[5F, Materialized Demon Realm]
I went back down to the Materialized Demon Realm. The demon castles were completely conquered by now, but there were still secret underground bases that no one knew about and NPCs that hadn’t been rescued.
“Is it here?”
But because the terrain was unfavorable for a sharpshooter, I brought the trustworthy comrade, Cheok Jungyeong, with me.
We were currently in a secret passageway on the outskirts of the Materialized Demon Realm. Standing in front of the passageway that was hidden behind a huge boulder, I glanced at Cheok Jungyeong’s face.
“It better not be boring.”
Equipped with the armor I gave him, Cheok Jungyeong looked like a giant soldier from legends. Because of the special skill [Secret March], his body had gotten even bigger.
“It’ll be at least somewhat interesting.”
According to my setting, the demons here were high-leveled, and there was even a drake that the demon tamed. As a side note, drake leather was a great material for crafting. I planned to secretly make myself a wrist protector with it.
We went into the passageway which looked like a manhole.
The underground passageway was naturally pitch-black. But my eyesight wasn’t hindered by darkness in the slightest as it quickly penetrated the walls and detected the presence of several heat sources.
There were at least 30 enemies in this underground base, and the NPCs I was trying to rescue were located on the bottom floor.
[Rank – High]
[Summary – The demon ‘Ryukai’ has hypnotized and enslaved many NPCs. The NPCs will only regain their sanity for three hours per day.]
[Goal – Rescue all trapped NPCs and undo Ryukai’s mind control magic.]
[Reward – Mystical Whetstone, Mandrake]
A quest popped up. Cheok Jungyeong seemed to have seen it too as he was squinting at the air.
“Mm… so what’s our plan?”
“Just follow me.”
I led Cheok Jungyeong forward, but before I could even take many steps, the base’s defensive system activated.
Koong— Koong— Koong— Koong—
Large rumbling sounds rang out. Cheok Jungyeong glared at the epicenter of the noise and frowned.
“…What are those?”
“Obviously, they’re demons.”
Cheok Jungyeong had frightening hardware specs of 2.16 meters and 140 kilograms.
However, the two giants that appeared in front of us were even bigger than Cheok Jungyeong.
[Lv.10 Demon Giant]
“Leave this place—”
One of the giants spoke mechanically. His voice was loud and deep enough to cause the earth to rumble.
Crack, crack. Cheok Jungyeong stretched lightly before asking.
“Newbie, I’ve been wondering for a while, what’s the difference between Djinns and demons?”
“I’m just curious.”
Cheok Jungyeong thought about such things? Well, Cheok Jungyeong was a general in his past life, so he was technically a strategist as well.
“…Demons are born in the Demon Realm and Djinns are humans who borrow the Demon Realm’s power.”
“Demon Realm? Is that something that really exists?”
“But why wouldn’t it? The universe is vast.”
The Demon Realm certainly existed. In fact, parts of Earth would soon be devoured by the Demon Realm. This was the core event that started the latter half of the story. In the first place, the goal of the Evil Gods, who commanded the Djinns, was to conquer Earth as part of the Demon Realm’s territory.
“I won’t repeat myself a second time—”
The demon giant spoke once again.
“You better shut your trap, kiddo.”
Cheok Jungyeong stepped forward. The sound of his footstep was far quieter than the giant in front of him, and his body looked far weaker.
“Take care of them however you want. I’m going ahead.”
I left Cheok Jungyeong to deal with the demon giants and used Parkour to kick off the wall and stick to the ceiling like Spiderman. Of course, Parkour itself wasn’t enough to ignore the laws of physics, so I had to use a little bit of Stigma’s magic power.
In any case, I shot past the two giants blocking the passageway.
As I was about to peacefully get to the lower floor, a huge wind pressure swept out from behind my back.
KWANG—! Cheok Jungyeong’s punch resulted in an explosive shockwave, and a demon giant flew backwards and smashed into the wall.
I smiled in satisfaction as I went downstairs. A total of nine demons were on the second floor. After hearing the ruckus upstairs, they were quickly getting ready for a fight.
—Get your weapons!
—Report to Count Ryukai!
I transformed Aether into a bow and took out five dark ore arrows. I could have used my Desert Eagle, but it was a waste to use bullets on these small fries. I fired the arrows simultaneously without hesitation.
Arrows that were darker than black shot forward.
It didn’t matter if my targets were hiding behind a wall. These arrows were unhindered by any obstacles since they would penetrate them equally.
With a simple move, the five arrows pierced the vital organs of the nine demons. Only a split second had passed since they even spotted me.
Cheok Jungyeong came down immediately afterwards. The black blood on his face told the result of the fight upstairs.
“Yes, follow me.”
After confirming that our combination was undefeatable, we continued to crush our way down. In just five minutes, we found ourselves on the bottom floor of the underground base. There, we found a Dracula-like demon and a chubby drake.
“Haha, foolish humans. You dare to come to my abode?”
A ferocious giant charged toward the elegantly murmuring Dracula. Cheok Jungyeong grabbed Ryukai’s neck in an instant and slammed him down on the ground.
“Auu… uuuk… ek… kek….”
Ryukai groaned in pain. He tried to resist Cheok Jungyeong’s physical strength, but it was futile. It was no different than a human trying to push an elephant.
The demon noble’s face turned blue as he flailed and tore apart his fancy suit.
Soon, Ryukai’s breathing stopped.
Cheok Jungyeong twisted Ryukai’s neck and confirmed his death.
“The real trouble is there.”
Cheok Jungyeong glared at the drake, which was looking at its dead master, with joy.
“You don’t need my help, right?”
Since he said so, I walked past them and headed to where the enslaved NPCs were kept. To my surprise, the place didn’t look like a prison. The entire bottom floor looked like a noble’s mansion, and the enslaved NPCs were doing physical labor in a stupor.
I walked up to them and took out the Mystic Key. I put the key in their heads and unlocked the spell that was controlling their minds.
When the NPCs snapped out of it, they panicked for a moment before choosing a young man as their spokesperson.
This handsome young man was also an NPC full of potential. As he was a master in city management as well as stronghold defense and offense, he was a needed talent for Prestige.
“Everyone, I’ve come from Prestige to rescue you. My name is… Kim Huijuin. Let us return to Prestige.”
Hearing me, the NPCs hesitated.
Meanwhile, a fierce battle was in progress nearby. KWANG—! KOONG—! Thunderous roars rang out as Cheok Jungyeong’s fist crushed the drake’s bones and claws.
“…Is Ryukai dead?”
Yuken asked hesitantly.
“Then… we refuse.”
Yuken shook his head. I had expected as much.
“If Ryukai is dead, it’ll be better for us to live here…. To us, Prestige is no different than hell.”
According to my settings, they had left the 3rd floor to escape from Prestige. Although they were captured by demons and forced to become slaves, to them, being sent back to Prestige would be equivalent to moving from one hell to another.
I shook my head.
“It’ll be okay. Prestige has changed a lot since you were there.”
But that was all in the past. The current Prestige was… KOONG! KOONG! Cheok Jungyeong was KOONG! kind of noisy KWANG—!, but I used hypnotic suggestion regardless.
“A sun is currently being created in Prestige. Its citizens are working and living meaningful lives, and children can run around the streets with smiles. There is also no shortage of food and water.”
My voice gently flowed into the NPCs’ ears.
“Moreover, Prestige needs your administrative talent.”
With Demon’s Cunning Speech, I easily convinced Yuken and the 15 NPCs following him. I guided them back to Prestige.
“This… where… what…”
“Where are we…?”
“Is this really Prestige?”
Seeing the change Prestige underwent, the NPCs couldn’t hide their shock. Meanwhile, Prestige’s most famous named NPCs, ‘Henry’ and ‘Kiri’, appeared.
“Welcome, everyone~ Come here~”
Henry and Kiri took them away, and I sent them away with a smile. After staring at them until they disappeared from my view, I turned to Cheok Jungyeong.
I handed him a parchment.
Cheok Jungyeong’s eyebrows perked up. I retorted.
“Locations where NPCs are trapped on the 5th floor.”
“What? Why are you giving this to me?”
I smiled at Cheok Jungyeong, who looked confused.
“You see, I don’t have time to go around saving all of them.”
“…You’re telling me to save them?”
Cheok Jungyeong shoved his intimidating face forward.
“Look at you, ordering me around now!”
Truth be told, it was really scary, but I had already prepared a reply.
“…Your shoes, clothes, and armor.”
Each time I pointed at something he was wearing, Cheok Jungyeong flinched slightly.
“There isn’t a single one that didn’t come from me.”
“I didn’t ask for anything when I gave them, did I?”
Cheok Jungyeong dodged my gaze and scratched his head. Now that he was somewhat convinced, I just had to give him a reason that wouldn’t hurt his pride.
“It’s Boss’ order.”
“Huh? Oh, then just say so from the beginning~!”
Cheok Jungyeong laughed heartily and snatched the parchment out of my hand.
“It should be a piece of cake anyways… let’s see… ah~ there’s only five people.”
“Five places. There should be around 100 NPCs in total.”
His face quickly contorted as he put away the parchment.
“Fine, I’ll get it done within four days.”
It was then.
Spartan suddenly appeared in the sky and flew down onto my shoulder.
There was a group trying to challenge the World’s End Bridge.
“Where did this birdhead come from?”
Cheok Jungyeong stared at Spartan who appeared out of nowhere.
“I’ll be off now. Don’t lose that parchment!”
I took out the portable crystal stele. This was my third time using it, but the crystal stele was just as bright as when I got it. It was because I was recharging its use with the Orb of Regeneration.
To me, items with limited use were no different than permanent items.
When I infused Stigma’s magic power into the crystal stele, the ground I was standing on instantly changed from a brick pedestrian walkway to a wooden board.
This place was a temporary watchtower I built. From a height that could reach the clouds, I looked down at the ground.
Far away, a group… no, an ‘army’ was slowly marching towards the World’s End Bridge.
“…The Chinese Alliance.”
I could tell at a glance given how many of them there were.
One, two, three, four… sixty-seven.
It seemed they were planning on using sheer numbers to break through my defense.
“Like that’ll work.”
I muttered coldly.
The Aether bow and dark ore arrows were already in my hands.
As always, the first arrow was a warning. Since the 9th floor had to be opened as late as possible, I was telling them not to get closer.
Of course, like most other Players, they would ignore the warning.
I shot a single wooden arrow.
…The next day, 8-3F Crevon.
Day of the ‘Martial Tournament’.
Drawn by the first-place prize, I applied for the Martial Tournament and was currently looking through the Community in my waiting room. Although I pushed myself a bit yesterday, I should be able to pass the preliminary round with ease.
[Another failed attempt to pass the bridge of death.]
The Chinese Alliance challenged it this time, and Black Lotus absolutely destroyed them. Half of them died and the other half ran away.
—RIP Chinese Alliance ㅋㅋㅋ That’s what they get for always pushing people around with their numbers. I’m not even mad.
ㄴDon’t be racist ^^ You should be sad that people died. Their nationality shouldn’t matter, right?
—Wow… You really have to hand it to Black Lotus. He’s amazing. But isn’t he being a bit selfish? He’s saying he’s the only one who’s allowed to train on the 9th floor!
ㄴNo, we didn’t get an alert that a Player reached the 9th floor. He probably can’t go up either, so I think he’s blocking the way until he can.
[Black Lotus is going wild, but what’s the Divine Archer Jin Seyeon doing? Isn’t it common sense that a sharpshooter should deal with another sharpshooter?]
Since she’s in the Tower, she should really do something about it.
—Divine Archer’s in the middle of her training montage.
—Considering what Black Lotus has shown so far, I don’t think Divine Archer has a chance either…. She only came in recently, so her stats are restricted even more.
[The Hero Association told Black Lotus to stop.]
Apparently, the Hero Association ‘advised’ Black Lotus to stop blocking the way. They used the word ‘advise’, but it seems more like a threat. This is the first time that the outside world interfered with matters inside the Tower. They must have realized that there was no one inside the Tower that could do anything about it, so they took action form the outside.
—But who the hell’s gonna listen to any warning from the outside world? Not even the Association Head has any power in here.
ㄴ I wouldn’t say that…
ㄴNo, he’s right. I can beat up Chae Joochul as long as he enters the Tower.
ㄴYou must have lost your mind…. You should look to get that treated.
The Community was practically on fire and because Black Lotus’ name was constantly on the news in the outside world, I had finally reached 5000 SP. I was able to cook up a good Gift now.
—Preliminary round 37! In the blue~ corner! The beautiful obsidian jewel, ‘Boshy’!
At that moment, the host of the Martial Tournament announced the 37th preliminary round battle.
Boshy was Boss’ alias.
—In the red~ corner! The chickenhead ‘Conrad’!
I didn’t know who that was, but I was up next.
When I was about to stretch…
My messenger suddenly rang.
Nayunjajangman: 「Hyung-nim, what’s your main weapon?」
Nayunjajangman: 「Do you want to do a quest with me?」
Because I haven’t even opened her messages for three weeks, Nayunjajangman’s messages poured down like rain.
Nayunjajangman: 「Hyung-nim, why haven’t you been replying to me lately?」
Nayunjajangman: 「Did something happen? You’re not dead, are you?」
Nayunjajangman: 「Message me if you see this」
[8-3F, Crevon Mainland]
Crevon had a variety of stone buildings. Although Crevon’s buildings looked like they came from the Middle Ages, there were buildings that looked similar to shopping malls as well.
As such, the streets of Crevon looked like a strange mix of the Middle Ages and the modern era, giving Crevon a somewhat mystical and beautiful look.
Rachel was walking through Crevon’s main street like a tourist. Every view carried an element that was special enough to store in her memory.
“The scenery is indeed better than Prestige’s.”
Rachel nodded at Vice Team Leader Davin’s words. About four days ago, Rachel and eight other elite members of the Royal Court guild charged through the Field of Trials with Rachel’s elementals’ help, then cleared several quests on 8-2F to reach Crevon Mainland.
Just like they’ve been hearing on the public forum, Crevon’s level of civilization was far above that of Prestige.
“It looks like a mix of London and the Middle Ages. I’m in awe no matter where I look.”
However, Rachel didn’t feel that the investments she made to Prestige were wasted. She continued.
“But this place has beautiful scenery that wouldn’t lose to Prestige.”
The Tower of Wish now had close to 60000 Players.
Only 3000 tickets were found for the first wave, which multiplied to 9000 on the second and 18000 on the third. Now, there were close to 30000 Players in the tutorial.
However, only one or two thousand had managed to reach the 8th floor. Many Players were still living in Prestige, unable to obtain enough performance points to climb up.
Furthermore, since ‘outsiders’ were unable to buy living space in Crevon, investing in Prestige turned out to be the right decision.
“Anyways, Vice Leader, I’ve noticed that you’re almost always wearing that armor.”
Rachel laughed shyly.
“…It’s a suit, not armor.’
The [Lv.4 Black Suit] Rachel was wearing was acquired after a fierce battle of wits. As Rachel’s favorite armor, it had performed fantastically until now.
“Yes, I can’t recall how many times it saved my life.”
“Haha…. Ah, by the way, have you heard the news? The alliance that was trying to cross the bridge was slaughtered.”
“…Yes, I have.”
Rachel’s smiling face quickly froze cold.
Yesterday, another group had challenged the ‘World’s End Bridge’.
It was the 8th attempt, and this time all of the Chinese guilds had formed an alliance. A total of 67 people were excited at the prospect of showing off their nation’s greatness, yet they were cruelly massacred by Black Lotus’ arrows.
“As long as it isn’t too expensive, buy the footage of the battle when it comes out.”
Parties that challenged Black Lotus always filmed their attempt and sold it. If not, third parties filmed them and sold the video themselves.
The most famous video was the Djinn Alliance’s attempt. A single arrow had completely blasted the bridge like a tactical nuke, instilling catharsis and fear into the hearts of many.
“Ah, we’re here.”
Davin muttered. They reached the place they’d been walking towards.
[Lv.11 Phiunel’s Mansion]
This was the meeting spot for their mission.
Rachel talked to the guards in front of the entrance and was led into the mansion by the mansion owner’s servants.
They arrived in front of a door with the sign [conference room] above it.
The servants soon took their leave, and Rachel slowly opened the door.
Before walking in, Rachel gracefully bowed. The people inside reacted uniquely to her greeting.
“Ah, nice to meet you, Elementalist Rachel.”
“It’s been a while, my old friend.”
Rachel scanned the room.
Hunter of the Vast Expanse, ‘Kim Junwoo’.
Desolate Moon’s ‘Shin Jonghak’.
Essence of the Strait’s ‘Yi Jiyoon’ and ‘Miyamoto Yohei’.
One of the recent rising Rankers, ‘Chae Nayun’, and Essence of the Strait’s Chief Officer ‘Kim Youngjin’.
Rachel was faced with old acquaintances that soothed her heart as well as powerful veterans who made her tremble. Rachel walked up, trying her best to act calm, and sat down on a chair.
When Rachel returned Chae Nayun’s greeting with a light bow, the door opened once again, and a gentle, white-haired old man walked in.
The following name was shown above the old man’s head:
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