Chapter 251 - Growth (1)
Time flowed like the wind.
It could be called the most confusing times since the Tower was created. Everyone was so out of it that they asked, ‘It’s already been that long?’
The events were rough enough to be felt by those the normal players on the lower floors, and even those who had retired.
With the Summer Queen’s collapse, the existence of the Red Dragon was in danger.
Countless hunters threatened them. The Blood Land ripped them apart the most voraciously, and the Devil Army began to hunt the 81 Eyes. The Elohim allied themselves with the Sea of Time and attempted to invade the 76th floor.
Other than that, other large and small clans invaded the Red Dragon’s territories spread throughout the tower, and the Red Dragon was in extreme danger.
However, the Red Dragon was still the Red Dragon. Even though the Summer Queen was gone, they had a strong and firm history.
Bihee Waltz stood out the most, having taken over the Red Dragon.
After revealing herself in the war with the One-horned tribe, she also contributed a lot in other places.
She was skilled at both Mugong and magic, and on the battlefield, she always left victorious.
She was lacking compared to the Summer Queen, but she definitely didn’t fall short of the Nine Kings.
And after the Red Dragon ended a battle in stalemate on the 76th floor against three other groups, they weren’t a toothless tiger, but a beast with sharp claws.
Thanks to this, although the Red Dragon had suffered a lot of damage, they were able to remain as the ever-strongest clan.
However, the real problem followed.
Just when Bihee Waltz was breathing out a sigh of relief having defended the 76th floor well, the other Nine Dragon Sons attacked her.
Waltz had one-sidedly lost, tired from all the fighting, and she was barely able to escape with a few of her followers.
The Nine Dragon Sons clashed again for the empty throne.
It was a rebellion. Each of them only thought of being king.
The 81 Eyes and other martial squads were split, following different masters, and comrades who had been fighting side by side not too long ago stabbed each other in the chest.
And when another day passed, the Red Dragon was split into three.
The White Dragon of Waltz, who was nicknamed ‘Spring Queen.’
The Black Dragon of Tom, the ‘Autumn Lord,’ who had been the youngest but suddenly grew after swallowing his brothers.
The weakest three, Hyall, Leeso, and Bahratan, made up the Green Dragon.
The 76th floor that had just settled down was split into three, and they entered a war of eating each other up.
As if to match this, the other Large Clans attempted changes of their own.
This whirlwind of confusion couldn’t even be compared to when the Cheonghwado fell, swallowed up the players and Medium Clans.
New clans appeared from swallowing each other up, and some were even enough to threaten the Eight Large Clans. Tens of new players became rankers every day.
Now, in the world of the Tower, the sword was the law.
If everything could be explained with one word, that was it.
* * *
Although most of the Tower was in confusion, it wasn’t like that everywhere.
The One-horned tribe continued to live their daily lives, outside of the range of the whirlwind. With the sudden disappearance of the Bow God, things became quiet again.
It was also the same with Yeon-woo’s party.
Yeon-woo and Brahm created an antidote for Ananta based on what Vieira Dune’s shedding had said.
All this time, the Walpurgisnacht had put too many different drugs inside Ananta to provide a ‘vessel,’ so a considerably long time was required.
And after a few months, Brahm finished the antidote.
Seeing his daughter’s quivering eyelashes, Brahm had all kinds of thoughts.
What should he say when she opens her eyes? Should he tell her that she’ll be all right? Or should he silently stroke her head? Wouldn’t it be best to show her how healthily Sesha had grown up? No, what if she still hated him?
But all these thoughts vanished when Ananta opened her eyes.
Brahm gripped Ananta’s hand. She looked so pitiful lying there, barely breathing through the mask. He felt like crying. During times like this, he hated that his body was a Homunculus. He wanted to cry and share his warmth, but he couldn’t.
Ananta’s eyes didn’t focus on anything. Her eyes just emptily looked forward. Her consciousness was definitely back. Concern flashed through Brahm’s eyes. Yeon-woo, who was behind him, stiffened.
* * *
Brahm’s concern became a reality.
After pulling Ananta out from the capsule, Brahn focused on healing Ananta. Thankfully, she made progress, enough to be noticeable in weeks.
However, Ananta still wasn’t able to wake up completely. She could eat with someone’s help and even walk. But that was it. She just blankly sat still the entire day. She couldn’t speak or recognize people—not even Sesha.
No one knew why.
Everyone just guessed that it was from the trauma. Even with mental therapy, she didn’t improve.
Because of that, Brahm painfully spent his days next to Ananta.
He wondered if this was karma from the heavens.
It was a punishment for not taking care of his daughter because of his greed. But if they wanted to punish him, they should’ve hurt him, not his daughter. He continued feeling like it was his fault, so he was pained.
Seeing him, Yeon-woo also felt empty.
‘If only I knew a bit earlier.’
Yeon-woo’s fingers flinched. If this was Earth, he would’ve smoked a cigarette. He had never been so desperate for a cigarette since he entered the Tower. That was how frustrated he was.
For the first time, Yeon-woo received a bottle of alcohol from the Head Elder. Clang! The bottle and his flask clinked against each other. The alcohol tasted bitter.
He was about to pour back the second glass, but a hand suddenly popped out to stop him. He lifted his head. Phante and Edora were pouting.
“What are you doing pathetically by yourself? You have to drink with other people.”
Phante took the flask from Yeon-woo and drank it himself, sitting opposite of Yeon-woo.
Edora silently filled Yeon-woo’s glass. Yeon-woo just watched the alcohol being poured. He could see he was wearing a mask in his reflection, but he could feel that he was smiling bitterly inside of it.
Even he could see it, so there was no way Phante and Edora wouldn’t see it.
However, the two didn’t ask Yeon-woo for the reason. They just silently sat next to him. They raised their glasses and drank together.
Yeon-woo was able to slowly clear his messy mind.
Even after entering the Tower, he didn’t know of Sesha’s existence. He also didn’t know what kind of things Brahm and Ananta had suffered through. He didn’t even want to imagine what kind of things Vieira Dune did.
「How would you know that? It’s not like you have the Thousand Li Eyes like Allforone or can predict the future like the Three Norns.」
「That’s right. Don’t take it to heart.」
Shanon and Hanryeong tried to cheer Yeon-woo up, but Yeon-woo couldn’t toss his thoughts away.
If only he had been a bit faster. If only he had rushed a little to save Ananta. To stop Vieira Dune. Then, he wouldn’t have to show Sesha her sick mother.
His despair and regret turned to other thoughts.
‘If I was stronger.’
This was all because he was weak.
If he was just a little stronger, he wouldn’t have had to spend more time on the lower floors. He would’ve been able to save Sesha and Ananta faster.
Of course, he had had these thoughts in the past too. If only he was stronger, he could finish his revenge. And he could destroy the Tower like he wanted to.
However, this time, the reason was a bit different.
‘I have to become a roof.’
Unlike in the beginning, when he was by himself, his surroundings were filled with ‘his people.’
Brahm, Ananta, Sesha. His faithful servants, Shanon, Hanryeong, Rebecca, and Boo. Phante and Edora and Galliard. The Martial King was now his special teacher, and the One-horned tribe was his family.
Revenge was revenge, but now, he had to protect the people around him. A fence, or a roof. He wanted to become that kind of being.
That was the Martial King. Even while fighting the Summer Queen, he was strong enough to protect the tribe. The other tribe members had supported him so he could focus on the fight.
They believed in each other, and they gave each other their backs.
Looking at that scene, Yeon-woo had a thought. He wanted to be like that too. He wanted to become a fence to protect those around him, and they would protect his back in return. He dreamed of such a scene.
On one side, he was worried that he would end up like his brother and Arthia, but like what his brother said in his diary, he didn’t want to be an embarrassing brother.
Also, he wanted to prove that his brother was right for believing in his friends and lover.
He wanted to protect himself and his people. This thought was strongly stamped in his head.
Yeon-woo confessed his thoughts to everyone.
「……Why are you suddenly being so cringy? My toes are curling up!」
「We are bound to you. Please walk the path you want to. Even though Shanon’s talking like that, that’s not how he really feels. We’ll always silently be by your side.」
Shanon and Hanryeong replied like themselves.
“Ahem! I was wondering what you were doing in the middle of the night. So that’s what it was. Goodness.”
“Oraboni. Do you remember what I said last time? I want to share your burden.”
Phante shook his head like he didn’t know why Yeon-woo had been so concerned about that, and Edora carefully looked into Yeon-woo’s eyes.
Looking into her sparkling eyes, Yeon-woo remembered a voice.
-I wanted to see what kind of burden you were carrying. Would it be wrong if I wanted to share that with you?
The day that he had collapsed after the fight with Agares on the 23rd floor, Edora had pulled Yeon-woo close and told him that if he really considered them his little siblings, he should share his burden.
Yeon-woo said that he would tell them someday.
And now, the day had come.