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Chapter 94 - One-horned tribe (4)

Second Life Ranker
     Chapter 94. One-horned tribe (4)

    “…?”

    Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes wondering if he heard correctly.

    ‘Take his daughter? Is he talking about marriage? But why would he say that all of a sudden?’

    Yeon-woo stood in place contemplating if there was any hidden meaning to the sentence.

    Meanwhile,

    "Father!"

    Struck by her father’s sudden question, Edora yelled at him.

    Edora, who usually did not raise an eyebrow at most things, became so embarrassed that her entire face was flushed red.

    But the Martial King laughed it away with his characteristic cheekiness and spoke to Edora.

    "Edora, did you forget our tribe’s custom already? You have to snatch a good guy when you have the chance. I’d say he’s good enough to join our family. You see, your dad also married your mom when I was around your age….”

    "I’ll deal with my marriage by my own, so stay out of my private life!"

    "Huhu. You don’t need to be shy."

    "...If you keep making fun of me, I might really make a scene right now.”

    Edora gave her father a look as she took her hand to Shinmado.

    She began to exude aura as if saying she would really draw her sword if he kept provoking her.

    But the Martial King didn’t stop laughing at her, which made her even angrier.

    By the time Edora had pulled half of her sword out, the Martial King stopped teasing his daughter and made a loud clap to grab everyone’s attention.

    "Anyway, it’s been a long time since our village had a guest. We can’t have our guests standing outside like this, can we? Come on in. Let us continue our conversation with some tea.”

    *   *   *

    Yeon-woo was ushered into the large cottage by the Martial King.

    Edora walked next to Yeon-woo and told him that this was the ‘palace’ her family lived in. She called it the Palace of Martialism.

    Yeon-woo tried to act calm and composed, nodding at Edora’s explanation, but couldn’t help being surprised at how simple and practical the palace was.

    The palace was decorated with wooden furniture, exuding a rustic charm, and its garden was laid out with crops like yams and potatoes instead of flowers and bushes.

    Who would have thought this was the residence of a royal family?

    When Yeon-woo entered the drawing room, he saw there was already a steaming teapot with a set of teacups and a plate of assorted whole-grain cookies prepared on the table.

    Yeon-woo sat down on a chair and brought a cookie to his mouth.

    Though it wasn’t very flavorful, the crunchiness and the subtle nuttiness of the roasted seeds made it very appetizing.

    ‘Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Phante and Edora eating meat.'

    It occurred to Yeon-woo that perhaps these grains were their staple.

    While Yeon-woo indulged himself in idle thoughts, the Martial King entered the room.

    Yeon-woo noticed that he was in a different outfit.

    A majestic black attire decorated with exquisite golden embroidery.

    “I apologize for being late. It took me a little while to change into these clothes. It's been a long time since I last wore this and I just couldn’t get the order right."

    The Martial King spoke, pinching the attire he was in.

    "You look good on them, sir."

    "Huhu. I know I do. Back in the days, I used to make a lot of girls cry..."

    The Martial King then began to brag about how great he was in his youth.

    Edora let out a deep sigh and Phante shook his head, covering his face with his hand.

    The elders and the bodyguards looked apathetic as if they were already used to this situation.

    But Yeon-woo only took him as a slightly talkative person.

    "Okay, shall we get back to our talk now?"

    After about a quarter of an hour, the Martial King finally ended his yapping.

    Yeon-woo rose from his seat and got ready to make a formal greeting.

    This was where the important part began.

    "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Cain, currently…."

    "Oh, let me stop you there. I've already heard more than enough about you from my son and daughter. Besides, I believe anybody who pays attention to the lower floors knows who you are."

    Yeon-woo slowly sat back down at the Martial King’s gesture.

    The Martial King continued talking with his arms crossed.

    "The Hoarder, the best novice who has broken every single record from the tutorial to the Beginner Zone, the partner of Blood Sword and Foxy Tail, the monster who makes a clean sweep of all the rewards in each floor he visits,"

    All of them were nicknames which other players have given to Yeon-woo.

    "And..."

    The Martial King paused for a second.

    His broad smile, which revealed his two canine teeth made Yeon-woo shiver a bit.

    『The player who defeated Arangdan completely by himself, am I right?』

    “…!”

    Yeon-woo sprang up from his seat without realizing it.

    The collapse of Arangdan might have been the event that started the war between Red Dragon and Cheonghwado.

    As for Yeon-woo, who had to keep himself undercover, he had to be sure that no one knew that he was the culprit of the event.

    But much to his surprise, other than himself, Kahn, and Doyle, there was already someone aware of it.

    He had to ask him how he had figured it out. No, he had to make him tell him no matter how.

    However,

    The bodyguards reacted to Yeon-woo’s sudden movement and, before Yeon-woo could do anything, took their hands to their swords.

    The rest of the people in the room looked puzzled at the unexpected turn of events.

    All of a sudden, a menacing atmosphere hung over the drawing room.

    The Martial King then spoke with a commanding voice.

    "Sit."

    “….”

    Though it was just a single word,

    ‘I can't... move.'

    Yeon-woo found himself unable to move as if he was bound by an invisible chain.

    The aura of the Martial King was restraining him from making any movement.

    Cold sweat ran down his back.

    ‘He’s a real monster.'

    Yeon-woo realized he had been mistaken about something regarding the Martial King.

    The ‘beast’ wasn’t lying dormant inside him.

    It was already outside. Only, It had been hiding behind his smile.

    Yeon-woo then vaguely understood why his brother had described him as a beast.

    Because he was the beast itself.

    A savage beast that was playing with its prey knowing that it could always subdue it.

    At that point, there was nothing that Yeon-woo could do but to sit back down.

    However, Yeon-woo's eyes gave off a rather keener glow beneath the mask.

    He was backing off for now, but only to prepare for another action. Like a tiger crouching low before taking a big leap.

    Looking at Yeon-woo’s eyes filled with unyielding spirit, the Martial King broke into a bigger smile.

    『Don't worry. There are only three people currently aware of this fact.』

    Despite his shut lips, Yeon-woo could hear his voice clearly as if he was whispering directly into his ear.

    Judging by what he said, it didn’t seem like the Martial King would disclose this secret to anyone else.

    Clenching his teeth, Yeon-woo stared back at him with a now calm look.

    There were so many questions he wanted to ask. How had he figured it out? Who were the other two people aware of this fact? and also, what was the reason he had brought this up now?

    But he knew too well that this was not the right timing.

    While the two of them were busy exchanging looks,

    "You must have said something rude again, you old geezer. I gotta say, you really have to stop taunting people."

    Phante retorted as he gave his father a sour look.

    The guards then removed their hands from their swords. The elders also shook their heads. Some even said, ‘How can he be so bad-mannered at his age?’

    "Fa...ther?"

    Edora called her father with her teeth clenched.

    But the Martial King only laughed mischievously, so Edora apologized to Yeon-woo with a deep sigh.

    "I'm sorry, Oraboni. My father, he is a mean… and a cranky old man. Whenever he finds anyone interesting, he starts provoking them right away. So please, forgive him for his misbehavior."

    "Come on. Don’t you think you went a little too far calling your father a ‘cranky old man’?"

    The Martial King grumbled.

    "And you say that after what you’ve done to him?"

    "Hmph! You don’t care about your dad anymore now that you got your husband, eh? Looks like I raised my daughter for nothing."

    "Would you mind shutting your mouth?”

    The Martial King and Edora went on bickering for another minute, then stopped after realizing their guest was still in front of him.

    "Ahem. Anyway, you must have a lot of questions right now. Don’t worry, I will give you some time to ask afterward."

    "...Okay."

    Yeon-woo had to swallow his questions for now.

    Certainly, it was not a conversation to be shared with all these people in the drawing room.

    "Now, let’s get down to business. I’m aware of the problem you’re having thanks to Yanu’s message. Is that humongous thing the egg you’re having a problem with?"

    "Yes, it is."

    Yeon-woo made a beckoning gesture towards the egg.

    Then the egg which was lying at the corner of the room floated up in the air and slowly moved towards the table.

    The egg was so tall that the people inside the room had to watch with their hearts in their throats, worrying if the egg would break the ceiling.

    But despite their concerns, thankfully, the egg arrived safely on the table.

    "I was half in doubt when I read the message, but this….”

    "How is this possible…?"

    "I thought I knew all about beast eggs, but this is not what I thought it would be. I wonder what’s inside this huge egg.”

    As soon as the egg was placed on the table, the elders came gathering around it, examining it in detail.

    Some tried knocking on the egg to check the hardness of its shell and some brought notes to compare its color and patterns with those of other eggs. Some even sat down, laying out ancient documents on the floor to find if there was any similar case documented.

    "They are our tribe’s elders. They are mostly spongers eating away the village’s food, but the knowledge they have picked up here and there should still be helpful to you."

    The Martial King said jokingly.

    The elders threw menacing glares at the Martial King but soon went back to studying the egg.

    It seemed like the egg had strongly stimulated their curiosity.

    While quietly watching the elders do their work, Yeon-woo noticed that they were very healthy and fit for people of their age.

    Most of them were so strong that Yeon-woo couldn’t even tell their strength.

    There, Yeon-woo had a vague idea of what the ‘true power' of One-horned power could be.

    "Do you think they can find the solution?"

    Yeon-woo asked the Martial King with a whisper.

    But the Martial King answered with a shrug.

    "I don't know. Brainwork isn’t my area of expertise. But what I do know is that they know a lot more things than anyone else in The Tower. If even they don’t have the answer, I don’t think there’s anyone else who can give you one.”

    From his answer, Yeon-woo felt the deep trust that the Martial King had towards the elders. From then onward, Yeon-woo calmly watched the elders carrying on their research.

    After about an hour, the elders came to Yeon-woo having finished their discussion.

    "We were able to find one similar case in our documents, and we presume that your egg also belongs to this case.”

    "What is it?"

    Yeon-woo sprang up from his seat.

    ‘How did they find out something even the Phoenix couldn’t figure out?’

    Though Yeon-woo was still in doubt, he couldn’t help but be delighted to find a glimmer of hope.

    "Really? What is it, old man?"

    The Martial King also showed great curiosity.

    The elder standing at the front glared at their childish king for a second, but soon turned to Yeon-woo and answered while adjusting his glasses.

    "But I’m afraid there's a problem.”

    "Do you mean there’s no solution?"

    "No, there is a solution. Hmm… Let me explain the case we found first. So, the egg described in the document used to be four meters tall, which is even bigger than your egg. And it says that they had to administer something to hatch the egg. What’s surprising is that the beast that hatched out of the egg was a Void Dragon, the same as the Legendary Beast in the Dream World."

    “…!”

    "Oh."

    "What?"

    Yeon-woo, the Martial King, Phante and all the other people in the room stared at the elder in astonishment.

    The Void Dragon, one of the four Legendary Beasts dwelling in the Dream World, was known to be the strongest among them.

    If this were the case, it was highly likely that there would also be a very powerful beast growing inside his egg.

    "My god, this is so unfair! Why does he always get the good stuff?"

    Phante shouted out loud while pointing his fingers at Yeon-woo. His face was completely green from envy.

    Ignoring Phante’s cry, Yeon-woo shifted his gaze to his egg.

    He could feel the egg’s pride conveyed through their connection. It seemed like the egg was protesting if he would still bully it after knowing how great it was.

    Just then,

    Edora raised her hand and asked the elder a question.

    "But, as far as I know, the four Legendary Beasts weren’t born in The Tower....”

    "You’re right. And that's the problem I mentioned earlier. Legendary Beasts originate not from The Tower but the outside world, and so does the Void Dragon. So this case dates back to even before The Tower’s emergence."

    ‘An event that happened even before The Tower came into existence? But how is that occurring now, and to my egg of all things?’

    Yeon-woo stared blankly at his egg, recalling what the Phoenix had told him.

    ‘The Phoenix said that the beast might have lost its reason to come out to the world because I didn’t have a dream.’

    It suddenly occurred to him that the absence of a dream might have triggered a certain ‘reaction’ and caused some sort of mutation to his egg.

    But just when Yeon-woo was starting to blaming himself for this problem, the Martial King suddenly opened his mouth.

    "Okay, let’s get this problem straight. There had once been a giant egg, the beast of which refused to hatch out of, but it turned out it was the egg of the Void Dragon, and you are thinking that the same is happening to his egg, correct?

    "That is true."

    "Then why worry? He even said there’s a solution to this.”

    The elder once again glared at their king’s complete lack of seriousness, but the king was only humming a song to himself.

    The elder clicked his tongue and continued explaining to Yeon-woo.

    "This is what we suggest. Your egg has grown abnormally large due to unknown reasons, and to get it treated, it will require a Lunar Seed.”

    ‘Lunar Seed?’

    Yeon-woo tilted his head to hear a foreign name,

    "Oh, right! There was the Lunar Seed."

    "Yeah, that should do."

    But the rest of the people nodded as if it was something very obvious.

    Yeon-woo was bewildered by the situation.

    He had never heard of an item named ‘Lunar Seed’ in spite of the vast knowledge of artifacts and elixirs he acquired from his brother’s diary.

    Edora seemed to have noticed Yeon-woo’s confusion and gave him a brief explanation of what a Lunar Seed was.

    "A Lunar Seed is one of the rare herbs passed down within our tribe from generation to generation. It is not a commonly-known herb because races other than us do not know its use.”

    Yeon-woo could now understand why the name of the item was alien to him. If it was a secret herb only consumed within the tribe, there was no way his brother could have known about it.

    Yeon-woo clenched his fist at the thrill of finding a solution to his problem.

    His desperate struggle to hatch the egg was finally coming to an end.

    "How can I get the Lunar Seed?"

    Yeon-woo asked the Martial King.

    But the Martial King suddenly broke into a mysterious smile.

    "So, you require an item that only us, the One-horned tribe, have, is that correct?”

    "Yes."

    "But as you have heard from Edora, a Lunar Seed is a very rare item that we cannot just give away for free. You see, it takes a full 15 years to grow just one root."

    Yeon-woo understood the meaning behind the Martial King’s words.

    It was a deal.

    If he wanted the item, he had to give him something reasonable in return.

    Edora seemed like she had something to say, but the elders next to her stopped her.

    There was a rule stating that no member is allowed to interfere with their king when he is acting on behalf of their tribe.

    Edora had no choice but to stay silent.

    Phante constantly gazed at the two of them left and right.

    An awkward silence hung between them.

    After about a minute, Yeon-woo carefully opened his mouth.

    "As you can see, I don't have anything I can offer you in return. I neither belong to any clan nor do I receive any patronage. If you can give me some time….”

    "We won’t sell it on credit."

    “….”

    It was a flat rejection.

    Yeon-woo closed his mouth tightly. He had to come up with something else.

    Several artifacts that he possessed crossed his mind.

    But none of them would satisfy the Martial King's eyes except for Vigrid and Aegis.

    But he couldn’t just trade them for the herb either.

    If he had to give up one of them, it would be Vigrid. But he didn’t want to give up something that held fond memories of Kahn and Doyle.

    When Yeon-woo was agonizing over the issue, the Martial King suddenly let out a sneer.

    "You don't have to actually trade an item for it, don’t you think? Instead, you can do some ‘physical labor’ for us."

    Yeon-woo quickly came to his senses. If he could acquire a Lunar Seed in exchange for something as simple as physical labor, he was more than willing to give his time.

    But the question was,

    ‘What does he need my help for?’

    Yeon-woo didn’t know what the Martial King would order him to do.

    However, the Martial King’s next remark came as a shock to Yeon-woo.

    "You’ve heard of the war between Red Dragon and Cheonghwado, right? We'll be joining the war as mercenaries. I need you to help us in that war. What do you think?"

    Yeon-woo's eyes grew as big as saucers.

    ‘What?'