Team: HH, Yahiko, thursdays (10/10)
Ding ding ding—
News of the Hoarder’s arrival rang in the Iron Lion’s base. Players moved frantically, but Yeon-woo began his attack.
Every stroke of Vigrid poured fire down from the sky and reduced the base to ruins.
“Where do you think this is?!”
The vice-clan leader of Iron Lion, Jonathan, rushed over to the scene, grinding his teeth.
After Torca, who was like a brother to him, died, he was having a conference about how to take care of the Hoarder with him roaming around the stage. He had frantically rushed over after hearing the news.
Jonathan gripped his sword. The Hoarder had been using the “hit and run” method to make the “alliance” helpless little by little.
But he had suddenly appeared. That could only mean one thing. He was looking down on them.
The fire turned the sky red and the ground black. Monster Portents poured out and slaughtered the players.
Then, Yeon-woo turned to him.
He was wearing a mask, but his eyes were like an abyss. Jonathan stepped back subconsciously in surprise. Something scary wrapped around his heart.
“Let me just ask you one thing.”
“What kind of bulls*** are you gonna talk about?”
Jonathan shouted to hide the fact that he had been scared for a moment.
Regardless, Yeon-woo just asked his question.
“What does the Iron Lion clan think about Kahn?”
“Do you think he’s the son of the leader? Or simply an enemy?”
From the Tutorial, Kahn and Doyle had been wary about speaking about their parents. He knew that they were children of outstanding rankers, but they didn’t talk about it. He thought he understood how they felt.
Like they were tossed away.
Yeon-woo also despised his father, who disappeared suddenly when he was young.
He completely erased all memory of the man as he grew up, but he still sympathized with Kahn and Doyle.
But Kahn’s father, Iron Lion, was after Kahn. If he was just trying to save Kahn, Yeon-woo would’ve considered the clan his ally, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
They were treating Kahn like he was an enemy, no, like he was a criminal.
They looked as if they were going to force Kahn to go with them once he was caught.
However, that was just Yeon-woo’s opinion. He didn’t know what the Iron Lion clan was actually after.
He wanted to listen to what they had to say.
His relationship with the Iron Lion clan had gone past the point of no return, but if it was for Kahn, he was willing to work with them.
As if Yeon-woo’s thoughts had been clearly read, Jonathan’s gaze turned calm. His boiling fury and violent aura disappeared. Instead, he looked at Yeon-woo with cold eyes.
“Why are you curious about that?”
“I’m his friend.”
Friend. The word that he thought he would never say naturally flowed from Yeon-woo’s mouth.
The shadow containing Shanon and Hanryeong shook.
But Jonathan just snorted.
“Did you say ‘friend’?”
He raised a corner of his mouth, forming a cold smile.
“He is the son of the lion. Do you think lions have friends? He may have learned the habits of wild dogs after hanging out with them, but a lion is still a lion. You don’t think that a thing whose roots are unclear like you can really be his friend, right?”
Jonathan gripped swords in each of his hands. It was the dual-wielding technique, which was rare to see in the Tower.
“He’s walking the wrong path because he’s going through a rebellious phase. It’s up to us to lead him on the correct path again.”
His aura whipped around his blades.
The second-in-command, the pride of the Iron Lion clan. Although he had been pushed back by Yeon-woo for a bit, his abilities were near a high ranker’s.
“So whatever your reason is in the end, your purpose is to protect Kahn.”
Yeon-woo stood against his aura and smiled. A short sound of laughter escaped his mask.
In one way, it sounded like a laughter of relief, but it also sounded like a scoff.
Jonathan was about to step forward in anger again.
“What you just said saved your life.”
Jonathan couldn’t even shout. Yeon-woo suddenly dropped below. He instinctively tried to step back, pulling his dual blades towards him, but…..
His right arm felt hot, and his arm was separated from his shoulder.
Yeon-woo briefly appeared behind the screaming Jonathan and spread his wings of fire apart to dig deep into the Iron Lion clan.
‘Even though they’re on Kahn’s side, they’re just a bother now. I better decrease their numbers.’
* * *
Ivan was always proud of his name. “Iron” because he was strong and “lion” because he ruled the battlefield. A lion made of iron. Invincibility and tenacity symbolized him.
“…..What a mess.”
Ivan laughed in disbelief at the sight in front of him.
It had been 10 days since he gave orders to bring his foolish son by the collar. He had brought the first brigade after receiving news that the Iron Lion clan was in danger. What greeted him was a military base in ruins.
Out of the five brigades he dispatched to the 20th floor, two of them were destroyed, one of them was half-gone, and the remaining two were either filled with soldiers who needed to recover or rest for a while.
And according to what he heard, each of the bases of the “alliance” were attacked, and half of their forces were gone. The destruction wasn’t something to take lightly.
Loss, what he hated the most, was in front of him.
If it was a simple loss, he would’ve been angry, but he wasn’t even angry at this devastating loss.
“Please kill me, sir.”
Jonathan got on one knee and lowered his head. He was gritting his teeth.
Ivan silently lowered his body and patted Jonathan’s right shoulder. It was an empty shoulder wrapped with bandages. He felt a fire flare inside of him upon looking at it.
Who was Jonathan? He was his subordinate who had stayed by his side when he had nothing and held a sword for the first time. No, he was his comrade, his family, and his only friend.
Such a friend was in this state.
“Get up. Are you going to continue humiliating me like this?”
Jonathan raised himself up after receiving Ivan’s help. However, because of his injury, his body was trembling.
Ivan’s face stiffened.
“The Hoarder, you said?”
“Not only did he dare to get in my way, he touched my people. I heard he was insolent, but I didn’t know he was this arrogant.”
Ivan turned to look at his subordinate, who still had his head lowered.
Male lions led the clan and bared their teeth when his pride of lions was attacked. And when his teeth were bared, he attacked using everything he had.
“Send people to each base in the alliance. For the leaders to meet—that the Iron Lion wants to meet. Immediately.”
His teeth were bared.
“And if it seems like they’re going to try to drop out…..”
His sharp canines were visible through his lips.
“Tell them that they’ll be ripped apart first.”
* * *
On Ivan’s request, the leaders of each group gathered in the Iron Lion clan’s camp.
Lunatic. Stray Children, Founder of Five Stars, Night Run….. each of them was a powerful clan. With Triton gone, some people said they might be the new emerging clans.
Each of the leaders’ faces were dark. A devastating loss. They had suffered huge damages from Yeon-woo’s counterattack.
There were four people whose expressions couldn’t be read.
Iron Lion Ivan.
Ivan received the most damage, but as the king of the mercenary world and the person who called this gathering, he didn’t let his emotions show.
No, the Iron Lion clan was already called the greatest in the mercenary world. They could bear the damages they received. There were rumors that they were bringing more forces to the 20th floor.
Faceless’s expression couldn’t be read because of the bandages, and Doctor Doom was participating on behalf on all the Magic Towers and magicians, so he kept his face in check.
And Nocturn, the S-Class mercenary, looked indifferent as always.
“Why’s everyone standing around trying to look tough? It seems like everyone’s here. I think it would be best to get started…..!”
In the quiet conference room, Faceless was the first to speak.
Faceless spoke in a flippant attitude when a sword suddenly approached Faceless’s neck.
Ivan’s sword just barely stopped in front of Faceless’s neck. Gripping the bandages, Faceless’s eyes flashed.
“What are you doing, Iron Lion?”
Faceless growled. A violent aura was exuded from him. It was the spirit of a humiliated warrior.
Ivan didn’t forget to warn Faceless despite the sudden change in the atmosphere.
“It’s not me who’s standing around trying to look tough….. it’s you guys.”
Ivan looked around him with intense eyes. The air was filled with a sharp aura.
Faceless’s eyes widened in surprise. Ivan was currently considered one of the superior rankers but lacking compared to the Nine Kings. However, looking at him now, he seemed nearly as powerful as the Nine Kings. That meant he was among the top 100 skilled players.
“Faceless. I heard you’ve been chasing after the Hoarder, yet you didn’t help our allies when they were being attacked.”
Faceless looked away and whistled. The situation was disadvantageous to Faceless.
Like what Ivan said, Faceless had only chased after Yeon-woo with the Chest of Souls. It was to check what kind of abilities and souls Yeon-woo had.
Ivan frowned at Faceless’s attitude and turned to Doctor Doom and Nocturn.
“Doctor Doom, I heard you escaped with the magicians and Nocturn just observed the fight.”
Doctor Doom crossed his arms, not opening his mouth, and Nocturn narrowed his eyes.
An emotion flashed across Nocturn’s face for the first time. The desire to defeat the Iron Lion. He didn’t hear anything else.
All he was thinking of was how strong Ivan was. Nocturn was a hyena who only looked for strong people.
“The people considered to be the strongest here are only curious about the Bian Studies the Hoarder has or where my son is. You don’t care about what happens to others. And…..”
Ivan trailed off and looked at the leaders around him. When they met Ivan in the eye, they either trembled or looked down.
“The same goes for others.”
Ivan spit out his next words.
“We’re only an alliance in name. This isn’t a real alliance. Rather, we’re fine prey for him to chew apart!”
Ivan brought his fist down on the table. The roar of the lion heated up the atmosphere.
“From now on, I will not allow individual action. If you don’t like it, leave. However, if I catch you here…..”
Instead of speaking, Ivan bared his fangs. It was clear what he meant.
If they didn’t follow him, they would die.
He was basically saying that he would take charge of the alliance.
Each of the leaders of the clans looked at the remaining three people. Faceless and Doctor Doom were a part of the New Stars. They wouldn’t like someone being above them. Nocturn probably felt the same, too.
However, Faceless shrugged without saying much, and Doctor Doom nodded.
Nocturn looked at Ivan in the eye but didn’t say anything.
The alliance was now in Ivan’s hands without any opposition.
Ivan’s blazing eyes were on the three whose thoughts couldn’t be read.
The door burst open, and someone came frantically running in. A mercenary of the Iron Lion. All gazes turned to him.
“An urgent report!”
“What is it?”
“Young master….. no, Blood Sword Kahn has been found!”
Everyone stood up.
Ivan didn’t miss how Faceless’s eyes flashed peculiarly in that moment.
* * *
『What in the world is Cain doing?』
Kahn’s eyes widened as he looked at the different battles happening in the stage.
The net to capture him had loosened, so he was wondering what was happening.
When he looked down below, something unexpected was going on.
Yeon-woo, Victoria, and the Ice King were working together to rip the net apart.
Far away, he could see the Iron Lion crumbling at a fast pace.
Kahn had a bitter smile. Although he had left them, the people there were like family. Jonathan was like a kind uncle to him, so he hoped he wasn’t badly hurt in the fight with Yeon-woo.
『Still. It’s a relief Noona doesn’t seem to be that hurt.』
He sighed in relief. After leaving Victoria behind like that, he had constantly been worried. It seemed Yeon-woo had helped her in time.
He ended up using them unintentionally, but he was still grateful and apologetic.
It wasn’t that long until he could save Doyle now.
『I’ve gathered enough.』
Kahn spread his palm open. Multiple pieces of the Ruyi Bang floated up and combined into one.
They were pieces he was able to obtain because Yeon-woo and the others stalled time for him. It was more than what he had given gain. The small fish were gone, and only the big ones were remaining, so he had been able to gather more in a shorter amount of time.
With this, the sacrificial vessel could be completed.
Kindred was already at their meeting place. All he had to do was head there.
Recalling the piece of the Ruyi Bang, Kahn began to move again. His destination was the Monkey King’s palace, the place where the shedding of the Monkey King resided. It was where he and the others had visited a long time ago.
With Yeon-woo diverting attention away from him, he would be able to get there easily.
High above in the sky, a red bird discovered Kahn and cried out.
『Master! I found Kahn!』
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