Chapter 68. The Tower (10)
"Look who’s popular. Uhaha."
Yeon-woo looked at the table with a slightly irritated face.
Phante burst out laughing at that sight, and Edora also smiled with her hand covering her mouth.
It was because the table was now full of invitation letters from several clans for Yeon-woo.
This meant that his performance had drawn the attention of clans all over The Tower.
Most of them were from small and unknown clans, but some of them were from quite large ones.
"So, hyung, what’s your plan?"
Phante asked with a grin.
"Regarding those clans. Seems like everyone wants you. Even the Eight Clans might come to you. But you’re going to move by yourself, right?'
Just like many other places, The Tower also followed the law of the jungle. Therefore, most clans were always looking for strong new recruits.
If they could recruit someone strong, they would be able to ascend to greater heights, and in turn, assert greater dominance over The Tower.
As such, Phante was curious as to what choice Yeon-woo would make.
As far as he knew, Yeon-woo had a strong sense of individuality.
Although Yeon-woo seemed to have established a close relationship with Kahn and Doyle in the tutorial, he heard that Yeon-woo didn’t clear the sections as a member of their team. Which suggested that he had cleared the whole tutorial as a solo player.
Thus, he wondered whether or not he would continue to walk the unconventional route of a solo player even after entering The Tower.
But Yeon-woo's answer was somewhat vague.
"For the time being."
"Huh? What do you mean ‘for the time being’? You mean you're only planning to go solo for a while, and then look for a clan when your value increases?"
"Think however you like."
Yeon-woo waved his hand as if he no longer wanted to bother with his questions.
Phante gave a puzzled look as he failed to guess Yeon-woo’s plan.
But of course, even though Yeon-woo just answered vaguely, he clearly had no intention of joining any particular team or clan.
‘Even if I join a clan, it’ll just get in my way.'
In the tutorial, Yeon-woo had become acquainted with quite a few people.
Though he had become somewhat attached to some of them, he never got to fully trust them. Because he was well aware of how his brother had fallen into the path of demise.
He didn’t want to leave anything that could backfire and become his weakness. So he tried to keep a certain distance from people he met, and Henova and these siblings weren’t the exception.
‘Well, if I were to join a clan, there would be only one reason for it.’
Yeon-woo chuckled as he thought about the possibility of him joining a clan. But the laughter was full of murderous intent.
‘It’d be to sneak into their safe house and stab a dagger into their hearts.’
But that would be a story for later as he was still too weak.
‘For the time being, I’ll have to focus on building up my strength by gathering all the hidden pieces that Jeong-woo left for me. It won’t be too late to have my revenge after that.’
Even though he got rid of Leonte’s right-hand man, Bild, he was well aware that he had been lucky.
So Yeon-woo wasn’t going to face them head-on.
For now, he had to suppress his vengeful thoughts and act as a normal player trying to reach the top.
‘I will never belong in a team, a clan or anything related to other players. Just stay low and hide myself.’
Yeon-woo's eyes glowed with determination.
‘And when the time comes, I will rise up and cut their throats.'
Therefore, the first thing Yeon-woo had to do was to enter Olympus’ Treasury.
Therein lies a very important artifact that he must acquire.
"Are you guys done drinking coffee? Then let’s get up.."
But the moment they got up from the table,
"Hmm... This place hasn’t changed much since the last time I was here."
A man stepped into the terrace.
He had a long red hair that looked like a flame blazing fervidly.
And before they knew it, the surrounding noises had vanished. Even the tails that had been watching Yeon-woo from outside the cafe disappeared.
The man looked around the terrace as if it were familiar to him, then turned his eyes to Yeon-woo with a warm smile.
The moment their eyes met, Yeon-woo’s face stiffened.
‘Why is he here?'
Yeon-woo's head was filled with questions.
"You’re the Hoarder, right?"
The man spoke to Yeon-woo with a smile on his face. A very placid and benign looking smile.
But there was a powerful charisma in his smile that almost overwhelmed him.
Most of the people who came to recruit Yeon-woo spoke with honorifics. But the man in front of him spoke in a manner that was almost as if he was looking down on him, and it also came across very naturally.
It felt like the area surrounding the man was completely under his control.
Yeon-woo knew people with this power very well.
He didn’t expect to meet a player from the higher floors here.
Furthermore, Yeon-woo knew who the man in front of him was.
‘Bahal, the Flame Fist.’
A man known to usually have a gentle personality, but when it came to fighting he would become aggressive and bring everything down to ashes.
He was one of the executives of Red Dragon, and also, an old member of Arthia.
Not only that,
‘He was once Henova’s disciple. But I thought he would never come back to the Outer District after being expelled by Henova. Why is he here? Is it because of what I did to Night Watch? I thought that what happened to the clans in the Outer Distric didn’t concern them. Was I wrong? Or is it simply to recruit me just like other clans?'
Various ideas filled his mind.
Still, he didn’t forget one thing.
‘Whatever the reason may be, I can’t look surprised.’
Rankers were mostly people with superhuman abilities and endless combat experience. For them, reading an ordinary player’s expression and guessing their thoughts based on that was as easy as flipping their palms.
It was true that Bahal was one of the enemies Yeon-woo had to take revenge upon one day, but that day surely wasn’t today.
So Yeon-woo tried to hide any sign of agitation as much as possible, and answered with a silent nod.
Bahal gave a slight smile at Yeon-woo’s response.
"I've heard you have a blunt personality, and it looks like it’s true. Well, that's not a bad thing."
Bahal said with a gentle laugh.
"If you don’t want to talk for long, I’ll make it short then. I want you to join Red Dragon."
It was such an unexpected remark.
Yeon-woo's eyes became slightly bigger.
"I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but this is the first time we've ever made a recruitment offer to a novice. And you are that lucky novice."
Bahal continued with a grin hanging on his lips.
"If you join our clan, we are willing to spare no effort to help you climb The Tower. And believe me, the support we can provide… I’ll just say it’s beyond what you can ever imagine. So, what do you say?"
Yeon-woo closed his mouth tightly.
Even as far as he knew, it was the first time that one of the Eight Clans had offered a novice to join their ranks.
Because no matter how good of a performance one showed in the tutorial, players would often die after entering in The Tower.
In addition, there had been numerous cases where players who had fallen behind at the beginning, suddenly rose to prominence at some point.
Therefore, the Eight Clans preferred to use those who were proven to be competent, rather than to unearth a ‘prospect’.
The only exception was Cheonghwado, who put some of their efforts into fostering players with potential.
This was why Yeon-woo took it in his stride when he got offers from all those clans.
However, there was still one thing that Yeon-woo could figure out from the offer Red Dragon made.
‘They’re in need of power even if it’s as small as mine.’
Yeon-woo recalled how high a price he had managed to get for the ownership of Hargan’s Lair with the mysterious merchant in the tutorial.
At that time, he presumed that the atmosphere between the Eight Clans was already crackling with tension.
There was no other explanation that he could think of.
As for Red Dragon, their main goal must be not just recruiting a talented novice, but also to impede the other clans from acquiring players like him.
Because of this, from now on, no other clan would approach to recruit Yeon-woo unless they wanted Red Dragon as their enemy.
Yeon-woo decided that he should answer well here.
Bahal was a kind and well-mannered person on the outside, but he had a feral beast nestling inside him. He had to avoid actions that could raise any suspicion.
"I don't want to be tied up yet."
Yeon-woo shrugged in order to act like a novice drown in narcissism.
Fortunately, Bahal fell for his acting and talked with a smirk.
"Right, I see. You just finished the tutorial. It’s the time when you feel like you can do anything you want."
But Bahal did not bother adding ‘but The Tower is different from the tutorial’ at the end.
He believed that Yeon-woo would come to him begging to join their clan once he experience hardships in The Tower and realized the limits of solo playing.
"Take your time and consider our offer."
Bahal patted Yeon-woo’s shoulder a couple of times before walking towards the exit.
With each touch, Yeon-woo felt great pressure.
Bahal suddenly stopped as if he had something he forgot to say.
"Master seems to have grown fond of you. He’s a soft hearted old man, so please, take good care of him."
Bahal said with a faint smile.
Yeon-woo tilted his head pretending he didn’t understand.
"Oh, I should have said his name. I was talking about Henova. Well then, take care."
The relationship between Bahal and Henova was not very well known even in The Tower. It was more like a secret.
On the contrary, it was a well-known fact that Henova felt unfavorably about the Eight Clans.
Which was the reason why clans from underworld including Night Watch had bullied Henova up until now.
And after Bahal left the cafe,
Phante let out a loud breath as if he had been holding it. He had a stern look on his face.
"Who the hell is he?”
He found himself unable to speak a word when Yeon-woo and Bahal were talking in front of him.
It felt as if he were in a separate space.
It was just like the pressure he felt when his father was talking with other experts.
He couldn’t believe he had just felt such pressure in a place no other than Outer District.
Yeon-woo looked like a monster in Phante’s eyes.
How could he talk so bluntly in face of such pressure?
"He’s one of the rankers... And I think he’s the Flame Fist.”
"Wait a second, you mean the Flame Fist?"
At Edora’s remark, Phante jerked his head towards her in shock.
To his knowledge, Flame Fist was one of the strongest members even among the ‘81 Oculus’ of Red Dragon.
He couldn’t believe a man such as him had taken interest in Yeon-woo.
Especially, the clan Red Dragon that was known to be so aloof that they hardly had any interest in events that took place below the 50th floor.
Even the One-horned tribe could not take liberties with them.
And just now, Yeon-woo got an offer from that clan.
There was something profound in the way Phante looked at Yeon-woo now.
But regardless of his look, Yeon-woo suddenly jumped up from his seat.
"I have to get going now. You can stay here if you want."
"Where are you going?”
"Back to the smithy. I just remembered I left something there."
Yeon-woo then threw himself to the exit of the terrace before Phante could even say he would go with him.* * *
‘If Bahal has visited Outer District, there’s no way he wouldn't have dropped by Henova’s smithy.’
For what he knew, Henova was a grumpy old man with a heart as brittle as a glass pane.
He couldn't even guess what kind of an adverse effect Bahal’s visit would have on Henova.
But when he reached the smithy,
"Huh? What are you doing here at this hour?"
Henova was puffing away at his pipe sitting in front of the furnace.
Thinking he would be weeping, Yeon-woo was rather startled to find him so calm.
Like this, he couldn’t even ask whether he was okay or not.
‘Maybe I didn’t have to worry that much.'
Yeon-woo tried to come up with an excuse.
But Henova suddenly jumped to his feet without even listening to him.
"Well, that doesn’t matter. You came at the perfect timing. I started hammering to work off the stress I got just recently, and I happened to finish the artifact a little earlier than expected.”
Yeon-woo’s eyes widened.
"Yup. Your Gyges’ Eye is ready."
Henova brought out a huge box from the corner of the shop.
The box made a loud noise when Henova put it down on the floor.
Henova said as he arrogantly raised his chin as if he were telling him to be prepared for a surprise.
Yeon-woo nodded and slowly removed the top of the box.
And on the inside,
There was not one, but two artifacts lying neatly next to each other.