The beating of drums echoed around the town square, and the tribesmen rose from their seats and danced around the bonfire to the rhythm as they raised glasses full of liquor high in the air.
After Yeon-woo’s battle with Jang finished, the One-horned tribe decided to hold what they called a “small” welcome ceremony in honor of their new guest.
Since it seemed like they were enjoying the ceremony more than Yeon-woo was, it was clear they just wanted to savor the last period of peace before the war more than to welcome Yeon-woo. Even the Martial King told them to forget about the war and just enjoy the celebrations.
'It seems like everyone here is always full of smiles,’ Yeon-woo thought as he looked at the cheerful expressions around him. 'This kind of atmosphere doesn’t agree with me.’ He couldn’t wait to leave the ceremony, but since it was being held in his honor, he had no choice but to stay and wish for time to pass quickly. As Yeon-woo looked around the village square, he noticed the villagers enjoying different activities.
Some people danced around the campfire, some had drinking competitions, some sold food, and so on. However, he wasn’t interested in any of that, and only one thing caught his eye: a group of people in a fighting competition in one corner or the square. They didn’t use any weapons or armor, just their bodies. Many of the fighters were injured, and some left with broken noses or arms, but they all laughed throughout the whole competition.
‘They’re wrestling.’ The way the One-horned tribe competed was very similar to Earth’s, except for the fact that the participants possessed inhuman strength. It was indeed the culture of a race that loved and honored fighting.
But Yeon-woo was amazed by how they fought. ‘Every action is swift and concise, and their usage of mana is very efficient.’ Yeon-woo started to watch them using his Draconic Eyes. The flow of each movement, their utilization of mana, the differences in their thoughts and decisions, and all the other elements which he hadn’t seen while fighting with Jang appeared to him. He was intrigued to find the mana in each person’s body flowing in different ways, the effects varying based on the shape of each flow. 'So this is what Mugong is.’
Yeon-woo suddenly had a strong thirst to understand Mugong. Even though he had obtained a copious amount of mana through the consumption of various elixirs, he didn’t know how to use it efficiently. ‘If I could make any of their Mugong my own, I’d be able to increase the output of my Magic Circuit at least several times.’
As Yeon-woo watched the wrestling competition eagerly, someone walked in front of him, blocking his view. "So, you’re new guy who arrived today."
Yeon-woo looked up with a frown. The person standing in front of him was a human male with a large frame and a shaggy beard that made him look like a bandit. Although it was his first time meeting a human in this village, Yeon-woo only glared at him.
The man’s face distorted with fury at Yeon-woo’s reaction. "Haven’t you heard that there are others staying in this village? How can you make a senior come to a subordinate?"
It was only then that Yeon-woo realized who the man was. 'He must be one of the guests staying in the village.' Yeon-woo had heard that there were nine other guest players in the village. However, he never expected that one of them would show up to bother him with stuff about seniors and subordinates. It was funny that a guest like him would talk about hierarchy and try to discipline another guest for being rude. Yeon-woo couldn’t help sneering at his ridiculousness.
"Did you just laugh at me?”
"Move aside. I can't see anything because you’re in the way.”
The man was about to spat out cuss words at Yeon-woo, when Edora’s voice behind him said, "Is there a problem?”
The man turned his head with a slightly strained expression and met Edora's cold eyes. "No, there’s no problem. I just came to say hello to the new…”
"I’m sorry but I will be guiding him around, so I don’t think he will be needing your help. I believe you can exchange greetings later. Now, would you mind leaving us, please?" Edora’s words basically told the man to beat it. The man looked at her and Yeon-woo as his lips twitched, but he walked away with a furious glare.
"You didn't have to do that.” Yeon-woo said to Edora, who seated herself next to him without a single look at the man.
Edora sighed in response. "I know, but I didn’t want a scene to ruin your welcome ceremony,” she said as she handed a glass of wine to Yeon-woo.
Yeon-woo reluctantly accepted the glass she offered, although he was glad as well. The wine brewed by the One-horned tribe left a sweet smell lingering in his nose for a while.
"His name is Brock, and his nickname is ‘Black Bull’. He’s from the thirtieth floor, just like Jang, which means he was hired by Jang.”
"I see." Yeon-woo said in a level tone. He realized why Brock was so eager to discipline him, although he still didn’t care what he thought of him.
Edora quickly changed the subject. "Oh, by the way, we had your egg transported safely to the elders.”
"Thank you for your help."
"You don’t need to thank us. We’re the ones who should be grateful to you. You don’t know how much their eyes shone when they heard the news.” Before the ceremony started, Yeon-woo had been summoned by the council of elders to the boardroom, where they asked him if he would mind leaving his egg with them while he went to war. Truthfully, it was more begging than asking.
It had been a long time since the elders had encountered something that stimulated their curiosity, and an egg that might hatch into a Legendary Beast like a Void Dragon was like a sweet rain after a drought for these elders who spent their days sitting in the boardroom killing time.
They planned to do some research and experiments on his egg—of course, without harming the egg or anything of the sort. "They've already checked the herbs and medicinal plants in our storage room. It looks like they want to try elixirs on your egg. Can you imagine what kind of great beast will come out?”
"You think so?"
Edora and Yeon-woo spent a long time talking about things that had happened after they’d suddenly parted. Edora told Yeon-woo some of the underlying reasons for the One-horned tribe's participation in the war, and she got to know Yeon-woo’s experiences on the eleventh floor.
Edora was happy to have this kind of conversation with Yeon-woo, and thinking of how a cold person like him had stood up for her and Phante made her feel reassured about how much he cared for them. When she thought of Yeon-woo calling himself their oppa, she couldn’t stop blushing. ‘Will I ever see him do that again?’
As she tried to calm her pounding heart, Edora slowly turned her head to Yeon-woo and peeked at his face. His indifferent eyes were fixed on the bonfire in front of him.
'I wish I could see him without his mask.' Despite her curiosity, Edora decided not to ask because she could tell there was a story behind his disguise. It was only correct to wait until he trusted her enough to open his heart to her.
"By the way, where’s Phante?"
However, his obtuseness sometimes made her a little sad. "He'll be busy for a while. It’s been decided that he will be taking the lead for the Kuram siege. He is probably sweating over the massive amount of studying he has to do for that."
Surely, Phante wasn't cut out for doing brain-intensive work. A faint smile flickered around Yeon-woo’s lips as he imagined Phante studying, his giant frame crammed in front of a desk.
"Hmm…I don’t remember you having this chain before." Edora began to examine the chain around Yeon-woo’s arm with glittering eyes. It was then that Yeon-woo remembered what he wanted to ask her. He’d almost forgotten about it because of what had been happening.
"Actually, I was wondering if you could help me with something about this chain and bracelet."
"What is it?"
"Could you take a look at it with your Insight?"
"Oh? What kind of information do you want to know?"
"Just tell me anything you discover. There seem to be some secrets inside this artifact, but I don’t have the ability to figure them out.”
Edora inspected his bracelet with narrowed eyes. Even without an in-depth inspection, she could see that the smooth metal chain that reflected light like obsidian was an extraordinary artifact.
'I hope she can discover something.’ Yeon-woo had been reluctant to show his new artifacts to Edora—or technically, he didn’t want any players to know about these rare artifacts named after gods that even rankers wouldn’t be able to easily get their hands on.
If other players discovered that such great artifacts were in the hands of a player on the eleventh floor, he would be targeted by lots of players and clans. Yeon-woo wanted to attract their attention, not their swords, and so he’d wrapped Aegis in scraps of leather to make it look like a normal shield.
However, since the Black Bracelet wouldn’t come off his arm, there was nothing he could do about it. ‘That’s why I need to know what this is. It helps control the Spirit Familiars, but I need to know if there’s a way to take it off.' Besides, if he could know more about the artifact, he might be able to figure out more ways to utilize it.
‘The more I look at it, the more it looks like a manacle.’ The Black Bracelet made him think of prisoners bound in dungeons, and even in the information window, it was described as a chain that had bound the Black King in the abyss.
"I think..." Edora said after a long time of inspection. "This is a manacle, also a very old one.”
'I was right.'
"It’s a reward you got after clearing the tenth floor, isn’t it?”
"Correct." Yeon-woo nodded. He did not bother explaining Olympus' Treasury to her, and really, his answer wasn’t a lie since the bracelet did change after he cleared the tenth-floor trial.
Edora continued as she touched the chain a couple of times. "The material…looks like it’s made out of divine iron."
"But how is that possible? I heard there’s only a tiny amount left in the Tower. There’s no way an artifact could be made entirely out of it,” Edora muttered to herself, shaking her head. "OK, I’ll tell you what I know for sure. This artifact is a manacle likely used to bind prisoners a very long time ago. It seems like they were used on very vicious criminals who required restraints to keep them under control. With regards to its material, I think I need to do more research to know exactly what it is." Edora began to ask Yeon-woo a few questions. "Can you use it?"
"Yes, but only a part of the options is available. There are more sealed options though."
"It’s probably because it's incomplete.”
"Yes, I'm not sure, but I think that the manacle is the only part of the full artifact."
Yeon-woo recalled the description of the Black Bracelet that described how the Black King’s resentment corrupted the “three ???s”. It seemed like Edora was on the right track. “And then?”
"Judging by the shape of the joints, this artifact probably has at least two missing parts. I think the remaining options will be revealed when you find them."
Yeon-woo clenched his fist as Edora's explanation continued. "As far as I know, three types of devices are used to bind a prisoner. The first is a manacle, like the one you are wearing right now." Edora first pointed at his wrist. "The second is a fetter." She pointed at his ankle. "And the last one is a cangue.” Finally, she pointed at his neck. "I believe those are the three parts of the artifact."
"I see." Yeon-woo nodded gravely. 'Three parts.’ Although he didn’t learn everything about the Black Bracelet, this information was already a great help to Yeon-woo. He thought it had been a good idea to ask Edora’s about it. There were two sealed options and two missing parts. Seeing it all fit together made him confident that he was on the right path. Yeon-woo couldn’t wait to see what kind of amazing skill the artifact would grant him once it regained its original form. ‘The question is, how do I find the other parts?’
Hoping someone as learned as she was would know the answer, Yeon-woo asked Edora, “Have you heard of anyone called the Black King?"
Edora asked, tilting her head. "Hmm? The Black King? Is that name associated with this artifact?”
"Yes. The name of the artifact itself is Despair of the Black King.”
"I’m sorry, I haven’t heard that name before. Since he’s a king, I suppose he was a past Lord. Anyone who can create this kind of artifact definitely was not an ordinary person." However, Edora wasn’t disappointed that she hadn’t heard of the name. Instead, with a determined look, she said, “Don’t worry. We have a lot of ancient records stored in our library, so I’ll ask the elders for permission to access them. I’m sure they will be glad to help you."
"But, actually…” Yeon-woo tried to clear things up, but Edora broke into a smile as if she already knew what Yeon-woo was about to say.
"I know what you’re trying to ask. You don’t want this information to reach people’s ears, right? You don't have to worry about that. You know what they say, a wise man knows how to hold his tongue."
Yeon-woo couldn’t help laughing at how clever and perceptive she was. "Yes, that, too. But I have one more favor to ask of you." Yeon-woo paused for a second and shifted his gaze towards the wrestling competition. "I want to learn how to use your tribe’s Mugong. Do you think that’s possible?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter