Jang Wei’s eyes widened, thinking that he’d heard wrong. Assassinate who? The Martial King? “Hahahaha!” It was a laugh of disbelief. To Jang Wei, killing the Martial King was beyond ridiculous.
Although the Martial King was considered a king, he was really on an entirely different level from other kings. From a young age, his abilities and outstanding skills had allowed him to stand on equal footing with the millennia-year-old ruler of the Tower, the Summer Queen, and he even managed to defeat her.
Although he hadn’t finished exuviation or gained transcendence, his abilities were like those of a mighty divine being, and he was the candidate most likely to triumph over Allforone in this age.
Jang Wei himself had experienced the Martial King’s obsessive pursuit after he killed one of the One-horned tribe members. Even if the other Nine Kings worked together, they probably wouldn’t be able to do anything to the Martial King. How would Faceless get past the One-horned tribe? And how would he deal with the Head Elder, who was also the Blood Red Philosopher?
Furthermore, behind them was the Shadow King and the Tower’s most powerful clan, Arthia. The Martial King had also planted many seeds throughout the Tower that would grow into bushes and forests around him. It was possible that challenging the Martial King might mean fighting the entire Tower. To Jang Wei, it was impossible to defeat the Martial King. “Wasn’t the Martial King your teacher? How ridiculous of you to say that. If it were possible, I would have done it already.”
Faceless just smiled at Jang Wei’s retort. “Didn’t I say that I’m trying to assassinate him?”
Jang Wei realized that Faceless was serious. He frowned. If someone like the Sword God was this determined, he wouldn’t have brought it up unless things had already progressed to a certain point. The Sword God probably needed Jang Wei as a chess piece. ‘But if it’s possible…’ Jang Wei knew if they succeeded, it would be a big blow to Yeon-woo.
How would the steely captain—who didn’t even shed a tear when Jang Wei’s sister died—react if his teacher died? Would he cry? Or…? ‘If the Martial King can truly be assassinated, it won’t be difficult to get into the One-horned tribe’s village. Then I’ll be able to find what he’s hiding.’
Jang Wei already knew that there was something special to Yeon-woo in the tribe. He didn’t know whether it was a person or an item, but he did know it was related to Heaven Wing. If he destroyed whatever it was, he’d be able to push Yeon-woo into a corner, just like Yeon-woo had done in the past! “How?”
Faceless smiled when he learned Jang Wei was convinced. His hunch had been correct. If his plan seemed somewhat doable, Jang Wei would jump into it without any concern for his own safety. It was the reason why he’d put aside his grudges to rescue Jang Wei. “I’ll show you our comrades first.”
Faceless took a step back. Then, the door burst open and people entered as if they’d been waiting outside the entire time. As soon as Jang Wei saw the face of the first person, his eyes widened. “Black Prince…?”
The most elusive member of the Nine Kings, the leader of the violent Daud Brethren, was standing there.
* * *
『Stop with the bullshit!』 The Vampiric Lord’s face turned stiff. The energy surrounding her lashed around and a black haze gathered. The Vampiric Spirit appeared and growled as if it would swallow Yeon-woo.
Rumble! The Tutorial stage shook even more violently. Unlike the Demonic Sea, which was filled with scary and violent creatures, this was a place for novices. Simply releasing strength put the stage in danger. The monsters spread throughout Section E couldn’t handle the Vampiric Lord’s aura and dropped to the ground with foaming mouths.
[A mysterious being senses something.]
「M-Mother!」 Lana felt Allforone’s gaze again and quickly stopped the Vampiric Lord. They couldn’t give him an excuse to come down.
However, the Vampiric Lord was so furious that she didn’t care. Her blazing eyes were trained on Yeon-woo.
“Isn’t the reason obvious?” But Yeon-woo was calm. His tone suggested that she ought to know more than he did, and there was even a hint of a reproach that she didn’t know anything at all.
The Vampiric Lord’s sharp eyes shook for the first time. 『Is it possible…?』
“Yes. That’s correct.” Yeon-woo nodded gravely. “He ended up in that situation trying to save you.”
「What are you talking about, Cain? Explain properly!」 Lana caught the unsteady Vampiric Lord and turned to Yeon-woo, speaking in a stressed voice.
“A long time ago, before you finished exuviation, you challenged Allforone and were critically injured.”
「Ah.」 Lana understood what Yeon-woo was trying to say. It was the great incident during which the king of vampires, the Vampiric Lord, died. At the time, no one in the Tower other than the Summer Queen could challenge her, and all that was left was the seventy-seventh floor. She promised herself that she’d clear through it, finish exuviation and gain transcendence, and then challenge Allforone.
But it resulted in a terrible loss. The Vampiric Lord couldn’t even touch him. From the beginning, there was nothing she could do to defeat Allforone, who had the Sun God’s name. Fortunately, she escaped with her life, but the clans against her immediately began their assault, and the Vampiric Lord was chased to the Tutorial stage.
“At the time, it was said that you died in the Tutorial stage because people believed it was impossible for you to survive with all of your injuries. What did you expect those close to you would do?”
『Stop.』 The Vampiric Lord spoke in a fragile voice, trying to stop him from speaking any further, but Yeon-woo was still looking at Lana.
“They tried to rescue you or attack those chasing you. Count Ferenc tried to distract Allforone away from you.”
『I said, stop!』
“But it ended in his capture.”
『Stop!』 Crash! The Vampiric Lord screamed. The Vampiric Spirit thrashed around and hit Yeon-woo. However, his wall of souls blocked them and the Vampiric Spirit could only sweep the ground around him away, leaving a large crack that spread all the way to a forest in the distance.
Yeon-woo finished his explanation to Lana while the Vampiric Lord glowered at him. “Since Allforone couldn’t capture the Vampiric Lord, he took the Count as hostage in case she returned.”
「You…how did you know that?」
“Lana, it’s what Jeong-woo wanted to tell you.”
How can I tell Lana this? She’ll definitely be heartbroken when she hears this. Even if she seems cheerful on the outside, she’s frail on the inside. How many families and lovers did Allforone split up with his decisions?
Lana wasn’t the only victim. More than a handful of people had challenged Allforone during his millenia in the Tower. The Vampiric Lord, Faust, De Roy, the Summer Queen, the Martial King… Yeon-woo already knew quite a lot of them. Allforone had eliminated most of them, but the ones who managed to keep their lives were baited into doing what he wanted.
Lana was silent. All kinds of expressions seem to flash across her face. Yeon-woo gave her some time to clear her head. She had gained many things from the Tower—a lover, disciple, parents—but she’d lost even more. There was no way he’d know the depths of her pain.
The Vampiric Lord glared at him. 『What a sly bastard you are. Were you trying to pull me in like this for your own benefit?』
“I won’t say that didn’t occur to me.”
『You…!』 Her clenched fists trembled. She wanted to expand the Vampiric Spirit and make it swallow Yeon-woo, but it was obvious Allforone’s gaze would return to them once more.
However, Yeon-woo was assured that the Vampiric Lord had completely joined his side. ‘I can’t let her go when I’ve just met her. We have to have as many forces as possible, and I must secure the Vampiric Lord.” It would be good to have the Vampiric Lord as his familiar, but that was difficult. But if he let her be, it was possible that she would leave. He needed a way to convince her to stay.
The Vampiric Lord understood Yeon-woo’s intentions, but there was nothing she could do. Even with her current status, it would be difficult to challenge the seventy-seventh floor. However, with Yeon-woo as an ally, her chances improved. He was the player who had the best chance of challenging Allforone.
There was also the Martial King, but she didn’t like him since the One-horned tribe members and vampires didn’t get along. However, since Yeon-woo was the Black King’s successor, they could work well together. In the end, the Vampiric Lord couldn’t help admitting that she was a chained beast. She barely managed to restrain her fury.
『Can you swear on that?』 She wanted to make sure that he wasn’t lying about Count Ferenc’s whereabouts.
“If you wish, I’ll make a pledge of mana.”
『That’s sufficient. I also want to ask you one more thing.』 The tiny Vampiric Lord didn’t hide her fearsome aura as she growled. 『If you want to use me as your packhorse, you need to show your qualifications. You may be the Black King’s successor, but I don’t know you. What is your final goal?』
“Isn’t it obvious?” Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes. “It’s to destroy the Tower.”
The Vampiric Lord was speechless.
“And to do that…” He lifted a corner of his mouth, exposing his canines. “I need to kill Allforone first. Is that sufficient, too?”
The Vampiric Lord nodded. 『Fine. Until we rescue the count, I’ll be your dog. However, you must be careful not to show any weakness. My teeth are always ready to bite your neck.”』
[You have allied yourself with player ‘Erzsebet Bathory’.]
[If you break this alliance, you may receive disadvantages.]
* * *
As soon as the Vampiric Lord made her decision, they moved to a town of orcs in the middle of a forest.
‘They venerate Akasha’s Snake like a god. They know it’s possible to resurrect it. as well. This means they know a lot about the snake, and they may have more information.’ If there was anything Yeon-woo had learned, it was that the random information of the Tower was actually linked together like an intricate web.
Yeon-woo thought the orcs might know information about Akasha’s Snake like it was folklore. For that, he needed to secure the orc shaman who presided over the resurrection ceremony of Akasha’s Snake.
Swish. None of the monsters could feel Yeon-woo moving because he had hidden his presence. Thankfully, the novices hadn’t entered Section E yet, and no one would bother him. When they arrived in the orc town, Yeon-woo released his presence. ‘It’s a pain to pick out the orc shamans.’ Instead, he planned to gather all the souls in the town, not just those of the shamans.
[Death is with the orcs.]
A dark shadow instantly descended on the entire forest and quietly took their lives. The noisy orc town filled with thousands of orcs grew silent.
* * *
[The First Spirit]
Chhhhh. After using the Black King’s power to read the souls of thousands of orcs, Yeon-woo learned a surprising folklore.
The wheel of dreams turned endlessly because only darkness existed at the beginning of time.
That was how the folklore began. ‘Dreams?’ As soon as Yeon-woo saw the word, he felt a strong sense of deja vu. Was it only a coincidence that he was reminded of the special benefit Jeong-woo had received: Drawing Dreams?
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