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Chapter 86. Flame of Life (2)
Starting from the Albatross's Nest, Yeon-woo began to sweep through the 11th floor's hidden pieces nonstop.
Yeon-woo's Spirit Familiars slaughtered their way through the hundreds of venomous snakes in the Shadow Snake's Tunnel, supplementing his Collection.
In the Lesser Dragon's territory, he had Ka pull out the Lesser Dragon's heart from its body.
Aside from that, Yeon-woo made a clean sweep of all the valuable materials on the 11th floor, such as the Blue Crowned Crane's Crown, Gargoyle's Wings, Unicorn's Horns and so on.
Yeon-woo smiled contentedly as he watched the ma.s.sive amount of achievements and rewards piling up at a rapid pace.
However, somewhere else in the Dream World, other players were enraged at the sudden disappearance of materials.
“G.o.dd.a.m.n it! This place too?”
“Who the h.e.l.l did this?”
Other players also needed materials to complete their trials, but whenever they arrived at a place to acquire the things they needed, there was nothing left for them to take.
To make it worse, some habitats were completely dried out. Recovery seemed almost impossible.
Of course, due to the nature of the Dream World, it would eventually recover. But that would take a considerable amount of time.
For the players who needed the materials right now, this situation was extremely frustrating. Thus, the players started to look for the culprit behind this incident.
But Yeon-woo was way too stealthy for them to catch.
Some even tried to track him down after finding a freshly destroyed habitat, but soon met a dead end, as if the culprit had disappeared into thin air.
‘I'm sorry, but I need them just as much as you do.'
Yeon-woo pulled his hood over his eyes as he heard the players' raging voices.
It was only to acquire a Skybug's Wing that he had visited the city. Little did he expect to hear people slandering him.
Yeon-woo felt wronged at their accusations. He was also collecting materials for his quest just like everyone else.
'Well, I would have still hogged them all up even without the quest but….'
He still felt it was unfair.
Even if he hadn't, he was sure someone else would still have done the same as him.
If so, then it was 'finders, keepers'.
‘By the way,'
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes as he looked around the city.
'The atmosphere is different from what Jeong-woo described. It's way too heavy. It can't be just because of me taking all items, can it?'
Famed for its unique architecture and streets full of Mythical Beasts, the city of Barrack was a peaceful and vibrant place.
Especially because of the well-developed hospitality industry and market, not just the residents of the 11th floor, but also players from other floors visited this city to find items they needed.
However, it was different now.
The city which was supposed to be 'full of energy' had a gloom to it.
Aside from those who were angry about Yeon-woo, most of the players looked grim and almost fearful.
The shopkeepers, the residents, everyone seemed to be on edge.
'What's going on?'
Yeon-woo felt something unusual but soon shook his head.
He didn't want to get involved in anything troublesome, so he prepared to leave the city as soon as he finished with his business.
It was then,
“Out of my way!”
A yelling voice was heard and the people on the road split up to the sides.
From within the crowd, Yeon-woo tried to take a peek at the main road in order to figure out what was happening.
From there, he saw a group of players dressed in black armor quickly running towards somewhere.
A red monster emblem engraved on their chests caught his eye.
'That's the Behemoth Clan's emblem. What are they doing here?'
Yeon-woo creased his brows.
Behemoth, one of the subsidiary clans of Cheonghwado, was one of the most promising clans of the middle floors and famous for its arrogant att.i.tude.
'But they don't usually come down to the lower floors….'
It seemed to have something to do with the heavy atmosphere in the city.
‘There's definitely something going on here.'
Behemoth was a running dog of Cheonghwado. If they were making suspicious movements there was a high chance that Cheonghwado was plotting something in secret.
‘I'll have to look into this.'
Yeon-woo backed away from the crowd.
Though he didn't want to cause trouble with Behemoth, he needed to know what they were up to. He might be able to find out something about Cheonghwado.
Coincidently, the place where Yeon-woo had to go to obtain Skybug's Wing was also a famous place for gathering information.
‘Is it here?'
Yeon-woo opened the door to a building with a sign reading 'Starlight Pub'.
The shop reeked of cigar smoke and the smell of alcohol.
Cleaving through the smoke, Yeon-woo seated himself on an empty chair next to the counter.
The bartender suddenly broke into a quizzical smile as he wiped a cup with a towel.
“You must be new here. I've never had a customer with such a peculiar mask. Speaking of which, I like that mask you're wearing. Would you tell me where you got it?”
Ignoring his words, Yeon-woo threw a bag of gold coins that he had exchanged beforehand.
The bartender's eyes glowed mysteriously.
“I'm here to buy something.”
The bartender pocketed the bag with a sly smile.
“Well, well, look who's got a thick wallet. The rich are always welcome here. So, what do you need?”
“Skybug's Wings. As many as you can get me. You have any?”
“We always have those little items…”
“Only the species from the Valen Forest on the 31st floor.”
“…In stock, but it'll cost you dear. Well, I guess this is enough for your request.”
Starlight Pub was quite a popular place among experienced players. A shop where players could buy and sell useful items and information.
Thanks to establishing several branches throughout The Tower and having them stocked with a wide variety of goods, there were quite a few players that frequented their service to acquire items or hints needed to complete their trials.
Although the price was rather high, Yeon-woo had already sold several parts of monsters and beasts that had been occupying his backpack and prepared the gold coins.
He intentionally didn't touch his Karma points because he had to acc.u.mulate as much as possible to get better rewards after finishing the trial.
“Here it is.”
A while later after entering the warehouse, the bartender came back with a bag full of Skybug's Wings.
Yeon-woo checked the items with his Draconic Eyes and then gave him a nod. They weren't fake.
“Skybug's Wings is a popular feed for Mythical Beasts, so they're in high demand on the 11th floor. That's all we have at the moment, come later if you need more.”
“Sure. By the way, I have a question to ask.”
“Well, you know what to do.”
Yeon-woo threw another bag of gold coins on the counter.
“Huhu. You're a big spender. Okay, what do you want to know?”
“I saw Behemoth walking around outside. Is there something going on around here?”
At the moment, the bartender looked at Yeon-woo as if he had seen something strange.
“Hmm? Is it your first time on the 11th floor?”
“I've been away from big cities lately.”
“I see. Then you really don't know anything.”
The bartender scratched the back of his neck.
It seemed like he was agonizing over where to begin explaining.
“First of all, do you know about the war between Red Dragon and Cheonghwado?”
Yeon-woo eyes widened at the unexpected news.
Then he unintentionally unleashed some of his aura.
The bartender and the other players inside the pub let out a hiccup as they felt a sudden chill along their spine. Gripped by fear, some players took their hands to their weapons.
Yeon-woo belatedly realized his mistake and calmed himself down.
'I was careless.'
He was too surprised to hear the news about the war between two clans that were targets of his revenge.
'I knew this was going to happen, but this is way too soon.'
Since the mysterious merchant had bought Magic Stones from him, he predicted a war between clans, but he didn't expect it to be this soon.
Besides, Red Dragon was the second biggest clan in the rankings. With the exception of AllForOne, it was no exaggeration to say that they were the actual ruler of The Tower.
If such a clan moved, big changes will ensue throughout The Tower.
The bartender managed to speak after a gulp.
“About the war. Tell me the details.”
It was only then that the bartender realized Yeon-woo had no intention of harming him.
“I… I guess you would get worked up from such big news.”
The bartender then began to explain in detail.
That there had been a clash between Bahal and Leonte in the Outer District, and Leonte had managed to flee with only his life.
In the process, Red Dragon and Cheonghwado declared war against each other, and now a full-scale war was about to erupt.
'Bahal and Leonte fought in the Outer District?'
Yeon-woo recalled his meeting with Bahal just before entering The Tower.
He then thought of the possibility that the reason why Bahal had come down to the Outer District wasn't just to meet him but to chase down Leonte.
'Things are turning out quite interestingly.'
If the two high rankers representing their clans clashed, it was only a matter of time before war broke out.
And the bartender's next word arouse Yeon-woo's interest even more.
“And it is very likely that the war will be taking place on this 11th floor.”
“This floor? Why?”
The bartender answered as he hung the gla.s.s he had been wiping on the rack.
“There can be a number of reasons, but I'd say the main reason is the abundance of resources. You see, the environment here is very peaceful compared to many other floors. But they can get pretty much all the resources required for war here, especially Mythical Beasts. So, whoever takes this floor won't have to worry about running out of resources.”
‘He has a point.'
Mythical Beasts would be of great help to improve their ranks.
In particular, the Neidan of the Mythical Beasts would help them quickly strengthen their players to prepare them for the upcoming war.
'Of course, it won't be that effective for rankers, but it would help their lower levels.'
Yeon-woo then burst into laughter.
'And there I was, taking all the resources they needed for the war. So that's why I've been hearing all this bad-mouthing.'
Yeon-woo stroked his chin with his hand.
'Then I'll have to finish the trial before more players come to the 11th floor.'
Now that he knew why the atmosphere was so dark, he had to be quick in making the vessel to hold the Flame of Life.
Yeon-woo asked a couple more questions before leaving the pub.
* * *
The bartender carefully put down the gla.s.s he was holding. The man drinking at the opposite end of the counter started grunting.
“G.o.dd.a.m.n it, what the h.e.l.l is wrong with that guy? I thought he was going to kill everyone here.”
The bartender then spoke to the man as he pointed with his chin at the door where Yeon-woo just left.
“I need you to investigate him. I think he's up to something.”
“Huh? You want me to die? I mean, just look at him. He'd murder whoever stands in his way without blinking an eye. He's a monster, you know? A monster!”
“I know. That's why I'm making you do it.”
“What the f…!”
The man was about to say something but had to cower as he saw the bartender's scowling eyes.
The man continued with pouting lips.
“What makes you think he's up to something?”
“Are you a blind or something? Did you seriously not see that?”
“What was I supposed to see?”
The bartender let out a sneer. His broad mustache curled up slightly with an impish smile.
“That mask, it was the h.o.a.rder's.”
The man's eyes widened.
It was the nickname of the novice that had created a buzz around the entire Tower ever since he cleared the tutorial.
“Now, if you get what I mean, get your a.s.s to work! He may be the culprit that has been h.o.a.rding all the hidden pieces on the 11th floor lately, and you know how expensive that kind of information is.”
* * *
Yeon-woo escaped Barrack and moved elsewhere.
The Spirit Familiars that had been waiting outside the city gathered behind him.
He had them store his items safely before going into the city, and it seemed they had done a great job.
Yeon-woo sent them back into the Collection and started organizing his plan based on the information he got from the pub.
'A war between Red Dragon and Cheonghwado… I have to come up with some sort of excuse to intervene in that war.'