Team: HH, thursdays, Yahiko (5/12)
Yeon-woo left the iron tower a day later.
It was to get used to the Divine Blessings and to go through his fight with Benteke.
Yeon-woo was awake the entire night going over the fight using Time Difference. He was looking for a way to defeat Benteke.
‘In the last fight…..anyone would say it was definitely my loss.’
Actually, most people would’ve said that it was a tie. Nemesis and Nike considered it a tie as well, but as someone who actually fought in the battle, Yeon-woo knew that it was his loss.
It was only a tie because he had improvised and used an irregularity. Yeon-woo fell completely short in terms of skills.
Yeon-woo didn’t like that.
‘At least as much as Benteke…..’
Yeon-woo had promised Nemesis that he wouldn’t be drunk on excitement and do something stupid. He was thinking the same thing now. He wasn’t going to waste the weapons he had.
However, he was still regretful about one thing.
The battle with Benteke.
He wanted to end the unfinished fight with his own hands.
He still remembered the glee of a beast clashing with another, two monsters colliding. Thinking of back then, he felt his fingers tingle. He wanted to see the end of it.
Of course, this time, he was planning on fighting and using all his cards if he was losing.
The Divine Blessing that Benteke had was tempting.
Also, in that process, he wanted to see the limits of his power without anyone’s help.
‘Although, Nemesis will shout at me again if he finds out.’
Yeon-woo adjusted the connection so Nemesis wouldn’t be able to read his thoughts and began to review again.
In that process, he could see Benteke’s strengths and weaknesses.
‘Strong but uncompromising.’
Benteke’s advantages could be described in one word.
Strength. Benteke was too strong. There was nothing hiding, blocking, or changing the power he emitted.
He just broke and destroyed things with brute force. Yeon-woo felt like he understood why Benteke was called the Ruler King all this time.
He didn’t budge or surrender.
However, if you were too firm, it meant that you would break apart irrevocably once you fell. There was no way a master like Benteke didn’t know that, so he was probably trying to become strong enough to the point that he couldn’t be broken at all.
‘Then, I only need to find a way to break him.’
Yeon-woo repeated many simulations over and over again to find the answer. His broadened consciousness after absorbing the Summer Queen allowed him to calculate more, so he was able to experience many things. He gained a lot in that process.
He also discovered variables.
‘Poseidon’s followers’ apostles from the quest. I’ll have to be careful of them too.’
There had been distance between them, so he couldn’t tell, but there was someone who had blocked Duke Ardbad while protecting Benteke. Behind him, there were players who were as powerful as him.
They were all players with holy power.
It was clear they were apostles of Orion, Antaeus, and Charybdis – Poseidon’s children.
They were probably the other Poseidon’s “apostles” mentioned in the hidden quest.
Since they were related to Poseidon by blood, they were definitely strong as well.
‘Orion was a hunter so powerful he was called a giant, and Antaeus was as much of a brute as Heracles. Charybdis was a monster who swallowed an ocean.’
Antaeus and Charybdis weren’t as well known, but they were children of Poseidon and Gaia.
Since they were both gods created by a higher god and a founding god of Olympus, they might’ve even been more powerful than Poseidon.
‘It’s filled with monsters related to the sea.’
He realized how Triton was able to control such a large amount of forces in that short amount of time.
If they had four apostles, there was no way they would be a minor clan.
Also, it was clear that Triton still had many things they were hiding.
He had to stand against them alone.
It wouldn’t be easy.
* * *
「Hoarder! You, how can you……!」
It took him quite a while to realize he was dead. It had been so sudden, and he hadn’t imagined that Yeon-woo would hurt him somehow.
No, it was impossible that someone would hurt someone who saved their life.
He was a knight who protected the Emperor and an honorable sword-wielder. He couldn’t believe Yeon-woo’s actions because of his beliefs as a knight.
Also, he had been admiring Yeon-woo’s courage and will to fight Benteke.
When Yeon-woo smirked and took off his mask…..
Duke Ardbad trembled from the betrayal. Like how all people who had seen Yeon-woo’s face reacted, he seemed shocked as well. He even screamed, saying that it wasn’t possible.
At the same time, Duke Ardbad realized that they had all been played by Yeon-woo.
From when Viscount Lao was swept away in the Demons’ Forest to here. How the Walpurgisnacht had fallen, and the Summer Queen had died.
And the enmity between the White Dragon and the Blood Land that would spring from his death.
All these had been the product of one person. And it was someone they thought they had killed…..!
Duke Ardbad couldn’t speak.
However, as if he didn’t care about Duke Ardbad’s reaction, Yeon-woo looked at Hanryeong, who had been quietly waiting for Yeon-woo’s orders, and nodded.
「You dare! Who do you think I am?! Let go! Take your dirty hand off of me, I said!」
Duke Ardbad squirmed to get away from the shadows rising from the ground. However, they became tentacles tightening around his hands and feet, and they completely took him apart and began to swallow him.
The monsters swallowed all of Duke Ardbad as if they were devouring a tasty meal. All the energy that came from it was absorbed by Hanryeong.
A dark fog blew towards Hanryeong. It wrapped around him, and he began to change.
[Hanryeong’s (Death Knight) level is rising, and he is no longer confined by his former limits.]
[The evolution is beginning.]
[Warning! Until the evolution is finished, please make sure there is nothing bothering you. If the evolution fails, all the levels earned may disappear at once.]
Hanryeong’s level when he was alive was high, and he had the potential to become stronger anytime as long as his body could match it.
He was able to surpass his limits by absorbing Duke Ardbad’s soul, and he began to evolve into a Death Noble.
“It would be nice if there were more people like this.”
Yeon-woo muttered looking at Hanryeong, who was struggling to evolve. For him, it was better to have one more stronger person.
Shanon snorted, his arms crossed. It was a while since he left the shadows.
「How greedy. But this won’t work anymore. Unless they’re fools.」
Yeon-woo silently nodded his head. He knew it too.
The only reason why he had caught Duke Ardbad was because of the timing, not his skills.
The Duke was weak after fighting for a while, and he had been focused on the fight with Waltz, so he didn’t expect any attacks from the outside.
It was also thanks to Hanryeong, who knew to attack at that time.
The Saber God was still the Saber God, no matter how low his level was, he definitely wasn’t weaker than Duke Ardbad.
But now, these tricks wouldn’t work anymore.
Now that they knew that attacks through shadows were possible, they would prepare for it as well.
It was a shame for Yeon-woo, but overall, it wasn’t something he would lose anything from, so he wasn’t concerned about it too much and quickly got over it.
‘I can just think of another way.’
Around the time when he was done organizing his thoughts,
Hanryeong finally appeared. Light shined through the cracks and settled down again.
There was a Death Noble wearing darkness where the light left. Inferno Sight was blazing under his helm.
Hanryeong kneeled and bowed his head towards Yeon-woo.
「Respects towards my master…….」
It was a loyalty pledge for his owner who had allowed him to walk a new path.
* * *
When Yeon-woo was done with everything and came back outside onto the island, Heidi ran towards him frantically. The players who were enjoying their breaks all stood up, tense.
“Later tonight, we’ll set sail.”
However, everyone just looked at each other in silence, and no one answered.
Concern filled their faces.
Just then, Heidi stepped up carefully. She was most definitely the leader who represented them and spoke for them.
“Isn’t it too early? If we leave now…..”
“If you’re worried about seeing Triton and the Spring Queen again, you can stay here. The choice is yours anyway.”
Yeon-woo turned around. They had no reason to be loyal to him. He was planning on leaving them on the island if they wanted to. Although he didn’t know if they would survive there.
The players all sighed. If they stayed, the trial would expire because of the time limit. They didn’t want to let that happen.
There was nothing they could do but follow him.
They hoped this time, the path the Hoarder was walking would be tranquil and smooth.
* * *
At the frantic movements of the old Cannibal Monster Humans, the sails spread apart. A breeze started to blow, and the Ghost Ship left the island.
Around the time when they left the fog—
A large explosion and ball of fire came from within the island. The fire that swallowed everything destroyed what was in its path.
A huge earthquake followed, like a volcano had exploded.
All the players on deck looked towards the bow of the ship.
However, Yeon-woo, the receiver of the gazes, didn’t pay any attention to the island. He was just looking at the sea path, focusing on Ceto’s holy artifact.
The players sweated upon seeing him again. They were grateful towards Heidi.
Actually, a few of them had considered whether they should stay on the island. It was an island that had all necessary facilities, and they believed they could survive. However, Heidi had stopped them and convinced people all night to go with her.
If they had refused?
They would’ve been swept away by the fire along with the rest of the island. The backs of their necks felt cold.
Thankfully, they weren’t bothered while crossing the River of Souls this time.
They didn’t see Triton, the Fantasy Regiment, or Waltz. They didn’t even see a single pirate.
It was strange that they could cross the river so comfortably.
So they were still on their guards, wary of any surprise attacks, and after a few days had passed…..
[All trials have been completed. This is the 29th floor, the ‘Land of Souls.’]
The Ghost Ship finally arrived on the land of the 29th floor.
“W, We’re here!”
“The 29th floor! It’s the 29th floor!”
They jumped up and down, happy that their seafaring life was over.
Yeon-woo waited until the ship entered the port, and he lightly jumped down when the shore of the river was nearer.
Heidi dashed over to the edge and looked down.
“A, Are you leaving?”
Yeon-woo looked up. Heidi was looking at him with a concerned face.
He silently nodded. Their contract was only valid until they passed the 28th floor anyway. They would figure out the rest.
Heidi knew that, so she couldn’t stop him. No, she didn’t even have a reason to.
She had saved him. She did everything she could so she could have a light conscience. Rather, she was in the position where she could request something from him. Right now, it was wiser to put some distance between them since he was surrounded by all sorts of dangers.
Even while knowing that, Heidi felt like she should stop Yeon-woo.
It might’ve been the sixth sense of a woman or the instinct of a fairy. If not that, it might’ve just been because she wanted to.
And when Yeon-woo spoke up, Heidi listened carefully to catch every single word he said.
“If you want, come find me.”
“If I want…..?”
Yeon-woo’s words were like a puzzle to Heidi. However, Yeon-woo just turned around and began to walk slowly into the horizon.
Heidi looked at his back for a long time.
* * *
‘If she didn’t have so much luggage, I’d have scouted her, but I’ll give it some time.’
Yeon-woo grinned, stepped on the stage of the 29th floor. Heidi was like a diamond in the rough he found while climbing the floors again. A diamond that was starting to shine.
He wanted to take her for himself at once, but because there were too many people who depended on her, it would be hard to do that.
Still, it wasn’t enough to give up on her completely, so he made a promise for the future.
He was planning to go look for her again when she became a jewel or have her find him instead.
And just like that, Yeon-woo pushed the Ghost Ship behind him and focused on his steps. With his wide-open Draconic Eyes, he could see Triton’s location.
A Monster Portent inside Benteke’s shadow was showing him the way.
* * *
[All trials have been completed.]
[Would you like to register your name in the hall of fame?]
[You have rejected registration.]
[However, your accomplishments will be left in the history of the Tower, and you can change your registration status anytime.]
[This is the 30th floor, the gate of ‘Site of Souls.’]
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