'One month.' Yeon-woo took the pocket watch out of his pocket and gazed at the watch face. The watch was still shabby and stained, its hour hand still fixed at twelve just like it had when he’d first received it. The only difference was that it was now trembling slightly, which meant that it was winding itself little by little. ‘That should be enough.’
Yeon-woo put the pocket watch back in his pocket and hung the Magic Bayonet on his waist. ‘Incidentally…’ His eyes became introspective as his keen senses scanned the surrounding area. 'I’ve got so many players on my tail.' A group of people had started following him soon after he left the smithy. 'Fifteen? No, seventeen.'
Yeon-woo expanded his cognitive reach to its fullest extent to determine the location of his pursuers. ‘Are they after my rewards? Or maybe they’re here to threaten me.’ It seemed like both. Since they were moving separately in groups of five or six, it didn’t seem like they were from the same clan.
They were just small fries and wouldn’t be a threat even if they ambushed him at the same time. ‘However, I don’t want to get tangled up in a fight right now.' Yeon-woo turned at the next corner, pretending not to notice them. They hurried behind him, only to see an empty street full of shadows as soon as they turned the corner.
"What? Where’s that fucker?"
"Damn it! We can’t lose him!"
In the end, the pursuers could only pull their hair out in frustration.
* * *
After slipping past his pursuers, Yeon-woo rented a room at a shabby inn nearby and left once more after he bought a robe to wear. He had accumulated a substantial amount of karma points during the Tutorial which were considered currency in the Tower, and so he wasn’t concerned about not having enough money. He also didn’t have to worry about attracting undue attention since a lot of people wore the same clothing.
After walking down a few streets, Yeon-woo arrived at the tallest building in the vicinity. It was a coffee shop.
"How may I help you, sir?"
"I'd like to use the terrace."
After paying quite a lot of karma, Yeon-woo was soon led to the terrace on the fifth floor. As he entered the terrace, the view of the Outer District lit up with lanterns in the sunset unfolded in front of his eyes.
“I must say, this is your lucky day sir. As you can see, our terrace is known for its splendid view. A lot of customers visit our cafe just to see it. At this time, we usually have regular customers…"
"Hazelnut coffee, no sugar. I hope the beans are not artificial." Yeon-woo interrupted the waiter’s words and sat on a chair to look at the view.
The waiter quietly backed away without a hint of displeasure, and Yeon-woo didn’t budge until his coffee arrived. It was delicious. He’d heard that coffee beans had first been brought over from Earth, but when they grew popular in the Tower, people began to grow them locally.
The coffee was different from what he used to drink, but it was still good. Yeon-woo enjoyed drinking coffee when he was still on Earth, especially just before battle so he could cool off his adrenaline, just as he was doing right now.
He could finally relax a little from the tension that had occupied him for the past few weeks and indulge in the cool evening breeze, the view, and the hot coffee. Everything was good.
'You always knew the best places.’ His brother used to visit this café often when he first formed Arthia and was still eager to climb the Tower. It was a place full of memories of Jeong-woo laughing, chatting, and having fun with his teammates. As Yeon-woo stared at the view, he tried to imagine the things his brother had thought or felt as he sat in the same chair, picturing his brother’s laughter as he talked with his friends.
Ordinary players didn’t find the Outer District entertaining or amusing, but it was a place full of happy memories to his brother. Yeon-woo was going to retrace his brother’s steps when he’d still lived in the Outer District until Gyges’ Eyes was complete. He brought the cup of coffee to his lips again, and it tasted a little more bitter this time.
* * *
The next morning, Yeon-woo left the inn wearing his mask and the same robe he’d worn the day before. He was headed to a restaurant that turned out to already be full of people who had come for breakfast like himself. "Are there any empty tables?"
"I’m sorry, but you can share one. Is that OK?"
After he nodded, Yeon-woo was led to a giant table in the middle of the restaurant. The other customers eating their meals at the table were people who had arrived alone like Yeon-woo. The menu was written in an incomprehensible language, but Yeon-woo ordered the dish that his brother had recommended in his diary, which looked like the kebabs he’d once eaten in Turkey.
The taste was horrible. 'Oh, right. You had the worst taste buds in the world. I forgot about that.'
* * *
After finishing his meal, Yeon-woo went for a stroll along a forest trail on the outskirts of the city. A brisk wind blew along the quiet path, which was practically empty. Yeon-woo felt elated at the thought of finding a good place to rest. His mood had been ruined by his terrible meal, but he felt refreshed now.
* * *
"Looking for a weapon? Or armor? We’ve got everything you’ll ever need!"
"As for this item I’ve got here..."
Yeon-woo was now in a street filled with the voices of vendors and customers and crowded with a huge variety of people. Although it was very different from the quiet forest trail, he walked along the street for a long time.
* * *
There was a place that was similar to an aquarium in the southwest area of the Outer District where one could see all kinds of aquatic organisms collected from all over the world. However, Yeon-woo was here for another reason: the girls. There were a lot of pretty girls in this area. ‘You were a man too,’ he grinned and then chuckled.
* * *
Just like on Earth, the food sold by street vendors was delicious.
* * *
"Oh, you are the same person from yesterday."
"Is the terrace where I sat yesterday available?"
"We don’t have many customers around this time, but the view in the daytime is just as charming as the night one.”
Yeon-woo enjoyed his tea time on the terrace as much as he did the night before. It was as though everything he’d experienced since entering this world had just been a dream. Everything was so peaceful.
* * *
Yeon-woo visited Henova's smithy again.
Bang! Bang! "What is it? Why are you here again?" Henova scowled as he put down a scorching piece of metal. His muscles looked as solid as rock. For the past few days, Yeon-woo had been going in and out of the smithy like it was his own house.
"I dropped by to check on my commission. It seems like you’ve procured all the materials you need to make the artifact, is that right?"
His shameless attitude made Henova’s face crease even further. "What did you just say?"
Yeon-woo continued speaking in a matter-of-fact manner. "It seems like you’ve already started crafting the artifact, but I'll keep an eye on you, just in case."
"You son of a…!" Henova started swearing at him, but Yeon-woo just sat in an empty corner and stared at Henova. In the end, Henova could only shake his head, realizing Yeon-woo wouldn’t listen no matter what he said. For the past few days, he’d been feeling that this guy was a really hard nut to crack.
He always came and went as he pleased, and no matter how much Henova shouted or scolded, he only gave a few nods and continued what he was doing. None of Henova’s reprimands worked, so the dwarf decided to just treat Yeon-woo like he didn’t exist and went back to work.
Yeon-woo silently observed Henova, and soon, reptilian pupils split open inside his eyes as he used Draconic Eyes to understand and analyze Henova’s movements. Henova was hammering meticulously, smelting the metal in a force, pouring it into a blade-shaped mold, and forging it into the desired shape.
Henova’s touch was practiced and heartfelt, and Yeon-woo felt like his eyes were becoming clear just from watching him at work. He immediately thought of the word “artisan”. Henova had claimed to be one of the five best master blacksmiths, and Yeon-woo thought he really deserved his reputation. ‘This is how everything you wielded was made.’ Jeong-woo had been known as “Heaven Wing”, and the artifacts that had gotten him this nickname had been made by Henova.
Henova’s skills were truly marvelous to the point that they made Yeon-woo’s fingers itch even though he had no knowledge of smithing. Henova’s movements were full of power and significance that ordinary people wouldn’t be able to grasp.
These were the things that Yeon-woo was yearning to see: the food his brother ate, the cafe where he chatted with his friends, the place he stayed at, and even the paths he walked. He wanted to experience every trace of his brother.
Yeon-woo closed his eyes and compared the places he had seen in the diary to his own experience of them. They were both the same and different. When he opened his eyes again, Henova’s large, wrinkled face loomed in his vision. "Are you done sleeping, asshole?" He was clearly annoyed. "Someone's working their ass off in front of the fire, and the one who’s supposed to be watching is taking a nap instead. Why the fuck did you even come here?"
"Didn’t I tell you? I came here because I was bored."
The apathetic answer made the veins on Henova’s forehead pop. "If you're so bored, then sit over there and hammer something and stop getting on my nerves, you lazy ass!" Henova blew his top and started jumping up and down in anger. It was a little funny to see him hopping on his short legs.
"I will." As deadpan as ever, Yeon-woo went to the place Henova was pointing to and sat. He picked up the hammer and looked at Henova, “How do I light the furnace? I can’t start hammering without fire."
"Y-you p-pathetic...!” Henova began to stutter as if he couldn’t contain his anger and soon collapsed holding the back of his neck. "Urgh! That bastard’s killing me…”
"Do you have high blood pressure? Do you want me to bring you some medicine?"
"If you want to help me, then just shut up!"
"OK then. But really, how do I light the furnace?"
"Aarghh!!!” Henova screamed. They were clearly not speaking the same language. Although Yeon-woo didn’t seem to mean any harm, Henova’s stomach began turning after just speaking a few words with him. Finally, Henova sat up and took a deep breath, realizing there was no point in lashing out at Yeon-woo. "Ugh, how did I get myself tangled up with this idiot?" He felt like he had grown several years older.
'I can see why Jeong-woo followed him from the start.' Below the mask, a little smile flickered on Yeon-woo’s face.Previous Chapter Next Chapter