389 Greed

A/N 14th Nov : Sorry for the lack of updates over the past week. I got so sick that even standing up wasn't possible, but I am finally healthy enough to write again. I will make up for the missed chapters the past two weeks.



Dane swung his sword, a trail of blood following his blade, as three bodies fell to the ground.

Kai crouched to take the Identity Tags from all three of them, then turned to hand one to Asher.

Asher accepted the small card-like identity tag.


"We'll use their identities to move with the group," Asher stated, his voice muffled by his mask.

<These three are part of the Underworld Organization working for the Allister Family,>

Tom's voice informed all three of them.

<According to the information Jarell Neville sent us, they're involved in smuggling for the Allister Family,>

"I heard smuggling in Halcyon was tough, but even the Allister Family has to resort to this?" Kai muttered.

"It's the best method to cover our tracks if anything goes wrong," Asher remarked, scanning the surroundings.


<They utilize different groups so that, even if caught, their employer remains unidentified.>

"Sounds like a lot of trouble," Dane murmured.

<Without prior knowledge, it's nearly impossible to link this back to the Allister Family in any way,> Tom added, reflecting on his astonishment upon discovering the extent of the Allister Family's operations.

Given that most of the smuggled items were illegal commodities like poison and drugs, which required strict surveillance by authorities, this was significant. But the worst out of them all was child trafficking.

Despite extensive safety measures from all guilds, hunters often perished in dungeons, leaving a rising number of orphans in the slums.

Many organizations exploited these orphans, indoctrinating them from a young age to serve as hunters.

Dane and Kai had endured similar pasts.

"I'll clean up here," Kai declared, beginning to erase any signs of the skirmish from the room.

They stood in an underground city run by the Black Market, in a sector controlled by an organization affiliated with the Allister Family.

They controlled this portal, which connected Halcyon to the borders of Belvoria.

"But their senses were too dull for C Rank Hunters," Dane noted, sheathing his sword.

"It's probably the drugs," Kai agreed.

"Even in Spyder, there were many who took drugs to win fights and complete missions," Kai said as he incinerated the bloodstains on the floor.

<Why would they take such drugs knowing they could cause mana poisoning?>

Tom, who had been listening to their conversation, asked.

Being unawakened himself, Tom couldn't fathom why someone would intentionally consume something that damaged their own body.

"Most people didn't have a choice," Kai explained. "Kids like us were spared because we produced results. Those who didn't want to die or be discarded on missions resorted to those drugs."

Organizations like Spyder only valued strength for the perilous missions they undertook.

"But unlike these guys, the drugs used in Spyder were more akin to poison," Dane added.

<Why not use artifacts?>

"As if they would entrust lower-ranking members with artifacts. They are so valuable that even we didn't receive anything above B Rank," Dane scoffed.

Dane and Kai, not being among the higher-ranking members of Spyder, only had access to subpar artifacts. Nonetheless, they successfully completed Rank A Missions.

"I'm done, Boss," Kai announced, turning to Asher.

"Let's move," Asher commanded, leading them through the Portal.


Twenty minutes later, after they were moving inside the Forest of Lemar, the group had increased to around 40 members once those who were scouting ahead rejoined them.

Richard and his team were leading, while the masked men followed.

"Stop!" Richard raised his hand, and everyone halted in the middle of the forest.

"What happened?" asked the leader of the masked group.

"I can see signs of monsters in the area," Richard said, indicating the claw marks on a tree.

This forest was particularly close to the Lost Lands, so it wasn't uncommon for monsters to wander in.

Not every continent was connected; the Lost Lands lay between them, a barrier of sorts.

Because the wild mana in those lands was so dense, it was impossible for anyone below A Rank to survive there. That's why most people used the large Teleportation Gates to travel between continents.

These secluded paths were typically utilized by criminal organizations to bypass the security checks at the Teleportation Gates.

With the advancement of technology and spells over the years, it had become easier to detect illegal items.

From monster remains to certain plants, anything that couldn't be distributed without a permit from the World Association and proper documentation was immediately flagged.

That's why these people were traversing through the Forest of Lemar, which skirted the dangerous outskirts of the Lost Lands.

"If we run at full speed, it would take us three to four days to cross the border and reach our facility in Lemar City," Richard stated.

"And that's if we don't rest or engage any monsters," he added.

The masked leader didn't voice his concerns, but he was internally displeased with Richard's assessment.

Richard's group wasn't part of their organization, yet they were granting him many concessions for providing a new route until their usual one was accessible again.lights

"We will follow your lead, as you are most familiar with this route," the masked leader conceded.

Upon hearing this, Richard turned and nodded to one of his men.

At Richard's signal, the man moved forward to scout the terrain.

"We will reduce our pace for the next two hours," Richard announced, and they decelerated to half their previous speed.

The group was composed mostly of B Rank Hunters, with a few A Ranks like Richard and the leader of the masked men.

Everyone was following Richard's group but at the rear a single person was matching the speed while observing the route they were taking.

Unlike others who were on the lookout for monsters, this person was observing the entire group.

After a few hours, the scout returned and informed Richard about a group of B Rank Monsters ahead.

"You heard him, we need to deal with the Lesvines," Richard announced.

"My group will handle it," said the Leader of the Masked Men.

"As you wish," Richard didn't question their abilities, sensing that each of them was a trained professional.

Richard and his group moved to the rear, while the masked men took the lead.

"Tsk, arrogant bastards,"

"Shut your mouth, Ron," Richard admonished the man beside him.

"Isn't it better for us that they deal with all the monsters?" Richard remarked, glancing at Ron.

"Do you think they'll notice?" Ron asked in a hushed tone.

"Don't worry, they'll never know," Richard replied.

"Now go back, and ensure no one causes trouble," Richard instructed, picking up his pace.

They were traveling through a dense part of the forest. Ahead, some were already fighting Lesvines, monsters with sharp, thorny vines and a human-like figure, but twice as large and with pale yellow eyes.

"Don't use Fire Magic, cut all the vines and destroy their core," the Masked Leader shouted.

They were swiftly handling the B Rank Lesvines, as they had the numbers advantage.

Richard didn't join the fight but struggled to contain his smile. He was leading them on the wrong route to the City of Lemar.

'I will never let these guys profit from our routes,' Richard thought, pleased with his plan's progress.

He had heard rumors that the big organizations of the Underground City were spending heavily on smuggling items. But what struck him was their apparent desperation.

Normally, Richard would have charged double for his route, but this time he was offered ten times the price, along with benefits he wouldn't usually receive.

'But why should I give up my trade?' Richard thought with a small smile on his face.

His group mainly trafficked orphan children, and taking them through an area rife with violent mana and monsters wasn't feasible.

Richard had discovered two routes during his decade of work. Now, he was leading them on the one swarming with monsters.

Richard couldn't profit much from this route, as his group wasn't strong enough to face the numerous Lesvines and other monsters in the forest.

"Spread out! Kill them as soon as you encounter one," the Masked Leader shouted.

For hours, they slew many monsters, and their swift pace allowed them to cover a considerable distance as well.

A day passed, and the second night arrived. This time, instead of traveling in the dark, they halted.

"Lay out the tents, and spread out detecting artifacts in a half-

kilometer radius," the Masked Leader instructed.

Richard's group was already eating their food while the masked men dispersed into the darkness, establishing security measures.

"Your men work quickly," Richard observed, looking at the Masked Leader.

"How long will it take to get out of this forest?" asked the Masked Leader.

"Five days if we encounter more monsters, four if everything goes smoothly," Richard replied bluntly.

"The number of monsters has increased in the past few months, so I can't guarantee anything."

Richard's reasoning seemed so plausible that the Masked Leader didn't suspect they were being misled. The natural surge in monster activity a few months ago was real, leaving no room for doubt in his mind.

It was an ideal scenario for Richard, as everything was unfolding in his favor.

He would receive the promised benefits and money, while those who had made the deal would handle the excess monsters near the actual route Richard normally used.

The campsite was divided between the two groups, each responsible for their own safety at night.

The echoes of the forest intensified, yet they didn't disturb the camp's inhabitants, accustomed as they were to such sounds.

Hours passed, and the sun rose again, but the dense forest canopy allowed only slivers of sunlight to filter through, stirred by the occasional gust of wind moving the thick branches.

They traveled for two more days, with the masked individuals handling the monster encounters and Richard's group focusing on initial scouting.

It was the most optimal way of travelling through Forest of Lemar that was even bigger than the City of Lemar itself.

Bordering the Lost Lands, it lay between the borders of the two continents. People seldom visited here, and the monsters didn't stray from the Forest of Lemar, as the density of mana decreased the farther they moved from the Lost Lands.

"At this speed, we should be able to exit the forest by tomorrow," Richard said, looking at the Masked Leader.

"We'll keep moving then," the Masked Leader responded, pausing to think for a moment.

Suddenly, just as the Masked Leader was about to proceed, he felt a wave of dizziness.

Something was amiss, but until now, no one had noticed.

PS: I hope you make a full recovery soon.