Chapter 189. Sign (3)


Paris, France. Grand Duchess Ah Hae-In’s residence.
Unlike the gloomy Prestige, the outside world’s sky was clear and blue.

“…Thank you once again. We will do our best not to disappoint you in your partnership with Essence of the Strait.”

Yoo Yeonha was successfully completing her contract with Ah Hae-In, the female progenitor of the Ah family and an 8-star magician who was on the verge of becoming 9-star.
Ah Hae-In, sitting in front of Yoo Yeonha, gave a faint smile.

“I could say the same to you. I heard a rumor that my nephew is also in Essence of the Strait.”

Yoo Yeonha smiled in satisfaction at Ah Hae-In’s remark.

“Yes. Baire Moren-ssi is taking an active part in the Guild.”

More than four years ago, ‘Baire Moren’ participated in the same archery competition as Kim Hajin at the Cube Festival. At the time, he had lost to Kim Hajin even with the help of Ah Hae-In. Now he was a member of Essence of the Strait.
The only reason for his recruitment was to win the favor of Ah Hae-In

“Then, will my nephew enter the Tower of Wish this time?”

Yoo Yeonha couldn’t give an affirmative answer to that question.

“We are… not so sure about that yet. The will of the individual is the most important thing when deciding to enter a Tower… But if Moren-ssi wants to, then I don’t see why not.”

“Haha. You don’t have to try so hard. I know my nephew’s strength well. If he goes into the Tower now, he will only become prey to others. I want to see my nephew around for a long time. It’s not like I expect him to become a great hero.”

Ah Hae-In gave a meaningful smile.

“But still, wouldn’t my nephew's looks guarantee him success in the entertainment industry?”

That was what Yoo Yeonha wanted as well. She replied with an assuring smile.

“…Of course.”

“Good then. I look forward to working with you.”

Her meeting with Ah Hae-In was a success from beginning to end.
Yoo Yeonha clenched her fists with joy.
The news of Ah Hae-In joining hands with Essence of the Strait would surprise their foes and encourage their friends.
How would the public and their rivals react to the partnership?
Yoo Yeonha couldn’t help but look forward to it.

“Oh, by the way, what is that guy Fenrir up to nowadays?”

Then suddenly, Ah Hae-In asked a rather strange question.
Yoo Yeonha widened her eyes in surprise at the sudden appearance of an unexpected name.

“Were you interested in mercenaries as well?”

“It’s not that, he just left a deep impression on me. It’s already been four years, yet I still remember him.”

“Ah… You mean the archery competition, right?”

Yoo Yeonha recalled what happened four years ago.
During Cube’s Class Competitions, Kim Hajin had showed off a mystical curve shot against Baire Moren.
With just one arrow, Kim Hajin had gained a number of admirers and brought several guilds’ attention to himself.

“Yes. To an old fellow like me, it seems like a waste for a master archer like himself to be using guns.”

“…Still, he has broadened our horizons as the one and only ‘Gunner’. He’s already considered a god-like figure in the field.”

Ah Hae-In smiled with her eyes. The smile was absent from wrinkles despite her age.

“Is that so? Anyhow, I heard that Fenrir is on good terms with Essence of the Strait. Does that mean I’ll get to meet him sooner or later?”

“Currently he’s inside the Tower, so I can’t be absolutely certain. But surely he won’t hesitate to meet Grand Duchess Ah Hae-In.”

“Hahaha. Really?”

Friendly exchange of words continued to take place between them.
Yoo Yeonha laughed and talked, being careful not to act frivolous or behave in a bad manner as she closed the conversation.

“…Then I’ll take my leave now.”
“Mm. Would you look at the time. Farewell. Spending time with a young beauty has made me feel young as well.”

Ah Hae-In didn’t stand up and simply stretched out her hand in her seat. Yoo Yeonha grabbed her hand while smiling brightly.
Ah Hae-In was self-conscious about her height.
She hated getting up in case she was shorter than the other party even with heels on. For that reason, Yoo Yeonha wore flat shoes today.

“However, seeing that it’s already late, you may stay the night if you’d like. The guest rooms are better than most five-star hotels.”

Ah Hae-In offered kindly. She found today’s meeting to be quite satisfactory.

“…I appreciate the offer, but how can I bear to stay here for just one night? This place is so beautiful, I’ll be filled with regrets when I have to leave.”

Yoo Yeonha gracefully declined the offer.

“Is that so? Well, you must be busy.”

Ah Hae-In understood what she meant.
…But in truth, this meeting was the last thing on Yoo Yeonha’s schedule for today. Furthermore, tomorrow was a ‘rest day’, which was a special day Yoo Yeonha set aside for herself once every six months.

“Then, rest well. I apologize for taking up so much of your time.”

“No, no. It’s nothing.”

Yoo Yeonha was planning to return home right away.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like Ah Hae-In or her mansion.
Ah Hae-In was a hospitable French lady who had learned Korean from historical K-dramas, and her mansion was much more impressive and cozier than Yoo Yeonha’s place.

The problem was sleeping.
To be exact, it was the bed.
Yoo Yeonha had no reason to sleep elsewhere when she had a such a lovely and efficient bed at home.
No, at this point, it was more like she couldn’t sleep anywhere else.
Before she realized, the bed Kim Hajin gave her had become her most precious treasure.

‘I’ll go home and sleep for the rest of the day~’

Yoo Yeonha left Ah Hae-In’s mansion and skipped happily towards her limousine.
The limousine started smoothly and headed towards the portal station.

“…?”

Yoo Yeonha was looking out the car window in delight when she suddenly encountered a scene that she could not possibly pass by.

“Hold on, Driver. Slow down a bit.”

The limousine slowed down, and Yoo Yeonha could see the two people walking down the street with clarity.
A tall woman and a child were holding hands.
Both stood out from afar.
The tall woman had sunglasses on… but anyone could tell that she was Yun Seung-Ah.

—Evandel, isn’t traveling abroad fun?

—Yeah~ It’s fun~

—I don’t know why Haeyeon doesn’t like it~

Yun Seung-Ah must be in France for a vacation, but it was the child next to her that stood out.
The child had blonde hair and an adorable eye-smile that was easily noticeable even from afar.
Yoo Yeonha stared at the child with a serious look on her face.

“I… I’ve seen her before….”

She had seen the child somewhere in the past.
It must have been 3 or 4 years ago. She couldn’t remember the exact date, but she was certain that she had seen the child. She was quite confident in her memory.
That girl was definitely with Kim Hajin. Back then, the two seemed to be heading somewhere hand in hand, just like Yun Seung-Ah and the blonde child right now….

“But why…?”

Why is that girl with Yun Seung-Ah?
More than that, just who was she?

“…Could it be?”

When her thought reached this point, her mind turned blank.
Ding— The sound of a bell rang inside her head.
Ding— All the thoughts in her head were cleared out.
Ding— Strange speculations filled the empty space.
If that really was the case…
Did that child dye her hair blonde just so that their ‘relationship’ won’t be exposed?

“Uh….”

Yoo Yeonha leaned back against the seat.
No, no.
Such a natural color couldn’t be made from a dye. Then, it must surely be a coincidence…

“Wait a minute.”

Suddenly, a certain thought crossed her mind.
Resenting herself for being so smart, Yoo Yeonha quickly turned on her smart watch and looked up a conversation log.

[I’m a little short on money. Lend me some so I can buy a house. Selling my stocks seems like a waste.]
[Huh? What house?]
[Here. <Address>. It’s worth 20 billion won. I have 18 billion on me, so just lend me 2 billion.]
[You’ll need 2 billion more to cover taxes. Anyways, I’ll wire you the money soon.]


Yoo Yeonha had lent Kim Hajin 4 billion won. Yoo Yeonha quickly looked up the registration certificate for Seocho Apartment.
The owner was Kim Hajin, but the building was already rented out.
The name of the tenant was Yun Jiho.
He was Yun Seung-Ah’s brother and the CEO of an entertainment company.

“Things are getting stranger by the minute…”

Yoo Yeonha unknowingly put her hands on her head.

“Nah… No way, no way….”

Despite denying so, Yoo Yeonha’s hairs were starting to stand on end. It was an old habit that came out whenever she thought of something bizarre and impudent.


**


[Tower of Wish, 3F Prestige]

The next day.

“….”

I was currently observing the new member of Chameleon Troupe, the Silver Seat’s Kaita.
Kaita, who had just arrived, was chewing on a piece of gum as he watched Medea’s quest.

[In order to install an artificial sun in Prestige, we will need 100kg of dark ore, 1111 pyrogen grass roots, 1 shamrock plant, and ‘Essence of the Sun’ from the 5th floor’s 「Castle No.5」.]

The ‘Sunlight’ quest was rather simple. You just had to gather the materials for an ‘artificial sun’ and deliver them to Medea. But since the last ingredient could only be found through conquering a castle, there was a good chance that a fight would take place.

“Huam. A quest? Hey, Archer, can I get anything good out of this?”

Kaita asked me. The more I look at him, the more he looked like one of those ‘skinheads’ from Russia.

“The reward will be announced in the video shortly.”

“Ah~ Really?”

Medea began to recite the rewards.

[For the reward, you will be given 1000TP per 1kg of dark ore, 100TP per pyrogen grass root, and 3000TP plus a special gift for the shamrock plant. The team that brings me the Essence of the Sun will receive 10000TP and five very special rewards.]

I already had dark ore and a shamrock. But frankly, the price Medea was giving for the dark ore was too cheap. A fair price should be 2000TP per 1kg.

In any case, this quest was one of the incidents where Kim Suho and the Chameleon Troupe collide.
Kaita would team up with ‘Zurahan’, the representative of the Ordinary People Alliance, and act rashly before getting himself killed by Kim Suho.
This leads to Kaita holding a grudge against Kim Suho. He then chases after Kim Suho in the real world which eventually leads him to ‘real death’.

I had no intention of stopping him.
This guy was the most lunatic out of all Chameleon Troupe members. He considered murder, mutilation, and other unspeakable hate crimes as “hobbies”. He was a real villain who was designed to drive Kim Suho into the storm of righteous indignation. If left alone, he would one day become a traitor and turn on Boss.
If Kim Suho wouldn’t kill him, I would have to do it myself.

“…Hey, Newbie, by the way.”

Jin Yohan, who was looking through the Community, suddenly spoke up.

“What is this ‘castle attack’ that everyone is talking about? They’re saying there is a castle attack today.”

I took a look at the post.

[At 6 p.m. today, we will begin the castle attack on Castle No.1. Ordinary people should stay away from area-3 of the 5th floor.]

“Oh, it’s exactly what it sounds like. They’re going to destroy a castle.”

“Oh really?”

“These bugs sure are doing all kinds of weird things~”

Kaita commented sarcastically as Boss came out of the bedroom, limping.
As expected of Boss, it seemed Boss had already recovered most of her stamina.

“Boss, are you all better now?”

“Uh, uh. B-Boss. H-Hi.”

Jin Yohan greeted Boss with a smile but Kaita seemed visibly shaken by her appearance.
Sure enough, this guy was afraid of Boss.
Well, I would be scared too if I was beaten to the verge of death.

“…Kaita, you’re here too.”

Boss welcomed Kaita in a manner quite different from when she dealt with me. Even I was frightened by the way her eyes flickered coldy with magic power.

“Y-Yeah. Oh, but I didn’t do anything o-on the way. Really.”

Despite Kaita’s meek standing, Kaita was one of the original members of the Chameleon Troupe, and he was 4 years older than Boss.

“…You.”
“N-No~! I’m telling you the truth! Plus, don’t people revive even if you kill them!? Still, I didn’t do anything!”

I watched Kaita protest for a while, then got up.

“Boss, I’m going out.”

“Mm? Where are you going this time?”

Boss quickly took the threatening aura back.

“To my shop. I probably won’t return today. I have something to do.”

“…Is that so?”

She looked a bit sullen.

“I’ll go now~”

“…”

I nodded my head and went outside. Through the door crack, Boss’ eyes were fixed on me.
I knew those eyes.
They were eyes craving for food.

Since there wasn’t much time, I decided to ignore her eyes for today.

I walked quickly and arrived at Kedrick’s workshop.
There were a lot of people inside. It seemed that most of the NPCs I saved back at the prison camp were here.

“Ah, it’s Master!”

“Oh—!”

Muscular men greeted me.
I smiled bitterly and approached Kedrick.

“How are things going?”

“Good. Very good. Rice is good, and so is the corn. Hahaha.”

“…That’s a relief. Ah, and these.”

I took out a bunch of items in front of the plump Kedrick.

[Steel Ingot]
[Frozentianium Ore]
[Building Stone]
[Casted Steel]

I had bought out most of the miscellaneous ores that Players put up for auction.

“Use these as materials. Also, I’d like to borrow the workshop for a while.”

“Why, of course. You there! Move these!”

“Yea~!”

I stood in front of the furnace as the NPCs vigorously carried around the ores.
Ssss—
I turned on the furnace with Stigma’s magic power.
Then, I melted the dark ore ingots down and used Young Dwarf’s Dexterity and Stigma’s magic power to make [Dark Ore Arrows].
The whole process took 3 hours.
I could have finished faster, but it took time for the ore to melt and to cool.

[Lv.5 Dark Ore Arrow x15]

Like that, I made 15 dark ore arrows.

“Aiya, you turned all of those expensive ingots into arrows….”

An NPC said in a worried voice, but I just smiled.
Using [Lv.3 Synthesis], I fused the 15 [Lv.5 Dark Ore Arrows] with 5 [Lv.7 Dark Ore Arrows].

[Warning! The items’ high level reduces the chance of success.]
[Synthesis success!]
[Warning! The items’ high level reduces the chance of success.]
[Synthesis success!]
[Warning! The items’ high level reduces the chance of success.]
[Synthesis success!]

The probability of success was so low that I only succeeded 12 out of 15 times even with my absurd luck.
Because of that, my dark ore arrows were still at level 7, but thankfully their destructive power and piercing power increased by a level.

===
[Lv.7 Dark Ore Arrow]
—Lv.6 Destructive Power
—Lv.6 Piercing Power
—Lv.6 Dark Trajectory
—Lv.5 Magic Destruction
—Lv.1 Remote Control
===

All five had the same options.

“Ah, Master. Henry and Kiri said that the shop needs more shelves.”

Kedrick said immediately after Synthesis ended.

“Yeah, I already got the message. I have everything planned out.”

I planned to do a major renovation for the shop.
I would hire more staff and divide the store into different sections so that one section had potions, another had weapons, and another had armor… The shop would then continue to grow until it becomes a ‘landmark’ of Prestige.

Young Dwarf's Dexterity combined with Aether’s eye of beauty should be enough for me to come up with an admirable design.

“Where will you go now?”

As I got ready to leave, Kedrick asked me.

“Huh? Oh….”

After a short pause, I simply said, “I’m off to climb the Tower.”


**


[Tower of Wish, 5F Materialized Demon Realm]

After I upgraded my arrows, I went up to the fifth floor.
Now that my weapons were ready, my goal today was to reach the 6th floor.
How is that possible when I’m not even half done with the fifth floor, you ask? That’s because there’s a ‘hidden path’ on this floor just as with many other games.

“Let’s see….”

I took out the Book of Truth.
The question I want to ask was as follows.

“Where is the Fairy Lake?”

Fairy Lake.
It was a pathway that Kim Suho would use in the future, but the order didn’t really matter. A reward was given to the first person who reach the sixth floor, but it wasn’t anything great. It was fine even if Kim Suho didn’t have it.

[…The Fairy Lake has been located.]

Soon, the location of the pond was marked with GPS on the Book of Truth.
I drove the Dwarven Supercar towards that direction as I glanced through the public forum.

===
[How’s the castle attack going?]
—Looks like they’re still going at it?
[But why is the Royal Court Guild with Essence of the Strait and Frost Sanctuary? Are they the decoy?]
—Their vice-leader is an elementalist. Elementalists are extremely versatile and useful for attacking fortified strongholds.
ㄴOh, I see.
— Wouldn't 1 elementalist be better than 100 you?
ㄴ? What was that for? Wanna PK?
===

“Hmm….”

Everyone was talking about was the first castle attack taking place right now.

As I was driving while reading,
Pzzt—! Pzzt—!
I saw mana surge into the sky not too far away.

Come to think of it, Castle No.1 was nearby.
I stopped the Dwarven Supercar for a moment and looked around.
The Thousand-Mile Eyes penetrated all obstacles and showed me what I wanted to see.

—Aim for the magicians above the wall!

At a glance, the battle seemed to be a tough fight.
I noticed three familiar faces.
Rachel from the Royal Court guild, and Chae Nayun and Yi Jiyoon from Essence of the Strait.

—West gate, attack the west gate! Earth! Give me an earthquake! Fiery!

—Rachel, I need to go up the wall! I need your elemental’s help!

Both Rachel and Chae Nayun were performing exceptionally as an elementalist and a swordsman. However, the situation didn’t look too good.
It was to be expected.
There were very few magicians on the side of humans, yet there were many on the side of demons.
In fantasy novels, magicians were always most important during castle attacks.

“Hmm….”

I thought for a moment.
‘Maybe I can freeload off a bit.’
The rewards for the castle attack were given out by the system, so it was possible to obtain them by helping them out in secret.
Plus… I also couldn’t ignore Rachel and Chae Nayun who were struggling.

“I’ll help them deal with the magicians just once.”

I climbed up a nearby tree. It was quite tall, so I could see the faraway castle clearly.

“….”

I sat on a sturdy branch, took out my bow, and put five arrows on the bowstring.
My targets were the ones who were casting magic spells with demon energy.
Two per arrow. I decided to kill just 10 magicians.
Of course, since I was shooting from afar, the enemies should notice and put up a defense magic. But mere fifth floor magicians shouldn’t be able to stop [Lv.7 Dark Ore Arrows]. On top of that, dark ore was used specifically to counteract magicians in the first place.

There was about a kilometer between me and the castle.
It’s pretty far, but I fired the arrows without hesitation.

Chwaaaa—

The arrows traveled in darkness. Their trajectories were invisible, but because they carried overwhelming wind pressure with them, the targets could easily detect their presence.
They put on defense magic along with barriers.
But of course, their attempts were futile.
After all, my arrows were level 7.

Krrrrrk—

The arrows destroyed all magic and pierced right through the magicians necks.
The demons died instantly without a sound.
5 out of the 13 magicians were dead.

But then the arrows that were supposed to ram into the ground after piercing through the demons once again started to move. They soared from the bottom to the top, drawing an impossible curve on their trajectories.
Chweeek—
Lights flashed from the corner of my eyes.
The five arrows killed five more enemies.

“…Hm.”

Only ten demons died. However, they were magicians who accounted for a large part of the castle’s strength. Consequently, the tide of the battle was soon overturned.
The Players on the battefield were not interested in who shot the arrows. They couldn’t afford to be interested. They were too focused on what was in front of them.

“Return.”

After collecting the arrows I fired, I got back on the Dwarven Supercar.
Then, I drove away without looking back.

…About 30 minutes later.

I arrived at the ‘Fairy Pond’ located in a very remote spot where most would only glance over. Despite its pretty name, the lake was full of mud and dirt.
This was the ‘hidden path’. Although the lake seemed like it would be home to monsters, nothing lived inside, and the bottom of the lake contained a pathway to the 6th floor.

“…Phew.”

A nasty smell filled the air.
I needed to prepare myself mentally.
I held my nose and took off all the armor I was wearing to prevent the smell from sticking to them.
I did warm-up exercises just in case… took a deep breath about three or four times, then…

Plop!

I jumped into the lake.
Ueeeek—!
I threw up as soon as I got in.
The vomit clung to my face inside the water.
Ueeeek—!
It was so disgusting that I threw up again.
Kim Suho’s sincerity was able to purify this lake, but it seemed that was outside of my capabilities.
I endured the filth for 5 minutes, shivering in repulsion.
Suddenly there was a twisting sensation, and the system message I had been waiting for popped up.

[You are the first to reach the sixth floor!]
[3 hours from now, the news of your advancement will be announced to all players.]


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