Chapter 3) Gathering of Paladins
“Oh, it is the benefactor of the Freya Church!”
“I came to meet High Priest-nim.”
Weed didn’t talk with arrogance despite his status as King of the Arpen Kingdom. There was a time when he would’ve bowed but now he didn’t need to lower himself.
“The Freya Church is waging a fierce war with the Embinyu Church everywhere. It is thanks to the Helain’s Cup and Crown of Prosperity you gave us that we could push back the Embinyu Church.”
Every religious society on the continent was fighting against the Embinyu Church. The existences of the kingdoms were at stake so paladins would often show up to save residents of the villages. The relics recovered by the Freya Church and the Church of Lugh played a large role in the war against the Embinyu Church.
Weed knew there was a time to be modest and a time to boast.
“That’s right. It is all thanks to me. But would it be possible for me to accomplish such a thing if High Priest-nim wasn’t guiding me?”
“All believers of the Freya Church has praised your adventures and they feel comfortable since you are committed to defeating evil. I’ve also heard a lot of talk from residents who live in the north.”
“I’m also pleased that the followers of the Freya Church is increasing in the Arpen Kingdom.”
“The construction of the Cathedral in the north is indeed a wonderful thing.”
“I’m happy to be working for the Freya Church.”
Weed felt a bit of regret every time he remembered the construction costs.
“Let’s slowly talk while drinking tea. I’d like to hear about your many adventures.”
His degree of intimacy and fame was high so he could talk easily with the High Priest. He could obtain information from the Freya Church and even eat here for free. However Weed didn’t have time for that.
“I have an important mission that urgently requires the Freya Church’s aid.”
“What is it?”
“I’m hoping you can send me strong paladins and priests blessed by the G.o.d. I think I can overcome any type of adversity if they fight with me.”
The High Priest nodded at Weed’s request.
“The Freya Church is willing to offer our swords and prays. Many people are currently fighting against the Embinyu Church so we can’t withdraw that many troops but how much do you need?”
“I hope that you can mobilize all that you can.”
Weed wanted to pull out the pillars of the Freya Church.
“It is possible with your achievements. But like I said, we’re fighting against the Embinyu Church right now…it is possible to dispatch 240 paladins and 120 priests from here and the North Cathedral.”
“They will be a great help when trying to do the right thing.”
“But you might incur Freya’s wrath if they all lost their lives.”
“I’ll keep this in mind. I will protect them like they are my body.”
It wasn’t possible to take everything from the Freya Church like he had thought. The war with the Embinyu Church was damaging Weed. Nevertheless, the paladins were in the mid-300s.
In the past, they had been much weaker but gained experience from fighting the vampires. The priests were slightly lower and had an average level of 310. He wanted to use his contribution to take all the paladins and priests. It was possible to go hunting without paladins but priests were essential in difficult dungeons.
‘I struggled to find their holy relics while suffering like a slave and I also built a Cathedral for them…’
Weed asked again.
“You can’t send me more troops?”
“This is your request so the paladins and priests guarding this place can be included. I can send 40 more paladins and 135 apprentice priest.
An apprentice priest had an average level of 200. The role of a priest was very helpful in battle but they also required protection. If a priest lost their lives then his relations.h.i.+p with the related religion would decrease.
‘I have to leave a root. Anyway, there is no guarantee that the quest will succeed…’
“I am thankful for the paladins. I’ll struggle fiercely from now on…no, I will defend the continent’s peace with them. However the apprentice priests aren’t required.”
“I’m sorry that we can’t support you more due to the battle with the Embinyu Church.”
“No. This much power is great.”
It was possible to gather this many paladins and priests because he was Weed. Not many paladins were available due to the war with the Embinyu Church.
‘If the quest in Roderick’s Labyrinth fails and everyone dies then my friends.h.i.+p with the Freya Church will end.’
Weed gave a deep sigh as he recruited paladins and priests from the Freya Church. The dignified paladins had the crest of the Freya Church on their chest. And the beautiful priests and priestesses.
There was a chance they might all be harmed. Weed also recruited the priest Alveron who had adventured with him before.
“I don’t know what the trouble is but anything Weed-nim does is absolutely necessary for the peace of the continent and the Freya Church.”
Alveron believed in him despite Weed going to the labyrinth for his own personal reasons.
“I’m thankful that we can travel together again.”
Weed patted Alveron’s shoulder in thanks while thinking.
‘I can’t allow the things I raised to die like this.’
This was a harsh world and people who behaved recklessly would die. Weed went to the Church of Lugh to borrow some troops.
“The knights of Lugh are meant to stop darkness from spreading…”
The Church of Lugh decided to dispatch 400 paladins! His contribution was lower compared to the Freya Church but he used it to request paladins instead of priests. The special point was Lugh’s Sword that had been thrust into Barkhan’s chest.
After Weed returned the sword, an expedition headed towards Argoldia and restored its power. The owner of the sword was the paladin Derian. He was considered the best paladin in the Church of Lugh and decided to go along with Weed while carrying the sword.
“I’ve heard rumours about how Weed-nim fought against the Embinyu Church. I will comply with Lugh’s will as a loyal knight. The fight against the Embinyu Church is important but I think that helping Weed-nim is no less significant.”
Weed wasn’t exactly pleased about it. The scale had suddenly become larger!
“Whew, the leaves are already falling.”
Lee Hyun came out to the yard to clean up. He had an old habit of carefully cleaning his house. His level was at the standard where he wouldn’t easily die in Royal Road so he exited the capsule to clean his house. Weed’s cheapest hobby was cleaning, was.h.i.+ng the dishes and doing the laundry.
“It is more quiet than usual.”
Lee Hyun came out to organize the things in his yard and sweep up the fallen leaves. He felt somewhat lonely while doing that. It wasn’t time for his sister to come back to school yet.
“Perhaps this quiet…no! The dog is gone.”
The charming Dogmeat who would lie flat on the ground and shake its tail was missing.
“No. I still have a lot of fermented soybean paste remaining at home.”
In fact, he ate the ducks and chickens but was reluctant to catch the dog. Catching a dog for its meat was barbaric and cruel.
“The Animal Protection a.s.sociation might come with complaints.”
The fear of a fine! Moreover, he barely had Dogmeat for 6 months so it wasn’t fully grown. The Dogmeat he gave to Seo-yoon a while ago would be worth 20,000 won at a market. That Dogmeat was 2 years old!
The 1 year old Dogmeat was a wandering dog that Lee Hyun had caught. He raised it from a puppy so Dogmeat followed him obediently.
“I need to find it quickly…”
Lee Hyun went to search for the 20,000 won that went missing. He didn’t find Dogmeat inside the house.
“The gate is definitely locked…I wouldn’t have been so careless if I knew this would happen.”
Lee Hyun decided to go Seo-yoon’s house just in case. Both houses had a low wooden fence so they could comfortably a.s.sociate with each other.
“This house is good. There is that feeling of stepping on turf.”
Having a lawn was a symbol of wealth in South Korea! There were fruit trees in the garden and ducks swimming in a pond.
The weather was hot so there was no signs of the ducks leaving the water at all. Lee Hyun found Dogmeat near the sh.o.r.e of the lake. Seo-yoon was giving Dogmeat a bath with the hose to water the garden.
“Your white fur, you have to wash it beautifully. Do you like the bath?”
Seo-yoon wore short sleeves and shorts to wash the dog in the suns.h.i.+ne. Every time Dogmeat shook its body, water would hit her but she was still beautiful. Looking at Seo-yoon felt like a pleasant dream. It was because her beauty was so unrealistic.
‘Dogmeat follows her more than me.’
Seo-yoon was playing host to all the animals in his house. She fed them, played with them and even let them sleep at her house. Even the rabbits would hop towards Seo-yoon’s house when they were untied and would eat the gra.s.s there.
The 1 year old Dogmeat growled as it saw Lee Hyun. He had quietly entered the boundary of Seo-yoon’s house.
Lee Hyun thought it was strange.
“You dare treat your master who feeds you fermented soybean paste like this…sit down.”
The 1 year old Dogmeat planted its b.u.t.t on the ground.
Pant pant pant pant!
Lee Hyun had trained obedience deep into his head! Seo-yoon dried the dog’s body with a towel.
“It was eager to have a bath.”
“The rain could easily settle that….”
Lee Hyun didn’t nag anymore.
“Are the dogs getting along with each other?”
“They are playing every day.”
The 1 year old Dogmeat was a female and the 2 year old was a male. They weren’t related so he encouraged them to spend time together. In the future there might be puppies.
“Hrmm, steaming a puppy soup with cooked vegetables…”
“Yes? It is nothing.”
Lee Hyun sat down on a chair and watched the pair of Dogmeats having a bath. This felt like a happy and peaceful dream right now.
‘In fact, I’ve actually accomplished a lot.’
He had become a celebrity in Royal Road so he could live on the generous proceeds of the broadcasts. His heart cried out for money, money, money every day but his poor life was over.
‘Grandmother is in a nursing home and no long requires a lot of money while there is already a separate savings for my sister’s tuition cost.’
He had saved a lot from selling items and the broadcast fees so he had a colossal amount of wealth. It was to the extent that he already collected the money for Lee Hye-yeon’s wedding and funeral costs. In the past he had experienced a lot of grief because he didn’t have money but now his heart could relax.
‘In the worst case scenario, if Arpen Kingdom is destroyed by the Hermes Guild then at least I still have money for my family.’
Lee Hyun could sell quilts at the market or even open a fried chicken store. A few years ago, he dream was to spend his life toasting bread and frying chicken. Of course, there would be drunken guests order friend chicken legs and wings but he wouldn’t deny them!
‘I like a challenge. There is still plenty for me to do.’
Lee Hyun’s heart was peaceful. Royal Road was his job but it was also a place where he could sail in fair winds and relax. Despite how much more difficult this was, Weed was the G.o.d of War and he would jump into any dangerous situation without hesitation. He had a history of conquering every danger he faced. He would keep on accomplis.h.i.+ng things as he lived on.
‘Don’t worry about it. I can build up my achievements with the Freya and Lugh Churches using my fame and sculpting. The burden that I have to carry is different.’
He couldn’t be afraid of failure. The future wasn’t determined so he didn’t need to feel anxious. Lee Hyun would focus more intensely in a disadvantageous situation and would find a countermeasure. He had the confidence to adventure in places others wouldn’t go and succeed. He would shake off his heavy burden and display his ability.
‘I really wanted that. That exhilarating moment…the last secret sculpting technique quest will give me that.’
A sound then came from his stomach.
“Um. As expected, I shouldn’t think too deeply. It is my destiny to live with difficulty.”
“Are you hungry?”
“A little. What are you doing?”
“Seafood kalguksu (TL: Korean noodle dish). Today I am cooking it.”
Right now he was on a leave of absence but he had eaten her boxed lunches every day at school. Now he wanted to repay the favour by cooking.
While Lee Hyun was kneading the dough for the noodles, Seo-yoon was making kimchi pancake. The clean Dogmeats were leisurely running around outside.
Weed entered a shabby tavern in a back alley of Morata.
“Kkeok, take it.”
“The alcohol tastes good today. Two more gla.s.ses of beer over here!”
Drinkers camped here even during the daytime. The drinks were cheap so it had a lot of customers despite being located in the back alleys. Half of them were users while the NPCs occupied the remaining seats.
Morata was in the process of becoming a great city so many people flocked here. Hunters, mercenaries and warriors spent time at the tavern when they weren’t hunting.
‘He should be here at this hour…’
Weed looked around the tables and saw a grey haired man with empty gla.s.ses stacked in front of him.
Weed walked up and sat in another chair.
“I have a request.”
The old man asked with a red nose. The most famous NPC thief in the north, Jeidun! He had retired after becoming old but he still told thieves and a.s.sa.s.sins who visited him tricks to dismantle traps.
Weed had cleared many dungeons in the meantime. There were many monsters and traps in the dungeons. Normally he would just endure the traps with his body or use Van Hawk to lead the way.
The Roderick’s Labyrinth he was going to this time wasn’t that easy. It was to the extent that any traps activated would lead to death. He wouldn’t be safe even if the traps were dismantled.
The weakest demons wandering around were level 400 and some even reached a staggering level 500. And he estimated that the boss Montus would be at least level 600! Weed came to visit Jeidun so that at least the traps would be dismantled.
“I want to form a contract with you to accompany me and get rid of some traps.”
“A mercenary contract…it has been a long time since I did field work.”
Normally mercenaries would be hired from mercenary guilds but it was possible to employ a NPC directly. Of course, he would need to pay less if there was a high degree of intimacy.
“Well, you came all this way so I will agree if you give me 5,000 gold a day.”
|-Do you want to make a mercenary agreement with Jeidun?
5,000 gold should be paid a day and you need to provide the salary for 10 days in advance.
Jeidun was a master at dismantling traps and lock picking so his employment cost was very high. However 5,000 gold per day was too excessive. But Jeidun possessed the most excellent trap removing skills in the north. He wanted to hire the best thieves in the Central Continent but the speed of his situation meant that he couldn’t meet them.
Weed regretfully pulled out a bottle of alcohol.
“I’ll give you this.”
“Ugh, this has a good fragrance…”
“I have more alcohol.”
“If you give alcohol every day then I will do it for 4,200 gold.”
“I’ll make sure that you can drink alcohol for the rest of your life.”
“If that is so…then 3,900 gold is possible.”
It was still an impossible amount for employment.
“I want to tell you something Jeidun. This is for the peace of the north. As a thief, didn’t you work your entire life for the sake of peace?”
Weed revealed his ident.i.ty. All of the NPCs in the tavern kneeled down before Weed. It was a special privilege given to the King of the Arpen Kingdom!
“I will work for the sake of Your Majesty.”
“The employment cost will be 2 gold a day.”
“That is the value of beef jerky….”
“Would you like to be executed?”
“It is an honour to follow Your Majesty who is a hero of the north.”
He used the king’s authority to hire Jeidun. The side effect was that the residents’ loyalty would fall and the relations.h.i.+p with mercenaries could worsen. But he had so much fame he didn’t need to worry about that.
“Now that Jeidun is taking care of the traps, what sculptural lifeforms should I bring?”
The likelihood of not returning was too high. Bingryong, Phoenix etc. were too big so they couldn’t enter while he didn’t want to bring Goldman and Yellowy into such a dangerous place. Goldman was versatile and Yellowy had good physique and power but both fell behind in combat power.
“Bahamorg, this is an opportunity to fight and shatter some bones.”
“Anywhere is good.”
He decided to bring only Bahamorg. He possessed better fighting skills than Weed and could raise other people’s health and vitality. He was worth bringing into a dangerous dungeon.
“The staff organization for the labyrinth is over.”
“Can you buy me weapons and supplies necessary for survival?”
He requested a supply of goods from Mapan. Charcoal stones, herbs and antidotes were all supplies necessary for a labyrinth. He spend 70,000 gold purchasing supplies!
There were also spare armour and swords prepared. The Blacksmith skill meant he could make repairs but there were items that could break in battle.
“It has already exceeded 20 carriages. This is enough for a war…do you really need this much?”
Mapan whispered him a few times questioning the amount but Weed’s answers were the same.
-Please save as much as possible by buying cheap and good quality goods.
In the end, Mapan moved with 22 carriages to the destination. The designated meeting place was a place just north of the Central Continent.
“Peace isn’t secured here so I am anxious about such places…”
Mapan decided to hire mercenaries. The resurrected Embinyu Church led armies of demons to destroy cities. Humans scattered and lived in the mountains along with the monsters.
Bandits were seen everywhere and there was also surprise raids by monsters in broad daylight. A merchant transporting goods would want to avoid these areas as much as possible. It was to the extent that merchants travelling between the Central Continent and the north would utilize many methods other than a land trip.
“We’ve safely reached the destination!”
Mapan arrived at the place he agreed to meet Weed. Apart from Weed, there was a huge gathering of paladins and priests. This was the first time Mapan had seen so many paladins in one place.
They were standing on the hot plains and the sunlight glared off their armour. The priests were standing quietly but they would show their ability once a battle started.
“Thanks for the trouble. The goods?”
“I collected them and brought them. I checked the quant.i.ty and quality three times. By the way Weed-nim, why are there so many paladins here?”
“They are helping me with my quest.”
“Sculpting Master Quest?”
“That’s not it. It is a connected quest that is one step higher.”
Weed accepted the transfer of battle supplies and turned around. Mapan observed the armoured paladins and was surprised to see Alveron and Derian among them. They were NPCs famous even to users. Alveron was a priest of the Freya Church and Derian was a paladin and hero of the Church of Lugh.
Anyway, their fame could be compared to the leader of a prestigious guild!
Alveron also wore Fargo’s Crown of Prosperity that belonged to the Freya Church. Derian was also carrying Lugh’s Sword and had colourful support troops. Weed used his contributions from founding a kingdom and adventuring to mobilize the might power to two religious orders.
Weed yelled using Lion’s Roar.
“We have come to Roderick’s Labyrinth to protect the peace of the continent!”
The priests and paladins raised their weapons and cried out.
The blood drained from Mapan’s face.
Roderick’s Labyrinth! The story had been popular among merchants but there was no outcome from it so they moved on. Merchants needed to have a firm grasp of the habitat and monsters in the area that might interfere with a trade. It was rare for a merchant to go hunting in a dungeon.
‘That is Roderick’s Labyrinth.’
It was located at a very old palace. The magician Roderick operated at the palace. And most magical studies were underground. The entrance to the labyrinth was the stairs heading underground.
‘But hasn’t no one come back alive from it?’
Weed finished his short speech. It was important to maintain the moral of the paladins but he only commissioned them for a short time so it wasn’t needed.
“G.o.d will look after us no matter what difficulty we face. Let’s go! Then Mapan-nim, I’ll see you later in Morata.”
Weed said farewell to Mapan and moved towards Roderick’s Labyrinth. The stairs heading underground was grown over with lush bushes. Some stone stairs were broken and there was the corpses of bats all over the place.
The palace where Roderick lived gave an eerie feeling that caused chills! The atmosphere felt like the place had been cursed.
“It is like going to the bank in the summer.”
Weed didn’t hesitate now that he had come here and headed down the stairs.