Ring! Ring! The sound of an emergency alarm echoed through Arangdan's base, thanks to a single intruder that had dropped in from the skies. Waves of mana swept through the base, leaving only destruction behind, and the winds created by explosions tossed the players here and there like ragdolls. A fire whose origins were unknown spread across the whole base and expanded into a fiery inferno. The tongues of flame licked at everything, making black ash and white smoke surge into the air. In an instant, Arangdan’s base had turned into a madhouse.
"Damn it! Where the hell did he come from?"
The players of Arandan struggled to stop the intruder. They stood in formation, enhanced themselves with numerous buffs, and surrounded the intruder in an effort to subdue him.
But the intruder was too strong, and he produced a burst of mana with each swing of his dagger while the ground blew up with each stamp of his foot, the explosions shattering their formations. He was a wolf—or perhaps more like a lion—slaughtering a flock of sheep.
"Die!" A sword flashed close to Yeon-woo’s neck.
“Feet of Goblin.” At Yeon-woo’s command, the Monsters’ Five-Colored Jewel glowed red. At the same time, Yeon-woo's legs glimmered with a red light as his feet grew more buoyant. He lifted his body and skillfully avoided the attack, grabbing his foe’s forearm as he spun inwards, narrowing the gap between them. “Hands of Orc.”
This time, the jewel and his arms glimmered with a blue light. His whole body brimmed with power. Crack! His opponent’s arm snapped and stuck out at an abnormal angle.
Puck! Yeon-woo drew Carshina's Dagger and stabbed his opponent’s head, heart, and stomach in that order. A mixture of froth and blood gushed out of his opponent’s mouth as he fell to the ground.
Yeon-woo found it a little inconvenient to have to change the Monster’s Five-Colored Jewel’s function manually whenever he wanted to enhance different parts of his body during combat.
Focusing one’s attention on little details like this in the middle of a fight, with all kinds of things happening quickly and the possibility of unexpected events, would be a death sentence for most players.
Luckily, Yeon-woo had a special skill called Combat Will, and with the accelerated thought process that accompanied it, he could quickly choose the right function at the exact moment he needed it. Once he grew used to this process, his combat style changed drastically. He activated Hands of Orc to strike an enemy and shifted back to Feet of Goblin to dodge any counterattack. Not just that, but he also added Ears of Kobold, Nose of Gnoll, and Eyes of Lizardman to his combat techniques, making his attacks more agile and diverse. The jewel was the best artifact he had for combat situations like brawls.
However, the benefits of his artifacts did not just end there.
[Goblin King's Eyes has detected danger around you.]
As it hung from a chain on his neck, Kranum’s eye suddenly rolled and spotted three figures approaching in his blind spot. As soon as he checked the message, Yeon-woo quickly cast Feet of Goblin and jumped away just as three swords slashed at the spot where he’d just been.
The three players, who believed they would easily dispatch the intruder, were seized with bewilderment. At that moment, Yeon-woo once again activated Hands of Orc and swung Carshina’s Dagger.
[Number of bound souls: 115]
The number of souls bound in the Black Bracelet decreased. Whoosh! Black Blade infused Carshina’s Dagger and released its energy with a burst upon contact.
Two heads flew in the air, and one player rolled on the ground clutching his neck tightly. The sharpness of Black Blade could easily cut through most armor and it also inflicted curses that ate away the bodies of those it attacked. The player who had collapsed tried to cure his wound with various skills, but he was unable to stop the bleeding. Soon, he was dead. Everything happened in the blink of an eye.
The players standing at the back started to distance themselves, their faces pale. But Yeon-woo didn’t pay any attention to them, his attention solely focused on the souls floating over the dead bodies. When he reached for them, they scattered like a drop of paint dissolving in water and seeped into the Black Bracelet.
[Number of bound souls: 118]
He made sure to replenish the souls that were consumed with the use of Black Blade, although the speed of replenishment could never match the speed of consumption. Still, it was good enough to keep Black Blade going, and not only that, his enemies were so horrified watching their friends beheaded by some black dagger that they were thinking twice before entering the fray. Nobody wanted to die like that.
"H-he’s not human!"
Yeon-woo lightly flicked his finger at the players running away from him. Boom! Explosions erupted next to their temples, blowing their heads off. It was a combination of skills he had practiced when he first got the Black Bracelet: Black Blade and Flame Infusion. The soul count went down by two, but he killed five players with the attack. It was a worthwhile exchange.
The players of Arangdan felt like ants caught in the death trap of an antlion. The only thing they could do was shudder in fear as Yeon-woo rampaged through the base, several players falling with each swing of his dagger.
Some rushed at him with faces full of tears, and others grouped together to outnumber him. However, it didn’t matter what they did. They all died by Yeon-woo’s hand. ‘I’m not leaving anyone alive.’ Yeon-woo had already made this resolution when he decided to fight Arangdan. It wasn’t only because he wanted to erase any evidence that would link him to the battle, but also because the players belonged to a clan that was involved in his brother’s death.
It didn’t matter where they ran, Yeon-woo quickly caught up to them, relying on his instincts to sense their presence. Yeon-woo penetrated from the exterior of Arangdan to its very core without any hindrance, leaving collapsed buildings, infernos, and bloody corpses in his wake. The players retreated as none of them could stop Yeon-woo.
"Th-that’s a monster!”
"Why hasn’t anybody come to help? At this rate, we’re all gonna die!"
As they stood surrounded by the ruins of their base, Arangdan’s players were frozen in fear. Those who had run away first were already dead. Yeon-woo laughed indifferently as he looked at them. 'I’m full of energy.'
Far from being tired, Yeon-woo felt his body growing more powerful. A big smile spread across his face. At first, he’d thought he was just imagining it, but it was true. The more he fought, the more energetic he became.
Now that his body was enhanced by Diamond Physique, he didn’t feel any fatigue, and as though it were telling him that he hadn’t experienced many things yet, his body was constantly showing off its new abilities.
The same was true for Magic Circuit. The constant supply of mana turned into energy that fueled his body along with Diamond Physique, and he could even amplify or reduce the mana as he required. He didn’t have to worry about an overload or a breakdown, and Yeon-woo felt like he could do this all day long without a single moment of rest. And the artifacts Black Bracelet, Monsters’ Five-Colored Jewel, and Goblin King's Eye were excellent complementary equipment.
Whistle! The wind blew around Yeon-woo as the air grew wavy from the intense heat. Yeon-woo was aware that he had gotten stronger, even beyond his expectations. 'With this power, I can do anything.’
Boom! Yeon-woo took one step forward. Thanks to his skills, he could even revise his plans at the last minute. ‘There’s no need to stick to a hit-and-run strategy. I can just keep going like this and face them head-on. That way, I can devour them all.’ An intense light glowed in his eyes.
Startled by his expression, the other players took a few steps backwards. It was as though they were look at a predator’s eyes gleaming as it looked at its prey.
"How can he keep going like this?"
None of them had the guts to jump at Yeon-woo. When they had first heard about the lone intruder, they had thought it was an insignificant matter. But now, over eighty players had already died, many not even leaving a corpse behind. They realized that they had walked into the depths of hell of their own accord.
Yeon-woo took another step closer. "If you’re not coming to me…" Unable to withstand Yeon-woo’s aura, the players stepped back even farther. "Then I’ll come to you."
Yeon-woo smiled coldly and bent his knees, ready to dart forward. The players' horror-stricken faces grew even paler. Yeon-woo’s feet kicked off the ground, and he stormed his way into the crowd of players. Swish!
Just then, a voice echoed like a thunderbolt across the sky. "Stop!" Yeon-woo stopped halfway through his charge and looked up. Ten players dropped down from a building across from him. Each of them seemed stronger than the players he had fought so far, especially the one at the front who had two swords crossed on his back. He had a dangerous aura that was stronger than all of the other players’ combined. It was Bild, accompanied by nine players from the Tower, sent by the Cheonghwado.
"Ah, finally, he’s here!"
Hope appeared on the players’ faces for the first time. Bild's eyes, however, were filled only with anger. "So you’re the white mask? You’ve been hiding like a pesky little rat all this time, and now you’ve finally decided to show yourself. Do you have any idea where you are?" Bild saw the dead bodies and the rubble everywhere; the last bit of Arangdan’s collapsing power had finally been destroyed. There were only about thirty survivors, and considering that there had been more than a hundred players in the base before he left, that meant more than eighty players had perished in the hands of just one individual.
Whoosh! Intense aura as hot as the resentment he was feeling blew around Bild. He stared at the culprit who had screwed up everything for Arangdan.
Across from him, Yeon-woo had a frown on his face. ‘Why am I feeling a sense of familiarity?' Bild was clearly a player dispatched to the Tutorial by the Cheonghwado and so Yeon-woo couldn't have met him before in the Tutorial. He had been dealing with small fries before he’d managed to draw this big fish out of the base. But even though his plan had been successful, Yeon-woo couldn’t even manage a small smile as he was preoccupied by a strange feeling of déjà vu as he looked at Bild.
He seemed to have memories of him, but Yeon-woo couldn’t figure out from where or when. His head buzzed as he racked his brain. ‘I wouldn’t forget anyone with such a strong aura. Have I really seen him before?’
At that moment, he remembered something from his brother’s diary.
I’ve been stabbed in the heart with a dagger five times in my life. Three of those times were by the Lords, once was by my former lover, and once by a person I’d believed was my friend.
His brother once had a friend he’d trusted with his life, a friend who had people he called his brothers. Yeon-woo was finally beginning to remember the face of one of those brothers, and in a rush, he remembered seeing this same guy standing next to his brother, laughing as his brother collapsed with a blade in his heart. Yeon-woo suddenly remembered his name, his eyes blazing in anger. ‘Bild! Why is he here?’
Players rarely returned to the Tutorial once they started climbing up the Tower. They had ninety-nine floors to climb, why would they go back to a place where they spent a month suffering? And as far as Yeon-woo knew, Bild was one of the players who was focused on climbing the Tower. ‘Why is a player like him in the Tutorial, and even in Arangdan?’
Just then, all the vague suspicions in his head grew clear. Arangdan. The scavengers. the Cheonghwado. Human farm. The secret they had been hiding. And finally, the identity of the guy who was behind Bild. It wasn’t entirely clear, but he now had a slight grasp of their plan. 'This place isn’t just another hideout for the Cheonghwado.' Sparks ignited in Yeon-woo’s eyes. 'Leonte built this place to hide something from the Cheonghwado!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter