The kicked player flew off like a kite with its string cut, smashing table and a couple of chairs as he landed. His groan echoed through the entire inn.
"Idiots! We’re dealing with one goddamn player who’s fresh out of the Tutorial!" A man shouted at the players across the hallway. Yeon-woo flung himself at him.
"What the fuck? S-stop him!" The player flinched as his face turned pale, and the others stood in front of him to protect him.
Puck! Puck! However, Yeon-woo easily knocked the players blocking his path aside, approached the man who had shouted and gripped his neck.
"Urk!" Before the man could say anything more, Yeon-woo tightened his grip. Crunch! He broke the man’s neck. His head rolled forward powerlessly, his tongue lolling out of his mouth.
"No! Not Sai!"
"H-how the hell?”
Yeon-woo threw the corpse aside roughly and concentrated on a faint sound he had been hearing. 'Where is it? Up or Down?' Soon after, Yeon-woo could hear a soft clinking. It was the sound of traps, and he managed to discover a person hurrying through a space beyond the trap. He was trying to escape through a secret passage. 'That’s not going to happen.' Yeon-woo quickly estimated the figure’s position as he activated his Magic Circuit. With mana wrapped around his calf, he stomped the ground. Boom! The floor under his feet caved in as if a bomb had exploded. The impact crushed the traps placed around the building, creating a massive chain of explosions. Rumble! A series of shock waves shook the entire inn up and down.
The players who hadn’t yet fought Yeon-woo stood with their mouths agape at the unbelievable sight. The impact left a big hole in the ground, revealing a hidden room underneath his feet.
Through the hole, Yeon-woo could see a man with a round belly crouched in front of a large safe, looking around in fright and shock. It seemed like he had been in the middle of opening the safe. It was Daem, the clan master of the Night Watch.
Yeon-woo lightly jumped through the hole and landed in front of him. Daem stood in shocked silence with his mouth agape. Then, his legs gave way and he slid down the wall until he was on his bottom.
Creak! At the same time, the safe’s lock clicked and the door swung open. Yeon-woo saw various documents of bearer bonds and certificates, gold bars, and jewels organized in separate compartments. Yeon-woo slowly approached Daem, adjusting his grip on his bayonet. His eyes smiled coldly. Daem stretched his hand into the safe as he stared at Yeon-woo to grab a sword that he had hidden inside a secret compartment.
"D-die!" Daem grabbed the sword and rushed towards Yeon-woo. He drew out every single drop of his mana and started to cast all of his skills. But Yeon-woo swung his Magic Bayonet along the imperfections of Daem’s sword, snapping it in half. Then, Yeon-woo drew out Carshina's Dagger, stabbing it into Daem’s throat.
Puck! Bloody froth spewed out from Daem’s mouth, and he collapsed to the ground. The clan master who had once dominated the underworld was dead. Yeon-woo threw his body aside and looked up through the hole above him at the despondent players on the upper floor. "One of you, come down here."
* * *
"H-here’s the coffee you asked for."
Yeon-woo laughed mildly as he watched the man serve a cup of coffee, the coffee sloshing as the man’s hand trembled. "Did you poison it?"
"How could I even think of such a vile trick?" His face turned pale as he replied. It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought about it, but he knew that trying to poison Yeon-woo would only result in him turning into a corpse instead of the masked man. ‘Where the hell did this monster come from?’ Bister, the ex-second advisor of Night Watch who was now the first advisor, felt like he was going to go crazy.
Rookies had approached Henova before after hearing of his reputation as one of the master blacksmiths, but usually, the clan only needed to threaten them a little before they’d turn tail and leave. He had presumed it would be the same this time, the only difference being that the artifacts they found in Henova's smithy were unusually good. In fact, they were beyond outstanding.
The Beast Lord’s Lion Mane Helm and a half-complete Gyges’ Eyes. As soon as Daem and Bister saw the artifacts, their eyes rolled back from greed. They were items with ratings that they had never seen in their whole lives inside the Tower. However, they soon began to worry about the consequences of taking such valuable items because the player who owned such artifacts couldn’t be an ordinary one. They started investigating the owner and found out something interesting: the new record-breaker in the Tutorial had received the Beast Lord’s Lion Mane Helm as a reward.
Daem had almost screamed in joy. No matter how good he was, a novice was still a novice. It was as easy to steal from a novice as it was to pick something up from the ground. They could even sell information about his whereabouts at a high price to interested parties. Who could have expected that the Hoarder was staying in the Outer District? It was just as people said, you couldn’t see what was right under your nose.
'Shouldn’t have listened to Daem!' Bister, on the other hand, was reluctant to steal the items. He was sure that a novice with such highly rated items likely had someone watching over him, and even if he didn’t, he would definitely have one in the future. But Daem ignored Bister's apprehension, and the price of their greed turned out to be too great. ‘Our entire clan got destroyed. Damn it.'
Night Watch was not a small-sized clan and they weren’t usually defeated so easily. They had even spread the information that they were under the protection of Red Dragon, one of the Eight Clans, and other underworld clans bigger in size had avoided offending them because of that. But Yeon-woo didn't care at all.
Bister thought they might have to close their business for a while. No, maybe they were already done for. They had so many casualties just from this one battle. Their hideout had also been destroyed, and it was obvious that the uninjured would drop out of their clan. The consequences of messing with the wrong person were miserable.
Yeon-woo put down the coffee cup on the table and glanced at Bister with a cold look. The sudden sound made Bister flinch a little. Just looking at Yeon-woo made Bister feel like he was being chained down.
"Let’s talk about compensation, shall we?"
"For Henova’s artifacts and the smithy you destroyed, the losses Henova suffered due to your interference with his business, treatment costs for the physical and psychological damage Henova received…We have a lot to take from you, don’t we? If you don't want to give it up, I’ll take what’s on your neck."
Bister instantly shook his head. He didn’t dare to say that other clans were also involved in the matter.
"First things first, I’ll take what’s in that safe."
Bister’s face went grey. The safe contained the last remaining funds of the Clan.
"You’re going to have to fix the smithy with your own hands. Bring the ones that destroyed the smithy and hurt Henova. I want them to fix the building. Also, I need you to keep your eyes on Henova’s smithy so none of the other clans bother him again."
Bister squeezed his eyes shut and nodded.
"You can report whatever you want to that clan watching over your back. Well, I don't know if they’ll have time to look after you."
Bister remained silent. For some reason, Yeon-woo seemed to know some of the underlying mechanisms of the underworld. Even though they belonged to Red Dragon, the clan didn’t care about anything that happened outside the Tower. If Night Watch disbanded, they’d send people to investigate at most, but not take revenge. Bister’s head fell powerlessly.
"All right, I'll leave the rest to you then." Yeon-woo pushed his chair back and got up. Bister’s legs trembled.
* * *
Yeon-woo returned to the smithy with a full backpack. 'Should I have given them more orders?'
When he had sat down in front of Bister, Yeon-woo, had another plan in mind at first. He thought of killing everyone in Night Watch and a couple more underworld clans and hanging their heads in front of Henova’s smithy.
But the underworld was the underworld after all. The vacuum they left would be filled with other new clans who would bug Henova with different means. It was better to keep the original clans around and simply make them compliant. Even though Yeon-woo had damaged them greatly, it was likely that they would regain their power very soon because of their size. ‘And they’ll be the shield that'll protect Henova from the other clans.’
When Yeon-woo reached Henova’s smithy, he saw the dwarf walking back and forth in front of the smithy with an anxious face. "Hmm?"
Henova’s head was wrapped in bandages, and his eyes trembled in worry. Yeon-woo felt an emotion well up inside him, and he had to stop to put on a calm expression first before he made a noise to indicate his presence.
When Henova turned his head and the worried look on his face was suddenly replaced with delight. But after a moment, he quickly turned around, clearing his throat, and when he turned back, his usual scowl was back on his face. He shouted at Yeon-woo, “Where have you gone off—?”
But Henova couldn’t finish his sentence because Yeon-woo suddenly chuckled as he put down his backpack. He started to take the items out of the backpack, which not only included Henova’s artifacts and materials but also the things he’d taken from Night Watch’s safe.
Henova stared at Yeon-woo and his backpack for some time, various emotions swirling in his eyes. Then, after a deep sigh, he said, “You bastard. Did you already get yourself into trouble?”
Yeon-woo nodded without saying any word.
"I knew you wouldn’t listen to me. What about the clan? Did you take care of them?"
"OK, then. That’s all that matters. Pick them up and come inside." Henova entered the smithy still grumbling, but Yeon-woo could feel the warmth in his voice. A small smile appeared on his lips as he picked up the items and followed Henova inside.
* * *
News of the incident at Henova's smithy spread quickly across the Tower. Night Watch ran around everywhere trying to quell the rumors since the fate of their clan was on the line, but it was impossible to stop all the players in the Tower from babbling. The rumor spread from player to player along with the whereabouts of the missing player known as the Hoarder.
Because of this, several clans of the underworld started to move. They monitored Yeon-woo’s every move, made reports with the information they gathered, and sold them at high prices. Behind the scenes, a number of giant clans began to try to recruit Yeon-woo. The stories spread until they reached the ears of people who had been searching for Yeon-woo for weeks.
"What? The Outer District? Why is he there?" Phante stopped drinking his liquor and frowned at the words he’d overheard from the next table. Frightened by Phante’s reaction, the speaker had to recount all the rumors he’d heard for an entire hour, but nothing except for one name entered Phante’s ears. "So, he’s in the Outer District? Just outside the Tower!" Phante's eyes glowed with an intense light.
On the other hand, Edora tilted her head at the name that seemed somewhat familiar. “Henova?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter