Chapter 66. The Tower (8)
Phante’s intrusion was the very last thing Yeon-woo expected.
Thankfully, the shattered wall was soon repaired by the automatic restoration magic circle installed by Night Watch.
However, Hanova's shattered mind was left unrepaired.
Night Watch’s misconduct and Phante’s intrusion, both happening with a gap of less than a day in between.
Henova wondered what had he done to deserve this.
Henova blankly puffed away at his pipe to control his temper. Several deep furrows were plowed above his eyebrows.
But regardless of Henova’s agony, Yeon-woo kept on hammering in his place.
It seemed like he had even more interest in metallurgy after his first successful work.
However, the sound of hammering, which used to be so cordial to Henova, couldn’t feel more dissonant now.
"Are you going to leave him like that?"
Yeon-woo looked back for a moment.
In the corner of the smithy, there was Phante with his gigantic body crouched down staring at Yeon-woo as he rubbed his bruised eye with an egg.
When their eyes met,
Yeon-woo immediately turned away to continue hammering.
Feeling disregarded, Phante sprang up and screamed out loud in a fit of anger.
But Yeon-woo didn’t give him a second glance.
"I was caught off guard just now. So that doesn’t count!"
"Let’s go at it again. I’ll crush you this time!"
"Come step outside. Fight man to man! Warrior to warrior! Let’s just get it over with."
"Bloody hell! Listen to me when I talk to you!"
Phante blew his top as Yeon-woo ignored every single word he said.
For a moment, he agonized deeply whether to punch Yeon-woo in the face or not.
But picking a fight with someone who didn't have the will to fight would tarnish his reputation as a proud warrior of the One-horned Tribe. And he did not want that to happen.
"Of course, fighting someone innocent is a big disgrace. But it seems like destroying an innocent's smithy isn’t much of a disgrace. Hmm... I'll have to ask the Martial King later."
Henova muttered in a low voice.
Phante flinched at his words.
Hearing Yeon-woo’s voice from the inside, he had broken into this shabby looking building without much thought.
But never in his wildest dreams did he think this was the smithy of a blacksmith who had supplied weapons to his tribe several times before.
The worst part was that he was an acquaintance of his father.
So in efforts to get over his embarrassment,
"Fight with me!"
Phante chose to ignore Henova and keep glaring at Yeon-woo.
The wrinkles in the middle of Henova’s forehead deepened.
He debated with himself several times whether or not to bring out the halberd that had been left in the storage for the past ten years.
The only reason that kept that from happening was Edora.
"Please, have a drink of this and calm yourself."
Edora gave a bright smile and handed a cup of warm quince tea to Henova.
As Henova took the cup, his eyes lingered on the sword she carried with her.
"Your sword looks familiar."
Edora smiled timidly.
"Do you remember? This is the sword you forged for me when I was very young."
"Oh, right. Now I remember. You were that stubborn little girl of the Martial King. Have you grown this much already?"
Henova chuckled as he remembered a girl with her cute round eyes pulling on his trousers asking him to make a sword for her.
‘Come to think of it, there was also a boy who was such a troublemaker.’
Which he could easily connect to this young man.
It seems like he hasn’t changed much since the last time he saw him.
"By the way, are you going to stop him?"
Henova pointed at Phante with his chin.
He was still pestering Yeon-woo to fight with him.
"There’s much I can do when he’s like that. He’s that kind of man."
Edora said as if she was already too used to it.
Henova let out a deep groan.
* * *
From that day on, in addition to Yeon-woo, two more people started to visit Henova’s smithy everyday.
"Are you going to fight me today? Come on, be a man!"
Of course, Yeonwoo ignored him.
But Phante didn’t give up.
So he kept on nagging,
"A warrior must accept a challenge to a duel!"
When Yeon-woo was hammering,
"So fight me if you’re a warrior!"
When he was having a meal,
Even when he went to the bathroom to do his business.
However, Yeon-woo still acted as if he didn’t hear him at all.
Then from some point onward,
"Stop acting like you don’t hear me! I’m really gonna hit you in the face."
His requests turned into threats,
"Please, I really want to fight you."
Then the threats turned into pleas,
"I beg you…."
And in the end, he was close to tears.
Any other person would have at least listened if someone asked something this badly. But Yeon-woo stubbornly kept on hammering without giving him a single glance.
Eventually, Henova’s patience ran out and ended up bursting out.
"Just fight him and get it over with!"
"Yeah! Do as he said!"
Phante chimed in.
Henova glared at Phante.
"You, shut the hell up!"
Phante looked at Yeon-woo with his lips sealed.
Henova also stared at Yeon-woo.
Edora, who had been quietly reading a book in a corner, raised her head and turned to Yeon-woo.
All eyes were suddenly focused on him.
In the end, Yeon-woo lowered his hammer and looked at Phante with annoyed eyes.
"Why do I have to fight you?"
"You can match your skills against mine as a warrior!"
"The thing is, I don’t care. You can call it a win. Didn't we talk about this already?"
"But… That doesn’t work like that!"
"What good does it to me if we fight?"
"What kind of warrior talks about good or bad when fighting?"
Yeon-woo’s emphatic answer left Phante dumbfounded.
Born and raised as a warrior, Phante couldn’t understand anything about Yeon-woo.
"Or you can make a bet."
Yeon-woo said with an impish smile.
"Forget about fighting if you don’t want to bet."
Then he turned his head back to the anvil.
"L, loser serves winner as his hyung!"
Phante shouted out urgently
Yeon-woo turned his head again with a sullen look .
"Would you even listen to a hyung?"
"Of course I would!"
Phante shouted boastingly as he pounded on his chest with his fist.
Yeon-woo then released his grip on the hammer.
"All right. Let's do it."
* * *
After a minute or two,
A very loud thud was heard from outside the smithy.
Yeon-woo soon came back into the smithy shaking his head a few times,
And Phante followed him with his shoulders drooping.
On his face, he now had two bruises over his eyes that made him look like a panda.
Henova could already tell who had won the fight.
Now that the fight was over, there should be nothing left to bother him while he worked.
But as he picked up his hammer, a sudden thought made him tilt his head.
‘Hmm? Hold on. Isn’t he the son of the Martial King?'
Henova looked at Yeon-woo with slightly shocked eyes.
‘Hasn’t it been only a minute or so since they started fighting?’
Edora also looked at Yeon-woo with glittering eyes.
They had a close match when they fought previously in the tutorial. But now, it didn’t take Yeon-woo much time to subdue Phante.
"He’s become even stronger!'
He had grown at an incredible pace.
Yeon-woo sat down in front of the anvil and picked up his hammer despite all the gazes fixed on him.
"He’ll finally be quiet now."
Phante sat down beside Yeon-woo and watched him temper the metal without a word.
He looked so pitiful, almost like a puppy sitting in the rain.
But that was a natural reaction after what had happened.
He had spent his whole life honing his skills as a warrior, but he ended up with both eyes covered in bruises.
Phante sat there with a blank look for a long time, then he carefully opened his mouth.
"But hyu...ng, why are you staying here in Outer District instead of going straight into The Tower?"
Phante asked a question with eyes full of curiosity as he slightly blurred the word ‘hyung’ in the sentence.
His skill level did not fit in a place like this. But for some reason, he had decided to postpone climbing The Tower.
Yeon-woo lowered his hammer again and looked back at Phante with an indifferent look.
Phante flinched at the sudden remark.
(TN: Sentences with honorifics in Korean have to end in ‘yo'. In this scene, Yeon-woo is pointing out how Phante isn't using honorifics properly.)
Yeon-woo went back to his hammering again.
Phante continued his words in a hurry.
"I waited for you for so long in The Tower…"
The whole time he was in The Tower, he could hardly appease his anger no matter what he did.
He wanted to battle with Yeon-woo so badly.
So Phante and Edora stayed at the lower floors of The Tower in order to meet Yeon-woo. Because going straight to The Tower after the tutorial was what most players did. It was ‘common sense’.
The clans trying to recruit Yeon-woo experienced the same thing. They tried to find Yeon-woo on the lower floors of The Tower, but none of them could.
And after about half a month of anxiously waiting for Yeon-woo to show up, Edora came up with an idea.
That if he wasn’t climbing The Tower, he had to be in Outer District.
Phante laughed at her idea, saying that it was impossible, But Edora persuaded him that there was no harm in checking. So they came out of The Tower.
And that was when they heard of it. About what happened between Yeon-woo and Night Watch.
So here he was.
But of course, the result was a total defeat.
Phante had a strong sense of pride in his skills and ability. He believed that no one of his age could be a match for him, and that even if he were to climb The Tower, he wouldn’t be able to find any rival on the lower floors.
Kahn, the Blood Sword? Doyle, the Foxy Tail? Vyram, the Marcusian swordsman?
There have been players who were said to be on par with him, but Phante himself had never considered them to be on his level.
Such an expert as himself, however, was instantly knocked down by Yeon-woo.
It was hard to understand why such a person was staying in the Outer District.
Yeon-woo said in an irritated tone.
"Can you please be quiet? I can’t concentrate if you keep blabbering like that."
Yeon-woo sealed Phante’s mouth tightly under his authority as ‘hyung’ and focused on hammering again.
* * *
Yeon-woo was aware that Phante was still looking at him with sunken eyes, but he simply ignored his gaze.
But underneath his mask, there was a faint smile hanging on his lips.
‘The reason I stay here....'
A smile with a lot of meaning in it.
‘There are plenty.'