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"Lauel put us on hold, and you really summoned us. We roughly know the situation," a tanned beauty holding a bow spoke up. She drew three arrows which flickered with flames that were as gorgeous as her big lips and wavy hair.
"Leave the small fries to us." Jishuka smiled confidently and unleashed archery close to a G.o.dly archer. The three flaming arrows were shot without a time difference and arrived precisely at the middle of Dias' eyes, brows, and heart.
Dias and the dozens of elves he'd captured were surprised.
'To think that a person who isn't an elf is capable of this sort of archery?'
The arrows shot like beams of light and exploded the moment they hit, dealing Dias with deep wounds. Dias flew back, but Chris rushed to the wide open Dias and swung his greatsword.
"Daring to hit Grid without permission!!" Chris thought that everything should have a process. If someone was going to challenge King Grid, they had to demonstrate their qualification by going through Chris first! Chris' greatsword struck Dias! Following this, Dias continued to suffer great damage as he was. .h.i.t by Regas and Pon. The intense skills made Dias feel dizzy.
"Jude. Hit." Then the finis.h.i.+ng blow came from Jude, whose attack aimed at the ragged Dias. However, it only cut the air.
"...???" What was this sudden trolling? The group was stunned because they had expected Jude to finish off Dias.
Chris acted on behalf of Jude. "1,000 ton Sword!"
It was a heavy blow! Then Dias started turning gray.
"What is this?" The party paused as they were heading to support Grid. It was because they didn't receive messages about Dias' death, as well as the experience and dropped items.
'What?' The party was confused. Jude was the only one who was untroubled and didn't look surprised. Then a voice rang out from behind Jishuka. It was the voice of the supposedly dead Dias, who had reappeared without a single wound and shook his head. "I guess Master caused a terrible incident. I told him to stop but he touched a lion's nose. Tsk!"
Chris hurriedly exclaimed, "Jishuka! Avoid it!"
However, it was too late. Dias' black hand penetrated Jishuka's armor, tearing at her skin and muscles.
[You have suffered 12,390 damage!]
[You are affected by black magic. Your pain is maximized.]
[You have suffered a further 5,700 damage!]
[The recovery of all resources has slowed. Defense and resistance have dropped. Skills and magic can't be used for 3 seconds!]
The attack was strong.
"Cough!" Jishuka became alarmed as she was stabbed and severely injured.
'Grid dealt with these monsters alone?'
This was a natural misunderstanding! Dias opened the distance again as Regas' late kick and Pon's stab burst into the air instead of hitting him. He narrowly avoided their attacks in a breathtaking manner! Letting out an exaggerated sigh of relief, Dias looked at Phou and Grid. "It's ruined. No matter how I looked at it, there is no chance of turning this around."
The Overgeared King and his knights were better than rumored. This situation was dangerous for him to face just by himself. So, Dias made a judgment. It might be possible in a one-on-one fight against Grid or his knights, but it was impossible to go against them all. In particular, the stupid-looking knight with a silly expression was a problem. "Jude. Kill."
'My illusion magic doesn't work on him. Is his stupid expression mocking me?' Dias blocked the greatsword that aimed at him. He couldn't cope with the weight of the sword and hurriedly withdrew his arm, while Jude kept turning left and right.
Jude's power was incredible! Dias' illusion was shaken from side to side and removed.
The gazes of the other members, which were in a completely different direction from Jude, s.h.i.+fted to Dias' body at once. Dias was frustrated. "I didn't think my illusion would be broken so soon."
It was the first time he had ever experienced this. Dias had played an active role in the Violet Kingdom and faced countless powerful players, but he had never experienced such a grave crisis. He saw Jude as a transcendent person. "You are the Overgeared King's first knight for a reason."
"Jude. His Majesty's first knight!" Jude's greatsword didn't stop for even a moment as he continued to corner Dias. Jude had been growing ever since he became Grid's knight. He had been breaking his limits over and over, having fought Maxong and then becoming stronger during the Belial raid. Now, he was in the spotlight for the third time.
Dias tried to fight back and resist. His magic blocked Jude's greatsword and aimed at Jude's abdomen a few times. However, Jishuka's rain of arrows flew over Jude, making his counterattack pointless. As more arrows were shot, Dias' wounds increased while Jude healed.
Meanwhile, Chris, Pon, and Regas worked with Jude to add more pressure onto Dias. Dias was knocked to his knees and cried out with pain. He coughed up blood and asked, "The battle gear you use... Were they produced by the Overgeared King? Precious memories—stories that will become history and legends—are contained in these solid objects, right?"
Yes, there was nothing insignificant in the world. Dias wanted to convey it, "We all have our unique circ.u.mstances. I have somehow become a villain, but there are many stories where I'm not a monster. I had a special power and had a terrible life because I was born as a hybrid. Then I met my master..."
What did Dias want to say? The named NPCs' long tirade entered the ears of Chris' group. Thinking it was the precursor of a quest, everyone focused on Dias. This was apart from Jude, who struggled in Regas' and Pon's constraints while everyone listened to Dias.
However, Dias didn't give them a quest. He just asked for a favor, "I hope you don't hate my master too much. He wasn't a wicked person in the beginning."
It was the same for players, NPCs, and monsters. Everyone had a story. As such, the last wish that Dias wanted to convey was for his master's safety. When Dias finished speaking, he moved his fingers.
Some of the surrounding trees turned into elves. No, to be precise, they were changed back into elves. This was the reason why Phou was still hungry despite frequently eating elves.
"That Phou, he is currently on an empty stomach. The satiety he feels is due to my illusions. But this will soon be released, and he won't be able to fight for long." Dias looked sympathetically at Phou whom Grid was. .h.i.tting one-sidedly.
Jishuka asked, "What is your reason for saving the elves?"
"I am also an apostle of justice."
"Kukuk, I'm joking. I will say it bluntly. I helped my master, not the elves."
Yes, he had protected the elves because he hadn't wanted to see his master's 'goods' damaged. Everything was for the sake of his master. His master had never given all his heart to Dias, but the grace Kir had offered to his knights on the first day had been real.
"I do feel a bit of anger toward my master but..." Dias extended his neck to the struggling Jude, who was still being held back by Regas and Pon. He wanted his end to come from the strongest knight who defeated him.
"W-Wait a minute." Jishuka tried to stop Jude because she felt reluctant to kill Dias. Chris, Pon, and Regas also looked troubled. However, Jude was adamant. He barely shrugged off Regas and Pon and then swung his greatsword at Dias' neck without hesitation. "Waste of time. No. His Majesty. Help. I will."
A gray pillar shot up, then Jude immediately headed to Grid. Once Dias died and his illusions were completely removed, Phou fell into a terrible state of hunger and went berserk. He swung his big hands at Grid continuously.
"Jude! Help!" Only looking at Grid and only thinking about Grid... No, he was a thoughtless knight. Jude broke through his third limit after killing Dias and acted, but it was too late.
"Linked Kill Wave Pinnacle!"
"Kuwaaah!" Phou had become berserk and only focused on attacking. This was a mistake. He wasn't aware of the damage he received from the s.h.i.+eld and the poisonous fog of Valhalla of Infinite Affection, and he didn't bother to block or avoid Grid's attack either.
The fight was over. Unable to endure Linked Kill Wave Pinnacle which had activated twice due to G.o.d's Command, Phou turned to gray.
Jude's eyes lit up when he arrived at Grid's side belatedly. "Your Majesty. Cool!"
"..." Kir's stamina was depleted because he hadn't been able to rest for a while after entering the forest.
Pero, the unicorn, licked Kir who looked haggard and drained. The unicorn's clear eyes contained feelings of deep affection and anxiety, but these emotions weren't delivered to Kir. From Kir's point of view, pets were just chunks of graphics and artificial intelligence.
"Tch." Kir wiped away the saliva on his cheek like it was dirt and s.h.i.+fted his gaze to see Faker standing silently nearby. This made Kir sincerely curious.
"Why are you so relentless? Is there any meaning in killing me? What does the Overgeared Kingdom gain if I lose items and experience?" Kir grumbled despite already knowing the reason why. Satisfy was a compet.i.tive society like in reality. It was natural for players to keep other players in check. Let's suppose that they let Kir go. One day, he might have an impact comparable to Grid, and when that happened, he was likely to threaten Grid.
"s.h.i.+t… Dammit." Kir understood why Grid was obsessed with killing him. Now that he was a target, Kir's fate was inevitable. He would suffer enormous damages from the moment he started dancing on Grid's palm. However, even so...
"It will be a mistake if you think this will end so easily."
His stamina was slowly recovering thanks to the unicorn's blessing. Kir overcame his exhaustion and held a gla.s.s bottle to Beniyaru's mouth, who was still trapped in his arms. The bottle was filled with a black liquid.
"The Yatan Essence. If she swallows this much, even a named NPC will die instantly. Understand? I absolutely won't die alone." Beniyaru was the one Grid had called out to, and she had asked Grid for help. As such, Kir speculated that there was a special link between Kir and Beniyaru and that Beniyaru's death would be a significant blow to Grid. "I won't lose everything alone. Isn't that right?"
"It isn't right."
While he was chuckling wickedly, Kir stopped with surprise. "...!"
He got gooseb.u.mps as a G.o.d Hand flew toward him and swung a hammer.
"Urgh!" Kir became stiff due to the hammer! Grid used that moment to take Beniyaru away. Kir gritted his teeth. Feeling that he was obviously the victim, the hatred and anger in his voice were genuine as he said, "You! How much do you want to take from me?"
Grid asked in return, "How much do you have to take away from the elves?"
"What?" Kir was speechless. He was taken aback by the question since he now completely understood the feelings of a victim. Grid ignored the silent Kir and looked at Beniyaru. Did she want to get away from reality? Having blocked off her emotions and thoughts, Beniyaru looked like an empty doll.
"She... What have the elves done that they have to suffer like this?"
"..." The present Kir couldn't answer that. Grid aimed at Kir and was about to hit his neck. However, at this moment, Huroi ran over urgently and whispered in Grid's ears, "Master, the horse he is riding is a unicorn."
Take away a pet? What was this? Pets were different from items. Players didn't have to worry about losing pets when dying because the owners.h.i.+p of a pet was fully guaranteed.
"There is a way. Owners.h.i.+p can be transferred over."
"No, what are you saying?" Grid frowned. He couldn't understand Huroi at all. "Why would that b.a.s.t.a.r.d transfer his pet to me?"
"In exchange for sparing him..."
Everyone's eyes were focused on the scene of Huroi whispering in Grid's ears. The people didn't know what they were talking about, so they soon got a shock.
"Kir, do you want to live?" It was due to Grid's sudden offer.
"What? You will spare me?" Kir was also confused.
Grid nodded at the suspicious Kir. "Yes. I'll spare you. Didn't you spend a lot of money on the elves this time? If you die here, won't you lose your ranking and have trouble with future transactions?"
It made a lot of sense, so Kir didn't deny it. He thought about it and immediately noticed the catch because he was a merchant. "What do you want in return for sparing me?"
Grid pointed to the unicorn in response. "That."
"Crazy jerk!" Kir's angry reaction was natural. The value of a unicorn was so great that it couldn't be converted into money! Kir calculated that no one had a unicorn as a pet. He would rather die than give up something so precious. Just when Kir was about to refuse the proposal without hesitation, Grid said, "Think carefully before answering. If you make a mistake, I will be an enemy you can never get rid of."
Gulp! Chills went down Kir's spine. He was well aware of what Immortal had suffered recently. Could one merchant cope with the Overgeared Kingdom that not even Immortal could handle? Realistically, it was hard. The protection of the empire might've prevented Immortal from being raided by those who are tempted by the items, but it was impossible for other ordinary players to deal with. He could become the target of two billion people! Kir imagined something terrible and shook his head.
Grid didn't give Kir a chance to think too deeply. "Give me the unicorn. Then I will spare your life without giving you a death bounty."
"You will really spare me? You won't set a kill order on me?"
"Yes. Instead, I will kill you the next time we meet. I really dislike you. Be careful not to encounter me again for the rest of your life."
Grid had the trinity of money, strength, and authority. The force he could gather using his items as raw material was infinite. All these made Kir afraid of Grid, and he was convinced that it was best to accept Grid's offer. In the end...
[Owners.h.i.+p of the unicorn 'Pero' has been transferred to 'Grid.']
Kir agreed to Grid's request. This was a decision for his future.
"...Can I go now?" Kir asked in a powerless voice.
Grid nodded. "Yes. Go."
Kir had lost time, money, pride, and his unicorn. However, his eyes were overflowing with motivation.
'Definitely... I will someday repay today's disgrace.'
It might not be possible in one or two years. However, the story would change in four or five years. Kir would successfully recover under the aegis of the empire as planned. He would build up an alliance around the Gauss Kingdom and get revenge on Grid one thousand—no, tens of thousands of times. Kir believed that if he had more strength and authority, he would be able to do something about Grid.
However, this faith was soon broken.
"Did you forget my warning? Didn't I tell you not to meet me?"
"What?" Kir had walked for around 20 minutes and was shocked when he suddenly heard a voice. He raised his head to see Grid blocking the way on a white unicorn.
"W-What is this? It can't be!"
Was the top-ranked player such a gangster? No, it was impossible. Grid pointed a knife at Kir who was denying his imagination.
"I told you I would kill you again. Didn't I tell you to be careful?"
"Y-You son of a b.i.t.c.h!"
Grid was a villain—no, a scoundrel... No, a gangster. Kir paled as he belatedly realized Grid's essence and shouted, "Knights Summoning!"
It wasn't the time to cling to the elves. He had to take down Grid today! Kir summoned his three knights...
"What?" Kir lost his soul.
It was due to an unexpected notification window.
[No knights are available to be summoned.]
"D-Don't tell me...?"
"The unicorn is good."
Kir, who had transformed the forest of the world tree into h.e.l.l, turned to gray. This was the precursor to the fall of the Merchant King. That's right. Kir thought he had lost everything to Grid today, but it was only an illusion. He still had things left to lose—the trading connections he had all over the continent.
[The unicorn is sad.]
[Affinity with the unicorn is very low.]
[It is recommended to give the unicorn a new name.]
[Affinity with the elves has increased by 50.]
[The world tree is interested in you.]
[The world tree has sent you an invitation.]