Yeon-woo pulled Carshina's Dagger out of the neck of the last player. A bloody froth oozed out of the players mouth as he collapsed to the ground with a gurgle. The area was filled with corpses of the players whom Bild had controlled to attack Yeon-woo.
With the annihilation of Arangdan in Section F, it was safe to say that it was practically destroyed. However, there was one survivor who had yet to be killed. ‘Bild.’ Yeon-woo gently shook the blood off the dagger and began walking in the direction where Bild had fled. With his enhanced senses, Yeon-woo could feel Bild rushing his way to a place that seemed like a basement warehouse.
Yeon-woo lightly kicked off the ground. Swish!
* * *
Bild stopped in front of a shabby warehouse located at the edge of the base. Despite its dilapidated appearance, the warehouse was protected by a combination of magic circles and barriers. Only executives of Arangdan or those in higher positions were allowed to enter this secret place.
'Quickly! I don’t have time for this!' Bild knew his puppets wouldn’t be able to hold Yeon-woo back too long, but they could buy him a little time to get his hands on the stone. He was thankful that he still remembered Leonte’s words about its uses.
However, Bild hadn’t realized that as he tried to run for the stone, Yeon-woo was already following right behind him.
* * *
'They’re good at hiding places like these, aren’t they?' Yeon-woo clucked his tongue as he looked at a spiral staircase he’d discovered inside the warehouse. The staircase was so well-hidden that if he hadn't intentionally let Bild go, he would never have found it on his own.
The staircase led deep under the ground, and as Yeon-woo carefully descended, he made sure to keep a fair amount of distance from Bild. Along the way, he found a countless number of doors, but he couldn’t guess where they led. However, it was certain that there was something absolutely formidable behind those doors.
Yeon-woo stopped in front of an iron door. It looked unusually worn compared to the other doors. 'I sense people in here.' He could feel two people behind it. Yeon-woo looked down the stairs where Bild was still descending. ‘This is the only way in or out. I should be able to catch him any time.' Yeon-woo opened the door without further delay.
Creak! There wasn’t even a magical lock, and the hinges squealed as if they hadn’t been oiled for a long time. He saw a long, narrow corridor with metal bars along both sides, just like a prison. It stank of rotten bodies, which seemed to be evidence that there had been people held inside recently. Bloodstains, scratches made by fingernails, and several other marks were all over the walls.
Awoo! Awoo! There were also thousands of ghosts hovering around the corridor. 'Was this a human farm?’ Yeon-woo gritted his teeth. He had expected it to be big, but it was much larger than he’d guessed. He thought of the other doors he’d encountered as he’d walked down the stairs, unable to even guess how many people had been caged in this underground prison.
He tried expanding his senses to cover a wider area, but he couldn’t sense any survivors other than the two people inside the corridor. He was troubled to see signs of habitation inside several cells. Something must have happened here not too long ago.
Yeon-woo’s eyes darkened with a mix of irritation and resentment, but as soon as he reached the deepest part of the corridor, he saw a haggard-looking Kahn and Doyle chained tightly to the wall.
* * *
"Fucking hell, what the hell's going on up there?" Kahn raised his head with an irritated expression. Bild and his minions had hurried away after news of an intruder. Judging from their expression, something serious must have been happening outside. But since Kahn couldn’t take a look at the situation for himself, he was feeling extremely frustrated. Still, he could guess that the building they were locked in would soon collapse since it had been shaking wildly for some time now. "I thought we would end up doing something cool, but we’re locked in a cage watching the building collapse and waiting for it to bury us alive. Why are we so unlucky?" Kahn smirked as he shook his head, sneering at himself.
"Hyung, you can’t put it like that." Doyle, who had been slouching next to him, slowly raised his head. Even though he was covered in injuries, his eyes still had the same sleepy expression. "You’re the unlucky one, not me. I was just following you around and ended up in this situation by accident."
"So what? Your luck is to be stuck in here with me then."
"If it is, that’s just a rotten piece of luck.”
"You're being sassy today, you know that?"
"Well, it’s something I’ve been meaning to say. After all, if I’m gonna die, I want to talk back to you first."
"You’re talking like you’ve never done that before." The two squabbled with each other even at the verge of death. They had managed to reach this point only because they were so special to each other.
"Sigh…Let's stop fighting. We aren’t going anywhere, anyway. By the way, what do you think Cain is doing right now?" Kahn suddenly recalled their friend, well, maybe not exactly a friend, who had defeated Hargan with them. Even though Yeon-woo was rather brusque, the three of them had really fit well together.
"Well, he’s fine without us. I think he might be in Section G by now."
"Yeah, maybe." Kahn smirked as he continued talking. "Ha, if I knew we would end up like this, I would have told him about that hidden piece. At least it wouldn’t have gone to waste." Kahn shook his head as he thought of the hidden piece he and Doyle had been planning to get, a secret weapon that would help them catch up to the siblings.
He was feeling a little regret when a familiar voice suddenly rang out from above. "You can tell me now."
Kahn and Doyle raised their heads, their expressions filled with surprise. A white mask seemed to float in the dark corridor where light barely reached. It was Yeon-woo.
"How did you—"
"Cain!" Kahn shouted in disbelief as he looked at Yeon-woo. Doyle's eyes grew big was well. However, Yeon-woo ignored their reactions and sliced the metal bars easily at their imperfections and entered the cell. "You guys look like crap." Yeon-woo grinned as he looked them up and down.
Kahn had a complex mix of expressions on his face: gladness, confusion, remorse, and gratitude. However, he quickly turned his head to the side, remembering how harsh he’d been the last time he’d spoken to Yeon-woo. He didn’t want to show how weak he was, but Doyle spoke with teary eyes, "How did you get here?"
Yeon-woo swung Carshina's Dagger and severed the chains restraining Kahn and Doyle. Clank! Clank! As the mana shackles shattered, he said, “The scavengers kept bothering me, and it turned out they were actually part of Arangdan." Yeon-woo said it as casually as if he were just passing by.
Doyle's eyes widened but he soon smiled timidly. He didn't ask how Yeon-woo had found this place; there was no need to. Kahn broke his silence after Yeon-woo freed them from the rest of the restraints. "Thank you. Really."
"If you really want to thank me, you can give me the hidden piece you mentioned earlier.”
"Goddammit, do you really have to turn it into a deal? I guess that’s how you ripped off the mysterious merchant.” Despite his grumbling, there was a smile on Kahn’s face. He knew Yeon-woo was only joking to put them at ease. He was so gruff that he would die before he would say any nice words.
Once his restraints were gone, Kahn tried to circulate mana. Every nerve in his body was screaming in pain, and he started to wonder whether he could even escape in his condition. He could tell how messed up his body was, and he began to feel hopeless. After getting out of the prison, he would be nothing more than a burden to Yeon-woo. Doyle frowned slightly as if he were thinking the same thing.
Kahn made up his mind to tell Yeon-woo to leave them. He was already very grateful that he came to release them from the prison, and they would find a way to escape from the base on their own. However, as if Yeon-woo read his mind, he snorted. "You don’t have to worry about Arangdan. They’re all gone now."
Kahn and Doyle were startled by his remark. "Arangdan is gone? What do you mean?" Since they hadn’t heard about the monster outbreak and Yeon-woo’s rampage, they were immediately bewildered.
However, Yeon-woo only waved his hands at Kahn’s question as if he couldn’t be bothered to answer. Kahn narrowed his eyes for a moment and then sighed deeply. It was clear from Yeon-woo’s attitude that he wouldn’t explain anything to them. However, Doyle was still smiling. "You got them all, didn’t you?"
"Pretty much." Yeon-woo nodded calmly.
However, his answer ticked off Kahn. "Hey! You answered his question, why did you ignore mine?" Yeon-woo stared at Kahn but answered with a snort once more.
"Ugh!" Yeon-woo’s cheekiness made Kahn clench his trembling fists. It was a sad thing to be so powerless at times like this. However, he quickly looked up in surprise at Yeon-woo’s next words: “Bild is still alive."
“He’s still alive?" Flames seemed to shoot from Kahn's eyes. Doyle's face also stiffened. "Hold on a second, did he go down the stairs?”
Yeon-woo’s eyes brightened with interest. So, it was true that Bild was hiding something under the building. "You know what’s down here?"
"I don't know what it is exactly, but those bastards are using players’ lives to make something.”
"Make something?" Of the materials that could be used to craft an artifact, the flesh and soul of players were said to be the most valuable in the Tower. Even in alchemy, transmuting with human bodies was one of the highest levels of skills that existed. However, such acts were taboo, even in the Tower. It wasn't just because it was inhumane, but it was also extremely dangerous.
Whatever artifact they were making, they had already used up thousands of lives. 'From start to finish, all they do is to cause trouble.’ Yeon-woo pulled Carshina's Dagger out as he clucked his tongue.
Bild was nothing more than a trapped rat, and now that he had saved Kahn and Doyle, the only thing left was to follow him downstairs and cut his throat. Also, he wanted to see what they were trying to make.
Yeon-woo was about to tell the two to stay and wait when he realized that the ghosts had followed him. Awoo! They circled him as if they knew he planned to kill Bild and wanted to join. He was going to shoo them away when an idea suddenly occurred to him. "So, you guys want to help, am I correct?"
The ghosts cried out as if they were agreeing. A corner of Yeon-woo's lips curled up slightly. "You can join me on one condition. Care to hear it?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter