Team: HH, thursdays, Yahiko (3/12)
The pirate clan, the ‘Wild Skull,’ had been gleeful until just a few minutes ago.
“So a large amount of Predators appeared there, hm? And they all moved back now?”
“Yes. We can’t find any traces of the Predators on our radar, so we can just go and collect them.”
“Hue hue hue. I thought something big was happening with tens of Predators gathering. I didn’t know it would be such a good thing for us.”
The pirates all guffawed together as they turned the boat around.
Predators usually showed up because there was a lot of prey for them to feast on, such as ships and navies with lots of people on them.
But tens of Predators had suddenly disappeared. That meant that a large-scale fleet had passed by.
Something big had probably happened. Although the fleet sent them away, they probably received damage on their side, too. It was clear that all kinds of treasures would be floating around.
The Wild Skull collected treasure without owners or stole from ships that were attacked by the sea king monsters.
It was the same right now.
They were expecting a big score for the first time in a while. If they attacked a ship that was damaged from chasing the Predators away, they would probably get the most loot that they had in a few years.
They were all excited when suddenly, disaster came like the wind.
Something suddenly dropped on their mast.
WIth a huge shock wave, the ship shook up and down, and the pirates all fell over, losing their balance.
“W, What is that?”
The pirates all had surprised faces and tried to stand up. However, they all stumbled.
“T, The ship is falling apartttt!”
The ship was folding in half. Water started to flow above the deck.
The pale pirates tried whatever they could to survive, but this time, fire flamed up from the center and swallowed the mast and the deck.
A few of them fumbled at the fire, but they ended up plopping into the river after sliding down the deck. There were screams of fear everywhere.
The people who had barely gripped the columns or ropes could rest easier, but the hand of death was at their necks too.
Fire above or the river below. The only difference was whether they would burn or melt to death.
Their faces paled further with every second.
Just then, Yeon-woo bent over to look down at them.
“Do you want to live?”
The moment they saw the mask Yeon-woo had, they realized that they had walked into their own graves.
Everyone knew the mask of the Hoarder. He was the rookie who had finished off the Summer Queen.
“I, I want to live!”
“I’ll do anything you ask for! Please spare me!”
Yeon-woo nodded with satisfaction.
「Sheesh. Your personality is…..you know you’re not in the position to judge the Martial King, right?」
He could hear Shanon speaking, but he pretended like he didn’t hear anything again and spoke to the pirates.
“Do you know where the Quartz Palace is?”
“The Quartz Palace…..are you talking about the ‘Blue Rose’…..?”
The Blue Rose. It was the name of the pirate crew that Lana led.
“I, It’s already been several years since the Blue Rose went off the grid, so we don’t…..!”
Yeon-woo powerfully stomped his left foot. As he did, the entire ship shook, and cracks split into the wood. It was precariously on the edge of collapsing any second. The speed at which the water flowed in became faster.
The faces of the pirates turned frantic.
“B, B, But I k, k, know someone who might k, k, know them…..ack!”
The ship completely cracked and just when they were about to drop in the river. a shadow stretched out and grabbed them by their collars, hanging them in the air.
Swinging in the air like fruits on a tree, they looked down at the boiling river water below them.
“You’re telling the truth?”
The captain of the Wild Skull shouted loudly in his stiff position. To be honest, he didn’t know anything, but he was only thinking of how to survive.
‘S***! I’m sure something will come out from other pirates! It can’t be only us that die like this!’
* * *
From then, the pirate hunting began.
Following what the captain of the Wild Skull told him about the other pirate crews, he completely destroyed their ships and saved them right before they died.
None of the pirate crews wanted to be the only ones to be ruined like this, so they gave all the information of the other pirates’ bases.
Yeon-woo accomplished looting about ten bases in one night.
Thanks to that, rumors began to spread among the pirates.
It was an ominous rumor that ‘when a ghost ship appeared, it would swallow pirates up.’
And as the many pirate crews began to disappear, the pirates who had been active in their looting began to hide themselves.
Of course, that didn’t mean the pirate hunting was over.
* * *
“Row the boat!”
“The winds are strong! Raise the mast! This time, we’re going to where the ‘Silent Flower’ is!”
Above deck, there were about hundreds of crew members adjusting the mast, and others were busily observing the horizon with binoculars.
Yeon-woo’s Ghost Ship had changed quite a bit in four days.
The pirates that were caught as prisoners of war acted as crew members and helped to move the boat.
Since the river was their home, they were more skilled than Trinity or the Cannibal Monster Humans in this aspect.
Thanks to them, Trinity was doing relatively easier work. Sometimes, they wondered if it was okay for them to be so relaxed.
“Is it really alright for us to have our hands off like this?”
Dylan carefully asked Heidi the question with a flabbergasted face.
As soon as the pirates realized that Trinity was also below Yeon-woo, they began to serve them, calling them sunbaes. [TN: Sunbae is a Korean term for designating a senior in the organization or field who had more experience than you. It’s the Korean equivalent of senpai.]
There were even a few who looked at them with tears, asking about how much they must have suffered. Then, they began to call people who came after them Hoobaes and use them. [TN: Hoobae is the Korean term opposite to sunbae; it’s for those who have less experience than you. It’s the Korean equivalent of kouhai.]
There was a clear hierarchy on Yeon-woo’s boat, and Trinity found themselves at the top.
Within the Ghost Ship, Heidi was first mate. Trinity, the Cannibal Monster Humans, and even the pirates all consulted her because Yeon-woo was too scary to approach.
Dylan wondered if it was okay to leave things alone with how many new people they were getting.
Thankfully, the ship was large, and they had a lot of open space, but unlike the pirates who lived on the stage, Trinity was in the middle of clearing it. It was one thing to become allies with the pirates, but he was worried about becoming tied down here.
“Oh well. We have to do what he asks.”
Heidi just smiled bitterly and couldn’t offer a solution.
The conditions were still binding. She couldn’t talk back to him. If she spoke up, it was obvious that she would be chased away.
“But still, the Hoarder needs to cross the 28th floor like we do. Don’t worry too much.”
“Whew! That’s true, but…..”
Heidi patted Dylan’s shoulder and looked over to where Yeon-woo was.
He was sitting on the bow of the hull, looking at the river with a still face.
However, she couldn’t see what kind of expression he was making because of the mask.
Like time around him had paused, he wasn’t moving in the slightest.
‘What kind of person is he?’
Yeon-woo was still too hard to understand for her.
She couldn’t read him.
She didn’t know what he was going to do with all these pirates he gathered like collectibles.
It seemed like he was trying to get some information from the pirates. However, he could just throw them away if he didn’t need them. He was placing them on his boat without throwing them away.
Was he saving them because they would die otherwise, or did he have something else in mind?
She tried not to think about other peoples’ businesses, but Heidi couldn’t stop herself from wondering about Yeon-woo.
She was curious about what he was doing.
‘Like he’s looking for something…..’
Just then, Yeon-woo raised his hand. It was a sign to stop. The pirates rushed around as they let go of the sail and then dropped the anchor into the sea.
『Protect the boat well.』
Yeon-woo tossed a command to Heidi through Open Speaking and got up. Heidi was about to ask him when he meant, but……
Yeon-woo spread out his wings of fire and jumped down from the boat.
The crew members all shouted in shock, but Yeon-woo was already sinking into the river with his wings of fire around his body.
Everyone looked stunned. Shock buzzed through the air.
The first person to get herself together was Heidi. He had ordered for her to protect the boat. That meant he was coming back. She didn’t know what he was thinking, but she realized that this was all planned.
If so, what she had to do was already decided.
Heidi clapped her hands together. The murmuring crew members turned to her.
Heidi spoke with serious eyes.
“The Hoarder will return. Please stay in your positions until he does.”
* * *
Yeon-woo was sinking deep into the River of Souls.
The ghosts and sea monsters floating around approached him when they discovered him, but they quickly moved away from him with fear when he used his Authority.
[The 3rd Spirit]
The Authority that the god of death, Azrael, had given it to him, so it was a superior property than what they had, and with the Blessings he had continued to receive from the 28th floor, it had more functions.
Yeon-woo looked at a shining castle he could barely see through the dark water.
It was a large castle that was more like a palace.
It was so fancy that it reminded him of the ones in stories.
That was the…..
Yeon-woo smiled faintly looking at Lana’s headquarters.
Who would have imagined that under the River of Souls with sea monsters and sea monster kings, there would be such a palace?
Most pirates just thought that the Quartz Palace was Lana’s territory; they didn’t know exactly what it was.
‘Even the Eight Large Clans couldn’t find the Quartz Palace. Lana used that to her advantage well. If she’s gathering more forces, she’ll probably use the Quartz Palace as her headquarters.’
Yeon-woo moved along where the Blue Rose worked and began to search using his Spirit Familiars when he saw something similar from the diary.
This was also the reason why he had been looking at the surface of the water sitting on the bow.
It was to look for the Quartz Palace. Fortunately, his Spirit Familiars found the location quickly.
Yeon-woo consecutively used Blink and approached the Quartz Palace. He was going to meet his brother’s teacher who cherished his brother very much. He was looking forward to it.
‘She might still have the necklace that Jeong-woo gave her.’
I gave her a present explaining that there was a Teacher Appreciation Day on Earth, and she quite liked it.
I couldn’t forget the image of Lana, who was always so regal, overjoyed.
The Quartz Palace was extremely different from what he saw in the diary.
The castle that should’ve been shining elegantly was broken in different places, like there had been an intense battle, and it was hard to find anywhere that was left intact.
The sections that were somewhat better were quickly eroded by the river water.
The barrier that protected the Blue Rose of thousands of pirates was gone.
Yeon-woo became worried.
He used his Wind Path to head towards the center of the Quartz Palace, the Quartz King Palace.
It was set up exactly as he saw in the diary. The only difference was that it was destroyed in some places and filled with river water. He couldn’t find any traces of people.
Then, Yeon-woo could see skeletons piled up in the hall.
Like they had been trying to protect something, the armored skeletons were kneeling, their heads dropped. In front of them, there were skeletons that looked to be their enemies.
‘Behind this is…..’
Yeon-woo clenched his fist past the guards and burst open the door.
A large hall revealed itself, and he could see jewels that lost their shine and paintings.
And in the throne at the center, one skeleton was sitting in silence. With the clothes that Lana enjoyed wearing.
Its bare, bony hand was gripping the necklace his brother had given her.
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