Hyeonu defeated all the golems and passed through the passage to the next space, only to feel flustered. Compared to the space where the golems had appeared, this space was very narrow. It was because the books and other items that filled the space made it feel this way. There was a blond man snoring in such a cluttered space.
‘Is he Johannes?’ Hyeonu had this thought as he approached the man believed to be Johannes.
Hyeonu’s foot kicked a book. ‘Damn!’
It was only one book, but the disaster it brought about was huge. One wall full of clutter collapsed.
“It fell again? This...” The blond man woke up with a frown before using his magic to repair the crumbling wall. The blond man quickly finished his work like he had done it more than once or twice. Only then did the man notice Hyeonu’s presence. “Huh? Who are you? How did you get here? Weren’t the guardians protecting this place?”
“If you’re referring to the golems, they’re all broken.”
“What? You broke them? Look at this crazy guy. Who is this jerk? How were you taught? Whose hatchling are you? Destroying the guardians I made?! Stop ignoring the laws.” Johannes’ words poured out quickly like a rapper, but there was something a bit strange.
He seemed to have mistaken Hyeonu for another being.
‘Hatchling? Isn’t that usually a word used for a dragon?’ Hyeonu’s face was pale as he pondered on Johannes’ words.
The laws, hatchling, and this man’s words...
Summing up the three things, it seemed like Johannes was mistaking Hyeonu for a dragon.
‘Then am I now in a dragon lair?’ Hyeonu got goosebumps all over his body.
A dragon lair...
Hyeonu thought this was a place for him to suck up honey, but it turned out to be a minefield. Regardless of how strong Hyeonu was at present, it was still too much for him to go against a dragon. The desert dragon, the variant he had hunted in Lipa’s desert, was just a giant lizard without any intelligence.
‘I can win against an orc, but a dragon...?’ Thinking this, Hyeonu decided to use words to reduce the damage as much as possible.
“I’m not a dragon. I’m an adventurer,” Hyeonu responded to Johannes’ words in a polite and courteous tone.
Johannes’ expression changed to one of embarrassment, anger, and curiosity. “Eh? Really? You aren’t part of my clan? How did an adventurer become strong enough to defeat my guardians?”
“I’m a bit unusual among adventurers. I wouldn’t have come in here if I knew this place was Johannes’ lair. I’m sorry I destroyed your guardians.”
Johannes waved his hand at Hyeonu’s repeated apologies. “It isn’t a big deal. You don’t have to apologize. It is just annoying. A dragon isn’t an ogre. We don’t kill humans just because we feel like it. By the way, why was I mistaken?” Johannes spoke up to here and seemed to be thinking of something. Then his face brightened when he finally remembered. “Yes, it was because of that idiot Leon’s smell. Did you meet a black-haired idiot a while ago? He looks like he is one of the most annoying people in the world.”
As Hyeonu heard Johannes’ words, a face came to his mind. It was the face of Leon Meyer—the man Hyeonu had met in a cave along with a demonic beast. The ‘Leon’ that Johannes mentioned seemed to indicate him.
‘Leon? Is he referring to the man I met in the cave on Bung Bung Island?’
“Leon...? Ah, yes. I’ve met him,” Hyeonu replied in an unclear tone.
Johannes didn’t care about this and only focused on the fact that Hyeonu had met Leon Meyer. “Yes, this was why I was mistaken. I’m not an idiot like Leon. I couldn’t be mistaken for no reason.”
This was self-rationalization. It wasn’t that he was stupid. He just made a mistake. This was what Johannes seemed to be implying to Hyeonu.
Johannes wondered, “Then why are you here? Don’t adventurers usually hunt monsters or search for treasure? There are plenty of monsters in the Balder Mountains.”
Following the line of his self-rationalization, Johannes questioned Hyeonu. Hyeonu wondered for a moment about how to answer the question. How should he answer it?
‘I will do it directly.’
Hyeonu’s choice was to say the truth. He would just be logged out once if things went wrong.
“I was looking for something. It should be a trail or a keepsake,” Hyeonu responded in a polite but unbending manner.
“Really? Isn’t this a bit interesting? Tell me more.” Fortunately, Johannes seemed intrigued by Hyeonu’s words.
Hyeonu let out a small breath and continued to speak. “It started with a book I came across. I need to find the traces left by the owner of this book. It says that the traces are somewhere in the Balder Mountains, so I came to find them.”
“Hmm... This is the first time I’ve heard of it. It has been nearly 3,000 years since I’ve settled here. I don’t know what has been happening in the Balder Mountains.”
Hyeonu saw the thoughtful Johannes and thought this dragon had an easier personality than expected. ‘He is a bit different from the dragons in other games. Leon Meyer as well. It is a bit like... They feel like Yeongchan.’
It wasn’t just them. This was the same for the other NPCs Hyeonu had met. Lebron, Suped, the emperor, Tang-E, and so on—they were all high-ranking NPCs that normal people wouldn’t be able to tell were different from players even after washing their eyes.
‘I think they are supposed to have a sense of vitality. It can be called player friendly...’
Hyeonu was busy thinking when Johannes reached out to him. “Give me that book. I should read it once.”
Hyeonu silently handed over the journal that Johannes asked for, and the latter read the journal with a serious expression.
“Umm...” A groan came from Johannes’ mouth as he read the journal. Soon after, he finished reading the journal and handed it back to Hyeonu.
“I remember now. It was 500 years ago. There was someone from the East Continent who crossed the mountains. I think you are looking for traces of that human. Ah, right...” Johannes was unable to finish his words properly. His expression seemed to become strange.
Hyeonu knew one person who made this expression before. ‘It is the same as before when Suped told me he damaged Laek’s 10th stage.’
“Did you remove the traces? I will be grateful if you tell me the truth,” Hyeonu stated.
Once Hyeonu acted like he already knew, Johannes helplessly started to tell the story. “How many years has it been? My work wasn’t going well, so I released my frustration at the mountains... At that time, the peak that the human was staying on was blown away.”
Hyeonu was dumbfounded. Getting rid of a mountain peak out of frustration… What was this ridiculous thing? Then how was Hyeonu going to clear the quest?
“Why don’t you go directly to the East Continent?” Johannes suggested to the flustered Hyeonu.
Hyeonu’s expression changed once more at Johannes’ words. He still looked slightly flustered, but there was a slight smile on his face like he welcomed Johannes’ suggestion. ‘Will he send me directly to the East Continent?’
It was a deal that had to be accepted unconditionally. No one had ever been to the East Continent. It meant Hyeonu would be the first to do so if he went. In Arena, the ‘firsts’ always gave a lot of benefits in terms of quests and rewards. There was also a difference between first and non-first titles.
“It doesn’t matter if I go to the East Continent as long as I can clear the quest. However, is it hard to cross the Balder Mountains?”
“It isn’t hard to cross the mountains. Of course, it isn’t possible at your level right now. The problem is that my clan made a barrier so that people can’t cross the Balder Mountains. It will be useless to climb the mountain range if you can’t break the barrier. Well, it doesn’t mean anything since I can send you there. I just need to adjust the barrier a bit.”
‘This means that even if the traces were intact, I would’ve had to eventually come to Johannes anyway,’ Hyeonu thought and felt it was a good thing.
He skipped a step in the middle and jumped to the end at once. Bad luck quickly turned into good luck. It really was a blessing in disguise.
“Then what should I do, Johannes?” Hyeonu asked Johannes.
Johannes’ answer was simple. “Is your heart ready?”
“It is impossible for you to cross the Balder Mountains with your skill. So I will send you there. Isn't that right?”
“Huh?” Hyeonu questioned like he didn’t understand.
However, Johannes was already in action. “Then we will see each other again if it is meant to be. Goodbye.”
“Huh??” Hyeonu repeated.
Johannes waved his hand, and white magic power filled the space. This magic power enclosed around Hyeonu’s entire body. Then Hyeonu disappeared from Johannes’ residence.
“This is crazy! Doing things so randomly?!”
After being teleported by Johannes, Hyeonu appeared in a forest he had never been to before. He was certain about it. The trees looked completely different to those found in the Balder Mountains and the Hejin Great Mountain Range, which were mainly broad-leaved trees. There were many trees with flat and broad leaves in those areas. However, the forest where Hyeonu had just appeared was a coniferous forest full of leaves that were pointy like a needle.
“All Arena magicians are like this.” Hyeonu’s dissatisfaction exploded. It was very special to move through space without even chanting properly.
Hyeonu turned his head to look at the source of the sound. There, a familiar bear was eating leaves.
“Dude!! You are eating right now?” Hyeonu had turned to find Tang-E attached to a tree and eating leaves.
“I need to eat to live. I can only move when I have a full stomach. Master dude should eat something as well.” After finishing his words, Tang-E was once again eager to eat the leaves. “Lick lick.”
Hyeonu barely endured a sigh at Tang-E’s appearance. “Uh... I have to endure it. Then keep eating. I’ll take a look around.”
Leaving behind these words, Hyeonu started to search for the tallest tree around him. He wanted to use the tree to look around.
‘I need a map...’
The East Continent was an uncharted land that no one had ever been to before. So, there was no map. In Arena, maps were hand-crafted by rare classes such as explorers. Then the maps were sold in stores.
Hyeonu stood on a tree and started to swear at Johannes. “This Johannes...”
The view from the tree was no different. All he could see was an endless forest.