Chapter 46. Two Hearts (4)
[You have successfully cleared Section E as a solo player.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional Karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 3,000 Karma.]
[You have acquired 2,000 additional Karma.]
[Your health and mana will be restored]
[All status effects will be removed]
[You have entered Section F.]
As the series of messages filled his retina, Yeon-woo realized he was in Section F.
Nearly one thousand Tokens were still in his possession. The conversion of Tokens to Karma would happen once the tutorial ended or once he passed Section F.
‘This place looks seriously deserted compared to Section E.’
Yeon-woo clicked his tongue as he looked around the current section.
Compared to Section E where various types of environment existed, Section F was only a desolate field. There was nothing to be seen here. No forest, no monsters, no players. It was hard to determine where to go, as there was nothing that could serve as a landmark.
Then, new messages appeared before his eyes.
[The challenge of Section F will begin.]
[You have fallen in a random place within Section F where only a vast wilderness extends far and wide.
In this place, nothing will be provided to determinate your location or direction. Even food and water are unobtainable here. Survive and find your way to the exit.]
Yeon-woo gave a little snort as he read through the messages.
‘Survival, is it? This is even worse than Section E.’
What would happen to people if they suddenly fell into this empty field? Most of them would go crazy. Even if they wanted to do something, there was nothing they could do except to wander about aimlessly. And in the end, they would die in vain, in this land of nothingness.
No matter how good of a player one was, without food and drinking water, they would meet the same fate. If so, it would be better to conserve energy and find a place like a cave where they can lie down and wait for the tutorial to end.
However, these characteristics were not necessarily bad for some.
‘It's a perfect place for anyone who wants to hide themselves from the outside world, like Arangdan or the scavenger syndicate.’
For players, it was just another section where all they could do was to walk around, but for a clan with a sturdy backing like Arangdan, it could serve very well as a hideout.
But little did they know, that the confidence they had about their cover, could actually end up being what strangled their neck.
‘Their confidence will make them pay less attention to their defenses.’
With a cold smile on his lips, Yeon-woo began to strengthen his senses to their fullest extent.
Finding a way within Section F was obviously a difficult task. However, he knew that The Tower would never put players through an insurmountable challenge, and that there was a solution no matter how impossible it seemed.
Yeon-woo lowered his posture and touched the ground.
Then, he silently closed his eyes and directed all his focus down to the ground.
The Monsters' Five Colored Jewel he hung on his waist also let out a brilliant glow.
[‘Ears of Kobold' has been activated.]
Just like there was nothing above ground, barely anything could be felt underneath.
All he felt was
Rock… another rock... soil… more soil... sand....
And then, he heard a faint ‘trickling’ sound of groundwater flowing along the solid layer of rock. The stream was so weak it almost made him think it was stagnant.
Moreover, as he remained focused on the ground,
He once again heard a small trembling sound deep under the ground. Something was approaching the groundwater.
It was a monster that had the shape of a mole. Its front legs were digging its way through the soil and its hind legs were pushing itself swiftly. Only, its leather was covered in what felt like hard scales. It was two meters in size.
The only creature that can be found in Section F.
In order to get food and water in this section, players had to kill this monster and consume its flesh and blood. At least they could also find underground water using the monster as a guide and extract it. However, it was easier said than done.
‘Because it lives so deep underground. It’s a hard task to even draw them out to the surface in order to hunt them.’
The Spiny Moles hardly ever came out to the surface. It was also difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the mole as it moved 15 meters deep below the surface. But he couldn't give up on looking for a mole just because of that.
Not only were they an important source of food,
‘They’ll also serve as a guide for me.’
The Spiny Moles usually lived in groups around the exit of Section F. This meant that the more frequent the sights of the moles were, the closer he was to the exit.
‘That’s where Arangdan’s hidden base must be located.’
Unless Arangdan got supplies from Cheonghwado every time, their base had to be in a place where they can procure their own food and water.
Yeon-woo followed the Spiny Mole moving slowly along the underground stream.
* * *
Bild placed his palm over a device installed next to the prison door. Then the device read Bild’s fingerprints and automatically opened the door.
Inside were two men chained to the wall.
Kahn and Doyle.
"How are you holding up, Blood Sword and Foxy Tail?"
Bild asked with a mocking laugh as he watched them hanging by the shackles.
When he entered, Kahn raised his head staring at Bild. His face was looking very haggard from the long time of torture.
Kahn sneered at Bild.
"Why are you back? Do you have anything left to say? Or you need something else to blackmail those old geezers?"
When Bild had first subdued Kahn and Doyle, he couldn't kill them like he wanted to. The people behind these two were prominent rankers in The Tower. And if done well, they could also be used as good bargaining chips to bring them over to Cheonghwado for the impending war.
However, he had changed his mind now. At this time when he couldn't even see his way forward, it was more urgent to make his way out of the immediate danger.
"No. I’m here to tell you this."
Bild's eyes were full of malice.
"You will soon become the material for the ‘stone'.“
At that moment, Kahn's face completely distorted.
"You crazy bastard...!”
Kahn didn't know exactly what the stone was, but he knew what it was made of.
A substance made at the expense of the players caught by Arangdan and the scavengers, just like himself. It was the main product and the result of an abominable experiment. An experiment that should have never been conducted.
"Originally, we were going to slowly extract the energy out of your bodies but... Unfortunately, we're in a hurry now. I’d say it’s good news for you guys. ‘Cause it’s gonna end your pain right away."
Bild took a step back and gestured at his subordinates with his chin. It was the signal to start.
Kahn clenched his teeth as he watched the men approaching him and Doyle.
It was okay if he were to die alone. It was the consequence of his impulsiveness.
But he was distressed at the thought of Doyle having to die with him. He was a good kid who had been following him solely out of trust, but Kahn had ended up leading him to a bad end.
If possible, he wanted to set him free in exchange of his own life.
But he was helpless.
‘This is just like last time, I can’t...!’
In this irreversible situation, a painful memory from the past flashed through his mind.
The men were reaching up to them.
Kahn gritted his teeth.
* * *
‘There it is.'
After wandering from place to place following the Spiny Mole, Yeon-woo finally found the place he was looking for. A place that appeared to be no different from the wilderness of Section F.
The moment he looked through his enhanced eyes, a whole different scenery came into his view. Countless flaws were repeatedly being tangled and untangled in the sky above, and beyond the flaws dozens of buildings spread across the wide plain were revealed. It seemed the entire forest of buildings was concealed under a wide-area invisibility magic. But even that couldn't fool Yeon-woo’s Draconic Eyes.
As he examined the composition of the magic, he swiftly dug into the gap between the flaws. Originally, there was an alarm that should have sounded when an intruder broke in. However, Yeon-woo could bypass the alarm thanks to his skills.
When Yeon-woo sneaked inside Arangdan’s base, the whole place was plunged in confusion as if they were in a state of emergency.
There, he had seen several players busily running from one building to another.
"Fucking hell, of all time why does it have to be now...!”
"Quit your whining and get back on your feet. We don’t have much time left. The damage is too big. We'll be all dead if the Isle sends an inspector now."
Yeon-woo overheard their conversation while hiding behind the corner of a building and inferred about their current situation.
‘They must be talking about the Monster Outbreak.’
Clearly, most of Arangdan's power and their information network were concentrated in Section E. The Monster Outbreak must have destroyed those along with Section E.
‘What a windfall.’
It wasn’t something he had meant to happen, but now that he had decided to go to war with Arangdan, he could definitely make good use of the current situation.
‘Shall we start then?’
With a sneer on his face, Yeon-woo came out and blocked the way of two players.
"Wh, what the hell?"
"Wait, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before. You, identify yours...!”
Without knowing he was an intruder, the two tried to inquire Yeon-woo. However, the player had to stop before he could finish his sentence. Yeon-woo was already swinging Carshina’s dagger with mana imbued on the blade.
On contact, the mana created a big explosion.
Like a massive tidal wave, everything in front of him was swept away by huge gusts of wind, including the two players and also the buildings.
* * *
The building suddenly trembled.
"What was that?"
Bild raised his head up.
Some crushed rocks poured down from the ceiling.
This building was designed to withstand earthquakes.
What’s going on outside?
The players who were about to take Kahn and Doyle looked back at Bild.
Bild's expression also turned into a frown. The moment he ordered a subordinate to check the outside,
A door swung open and another one rushed in.
"Bild! We, we’ve got a big problem! Someone has broken into our base again!"
Bild answered with a stiff expression.
Ever since Arandan was established, it wasn't as if there hadn't been intruders before.
Some had grudges against them, others smelled something fishy from them, and others just wanted to pick a fight. They all came for different reasons, but there had been at least one intruder in every round of the tutorial. Khan and Doyle were also one of them. And every single one of them had ended up becoming material for the ‘stone’. So normally, he shouldn't be worried no matter how strong the intruder was.
‘But why now?'
Bild's heart began to flutter with an incomprehensible tension. So he turned towards the subordinate and shouted out loud.
"Where? Where is this intruder?"