Chapter 22 - The Stone that gathers Lightning
It was a place that travelers and Caravans stayed for lodging while traveling over the Bar Khu mountain range. It was originally a place built by the ranger division of the Rosenheim Kingdom to rest themselves, so it wasn’t a place that people visited often.
“We’re lucky enough to have found this place. We’re only a day or two from our destination.”
“The trip was so rough, I thought I was going to die.” Halman laughed.
“This was all because of you, Margaux.”
“You ought to say it straight, Levi. It all started because you killed that guy.”
Halman, Margaux, Levi, and Gran, were four famous player killers from the Britten Alliance. They lived for the joy of killing other players and looting their equipment. The notorious quartet was better known as ‘Dwichigi Quartet’.
(T/L: Dwichigi means: Backstab)
However, about one month ago, they had fearlessly messed with the Cloud guild. This guild wasn’t just a large guild in the Britten Alliance, but it was one of the ten largest guilds in the whole continent. It boasted a membership count of over 6,000 players, and if the allied guilds were included, it was an influential force to be reckoned with. The guild had enough influence to rival that of the Britten Alliance.
In other words, even for the Dwichigi Quartet, the Cloud guild wasn’t a name they could easily ignore. In fact, they didn’t mess with the Cloud guild on purpose. For a while, the four who were on the most-wanted list decided to focus on hunting to level up, but a guy named Brandy acted arrogantly and said:
“Get out of here! This is our area!” Brandy had yelled
“Huh, who is this guy?”
Naturally, the four flew into rage. At this point their red PK symbol had already disappeared, since they had donated a lot of money to the temple and had just hunted for a while. Brandy disrupted their hunting and claimed that this place was his area, since he had no idea who the 4 were.
Then Levi exploded in anger and said, “Let’s just kill this bastard!”
“I’ll teach you not to mess with us!”
The four who usually killed first on a whim obviously didn’t have the restraint to let things like this go unpunished. Brandy was killed instantly. As expected of the notorious Dwichigi, the four stealthily positioned themselves behind his back and attacked. Brandy’s level was lower than 3 of the 4 Dwichigi members, so the simultaneous attack from the 4 gave him no chance and he died easily.
Then they received a map as loot.
Item: The tomb of the one with short legs:
The place where the short eccentric fell into slumber.
In the midst of two canyons, underneath the sturdy tree.
A narrow road.
The primal power cannot be passed without sacrifice.
Among the pounding, seek the sound which does not ring.
Author: Reineig R. Hansberg
The four laughed and ignored the map. They thought it was one of those treasure maps that were scattered around. Since then, however, they’ve been persistently tracked by the Cloud guild. Only then did the quartet realize that they had attacked a member of the Cloud guild.
“Damn it! You bloody idiot. If he had told us that he was from the Cloud guild, I would have never killed him!”
“We killed him without giving him a chance to speak.”
“How is that our fault!”
“Anyways, we need to lay low for now.”
From then on, the four hid in places where no one passed by and did not reveal themselves for 2 weeks. However, the pursuit by the Cloud guild did not die down even a little bit. To avoid death, the four had overcame many hardships to barely escape.
The levels of the quartet exceeded 220, but without their PKing experience, they would not have been able to escape from multiple crises.
Halman finally spoke, “This is weird.”
“I think so too, don’t you agree?”
“An entire guild wouldn’t be chasing us for just killing one member.”
“Yeah, they’re seriously trying to kill us even to the bitter end.”
“Wait a minute, what was that map we picked up from that guy?”
“I think it was something like ‘the tomb of the one with short legs’…”
“There’s no mistake then, this map must be extraordinary. Those guys weren’t after us, they were after this map.”
“Then we should try to find the treasure from this map.”
Since then, the four had started to discover the secrets of the map. They had crossed over to another kingdom, to an archive with old books and found information regarding the map, then, they deciphered the meaning of the phrases. As a result, they had come to the Bar Khu mountain range.
“Now all that’s left to do is entering the tomb...”
“Yeah, but what’s should we do? There isn’t an Adventurer among us, so traps in the dungeon can’t be dismantled.”
“Our bodies can take a few traps.”
“Even if the whole process goes smoothly, one guy still has to die to the final lightning strike. So, which one of us is going to die?”
Obviously, no one wanted to die. The quartet who liked killing others didn’t want to die themselves, so they stared at each other. Then, Gran held a beaming smile.
“You aren’t pointing at me, right?”
Gran pointed his finger, but it wasn’t pointing at any of the 4 including himself. Gran was pointing towards the bottom of the mountain range. While arriving, Weed and Mapan’s cart was creaking away.
“Wow! I did not expect to meet people in a place like this. Hello, my name is Mapan.”
“I’m Gran, and this here is Levi, Halman, and Margaux.”
“Nice to meet you.”
The quartet all had big smiles on their face, welcoming Weed and Mapan.
“It’s rare to see people traveling in the Bar Khu mountain range, for what reason are you traveling?”
“Ah, we came in order to trade.” Mapan went ahead and replied.
“For trade? Then the two of you are merchants, right?”
“Yes, I am a merchant, and Weed-nim over here is a sculptor.”
“Oh, I see.”
Gran had a wide smile. Halman, Margaux and Levi also were trying to hold back their laughter.
‘He says he’s a sculptor!’
‘There are people that would choose that as a class?’
However, when they dealt with Weed and Mapan, they were entirely courteous. This was because their task still needed to be completed. Most cautious of the four, Gran asked the questions. Ever since the incident with Brandy, they were more careful in dealing with others.
“Anyways, I understand. But how did you come across the Bar Khu Mountain range as a sculptor and merchant when it’s filled with monsters? How did you deal with the monsters?”
“That’s due to Weed over here…”
Mapan was about to explain, but Weed elbowed him on the side.
Mapan who was about to speak zipped his mouth shut. He noticed that Weed wanted to hide something and stopped. Gran noticed and raised his eyebrows then laughed.
“Well, is it difficult for you to tell us this?”
In truth, Weed had a feeling that the quartet wanted to hide something. On the large continent of Versailles, notwithstanding the vast multitudes of users, it was rare to meet people in the place known as ‘monster’s paradise’.
Typically, when you meet other people in out-of-the-way places like the mountains, you would greet them, and maybe even eat food with them. If your destinations were the same, you would travel together for a while, but these people were far too happy.
Also they became even more delighted when they found out their class. Weed naturally glanced at the four, scrutinizing them. Gran was standing at the front talking to Weed and Mapan, while the 3 others were at the sides and the back.
‘They might be bandits.’
If you thought that monsters were the only risk on the continent of Versailles, then you were in for a world of hurt! Rather, encountering users in a place like this was far more dangerous. Weed acted naturally and said:
“I am a sculptor, but I have a unique technique.”
“What kind of technique?”
“It’s a kind of yell. When the monsters hear the sound they run away. Shall I demonstrate?”
“Yes, I’m curious.”
Weed gathered his mana with all his might and cast the skill, Lion’s Roar.
At the hint that Weed was going to use roar, Mapan covered his ears with his hands, but the four were unprepared and staggered from the shock.
“How can this roar be …!”
Gran calmed down Margaux and Levi with just a glance, looking back at Weed and smiling widely.
“What a tremendous roar. That reminds me, I’ve heard a roar several times. This has the effect of keeping monsters away?”
The Lion’s Roar skill.
Weed had not yet formed a party with Gran, so his leadership had not increased, and the additional effects did not take effect. The only thing they experienced was the loud noise.
“Yes, monsters hesitate when they hear this sound, and during that moment, I escape.”
The quartet laughed after Weed’s explanation.
‘It’s really not a big deal.’
‘I guess these guys are the perfect bait?’
‘We should have these guys go to that place.’
‘We only need 1…’
‘What, is there a problem? We take out the remaining one with our own hands, and since they’re merchants they’ll drop a lot of loot.’
‘Good, let’s do it.’
The four all quickly came to a conclusion without even talking, but by simply communicating their intent with their eyes. Gran put on an earnest face toward Mapan and Weed and said, “So far, this trick may have let you pass through safely, but the Bar Khu mountain range is a really dangerous place. You could call this meeting fate, so from here on out we’re going to be your escort. Anyway, since we’re traveling on the same route and we’re offering this out of goodwill, there is no reason to refuse. Haha...”
“Haha! If it is like that, then we’re truly grateful.”
Mapan purposely laughed loudly. As a weak merchant, it wasn’t a bad idea to accompany a group of 4 players that looked strong.
“We will be in your care.”
Weed noticed that something was fishy from the glint in their eyes, but decided to play along for now to find out how far this would go. So Weed also quietly nodded in acknowledgement to their offer of an ‘escort’. He had noticed that the situation was turning for the worse, but from the looks in the quartet’s eyes he could do nothing but follow…for now.
The fun of an adventure is in traveling, seeing new places and meeting comrades. Reliable comrades that can cover your back. Hunting with friends builds intimacy and closeness.
This was the fun of playing Royal Road. At times, Weed enjoyed hunting with others. Since he played so much of the time, it would be unreasonable to be always together, but still, being together was a rather good thing. However, this was not the case with this unknown quartet. Around the wagon, the four assumed the role of fighting monsters, and out of the corner of their eyes, they observed Mapan and Weed.
‘Well, nothing’s unusual about him.’
‘I think he is sculpting?’
‘It seems he really is a sculptor.’
The four were completely at ease. However, they were still suspicious of even a sculptor since they had accumulated a lot of notoriety in the last month. Just then, Weed pulled out one of the raw gemstones. The Dwichigi Quartet turned the focus of their attention on it, and one of them asked.
“Huh? Isn’t that a jewel?”
Immediately, Margaux revealed a deep curiosity. Mapan replied with a smile.
“Yes, Weed is currently faceting jewels.”
“Oh, jewelry faceting?”
“Jewelry faceting… That’s amazing!” Margaux’s young eyes were full of greed.
‘I’d like that to be a drop…’
Weed tightly clenched on Zahab’s sculpting knife while sculpting, but the four did not start a fight.
‘They aren’t attacking even after seeing a jewel, so they have something else they want from us.’
In the quartet’s minds, Weed and Mapan were trapped like rats with nowhere to escape to, so they accommodated their needs. The deceivers and the deceived! And the one pretending to be deceived!
“Let’s have meal here before continuing on. We’ll prepare the food.”
“We are thankful for the escort… so we’ll prepare the meal.”
“Haha, no, please wait a bit.”
The four sometimes gave Weed and Mapan the drops from the monsters.
“This isn’t much, but I hope you’ll accept it.”
“Since we’re travelling on the same road aren’t we comrades? It’s only fair to share the loot dropped by the monsters.”
“Please accept them.” The 4 quartet easily hit it off with Mapan.
“This shameless guy…”
Mapan received with a wide smile, but Weed’s suspicion of the situation deepened further.
‘A favor without a reason… such a thing does not exist. If they’re not planning to attack us, what is the reason?’
A normal person feels grateful when others give presents, or towards those who are nice to them, but for Weed, all he felt was suspicion. In this situation, it was not necessary for them to share the items. It was too awkward since they tried too hard to be nice. Nevertheless, Weed didn’t betray even a hint of his emotions.
Since Mapan really trusted the quartet, Weed was able to hide the fact that he greatly distrusted the quartet. A day passed by just like that, and they arrived at a canyon. The canyon was only 20 meters wide, but it was a deep canyon with a dense fog covering the valley below. Because there was a bridge, crossing the canyon did not seem too difficult.
“There’s a bridge here. What a sturdy looking bridge… We can cross over with this bridge.”
As Mapan went to drive the wagon, Gran smiled and obstructed him.
“Gentlemen, what is your reason for adventuring?”
“I think that fully enjoying this magnificent view is the heart of an adventure. There seems to be a path that leads down, so let’s take that path. Doesn’t this path seem more interesting? What do you think?”
Mapan became hesitant upon hearing Gran’s words. In the Versailles Continent there was no such thing as a stereotypical road. You could travel through the forest, or climb over mountains. There was no need to always travel on well paved roads.
Nevertheless, if you think about it logically, it didn’t make sense to go down into the canyon when you could cross the bridge comfortably. Even Mapan, who was oblivious to the situation, finally sensed that something was wrong.
“Well, is that really necessary…?”
Mapan tried to reveal his intention to refuse. As a merchant he wanted to take the safer path. So he was refusing the quartet’s suggestion.
Halman, Margaux and Levi all placed their hands on their scabbards. Weed and Mapan found themselves surrounded. A merchant and a sculptor. There was no reason to be tense, but they prepared just in case something went wrong, at that hair raising instant. The moment Mapan strongly refused!
“We should go. It sounds like fun.” Weed agreed with Gran’s suggestion.
“Haha! I knew you’d come around. You’re a man with spirit.”
Gran, Halman and the rest took their hands off their scabbards and smiled.
Weed and Mapan continued traveling down the canyon in the carriage with the Dwichigi Quartet leading them.
The incline of the canyon was very steep, and the wheels of the carriage became stuck several times. Without the help of the quartet, it would have been impossible for them to go down. Gran and Halman pulled the cart from the front, and Levi and Margaux pushed from behind.
“Um, Sorry about all of this.”
“Haha! Not at all Mapan-nim. This is nothing!”
Gran and Halman treated the carriage as if it was their own. The quartet didn’t spare any sincerity since they thought the cart would be theirs soon.
“Oh, I think there is a trail over there…”
Gran led the way. He went around here and there, occasionally going back the same way.
“Ah, the scenery looks far better over there. It would be preferable if we go back that way.”
Gran combed through the area in the canyon several times. On this, Weed was the one who really benefited.
“Whoa! This one here is a red Sen medicinal herb. Over there is a blue Ceylon herb…!”
The Bar Khu mountain range was a rich repository of herbs. At the bottom of the canyon in the area where the sun shined brightly had various herbs growing sporadically. Weed eagerly pulled them out and placed them in his mesh bag.
“What are you doing?”
“What do you think I’m doing? I’m pulling out herbs.”
On top of being lost, they were being delayed even more due to Weed.
‘I’m going to kill him with my own hands!’
The veins on the foreheads of each of the quartet were pulsing from anger. After a couple of hours, Mapan was exhausted, and the quartet was exhausted as well.
– Hey, Gran. Did you memorize the location correctly?
– You want me to pull out the map in front of them?
– Just distract the two of them for a bit and keep their attention away. That guy named Weed looks like an idiot so don’t mind him, but the guy Mapan, he’s observing our behaviour and that bothers me.
– Okay. Just do it quickly!
Margaux approached the wagon.
“Hey Mapan, I’m actually quite interested in sculpting. Would you mind asking Weed if I can observe him at work?”
Using that as an excuse, Margaux obstructed the view of where Gran and the others were. In the meantime, Gran spread out a map of the current location and confirmed the location of the tomb. Gran’s eyes were beaming.
‘Well, we followed the right route. Just walked passed it by just a little!’
“Now, how about we head this way?”
Gran and the quartet had the wagon turn back towards where they had come from. After searching through the bushes and trees, they finally found the monument and the tomb. Beside the monument was the entrance. The four chuckled and each of them said something.
“Huh? Could this be a dungeon?”
“A dwarf’s grave?”
“Wow! We’re in good luck. We should head in. There is no reason to turn back now that we’re here.”
“Mapan, Weed! Naturally, you’ll come with us right?”