Chapter 46 - Two Hearts (4)

[You have successfully cleared Section E as a solo player.]

[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]

[You have acquired 3,000 karma.]

[You have acquired 2,000 additional karma.]

[Your health and mana will be restored]

[All statuses will be removed]

[You have entered Section F.]

It was only when the messages filled his retina that Yeon-woo realized he was in Section F. He possessed almost 1,000 Tokens, and they would be converted to karma when he passed Section F or when the Tutorial ended. ‘This place looks deserted compared to Section E.’ Yeon-woo clucked his tongue as he looked around.

Unlike Section E, which had different types of terrain, Section F was an empty, desolate field. There wasn’t a single forest, monster, or player in sight. It was hard to decide where to go since nothing there could even serve as a landmark. Then, new messages appeared before his eyes.

[The challenge of Section F will begin.]

[You have fallen in a random place within Section F, where a vast wilderness extends far and wide. In this place, you will not be provided anything that will help you determine your location or direction. You won’t be able to obtain food or water here, as well. Survive and find your way to the exit.]

Yeon-woo gave a little snort as he read through the messages. 'Survival, is it? This is even worse than Section E.’

When my teammates and I first entered Section F, only one word came out of our mouths: fuck. We couldn’t believe that they’d created a space like that in the Tutorial.

Even though Section E was full of problems, at least things were somewhat easy to obtain there. We could get whatever we needed by looking for it or trading with other players. But in Section F, that wasn't possible at all. It’s a section much bigger than Section E, but there’s nothing in it.

There were no monsters, no trees, no forests, no water, not even a place to get food or water. Another problem was that it was almost impossible to trade items with other players or even run into them because hardly anyone ever reached Section F.  

What happened to people if they suddenly found themselves in the empty field? Most of them would go crazy. There was nothing to do except wander about aimlessly, and they would end up dying in this land of emptiness.  

No matter how good players were, they would all meet the same fate without food and drinking water. It seemed more logical to simply conserve energy and find a place like a cave where they could lie down and wait for the Tutorial to end.

However, the characteristics of Section F were advantageous for a few. ‘It's the perfect place for someone who wants to hide from the outside world, like Arangdan or the scavenger syndicate.’

While players in Section F could only walk around aimlessly, a clan with a sturdy source of support like Arangdan could use Section F as a hideout. It was too bad that the advantages of this location would be a noose around their neck in the end.

'They will let their guard down here and pay less attention to their defenses.’ With a cold smile on his lips, Yeon-woo began to strengthen his senses to their fullest extent. Finding a way within Section F was a difficult task, but the Tower would never put players through an insurmountable challenge. There was a solution no matter how impossible it seemed.

Yeon-woo bent and touched the ground. He silently closed his eyes and directed all his focus to the ground, the Monsters' Five-Colored Jewel on his waist glowing brightly.

[Ear of Kobold has been activated.]

It seemed as lifeless underground as it seemed on the surface. All he could sense was rocks, more rocks, soil, more soil, sand…then he suddenly heard the trickling sound of groundwater flowing through layers of rock. The stream was so weak that it almost seemed immobile.

However, as he continued focusing on the ground, he managed to hear a small vibration. Something was approaching the groundwater. It was a two-meter monster that looked like a mole, and it dug with its front legs through the soil as its hind legs propelled it forward. Its skin seemed covered in hard scales.

‘Spiny Mole.’ It was the only creature that lived in Section F. Players had to kill it and eat its flesh and drink its blood to nourish themselves in Section F. They could also follow the monster to find underground water. However, that was easier said than done. 'Because it lives so deep underground, it’s difficult to lure them to the surface and hunt them.’

Since the Spiny Moles hardly ever came out to the surface and moved fifteen meters below the ground, it was difficult to pinpoint its exact location. However, Yeon-woo didn’t want to give up looking just because of that. ‘I need them to guide me.’

The Spiny Moles usually lived in groups around the exit of Section F. This meant that the more frequently he saw a mole, the closer he would be to the exit. 'That’s where Arangdan’s hidden base should be.’

Unless Arangdan got regular supplies from the Cheonghwado, their base had to be in a place where they could find food and water. Yeon-woo followed the Spiny Mole as it moved slowly along the underground stream.

*   *   *

Bild placed his palm over a device installed next to the prison door. It read his fingerprints and opened the door. There were two men inside chained to a wall: Kahn and Doyle.

"How are you holding up, Blood Sword and Foxy Tail?" Bild asked with a mocking laugh as he watched them hanging from their shackles. Kahn raised his head to stare at Bild. He looked haggard after enduring so much torture, but he sneered, “Why are you here again? Do you have anything left to say? Or you need something else to blackmail those old geezers with?"

When Bild first subdued Kahn and Doyle, he hadn’t been able to kill them like he wanted to since they were supported by prominent rankers in the Tower. Also, they might be useful as bargaining chips for the Cheonghwado in the impending war. However, he had changed his mind since he couldn’t even see his way forward at this point. It was more important to get himself out of immediate danger first. "No. I’m here to tell you this."

"What?"

Bild's eyes were full of malice. "You will soon become material for the stone.”

"Stone?" Kahn's face twisted. "You crazy bastard!”

Kahn didn't know exactly what the stone was, but he knew that it was made of a substance harvested from players that Arangdan and the scavengers had caught. It was the result of an abominable experiment that should never have been conducted in the first place.

"At first, we were planning to slowly extract the energy from your bodies, but unfortunately, we're in a hurry now. I’d say that it’s good news for you guys because it will end your pain right away.” Bild took a step back and gestured at his subordinates with his chin. It was the signal to start.

Kahn clenched his teeth as he watched the men approaching him and Doyle. It was OK if he died alone since it was the consequence of his impulsiveness, but he was distressed at the thought of Doyle dying too. He was a good kid who was following him out of trust, and yet Kahn had managed to lead him to a bad end. If he could, he would exchange his own life for Doyle’s but he was powerless to do anything. ‘This is just like the last time, I can’t—' The hopelessness of his situation made a painful memory flash through his mind.

The men were reaching up to them and Kahn gritted his teeth, unable to speak.

*   *   *

'There it is.' After wandering from place to place as he followed the Spiny Mole, Yeon-woo finally found what he was looking for. Although the area in front of him appeared just like any other place in Section F, the moment that Yeon-woo used Draconic Eyes, a different view appeared.  

 Countless imperfections were tangling and untangling in the sky, and there were dozens of buildings spread across the white plain beyond the imperfections. It appeared that the compound was concealed behind a type of invisibility magic. But that couldn't fool Yeon-woo’s Draconic Eyes.

As he examined the composition of the magic, he swiftly dug into the gaps between the imperfections, bypassing the alarm with his skills. As Yeon-woo snuck inside Arangdan’s base, he noticed that the whole place seemed to have been plunged into confusion, as if they were in a state of emergency.

Several players ran busily from one building to another.

"Fucking hell, of all times, why did it have to happen now?”

"Quit your whining and get back on your feet. We don’t have much time left. The damage is too great. We'll be all dead if the Isle sends an inspector now."

"Damn it!"

Yeon-woo eavesdropped on their conversation as he hid behind a building. 'They must be talking about the monster outbreak.’ Clearly, most of Arangdan's power and their information network had been concentrated in Section E, and the monster outbreak had probably destroyed them. 'What a boon.” It wasn’t something he’d deliberately planned, but since he had decided to go to war with Arangdan, he could take advantage of the situation.  

‘Shall we start then?’ With a sneer on his face, Yeon-woo came out and blocked the path of the two players.

"Wh-what the hell?"

"Wait, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before. You, identify yours—” The player couldn’t finish his sentence because Yeon-woo was already swinging Carshina’s dagger with mana on the blade.

The mana created a big explosion. Boom! It swept everything away as though it were a tidal wave, including the two players.

*   *   *

Rumble! The building suddenly trembled.

"What was that?" Bild raised his head as crushed rocks fell from the ceiling. ‘This building was designed to withstand earthquakes. What’s going on outside?’

The players who were about to take Kahn and Doyle looked at Bild, who frowned. He ordered a subordinate to check the situation outside but the door swung open and another subordinate rushed in. "Bild! W-we’ve got a big problem! Someone has broken into our base again!"

"What?" Bild answered with an incredulous expression. Ever since Arangdan had been established, they’d had a few intruders appear. Some had grudges against them, others smelled something fishy, and still others just wanted to pick a fight. There was at least one intruder in every round of the Tutorial. In this round, Kahn and Doyle were the ones who’d shown up. Every intruder ended up becoming material for the stone, so Bild wasn’t normally worried about their strength.

'But, why now?' Bild's heart began to flutter with an incomprehensible tension. He turned to the subordinate and shouted, "Where? Where is this intruder?"

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