[The key fits perfectly.]
[An effect has occurred.]
It was a small keyhole in a big tree. He put in and turned the universal key, then a notification window emerged with a cheerful sound effect. An effect had occurred!
Grid imagined it. The tree would split in half, and hidden treasures would appear. If Lauel had to guess, it would be a scene where he was likely to obtain a skill book that gave a ‘war god’s secret technique’.
However, the tree didn’t move. Unlike the notification window, nothing really happened.
“What? Why?” Grid was confused for a moment and searched around. There were all types of plants and trees, and some of the trees had keyholes.
‘Are there some losing tickets? Let’s open some more.’
Grid moved to a big tree that was 20 meters away.
[You have fallen into a trap!]
It was an absurd thing. The ground sank the moment he stepped on a protruding tree root.
[You have suffered 10,200 damage!]
There was a 10-meter-deep tunnel. Grid fell into the terrible trap installed in the ground and spat out blood.
“...I would’ve died if I had fallen into it during a fight.”
Why was there a trap in this place? Grid was thinking about it as he used Fly to escape the tunnel.
‘Did the imperial army do it?’
The empire wanted to monopolize the ruins. Considering their abilities, it was certainly possible. It was highly likely that the imperial troops, who arrived here first, installed traps to interfere with latecomers.
‘The empire is the empire. They actually installed traps like this.’
As their stats and experience rose, players wouldn’t fall into traps so easily. In particular, Grid had a high insight stat and could easily distinguish between traps. However, the perfect traps that assimilated with nature couldn’t be distinguished and were a threat to Grid. Maybe there was another trap?
“Ack!” Grid screamed as he maintained Fly. The moment his shoulder came in contact with a leaf, the leaf turned into a blade. The deeply wounded Grid pulled out a potion and swallowed it.
“What is the level of these traps?”
This wasn’t a level that could be discovered by paying attention. Wasn’t it too powerful at this point? Grid wanted to know the person who installed the traps. It would be a big jackpot if he obtained them. After suffering the wound, Grid arrived in front of the second big tree and once again inserted the Master Key. Once again, there was a sound effect and a notice of an effect occurring, but no treasures emerged.
“Is it another failure?”
His obstinate spirit was stimulated. Grid confirmed he still had time to spare and moved to the next tree. It was naturally a tree with a keyhole, and the universal key was properly inserted and aligned. Once again, nothing happened. It was the same with the next tree and the tree after that. Grid got upset because he ran into several traps along the way and wasted potions.
“Nothing happened when I inserted the key?? What is going on?”
“Why are you asking me, nyong?” Noe seemed to be in a very good mood.
Warm sunlight fell from the sky, and a cool breeze gently blew his fur. He puffed out his belly and rolled around. Grid complained because the cat made his neck sore after using his head as a bed.
“In any case, you’re no help.”
Noe had evolved after eating the thunder stone. He had great skill, but his sense of presence wasn’t the same as before. Noe’s help was great when Grid was still weak. Now, he had become too strong that Noe’s weight as a helper had fallen. In order for Noe to play a prominent role again, he must show a unique strength such as against the final evolutionary golem in the golem invasion. Was an enemy like that common?
‘In the first place, I hope there are no such strong enemies.’
Grid thought he would rather Noe not be active. Then he smiled.
‘Why do I care about Noe? It isn’t due to Noe’s combat strength. I just like Noe.’ He realized this truth all over again.
‘Yes, he should just stay happy. Sometimes Noe will do chores.’
Didn’t a memphis have a long life span...? Perhaps it was even longer than his. Recently, Noe’s fur had turned black again for some reason.
Grid stroked his tail and moved to insert the key in the next tree. He hoped he would win a treasure this time, but it was also a bust.
There was a notice about an effect, but Grid didn’t know the effect...
“...Eh?” Grid looked around, and his eyes widened. He discovered that some of the traps plaguing him on the way had disappeared without a trace.
‘Releasing the traps?’
Grid finally figured out the purpose of the keyholes. It was a feasible idea. He made reasonable inferences by identifying the ‘key trees’ that still existed in the jungle.
‘It is impossible for the empire to have installed hundreds of traps during that short period of time.’
These traps were originally present already. Perhaps releasing the traps was one of the keys for exploring these ruins. Possessing the universal key meant he was in a much more favorable position than the empire.
‘Wow... It really is present whenever I need it.’
The universal key he made in the old days was needed. The more he looked, the more fraudulent of an item it seemed. The Grid of the present time wouldn’t be able to create it. Grid was now more cautious in comparison to the old days and had many considerations to think about when creating an item. However, this process limited his imagination.
‘It wouldn’t be possible for my current self to think about making such an item. I would think that such a fraudulent item couldn’t be made, and it would naturally be blocked.’
Sometimes, it was necessary to be simple. It was a moment of small enlightenment.
.’..!’ He suddenly realized he couldn’t hear all types of sounds in the jungle. Then there was the sound of someone sliding through the bushes and footsteps approaching.
“Overgeared King!” Two men and one woman popped out.
[You have discovered a strong person of this era!]
[The Hero King’s fighting energy has started to boil!]
They were Grenhal, Morse, and Basara. Grid was wrapped in a blazing fighting energy in an instant as he recognized the three of them. They were dukes who had attended the luncheon that occurred back when he visited the empire at the emperor’s call. Basara hadn't looked at Grid during the luncheon, but her beauty was memorable. Morse’s form was different from the other dukes, and Grenhal boasted the highest level alongside Limit and Rachel. No, he would’ve remembered them clearly even if they didn’t have any special features. He couldn’t forget the dukes of the empire.
It was bad. Grid had violated Lauel’s order not to enter the jungle. Sensing his death, Grid hurriedly pulled out his sword.
“Hey! Can’t we show appreciation after receiving help from you?” Morse was talking nonsense.
They received help from him? Grid cocked his head and soon noticed it. They escaped some type of crisis because he released the traps.
‘That’s why they didn’t attack me?’
It was a situation where three of the Seven Dukes were together. If they intended to kill Grid, they would’ve attacked him the moment they appeared and Grid would’ve already lost his immortality. However, Grid was fine and the dukes showed him no hostility. Grid identified the three people’s personalities.
‘They have personalities of people that don’t want to owe debts.’
From the dukes’ standpoint, Grid was an enemy king. It was right to kill or capture Grid as soon as he was seen. Their encounter with Grid was a chance to earn a huge achievement and end the war. Yet they kicked away this big opportunity just because they were helped.
‘It seems to be a big help?’
This was a chance. He had to use an excuse to leave here. Grid judged this and tried to remain as calm as possible.
“I’m glad to help. I pretended not to know out of humility.”
He tried to pretend to be casual, but his voice was shaking. Honestly, it was scary. They were monsters who could kill him at any time. He would be killed and deported from the Red Sea. Grid was most afraid that he wouldn’t be able to protect his remaining companions.
“Such a person killed Rigal?” Morse snapped out after hearing Grid’s words. There was no need for Grid to say anything.
This was because Grenhal stepped in for him. “It was something that happened on the battlefield.”
It meant for them not to blame Grid.
“Bah.” Morse was convinced and didn’t say anything else.
Grenhal descended from the giant two-headed hippo, approached Grid, and saluted slightly.
Grid didn’t know the meaning of the action, but Morse and Basara were very surprised. It was because Grenhal didn’t show politeness to anyone by descending from his hippo apart from when he saw the emperor. Even Empress Marie couldn’t make Grenhal get off his hippo.
“Thank you. We were able to pass the crisis thanks to Your Majesty. Of course, it wasn’t pure benevolence, right? You definitely had a reason to help us. Isn’t that correct?”
An unknown situation was being created. Grid was devising words to reply when Grenhal struck a drum by himself.
“Your Majesty’s strength alone won’t be able to endure the power of the war god followers. Thus, you planned to work with us.”
“In conclusion, it is a very excellent plan. Your Majesty has the key, so this suggestion of cooperation is very attractive for us who needs the key. This way you can coordinate the situation... You are a great man to make this bet. I have to acknowledge Your Majesty. I was pathetic to look down on you until now.”
From Grid’s standpoint, Grenhal was babbling absurd sophistry.
“Certainly. You have a forward-looking insight and bold determination,” Basara also agreed while Morse was busy thinking.
Grenhal reached out a hand to Grid. “I will make a proposal with the authority of an imperial duke. Let’s forget the war and make an alliance here. You will borrow our strength, and we will borrow your key. If we combine forces, we can explore this place safely.”
Should he agree to the cooperation? Should he talk to Lauel first? Grid hesitated, but it was only for a moment. He had to hold this hand as it was too risky to explore this area while being hostile to the empire. It was possible to judge this much.
“I understand. Let’s do it.”
Grid’s and Grenhal’s big hands shook vigorously.
Grenhal suddenly hummed, and Morse and Basara cocked their heads.
“Hum hum.” Grid pulled back his hand and coughed hurriedly.
At the S.A Group’s headquarters…
“T-This is ridiculous. How did this happen?”
The staff in the meeting room were shocked by the scene on the monitor. Originally, the empire was destined to be destroyed by the rampage of Insane Dragon Nevartan. This was one of the basic scenarios of Satisfy. The scenario had completely changed due to the finals of the 3rd National Competition.
The empire had survived and started a war with the Overgeared Kingdom. Due to the numerous causal effects from this, Skunk had discovered the Ruins of the War God. If Skunk and the dukes hadn’t met in Galest, Skunk would never have sailed through the Red Sea and he wouldn’t have found the Ruins of the War God. The butterfly effect caused the Ruins of the War God to appear much earlier than planned, and the major powers of the Overgeared Kingdom departed the continent.
Satisfy’s management team was very frustrated.
Great Demon Berith descended on a land far from the Saharan Empire. In order to raid the great demon, the top players needed to cooperate. It was the worst situation since Grid’s party wasn’t present. The employees thought that the players would suffer irreparable damage because of Berith, who would kill countless people and open the gates of hell to summon an army. It was calculated that the players who tried and lost everything were likely to quit the game.
Grid’s party would waste time in the Ruins of the War God and wouldn’t be able to handle Berith who summoned the army. Yes, it was a waste of time. The current level of Grid’s party made it impossible to properly explore the Ruins of the War God.
“Where the hell did he get the key? It is ridiculous to have collected the key pieces in that short period of time.”
Grid held a key and easily released the trap trees. Then he obtained a chance to ally with the dukes.
“...Is he going to clear the ruins?” Finally, one of the employees spoke nonsense, but no one raised a counterargument. It was possible based on the development.
“Hah... Hahat!” Chairman Lim Cheolho was laughing. Grid used the key he made previously to ally with the dukes. This was truly admirable. He was forced to praise Grid who surpassed predictions several times. The atmosphere was awkward.
“Chairman,” the director of operations Yoon Sangmin suddenly got up and asked Chairman Lim Cheolho a question, “Shall I order chicken and beer?”
“It is also half-and-half?”
“I understand. I’ll order two right now.” Yoon Sangmin took out his phone and left the conference room for a while.
“Director Yoon, are you crazy right now?”
The agitated employees pointed at him.
“How many people are here? Yet you’re only ordering two portions?”
That’s right. Now the other employees were also enjoying Grid’s path. Grid, who had been solving most of his problems with force, faced a situation where force didn’t work and broke through with wisdom. It was a wonderful sight.