Solo Max Level Newbie Chapter 240

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Solo Max-Level Newbie

Chapter 240. Return of the Heroes (1)

“Gandara…”

Jinhyuk slowly savored the name on his lips.

One of the seven major guilds, recently undergoing a rapid growth as a mid-tier power.

Naturally, they were receiving love calls from various forces within the Tower and had chosen ‘Moorim’ to solidify their foundation.

But now.

They had taken care of Valmariel.

There were two possibilities.

One was that among those sent by Moorim to the siege, there was someone even higher ranking—a master corresponding to the head of each sect.

Or, the leader of the Gandara guild, the ranker ‘Nirasha,’ was unexpectedly powerful.

If it’s the latter, it would mean Nirasha is growing at a much higher rate than most denizens.

With damages caused by the demon’s manifestation being repaired, two forces had temporarily entered a ceasefire. This situation was about to get interesting.

There might even be an entertaining event before heading to the 15th floor where the Wailing Witch resides.

Of course, so could the fortunes that come with it.

“Mr. Pesis, can we not check other people’s rankings?”

“Normally, there are conditions, but for you, Mr. Jinhyuk, I’ll provide this service just once. Shall I show you Player Nirasha’s profile?”

“Please do.”

As Jinhyuk nodded, another status window appeared.

[Nirasha (275th)]

275th place…

She was ranked quite high.

Moreover, since the rankings are always changing, she might climb even higher in the future.

“Thank you. This was very helpful.”

“Ah, but as far as I know, there’s also two others, Wolyeong and someone named Andria. However, I don’t see them around?”

Pesis took another glance among the group.

“They have some matters to finish and had to step away for a moment.”

“Matters to finish…?”

“It’s personal. You’ll probably see them by the time we get to the palace, so don’t worry too much.”

“Hmm. Sounds like there’s some issue. Very well, I won’t pry further. As long as I can meet them, that’s fine by me.”

“Then, we should be on our way soon. It gets quite dangerous here at night with frequent monster appearances.”

Jinhyuk took a brief look through the trees.

While it was calm now, at night, the large creatures would wake up and become active.

To avoid getting caught up in trouble, they’d need to get out of the woods before that.

Of course…

Some may never find their way out of this forest.

***

In the darkness lit only by faint moonlight.

“Pant. Pant… Hah.”

Nangong Chun was desperately sprinting across the forest.

Breath becoming shallow and his body soaked in sweat and blood, but he could not afford to stop, not even for a moment.

Shh.

Ssssh!

Many shadows were drawing in, tightening the encirclement.

His fleeing companions had already vanished.

Whether they were somewhere else or dead was impossible to know.

But none of that mattered now.

All that mattered was moving as far as possible.

“I, Nangong Chun, will not perish so meaninglessly.”

He had fought tooth and nail to climb up.

Ruthlessly abandoning the worthless and exploiting the useful…

And here he was, at this point.

Yet now.

It was all turning to nothing—all because of that damn Kang Jinhyuk!

“I’ll kill him. Next time, I’ll drag everyone from the five great clans and the nine clan alliance to take him down!”

In that moment, as Nangong Chun hid behind a tree, grinding his teeth,

“There’s no next time for you.”

A low and beautiful voice echoed through the air.

This voice. No mistake.

It belonged to the same woman who had assaulted his comrades.

“Stop sneaking around and show yourself!”

“Cowardly? Well, I suppose to your eyes it might seem so.”

From the forest emerged a woman with short white hair and red eyes.

The boss of the 5th layer and the master of the great stronghold called the Psychic Ward.

Andria.

“Monster… was it? Why would a boss monster submit to a human?”

“Race has nothing to do with who one follows.”

“Bosses are known to be prideful. It’s just hard to understand why one would submit to a lesser being like a human.”

“Interesting. That you think he is beneath me.”

A player with power surpassing the bosses of each floor and the judgement to design situations and command the overall board was beyond categorizing as simply human.

No, even if faced with any being from the Tower, none could best Jinhyuk.

For Jinhyuk had a certain strange power to enforce victory beyond mere probability.

“Above all, Mr. Jinhyuk rescued me from a miserable life bound by blind faith, destined to be a sacrificial offering.”

A debt she could never repay in a lifetime.

There was no greater reason for Andria to wield her sword.

“Gh!”

A murderous aura shrouded Nangong Chun, making him stagger backward.

But there was no escape.

“There is no retreat.”

A low, heavy voice came from behind.

Wolyeong, who had activated ‘Shadow Extreme Murder,’ slowly rose from the shadows cast by the trees.

His sword gleamed with a blinding light.

On top of that, masked figures packed the tree branches.

The White Serpents and Shadow Corps.

There was no way out.

“Uh… uh…”

Nangong Chun trembled like a leaf, engulfed in the perfect encirclement.

“The crime of drawing your sword to our Lord. And the insolence of speaking filth. You deserve death.”

Wolyeong’s sword lunged forward.

Simultaneously.

Andria also grasped her sharp dagger in a reverse grip.

“Wait, just wait. Let’s… negotiate. Tell me what you want. Money? Or power? I’ll give you anything. Please…!”

Nangong Chun desperately begged for his life.

Pride was forgotten; the only thought was the need to survive.

But.

“No need.”

“I’m not inclined.”

What returned was but a cold rejection.

And that was…

Thud!

Sshk!

“AAAAAAGH!”

The end of Nangong Chun, who once led and ultimately abandoned the Central Alliance Guild.

***

Days later, Jinhyuk and his group finally arrived at the capital of the Empire.

It had been quite a long journey.

Especially handling the terrifying appetites of Goguma and Ellis had been the most troublesome part.

‘I thought I was quite familiar with cooking, but I was terribly mistaken. Do they have spatial inventory for stomachs or what…’

Waking from the horrendous nightmare, Jinhyuk sighed quietly to himself.

Now, the hardships were all behind them.

A grand welcome awaited them for having thwarted a massive disaster.

And as if proving his thoughts correct…

As Jinhyuk entered the city gates, an enormous cheer erupted.

“Wooooah!”

“Wow! It’s the heroes! The saviors of the Empire!”

“Welcome! Please come in!”

Thousands of people had gathered along the road to catch a glimpse of Jinhyuk and the rest of the group.

Guards barely managed to hold them back, but controlling the enthusiastic crowd was near impossible.

“Is the person in front at the front the hero who slew the demon?”

“Hmm. Actually, doesn’t the man behind look more like a hero? Just by his looks, doesn’t he fit the bill?”

“Yeah, the person in front is too ordinary. In contrast, that knight looks like a cold sculpture… How can someone be so perfect?”

“It’s like a beggar and a prince, haha!”

Third young lady on the right side, seventh man on the left, and a kid who seemed about seven years old.

I’ve made a mental note of all of them.

The City Guard will come knocking soon enough, and let them know this is why.

As Jinhyuk was mentally jotting names in his imaginary death note, Ellis chuckled beside him.

“Are those comments bothering you?”

“Not at all. Not the slightest. Just making mental notes of the faces. Might see them again.”

“Human eyes lack discernment. I find you more to my taste than a pompous sword saint.”

Oh? Surprisingly, the creature seemed to be making sense.

“That’s what I like to hear. Got something you want to eat?”

“…It’s not that… No, actually, buy me something delicious later.”

Ellis nodded with a slightly bitter smile.

“After all the ordeal, once we get out, I’ll make sure you eat till you burst.”

With his mood slightly improved, Jinhyuk again took control of the horse.

Then, suddenly…

‘…?’

He felt an odd gaze from among the crowd.

Jinhyuk swiftly turned his head.

But he couldn’t identify the source of the unease.

A very faint glance lost in the masses.

For a moment, he thought it might be Gandara spying, but Jinhyuk quickly dismissed that possibility.

If it were a player, they couldn’t have concealed their presence so expertly.

Moreover, the energy felt all too familiar.

Like the one from Ellis.

Connecting the dots, Jinhyuk’s entire body tensed.

‘…Could there be another vampire here?’

That was the only explanation.

And if it were on this scale, it’s highly likely it was of the true vampire lineage.

The aim could be targeting Ellis, but more probably, they came for ‘that thing’ in the Empire…

“…”

“Why?”

“It’s nothing. Just seemed a bit on edge. Probably tired from the long journey.”

Jinhyuk resumed his journey, appearing unfazed.

There was no need to worry Ellis at this moment.

At least, not now.

They continued through the long welcoming procession and arrived at the resplendent reception hall in the palace.

There awaited the figures Jinhyuk recalled from his previous visit to the Empire.

The frail old man seated on the throne was Emperor Reinhardt III.

Beside him stood Duke Vainschtern and Penheimer.

“We’ve been waiting. Your efforts have been monumental.”

A tired phrase escaped Reinhardt’s lips.

At least he looked better than before.

Unlike when his hope in maintaining imperial authority was dead, there was a faint light in the Emperor’s eyes now.

‘My dream won’t take long to become a reality. For you and for my own sake as well.’

[Earn the trust of the ‘Emperor Reinhardt III’ of the Empire and guide it to a path of complete prosperity.]

[Success will unlock the third privilege for ‘the First Conqueror of the Tower’.]

A symbiotic relationship.

To obtain the third privilege, there must be an alliance with the Emperor.

‘In that regard, it seems necessary to demonstrate some decorum.’

After all, that’s how you earn bonus points in the game of flattery.

Especially with nobles who fancy pomp and circumstance.

Recalling scenes from films he’d seen, Jinhyuk respectfully knelt on one knee.

As anticipated.

A faint smile graced the Emperor’s face at the gesture.

“The efforts of securing the fortress and upholding the Empire’s pride against the vile demons merit praise. Thus, I wish to show a token of my gratitude to you all.”

Finally, the Emperor’s reward was to be revealed.

Jinhyuk swallowed nervously.

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