief flashed on the faces of the players. They had been wondering how to they would get past the Infallible Soldiers. They wouldn’t try to stop someone like Hanatan since they probably wanted to avoid any unnecessary fights. It seemed all they had to do was follow Iron Throne.
However, Bayluk cocked his head in an indifferent manner. “And?”
Hanatan’s face hardened. “We should both avoid unnecessary confrontations…”
“Seems like you’re mistaken about something.” Bayluk raised the corners of his mouth. “There’s no such thing as an unnecessary confrontation. Everything related to Arthia will be destroyed. Clans working with them, and even those who even thought of allying with them…everyone is going to be eliminated. This is the decision made by the Elder Assembly, and it is the Elohim’s goal.”
Everyone was shocked to find out that just by appearing, they were already considered enemies.
“And the Devil Army is with us on this decision,” Bayluk confirmed.
The clans were forced to stand in battle formation, their expressions wary. The players of Iron Throne gathered around Hanatan to protect him. Hanatan glared at Bayluk from behind them. “You’ll regret this.”
“Regret?” Bayluk chuckled. “Don’t be silly. I’m already finished with you. You’re the one who should be full of regret.” He flicked his finger.
“Urk!” Suddenly, Hanatan’s eyes widened and he began to thrash around, holding his neck. He couldn’t breathe, as though he were being strangled. Foam poured out of his mouth.
“What’s the matter?!”
The Iron Throne players grabbed Hanatan in surprise. A few quickly gave him healing potions, but they weren’t of any help. Bayluk had poisoned him without anyone even noticing.
Whoosh. Green mist began to spread from Bayluk, full of an acidic poison. Everything it came into contact with began to sizzle and melt.
“Shit! Get away!”
Bayluk had activated his greatest skill, which had allowed him to become the greatest alchemist and poisoner. It was a cursed skill that could take thousands of lives in an instant. With pale faces, players began to retreat as Bayluk smiled cruelly at them. “Die, ghosts of the past.”’
As soon as the Poison Fog spread over the players’ heads and the Infallible Corps Soldiers and the Devil Army got ready to advance, Kahn stepped forward. The blood that dripped from his left palm expanded and created a red fog that countered the poison.
It was an art that combined his skill Blood Stream, and Hwak and Hye of the Seventy-Two Bian. The two forces, poison and blood, began to struggle against each other.
“I knew you’d show up, Blood Sword. You’ll be enough of an amusement until Jeong-woo arrives.” As Bayluk moved with a cold smile to attack Kahn, intense fire poured from the sky. Boom! The Fire Lightning not only split through the Poison Fog, it also burned everything in its path.
Amid the thick smoke and the smell of burning, Yeon-woo appeared, dashing towards Bayluk with a speed that Bayluk could never hope to match. He was taken aback and tried to step back, but Vigrid was already slashing through his body.
Yeon-woo was sure Bayluk wouldn’t be able to avoid the attack. It was the same move that had injured the Martial King’s Nascent Soul Body.
At that moment, something suddenly popped up in front of Bayluk and repelled Yeon-woo’s attack. He had used his full strength for the strike, but the power that deflected it was as strong as his. Yeon-woo frowned, flapping his Fire Wings. He caught his balance and landed gently on the ground.
“Whew! That was close.” Bayluk smiled wryly and sighed in relief.
Yeon-woo’s eyes were not focused on the detestable Bayluk, but instead, trained on the person who had blocked his attack. The person’s face was covered by a hood and a cloak, but Yeon-woo could see white wings underneath the cloak that looked extremely familiar. ‘No way.’ Several thoughts quickly flashed through his head, but he suppressed his rising anxiety and glared at Bayluk. “Who is that?”
“Oh, this? Haha! Actually, it’s my present.” Bayluk laughed, holding the cloak of the mysterious figure. “It’s been a while since you’ve seen it, so I wanted to surprise you.”
As soon as Bayluk pulled the cloak back, Yeon-woo’s eyes filled with shock, then rage. “Bayluk!”
Jeong-woo was standing there with an expressionless face with his white wings, silver armor, and a shining sword held tightly in his hand.Previous Chapter Next Chapter