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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Despite a considerable amount of time flowing by, we were able to move without any interruptions. The darkness of the forest made the lush green of the leaves and foliage pale in color. We passed through more areas of the forest. The march rate was dramatically increased from yesterday, so it seemed like we could overcome the interruptions faster than expected.
“How strange, I dreamed about encountering a lot of monsters today.”
“Pant pant Dreams are the opposite of reality. Oppa, I’m sorry, but can we rest a little bit? It’s already been half a day and we haven’t rested yet.”
An Hyun cocked his head. Yoojung’s breathing was rough. She didn’t say anything, but her face was pale and her lips had many cracks from where she had bitten them. Everyone had followed me silently, but it seemed like they were bottling their pent up emotions inside. At this point, I also felt the slight need to take a break so I nodded and stopped. I heard the sound of people collapsing to the ground as soon I gave permission.
I looked around and clear traces of a caravan remained. The low frequency of monster encounters suggested that the distance between us and the caravan was decreasing. It was possible that the preceding caravan had already processed the monsters. There were just two questions.
If the group had information about the alchemist’s dungeon, why would they go around taking care of all the surrounding monsters? Another question was: if the monsters were processed, why didn’t I see any bodies? Of course, the questions asked were based on certain criteria that could be inferred.
I pondered on it for a while before shaking my head. The correct answer was to not worry about anything now. The bottom line was that as we followed the trail of this caravan, we would arrive at the alchemist’s dungeon as quickly as possible. In the worst case, we would fail to clear the dungeon. But based on my memories, we were more likely to succeed than to fail. Moreover, we didn’t have much to lose. If I thought of it as building combat experience, there was nothing to lose.
I cleared my head of all complex thought and heard a bit of a disturbance from the kids who were already sitting. When I turned my head to check what was going on, Sol was looking at me for help with an awkward expression.
“Why are you wondering about such a futile thing? Mind your own business.”
“Crazy. Don’t you know that knowledge is power? You really are an ignorant bastard.”
“I know the saying that knowledge is power, but it just doesn’t suit you. You won’t understand things like that.”
An Hyun and Yoojung were in the middle of arguing. The topic was about the Golden Lion Clan and their expedition into the Steel Mountains. I agreed with An Hyun, but it wouldn’t be bad to talk about it to the kids at least once.
“Stupid. Do you think we will have a chance to participate in the expedition? If you go there, won’t you just be watching from the side while sucking your fingers?”
“Who? I’m just wondering why they are attempting the expedition. What are you saying?”
“I told you. Wondering is futile. Didn’t you hear from Soohyun hyung? We should worry about our current situation. Yes? Or do you have an inferiority complex towards Kim Hanbyul?
“What? Look here, you fu…”
As the atmosphere became heated, I hastily sat down between the pair. Yoojung was just about to pour out some curses but hurriedly closed her mouth when she saw me. An Hyun scratched his head and avoided my gaze.
I glanced at the two of them for a moment and spoke in a calm voice.
“There is no problem with being curious, as information is vital to your survival in the Hall Plain. Of course, it would be a problem if you wanted to participate in the expedition instead of just feeling curiosity.”
Yoojung’s face brightened at my words. She was glad that I took her side. An Hyun pouted as his expression became grouchy. Yoojung sent him a triumphant smile and immediately opened her mouth.
“Oppa, why are the Steel Mountains so boisterous? I often heard users speak about it when we were staying at the inn.”
I gathered my thoughts at Yoojung’s question and replied,
“Currently, the Hall Plain is limited to the East, West, South, and North Countries. We need to advance into the Central Country, and in order to get to the Central Country, conquering the Steel Mountains is a must.”
“Then it can be occupied?”
An Hyun spoke the words that I wanted to. I smiled bitterly at Yoojung’s words.
“If it were that easy, then it would already be occupied. The monsters we’ve encountered so far are incomparable to the ones in the mountains, and there are unimaginably strong monsters.”
“Then you can only go to the Central Country through the Steel Mountains? And what is in the Central Country?”
I was forced to pause a little bit at Yoojung’s endless questions. I felt the need to answer carefully because An Hyun and An Sol also had curious expressions. However, we were on a break and the contents didn’t matter much, so I slowly opened my mouth.
“I don’t know the details. If we cross the Steel Mountains, then we’ll see the Central Country. But I heard that it’s confirmed in ancient literature that a big city called Atlanta exists in front of the North Country. It is from ancient literature, but the thought of a new and big city has lit a fire in the users’ eyes.”
“Atlanta… what’s so good about occupying a big city? Will we be able to return home after occupying it?”
“No. Nobody knows how to return home. Just.. Before that, let me ask you one thing. Yoojung, what do you think is the most important thing for an individual to survive in Hall Plain?”
Yoojung closed her eyes and ran her fingers through her hair as she thought about the question, before replying.
“Strength. Abilities. Stats.”
“That’s right. In other words, the power of the individual is the most important. It doesn’t mean that you will have the unconditional strength to survive, but it is true that you are highly likely to survive.”
“Yes, yes. Then can users gain strength in Atlanta?”
I watched Yoojung and replied,
“Something like that. The North Country is becoming increasingly saturated. The dungeons on the continent aren’t infinite. Most major expeditions have been done. Of course, Mule was discovered recently, but it’s nothing compared to the grandeur of the Steel Mountains. After the stabilization of cities like Mule are complete, there is nothing else to be done, and we’ll still have to catch the usual monsters. It’s the same for the other countries. Then the people in the North Country, who have completed their development and saturation, will no longer be able to grow their skills and stats. It’s unclear if we can go home, but people know what will happen if they have no strength. Moreover, there will be no power to raise the new users.”
The explanation was a little long, but it was still lacking some things. I stretched my neck as I watched the kids intently concentrating on my words.
“If we cross the Steel Mountains and start exploring Atlanta, we will have a place where we can develop. New monsters, new hunting grounds, new dungeons, new equipment, etc. Right now, we can easily raise our relatively low stats, but it will be hard once we reach the limit later on. When the big city of Barbara was pioneered a few years ago, I heard that all the users involved received rewards for the achievement and they increased their stats. It is said that the other rewards are also luxurious. Therefore, people want to cross the Steel Mountains for this reason.”
Of course, there was another mountain to overcome after occupying Atlanta. At that time, we would have to compete with users from other countries. Atlanta, called the New World, was surrounded by the continent’s major cities, such as Ragnarok and Terra. I got goosebumps when I remembered the sacrifices I had to make to get the Zero Code in Terra.
Once I finished, the kids all stared at me, mouths agape in surprise. An Hyun blinked before asking in an urgent voice,
“H-Hyung. Then wouldn’t it be better for us to stay in the big cities? Ah, of course, I’m not doubting Hyung’s choice. Still, as Hyung said, the benefits are really terrific. If we develop in a big city like Barbara and participate in the expedition…”
“So… How arrogant must Kim Hanbyul think we are? Ah. Thinking about it makes me shudder.”
In the end, Kim Hanbyul’s name emerged. An Hyun and Yoojung showed signs of agitation, but An Sol was looking at me with unwavering eyes. Her confidence in me had become unconditionally strong ever since our talk from earlier this morning. I was worried that she might become a fanatic, but on the other hand, I was also filled with expectations.
I cleared my throat, causing the kids to fall silent.
“Hum hum. Like I said before, it isn’t like that. If you listen to the instructors from clans other than the Golden Lion Clan at the User Academy, you will hear that it is foolish to participate in the expedition right now. At least, in my opinion. Of course, I can’t be sure, but I find them more credible.”
The kids seemed a bit relieved, but there were still some signs of agitation. Honestly, I was also a little bit frustrated. I wanted to let them know immediately about how the expedition was smashed and tell them about the fall of the Golden Lion Clan. I inwardly sighed but was forced to explain to the kids using logic and valid reasoning. The minimum amount was needed.
“Phew. Listen carefully. However, this is just my opinion, so don’t cling too tightly to it. Right now, the Golden Lion Clan thinks the North Country has somewhat stabilized and are preparing for the expedition in haste. But I don’t see it that way.”
“Oppa, then is an expedition possible after stabilization? Even if it is a little bit difficult, there will be a huge jackpot if they succeed.”
“That’s right. The problem is that users are putting their lives up as collateral in the gamble.”
Yoojung fell silent the moment I said ‘lives.’ The atmosphere seemed considerably heavier than before.
“I was interested and read the records about the occupation of Barbara. My emotions after reading it were overwhelming. Will the Atlanta expedition be any easier than the one in Barbara? I don’t think so. In order to succeed in the Steel Mountains expedition, the current country has to be saturated. Once it is completely saturated, it is impossible to extract the maximum amount of power from the users, as well as secure a certain amount of new users. The North Country isn’t fully saturated yet. Just looking at Mule right now, I think the expedition is too early. There are many people who think so. The Golden Lion Clan seems to be losing their minds after the end of their lord.. tsk.”
“Huh? The lord?”
I thought that I made a mistake for a moment. Fortunately, I put up a smoke screen by saying I read the records before, but I needed to be more careful in the future. I maintained a calm expression and nodded at An Hyun.
“He is the one who made the most contributions in founding the big city of Barbara. Haven’t you heard about him at the academy? Great. He’s the one who created the Golden Lion Clan, now called the best clan, and built up many achievements.”
I inwardly sighed as I watched the kids.
“Originally, Hall Plain was based on the western city of Halo and the small town of Dorothy before Barbara was occupied. After the eastern cities were stabilized, he came to the big city of Barbara and died from wounds that couldn’t be cured. Maybe if he were still here, they would’ve already entered Atlanta.”
Bullshit. I barely stopped myself from spitting out that word. In fact, Atlanta was only occupied at the end of several civil wars after the dissolution of the Golden Lion Clan. That person managed to pioneer Barbara, but there was no guarantee that he could occupy the Steel Mountains if he were still alive.
Anyways, the power of an individual was important to survive in Hall Plain, but it was also important to have a variety of knowledge. The break was a bit long, but I thought it was beneficial for the kids. I stood up and said,
“Anyways, that’s just a rough approximation of the situation. Right now, you don’t have the qualifications to participate in the expedition, so just forget it. Now we should just do what we can.”
This time, An Hyun was the one who looked triumphantly at Yoojung. Yoojung nodded with a stiff expression and stood up after me. The time to use the Third Eye was approaching. If my prediction was correct, we would be able to find the alchemist’s dungeon in the next one or two days.
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