Chapter 2) Seo-yoon’s Father
A large event took place at Formos Castle!
Weed caused a large hit and the prestige of the Hermes Guild on the Versailles Continent fell once again.
The Haven Empire sent troops from nearby cities and recovered Formos Castle the next day, but there was no way of restoring their pride.
Angry users had cleaned out the warehouses and destroyed the city’s facilities. This sight was relayed through the broadcasting stations and caused a huge embarra.s.sment to the Haven Empire. And the anxiety of the Haven Empire grew even greater.
“We have to punish him. Let’s ensure that he can’t play freely anymore.”
“How long do we have to put up with this? Can he continue acting so boldly on the Central Continent with no retaliation? Since when has the Hermes Guild been so weak?”
All the leaders and main lords of the Hermes Guild were gathered. They wanted to put measures in place to deal with Weed and raise the security.
Weed’s bounty was increased to 100 million gold, a position of a city lord and the highest grade equipment. Senior magicians and a.s.sa.s.sins were dispatched to track him.
“Operation name is Big Bear Hunting.”
Lafaye thought there was little chance they could catch the elusive Weed. It would be very difficult to track Weed based on his skill, speed and judgement.
Instead, death traps were placed in areas where he was likely to emerge. The group of leaders strongly promoted the idea if dispatching trackers.
‘If we locate that guy then we can make him fall from the sky.’
There were many people in the Hermes Guild who desired to fight Weed. The highest levels were given resources and only one mission.
Chase Weed’s trail through the continent. His opportunities would shrink and one day they would catch him. Weed’s actions in the Central Continent would be narrowed.
Lafaye pulled out a map of the continent.
“There is a fundamental part that we need to work on. The weakening of the Haven Empire. Our empire is becoming increasingly weak.”
“Weakening of the empire? The military is winning almost all fights against rebels. Our army is getting stronger every day and it is only a matter of time until we conquer the entire continent.”
The leaders immediately objected.
There were many lords and war heroes among the leaders of the Hermes Guild.
“Are you worried about the rebels? Those guys are just noisy.”
“I agree. They will never get back together. We will show them what it means for the strong to step on the weak. There is no need to bother talking about the weakening of the empire.”
They thought that many troublesome things were happening in the Haven Empire. But it was just a temporary disturbance due to the unification of the continent.
Rebels were emerging everywhere but they were being overwhelming by the military. The prestigious guild would just step on them like playing whack-a-mole.
The Hermes Guild were experienced with war. They didn’t think they would be defeated in these battles.
After conquering the Central Continent, they had ruled perfectly over the Haven Empire. The reason it was difficult to conquer the north was due to the long distance. If they didn’t have to keep a large number of troops on the Central Continent then the north wouldn’t be able to resist.
As powerful warlords on the Versailles Continent, they had great pride in themselves. They were given n.o.ble t.i.tles like Earl, Marquis and Duke.
With the exception of Bardray, they were stronger than most users. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that all the powerhouses of the Versailles Continent were gathered in the Hermes Guild
Lafaye met the eyes of the leaders and lords.
“You are not listening to me. The army of the Haven Empire is arguably stronger. We have the strongest forces on the continent. But the real problem is the empire’s economy weakening.”
Lafaye thought seriously about the internal affairs of the Haven Empire.
“If you look at the statistics from the early days of the Haven Empire, the tax revenue for one month was around 1.3 billion gold.
“Isn’t that a lot?”
“Yes. It was truly an astronomical amount of money for the early days of Royal Road. We moved from only having 10 gold to running a successful city. Prior to that, we were wandering through the mountains and forests to find leather.”
The users closed their eyes and recalled that time.
Everyone had to start somewhere.
The leaders were busier than anyone as they lay the groundwork for the Hermes Guild. They wanted to become stronger than anyone else. The users developed villages through quests, trade flowed and they became active high ranking officials,
The process was so clear, it was like it occurred yesterday. The experience in Royal Road was more dramatic than the real world.
“These statistics were gathered from several sources and an exact amount can’t be given due to the number of users entering. But it is estimated that in the most active time of the Haven Kingdom, the monthly tax revenue reached approximately 2.4 billion gold.”
“It is amazing. That is a great amount of money.”
At that time, they received taxes from the Haven Kingdom as well as other large and small kingdoms.
The tax rate was high but there was economic growth from the great influx of users. Among the users, the n.o.bles and lords started to get a firm grip on their position. As a prestigious guild, they had big plans and wanted the Kallamore Kingdom and Tullen Kingdom that had large populations.
They recruited an army and fought vigorously to gain more territory. The NPC royalty and n.o.bility couldn’t do anything and the users expanded their military power.
Farm and ranches were destroyed while mines were closed. Residents were sacrificed and production facilities destroyed. Not to mention that trade started shrinking.
Young residents were conscripted and brought to the battlefield while a variety of professions only focused on making instruments of war.
From then on, the tax revenue of the Haven Kingdom and other kingdoms started to be reduced.
Lafaye, Bardray and most of the people of the Central Continent regarded this phenomenon lightly.
War and conquering the surrounding territories were given top priority so they didn’t have time to think about the economy. They had the simple logic of trampling on everything.
There was a fierce struggle for the Central Continent and the Hermes Guild ended up the winner.
So far there were no variables.
“We seized the Haven Kingdom, Kallamore Kingdom and then hit the other forces on the Central Continent. And although it was confidential, our tax revenue was approximately 8.8 billion gold shortly after unifying the Central Continent. That includes the admission fees into the cities and dungeons.”
The gathered leaders and lords were in such shock that they couldn’t say anything.
‘Didn’t we also receive some investments from the outside?’
‘The value of virtual reality is growing every day. The Hermes Guild is already good enough to be called a corporation.’
The lords could guess through governing the cities but it was a shock to hear the figures firsthand.
Lafaye revealed one more piece of information that had been concealed.
“On the other hand, our information network estimates that the tax revenue for the Arpen Kingdom is around 20~30 million gold.”
“Huhuhu, the scale can’t even be compared.”
“That much…is it even worth conquering?”
The lords laughed.
They could obtain that much tax revenue from the territory they ruled. The Arpen Kingdom had great popularity with the ma.s.ses but they felt it was just an empty vessel.
However, Lafaye didn’t laugh.
“There is a big difference in how we spend our tax revenue compared to the Arpen Kingdom. We have a much higher tax rate. If the Arpen Kingdom gathered taxes in the same manner as us then they would have at least 300 million gold.”
“There is still a large difference…”
The lords couldn’t poke fun at 300 million gold. Nevertheless, it was still too small an amount compared to the Haven Empire.
But Lafaye’s face was serious so they guessed that the story was larger.
“If you look closely then the real gap is actually reduced even more. Since unifying the Central Continent, the Haven Empire’s tax income has been reducing rapidly.”
One of the lords asked.
“Is it due to the system? We could argue that there are less farms and mines.”
“That plays a part. However, the reduction in tax revenue caused by that is so negligible that it can be ignored.”
“Then the current tax revenue…”
“5.17 billion gold.”
There was the sound of deep sighs.
8.8 billion and 5.1 billion gold was still a tremendous amount of money. But it had been reduced by 3.7 billion so it was the first time they felt it was a big problem.
The laughing faces they used to mock the Arpen Kingdom had stiffened.
Most of the tax revenue in their large and small territories were declining. They thought it was just temporary and would recover through economic reconstruction. But they didn’t know that so much income had flown away.
Lafaye continued talking.
“In the meantime, we’ve done some wrongs and there has been a series of bad events. The taxes have continued being smoothly collected despite the rebels. But despite the economic reconstruction, the tax revenue is continuing to decline rapidly.”
“There is no doubt.”
“How much has it reduced now?”
The lords asked urgently.
Lafaye honestly explained the seriousness of the situation.
“In one month, the total has been reduced by 300~400 million gold.”
The leaders who already knew this information remained silent.
The lords tried to calculate it in their heads.
‘If the tax revenue decreases then my income will be less.’
There was even more to say.
Everyone’s full attention was on Lafaye.
“It is hard to list all the reasons for the tax reduction. The damage our compet.i.tors caused when they fell, damage to the cities, death of the residents, reduced production, rebels emerging and worsening security. Another big reason is that users don’t enjoy hunting in the Central Continent anymore.”
Those in Royal Road had a strong desire to become stronger.
But that heat cooled down after the Hermes Guild ruled over the Central Continent with their powerful military.
The people who wanted to play or go to resorts left.
The production workers and engineers didn’t work as hard as before.
It was natural that taxes would decrease if there wasn’t as much people entering the cities or dungeons.
Meanwhile, the lords were busy thinking.
‘This is similar to a real economy.’
‘Difficult. Economics…I should take some cla.s.ses in economics.’
It was obvious that their economy was currently in a recession. They needed someone to make the economy run smoothly again.
Even so, the lords thought the Haven Empire still had a high tax revenue. In fact, they had acc.u.mulated an enormous wealth.
Lafaye’s words broke them from that delusion.
“As you know, a lot of money is required in order to maintain the Haven Empire. Maintaining essential infrastructure and military expenses. It is hard to estimate accurately but those costs alone exceeds 2 billion gold. We must subdue the rebels while investing in rebuilding the empire. In other words, soon we won’t be able to afford it.”
The Haven Empire that was a golden egg laying goose was in the worst situation.
Those who were vaguely smart were shaken. The tax revenue was a critical issue so the meeting room fell silent.
“The Haven Empire requires a large military power to suppress our enemies. However, the strength of our military is also a double-edged sword. It requires a huge maintenance cost and is a hindrance to economic growth. In the future, we have to maintain our current military and help the economy recover.
Lafaye clearly expressed his will.
In addition, he warned the lords who didn’t follow the Hermes Guild’s policies.
There were many lords in the Haven Empire. The so called founders of the Hermes Guild! They had a powerful army and were a.s.signed a territory to rule by the guild. They committed resources to any wars of conquest. They contributed to the especially strong military power of the Central Continent.
The brave founders were given generous rewards and established a governance system. They ruled the new conquered lands far away from the centre where people rarely interfered. The lords appointed a permanent military force and collected taxes. They wanted to focus on wars for a completely unified continent.
All the lords appointed to the Hermes Guild were like this. The lords had a lot of people in their territory and many users envied them. This was motivation to reach a higher position in the guild. But these choices had caught up to them.
The lords were familiar with war and only worried about strengthening their military power, causing the economy to worsen. Young residents were recruited as soldiers and blacksmiths to create weapons.
The luxury goods market shrank by one third and the economic loss affected the whole empire.
‘First we have to establish a centralized government. And then carry out measures to revive the Central Continent.’
A variety of measures would be taken to rebuild the economy and they needed to ensure the lords followed it properly.
The lords were those who had high contributions when it came to conquering the Central Continent.
As a result, they heavily taxed the residents and stole the wealth instead of using it to rebuild the economy.
Although they were commanded to decrease the taxes, not even half the lords followed it. Of course, this was the fault of the irresponsible lords.
The traditional governance of the Central Continent was that those who had money had power.
Lafaye didn’t want to bother with the Arpen Kingdom.
Information from the north indicated that the number of users were growing daily and production and adventuring were increasing briskly.
The atmosphere was quite different from the Haven Empire. The villages and cities would advance in the next 1~2 years and the economic situation might reverse.
When looking at just the tax revenue, their positions were unlikely to change but the speed of development couldn’t be compared.
If the Central Continent continued deteriorating then the Northern Continent would rise like a sun.
“The empire won’t fall down to an external invasion. But if we keep on fighting the rebels then the national power of the Haven Empire will gradually decline. In the future, we should pay more attention to internal affairs and the economy instead of war.
They decided to use Aren Castle as the centre of a transportation network and carry out intensive industrial and urban development.
And they needed to consider the backlash from users as well as the military unrest caused by rebels.
Progress was slow but the Hermes Guild needed to make a fundamental reform.
The traders and residents at the empire’s capital, Aren Castle were complaining.
“We are paying very heavy taxes. It is used as the foundation for the Haven Empire. But the prices of luxury goods keep on rising. Our guests are decreasing and if this continues then we will be destroyed.”
“They can’t even stop the rebels yet they want to conquer the continent. Incompetent n.o.ble b.a.s.t.a.r.ds.”
“Doesn’t it make sense for goods from the rural areas to be cheaper? I squeeze them as much as possible but they won’t go lower.”
“I have to make money at the market, huhuhu. It is good to have luxury goods. I don’t care where it was looted from. In fact, who cares about facts like that anymore?”
The merchants at the capital’s markets were dissatisfied with the trades.
Ma.s.sive discontent piled up among the merchants and residents. It was difficult to do business in the Tullen and Kallamore territories in the Haven Empire.
“Isn’t there a lack of food in these days? Recently there is also a shortage of materials. I blame the rebels but I can’t hate them. The empire brought this on itself.”
“There are still unsold clothes and weapons. People aren’t willing to use money.”
“The quality of the crops from the north are excellent but it is regrettable that they can no longer be traded. Wine and dried fruits. Among my customers, there are many who would dump money for those products.”
“Swords made by blacksmiths? They are difficult to obtain. All the blacksmiths have quit.”
In response to the empire, production and technicians like blacksmiths and farmers were reduced and trade dwindled.
It was worse after the failure of the northern invasion and collapse of the Haven Empire’s Imperial Palace.
Overall, there was a severe economic downturn.
The phenomenon occurred simultaneously in the occupied territories. The users also lost motivation due to the expensive taxes.
“Go hunting? Let’s just go play.”
“An order? How annoying. I’m going to sleep.”
The jobless just played around.
There was a rising trend of users doing nothing.
“I don’t have enough money.”
They just lay on the roof of buildings around the squares, soaking up the sunlight.
Some users became aware of the situation in the Haven Empire and quickly sold their farmland or homes.
The merchant users reduced their activities. Rebels purchased mercenaries from other areas at expensive prices but they still received a profit.
All the users in the Central Continent started feeling alarmed.
Then residents started receiving supplies of food, herbs, minerals etc. The goods were more expensive than before but the Haven Empire was just happy about being fed. The middle cla.s.s and n.o.bles also wanted pottery, wine, clothes and art.
“I will often trade with you in the future. Please come again.”
“Of course. We will have any goods you need. For a premium.”
|-The emergency supplies quest has been perfectly performed.
You have a 12.32% contribution to the market.
Like a comet that appeared out of the blue! Many materials started being brought into the markets of the Haven Empire.
“I believe in nothing in this world.”
Lee Hyun thought as he browsed the internet. There were lively discussions about Weed’s bounty on Royal Road’s website.
-That is a tremendous amount for Royal Road. Is the Hermes Guild serious?
-A fortune can be earned.
-Fortune hunters…I will act ruthlessly!
Lee Hyun grunted.
No matter how much people disliked the Hermes Guild, they would cooperate if there is something in return for them.
He couldn’t blame them. The price from the Hermes Guild was enough for Lee Hyun himself to take action.
“Still, people aren’t loyal.”
This time, he looked at the Dark Gamers Union.
t.i.tle: The best chance for gamers who want to retire!
Recruiting partic.i.p.ants for Weed hunting. The current capacity is 240 people. I am only taking up to 300 people.
t.i.tle: It will take too long to earn money from j.a.ptem and quests. Equipment prices have fallen these days so we should go after the large sum of money.
“Kuoh, these guys as well…”
The bounty was so high that people gathered together to hunt Lee Hyun’s character.
However, he wouldn’t be such easy prey.
Meeting at dungeons or hunting grounds were rare. He was alert to tricks from the spectators even when fighting.
The north was flooded with friendly users so he could rest a.s.sured in large cities like Morata.
The few bounty hunters that attempted it would be overwhelmed by Weed. Of course, if he summoned Van Hawk and Torido then he could repel them with no difficulties.
It would be tough if he met the Dark Gamers who had high levels but they wouldn’t easily move. If they failed then they would lose levels and skill proficiency.
That viewpoint of the Dark Gamers didn’t change even with the bounty.
Thanks to the dictators.h.i.+p of the Hermes Guild, the role of the Dark Gamers in Royal Road was sharply reduced.
Some Dark Gamers settled in the Arpen Kingdom and contributed their knowledge, adventures and to the economy. Many of them also helped in the war against the Haven Empire.
“It will become much harder to move around. I need to use Sculpture Transformation and be careful in the future.”
Lee Hyun looked through the information boards of the Dark Gamers Union.
He a.n.a.lyzed the geography of the Versailles Continent, quests and the forces of the lords of the Haven Empire.
He was much more cautious when making a decision about the hunting grounds.
“I need to choose a time and place where I will gave a great advantage. Maximize the hit and run tactics and the power of sculpting…”
The wide Central Continent. He could target any area with the wyverns.
Formos Castle hadn’t been his target from the beginning but the opportunity had been too good.
He quickly changed his plan and ate it up with the rebels and his necromancy skills. A situation where he gained a jackpot!
“Formos Castle was an incredible offering. Well, I just need to be alert for murderers and a.s.sa.s.sins when hunting in dungeons…the situation hasn’t changed that much. There is a saying that people will be forever removing water from a boat.”
If they kept fighting the rebels then the golden age of the Haven Empire wouldn’t come back.
“Grab someone big. A genuinely big guy who isn’t easy.”
Lee Hyun decided on the Myul Griffon Knights as his next target.
The griffin knights were one of the most powerful forces in the Haven Empire’s army. There were only 5,000 of them but their strategic value was terrific.
The steel knights flying on griffins in the sky would end up fighting the avians. They were known for being invincible in battle and overwhelmingly annihilating the enemies.
Right now they were maintaining security in the unstable region of the Gradian and Nest Kingdoms.
“If I get rid of them then it will be hard to recover. Then I will try it.”
A variety of tricks and schemes pa.s.sed through his head.
Of course, he secretly contacted KMC Media beforehand. He didn’t tell them any specific information but gave a request to set aside some airtime.
Lee Hyun went to the market after a long time.
“Some prawns please.”
“How many? Today a lot came at dawn.”
“The big ones. Don’t worry about the price. Give the freshest ones as they will be fried.”
“Oh, it must be a big deal.”
Instead of his usual frozen crab soup, he bought 50,000 won worth of fish, prawns and octopuses.
“Ingredients for seafood soup.”
He also bought 40,000 won worth of beef. And 20,000 won worth of pork belly.
At this point, the store owners looked at Lee Hyun with concerned eyes.
“Are you really spending all that money?”
“Is something happening at home?”
“I don’t know whether or not I will hear news about you. Something like a last supper before dying…”
It was understandable that there would be a misunderstanding since he hardly ever used money.
Lee Hyun was a VIP at going to convenience stores and eating kimbap and burgers just past the expiry date for free.
Lee Hyun’s fingers trembled like a drug addict as he bought things at the market.
“Spending this much on a meal…”
He was buying a bunch of fresh ingredients for dinner with Seo-yoon.
It took a long time before his relations.h.i.+p with her deepened.
There were some misunderstandings about not being worthy of Seo-yoon and he deliberately hid his heart.
In reality, Lee Hyun was just a poor gamer. He had to pay the costs of living, monthly rent and bills and he had his own pride.
A man’s qualifications! He thought she would meet a greater man.
But Lee Hyun’s thoughts had changed a lot from the past. Now he didn’t think he was lacking compared to others due to money.
“I can now buy Nike socks or ripped jeans.”
In the old days, he had one pair of jeans for summer, autumn, winter and spring. The jeans became so worn that the knees had large holes.
In the past, he thought it was a nightmare to buy 200 won more expensive salt or honey.
He also knew that she wouldn’t easily change her mind!
“It will be fun in the future.”
Lee Hyun planned a delicious meal in the evening and then he would read a poem he wrote for her.
He wrote the poem while travelling the Versailles Continent and making sculptures. To be honest, he wasn’t a poet but he thought it was great.
[I like you
Walking the cold, dark streets alone
I lived every day like an uncle from the post office until I met you.
You turned on the lights in my life like a broadcast
My warm heart is like an electric blanket in winter or a burning gas boiler
My eyes would like to see you
More than the latest 75 inch LED television
My ears want to hear your whispers
Sharper than a Dolby surround sound home theater
I would apply for unlimited voice calls to talk to you every day
My heart towards you is clearer than an air purifier
Purer than a water purifier
Cleaner than a cyclone vacuum cleaner
But not exaggerated as home shopping advertis.e.m.e.nts or fanciful as decorated restaurants
As rea.s.suring as an electric rice cooker
A heart as hot as a frying pan over a gas oven.]
Unlike the metaphorical poems, this was a straightforward poem. Perhaps it was as good as a large retail store.
Lee Hyun thought it was unfortunate.
“I should modify it a little bit. Large homes in Korea…”
He would be happy to live at home with some children.
Lee Hyun was walking with bags in both hands when he saw an old man walking a dog.
Jeong Deuk-soo. Seo-yoon’s father.
Their eyes met.
“Hum hum hum!”
‘It is difficult. Last time he told me to stay good friends or break up…how should I answer?’
‘Meeting him here. I was just taking a walk because the weather is good. I’m not ready for a conversation. Well, I need to answer.’
Lee Hyun and Jeong Deuk-soo sat down on a bench in the park.
They needed to speak to each other but the uncomfortable situation made it hard to say any words.
Lee Hyun’s heart was heavy because the other person was Seo-yoon’s father. They weren’t friendly so he didn’t know what to say first. It was difficult to imagine talking to someone with ma.s.sive wealth, power or fame.
But Jeong Deuk-soo’s status as the chairman of his group was gone.
‘He will be my father-in-law in the future. It will be difficult if he isn’t pleased.’
‘Will he criticize me for trying to give him money last time? Does he know the Hosung Group is shattered?’
They were each concerned about different things.
Lee Hyun had some idea about the circ.u.mstances of Hosung Group.
Hosung Group’s financial difficulties were on the news for a while so he noticed even when he was busy in Royal Road. Hosung Group went completely bankrupt and there were a large number of unemployed. However, the temporary difficulties were settled quickly with the bank’s financial support.
‘Does he know I am meeting with her? Last time I saw him was during the battle at Earth Palace.’
‘This guy has a large presence in Royal Road. He frequently appears on broadcast. Last time I ignored it as well. Ah…does he remember that moment at the Earth Palace? It will be good if he doesn’t have keen eyes. It isn’t sure.’
Lee Hyun and Jeong Deuk-soo sat down for 30 minutes just watching each other.
Tweet tweet tweet!
Sparrows and pigeons flew around the park while young children wearing backpacks played after finis.h.i.+ng school.
It was too hard to say anything!
Seo-yoon and the dignity of both men made it hard.
From Jeong Deuk-soo’s perspective, the other side was more oppressive. He had talked about breaking up with Lee Hyun and was also worried about his daughter.
In the viewpoint of the father, an ordinary person like Lee Hyun wasn’t good enough for his beautiful and precious daughter.
His thoughts were still similar but he heard a lot about Lee Hyun while living nearby. He had already heard about Lee Hyun while signing his contract with the real estate agent.
“He has a lot of tricks. Usually they would be playing and drinking at that age…he is only interested in money. He already bought some land near here.”
“A land beyond the park that is 1,500 square metres. It is a great deal as the area is likely to be redeveloped within 20 years. There is no need to spend money buying apartments…there is also a chance of malls appearing. There is also an underground subway station. He moved quickly.”
The master of the land speculation!
He saved money from delivering milk and newspapers and kept an eye on land he would buy in the future. And he moved rapidly.
Jeong Deok-soo even asked about Lee Hyun at the local supermarkets and restaurants.
“That young man…I’m not sure why you are asking, hu…my daughter told me about a bad incident that occurred when she attended high school.”
“What is it?”
“He chased after his younger sister who was on a motorcycle with another man.”
“He caught them. His limbs were broken and his sister came to her senses.”
“…Was he alone?”
“He has been since he was young. And there is no one in this neighbourhood who will mess with that young man. You should know this if you continue to live in the neighbourhood.”
Even the elderly people drinking rice wine gossiped about Lee Hyun.
“A wonderful young man…”
“A good and diligent young man. The way a man should be.”
Even the elderly weren’t free from Lee Hyun’s influence. They spent a long time in this neighbourhood and refused to care for strangers.
But Lee Hyun’s grandmother had cheerfully grown up here. Furthermore, Lee Hyun would give holiday bonuses to the elderly once he actually started earning money. Based on that, they cared about him despite his young age.
He knew information about Lee Hyun through the gossip and broadcasts.
‘A scary guy. He has the temperament of a politician. My daughter is attracted to a man like that.’
Jeong Deuk-soo decided to allow his friends.h.i.+p with Seo-yoon. He didn’t want his relations.h.i.+p with Seo-yoon to worsen by opposing it.
Seo-yoon’s expression was also very bright so he didn’t have the justification to oppose it.
‘I just wish they remain as good friends. These days, people always love once or twice before settling down. If would be good if she marries someone really nice later.’
Jeong Deuk-soo decided to speak first.
“My daughter is doing well?”
“Yes. I’m sorry about your business.”
“No. It is my fault for not handling the money properly. It is my mistake for caring too much about the people under me.”
“It is okay. I understand your position.”
There was a period of silence once again. Jeong Deuk-soo gazed at the shopping bags Lee Hyun was carrying.
“It seems like you went to the market.”
“Yes. I am preparing for dinner.”
“That is quite a lot of seafood.”
“Seo-yoon likes seafood soup. We are having dinner this evening.”
“You are having dinner together?”
“What? You are eating at home? Alone?”
“T-that’s right. Although sometimes my sister likes to eat with us.”
Silence once again.
The hardest part for a father was no meddling with his child’s love. He had to be careful.
But he felt upset after hearing this.
Lee Hyun noticed these feelings and carefully said.
“You seem bothered so should I cancel the dinner?”
“No. There is no need to do so in today’s world. Do I seem that outdated about relations.h.i.+ps between men and women?”
“Of course not.”
“Don’t mind me.”
“Then…there is enough food so would you like to come for dinner?”
Jeong Deuk-soo really wanted to eat dinner together. Eating dinner with his daughter and her boyfriend. Any parent with a daughter would want to be there.
Lee Hyun and Seo-yoon’s yard was large so they could grill so meat and talk all evening.
Despite it being large and flashy, he didn’t want to return to his empty home. Unlike when he was busy as a chairman, none of his friends came to visit anymore. He lived a reclusive life at home while accessing Royal Road.
“Well, I have already eaten.”
“I see. It is unfortunate but it can’t be helped.”
Jeong Deuk-soo suddenly coughed.
‘You stupid b.a.s.t.a.r.d! Know the basic courtesies. You should offer twice.’
However, he was trying to be friendly to his daughter’s friend.
Jeong Deuk-soo had been the chairman of a large group and now his head was busy thinking.
‘I need to be friends with him. It is for the sake of improving relations with my daughter. Gradually over time…huhuhu.’
Then Lee Hyun said.
“But I think I saw you in Royal Road…were you wearing a merchant’s outfit?”
“No way…I would remember meeting you. Huhuhu. I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“He looked the same. The chin was a little more fleshy and the belly stuck out a bit more than you.”
“That is a good joke. Am I a person who seems like a joke?”
“Of course not.”
Jeong Deuk-soo had a cold sweat.
He hadn’t been so nervous even when kicked out of his company. But he couldn’t show it.
Bart the merchant was no comparison to Weed, the G.o.d of War, in Royal Road.
The dignity of men was really subtle and complex.
“Young friend, you have dark bags under your eyes. That absolutely isn’t me.”
“Ah, indeed. He was wearing outdated merchant’s clothes. It means the accounting skills are high but beginner’s luck is likely to run out…”
“How likely? Ah, that’s why I failed the bargain. So unfair!”
Lee Hyun and Jeong Deuk-soo simultaneously turned to look at the park.
‘It was correct.’
‘No, this guy?’
Weed once again accessed Royal Road.
The target was the Myul Griffin Knights!
“They are prey that I need to catch properly.”
He knew from experience what would happen if he touched the prestigious guilds.
‘They have suffered a few blows so won’t they now make a trap to catch me?’
Weed calculated the areas that were likely to have a high number of Hermes Guild users waiting.
It was setting a mousetrap and waiting to attack.
He had some insight into Lafaye’s tricks.
Dozens of users would be hidden in corners of famous dungeons in order to launch attacks. He was always in extreme danger when walking inside the Central Continent.
Weed came out with an idea.
‘Obviously they are waiting in many places. There will be a very large profit if they catch me. But rather than appearing in those places, shouldn’t I attack somewhere empty?’
Weed didn’t think about attacking little known locations or low value targets.
He could dedicate himself to hunting and quests in the north.
However, he now had seven days left for the deadline of the dragon quest. The quest might simply end with the delivery but it could also lead to a larger target.
‘The Myul Knights will be sacrificed. Even the Hermes Guild would shrink back at such damage.’
They would become conscious of Weed. They wouldn’t feel completely free even while hunting, doing quests or cutting down the rebels.
A small harvest would lead to a large profit.
Apart from the profit, he would also be breaking down the perception of absolute strength that the Hermes Guild had.
Following Deckard and the Formos Castle, the Myul Knights would be the best offering. The Hermes Guild wouldn’t be prepared.
“An elite troop of the Haven Empire. And the knight Myul who has immense individual abilities. It will be difficult to catch the griffins in a trap. But that doesn’t mean there are no vulnerable gaps. It will be fun to show them.”
Weed used Yurin to move through the Gradian Kingdom.
The Gradian Kingdom was filled with forests and mountains.
There were also elves and species with rare attributes.
Due to the environmental attributes, the kingdom had once been controlled by the Black Sword Mercenaries.
“We are continuing to receive damage in the front. While maintaining the guerilla warfare…let’s constantly damage the empire.”
Michel who was the leader of the Black Sword Mercenaries commanded.
They weren’t trying to regain the Gradian and Nest Kingdoms from the Haven Empire.
Instead they were looting supplies and damaging the army.
If the Haven Empire weakened then a chance would come one day.
Half the forces of the Black Sword Mercenaries were comprised of mercenaries persecuted by the Haven Empire.
However, Michel of the Black Sword Mercenaries secretly received a letter.
“Weed, the G.o.d of War?”
He received the letter through Carlise of the Black Lion Guild.
Weed had met up with some Black Lion Guild users at Formos Castle and wrote a letter to Michel through them.
The sealed envelope wasn’t tampered with and the contents written were huge.
[The night of the full moon.
Lead an army to invade Node Krape.
I will give you a steamed dish.]
It was short so he quickly read to the end. But he did not understand.
“This is…a pa.s.sword?”
He turned the letter upside down and read the sentences separately. He even soaked it in water and contemplated burning it but didn’t find anything.
“The troops of the Black Sword Mercenaries…”
Weed’s actions were absurd.
Hegel of the Black Lion Guild was the one who brought the letter so Michel asked him.
“Did Weed really send this letter?”
“Yes, that’s right. Oh, it is suspicious.”
“The letter might be a trap by the Hermes Guild.”
Hegel laughed like it was ludicrous.
“Heh, Weed is someone I personally know very well. You don’t have to be concerned about him.”
“Uhh, then I can trust it.”
Hegel had a solid presence in the Black Lion Guild. It would be better if less people knew about this.
Carlise of the Black Lion Guild also gave an a.s.surance that the letter was written directly by Weed.
Hegel then asked.
“But are you really going to invade Node Krape? It will be tough to succeed.”
Node Krape was a fortress built on a cliff!
It was situated to the north of Gradian Kingdom’s Royal Palace and the lord used it to govern the area.
A ma.s.sive number of Haven Empire troops were placed here and it was a great fortress.
When the Haven Empire tried to conquer the Gradian Kingdom, the Black Sword Mercenaries at Node Krape had been able to withstand the enemy for four days.
The Gradian territory was unstable right now but it would still be reckless.
Michel also thought it was ridiculous.
‘Telling me to invade without any prior explanation or even a discussion?’
He should persuade me with a reasonable plan!
From the perspective of the Black Sword Mercenaries, it would be better to reject the proposal.
However, Michel was attracted to the idea of attacking Node Krape.
The Hermes Guild had built up significant achievements but the prestigious guilds couldn’t destroy them.
So far, Weed was the only one capable of damaging them.
Weed knocked down the Hermes Guild so that alone was worthy of respect.
‘And actions speak louder than words. That person is unbelievable. Looking at Weed’s recent actions against the Hermes Guild, it wouldn’t be impossible if we conspire with him.’
His thoughts continued.
‘The Hermes Guild is too strong. Right now I can’t defeat them. We don’t have a base. There is a long way to go if we keep doing damage through guerilla warfare. An opportunity. Yes, I should take this opportunity now that it has come.’
Michel nodded to the dubious Hegel.
“Of course we are going to invade.”
“Really? How did you make that decision?”
Michel once again looked at Weed’s short letter.
The feeling like he knew something.
He believed that Weed would make the right call. A variety of persuasive comments weren’t necessary.
His brusque words revealed a confidence.
“The day will come when you lead a large group. And you will learn to think differently from ordinary people.”
Michel’s intense gaze turned to Hegel.
The members of the Black Sword Mercenaries looked down on Hegel. He was an acquaintance of Weed but couldn’t compare to Michel’s position.
But he respectfully bowed his head.
“I understand what you mean.”
“Thank you for understanding. If you continue to grow then someday you will stand shoulder to shoulder with me.”
Weed didn’t think seriously of it after sending a letter to the Black Sword Mercenaries.
“Surely they will come? They aren’t fools.”
The letter had been safely delivered to the Black Sword Mercenaries but he was sure they were convinced.
He continued on with his actions.
They could achieve victory.
It was impossible to guarantee victory without a specific plan against the griffin knights.
The griffins could spread their wings and win against a bunch of troops.
The Myul Knights would move if there were any circ.u.mstances that would harm the Haven Empire.
Weed searched through the internet and finished his survey of their equipment.
“A dragon’s helmet inlaid with 999 sapphires? A sealed thunder spear for ranged attacks and the performance hasn’t been revealed yet?”
They were covered in treasures from head to toe.
There were swords, s.h.i.+elds and high elf’s bows that could be sold for the highest prices at auctions.
The knights riding the griffins owned some of the best equipment.
“Is there more equipment not revealed to the public?”
Myul was a killer knight.
If he died then he was likely to drop one or two good gear.
“Hit them unconditionally. There are large labour costs.”
Weed thought it was sufficient to make a move.
“Then I will attack on the 15th.”
I asked to meet with the rebels on the day of the full moon.
He made the offer to the Black Sword Mercenaries but his plan didn’t rely on them.
Weed’s plan was relatively simple.
‘Look at the situation and attack! And gain a treasure.’
Rather than expecting the Black Sword Mercenaries to overwhelm the enemy with military strength, he held his real strategy close to his chest.
It was finally the full moon.
“Execute all the rebels!”
The revolt that occurred in the Gradian area! Rebels have entered a battle against the Haven Empire. Rebels simultaneously attacked cities and villages.
The Myul Griffin troops flew from Node Krape to support each city.
The Black Sword Mercenaries hiding in the dark forest was delighted.
“Amazing. Preparing this…”
The members were filled with admiration.
Michel said towards an aide.
“This might have started in Weed’s head but we will be the ones finis.h.i.+ng it. We will enter the gates…”
“There won’t be any problems?”
“That’s right. Our role is to regain Node Krape. This will ensure that we can lay claim on the Gradian Kingdom.”
“I think so as well. Weed will be used as a stepping stone to fight against the Haven Empire.”
“Ohh, such a huge plan…”
“Weed is amazing but Michel’s insight is much greater.”
“Well, it all depends on our ability to occupy Node Krape.”
Despite the rugged terrain, Gradian Kingdom was the best position to defend the Central Continent against the west.
Michel and the other players would consider this when actively partic.i.p.ating in battle.
‘Weed will attack numerous cities on the Central Continent for nothing.’
‘G.o.d of War. A really extraordinary strategy. But we have also read your thoughts. Shall I give you the bridesmaid role?’
‘It is inevitable that we will devour the throne.’
The Black Sword Mercenaries silently moved out from the bushes. They waited for the troops to move away from Node Krape!
After approximately 1 hour, the mercenaries raised their bodies up from the ground.
The walls of Node Krape were 40 metres high. It was difficult to secretly arrange for siege weapons but they figured out every nook and cranny of the fortress.
“Infiltrate the sewers.”
“There is already a spot in the kitchen.”
“The south valley?”
“80 people have entered using the emergency pa.s.sage.”
“Good. Send a signal to the troops to strike at once!”
A red flare appeared over Node Krape.
“Sweep up the Haven Empire.”
“The Black Sword Mercenaries have returned. Cut off their heads!”
“Crush the warriors in the lead. Follow me!”
A midnight siege!
Magic lanterns at the walls and gates turned on as the Black Sword Mercenaries launched an attack on Node Krape.
It was like the Haven Empire had been waiting for them as a fight immediately broke out.