Chapter 93. One-horned tribe (3)
Thanks to the message, Yeon-woo became sure that he was on the right track.
He had originally thought that Magic Circuit’s only use was to pump mana. Never in his wildest dreams did he think it would have other uses, not to mention finding out one of them while heading to the One-horned tribe’s village.
Yeon-woo, therefore, took a closer look at the Jinbup to see if he could get more hints from it.
He was done figuring out its basic components. The next step was to see how they worked together to activate it.
‘Then I should be able to go through this maze by myself.'
And while looking at Yanu’s next step, Yeon-woo noticed there was some kind of pattern to the footprint’s placements.
To check if his theory was correct, Yeon-woo started guessing where Yanu’s next step would be.
‘45 degrees to the left.’
A place where lots of flaws were concentrated.
And indeed, Yanu’s next footprint appeared a bit forward to the left, diagonally from the previous one.
‘Next one is 16 degrees to the right.’
Then, the next footprint also appeared right where Yeon-woo thought it would be.
Yeon-woo continued guessing correctly, until reaching almost the end of the maze.
For the first time since he started guessing, Yanu’s step differed from Yeon-woo’s conjecture.
‘Hmm… That’s the long way around. Maybe he doesn’t know this path. If so....'
Left to where Yanu’s footprint was, Yeon-woo noticed there was a straight path leading to the edge of the fog.
‘That is where the Jinbup ends.’
Instead of following Yanu, Yeon-woo headed towards the path he found.
"Huh? W, wait!"
Yanu, hearing Yeon-woo’s footsteps that derailed from his path, quickly looked back to stop him, but it was already too late.
Despite Yanu’s concerns,
Yeon-woo was able to reach the end of the foggy area.
As the view opened up, Yeon-woo saw a village down a hill huddled with houses.
Then, Yeon-woo heard a voice ringing in his head.
『Oh my... An outsider passed through Hoho’unmujin without the help of our tribe… I don’t think I’ve seen you before. Who are you?』
The voice was so coarse and grating, it reminded him of an old lady.
『Oh, you must be the one Edora was talking about! Hoho. You really are full of surprises. I can see why she was so braggy about you.』
There was a hint of laughter in her voice.
『You seem curious to know who I am. Don’t worry, we’ll be meeting soon enough. Bye deary.』
After saying what she wanted to say, the unknown voice then disappeared.
Yeon-woo stood there thinking who it could be, but his thoughts were quickly interrupted by Yanu’s urgent voice.
"Ahhh! What did you do? Why didn’t you follow me?”
Yanu came running with his face looking as pale as a ghost.
"You have no idea how lucky you are! You could have gotten yourself trapped…!”
"I just took a shortcut."
Yanu asked back with a blank expression as if he didn’t understand what Yeon-woo was saying.
"I noticed you were taking a long way around. So I just took the shorter way that I just happened to find."
Yanu barely managed to mutter a few words with his mouth agape.
"That's... that's possible...?”
* * *
Hoho’unmujin was a Jinbup that had protected the One-horned tribe's village from the outside world since long ago.
It was not something an outsider could comprehend after inspecting it for just a few minutes.
Yanu came to realize why Yeon-woo was called a ‘monster’.
Though he felt it the moment Yeon-woo appeared carrying a three-meter-tall egg, he did not resemble a normal human at all.
Disregarding Yanu’s stare, Yeon-woo entered the village and took a look around.
‘I thought their village would be somewhat different, but it's not much different from an ordinary rural village.'
Yeon-woo was a bit surprised by the ordinary appearance of the village.
For some reason, he had thought that the tribe members would be training martial arts at the center of the village, as befits their title of the strongest race.
On one side of the road, there were several patches of broad fields spread throughout the place, and people wearing straw hats could be seen tending to the crops here and there.
On the other side, there was a hill full of wooden huts, and he could see a woman carrying a basket full of food on her head and some kids running around the alleyways.
It was just a peaceful rural town.
If there was something unique about it, it was that every single person of the town had a horn on either side of their heads and that they were all dressed in the same unique outfit. The same baggy outfits that Phante and Edora wore.
Their clothes looked so oversized that it started to make him wonder if they didn’t feel uncomfortable wearing them.
‘Or, is it the opposite here?'
Yeon-woo realized that one by one, the villagers started to stare at him.
It seemed like, unlike in The Tower, where it was common to see many different kinds of attires, Yeon-woo’s black mask and other pieces of armor had drawn the villagers’ attention.
"Huh? Isn't that a human?"
"I think he’s a player. Was there supposed to be a visitor today though? Has anyone heard of it?”
"There was none today.”
"What’s up with that mask... Ah! Yanu went out to run our princess’s errand today, didn’t he?"
"Oh, then he must be Edora’s...?"
"Yeah, I think that’s him."
The villagers who were talking to each other suddenly began to look at Yeon-woo with sparkling eyes.
They had the same eyes that Yanu had when he first met him.
‘How do these people know who I am?'
He couldn’t understand how they could look at him like this when he was still a stranger to them.
As he went deeper into the village, more and more people gathered around from all over the village to take a look at Yeon-woo.
“There he is.”
"Do you think he’s strong?"
"I bet he is. Edora-nim said so.”
"Look at his eyes. He gives a very strong impression.”
“And quite a good physique too. I can tell his muscles are well balanced."
Yeon-woo creased his brows slightly at all the eyes drawn to him.
He felt like he had become a monkey in a zoo.
Some of them were evaluating his strength by his appearance, and some were showing a distinct eagerness as if they wanted to spar with him.
But there was something else that really caught people's attention.
The three-meter-tall egg that was following behind Yeon-woo.
"But what is that thing behind him?"
"It looks like the egg of an animal. I think it’s… a Mythical Beast’s egg.”
"That's impossible. I've never heard of beast egg that big."
Most of the villagers were busy making guesses of what the egg could be.
Even to the eyes of the members of the One-horned tribe, a race with such a rich history in The Tower, Yeon-woo’s egg was truly a mystery among mysteries.
‘Wait a second, I thought the village was going through serious trouble right now. How come none of them look like they are worried?’
Before Yeon-woo could properly think about that question, he was already reaching the center of the village.
There, he found a house that had the same appearance as the other houses, only bigger in size.
And from that house, a familiar person came running at him.
It was Edora.
She seemed to have been waiting outside for Yeon-woo’s arrival. Perhaps Yanu had somehow messaged her beforehand.
Yeon-woo’s stiff expression softened as the familiar face came into his view.
"How have you been?"
"Good, but I was worried you’d be concerned about our disappearance. We thought we’d be able to go back sooner."
"I heard you had a situation. I understand."
Yeon-woo patted Edora on the shoulder.
His soft attitude slightly surprised Edora, but she soon smiled bashfully.
"Woah! I’ve never seen our ‘Ice Princess’ smiling that brightly.”
"Well, it looks like what Phante-nim said was true, right?”
"For sure! And there’s gonna be a lot of young men crying over this news. Uhaha!"
Edora glared at the villagers who were busy laughing and chatting about the two of them.
The villagers turned their gaze but did not stop giggling.
From that scene, Yeon-woo was able to catch a glimpse of the atmosphere of the One-horned tribe.
Though people were divided into classes, there was no discrimination of any sort between them.
People seemed very happy, cheerful and free-spirited.
‘These people, they are all experts.'
Each and every one of them, though they were dressed up as normal farmers, was actually a great warrior.
What surprised him the most was how good they were at hiding their power.
This meant that they were constantly controlling their mana to prevent their power from flowing outwards.
‘As if they each have a Jinbup within themselves….’
Yeon-woo’s eyes glistened at the discovery. His previous idea was already being applied by the One-horned tribe.
"Well, well. Look who’s here. You must be the one my son and daughter traveled with."
While Yeon-woo and Edora were having a conversation, a middle-aged man appeared from within the crowd.
Along with him, the man brought a group of people that included Phante, some old-looking people, and some guys that looked like the bodyguards.
Despite having all those people next to him, only the middle-aged man came into Yeon-woo’s view.
He was wearing a set of farming clothes freshly covered in dirt as if he had been working in the fields until just recently.
Though he had the appearance of a typical friendly, affable farmer,
Yeon-woo felt pressure weighing down his shoulders when he met the middle-aged man’s eyes.
It was similar to the pressure he had felt when he first met Bahal.
‘No, the two are completely different.'
What he had felt from Bahal was a feeling like he was standing above everything, while the middle-aged man in front of him seemed very high and lofty, it almost felt like he was the only one existing in this space.
If Bahal was a mountain, then the middle-aged man was the sky.
As for the mountain, people can put a mountain under their feet if they climb it, but as for the sky, it is always there no matter how high up people go.
In addition, there was something deeply hidden in the eyes of the middle-aged man. Something akin a beast, a wild and dreadful beast.
For now, it was docile, but the moment it broke out...
Yeon-woo’s Magic Circuit also started to spin in order to protect its user.
‘This is the Martial King.’
The chief and the king of the One-horned tribe, who is said to have opened the path to a golden age for the One-horned tribe, as well as one of the ‘Nine Kings’, the strongest of all players.
While Yeon-woo was recalling a paragraph in the diary, the Martial King suddenly smiled at Yeon-woo.
That made Yeon-woo flinch involuntarily.
He felt like the ‘beast’ that had been dormant inside had just opened its eyes to look back at him.
A terrible chill ran down his spine.
"Woah! You saw that?"
"You are really something! Well, I guess it’s obvious since you traversed our Jinbup by yourself."
The Martial King rubbed his chin and watched Yeon-woo with interest.
"What did he see, father?”
Then, Phante, who had been standing next to him the whole time, bluntly asked his father.
"Something that a greenhorn like you will never be able to see even in a million years.”
"Can you please stop being so pretentious?”
Phante yelled back with a big frown on his face.
His father was an admirable person, but he was a real jerk whenever he acted so superior like this.
But the Martial King answered with a snort at his son’s reaction.
"What else would I say when it’s 100% true?"
"Gosh, I’m gonna have to get stronger to make him shut up. Just you wait, father, I’m gonna succeed you when I grow strong enough. ”
"Yeah, yeah. Tell me when you do.”
"Ugh. This big old bully…!"
While Phante was swallowing his anger, the Martial King turned to look at Yeon-woo again.
"So, as I was saying…."
His sudden words made Yeon-woo nervous.
The Martial King’s eyes turned completely somber.
Though his tone was still upbeat, the mischievous atmosphere was quickly replaced with a heavy and serious one.
Phante, the elders, the bodyguards, and all the other people standing next to him also began to sweat in anxiety.
The dignity of the king, the aura he emitted swept over the surrounding area.
Yeon-woo began to ask himself if he had committed any mistakes.
‘Should I not have seen the beast inside him? Or is it because I traversed the Jinbup by myself?
Yeon-woo focused all of his attention on the Martial King’s lips...
Until the Martial King spat out his next question, curling up one end of his lips.
"When are you going to take my daughter?"