Team: HH, thursdays, Yahiko (5/12)
Yeon-woo checked through the Sea Water Charm once more because he thought he had seen wrong. But he was right. Benteke was coming here with Triton.
‘So Poseidon attacked first.’
[Poseidon is watching you closely.]
Poseidon had expressed his will to punish Yeon-woo somehow.
It seemed as soon as Yeon-woo began to climb the floors again, he moved his apostle, Benteke.
[Athena encourages you quietly.]
[Hermes protests against Poseidon.]
[Posideon ignores him.]
[Poseidon has announced that he will punish you severely.]
[The godly society, ‘Olympus,’ has split opinions of you.]
[Many godly societies are watching you.]
[Many demonic societies are interested in the current event.]
[Agares tempts you in a sweet voice that you can use him anytime.]
[Hondon doesn’t say anything.]
[Azrael looks at you expectantly. He hopes for many deaths in the future. He has blessed the Authority, the ‘3rd Spirit.’]
[With the consecutive blessings, the ‘3rd Spirit’ has climbed a step.]
After finding Benteke, Yeon-woo realized that there was a significantly greater amount of gazes on him.
This had been a hot topic on the 98th floor, so they were probably curious how a god would punish someone.
‘I wonder how they think of players down below. Do they think of us as a game?’
Yeon-woo thought that was likely.
The word “Avatar” that was used in games came from avatāra, which meant descent or embodiment.
Gods and demons used their avatars to interfere down below. Then everything, including their avatars, were merely playthings, or an NPC at the very most.
He suddenly thought that the lower world was nothing more than a source of amusement for the gods and demons trapped on the 98th floor.
A place they didn’t care about but interfered with when they were bored.
Poseidon said he was angry, but he might be “punishing” him just for his amusement.
[Many gods have mysterious smiles at your thoughts.]
[Many demons burst out laughing. They ask when you’ll be confronting Poseidon.]
[Agares stays silent.]
[Azrael has a strange smile.]
He felt a bit annoyed, but…..
‘It won’t matter.’
Yeon-woo released himself from the vision of the Sea Water Charm and spread his wings of fire apart. He slowly got up and moved his Spirit Familiars around him.
He didn’t need to worry about what other beings thought of him.
‘I can just fight them when I meet them.’
Yeon-woo raised his head and kicked off from the ground.
* * *
Meanwhile, at the same time, the situation above water was chaotic.
“T, There’s a large fleet coming this way!”
When the player who had been observing the seas for any sea monsters or sea king monsters that might come their way said this, the crew members all turned to look.
The same went for Heidi and Trinity. Heidi’s face stiffened. She quickly ran to the edge and called for a spirit.
The wind spirit woke up and pulled visions from far away to her. Like what the watcher said, something was approaching them rapidly.
There were tens of ships. The trident on the masts stood out.
Heidi knew what clan used that symbol and how affected the crew members would be. She tried to shout to assure them, but the words that the watcher spewed out before her made the crew members freeze.
“Triton! It’s Triton!”
“Why is Poseidon’s clan coming here!”
Not all pirates were the same.
Triton wasn’t simply the ruler of the 28th floor after taking over the Blue Rose’s position.
They used the 28th floor as a base to grow, and they were on their way to becoming one of the top clans after the time of confusion.
Their leader, Benteke, was a famed high ranker. When he was the first-mate for the Blue Rose, he was well-known for killing all his enemies he met, and as the leader of Triton, he was infamous for his brutality.
Of course, the crew members would all become fearful after hearing that Triton was speeding here.
Why were they coming here? Just to loot them? Wasn’t just one or two boats enough for that? Why was he bringing all his forces here? Did they do something wrong?
Or was there a grudge between the Hoarder and Benteke…..?
The confusion only grew around them.
Fear always grew in silence.
Thinking that things could turn dangerous at this rate, Heidi gave her wind spirit an order.
The spirit scattered into the wind and made Heidi’s voice ring in the ears of all the passengers.
“Everyone, pull yourselves together!”
The passengers all jumped in surprise, but it was effective. They quickly pulled themselves together and looked frantically at Heidi.
“I don’t know what Triton wants, but we can’t stay still either. Everyone get in position!”
“To your positions!”
“To each of your positions!”
They began to move to each of the roles that they were assigned. Yeon-woo hadn’t ordered it specifically, but Heidi had already assigned positions to every crew member.
She had created a manual for them so they wouldn’t be lost, and it was useful now. The manual described what to do when met with a sea monster or sea monster king.
Still, the crew members couldn’t help but be scared even in their positions.
With Yeon-woo’s absence, they didn’t know what to do. No, even if he was here, they didn’t know if he could take them on. There was nothing they could do but look at Triton with trembling gazes.
Heidi used all her magic to wrap different spirits around the ship.
She was a healer, so her spirit magic was relatively weaker, but she could still control a lot of spirits like most Elves.
While the nervous silence continued, tens of Triton’s ships appeared.
Each of their ships was as large as Yeon-woo’s Ghost Ship, and they approached it in a line.
Then, they drew a large circle around the Ghost Ship. All of their masts were directed towards the Ghost Ship.
The Ghost Ship didn’t budge as this was happening. Every time the crew members expressed their worries, Heidi assured them by saying it was okay. Even as she did, she didn’t miss what Triton was doing.
If Triton had appeared with enmity, they wouldn’t have surrounded them like this. They would have attacked them first.
The Ghost Ship would already be sinking into the river, crushed beyond repair.
But still, they just had their cannons ready and weren’t attacking. It meant they had something to say.
Heidi decided to place her hopes on that. She also wished that Yeon-woo would quickly realize the danger they were in and come back.
Just then, a ship approached the Ghost Ship.
A single man stood under the flag with the trident symbol on it.
His thin figure and sharp eyes were memorable. He shouted with a voice filled with magic power.
“The Hoarder! Where is the Hoarder?!”
The crew members just glanced at each other, not answering. Eventually, Heidi stepped forward.
“The Hoarder isn’t here right now.”
The man looked Heidi up and down with a frown.
“Who are you?”
“I’m in charge of the ship while the Hoarder isn’t here. He’ll be back soon, so if you tell me what…..”
“You don’t seem to be the girl of the One-horned tribe that the Hoarder travels with. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter.”
The man ignored Heidi and snorted. Heidi bit her lip in humiliation, but she didn’t express it.
“Actually, it’s better that the Hoarder isn’t here. Everyone present, listen!”
The atmosphere shook, and river water was tossed up and down. That was how loud the man’s voice was.
The crew members of the Ghost Ship looked up at him anxiously wondering what he was going to say. By his appearance, they could tell that he was Triton’s executive, Wolf. He spoke in place of Benteke.
“The king of the sea I serve, Benteke, has spoken. He will punish the Hoarder as the gods have willed.”
The crew members turned pale. Heidi, who realized her hunch was right, clenched her teeth.
“However, he also said this. Before the Hoarder is punished, we cannot sacrifice any lambs because of him. I’ll give you one minute from now. During that time, I’ll save those who throw their weapons away and surrender. Those of you who don’t will be made into snacks for the sea monster kings, along with the Hoarder!”
His words were impactful.
They had to find a way to survive in that time.
Heidi didn’t have time to stop them. She wanted to tell them not to move and not to be tricked, but…..
“Boat! Is there a boat? A boat!”
The crew members ran around busily looking for lifeboats, not listening to Heidi. It quickly became chaotic above the deck.
“59, 58……! Hahaha!”
As Wolf counted down, the chaos was amplified. They killed the old Cannibal Monster Humans to take their lifeboats, and the ones that couldn’t tossed themselves overboard.
It was extremely dangerous because of the acid and poison, but they thought that they would be alright if they protected themselves with magic power for a while and moved onto Triton’s boats.
Heidi did whatever she could to stop them. She used her spirits and her skills to occasionally stop them.
She believed that Yeon-woo would come if they just held on for a little while.
Also, there was no guarantee that they would be spared even if they surrendered.
‘Triton’s goal is to destroy the boat beyond repair before the Hoarder comes back! This ship is definitely way stronger than it looks!’
It was a ship that the Cannibal Monster Humans, not Charon, had made. She had never heard or seen of this hidden piece before, so she didn’t know that there was some kind of secret to it. Was it something amazing that even Triton couldn’t just destroy with brute strength?
However, no one listened to her. There were even a few Trinity members included in there.
“Sorry, Captain! I want to live!”
The Ghost Ship that had been bustling until a few minutes ago was now dead silent.
Heidi, Dylan, Jun, a few members of Trinity, and the trembling old Cannibal Monster Humans were the only ones left.
Heidi blanked. Was the castle that she built going to topple this easily? She didn’t expect anything from the pirates from the beginning. They were being forced by Yeon-woo anyway.
However, the other members of Trinity were different. They had been together since the 11th floor, and they were comrades who fought back-to-back during battles.
They were special to her because of that reason. But in front of danger, they turned their backs on her.
There wasn’t anything like past friendships or camaraderie here.
-What you know might not be everything.
Just then, she remembered what Yeon-woo said.
At the time, she didn’t think it was of importance. But looking back at it now, that wasn’t the case. Had he known that this was going to happen from the beginning? That what she had was nothing more than a sandcastle?
Dylan gripped Heidi, who had blank eyes. Only then did she pull herself together.
Thwak. She slapped her cheeks. She had to put the betrayal behind her for the moment. She could resent them after she survived.
“Everyone, protect your positions until the end! Hang in there until the Hoarder comes back!”
At Heidi’s commands, the remaining crew members all activated barrier skills. Her spirits spread out and created a round barrier.
The cannons of Triton suddenly exuded smoke. Thunder boomed down at them, and the waves tossed.
The lifeboats were dominated by the rough waves. Players who had been trying to swim to Triton’s boats sank. Some who had barely managed to arrive at the enemy’s ships shouted urgently.
“The lifeline! Please drop the lifeline!”
“Please save me! Please!”
But all they received was ridicule.
“Why should we?”
“W, What…..! Didn’t you say you would save us if we surrendered?!”
“We said we would let you live, not rescue you. Kekeke.”
“Yeah. Why would they trust pirates? Is something wrong with their heads?”
The players realized that they had been played. However, there was nothing they could do. They just shouted and screamed.
Meanwhile, the cannonballs from Triton were falling onto the Ghost Ship.
A barrier was created to block the cannonballs midair, and the spirits bustled around to scatter the shocks from the explosions.
Heidi’s body shook up and down, but she forced herself to hold on. The crew members came to help her with their skills.
As they did, they realized that their magic power use was less than they expected.
‘Hidden piece! This ship has a function like that!’
Heidi realized why Yeon-woo chose the Cannibal Monster Humans instead of Charon.
It had been sturdy when the sea king monsters arrived, and it also had the effect of decreasing the amount of magic power use of players on it.
Thanks to that, Heidi was able to defend themselves much easier. Occasionally, a spirit was destroyed, and her magic power path was twisted, but it was bearable.
As she used her spirits, she also healed and buffed the crew members.
“Stop them! Do whatever you can!”
Helping Heidi’s efforts, the Cannibal Monster Humans also deflected the attacks. Cannons that she hadn’t known about opened on the sides of the ship, and the Ghost Ship began to breathe out fire.
While the attacks came and went, the players floating around the river water were swept away from the shock of the attack. The screams disappeared amidst the explosions.
“This won’t work.”
Wolf didn’t like the situation. He didn’t like how the Ghost Ship was holding up. He didn’t know how the Hoarder knew about the ship that the Cannibal Monster Humans made, but he needed to create a mess before he came back.
“Oh well. Let’s capture the ship first.”
On Wolf’s orders, his ship began to slide towards the Ghost Ship. He was planning on crashing against the boat and moving his forces onto it to take it over.
Heidi discovered him and tried to stop Wolf’s boat, but she couldn’t focus on him because of the cannonballs raining on the ship from above.
Wolf’s boat came right near them.
Just when Dylan was getting ready for the impact…..
Kwaang! The surface of the water shook and with an explosive sound, a column of water shot up. It was from the Ghost Ship and Wolf’s ship crashing. It was an explosion that came from the bottom of Wolf’s ship.
The column of water stood high in the sky and came splatering down. Instead, there was a black fire column in its place.
Wolf’s ship sunk into the river water, split in two, unable to fight back.
It was so sudden that Wolf and the other players of Triton couldn’t do anything.
And above the fire column, Yeon-woo was standing with his wings of fire spread apart.
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