Chapter 61. The Tower (3)
Yeon-woo took out the pocket watch from his backpack and gazed at the face of the watch.
A pocket watch badly stained. The hour-hand was fixed at ‘XII’ just like when he first got it. The only difference was that before it was completely still, but now it was slightly trembling.
It meant that the watch was winding little by little.
‘That’ll be enough.’
Yeon-woo put the pocket watch back into his backpack and hung Magic Bayonet on his waist.
‘By the way....'
Yeon-woo’s two eyes sank deeply.
His keener senses scanned through the surrounding area.
‘I got so many players on my tail.'
A group of people started to follow him soon after he exited the smithy.
‘Fifteen? No, seventeen.'
Yeon-woo expanded his cognitive reach to its fullest extent to determine the location of his pursuers.
‘Are they after my rewards? Or maybe they’re here to threaten me.'
It seemed to be both.
Judging by their movements, it didn’t seem they were from just one clan. Because they were moving separately in groups of five or six people
But even so, they were just small fries. It wouldn’t pose him any threat even if they ambushed him all at once.
‘But I don’t want to get tangled up in a fight right now.'
Yeon-woo made a turn at the next corner, pretending not to notice them.
As soon as he turned, the players following behind also moved in a hurry. But when they turned around the corner, they saw an empty street covered in shadows.
"What? Where’s this fucker?"
"Damn it! We can’t lose him!"
In the end, the pursuers could only pull their hair out in frustration.
* * *
After slipping past his pursuers, Yeon-woo rented a room at a shabby nearby inn.
Then he went outside again after buying a robe to put around himself.
He had enough money in hand. A substantial amount of Karma points he had accumulated during the tutorial.
Since the points acted as a currency in The Tower, it came in very handy.
There was no need to worry about attracting people's attention. Because there were lots of people who were dressed up similarly to him.
After walking down a few streets, Yeon-woo arrived at the highest building in the vicinity.
It was a coffee shop.
"How can I help you sir?"
"I'd like to use the terrace."
After paying quite a lot of Karma, Yeon-woo was soon led to the terrace on the fifth floor.
As he entered the terrace, a wide prospect of Outer District burst upon his view.
Because the sun was setting in the west, the entire city was lit up with various lamps and lights, giving off a spectacular night view.
“I must say, this is your lucky day sir. As you can see, our terrace is known for having a splendid view, a lot of customers visit our cafe to have a glance at it. And this time around, we usually have a regular customer…."
"Hazelnut coffee, without syrup. I hope the beans are not artificial."
Yeon-woo cut off the waiter’s words and sat down on a chair to see the night view.
The waiter quietly backed away without a hint of dislike.
Yeon-woo didn't budge from his seat until the coffee he ordered arrived.
The coffee was quite delicious.
He heard the coffee beans were native to the Earth. Once they became popular in The Tower, people here also started to produce them in farms.
The coffee here was quite different from what he used to drink, but it still tasted good.
Yeon-woo enjoyed drinking coffee back when he was on Earth. Having a coffee break just before entering a battle, he could cool off the adrenaline from his head.
Just like right now.
He could finally relax a little from the tension he had kept until now.
A cool evening breeze, an open night view, and a hot cup of coffee.
Everything was good.
‘You always knew the best places.’
This cafe was a place his brother used to visit very often.
A place his brother used to visit when he had first formed Arthia and was so eager to climb The Tower. A place full of memories of Jeong-woo laughing, chatting and having fun with his teammates….
Yeon-woo sat still at the cafe watching the night view, trying to dwell on his brother’s past inscribed in the diary.
Imagining what kind of thought his brother would have had sitting on this chair. Picturing how his brother would have laughed while talking with his friends.
The Outer District was a place that ordinary players wouldn’t find amusing.
But to his brother, it was a place full of fond memories.
Yeon-woo was going to retrace the places his brother had been to during the time he had to stay here. During the month until Gyges’ Eyes was complete.
He brought the cup of coffee to his lips again.
The hazelnut coffee tasted a little more bitter.
* * *
The next morning.
Yeon-woo left the inn wearing the same mask and robe he wore the day before. His destination was a restaurant.
When he arrived, the restaurant was already crowded with people who had come for breakfast just like himself.
"Is there any empty table?"
"I’m sorry but there’s no empty table at present. You’ll have to share one. Is that okay?"
After giving a nod, Yeon-woo was guided to a giant table placed in the middle of the restaurant.
The people who had already been seated at this table, as if they also had come alone just like Yeon-woo, were eating their meals on their own.
Amongst the menu items written in an incomprehensible language, Yeon-woo ordered the dish that his brother had recommended in his diary.
The dish looked similar to the kebab he once had in Turkey.
About the taste,
‘Oh, right. You had the worst taste buds in the world. I forgot about that.'
It was horrible.
* * *
After finishing his meal, Yeon-woo went for a stroll following a forest trail on the outskirts.
A place where a fresh brisk of wind blew.
There were hardly any people on this path, so it was very quiet.
Yeon-woo felt elated at the thought of finding a good place to rest.
His mood, previously ruined from eating a terrible meal, seemed to be refreshed.
* * *
"Looking for a weapon? Or any armor? We’ve got everything you’ll ever need!"
"As for this item I’ve got here..."
Unlike the quiet forest trail he was just in, Yeon-woo was now in a street filled with voices of vendors and customers.
The street was crowded with a variety of people.
Yeon-woo walked along the street for a long time.
* * *
In the southwest corner of the Outer District, there was a place similar to an aquarium on Earth.
A place displaying a collection of aquatic organisms gathered from all over the world.
But the reason why Yeon-woo was here was
To see the girls here.
There were a lot of pretty girls around here.
‘You were a man too.'
Yeon-woo let out a chuckle.
* * *
Just like on Earth,
The food sold by street vendors was sweet and delicious.
* * *
"Oh, you are the same person from yesterday."
"The terrace I used yesterday, is it empty?"
"We don’t have many customers around this time. But there’s also an indescribable charm in the view you can get during daytime."
Yeon-woo enjoyed his tea time sitting on the terrace just like he did last night.
As if everything he had experienced upon entering this world was a lie,
Everything was so peaceful.
* * *
About five days after he entered the Outer District.
Yeon-woo visited Henova's smithy again.
"What is it? Why are you here again?"
Henova creased his brows as he put down the scorching piece of metal.
As if he had been hammering for a while, his muscles looked rock-solid for a man of his age.
For the past five days, Yeon-woo had been constantly going in and out of the smithy, like it was his own house.
"I dropped by just to check if my order is going well. So, it seems like you’ve procured all the ingredients you need to make the artifact, is that right?"
Such a barefaced attitude.
His answer made Henova's face was crumple.
"What did you just say?"
But of course, Yeon-woo continued speaking ever so plainly.
"It seems like you’ve started crafting the artifact just now. But I'll keep an eye on you, just in case."
"You son of a…!"
Henova started swearing at him, but Yeon-woo just sat down in an empty space and stared at Henova.
In the end, Henova shook his head, realizing he wouldn’t listen no matter what he said.
There was something he had been feeling about him for the last few days.
It was that this guy was a really hard nut to crack.
He always came and went as he pleased. Even when Henova shouted at him or even browbeat him, he only gave a few nods and never stopped what he was doing.
No matter how much he lashed out at him, it just never worked.
So Henova decided to treat Yeon-woo like he didn’t exist and went back to work.
Yeon-woo silently observed Henova's actions next to him.
Soon, reptilian pupils split open inside his eyes.
Using Draconic Eyes, Yeon-woo tried to capture all the details of Henova’s actions and analyze the meaning and purpose behind them.
Unlike the rough impression he gave, Henova was hammering the metal work very meticulously.
Smelting. Slowly dissolving the metal inside a forge.
Casting. Pouring the molten metal into a dagger-shaped mold.
Forging. Hammering the metalwork until he got the desired shape.
And finally the refining process.
Henova's touch on that single work of metal was so sincere.
Yeon-woo felt like his eyes had become clear just by looking at it.
An artisan. Such a word came to his mind.
He kept bragging about how he was one of the five master blacksmiths. And now he could understand why. He really deserved the title.
‘This is how it was made. Everything you used to wield.'
Jeong-woo was once known by the nickname of ‘Heaven Wing'.
All the artifacts that gave him such nickname were born through the hands of Henova. His smithing skills must of course have been great.
And truly, it was marvelous. To the point where it made Yeon-woo’s fingers itch even if he didn’t have any knowledge about metallurgy.
Every one of his actions was full of power and had a meaning behind it which normal people could not reach.
This was what Yeon-woo was yearning to see.
The food his brother ate. The cafe where he chatted with his friends. The house he stayed in. And even the trails he walked...
Every single trace his brother left.
Yeon-woo closed his eyes and compared the places he had seen in the diary with those he saw with his own eyes.
Many things were similar, and yet many things were different.
When he opened his eyes again,
"Are you done sleeping, asshole?"
There, was Henova’s large head with his face full of wrinkles right in front of his eyes.
Judging by his eyes, he was definitely annoyed.
"Someone's working their ass off in front of the fire, and the one who came here to watch me is peacefully taking a nap. So tell me, why the fuck did you come here?"
"Didn’t I tell you? I came here because I was bored."
Once again, an apathetic answer.
Yeon-woo could see a lot of blood vessels sticking out of Henova’s wrinkled forehead.
"If you're so bored, then go sit over there and hammer something and stop getting on my nerves, you lazy ass!"
In the end, Henova blew his top and started jumping on his feet in anger.
It was a little funny to see him hopping on his short legs.
With a dry answer, Yeon-woo went over to the place Henova pointed at and sat down.
He held the hammer and then looked back at Henova and asked.
"But how do I make a fire in the furnace? I can’t start hammering without fire."
"Y, you p,pat,thetic...!”
Henova began to stutter as if he couldn’t contain his anger and soon collapsed while holding the back of his neck.
"Urgh… That bastard’s killing me…."
"Do you have high blood pressure? Do you want me to bring you some medicine?"
"If you want to help me, then just shut up!"
"Okay then. But really, how do I get the fire going?"
Henova screamed at the fact that they were not speaking the same language.
Judging by his attitude, he didn’t seem to mean any harm. But after having a few words with him, Henova felt his stomach turning before he knew it.
Henova sat up and took a deep breath. He realized no good would come of it even if he kept lashing out at Yeon-woo.
"Ugh, how did I get myself tangled up with this idiot?"
In that short period of time, he felt like he had gotten several years older.
‘I can see why Jeong-woo had followed him from the beginning.'
Below the mask, a little smile flickered on Yeon-woo’s face.