Snake-men were the strongest monsters in the Land of Dusk, the beginner-level play area. It was hard to find monsters stronger than the snake-men before going to the ‘Hellfire Desert’, the next play area.
The planet of Treenark was divided into the Land of Dusk, the beginner-level play area, to the Hellfire Desert, Heroic Plains, then lastly the Solar Continent.
The areas other than the Land of Dusk had no restrictions to move between each other, but there were restrictions in the Land of Dusk.
A user could only leave the Land of Dusk after going through a process of ‘proving one’s existence’, and there were two standards of these existences.
First, a user had to be level 45, and second, the user had to pass through the Cave of the Giants at the end of the Land of Dusk.
Both of these requirements were extremely difficult. It was hard to say which one was easier.
Without going through the Cave of the Giants, it was impossible to leave the Land of Dusk. The entire Land of Dusk was basin-shaped, so the only way out was the Cave of the Giants.
To pass through the Cave of the Giants for sure, it would require 5 users, all over level 45, to be in a party. Of course, later in the game, the so-called ‘Giant Buses’, who were basically high-level users who carried users through the cave with compensation, did happen. However, that only happened later, and users would have to break through the Cave of the Giants through their own power for quite a while.
In other words, they could only live in the Land of Dusk for quite a long time. The fact that the Land of Dusk was bigger than most of the other world maps of other games made the users feel less stifled, but there could only be clashes between them once the number of users explosively increased.
“So you just stood there like an imp?”
Gale, guildmaster of the Ghost guild, asked his right hand, Last Joon.
“Hyung, we couldn’t do anything. Those bastards…… they pushed us back with twice our numbers.”
“You should have endured anyway. Since it was the Snake Caves, you should have been able to hold out if you endured in a narrow place…… and it’s not like they could hit you easily since they didn’t declare a guild war on us. Why did you let that place go so easily?”
“We tried to hold the fort as well…… but these guys put malefactors up front. I don’t know any of them, but they were considerably powerful, and we might have been wiped out at that rate.”
“Malefactors? Then the Providence guild actually accepted malefactors in their guild? There’s no way that’s true…….”
At this point in time, malefactors were public enemies. Accepting malefactors into one’s guild would subject the guild to many insults. This was why many large-scale guilds warned their members to be cautious not to become a malefactor.
“They didn’t belong to Providence. I think Providence guys hired them as mercenaries.”
“Oh…… those damn bastards. So that’s how you want to play, eh?”
It was true that Ghost and Providence were on bad terms right now, but Gale didn’t think that the opponent would be so extreme in their hands. He also thought that he couldn’t stay like this.
“First up, even though the Providence guys didn’t do anything directly, it won’t be a problem for us to declare guild war on Providence according to the guild system of EL. The Providence guys probably thought that we’ll swallow it down once…… but I will not.”
Gale shook his head and opened the system menu. The guild war menu indeed had a message saying that they could declare war on the guild, Providence.
“Hyung. Are you really going to do it? Providence guys aren’t the guys to look down on.”
“Hey, do you know what would happen when we look like easy prey to others when we have to expand our guild right now? We’ll be doomed without knowing it. It’s better to just go bust than to gradually die.”
“Hmm, I guess that’s true…….”
Last Joon nodded after hearing Gale’s words, and Gale immediately declared guild war on Providence.
The guild, Ghost, has declared on the guild, Providence. From now on, users belonging to these two guilds will enter ‘free fighting state’.
“Gather all of our members. The Snake Caves is a place we must regain for the future of our guild.”
The Snake Caves was a hunting field where numerous highest-ranking guilds were flocking to. Ghost had already positioned themselves in one of the entrances of the Snake Caves, ‘S-4’, and had conquered quite deeply.
There were many hunting fields in the Land of Dusk, but the Snake Caves were within the top three. That was why they tried to make this place theirs by coming here early. However, in that process, Providence hindered them so much, and Gale couldn’t endure it anymore.
“I’ll activate the emergency contact lines.”
Since a guild war was declared, they had to gather all possible forces. Guild wars in EL happened under a simple rule – Unless both guilds chose to end the war or one guild was eradicated, the guild war would continue.
Free fighting state meant that they could fight each other regardless of place or time, and killing the opponent would result in karma and item gains and vice versa, they would lose karma and items if they were killed. In one sentence, the guild war was a full frontal fight with everything at stake.
Ghost and Providence guilds were high-ranked guilds within the top 50 guilds right now. The news that the two guilds had started a war spread all over EL.
Until now, mid to small guilds have clashed against each other, but the guilds within the top 50 had never warred against each other.
Perhaps due to that, many users watched the practically first ‘proper’ guild war in EL.
The Snake Caves which made Ghost and Providence clash. Actually, the guild master of Providence, Linx, thought that the Ghost guild, no, Gale, would look over this once.
No matter how great the Snake Caves was as a hunting field, there were around ten discovered entrances, so he just had to go look for another one. Of course, the S-4 entrance, which they stole off Ghost was known to be the best among the 10 entrances, but Linx thought that it wasn’t to the point that Ghost would declare war on them.
However, Linx’s predictions were off. His greatest mistake was to underestimate Gale’s personality.
“Contact Demon Army.”
When Ghost declared war on Providence, Providence also utilized all their emergency contact line and gathered all fighting forces. However, Linx knew that this would just end up with a tie with Ghost, and resorted to dangerous methods.
“Hyung, Demon Army guys are dangerous. We might be attacked by other guilds and not Ghost if we keep getting caught up with them.”
Linx’s little brother and the vice guild master of Providence, Taesaja, was worried about dragging the Demon army into this. (T/N: Taesaja = Taishi Ci, a general from the Three Kingdoms, I used the Korean Romanization because the user is Korean here.)
“Gyungmin, this is not the time for us to picky about our methods. We’ll really be doomed if we get pushed back here. I also want to win without using the Demon Army guys. But the Ghost guild isn’t such an easy guild. Their guild level is also 3 like us, and they also maxed out the 100 member limit like us. Not only that, the average level of our guilds is similar as well. In other words, they possess similar forces like us. What do you think will happen if we go to war with such a guild?”
“Victory and defeat won’t be decided easily, and the guild war will drag out…….”
“Yes, how long do you think the guild members will hold out once the guild war drags out for long? Right now, we’re all motivated and encouraging each other, but once they die a few times and drop karma and items…… they’ll start leaving the guild.”
“But that goes for Ghost as well.”
“Yes. You’re right. So this war will be about how long we can survive when both guilds are going downhill. It’ll be a chicken game. What do you think we’ll have when we actually win that? Even if we win, we won’t win.”
Linx’s words weren’t wrong. Of course, they wouldn’t know the result unless they tried, but it was very likely that it would go as Linx said.
“Let’s borrow Demon Army’s strength for one last time. If it’s those PvP-crazy bastards, they will bring us victory. Where are we fighting right now?”
“We’re scattered all over the place, but the most intense one is at the Subterranean Plaza inside the Snake Caves.”
“Really? Then let’s contact Demon Army first, and we’ll strike from the back. You have the map of the caves, right?”
“But it isn’t entirely accurate…….”
“It’s fine. Our opponents don’t have an accurate map either. It doesn’t matter.”
“Okay, then I’ll contact the Demon Army right away.”
“Yes. Let’s crush Ghost beyond repair today.”
Linx was planning to exterminate all users that entered the Snake Caves by borrowing power from Demon Army. If he could overwhelm the opponents at the beginning, then he could tilt the favor of the war his way.
‘We’ll win this war!’
Resolved Linx. However…… the Snake Caves held a completely foreign variable. The man who was in closed-door training(?) in the Snake Caves since one month ago.
He got swept up in this war.
Sanghyuk hunted snake-men and giant snakes in the Snake Caves for one month. He sometimes visited Falcon City, but he spent the majority of his time in the caves.
There was no need for him to move to another hunting field. He could gather a lot of karma by killing snake-men, and he could gather a lot of ‘Steel scales’, material that could be gotten from giant snakes, and would soon become extremely popular in demand.
Normal users would team up in threes to hunt snake-men, but Sanghyuk easily hunted many snake-men by himself. There were many reasons as to why Sanghyuk could bring out tremendous efficiency in here, and the biggest reason was the overwhelming performance of the Ten Millennia Goldbone Whip.
To put it simply, Sanghyuk was using a chainsaw to hunt while other people were hunting with wooden swords.
The difference between wooden swords and chainsaws was huge. So the snake-men died as soon as they met Sanghyuk without being able to dodge, block, or do anything to Sanghyuk’s Ten Millennia Goldbone whip.
Once knowledge about production-related Ancient Knowledge spread and a few talented users start producing proper items, the gap between normal users and Sanghyuk may decrease.
However, no user could possibly catch up to Sanghyuk when the best equipment on the market were magic-grade items from the Falcon Sewer dungeon.
Thanks to this gap, Sanghyuk could camp out in the Snake Caves, which no other users could dream of. And thanks to hunting for one month within the Snake Caves, his level had increased tremendously and could stock up on Steel scales which its demand would skyrocket later.
Nothing blocked his way. He even wondered that something bad may happen after everything went so well. Since there were no competitors, the Snake Caves were practically monopolized by him.
Sanghyuk swallowed the entire Snake Caves and was digesting it well as well. At least…… until one week ago.
‘Goddammit, why are those guys causing a mess all the way here.’
Sanghyuk frowned while looking at the users of Providence and Ghost guilds who were fighting against each other.
One week ago, when users started crawling into the Snake Caves, he thought that the time had come and decreased his hunting area to where only the giant snakes spawned.
He was planning to finish up the Snake Caves hunt after killing as many giant snakes as possible.
However, now that war had occurred within the Snake Caves, he couldn’t stay focused in battle.
‘From how their guild marks are unfamiliar, they must be so-so guilds.’
Once a guild war was declared, a half-translucent mark signifying their guild would appear above their heads. Through this, allies and enemies could be differentiated.
‘I should quit my hunt today…… huh?’
When the fight became bigger, Sanghyuk was planning to leave the Snake Caves. However, a new group of users that appeared held his steps back.
‘Why are those hyena bastards here?’
Sanghyuk was hiding in one corner of the Snake Caves, and his eyes shined after looking at the users of Demon Army who were circling around the battlefield.
He didn’t recognize the Ghost guild and the Providence guild, but he did recognize the Demon Army guild. They were the guild that did the worst of the worst actions across all of the malefactor guilds in EL. Many punitive expeditions were set up in order to put their actions to a stop, but the users of Demon Army specialized in hiding and escaping, and they survived bitterly until the end.
‘‘Demon Dog’ Killing Machine. To think I’d meet that trash in a place like this…….’
Sanghyuk instantly recognized the guild master of the Demon Army guild, Killing Machine. This was natural since Killing Machine was one of the guys who continued to haunt him after he became a cripple and couldn’t play the game properly in his previous life.
He never appeared anywhere near him when Sanghyuk was doing well, but when Sanghyuk became a cripple, he always found a way towards him and haunted him.
‘Let’s see……. So one side called them as mercenaries? They are stupid. Not one guild survived after cooperating with the Demon Army guild…… well, they probably thought that the immediate profit was more important than things like that.’
Sanghyuk could imagine what happened.
‘I had no thoughts of interfering if it’s just an ordinary guild war…… but that changes if Demon Army is involved.’
Sanghyuk put the Recall stone back into his bag and unfolded the Ten Millennia Goldbone wrapped around his arm.
‘Killing Machine, you might feel that it’s unjust…… but it looks like I’ll have to get some of my debt off you.’
It was a little funny that he was taking revenge for what hadn’t even happened yet, but for Sanghyuk, it was a very vivid memory, so he couldn’t just look past this.