『I’ve always known that child is resourceful and talented, but she’s gone into business?』 Kronos’ eyes widened.
『She’s added to Rhea’s inheritance, which means she now operates a substantial business.』
Yeon-woo’s eyes lit up as he listened to their conversation. ‘Then By the Table is…’
The wolf the two were referring to was probably the leader, Freesia. Yeon-woo smirked. ‘Who would have guessed that By the Table, which not only has a network in the Tower but across multiple universes and dimensions, would have such an origin.’
Yeon-woo was once more reminded of how influential his father and mother had once been. Back on Earth, he never imagined they were anything more than a normal family. Of course, even though his mother and Freesia had a previous relationship, he couldn’t take advantage of it. He could only appeal to Freesia’s mercy. If Yeon-woo could rely on By the Table, he would be able to obtain Adamantine Nova from outside the Tower.
『Then, I’ll be relying on you.』 At Kronos’ request, Anastasia nodded and slowly got up.
Although she and Freesia had an antagonistic relationship, Anastasia had no doubt that Freesia would be happy to receive this news.
“Wow, he’s so handsome!” The Martial King grinned as he looked at the newly completed statue of himself. His shoulders straightened as he observed the statue’s dignified posture, which seemed to symbolize a great monarch leading his clan to glory.
“The statue’s shoulders are wider than those of its subject. The chin is too narrow, and the bridge of the nose is higher too. Who would realize this statue is our tribal chief? And why is it so big? Isn’t that just a waste of space?” Unlike the proud Martial King, the Head Elder adjusted his glasses as he criticized the statue. When he saw Henova coming down from the statue, the Head Elder asked, “Henova, I understand that you need to take some artistic liberties, but don’t you think you’ve gone too far? You’ve also gone way over budget.”
“Hey, old fogey! What are you talking about? What artistic liberties? Anyone can easily see that it’s me!” The Martial King loudly voiced his opinion, but the Head Elder paid no attention to him.
Puffing on a pipe, Henova simply shrugged, not even bothering to make excuses. “I’m only doing what I was asked to do. The person who paid me so generously is standing next to you, so ask him.”
The Head Elder’s eyes narrowed as he glared at the Martial King. “You bastard chieftain! I should have known you were up to no good when you asked for additional funds with some bullshit reason about additional expenses!”
“Hmph! What do you mean ‘up to no good’? Head Elder, watch your words! Who do you think I am, huh? What do I represent to this clan, hmm? Who has led this tribe to prosperity? Am I not even allowed this?”
“Did you know that you are doing things that even the great Shaohao Jintian didn’t even do?”
“Since Shaohao-Jintian didn’t do it, I’ll do it.” The Martial King made a loud “ahem” before puffing up his chest.
As usual, the Head Elder suppressed his desire to tear off the Martial King’s face. What could the Head Elder do? No matter how much the Martial King’s behavior annoyed him, the Martial King was the tribe’s chieftain, even if he didn’t act that way. Today’s statue was a prime example.
It had been a long time since the One-horned Tribe settled in the Tower, and they had produced countless chieftains. However, none of them had dared erect a statue of themselves. No matter how strong and great they were, none of them could even match the achievements of the tribe’s founder, Shaohao-Jintian. However, the Martial King had disregarded this precedent so easily.
What else could it mean other than the Martial King was bragging that he was better than his ancestors! Naturally, the tribe members simply reacted with a “Hey, what an ugly and interesting statue.”
The Head Elder believed that anything related to the tribe had to be discussed first and proper procedures followed, but the Martial King had arbitrarily and unilaterally made his own decision. ‘If he’s not a tyrant, who else could be one?’
Moreover, not all opinions within the tribe were favorable towards the Martial King’s decision. Several families, including the Baekseon family hostile toward the Cheongram family that had produced the Martial King and the Head Elder, expressed their dissatisfaction. However, since the Martial King had such a huge influence within the tribe and Tower, their dissent was not overt and didn't amount to much of a dispute. However, the dissenters were a powder keg that might explode at any moment. Even a spark could set off a chain reaction.
‘This little kid knows this too, so why…’ Unable to comprehend what the Martial King was thinking, the Head Elder furrowed his brow as he looked at the Martial King. The Head Elder decided to get straight to the point. “You’ve heard that Flanc’s status was restored this morning during the elders’ conference, right?”
“‘That’? It’s all you can say?” The creases deepened on the elder’s forehead. Normally, the Head Elder was known for his calm personality, which was why he gained his nickname “philosopher”, but it was difficult for him to remain calm when it came to the Martial King. “Can you really refer to it as ‘that’? You know that he’s ranting all over the place saying that he’s going to take your place, right?”
The Martial King laughed bitterly. “Old fogey…”
“Why are you laughing?”
“Does the Head Elder consider his words a possibility?”
“Of course not! How could I consider an insignificant individual like Flanc a danger?”
“Then, doesn’t that answer your question?”
“You also know that it’s not that black and white!” The Head Elder was going to continue and say that Flanc was clearly setting up a trap. It was the same thing that the Martial King’s wife, the Psychic Medium, had said. Why else would anyone insist on a fight with an obvious outcome? It was too suspicious.
Of course, underhanded actions like this were usually ignored since Head Elder knew just how much of a monster the Martial King was. In fact, the Martial King had always destroyed any challenge thrown his way with overwhelming power. However, the present situation was different due to the Psychic Medium’s prophecy. The Head Elder knew just how important and significant the prophecy’s words were, so he could not overlook even the smallest detail.
In the end, the angered Head Elder scolded the Martial King for a long time. The Martial King covered his ears with his hands and continued admiring the statue as if nothing was going on. When the Head Elder’s breathing started to grow a little rough, the Martial King finally responded. “Are you done with your scolding now?”
“You bastard!” The Head Elder seriously contemplated slapping the Martial King, who had on a carefree smile. Even in this situation, the Martial King couldn’t take his eyes off of the statue that was his spitting image—at least, this was what he thought.
As soon as he regained his status as a member of the tribe, Faceless immediately challenged the chieftain’s throne as he had threatened. The duel for the throne was one of the One-horned Tribe’s rituals, and only those who were victorious were entitled to the throne. So far, the Martial King’s power and skills were so overwhelming that no one had ever challenged him. Since they hadn’t had a big event in a while, the members of the tribe grew excited. Despite the ritual’s name, the duel for the throne did not take place in a solemn atmosphere. The event was more like a festival.
If a new king was crowned, it was a joyous occasion to see a strong leader emerge. If the current king held onto the throne, then it meant that he was reaffirming his qualifications. This was welcome news as well. With Shaohao-Jintian’s blessing, the king and the challenger would both participate in a sacred duel, and there was no festival better than this. Of course, not all members of the tribe were happy.
“Brother, how did this happen?” Edora’s frown deepened as she hugged her sword, Divine Evil, tightly. As she continued to follow Yeon-woo’s orders to rise up the Tower and serve in Arthia, Edora received the news from her tribe and felt a deep sense of gloom.
A duel between the Martial King and Faceless, a clash between her father and her uncle. Edora had only good memories of Flanc from her childhood, and discovering that things had deteriorated to such a state was depressing. She hoped that the duel would not turn into a bloodbath.
Phante felt the same, and he had not spoken much since he stepped foot into the village. “I don’t get it. To be honest, you’re the smart one between us, right?” Phante’s voice was subdued. He continued, “Even though I’m dumb, I do know one thing. Uncle is now our enemy.” Slowly and bluntly, Phante said, “If our uncle only wanted the throne, I would have cheered him on. If our uncle wanted to prove his martial arts against Father, I would have cheered him on. I would have understood our uncle’s feelings better than anyone else.”
Phante was still greedily eyeing the position of chieftain. In fact, Phante desired to surpass his father one day. “But our uncle is not like that. He mixed himself up with the wrong things, and he’s done things that could have harmed the tribe. He has let go of the pride of being a martial arts warrior. Furthermore…he’s been secretly working on developing a drug. I can’t forgive him for that.”
Phante still had not forgotten what Doyle had said to him before he came here: “The Black Prince isn’t the only one Faceless is involved with. He’s mixed in with quite a lot of unruly characters. Among them…anyway, be careful, Phante hyung. It’s likely something will happen. I’ll continue to keep an eye on you, as well. We’ll prepare to intervene if necessary.”
However, at the time, Phante flatly rejected Doyle’s offer of assistance. The tribe handled its own affairs and would never allow outside interference. However, this did not mean that Phante had ignored Doyle’s words. On the contrary, Phante had been on high alert for any external influences in the tribal village. Phante had already told the members of the Cheongram family to be on the lookout for unwanted guests on the outskirts of the village, just in case. If they tried any tricks, as Phante expected they would, Phante and the Cheongram family would immediately subdue them. Moreover, Phante was confident that he now possessed the power to execute his plan and protect his people.
“You’re correct.” Edora nodded but looked at Phante with curious eyes. She wondered when his thinking had grown so mature. After struggling outside the village for a period, Phante had lost much of his immaturity. He was grown up enough to be the head of a family. The siblings grew quiet, staring intently at the entrance of the village.
“He’s coming in now.”
At Phante’s words, Edora’s eyes turned to the direction that Phante was referring to. Faceless slowly made his way down a path, heading towards the siblings, his skinny body wrapped in bandages. With every step he took, the dark and ghastly fighting spirit that Faceless emitted grew stronger. No one would have recognized the once-arrogant and confident Flanc. In addition, those who followed behind Faceless were familiar faces to Phante and Edora.
“So, it’s true… It seems that Jang and the Baekseon family have attached themselves to the other side.”
They weren’t the only ones. The Changgyu family, the Jaekum family, and the Shinho family had also joined in. Although the overwhelming power of the Cheongram family had suppressed them, the families that gathered behind Faceless were all influential ones. They had not tried anything in a while, and it seemed that they’d been busy plotting against the Cheongram family.
Edora could not quite understand their decision. It was understandable why they would support Faceless, but they also had to be aware that Faceless didn’t stand a chance of winning against the Martial King. Were they not concerned about the oppression they might face after the duel was done? No, more than that… ‘They wouldn’t have been able to avoid Mother’s gaze, right? What method did they use?’ The power of Edora’s sight was already close to that of a god’s, but Faceless was still shrouded in mystery to her. As she wondered about this, Faceless already reached the Martial King. A current of tension flowed between the two. However, their auras were completely different. Faceless’s aura was like that of a sharp sword whereas the Martial King’s was relaxed.
“Have you been all right, bro?” Faceless asked in a hoarse, halting voice that made one shiver.
The Martial King merely smirked as he glanced at Faceless and the elders of the various families behind him. “Well, I slept deeply last night. By the way, what are those things hanging behind you? So cumbersome and gaudy.”
“Thankfully, there are many people who support me.”
“It’s not like we’re fooling around to find out who’s the neighborhood leader. Your actions are laughable.”
Only an idiot wouldn’t know whom the Martial King was speaking to. Naturally, the faces of the elders standing behind Faceless flushed with embarrassment. Some were about to argue with the Martial King about his choice of words.
“Anyway…” The Martial King completely ignored the elders’ reactions as if he couldn’t care less and waved his hand at Faceless. “Come on. Let’s finish this quickly so I can go back and rest.” It was clear that the Martial King did not care much about his opponent.
In an instant, through the bandages, Faceless’s eyes gleamed coldly. Then, the corners of his lips rose. “I agree with that sentiment as well, so let’s start.”
At that moment, the elders of the Baekseon family turned and shouted, “The duel for the tribe’s throne is beginning! Everyone, back up!”
Boom! Boom! Boom! The war bell rang out as if someone had been waiting. The members of the One-horned tribe began to retreat to secure space for the duel.