They were many players who opposed the Saharan Empire. No, most players would feel negatively toward the Saharan Empire. How many modern people could be sympathetic to the image of the empire that discriminated and repressed other species and cultures, calling themselves the only right answer? There might be many players who joined the empire to enjoy their infrastructure, but it was hard to find those who devoted themselves to the empire.
There was just one strange thing. The poisonous Chinese players often favored the Saharan Empire. The empire couldn’t be seen negatively because the appearance of the Saharan Empire wasn’t that different from China’s, who put pressure on the surrounding countries. In their eyes, the ideals of the empire were worthy and the attitude of the empire was natural. Rather, they thought the empire was intrepid.
Of course, not all Chinese were the same, but it was true that many Chinese supported the empire by describing the Saharan Empire as Satisfy’s China. The same was true for the Chinese rankers gathered here now. For them, the empire was another version of China, and the nobles of the empire who exerted ‘appropriate authority’ were the objects of envy. The dukes were the best among the empire’s nobles.
Yet they were defending Grid, the king of a small nation. No, it wasn’t just at the level of defending.
“Your Majesty, you must be very upset that these puny bastards pointed their weapons at you. Govern your heart. We will take care of them.”
Unlike the saber tiger that easily climbed the rocks, the two-headed hippo barely managed to climb the mountain because of its lack of agility. Duke Grenhal descended from it with rough breathing and treated Grid like a superior. His attitude made it out like Grid was the emperor.
“What? What the hell is this?”
It was true that Grid dominated among the players, but he was normal when compared to NPCs. Additionally, academic circles stated that the Seven Dukes of the empire were some of the most powerful people on the West Continent. Compared to the Seven Dukes, Grid was lacking in every aspect. Moreover, not long ago, the Overgeared Kingdom was fighting against the empire. Grid’s knight had even killed Sky King Rigal. The relationship between the empire and Grid could never be good. It was normal for the Seven Dukes to be hostile or to despise Grid.
‘Then why are the dukes treating Grid so well? I can’t understand it.’
The Chinese rankers who had been ordered to go to the historical site were all veterans. They could recall many cases, but no matter how many they looked through, it was impossible to guess how the relationship between Grid and the Seven Dukes had formed.
The dumbfounded Zhang Jian muttered, “Perhaps he has a brainwashing skill...”
It was rumored that there was someone among the hidden classes who could use brainwashing skills. This skill only applied to NPCs, and it was said that the person could acquire quests favorable to them by manipulating the NPC. The most important thing was that the higher the level or quality of the NPC, the more the success and effectiveness of the brainwashing skill would drop exponentially. It meant that brainwashing skills didn’t work on named NPCs. In particular, it couldn’t work on the dukes who were the best among the named NPCs.
Additionally, the probability that Grid was the user with the brainwashing skill was remarkably low. The relationship between Grid and the Seven Dukes couldn’t be formed using such tricks. Consequently, the Chinese rankers were greatly confused.
“I will discipline you with the strict laws of the Saharan Empire. It is an immediate death penalty for those who block the way of the empire’s dukes,” Duke Grenhal said one-sided and harsh words casually and then drew his sword.
They were Chinese rankers who supported the empire, but they thought the empire was unjust once they became its victims.
“What is this one-sided ruling?”
“That's right! You are going to kill a person just for blocking the way!”
Being selfish just because they had strength—it was unfair and unjust to those in a powerless position. The Chinese rankers realized the obvious and were filled with resentment, but the dukes didn’t blink. Grenhal was about to kill the Chinese rankers when Lauel rushed in. “Please calm down.”
Of course, Lauel didn’t like the Chinese rankers. They wanted to monopolize the ruins and were trying to kill Grid’s party, making it hard for him to forgive them. On the other hand, Lauel learned about the difficulty of this place after encountering the follower who had learned 10 secret techniques. He judged that it might be impossible to acquire all the secret techniques in the site with just their power and the power of the dukes.
“Wouldn’t it be better to use their power instead of killing them?” Lauel tried to persuade the dukes. He was sure that the Chinese rankers would cooperate if their lives were spared here. Lauel had already calculated that they wouldn’t dare to ask for the rights to the secret techniques which were found later.
Yet this happened before Lauel could persuade the duke.
“I have no intention of cooperating with you, even if I die,” Hao said. Holding a spear in one hand and a chain in the other, he shouted, “We will fight to the death!”
“Crazy! What is this bullshit?”
The Chinese rankers were thinking frantically.
“It is much better to cooperate with the Overgeared Guild to explore the ruins rather than die like this!”
“If we die, we will be banished outside the Red Sea! Have you forgotten how hard we worked to get here? We were lucky during the sea journey, but there is no guarantee that we can return!”
The Chinese rankers were in an uproar. They were almost screaming, unable to believe that Hao’s judgment was right. Nevertheless, Hao didn’t reverse his stance. It was because he knew that if he cooperated with the Overgeared Guild to explore the ruins and secure the secret techniques, the Chinese rankers would demand the rights to the secret techniques. Right now, they were talking reasonably to preserve their lives, but they would change their attitude in a way that was favorable to them at any time. He had seen it happen many times.
‘At that time, I will be forced to side with them.’
Hao’s position in China was still precarious. He was called a traitor just because he had surrendered to Grid, and the Communist Party had warned him about it. The Communist Party told Hao to be the leader of the expedition to test his ideals. Once China and the Overgeared Guild started to contend over the rights of the secret techniques, Hao didn’t know what punishment would be awaiting him if he didn’t side with China.
‘If I stand on the Chinese side, I will deepen the feelings of hostility with Grid.’
That couldn’t happen. Grid was one of the few people he admired. He didn’t want their relationship to fall to pieces. This was the reason why.
‘I will block things before they get out of control.’
The determined Hao shouted to the Chinese rankers, “We came here was to become stronger! How can begging for our lives be a method of becoming stronger? It is an insult. This is lowering ourselves! Do you want to incur the wrath of the leader?!!!”
“...!” The Chinese rankers had distorted expressions once they heard these words. To them, the leader was an object of respect and fear.
“Shit... It is better to die fighting.” Liao Wei clicked his tongue. No matter the reason, she believed that the Chinese rankers should never beg for their lives. The leader of the Overgeared Guild was none other than Grid. He was Korean.
‘There is a rumor that the leader is angry we didn’t perform better than South Korea in the National Competition. He will be furious if he hears that we begged a Korean for our lives.’
The efficiency was the worst, but there was only one choice—fight to the death. The Chinese rankers made their decisions and prepared for combat.
“...” Grid and Peak Sword watched the situation and noticed Hao’s intentions. They were Korean and familiar with the characteristics of China. Thus, they knew what Hao was concerned about and why he instigated this situation. Lauel also noticed it belatedly. The gazes of the dukes turned to Lauel.
“Do you want to spare them?”
“...No. Please do it well.”
Grenhal and Morse nodded and stood side by side. Grenhal held a sword while Morse wore gauntlets on both hands. Both of them were staring at Hao. A pair of wings emerged from Hao’s back. The latent power of a dragon in his body started to run wild.
“Let’s show China’s power.” Hao seemed to emit a flaming breath.
“Ohhhhh!” The momentum of the Chinese rankers rose. They might criticize Hao as a traitor, but they valued his skills highly. A chain rushed toward Grenhal like an aggressive snake, only to be blocked by a shield. Simultaneously, Mei Xiao threw a cloth that tied up the vibrating shield.
“Um!” Surprised by the power of Hao’s thrown chain, Grenhal was careless, allowing his shield to be pulled away by the moving cloth. The Hao siblings were excellent and comparable to the followers who had learned five secret techniques. The Chinese players unleashed an onslaught to break through Duke Grenhal.
The scene where dozens of weapons and skills flooded toward one person like a tsunami was spectacular. This was the moment that proved why China was classified as a Satisfy powerhouse after the United States. The Overgeared members expected Grenhal to receive a large amount of damage, no matter how strong he was. Dozens of players had died from Morse’s surprise attack, but the number of Chinese rankers still exceeded 150. It was a force that wasn’t weak.
In particular, the pressure coming from Hao was overwhelming. The dragon’s energy wrapped around the end of his spear and contained a destructive force that caused even Grid to flinch for a moment.
However, the opponent was too strong. Grenhal disregarded the attacks pouring toward him and waved his sword, causing a moonlight energy blade to pour out. All the skills of the Chinese rankers were crushed without reaching Grenhal.
Hao’s left arm which was covered with dragon scales was cut off, and the bodies of the Chinese rankers started to turn to ashes. Grid felt electrified when he saw the overwhelming sight.
‘They have been hiding their real skills.’
It was a counterattack with a range and power which far exceeded those of Revolve. This was the identity of the light that Grenhal released. Grid was convinced…
If the location wasn’t the 53 waterfalls, then Grenhal could’ve killed the follower, who had learned 10 secret techniques, alone. Of course, there was no guarantee that Grid would win against them.
‘Spear Sage Rachel and Sword Duke Limit have a slightly higher level than Grenhal. Will they be equal to the follower who learned 10 secret techniques?’
Grid got goosebumps and was convinced that even these strong Seven Dukes and followers would have to give up in front of Yangban Garam. He had to handle Garam somehow in order to be properly active on the East Continent, but he wasn’t sure what to do.
‘I’m becoming stronger, but why do I still feel shabby?’
No matter how he thought about it, the NPC’s natural growth system was a scam. It was too harsh for players. Would a player never be able to surpass NPCs? Grid formed fists and unknowingly started to cheer for Hao.
The battle was intensifying. The army of Chinese rankers, that Grid wasn’t sure he could win against, was dying before the destructive power of both Grenhal and Morse. There was only one person who stayed strong. Even so, he had lost his left arm, and the scales on his body were falling off.
Instead of the broken spear, Hao’s fingernails extended like blades and pierced Grenhal’s chest.
“Kuek...?” Grenhal groaned, while Morse and Basara were greatly astonished. Grid was also shocked. When he saw Hao, the players’ despair about not being able to surpass the NPCs turned into hope that it could be done. Hao’s satisfied smile about his performance was aimed at Grid. 'I owe you a great deal,' Hao's eyes said.
Grid nodded, silently replying, 'It was a pleasure. Your heart, I received it.'
Grenhal’s sword fell toward Hao’s neck. At this moment...
[The Different Species’ King title effect is activated.]
[The title effect of Different Species’ King is limited to three uses. Are you sure you want to use it?]
Grid used the title effect, that he gained from absorbing the evil eyes species, for the first time.