Chapter 24. Deal (4)
"It hasn't been long since the battle took place."
Yeon-woo leaned down and touched the bloodstained soil with his hands. He also checked the traces left on trees and rocks. Anyone could tell he knew what he was doing.
"Five hours? No, it was about six hours ago."
"Six hours...." Kahn muttered in a small voice.
Doyle asked Yeon-woo with a worried look.
"These people, did they succeed?"
Hidden pieces were supposed to be literally ‘hidden’. They were valuable only when kept hidden. They played a role in raising players' morale and encouraging them to stay focused without falling behind. So hidden pieces in the tutorial never occurred again in the same round once they were cleared.
Then what would happen if the other players had already cleared Hargan's Lair? For Kahn and Doyle who needed Hargan's Crown, it would be a tremendous loss.
Also, even though Kahn and Doyle hadn’t told Yeon-woo yet, it wasn’t just the crown that they needed. There was something else they wanted to obtain using the crown. It was an essential element for the two who were plotting something big. Therefore, the interference of other players wasn’t good news.
But Yeon-woo stood up, he further examined the traces and gave them a reassuring answer.
"No. There are only traces leading inside, but there are no signs of people coming out. And apparently the people who came here didn't come in search of Hargan’s Lair."
"What? What do you mean?"
Yeon-woo pointed towards a deep trench on the ground.
"It's a trail of something heavy being dragged through the ground. That must be the players’ bodies. I think the Lizardmen used some kind of bait and lured them here."
Kahn and Doyle couldn’t help but frown. Although Yeon-woo hadn’t said anything, they could imagine what had happened to them.
Monsters weren’t always the prey. There were times when monsters themselves became the hunters and preyed on players. For them, this place was their home. They knew the local geography better than players, of course there would be traps lying around. Yeon-woo presumed this had something to do with those traps.
"God damn sons of bitches!"
Fortunately for Yeon-woo, Kahn only spat out some curses and didn’t seem to want to intervene in this matter.
‘I thought he was just naive, but he can keep his cool when necessary.’
Yeon-woo nodded quietly.
If Kahn had lost his judgment out of simple emotions, Yeon-woo had planned to return the Tokens and just leave. But Kahn must have been acting calm to set an example as Doyle’s senior.
Then Yeon-woo noticed that Doyle, who usually had good control over his feelings, had a grim expression on his face.
Doyle noticed Yeon-woo's gaze and put on his usual smile. He looked at Yeon-woo and raised his brows as if asking if there was something wrong with him.
Yeon-woo knitted his eyebrows, but soon shook his head. He remained silent.
Just then, "It is really irritating to just let it go, but we can’t afford to overexert ourselves. So, Cain."
Yeon-woo turned his head as he heard his codename.
"We haven't told you anything about this place yet, have we?"
Yeon-woo quietly nodded his head. Up till now, he had been pretending not to know, so now he had to keep pretending. Besides, he wanted to know how much they knew about Hargan’s Lair and what kind of plan they had in mind.
Kahn continued with a serious look.
"This place is called Hargan's Lair."
"Yes. You remember the Lizardmen we’ve been dealing with on our way here, right? Hargan is a… leader? Chief among all chiefs? A king? Well, he is something like that. And this is where he is."
"Sounds like he’s strong."
“Yeah, definitely. Us two together probably can’t kill him either.”
A dungeon with a boss monster that the 3rd and 11th rankers could not kill.
Yeon-woo then asked a question.
"Even with me?"
"That’s… a different story, but it’s still gonna be tough. There's also a female one inside the lair. That one's the real deal."
As expected, Kahn and Doyle seemed to have accurate information about Hargan's Lair.
"There’s one thing for sure. No matter how hard we try, the three of us can’t kill both bosses. We’ll die in vain."
"Then what’s our plan?"
Kahn nodded with a serious look.
"The male one is outside the lair and the female one is inside. While I deal with the male one, you will have to distract the female one. Then Doyle will take the crown from her head."
"We’ll make a run for it!"
Kahn snickered as if Yeon-woo was asking something obvious.
"As I said, the female one is ridiculously strong. You cannot kill her on your own. So don’t you ever fight her head-on, you just have to get her aggro.”
Yeon-woo gave him a nod.
Kahn stared at Yeon-woo in surprise.
"How are you taking this so calmly?"
"That was our deal, wasn’t it?"
Kahn’s face turned red as he scratched his cheek.
"Well, you know, I'm telling you to take the hardest role in our plan. I thought you'd say you want to take the male one."
"I know you’re afraid that I might run away if things go wrong. Don't worry, I don't make promises I can’t keep. But if we are planning on running away, I must ask you something else in return for our deal."
Kahn smiled broadly.
"You bet we will! Man, I’m such a good judge of character. I knew you'd figure out your job and help us!”
Yeon-woo still found him bothersome and let out a snort with his arms crossed.
Yeon-woo had been executing his duties in the battlefield of Africa This was nothing different from that. The only difference was that he used to be a soldier who was simply driven by orders from his superiors, but now he was more like a mercenary who was driven by money.
"Let's get started."
Kahn drew his sword from his waist.
The sunlight reflected on the blade produced an ominous red gloss.
* * *
Yeon-woo’s party moved forward while maintaining an arrowhead formation with Kahn at the front.
[You have entered a field]
[You have found the hidden piece, ‘Hargan’s Lair’.]
[You have acquired 500 Karma.]
As a bush stirred, a Lizardman patrolling the lair suddenly shouted out loud.
"Hsss! Humans! There are humans here!"
From then on, Yeon-woo’s party started running through the field.
Hargan was the king of the Lizardmen. Of course, if there was a king, there also had to be lots and lots of royal guards protecting their king. Every single one of the Lizardmen gathered in this place were among the greatest warriors their species had to offer. The Lizardmen that were standing in front of their party could not be compared to the ones they had met on their way here.
As they traversed through a horde of Lizardmen, The male Lizardman King, Hargan, made his appearance and let out a deafening roar.
"Kaaak! Humans! You dare enter my lair? You must die!"
The average Lizardman was about two meters tall, but Hargan was about twice as big. His scales glimmered blue, and his scimitar was drenched in blood. His monstrous roar exuded an overwhelming aura.
[A hidden boss monster, Hargan the Lizardman King has emerged.]
[Hidden Quest / The King of Lizardmen]
Content: In Section E, there are five kings that rule over the forest. Hargan is the king of the Lizardman, who owns the northern swamp.
Defeat all his guards and slay Hargan the Lizardman King.
Rewards: Hargan's Crown, Blue Scale Scimitar, ownership of the lair.
‘What a monster it is.'
Yeon-woo frowned at Hargan, who greatly affected his senses simply by spreading out his presence.
The quest window also showed up, but he didn’t pay any attention to it.
‘He is gigantic.'
He had never experienced such enormous pressure. He hadn’t felt like this even when he had first entered the tutorial. It was close to the fear he had felt when he was brought to the battlefield in Africa for the first time. The boiling tension made his right hand holding the dagger to be soaked in sweat.
There was a fair amount of distance between Yeon-woo and Hargan, but to him, it felt certainly very close.
Yeon-woo could now understand what his brother had experienced.
Even if he had broken through in succession all the way up to Section E, he had never seen such a strong monster that gave off this kind of ‘different feeling’.
A strong murderous intent that aroused his instinct was as frightening as it could be. However,
‘I've had enough of this already.'
Yeon-woo put more strength into his eyes and managed to stay composed.
Suddenly, the spirit surrounding Yeon-woo started to push away Hargan’s pressure.
Hargan stopped in the middle of his roar. His face quickly stiffened. His eyes were fixed on Yeon-woo. His instincts were telling him something. Out of all the players he had met, the guy with the white mask was a ‘true’ warrior who must have honed his murderous aura while wandering around many battlefields.
"I will kill you, human!"
Hargan tightened his grip on the scimitar and jumped at Yeon-woo.
As the body well over two meters in size rushed towards him like a mad bull, Yeon-woo felt the murderous intent blowing across the lair like a windstorm.
Because he was running so fast, some of the Lizardmen in front of him were kicked out of his way. However, Yeon-woo who had honed his aura throughout the course of many wars didn’t back out.
At that moment, Kahn jumped forward.
Kahn’s sword struck Hargan’s scimitar. The clash created sparks along with a fierce mana storm.
Hargan's face was completely distorted.
"Human, get out of my way! You are no match for me!"
"I'm sorry, but I’m not who I used to be."
Kahn put on a cold grin and pulled his scimitar back. He had a record of fleeing from Hargan, so he was already familiar with his combat pattern.
Hargan's enormous frame slightly tilted, then he backed away. Then his face distorted even more, and he swung his scimitar with all his strength in order to kill Kahn.
However, Kahn's current attribute points were higher than when he had first fought Hargan. He wasn’t going to lose so easily like last time.
They collided once more.
Kahn was pushed back by the impact. A column of steam was rising from his tensed up muscles, and his eyes were bloodshot. A stuffy smell was leaking from his mouth. But for some reason, Kahn couldn’t help but burst into laughter.
Hargan was still too strong, but it didn’t feel as hopeless as before. An obscure desire to keep on fighting with Hargan arose from within him. But Kahn tried to suppress the desire. This was not the time to indulge himself. He had to make enough time for Yeon-woo and Doyle to break through the lair’s entrance.
Hargan then dashed towards him, but this time Kahn just stepped aside. Hargan, now with his lid flipped, turned around and tried to grab him.
"Stop running away and face me!"
Even though Hargan possessed high intelligence, a monster was just a monster after all.
Kahn kept narrowly dodging his attacks and lured him towards the pack of Lizardmen. Every time Hargan launched an attack, three to four Lizardmen ended up being sliced by his scimitar.
The royal guards begged their king to calm down, but Kahn used a hit-and-run tactic to keep his aggro on him. Outside the lair was becoming more and more chaotic.
In the meantime, Yeon-woo and Doyle were able to get inside the lair by taking advantage of the confusion.
* * *
There were other guards throughout the passage of the lair. However, their foreheads were pierced by Yeon-woo’s dagger as soon as they appeared.
On the way to their destination, the two hadn’t spoken a word. Doyle might have been worried about Kahn, but he kept his focus on his current duty and held his mouth closed. He was fully aware of the fact that the chances of Kahn’s survival depended on how fast he could steal the crown.
Soon after, they were able to reach the deepest area of the lair, the queen’s room.
What Yeon-woo and Doyle witnessed there was,
"It, it, it’s a person!"
"Save me! P, please!"
"H, he... help!"
Limbs that had been pulled out from their bodies, heads left with expressions that showed the excruciating pain they had gone through, and bits of flesh and stains of blood scattered all over the place. It was an absolutely disastrous scene.
And there were other people tied up in chains and locked up in cages like livestock.
This place was a human farm.