Chapter 95 - One-horned Tribe (5)

[Sudden Quest / Hired Warrior]
[Description: The recent conflict between Red Dragon and the Cheonghwado is leading up to a war, and many players in the Tower are preparing for the upcoming battle. The One-horned tribe has ended its longstanding neutrality and is preparing to join the war as mercenaries.
Join the war as a temporary member of the One-horned tribe. Distinguish yourself in the war to gain greater rewards.] 
[Time Limit: The end of the war]
[Rewards:
[1. Intimacy with the One-horned tribe +150
2. Lunar Seed
3. ???]

Yeon-woo wasn't the only one surprised by the offer.

"What? With him?”

"Do we really need more outsiders?"

"Why not?”

"I mean, I don't mind another human joining, but they have to be skilled enough. If not...”

“Nah, he should be fine. He traveled with Edora-nim and Phante-nim. Besides, he’s the infamous Hoarder."

"I guess you’re right."

The elders and other members of the tribe discussed the news among themselves, as Phante and Edora looked at the Martial King with surprise. It was a very serious issue, and Yeon-woo felt his heart pounding crazily.

Everyone in the Tower knew about the upcoming war between the two big clans, and Yeon-woo had been keeping a close eye on the developing situation since both clans were important targets of his revenge. He’d been searching for ways to take part in the war, and now one had fallen into his lap as he was solving the problem of his egg. ‘Can I even join the war with them?'

The One-horned tribe was a race that many clans would kill to recruit. There couldn’t be a better solution to his problems, but he was puzzled by one thing. ‘What happened to their neutral stance?’

As far as he knew, the One-horned tribe had not interfered in any major events in the Tower, which was why they hadn’t been involved in the fall of the giant clan, Arthia. And yet, for some reason, they’d disregarded this tradition. However, Yeon-woo suspected that he might have an idea why. ‘The Spear God of the Cheonghwado is from the One-horned tribe.' The Spear God was one of the five leaders of the Cheonghwado, and his title had been given to him because his spearmanship was second to none among the top rankers.

"Are you fighting for the Cheonghwado?”

"Hehehe. You’re quick-witted." The Martial King nodded with a broad smile.

Encouraged by his answer, Yeon-woo decided to ask him more questions. "As far as I am aware, the One-horned tribe has always been neutral. May I ask why you’ve decided to enter the war?"

"No comment, but I can tell you that it has something to do with what you probably have in mind."

'So it’s the Spear God, then. I don't know what he did to get them involved.' However, he was sure of one thing. 'The milk has been spilled, and the war is inevitable.’ Yeon-woo clucked his tongue at the cleverness of the Cheonghwado’s move. He had been wondering how they would make up for their lack of military strength, and he hadn’t expected this at all. If the One-horned tribe was siding with the Cheonghwado, it would keep Red Dragon on their toes. ‘The war is not going to end easily.’

Yeon-woo felt his blood boiling in anticipation. If his enemies exhausted themselves fighting each other, he might be able to get rid of them both without any major resistance. "If I enter the war, what role will I have? I even don't understand why you would need soldiers outside of your own tribe."

"Well, I guess you can think of it like that. But things are not as simple as they seem." The Martial King leaned back in his chair as he scratched his head. "Let me ask you a question. While you were walking through our village, did you get a feeling that we were preparing for a war?"

Yeon-woo recalled the peaceful scenery of the village and shook his head. "No, sir."

"Right? They are that kind of people. When I announced that we were changing our stance just this once, many weren’t happy about it. Only the crazy ones welcomed the news because they’ve been raring to go on a rampage.”

Yeon-woo understood the Martial King’s dilemma. "Not all of them are participating."

"Yeah. Even if I yelled in their ears, those bastards won’t even pretend to listen.”

Yeon-woo nodded.

The Martial King smiled as he rested his head on his clasped hands. "So that’s why I am trying to recruit more people to help us. To be honest with you, I’ve found nine people besides you. All of them experts."

Yeon-woo thought for a moment. ‘Although he says that, I’m sure all of the warriors will follow him into battle, except for a few elders.' The One-horned tribe was known for their absolute loyalty to their king and their tribe.

But for some reason, Yeon-woo couldn’t give an answer to the Martial King’s offer. 'I can't tell what he’s up to.' When he looked at the Martial King, his smile looked like that of a ferocious beast. He was like both Phante and Edora combined into one. Very fiery, but also very meticulous.

Yeon-woo struggled to understand what was going on inside his head. The terms the Martial King had offered were almost too good to be true. ‘What if I don’t actively participate in combat?’

There was nothing that specified how much he should fight in the war. Now that the system had already acknowledged the Martial King’s offer as a proper quest, he wouldn’t be able to deny him a reward, and someone as great as the Martial King would be aware of this fact. ‘Why does he want me to join this war?’

However, the Martial King didn’t give Yeon-woo time to consider his decision and impatiently said, "How long are you gonna sit there and stare at me? Just give me your answer, yes or no."

In the end, Yeon-woo said, "I'll join."

Boom! Martial King suddenly slammed his hands down on the table. "Yes! That’s my man! Now, since you’ve decided to join the war, try to take a close look at how things turn out during the war. You’ll learn a lot from it." The Martial King nodded with satisfaction.

The rest of the people in the room seemed to agree with the Martial King’s decision, except for Phante and Edora, who looked as though they had something on their minds but couldn’t say anything because of the atmosphere.

“I officially announce that Cain will join the war as a guest member of our tribe. Any objections?"

The tribe members watched, silently giving their consent. Some even stared at Yeon-woo with eager eyes as if they were ready to test his skills out.

"Then it has been—" Just as the Martial King was about to finalize the announcement, one of the bodyguards stepped to the front. "I object." Everyone's eyes fell on him. Yeon-woo was intrigued by the different expressions that appeared on their faces. The elders looked at the bodyguard with amused eyes, Phante was wearing a deep frown, and Edora had a frosty look on her face.

The Martial King asked the bodyguard, "Alright, Jang. What’s your opinion?"

"Father…"

‘Father?’ Yeon-woo looked at the man with a puzzled expression.

“We are in a formal meeting. Watch how you speak."

"I apologize, Your Majesty. But I simply wanted to say that we can't let a nobody who hasn’t even cleared the eleventh floor to join us. That cannot happen." Jang glared at Yeon-woo, his eyes clearly showing his disdain, as if he couldn’t believe Yeon-woo would try to stand shoulder to shoulder with their tribe.

A slight smile appeared on Yeon-woo’s face. It was an expression he was familiar with. 'Phante and Edora looked at me like that when I met them in the Tutorial.' He was strongly reminded that he was dealing with the One-horned tribe. He’d almost been lulled into complacency because of the friendliness they’d shown him.

"So? Are you implying that you cannot accept someone that Phante and I recommend?" Edora asked Jang in a cold voice.

Jang responded with sardonic laughter. "I am."

"Do you realize how offensive your actions are?"

"I beg to differ. I think the two of you are the ones being offensive here. I can’t even understand why you thought of inviting a novice to our war."

"Oh, so you think you’re better than him?"

"How dare you compare me to a mere human?"

The tension between them grew, and it seemed that if no one stopped them, they would end up brawling on the spot. Yeon-woo couldn’t believe that they were siblings. The elders seemed to anticipate a fight, but the Martial King clapped his hands, and the tense atmosphere dissipated. "OK, let’s stop there.” The elders smacked their lips in disappointment.

“I know that siblings grow as they fight, but I can’t let you fight in here. We are having a meeting, remember? Anyway, Jang, you’re saying you can’t trust Cain, is that correct?”

"Yes, Your Majesty."

"We can test him.” Martial King turned to Yeon-woo, who nodded in reply. "And we have his consent. Now, about the tester...Jang, how about you do it yourself?"

Jang nodded with a cold sneer.

"Father!" Edora shouted at the Martial King, but he ignored her and said, "Everyone, gather at the tournament hall in five minutes. We’ll proceed with the test there."

*   *   *

The people ebbed away from the palace after the Martial King’s announcement. Jang even sent Yeon-woo a cynical sneer as he left the room.

Phante and Edora walked up to Yeonwoo. "We’re sorry, Oraboni."

"Hyung-nim. Things might have gotten a little bad." Phante scratched the back of the head.

“Don’t worry. It was bound to happen the moment I joined as a guest member.”

"I know but…you don’t deserve this treatment. And I feel like we’ve gotten you involved in our family affairs."

Yeon-woo tilted his head, puzzled. ‘Family affairs?’

Edora carefully said, "Oraboni, do you happen to know anything about the families in our tribe?”

Yeon-woo nodded.

Although the members of the One-horned tribe are considered a single tribe, they are actually a union of fifty-one different families. There is at least one successor in each family and only one of the successors can become the next king.

"Good, then it’ll be easier to explain. Our tribe consists of fifty-one families, one of which is our family, Cheong-lam. Our father, on the other hand, is from the Baekseon family." Edora’s forehead furrowed as she explained, "Our king is chosen among the children of the previous king, and it is the king’s duty to produce at least one heir in each family."

Yeon-woo thought it was extremely complicated. "Which means—"

"We are just Jang’s half-siblings, and Jang is also from the Baekseon family, just like our father.” Edora bit her lower lip. "He is also one of the four most likely successors to the throne, just like Phante. Although to be fair, it is more likely that he’ll become the next king instead of Phante.”

"No, it’s not!"

"Shut it! If you don’t like it, you should be stronger." Edora hushed Phante and looked at Yeon-woo, unable to fully hide the anxiety in her eyes.  

"Are you implying that Jang did this to make Phante lose ground?”

"Yes, that’s what I think his plan is."

‘So this is what they mean about getting involved in their family affairs,’ Yeon-woo realized.

"What’s more, Jang reached the thirtieth floor at an early age, and he’s supposed to be the most talented among us…” Edora’s voice trailed off, but Yeon-woo understood what she wanted to say. She didn’t want Yeon-woo to fight him, and she was afraid he might get injured.

Yeon-woo broke into a broad smile. He thought it was cute to see Phante and Edora worrying about him. They didn’t look anything at all like when he’d first met them in the Tutorial. ‘How strong is he if these two are so worried?’

And at the same time, Yeon-woo was very annoyed at Jang for getting him involved and making the siblings worry. 

"If you need the Lunar Seed, we’ll try to get it for you.”

"Don’t sweat it." Yeon-woo reached out and rumpled Edora's hair. Her eyes widened in surprise.

"I can take care of myself. You guys just sit back and watch.”

"B-but…”

"When I say I’ll be OK, I mean it. Besides, this kind of troublesome job…" Yeon-woo’s eyes turned into crescents behind the mask. "Is something that your oppa should take care of,” he concluded, referring to himself with an affectionate term for “big brother”.   

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