The Novel is Extra Chapter 287: Clouds of War 4

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Chapter 287. Clouds of War (4)

Kim Suho left the dark, stifling underground fortress and set foot on the hot and dry African soil.

The goal of this mission was to investigate the ‘villages’ that Rumi had talked about. The team was ordered to confirm if there really were ‘villages’ in Africa and if there were, how many residents were residing in them and to find out the reason Orden had built these villages in the first place.

“Wait a minute.”

The reconnaissance team was made up of Kim Suho, Shin Jonghak, Chae Nayun, and Jin Seyeon, in addition to Bell and Rumi who were to serve as guides. As it was necessary for the team to move stealthily, Kim Suho took out his collection of cards.

===
[Stealth Powder] [7-Star] Effective Good
○Powder that erases presence (200g)
○Sprinkle this powder on your body to remove traces of physical movement (The effect lasts 24 hours per 3g.)
===

He had obtained this card at the Card Kingdom.
It was perfect for a mission as secretive as the current one.

“Everyone, please sprinkle this on your body.”

Kim Suho used his card without holding back. The powder concealed the presences of the six members, and the team began their mission smoothly.

“Let’s go.”

They moved in complete silence.
After four hours of endless walking, the team arrived at a rainforest.
The rainforest was big and dense with trees, but Bell was able to find the right path with Rumi’s help. The monsters in the rainforest didn’t notice the Heroes passing by them.

[Hey. Hey, hey, Kim Suho.]

As they pushed their way through the dense forest, Chae Nayun suddenly sent Kim Suho a message.

[You got the quest too, right?]

Kim Suho knew exactly what Chae Nayun was talking about.

「Quest — Reconnaissance Mission.」
「Completion Reward — Gain DP. Stat ‘Tenacity’ increases slightly.」

This quest alert had suddenly popped up when he first received the mission. It was similar to the quests from the Tower of Wish but also somewhat different.
Kim Suho wrote the reply without a word.

[Yeah, I received it, too.]
[Hey, what does it say you get from clearing this?]
[DP and a stat.]
[Oh. Same here.]

At that moment, Bell, who had been leading the team from the front, suddenly stopped. Kim Suho also stopped and looked ahead.
At a spot where the rainforest finally seemed to end, Bell spoke.

“Looks like we’re here.”

Kim Suho and the other members of the reconnaissance team approached Bell. They could finally see the view that Bell’s body was blocking.

“…”

Their jaws dropped in shock, and they became speechless.

They knew this part of Africa to be a vast field with sunset-colored grass and tall green trees gracefully in harmony with each other. That was what savannas usually looked like.

“Wow.”

But the scenery that was laid out in front of them was nothing like what they had expected.

It was more a city than a village. Only a trace of savanna remained where the tall buildings stood in line. A 6-story tall building stood at the center of what seemed to be the shopping district. The downtown and the residential areas were separated, and humans and humanoid monsters were crowding the streets.

“This village is called ‘Lupiton’. It’s one of Orden’s biggest mid-rank villages. Most humans who live here have been brainwashed. The population is about 300,000 - 500,000, including humanoid monsters. So it’s basically a medium-sized city. The lord of this village is a True Bone-rank humanoid monster named ‘Pleron’.”

Rumi explained as soon as she saw the village.

‘Mid-rank village, Lupiton,’ Chae Nayun thought, ‘If this is only mid-rank, then just how big is an upper-rank village?’

“If this is only mid-rank, then just how big is an upper-rank village?” Chae Nayun spoke exactly what was on her mind.

“Upper-rank villages aren’t big. They’re actually ‘laboratories’ where Orden’s scientists transform humans into humanoid monsters.”

“…What? Laboratories?”

“Yes. Because Orden has brainwashed these people, they all want to become residents of a high-rank village. However, in order to become one of those residents, they have to first increase their ‘rank’ through self-cultivation. But when they actually arrive at a high-rank village, they immediately become material for a humanoid monster….”

Just as Rumi was about to continue with her explanation, a boiling, vicious hostility descended upon them.

“I finally found you….”

The team turned their gaze to where the voice came from.

“You son of a bitch.”

There was only a single figure in the spotless African sky— it was Jin Sahyuk. She glared at Bell and Rumi with blazing anger in her eyes.

Bell gulped and Rumi quickly hid behind Chae Nayun and Jin Seyeon. Her reaction seemed fit for a scared spy, so Chae Nayun and Jin Seyeon protected her without question.

“…Jin Sahyuk.”

Kim Suho was the first to utter her name. But Kim Suho was the farthest thing from Jin Sahyuk’s mind right now. Her anger was directed towards the man in the hood, Bell.

“You fucker—”

—Sahyuk. Can you please calm down?

Bell quickly sent Jin Sahyuk a message before she could even finish her sentence.

“What? You—”

—I’m sorry. I really am. I never expected you to find me this fast. It seems you have grown yet again, Sahyuk. I’m proud of you.

Bell was confused. He wasn’t lying when he said that Jin Sahyuk had grown. She probably had the highest understanding of the new stats, [Nonobservance] and [Distortion].

“Yeah, that’s why I—”

—Just let me go this time. You’ll ruin everything if you create a ruckus here. Can’t you see Chae Nayun and Kim Suho are here?

“Bullshit….”

Jin Sahyuk’s anger was like an erupting volcano that couldn’t be stopped. Bell, left with no other choice, dragged Kim Hajin into their conversation once again.

—Chae Nayun here has a history with Kim Hajin. Some of the things that she knows doesn’t match what you know.

“What?”

—You think Kim Hajin is your servant, right? But Chae Nayun’s memories tell a different story. You do know the name of the skill I learned at the Tower of Wish, hmm?

Bell learned an ultimate skilled called [Sea of Memories]. This skill allowed him to explore other people’s memories while they were asleep or unconscious. Bell looked into a lot of people’s memories during his stay at the underground fortress.
Chae Nayun was one of his easiest targets. Her memories were filled with emotions and trauma that could not be overlooked.

“…”

—Sahyuk, it’s possible that Kim Hajin is lying. You have to make sure he isn’t, don’t you think?

Jin Sahyuk knew Bell was speaking the truth.

—Plus, aren’t you curious what kind of emotions and memories Chae Nayun has about Kim Hajin? I bet you’d be surprised if you knew.

She was indeed curious about Chae Nayun’s memories. What about them made Bell so confident?

—Just act like you don’t know us, Sahyuk. Can’t you tell from the fact Rumi is here that we’re doing all of this for you?

“….”

Jin Sahyuk decided to let Bell trick her just this once.

“K-Kim Suho, you bastard. I’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

She pretended that Kim Suho was her target all along. But she sounded awkward, and even Kim Suho seemed confused by the sudden change in her demeanor.

“…Me?”

“…Yes, you traitor. You god damn traitor.”

“….”

“I’ve been looking for you. Kim Suho, you son of a bitch, you disloyal dog, brainless bull. You turtle look-alike, rodent eater. You’re so dead.”

Though she sounded a bit strange, Jin Sahyuk’s anger was real.
Kim Suho clutched Misteltein and glared at Jin Sahyuk.

“Okay, but maybe try to hold it in? We’re right next to Orden’s village. If we fight here, then we’d all disco-”

“What is that bitch saying?”

Kim Suho tried to appease Jin Sahyuk, but one particular member of his team couldn’t possibly pass over Jin Sahyuk’s insults.
With a face distorted from anger like a Troll, Chae Nayun stepped forward to confront Jin Sahyuk.

“Who the hell are you? Where did this crazy bitch come from?”

“…What? What did you say, vermin?”

“You’re the vermin.”

Chae Nayun and Jin Sahyuk.
The two scowled at each other with a similar look on their faces. Sparks shot up where their gazes met. The unstoppable staring contest was about to begin….
It was then.

“What are you doing here?”

Suddenly, a man appeared from behind the bushes. Everyone turned their attention to him.
No one knew who he was, not even Bell or Rumi. This man, who seemed to be in his 30s, held a basket in one hand and a sharp sickle in the other. He seemed to be a resident of the village.
The man, who had already been brainwashed by the humanoid monsters, stared blankly at Kim Suho before taking a step back.

“Are you people… outsiders?”

The way he grabbed his smartwatch made it obvious that he intended to report them to the authorities.
Everyone nervously exchanged glances with each other. Finally, Rumi spoke.

“No, we’re also from the village.”

“Village?”

“Yes, Lupiton. We came out to gather some crops and a fight broke out among us.”

Still, in doubt, the man asked, “…What kind of crop?”

“Laurail.”

Laurail was a very useful crop that could be made into medicinal pills or used when forging weapons. It was one of the plants that only grew in Africa.

“Mm. So you are Lupiton’s residents.”

The man smiled and hung his sickle around his waist.

“You should stop fighting and leave. This is a dangerous area. It’s under strict watch because Sacred Bone Lord ‘Tigris’ is scheduled to visit in a week. If you get caught by the police, you could be put in jail.”

“…Ah, I see. Let’s go together, then.”

Rumi and Bell followed the man first.

“…Chae Nayun. Let’s go.”

Kim Suho grabbed Chae Nayun by her wrist and pulled her.

“Jin Sahyuk. We haven’t seen each other since Akatrina, huh? I see you’re acquainted with Kim Suho as well.”

“…Stop talking to me.”

Shin Jonghak and Jin Sahyuk walked awkwardly with each other, and lastly, Jin Seyeon whispered on the radio from the back.

“We found a village called Lupiton. We’ll head inside.”

—Inside?

“Yes. The situation has deviated from our initial plan, but it seems people here don’t suspect us because the village population is high. However, all the residents have already been brainwashed by Orden.”

—…Brainwashed? Mm… okay. But keep the reports coming. Also, send me some photos.

“Yes, if anything happens, I'll send you a request for help.”

Jin Seyeon continued to walk with her eyes fixated on Jin Sahyuk.

**

I faced the direction the wind came from and released ‘Thousand-Mile Eyes’. My field of vision extended in an instant and reached the point where the magic power had started. At a distance, I could see… an insect the size of my hand.

“…What’s that?”

The insect was glowing gold.
It was a dragonfly flapping two pairs of golden wings, scurrying away in a hurry.

“It’s a gold dragonfly.”

“Slurp. Gold dragonfly?”

Tenzuhar’s eyes widened.

“Do you know what that is?”

“Slurp. Of course.”

When Tenzuhar nodded, the dragonfly had already come near us. It was as fast as Kurukuru, but I activated Bullet Time and even used [Pinnacle-rank Instant Acceleration] to catch the insect.

I looked at the dragonfly in my hand.

===
[Second Golden Dragonfly] [Pinnacle-grade Luck Item]
—Lucky item.
—It’s hard to catch, but it feels like something good will happen when you have this dragonfly with you.

「Produces 50 DP every hour.」
「Every stat except for invariable stats increases by 1」
「Luck Bonus — This dragonfly will boost certain characteristics. Keep it safe.」
===

“…What’s this?”

“Ooh, slurp, Congratulations, slurp. This golden dragonfly is a very rare insect that all the Sacred Bone and True Bone humanoid monsters have been looking for, slurp. They say they become stronger when they catch the dragonfly, slurp. It’s an insect that suddenly appeared along with demon merchants, slurp.”

“Hm.”

I threw the dragonfly into Stigma without thinking.
Suddenly, I felt a massive headache.

“…Agh.”

The pain was of a familiar kind but less severe than before.
I clenched my teeth and looked down at my shoulder.
There, a steak of Stigma had only partially been engraved. I would have to say it was only 0.4 streaks in terms of length.
I stared at the streak in confusion but soon realized why this was happening.

It was because of the ‘Bonus Luck’ effect.

Since I put the dragonfly in Stigma, the bonus effect had been applied to it.

At that moment, Boss asked me, “Lotus, are you okay?”

“Y-Yes. I’m fine.”

Anyways.
Somehow the lucky dragonfly became mine, but I knew there had to be more to this story.
I still didn’t know what this insect was running away from.
I stared into the distance.

“…Huh, both humanoid monsters and Djinns are there.”

A number of humanoid monsters and Djinns were chasing after the dragonfly.
It was easy to tell who they were. The Djinns were wearing robes embroidered with the symbol of Nine Evils’ ‘Brutality’, and one of the humanoid monsters looked human except for a pair of bat wings on his back.

“Hey. That monster over there has bat wings. Do you know him?”

“Pardon? Ah~ I do, slurp. That’s ‘Lacurdra’, the youngest Sacred Bone Lord.”

“I see where the name comes from, but… what’s this Sacred Bone thing?”

“Sacred Bone refers to humanoid monsters who are very similar to humans, slurp. They have reached genetic perfection.”

Confronting them head on didn’t seem like such a good choice.

“Boss, Cheok Jungyeong, let’s take a detour.”

Boss and Cheok Jungyeong shrugged. They couldn’t see what I was seeing, so they had nothing to comment on.

“Tenzuhar, lead us.”

“Of course, slurp.”

In the distance, the humanoid monsters and Djinns were going on a rampage as they frantically searched for the dragonfly that was already mine.

We continued to walk.
After 2 hours, we finally arrived at the second village.

“Ah, finally. That’s ‘Lupiton’, slurp.”

The moment Tenzuhar pointed at Lupiton, we became speechless.

“…What.”

The scenery that was laid out in front of us was-

“Isn’t that a city?”

It was nothing short of a human city.

**

The full moon was high up in the night sky.

The reconnaissance team that infiltrated Lupiton had divided themselves into two teams and began to explore the city.
Kim Suho volunteered to be put in the same team as Jin Sahyuk. He was determined to sacrifice himself to watch over the bomb that was sure to explode at some point.

“I’ve acquired crucial information. Tigris, who ravaged China, is coming here. Maybe we can try to assassinate him….”

Kim Suho spoke as he walked down the streets with Jin Sahyuk and Rumi. He was hoping to gain Jin Sahyuk’s cooperation, but as usual, she didn’t even seem to be listening to him.

“Haaam~” Jin Sahyuk gave a big yawn and remarked nonchalantly, “Whatever. More importantly, what’s your relationship with that woman?”

“That woman… You mean Chae Nayun?”

“Yeah.” Jin Sahyuk nodded.

Kim Suho thought for a moment. “…We’re friends.”

“Geez, you have a lot of friends. But maybe you should think twice before befriending someone so dumb.”

“She’s nicer than you.”

“…Tsk,” Jin Sahyuk clicked her tongue and looked around. There were many interesting facilities here in the village of the monsters. There was an arena, a training ground, a magic power invigoration facility, and more….

Jin Sahyuk watched them, then suddenly stopped and looked at Kim Suho. Kim Suho, who was walking ahead, also stopped, turned around, and looked at Jin Sahyuk.

“What now?”

“….”

‘What’s the relationship between Kim Hajin and that woman?’
Jin Sahyuk wanted to ask him, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak. Instead, she turned her gaze to Rumi. Things were a little awkward between them because they were pretending not to know each other.

“Where’s Kim Hajin?”

Jin Sahyuk finally uttered a different question. At that moment, Kim Suho heard Chae Nayun’s voice.

[Hey Kim Suho. We found a place for us to stay in. I’ll send you the address so come over when you finish looking around. Also, ditch that crazy bitch.]

The message sounded very much like Chae Nayun. Kim Suho smiled and replied.

[I’m going with her. Please don’t fight and try to talk to her.]

[I can’t not fight. The way she talks is so irritating….]

Jin Sahyuk frowned.

“What are you laughing for?”

“Mm? Nothing.”

Jin Sahyuk’s frown deepened.

“Yeah, right. Tell me what you just did.”

“I said nothing.”

“You were talking to Kim Hajin, right? Did you send him a Mental Transmission or something?”

“I said it’s nothing….”

As they argued with each other, a huge shadow cast over Kim Suho and Jin Sahyuk.
Jin Sahyuk bumped into something firm.

“Ah, what now…?” Annoyed, Jin Sahyuk looked up with a frown.

“….”

A tough-looking figure was looking down at her.
Both Kim Suho and Jin Sahyuk knew who he was. Especially Jin Sahyuk, he had left a lasting impression.

“Kuuum….”

He growled like a beast. Jin Sahyuk and Rumi widened their eyes and looked up at the man— Cheok Jungyeong.

With a sigh, Cheok Jungeyong asked, “Why are you here?”

He had met all three of them before.
His relationship with Rumi was especially complicated, and he looked at her somewhat faintly.
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