Chapter 31. Consume (6)
Ethan fell backwards as blood sprinkled out from his head. It happened in less than no time.
"Wha, what's going on!"
The players panicked over the sudden situation.
Kahn and Doyle, who had been talking to Brend, also hurriedly turned their eyes towards the scene. But regardless of the disturbance, Yeon-woo fixed his grasp on Carshina’s Dagger and dashed forward. His targets were the players Ethan kept close to himself.
"How the hell did he...?
They were surprised at the fact that their cover was blown, but at the same time, they dispersed in all directions in order to make their escape.
Yeon-woo laughed at how the players were all running away after just a light push.
In fact, Yeon-woo had noticed their plan not long after they started to execute it. He always kept his senses strengthened in a passive state. Thanks to this, he was able to detect even the slightest changes in his surroundings. Like this, if there was anything suspicious, his instincts would warn him immediately. And that was what happened this time.
His senses had been capturing every movement of the players who were following Yeon-woo’s party. Even their words and their actions. And then his senses had caught Ethan. The look he had when he examined the three of them. The attitude he showed when he gave orders to some of the players. And the way he talked to Brend while avoiding other player’s eyes. In his own conceit, he thought he was acting in secret. But foolishly enough, his actions were only raising Yeon-woo’s suspicion.
Since then, Yeon-woo had expanded his senses, just to be on the safe side. Then, he realized that an unidentified group of players was preparing for an ambush in a vacant lot not far away. That could only mean one thing.
It meant that the players who they had thought to be Hargan's victims were actually more wicked than the Lizardmen. So Yeon-woo eliminated Ethan as soon as he showed signs of taking action.
‘I have to strike them first before they can make their move.’
Judging by the number of players hiding, there were more than the three of them could handle. It seemed like they have gathered all the scavengers around this region.
He didn't know how Ethan gave signals to the other hiding scavengers, but he needed to kill them before they could prepare. In any case, despite their efforts to run away, they still hadn’t escaped Yeon-woo’s sensory area.
In his running gait, Yeon-woo drew several daggers.
And then he threw them in a fan shape.
The fleeing scavengers fell flat on their faces with a dagger stuck in their heads or their backs. Only two of them, who were more skilled than the others, managed to deflect his daggers and run away.
When Yeon-woo was about to chase after the scavengers he missed,
"Dude! What the hell are you doing?"
Kahn stood in his way with a startled look. In his eyes, it seemed like Yeon-woo was slaughtering innocent players all of a sudden.
Yeon-woo replied with a callous voice.
"Stop acting like a fool and take a look around you."
"What are you talking about?"
"If you still don’t understand what’s happening, then just shut your mouth and stay out of my way."
With those words said, Yeon-woo quickly brushed past Kahn’s side.
Kahn tried to shout at him one more time but soon realized something was wrong and took a quick look around. Doyle, who was already aware of the situation, was concentrating his mana onto his hand.
"I wasn’t expecting anything like this. Damn it!"
Kahn creased his brows and drew a sword from his waist. Before he knew it, they had been surrounded by a group of players. Each of them took out a sword or an axe from who knows where, emitting a murderous atmosphere. Brend was the only one who couldn't figure out the whole situation. He stammered over his words.
"Wha, what's going on? Whe, where did you get those weap... Kuk!"
A player beside him, as if he didn’t want to bother telling him, frowned at his question and chopped Brend’s face off with his hatchet.
"You fell for our trap like an idiot, that’s what’s going on. Pthu! This is why you were trapped in the human farm."
Many ‘normal’ players had already fallen dead after being attacked by the players who they had considered to be allies. Just like Brend, they were players who had not understood the quick turn of events.
The remaining players, or scavengers, talked among themselves.
"It was almost done, though. How the hell did we get caught?"
“How do you think we got caught? Obviously, it was Ethan, that stupid bastard got caught.”
"Quit whining and get ready. These guys, they're dangerous. We’ll have to hold out until they bring backup."
"Well, good thing one of them went after them. Hopefully, they will take care of that guy.”
These players were the ones who had killed Hargan on his second phase. Facing such strong players, the scavengers had to enter the battle with complete concentration. But they didn't seem to think they were going to lose. Yeon-woo and others should already be tired from the big battle, and they would be far outnumbering Yeon-woo’s party after their reinforcement joined them. They even had some top rankers on their side.
"Who the hell are these guys?"
Kahn gave an annoyed frown while he gathered up his mana.
* * *
‘They must be the original owners of the human farm.’
Yeon-woo was able to extrapolate their identity as he closely followed them.
Not all scavengers were mere looters, some of them joined hands with monsters.
‘As a bait, these scavengers pretend to be hurt and ask nearby players for help to lure them into the trap. When they succeed, they give the human meat to the monsters, and they take the artifacts and Tokens for themselves."
When we found out that the owners of a human farm providing human flesh to monsters were, in fact, human beings just like us, our team was furious at their vicious acts.
And we swore to ourselves.
That we'd wipe those villains out of the tutorials and The Tower!
‘He said that the scavengers who provided human meat to monsters were known as the worst kind of scavengers that existed in the tutorial. But rooting these criminals out of the tutorial was a formidable task because their organization not only was huge, but it also had the king of monsters watching their back.'
If they intended to hide, they could conceal themselves anywhere in Section E. So whenever they had pursuers, they called out monsters to fight off the players and they themselves ran away to hide.
Nevertheless, his brother and Arthia was relentless in their pursuit. In the end, they were able to wipe out all the scavengers and completely destroy the organization to prevent their resurgence.
He had been able to rank second place thanks to the achievement he made at that time, it had been an audacious decision and a remarkable deed. Even after that, he checked the tutorial every once in a while to make sure crimes like the human farm could never recur.
Supposedly, they were gone for good, because his brother said they never reappeared ever again. That was why Yeon-woo only kept it as a piece of information without worrying about it.
‘But you're back again?'
He didn’t know whether they were copycats, or they were the remaining players who had remained hidden until Arthia was gone. But there were two things he could tell for sure. One was the fact that the same crime was happening right now, and the other was that they tried to corner him into their trap.
‘The players who were originally trapped in the farm... have probably already been killed.’
Yeon-woo shone coldly in his eyes.
Although he had once made a cold-hearted decision back when he had found the human farm, he was still a human just like anyone else. The idea of selling his own kind to monsters was just utterly incomprehensible.
“They even tried to make the most of it by leaving their ally, Hargan, to die. They’re not someone I can take lightly. Before they can notice the situation here, I’ll have to counter-ambush them and get rid of them as soon as possible.”
And as expected, these scavengers were doing their job in leading him to their reinforcement. He hadn't caught the fleeing scavengers on purpose in order to pinpoint the place where the rest were hiding.
And the moment he sensed their position,
Yeon-woo threw daggers at the now useless players before plunging into the grassy field.
"They should be showing up any time now. Why aren’t they com... Kuk!"
Inside one of the bushes, a scavenger was muttering to himself while crouching down. But soon, he was stopped by a sudden searing pain in the back of his neck.
He tried to raise his head up, but before he could even scream, his head had already been separated from his neck and dropped rolling on the floor. A puddle of blood formed on the ground.
After a simple splash from stepping on the puddle, not a single noise was made as Yeon-woo moved on to the next point. It was like a feline trying to hunt down its prey.
‘Secretly, but swiftly.'
A pair of Will-o’-wisp were darting across the woods.
* * *
It took a long time before the scavengers waiting for Ethan realized something was wrong.
- Fuck! What’s taking him so long?
- No kidding. Did he get caught or something?
- He’s brought small fries before, but he's never got caught, has he?
- That’s true but, shit. I’m just fucking bored.
When the scavengers were on their ‘mission’, they usually wore a piece of cloth to cover up their faces, and called themselves with numbers such as Eins, Zwei, Drei, etc. It was a measure to prevent giving out their identities when confronting enemies.
A long time ago when the whole criminal syndicate was on the brink of annihilation, the remaining players adopted this method to conceal themselves from Arthia, or that was what they heard from senior players. And even after Arthia's disappearance, it stuck around and became sort of a custom, still being practiced until now.
Unlike how their seniors used to keep their identities secret even between themselves, the scavengers at the current time knew each other. But by covering up their faces and names, they could somewhat erase the guilt of ‘doing bad things’.
Strangely, however, they weren’t getting any notice from Dreisig, or Ethan, who was supposed to be here with their prey by now. They were still waiting for their prey to appear.
- Huhu. The real Blood Sword and Foxy Tail. If we can actually hunt them down, wouldn’t they be the biggest catch we’ve ever had?
- Except for Phante and Edora, those crazy siblings, they're actually the best team in the tutorial right now. It’s going to be really fun destroying such strong players. Not to mention the stuff they’re carrying.
- The sword that Blood Sword is carrying, Dragon Slayer(屠龍劍), was it? That’s mine.
- The hell? I called dibs way before, you dumbass!
- Whatever you say. But finders keepers.
- You two, knock it off. The boss will take care of the distribution, so stop squabbling. Let’s just talk about something useful, like how to spend the rewards from the Lizardman King.
After some cackling and chattering, they lifted their heads.
- Damn, he’s taking really long. I think something’s happened there. Siebzehn, try contacting Ethan.
Zwei grumbled and gave orders to Siebzehn who was hiding in the bushes some distance away from to him.
The communication artifact commonly given to all scavengers was emitting light, waiting for a response. But no answer came back.
- Siebzehn? Siebzehn! Where the hell did he go?
Zwei knitted his brows and turned his head sideways.
- Neun, is Siebzehn there? You go ahead and contact him.
- Neun? Neun!
Neun, who had just been arguing over Dragon Slayer with Zwei, gave no response either.
Zwei suddenly felt a shiver down his spine. His teammates had been going missing without him knowing. Which could only mean...
‘We are being attacked!'
Zwei sprang up to his feet.
Zwei placed 15th in tutorial rankings. And he prided himself in his skills, saying they were comparable to those in the top 10. But a player such as himself hadn’t been able to notice the enemy's presence until all of his teammates had already died. The stealthiness the enemy possessed was beyond his imagination.
"Where the fuck are you?”
Zwei quickly turned towards the direction from where he heard a sound coming from. There, however, he only found bushes swaying with the wind. No player to be found.
"You son of a bitch!"
Once more, he turned to his back as soon as he heard another sound. And again, there was no one.
Zwei frowned irritatedly.
"I see you don’t have guts to fight me head-on. If you’re trying to break my fighting spirit by doing this, it won't work."
He was talking to himself with his teeth gritted. It was more of a self-hypnosis than a threat.
The more sounds he heard, and the stronger the wind became, the more intense the chills that ran through his spine grew. Fear was rising from under his feet and it was slowly squeezing his heart. His mind was filled with a single desire, that was to quickly kill him and to get out of there.
He spotted a presence coming from his blind spot.
Zwei quickly threw the sword he was holding.
‘I got him!’
He clearly heard his sword hitting something.
Zwei immediately threw himself in that direction. But instead of his enemy, he only found one of his teammates, Vier, panting for air with a sword stuck in his heart.
Vier's face was so pale and filled with one clear emotion.
It was fear.
"R, run... Gho... st!"
And Vier dropped his head, leaving only those words behind.
Zwei felt that the fear that had only been squeezing his heart had already climbed up to his throat. At that moment, a white mask dropped down in front of Zwei. Along with terror, despair, and then, death.
* * *
Khan and Doyle were still having a tense confrontation.
"What the hell is Arangdan doing?”
Khan felt a surge of anger.
Arangdan professed themselves as a vigilante group. But they didn’t know that crimes like this were prevalent in Section E.
On a second thought, he wondered about Yeon-woo. He was currently on his way to catch the fleeing scavengers. He couldn’t have shown such fast judgement unless he knew about them beforehand. But how on earth did he know these facts that even Arangdan didn’t know?
His question, however, did not last long. The scavenger who identified himself as Eins was making his move, and the other players were also slowly narrowing the distance between them.
The moment he tried to clear a path with Doyle,
Suddenly a presence was heard from the sky.
All the players, including Kahn, Doyle, and Eins, stopped moving and raised their heads.
A bunch of unknown objects fell from the sky. Then one of them came rolling towards Eins’ toe.
"What the hell is this?"
As Eins narrowed his eyes to confirm what it was, he soon stood frozen to the spot with his mouth agape.
The object that had rolled next to his feet.
It was the head of Zwei, his face filled with fear.