Ranker's Return - Chapter 425
Hyeonu returned to Phinis’ inner room and felt troubled. He had to choose.
‘Who should I go to first?’
The emperor or Lebron—it was clear that one of the two men had the ring. Based on what Hyeonu remembered of Earl Carpe’s tone when he spoke, the earl wasn’t the type to entrust the ring to others or hide it elsewhere.
‘I’m sure someone has it…’
He just had no idea of who was holding it. However, his troubles were only temporary and ended quickly.
‘I unconditionally have to go to Lebron first.’
This was certainly the better option for Hyeonu even if the ring was with the emperor. The reason was simple—there was no harm in going to Lebron. Meeting Lebron wasn’t hard for Hyeonu. He just needed to stop by and exchange a few words, and it would be done. It would be even better if there were rewards or quests he didn’t know about.
On the other hand, meeting the emperor was very tiring. Hyeonu had to be careful with every word, glance, and action. He didn’t know what would happen there, so he absolutely didn’t want to go find the emperor first. If Hyeonu went to the emperor first and found he didn’t have the ring, Hyeonu would only be filled with great mental fatigue. So, he naturally decided it was better to look for Lebron first.
‘Then I will go to the mansion first.’
Hyeonu checked his inventory before leaving for the capital. Gifts were always a sure-fire method to make the other person feel good.
“You came?” Lebron unexpectedly welcomed Hyeonu happily. It seemed as if he had been waiting for Hyeonu’s visit.
“Master, aren’t you welcoming your disciple? Why move your hands first?” Hyeonu frowned as he watched Lebron approach. Lebron’s hands were headed toward Hyeonu’s hands. It wasn’t to shake hands but to take away the bottles of alcohol Hyeonu held.
“What am I doing? Aren’t I welcoming you right now?” Lebron looked at Hyeonu with an expression that asked ‘what’s wrong?’ and quickly grabbed the bottles of alcohol. Lebron looked satisfied once he held a bottle of alcohol in each of his hands.
Seeing Lebron like this, Hyeonu pouted and then said, “Master, I have something to ask you.”
Lebron ignored Hyeonu’s words and threw a bottle of alcohol behind him. The bottle flew leisurely through the air and arrived at the end of the training ground. It was only after confirming it that Lebron answered Hyeonu’s words by uttering, “What?”
Lebron’s speech suddenly became shorter in an instant. It wasn’t just his words; his overall attitude changed.
“That day—” Hyeonu spoke casually as if he was familiar with such changes in Lebron.
“The day I went to see His Majesty with Master. The demon that appeared…”
“Ah! That day? What about that day?” Lebron frowned when he heard Hyeonu’s words.
It was a bad memory.
Lebron continued, “You mean that petty demon? A guy who can’t stand a punch and can only move his mouth… Tsk.”
Hyeonu laughed at Lebron treating a demon earl as a small fry. However, he couldn’t refute it. Lebron deserved to say this. The emperor had immediately sent Earl Carpe to the underworld with one blow.
“Why? What’s the matter?”
“Did you see anything like a ring that day? The dead demon seemed to be wearing a ring.”
Lebron lowered his head and closed his eyes. He was looking back at the memories of that day. A ring…
There had clearly been a ring on the demon’s hand.
“The ring? There was one. Why? Do you need it?”
“Yes, I need it.” Hyeonu stared at Lebron with wide eyes. He was like a young bird hoping for food.
“I can’t give it to you even if I wanted to. I don’t have it.”
“His Majesty took it. That guy took it the moment it appeared. He probably didn’t even know he took it either. The ring just disappeared from the demon’s hand. His Majesty still hasn’t fixed his little habit from childhood.”
‘This is ridiculous.’ Hyeonu felt speechless when he heard Lebron’s words. The emperor was a pickpocket. What exactly was going on with the emperor?
“A little habit from childhood? Are you saying he’s been like this for a long time?”
It wasn’t even just once or twice. This was a habit.
“It was from childhood. His Majesty wasn’t like this from the beginning,” Lebron said. Then he suddenly stopped and changed his words.
“It’s up to here for the idle talk. If this is the only thing you’re looking for today, go back. That ring is in His Majesty’s hands.” Lebron waved and gave Hyeonu an order to leave.
“Thank you, Master.” Hyeonu obediently listened to Lebron’s words.
In any case, his purpose for visiting Lebron had been achieved. He found the whereabouts of the ring. Now all he had to do was visit the owner. Hyeonu moved toward the emperor’s palace. It was to meet the emperor.
Hyeonu stood in front of a gorgeous building.
‘I came all the way back around to the emperor’s palace.’
It was ironic. After all, it had been in the emperor’s palace that he thought of the demon world. The place where he got the clue for the first quest was also at the emperor’s palace. Hyeonu sighed deeply. If someone asked him what was difficult about Arena, the first thing he’d say would be meeting the emperor, the second one was going to the emperor’s palace, and the last was going to the capital.
‘I have to go in.’
Hyeonu was in a daze for a long time before heading to the great hall with heavy feet. The splendid corridor seemed to shine even brighter today, contrasting Hyeonu’s dark face. A wide space spread out in front of Hyeonu as he reached the end of the passage and entered the great hall. There were dozens of stairs, and at the end of them was a gorgeously decorated throne.
A man with golden hair was sitting on that throne. This man always had a listless expression. Yet, the emperor’s eyes came alive just then. It was because Hyeonu had appeared in front of him. However, Hyeonu didn’t notice such a change. He couldn’t afford to worry about changes like that when confronted with the emperor’s oppression.
“Your Majesty, have you been well?” Hyeonu bowed so deeply to the emperor that it was like his forehead was going to touch the ground. Despite Hyeonu’s greeting, the emperor didn’t show much of a reaction. He was just constantly rubbing his thumb and index finger together. Based on this familiar reaction, Hyeonu knew what the emperor wanted.
“I came to see Your Majesty because I have a question.” Hyeonu smoothly brought up the reason why he came here. Nevertheless, the emperor still showed no reaction. He buried himself in his throne and rubbed his fingers together continuously.
“On the day the demon appeared in the palace, did you see something like a ring?” Hyeonu asked.
“A ring?” It was the first time the emperor showed a reaction during this meeting.
“Yes, a ring.”
“Are you talking about this?” The emperor extended the finger he was rubbing. Hyeonu’s gaze shifted to the emperor’s finger. Between the emperor’s thumb and index finger was a ring sparkling with a brilliant black light.
‘He knows.’ Hyeonu didn’t know what method had been used, but the emperor clearly knew that Hyeonu was looking for this ring.
Concealing his flustered emotion, Hyeonu asked the emperor, “You already know that I’m looking for this ring?”
“That is an odd response. Isn’t it natural for me to know? Artifacts are more precious to adventurers than their lives. It is useless to me,” the emperor replied, moving the ring to his palm.
The ring started to rise in the air. It was clearly visible to Hyeonu’s eyes.
“Can’t you give me that ring?” Hyeonu pleaded.
It was just that the emperor didn’t care. “I can give it to you, but what are the benefits for me? Earl, you are getting what you want. But what about me?”
The emperor got up. He only raised his upper body, but the aura around him changed clearly. A heaviness that could only be felt hundreds of meters under the sea filled the great hall. “I can give you the ring. It is of no use to me anyway. It is good if this increases your loyalty. By the way… it is a pity to just give it.”
Yet inversely proportional to his aura, the emperor’s attitude became gentle. Still, this meant nothing. Hyeonu was just standing while trying to withstand the emperor’s pressure. The emperor’s words just entered one ear and flowed out the other.
“Then what should I do, Your Majesty?”
The emperor smiled. “In the east, there are jackals who don’t know who they are facing. Earl, you should build up the majesty of the empire.”
‘Jackals? The East Continent?’ Hyeonu cocked his head at the emperor’s strange words. It seemed that something had happened here while he was in the demon world.
‘What is going on?’ Hyeonu wondered inwardly.
Then he said, “Are you asking me to go to the East Continent?”
The emperor frowned at Hyeonu’s answer. “Earl, have you been in the mountains all this time? Or were you in the demon world? You don’t even know the news of the world. It isn’t like you.”
The emperor’s piercing questions struck Hyeonu in the heart. He barely suppressed his flinch.
‘Does he know I’ve been to the demon world?’
Hyeonu shook his head. The emperor couldn’t have known. How could he know when he only stayed in the palace?
“Something happened, and I spent quite a long time in the dungeon. What happened?”
The emperor stroked his chin a few times and opened his lips: “The merchant groups traveling between the East Continent and West Continent are being attacked. There were reports that adventurers are also involved. Earl, take care of it. For more information, ask Marquis Maizel of Derek Castle.”
[A quest has been created.]
[Information on the Attackers]
[There are a group of attackers raiding the merchant groups crossing the Balder Mountains.
They aren’t just NPCs but adventurers as well.
Hear about them from Marquis Maizel, the lord of Derek.
Conditions: Conversation with Marquis Maizel 0/1
Rewards: Experience, progress to the next quest.]
Hyeonu’s expression didn’t change much when he saw the quest that appeared. It was because there was no need to be disappointed. In any case, this was just a stepping stone for the next quest. He couldn’t be disappointed after knowing this.
“Your Majesty, please take care of this ring until I come back.” Hyeonu maintained his blank expression and lowered his head. By the time Hyeonu looked up, the emperor was once again buried in the throne. So Hyeonu quietly turned to leave the great hall.
“By the way, if you encounter something interesting, please come and talk to me. For example, the demon world or something like that.”
Hyeonu’s shoulders flinched as he exited the great hall.