< Episode 6. Neglected Cut Medical Saint (3) >
Of the 12 zones in the《The Great Lands》, the 5th zone 'Steel Zone' gets its name from being completely covered in steel.
Of the various poets in the《Great Lands》, many of them have left behind some interesting verses to express their thoughts about the Steel Zone.
Stones are also steel.
Trees are also steel.
Grass is also steel.
Even their hearts are steel.
My eyes spill tears.
—Euphrates', 'Women in the Steel Zone’
Although it was a bit of an exaggeration, that poem wasn't exactly wrong. The abundance of steel in the 5th zone made it so that metalworking with steel became common everywhere. There were many craftsmen who wished to get their names out in the《Great Lands》, so they all flocked to the 5th Zone where crafting materials were abundant. Those were what the busybodies said about the 5th Zone.
一It wouldn't be wrong to call it the home of weapons.
As more and more famous workshops popped up, more and more Nightmares made their way to the 5th Zone. So it was only natural that the《Great Lands》would become one of the major gathering areas.
But then why?
The ruler of the Steel Zone seemed to be in a terrible mood today. An old man with a penetrating gaze spoke.
"Say it again."
“The Sovereign of Darkness is moving?”
In front of the old man was a trembling Chief Secretary who was prostrated on the ground. That old man was that kind of being. He was the owner of the 5th Zone, 'Unbreakable Steel'.
There was nobody in the《Great Lands》that didn't know him.
After entering the《Great Lands》, he quickly reached the level of a 5th Order Adapter and became one of the highest ranking Adapters by defeating the strongest people in the 5th Zone within 80 Years.
The Sovereign of Steel, Heo Yu.
That was the old man's name.
Heo Yu clicked his tongue at the secretary who was lying prostrated in front of him.
‘Did he say he was Alan’
The secretary's family background was ok, and his history was pretty transparent, so he was picked up. It was just that ever since he had left all information gathering and spymaster activities to him a few months ago, the information he gathered was outdated. He wasn't quite sure if he could continue to leave such huge responsibilities in his hands.
If he were to replace this chief secretary, he would have already been the twenty-fourth one this quarter. Heo Yu changed the tone of his voice, and spoke again in a calmer voice.
"Don't be nervous, organize the information and speak again. What is the Sovereign of Darkness up to?”
The Sovereign of Darkness was the ruler of the 9th Zone, the zone right next to the 5th Zone. His name was Jerome. He used to often butt heads with Heo Yu before Heo Yu became the cruel and brutal Steel Sovereign.
‘It's time to see the end soon.’
The nine zones in recent years had been very quiet.
In other words, the various buyers throughout the Great Lands had been accepting「Products」without discrimination by reaching out to middle and lower tier Cultivators who had been unknown. It was said that the amount of transactions between Cultivators and Harvesters had increased by more than a factor of three. Militaries were suddenly increasing by a large amount. Considering the situation, there was only one conclusion within the bounds of common sense.
It was a preparation for war.
Taking into consideration the situation, it was highly likely that the first targets would either be the 7th Zone which had been avoiding the 9th Zone, or the 5th Zone which was directly next to the 9th Zone. The chief secretary, Alan, shrugged and opened his mouth.
"Ah, there's a rumor stating that the Sovereign of Darkness is making an active contact with people in《Chaos》.”
“Chaos? Why Chaos?"
He was surprised at such a statement.
According to the 295th Concordance of Sovereigns, none of the sovereigns in the Great Lands were allowed to get involved with the events of《Chaos》.
“Th-that's kind of complicated......"
Alan brought up《Little Brother》and tapped an image that had come up in the air like a hologram. Sovereign of Steel, Heo Yu, carefully looked at the image on the panel.
"What is that?”
It was a familiar video.
It was the video of a Non-Adapter defeating a Frost Dragon on his own. It was a video titled「Video of a 99th Floor Solo Clear」that had been floating around for the better part of the last few weeks.
It was the figure of a man using thrust to fight against the Frost Dragon.
He recalled that his secretary had gone out of his way to try and recruit him. If he recalled correctly, he had left it up to his secretary to go about it however way he desired, so he himself didn't really know the details of how things went down.
‘However, I heard it was a fabricated video.’
The video that had once dominated the《Little Brother》network was actually a video purposely obfuscated by the Cultivator.
Many Nightmares from various different factions had been in heated discussions about whether or not that video was actually fabricated or not.
“It is said that the product in the video was the result of a deal the Sovereign of Darkness made.”
Saying that, he saw the product again.
‘Wait, this guy......'
Every time he attacked with his thrust, a strange thing occurred. Although it was faint, it was definitely a sort of aura that he recognized.
‘Perhaps...... an Awakened in the tutorial?'
Sovereign of Steel Heo Yu was a powerful Awakened without a rival in the《Great Lands》, but he definitely wouldn't have been able to Awaken during the tutorial. Heo Yu quickly asked a question.
“This product, where is he?”
The trembling secretary opened his mouth.
"...... they say he escaped.”
“What do you mean?”
“That, there are rumors saying that he refused to end the Tutorial Game, busted through the ceiling of the tower, and escaped into the Illusion Tree and into《Chaos》.”
Heo Yu thought that he had heard something incorrectly.
“The Cultivator must have been keeping a very close eye on him, how did such a thing happen?"
“He killed the Cultivator.”
“……are you playing a joke on me?”
“I-I don't believe it either, but the Sovereign of Darkness seems to be completely confident about it."
Heo Yu was speechless.
If it was to that extent, then it certainly wasn't a product that could be measured. Maybe even the Sovereign of Darkness might open his eyes wide and chase after the whereabouts of the product.
‘So that's why the Darkness bastard is maintaining contact with people in Chaos.’
Regardless, the situation was more of a pain than he had first thought.
"Do the 9th Zone punks have ties in《Chaos》?”
“I'm not sure, but in the process of my investigations, there's reason to believe that the Sovereign of Darkness had been involved with《Chaos》for some time now.”
"For some time...?”
“Yes. Some of the Ten Sects in《Chaos》have been tirelessly in contact with the Sovereign of Darkness.”
Heo Yu's expression turned heavy.
It had come to light that the Sovereign of Darkness had been in violation of the Concordance of Sovereigns.
‘What the hell are you doing, Darkness?’
Heo Yu was unsure of whether or not he should announce this to the other Sovereigns. It was because he knew that the other sovereigns wouldn't exactly band together if such an announcement were to be made.
Only the 5th, 7th, and 9th Zones located in the eastern area of the《Great Lands》would get embroiled in a war. Heo Yu was sure that the reason why the 9th Zone's Sovereign of Darkness had broken the agreement was because there wouldn't really be any other sovereigns who would call him out.
“Who else knows this information.”
“It's a story only in the 9th Zone. But, the information must have spread to the 7th Zone by now...... ”
If those in the 5th Zone knew it, then those in the 7th Zone must have known as well. The 7th Zone as the territory under Immortal Sovereign Abraxas.
After thinking about something for some time, Heo Yu opened his mouth.
“Send a formal letter to the Nightmare Union requesting access to use the「Narrow Door」."
A treasure that disguised a living being so that they would be perceived to be dead. It was with this「Narrow Door」that allowed the Five Great Families and the Nightmares to traverse to and from《Chaos》even though they were still alive.
"Ho, do you plan to involve yourself with Chaos?”
“I just plan to observe. I'll detach myself from Chaos after confirming the situation.”
“……who will you send?”
"Ten Gold 1 grade elite warriors. Also send Hye Young.”
The warriors in the Steel Zone were divided into five major categories. Adamantium, Mithril, Gold, Silver, and Copper. And then from there, they were further divided down from 1st grade to the 5th grade.
If it were those warriors, then they would be comparable to 5th order adapters.
Moreover, Hye Young, the captain of the Gold grade warriors wouldn't exactly lose out against a Mithril grade warrior. For the purpose of stealthily going into《Chaos》, it was a bit of an overkill.
“Make sure you do it. You don't know how things'll turn out.”
Watching the Secretary leave, Heo Yu momentarily thought of something.
He felt a tinge of nostalgia, recalling when he first Awakened.
One of Heo Yu's longtime friends was in Chaos.
A friend who cleared the Master's Nightmare Tower with him and then fought together back to back in the Great Lands. He was called Hwata in their homeland, but in Chaos, he went by the name Neglected Cut Medical Saint.
'Chung Heo, are you doing well?’
Although they had a falling out after disagreements in regards to philosophies of Awakening, the Sovereign of Steel still often recalled his face. He had said that he would rather be a human than to discard humanity to become a full Awakened一 a friend who maintained the dignity of humanity and eventually met disaster.
‘He was a friend with a shitty personality, but he had lived a long time.’
He laughed to himself after recalling the days without the Steel Zone.
'......he's probably living a quiet life.’
"Hey, let's go at it again."
Chung Heo shouted with swollen, black and blue eyes.
Chung Heo didn't grasp the situation.
Who was he?
The most renowned name in《Chaos》, Neglected Cut Medical Saint.
Who was he?
According to the rumors in 《Chaos》, he was one of the few 'Abyss Champions'.
It didn't end there either.
He had an extraordinary past.
He was someone from the 12764th World that had cleared the Master Nightmare Tower and entered the Great Lands.
There were very few people in the Great Lands that did not know of the 12764th world.
It was a middle world.
A world generally known as Murim.
Even in the Great Lands, simply by saying that you were a native from 'Murim', everyone would respect you, that's just how much prestige the name of that world had.
It was a world that gave birth to the 'Legendary Generation' in addition to the powerful Sovereign of the 5th Zone 'Steel Heo Yu' and other figures, and of course, Heo Yu was a part of that' Legendary Generation'.
“I think the game is over old man."
Jae Hwan was annoyed.
He had no words for the saint's appearance. His dignified gentleman's robe was tattered and in rags, while his wide-brimmed bamboo hat was cleaved cleanly in half. The number of extra blades in the drill hall that crossed strikes with Self Will and had been destroyed already numbered more than twenty. Things had turned out like this even though he had never pulled Self Will out of the sheath.
"I still haven't used my finisher moves yet young'un!”
“If I use those you'll die for sure! I didn't use those because I was worried!”
He had been saying the same things from awhile back.
He had been like that ever since he had blocked 10 Plain Cuts.
“Old man you can't beat me.”
“You can't know unless you try."
"You are weaker than me.”
Hearing that, he laughed and wiped his nose.
The blood he wiped away turned into white powder and disappeared.
“You have so little manners, how old are you?"
“About 50 or so.”
"How old do you think I am?”
“…... let's see. About 200 or so?”
Jae Hwan gave a rough estimate.
“…... then how old are you?”
Chung Heo Triumphantly said. Even Jae Hwan was slightly surprised. He had no idea that he would be that old.
'A thousand years old, but he acts like a child.’
Jae Hwan began to wonder how he might look like when he hit a thousand years of age.
"Now you know the gap between us, right?”
“You've only been using thrust for fifty years while I've been at it for a thousand, there's no way you can win."
"It was actually only 30 years.”
“That doesn't matter!”
Chung Heo exclaimed.
“Regardless, you can never win against me!”
Feeling a bit skeptical, Jae Hwan asked a question.
"Did you really use slash for a thousand years?”
"......but to me it doesn't look like you've done it for more than ten years.”
Hearing that, Chung Heo exploded.
Starting from the Nightmare Tower, to the Great Lands, to Chaos, and to Abyss, then he would be lying if he said he practiced every single day.
He played around and fooled around.
But generally speaking, he worked hard.
He practiced the one and only Slash that he knew.
He would flourish his blade once every millisecond.
He practiced that Slash every day for 8 hours.
Every day for a hundred years.
And he finally reached a billion times.
With that, he felt the aura of Awakening.
He would never forget the moment he abandoned the power of Adaptation and entered a whole new world.
He hadn't worked as hard as he had used to ever since he reached 1 billion slashes, but he definitely must have hit 5 billion by now.
5 billions cuts.
Now the miracles created by the slash were ingrained into the old man's blade. As though he had noticed something, Jae Hwan changed his stance. There had been a huge difference in techniques until this point. Chung Heo yelled at Jae Hwan.
"Now, let's go for another round and see if you can say those same words again!”