Chapter 23. Deal (3)
‘Fuck! They noticed us too soon. I’ll have to steal this guy’s Tokens while Blood Sword and Foxy Tail are distracted. And his artifacts too, if I can.’
Franc and his minions were among the most active scavengers in Section E.
They were very fond of their job. Under the guise of taking Tokens, they robbed players’ riches, artifacts and everything else. Artifacts were divided amongst themselves to greatly increase their battle prowess. If they were lucky enough, they could even obtain some skill books. Tokens could be sold to top rankers at very high prices.
Also, there were several places that were in need of live players. Varying from workers or slaves, to prostitutes, livestock, and even human specimens for experimental purposes. People had a variety of uses for their bodies, so they didn’t have to worry about where to sell them. Who wouldn’t want a piece of such a lucrative business?
What was better was that this guy was the teammate of top rankers like Kahn and Doyle. No one knew how many Tokens he might be carrying or what artifacts he might have received from those two.
Although there was the risk of having to sneak behind Kahn and Doyle, he was expecting to get a great deal of return from it. He was so nervous that his mouth was drying up. And as expected, Kahn and Doyle hadn’t noticed their ambush. Their prey was so frightened that he was only crouching by the fire, unaware of his imminent fate.
Not long before Franc and his minions jumped out from bushes and slashed at the back of the man wearing a white mask.
‘It’s in!’, Franc thought to himself.
But soon he noticed something was wrong and opened his eyes wide. Just like an illusion, there was nothing in the place where his sword had slashed.
Instinct told him to look up, and there he saw the white mask. It then landed right in front of him. Behind the white mask, two eyes were flashing like a will-o’-wisp.
A terrible chill ran through his body.
From his head to his groin, a dagger carved a dark red line along Franc’s body, knocking him over to his back.
"wh, what the hell?"
"B, bo, boss!"
The rest of the scavengers behind Franc faltered for a moment.
In the meantime, Yeon-woo turned around and threw himself at them.
The figure gliding through the forest under the dark sky reminded them of a ghost. It looked like a white mask floating amid the darkness. That image caused the scavengers to shiver in fear.
What was supposed to be a prey, turned out to be a predator that killed Franc with one slash. And the sheer look of his glowing eyes made their flesh crawl.
One of the scavengers at the front managed to fend off Yeon-woo's attack. Then the atmosphere suddenly changed.
Wait, maybe he isn’t that tough! Maybe Franc’s carelessness let this guy get the better of him. We are superior in number, so it can’t be that hard to kill just one guy if we attack all at once, right?
All the scavengers thought of the same thought, jumped to the same conclusion, and they all rushed towards Yeon-woo in unison.
"You son of a bitch!"
"Die, you motherfucker!"
But of course, that was Yeon-woo’s trap to draw them in.
With his dagger interlocked with the enemy’s weapon, Yeon-woo quickly spun to his right and darted right beneath the scavenger in front of him. At the same time, he drew another dagger with his left hand holding it in reverse and immediately sliced him right in the neck.
Blood sprayed upward like a fountain as the dagger severed his jugular vein. Yeon-woo then threw the dagger in between the fountain of blood, piercing another scavenger’s head. Soon after, he ran straight back to the three scavengers sneaking behind, and swiftly cut their waist, neck, and shoulder.
"H, how the hell…. *Gurgle*"
The scavengers then realized it was all a trap and wanted to retreat. But it was too late now, so they still tried to pressure and exhaust Yeon-woo by relying on their numbers.
Contrary to their wish, Yeon-woo went on a rampage destroying each and every one of them. He parried a knife that flew towards him and stabbed into their neck, waist, and heart. He blocked a spear aiming at his blind spot with his arm, snapped it into half, and cut off the head of its wielder.
Yeon-woo’s inhuman movement made them think he had eyes all over his body. Every time the scavengers attacked Yeon-woo, he dodged all of their attacks and even launched counterattacks. And each time, the scavengers collapsed with their blood scattering all over the grass.
They felt as if they had been possessed by a ghost.
They finally realized they had messed with the wrong guy and tried to make an escape.
Yeon-woo threw a dagger towards the head of the first one to run away, and then quickly chased after the others. His speed was too fast and direction unpredictable, so they could do nothing but to hopelessly await their deaths. Fear had grabbed their ankles. Terror was slowly eating them up from the inside.
* * *
The three of them had killed a total of 21 scavengers. It was more than he had expected.
Kahn asked Yeon-woo all of a sudden.
"Why did you let them come near?"
"The more Tokens, the better."
"Man, you are seriously out of your mind."
Kahn clicked his tongue lightly.
He was saying that from the very beginning he had planned to lure them in in order to kill them all in the same spot.
Of course, there were also other players in Section E who used a similar strategy to Yeon-woo. These players specifically hunted down the scavengers by disguising themselves as lone stragglers. But even so, it was only possible when facing against small numbers. No one wanted to face over 20 scavengers moving together in an organized system. Even high rankers couldn’t handle such overwhelming numbers of enemies. But Yeon-woo treated such things as nothing at all.
Was it because he had trust in Kahn and Doyle, or because he was confident in his own skills?.
‘Or maybe it’s both.'
Meanwhile, Yeon-woo had been looting Tokens from the scavengers’ bodies.
"81? Seems like they’ve been in this business for quite a long time.”
Yeon-woo was dumbfounded by the number of Tokens he had found in the scavengers corpses. He had only found five Tokens while searching around the forest with his senses strengthened. But they were carrying almost a hundred with them.
Even with that number, the underlings only carried one or two, most of them were found on the ones who looked like the leaders.
"It's been a while since new players had entered Section E. That’s probably what was leftover after selling most of them. More than a thousand people had been in this place, looking for Tokens and fighting for them. 81 is a small number compared to that."
Doyle provided an explanation with a smile on his face.
"But that’s only possible because they were scavengers. Most players probably have 10 Tokens or less.”
"The rich get richer, the poor get poorer."
Yeon-woo thought it made sense.
Section E had a type of a ‘winner-takes-all’ system. The strong player minority would take Tokens from the weak player majority. Weak players had no choice but to give up their Tokens to survive. Even if they made up for the loss, eventually they would get stolen again.
‘They might even be enslaved and made to hand in the Tokens they find.’
Whatever they may do, the strong can sit still and pile up Tokens at a rapid pace. On the other hand, the weak would be always short on Tokens. That was the reason why there was a huge gap between high rankers and the other players.
Yeon-woo also knew about this system and was waiting for the scavengers to come.
"Anyway, collect as many Tokens as you can. They’ll be used to gain Karma, as well as to purchase items from the mysterious merchant. The top-ranked players usually don't go straight to Section F even if they have the 99 Tokens required. They will try to hoard as many as they can."
Yeon-woo nodded along.
‘Come to think of it, was it at the end of Section E where I can meet the mysterious merchant again?’
Yeon-woo recalled his brother’s diary. He didn't think much of it because he didn't have anything to buy from the mysterious merchant. But it wouldn’t harm to keep it in mind.
"Oh, by the way, you can have all the Tokens."
Yeon-woo looked back at Doyle at the unexpected remark. 81 Tokens were quite a lot to just give away. He didn’t understand why.
Doyle smiled and said,
"We didn't pay you front money when we made the deal, did we? Think of it as a down payment."
"What about Kahn?"
“He's really simple, you know. He’ll do whatever I ask him to, so don't worry."
"You two also need Karma."
"Haha! Are you worried about us? We surely have enough for ourselves, so really, it’s okay."
"Well then, thank you kindly."
There was no reason to turn down their favor. Yeon-woo put the Tokens inside a pouch he made from weaving the hide of the Trolls. He had too many Tokens so he didn’t dare to swallow them anymore.
‘This is easier than expected.’
Yeon-woo couldn't get rid of the idea that it was too easy.
If he tried a little harder, he could move on to Section F. Of course, he wasn’t going to actually do that. There was nothing major in Section F that would allow him to gather much Karma. Section E was virtually the last place he could collect Karma in large quantities.
‘That guy will show up here too.’
The one that Yeon-woo had in his mind even before he entered the tutorial. The one that only appeared at this specific time period. He had to kill it before going to the next section.
‘That will significantly increase my Magic Power. Then, I will be able to complete the succession process.'
If it was a solid vessel that Yeon-woo had acquired in Section B, what was left to be obtained in Section E was the content to fill up the vessel.
Yeon-woo licked his lower lip.
‘Once we kill the Lizardman King, I’ll have to head straight to kill ‘that guy’.’
He already had his plan mapped out in his mind.
* * *
The following day.
Yeon-woo’s party was able to reach their destination, the northern swamp.
It was very hard to move their feet as the swamp was full of soft mud. Their feet sank deep into the swamp with every step they took, and it was getting deeper as they moved inward. At some point, they had to climb up a tree and jump from tree to tree to move around. During the meantime, they had several fights whenever they came across a Lizardman settlement.
Lizardmen are reptilian monsters with the ability to walk upright. These monsters have knowledge of wielding swords and possess high intelligence, they even know how to ‘hunt’.
They would attack with a hit-and-run style in order the exhaust the intruders as much as possible, before launching a final attack where they’d usually all jump in at once.
However, it did not work against Yeon-woo’s party at all. They showed no signs of fatigue even after a series of battles. They just wiped out every single Lizardman they saw. And Yeon-woo even looted materials from the monsters’ carcasses.
"...What else are you going to take this time?"
"Their eyes. Lizardmen's Eyeballs are a very useful item for making artifacts with certain buffs."
"Yeah. Of course. Well, there are bodies lying everywhere around here, so go ahead. Help yourself.”
Kahn shook his head in disgust, and once Yeon-woo started to cut off the spikes on their tails, he no longer spoke a word.
‘I need their eyes to forge the artifact, Gyges’ Eyes’.
It was an artifact named after a giant that’s said to have hundreds of arms and thousands of eyes.
Yeon-woo swore to himself that he would get his hands on that artifact one day, and continued to move on.
Meanwhile, thanks to his steady search, he now had 89 Tokens in his possession.
And only after destroying a couple of settlements, they were finally able to reach Hargan's Lair.
"Wait, is this…?"
"Yeah. Looks like they already had some guests."
Doyle looked at Kahn with a worried look.
Kahn nodded gravely.
Yeon-woo also narrowed his brows.
There were bloodstains and other traces of battle along the way leading to Hargan's Lair.
They were traces of other players.