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Chapter 97 - One-horned tribe (7)

Second Life Ranker
     At first, Yeon-woo thought he had heard it wrong.

    ‘Five? Not fifteen?’

    While holding back his pounding heart and trying to maintain his cool, Yeon-woo asked the Martial King once more.

    Why is it happening so soon?

    What do you mean by why? Is there anything wrong?

    No, it’s just… From what I remember, the players on the 11th floor still seemed far from prepared.

    Yeon-woo was sure of this because he had wandered around the floor while collecting materials.

    Though there were definitely clouds of war looming over the cities, rumors of the clans seeking out helpers still hadn’t spread.

    And that's why I said five days.”

    “…?”

    We are the ones starting this war.

    “…!”

    Only then did Yeon-woo realize his intention.

    ‘Red Dragon still doesn't know about them.’

    If the One-horned tribe suddenly showed up on the 11th floor and started attacking them without a warning...

    'It will be a massacre.’

    The Martial King then continued with a peal of sly laughter.

    Since we’ve decided to come out of seclusion, shouldn’t we make sure to make a big entrance?”

    * * *

    'Five days later.'

    After leaving the hall, Yeon-woo slowly organized his thoughts as he walked down the street.

    The war was closer than he expected.

    Yeon-woo shivered at the thought of the war taking place right before his eyes.

    He wasn’t afraid of war. Rather, it was a shiver that came from delight.

    He felt his heart filled with fighting spirit.

    'It’s finally here.'

    The time was drawing near. The time he would finally point his sword at his enemies.

    Although it was a little disappointing that he couldn't stand at the front lines, the mere thought of standing on one side to strike the other filled him with joy.

    Of course, he couldn’t allow others to know about his plan. So he pretended to be as calm as possible, but he couldn’t help his lips from curling upward. He thought it was fortunate that he was wearing a mask.

    In an effort to cool his mind, Yeon-woo began to ponder about the plan the Martial King had told him.

    'He said their first target is Kuram, a city away from Barrack.'

    Kuram was a city erected by Red Dragon on the 11th floor. It was also one of the cities he had frequented while collecting materials.

    From what he could remember, the city was protected by high walls as well as players from several subsidiary clans of Red Dragon.

    If the One-horned tribe were to raid the city and take possession of it...

    ‘It will definitely be enough to create a strong impression of them, just as the Martial King wants.’

    The Martial King was planning to make a conspicuous appearance so that Cheonghwado would feel indebted to them.

    'Now, what do I have to do until then?’

    Yeon-woo looked back at his current condition.

    He had to repair the equipment that was worn out from his battle with the Manticore, and he had to scrutinize how he could apply the skills he had only used against monsters or weak players so far, to a war where there would be several rankers involved.

    ‘The biggest problem is....’

    Then suddenly, Yeon-woo wondered how big of a role he would play on this war.

    ‘Is there anything I can do to make myself stronger within five days?’

    Yeon-woo went over his skills and equipment to see if there was any room for improvement.

    The first thing that came to his mind was Aegis. It would be very helpful if he could control more than three plates at the same time. However, he soon dismissed the idea knowing that there was no way he could master controlling another plate within just five days.

    But thankfully, Yeon-woo remembered the hint he had received on his way here.

    ‘Magic Circuit.’

    There should be a way for him to alter his Magic Circuit in order to make his mana flow like the Jinbup.

    And indeed, Yeon-woo had found out that most of the people in the village had something similar to Jinbup inside their body.

    Yeon-woo thought about the 'Mugong', the way that the One-horned tribe had developed in order to control their mana.

    ‘Especially the beast that I saw from the Martial King, it must have been the manifestation of his Mugong.’

    Yeon-woo thought about asking Phante and Edora about it.

    'By the way....'

    A slightly worrying thought suddenly crossed his mind.

    ‘How should I tell the Phoenix and Chirpy about this?’

    He had promised them he'd be back soon, but the situation didn’t seem to allow him to keep that promise.

    ‘Maybe I should go visit them for a short while when we go to the 11th floor.

    * * *

    How did I do, hon?

    Inside the tournament hall where Yeon-woo had left,

    The Martial King raised his head up and asked in the air as he scratched the back of his head.

    Although there was nobody left in the hall, a voice came ringing to his ears.

    Yeon-woo would have been surprised if he heard the voice.

    It was the same voice he heard when he traversed the Hoho’unmujin.

    It was the voice of the Psychic Medium who, along with the Martial King, was one of the emotional pillars of the One-horned tribe, and also the leader of the Cheonglam family.

    You think he’s really the one?

    『The constellations say so. Now, have I ever been wrong on my predictions?』

    Of course not.

    The Martial King shook his head.

    As she said, their current Psychic Medium had never made a false prediction.

    It was also thanks to her that the One-horned tribe had been able to reach this prosperous age.

    『For now, we’ll just have to keep an eye on him and see if it’s him or not. Even if he isn’t, we still have time to look for the other one.』

    I guess you’re right.

    『Besides, take a look at what he has done. He broke through our Hoho’unmujin without any external aid, and he has won Edora’s favor. Don't you think he has proven enough of his potential already?』

    The Martial King nodded.

    He himself had also been surprised when he heard there was someone who crossed through their Hoho’unmujin—though only half of it—all by himself.

    Anyway, it must be him, then? The one who is blessed by ‘Death’.

    The Martial King spoke while stroking his chin. His eyes seemed to be filled with greed.

    I kind of want to try and teach him.

    『Are you going to take him as a disciple?』

    The Martial King nodded with a broad smile.

    If possible, yes.

    * * *

    Leonte felt like he was on the verge of losing his mind. He was clueless as to what to do in his current situation.

    And this idiot is a Martial God just like us. That’s pretty amazing, don’t you guys think?

    A man with purple eyes, a vertical horn like that of a goat, and a pair of sharp canine teeth jutting out from lips—Flann, who was once a member of the One-horned tribe but was now the Spear God of Cheonghwado said with tongue in cheek.

    The two other players sitting to the left and right of him, the Sword God and the Bow God, gave silent nods.

    Leonte’s face became more and more distorted.

    It had already been a month since he took the seat of Cheonghwado’s Fist God which had remained vacant for a long time. However, the other Martial Gods did not acknowledge him as a part of the Martial Gods for several reasons.

    One thing they usually picked on was his past. Leonte had a record of betraying his former clan, Arthia, in order to join the current Cheonghwado. But the players of Cheonghwado followed the warrior’s code, so in their eyes, Leonte was nothing more than a traitor.

    Another of the reasons was his skills. Though his rank was high when compared to most of the rankers in The Tower, he still lacked the necessary skills to be called a high-ranker. Not only this, but they also weren’t fond of his skillset, which was not based on a specific weapon—the standard for judging one’s power in Cheonghwado—but rather, revolved around a variety of skills, or in their words, ‘trickeries’.

    Despite all these flaws, the reason why they assigned him the Fist God’s position was because he was currently the player closest to their level.

    But the problem was that, as soon as Leonte established himself as the Fist God, he got into massive trouble.

    Bahal's ambush and Leonte’s defeat. In the span of that single event, he had greatly damaged Cheonghwado’s reputation.

    Knowing this fact, Leonte could only bite his lower lip and endure their criticisms.

    'The stone... if only I had my hands on the stone...!'

    In his mind, Leonte felt the yearning for the stone he had lost in the tutorial growing bigger and bigger with every passing second.

    We even wasted the Mystic Dragon’s Neidan to help a piece of trash like him recover....”

    Having been opposed to Leonte's recruitment from the very beginning, the Spear God kept putting blame on him on every opportunity he got.

    However, the Spear God couldn’t continue rebuking him anymore...

    『Spear. That’s enough.』

    A voice suddenly echoed across the room. A voice filled with a heavy and irresistible power.

    It came from somewhere away from the table where the four Martial Gods were seating.

    Deep inside a room concealed behind bamboo curtains, the silhouette of a man could be seen sitting on the ground.

    The Sabre God, the player known as one of the ‘Nine Kings’ in The Tower, as well as the founder of Cheonghwado. His words held unquestionable authority.

    The Spear God, though with a displeased look, took a step back, but his two purple eyes were still fixed on Leonte, giving him a vicious glare.

    『Whether you agree or not, Leonte is already part of our clan. And he is now the Fist God who will be leading Cheonghwado together with us. I need you to stop arguing about this.』

    The Spear God turned his head aside with an audible ‘hmph’, the Sword God silently nodded and the Bow God closed his eyes as if completely uninterested.

    They wouldn’t be able to argue about Leonte’s qualifications from now on, however, Leonte found this rather humiliating. Beneath the table, veins were sticking out of his two clenched fists.

    『What’s compelling for us right now is how we will fight the war against Red Dragon. As you know, our forces are inferior to them.』

    The rest of the Martial Gods shut their mouths tight. An uneasy silence hung over the room for a while.

    Though they didn’t want to admit it, what the Sabre God said was true. Red Dragon was the strongest clan in The Tower in both name and reality.

    Even though Cheonghwado also belonged to the Eight Clans, if they were to fight head-on, they would only be able to inflict minimal damage to them before being wiped out.

    『But we have the ‘sword’, which they failed to take, in our possession. And I believe it’s not impossible to cut the throat of that arrogant ‘Summer Queen’.』

    The Martial God’s eyes changed at the mention of the ‘sword’.

    『Before we embark on war, we need someone to perform a clean-up task.』

    For what do we need a clean-up task?

    The Spear God asked looking at the Sabre God’s silhouette.

    『The four Legendary Beasts.』

    The Spear God then nodded understandingly.

    If Red Dragon were to capture or win over the four Legendary Beasts, which was highly likely to happen, it would become a big threat.

    But who is gonna take up on that job? It’s not easy to kill the Legendary Beasts. They're too strong for boss monsters of lower floors. Even I don’t want to deal with those beasts.

    The reason why the rankers had not bothered to kill the Legendary Beasts was simply because of the lack of rewards.

    Every one of the Legendary Beasts was as strong as a high-ranker, but in contrast, the items they dropped were small and worthless.

    This was because they were only considered as a boss monster of the 11th floor

    In addition, the Legendary Beasts had abilities such as ‘recovery’ and ‘resurrection’. Because of this, there had been a case where even when some players had managed to kill one of them, the beast came back to life and came to take revenge on said players.

    For these reasons, players regarded killing the Legendary Beasts as a taboo.

    『It has to be done. Sword God.』

    The Sword God answered with a nod.

    『I’ll allow you to unleash ’Six’ and ‘Seven’. Get rid of them all. I will let you take the Neidans.』

    A hint of greed flashed across the Sword God’s eyes.

    “Consider it done.”

    The Sword God silently smiled with anticipation.

    The Spear God smacked his lips, while the Bow God’s eyes remained closed.

    『We received a message from the One-horned tribe not long ago. They will be making their move very soon. So, Sword God, you can coordinate with them. And the rest of you, until then, I need you to carry out your given tasks to the fullest.』

    The Sabre God’s voice began to fade away.

    『Now, we will bring this meeting to a close.』

    With that last sentence, the Sabre God’s existence vanished from the room.

    The remaining four Martial Gods rose from their seats at the same time.

    Just then, the Spear God suddenly called the Sword God to a stop by the exit.

    Sword God.

    What is it?

    Which beast are you gonna kill first?

    The Sword God stared at the Spear God with an irritated look.

    “Why?”

    I need to know your destination so I can tell my brothers to avoid you.

    The Spear God answered with a shrug.

    The Sword God turned back towards the exit and said with an indifferent, uncaring tone,

    The Phoenix of the south.