Second Life Ranker - Chapter 476 - The Tortoise and The Hare (1)

Chapter 476 - The Tortoise and The Hare (1)


[Due to excessive use of magic power and physical overexertion, you have entered the ‘Death Phase’.]


[Warning! Neutralize the poison immediately. The poison is interfering with most of your trait and power functions.]


[Warning! Restore your physical body quickly. If you do not, you may suffer permanent damage.]


[Warning! Quickly…]



Even after he regained consciousness, Yeon-woo could not find his bearings. His mind kept fading and his thoughts appeared in spurts, unable to connect properly. His Cold-Blooded trait, which normally allowed him to regain his composure, was no longer working properly. The poison that he’d been just barely holding back with his magic power was now rampaging through his body. The One-horned tribe referred to this phenomenon as Runaway Reversal.


His Dragon Heart and Philosopher’s Stone continued to try to restrict the poison by constantly creating new magic power. However, his physical restoration, which helped his Dragon Heart and Philosopher’s Stone to work properly, was limited.


“Take this.” When Yeon-woo briefly regained consciousness and opened his eyes, someone offered him a bizarre heap of weeds. Yeon-woo pushed a handful of the greens into his mouth without asking what they were. His instincts told him that he had to eat them or else he would die.


[‘Unknown Herb 1’ tries to remove the status ‘Poison’.]


[‘Unknown Herb 2’ has been added. Detox is being attempted.]



[The treatment is progressing.]


For the first time, Yeon-woo felt his pain dissipate. Even though he had blocked the physical pain, the curse had invaded his soul, but he was feeling it all clear away. Thanks to this, his magic power began to flow again.


[The treatment is progressing. Your condition has improved to ‘Near Death’.]


[Your skill ‘Regeneration’ has restarted.]


[Body restoration is progressing.]


Yeon-woo could finally close his eyes comfortably.


***


‘Where…am I?’ He blinked once more.



“How are you?” A grimy-looking middle-aged man with a bald head and copper skin squatted before Yeon-woo, waving his hand cheerfully. The white rabbit ears on his head flopped cutely. For a moment, Yeon-woo thought he was still dreaming and wandering around in his subconscious. Otherwise, his eyesight was deteriorating at a rapid pace.


Master…fuck, please…fuck...if you’re awake, can you do something about that?! I’ve had to look at that guy for the past three days! You can blame everything on me, so please do something! Shanon cried out urgently. He was swearing like usual, but for the first time, Yeon-woo felt bad for him. Since this weirdo was his master’s savior, Shanon could not do anything, and to make it worse, he had to hold back his curses while watching the weirdo act…weirdly.


Judging by their silence, Yeon-woo could tell that Hanryeong, Rebecca, and the rest felt the same way. The emotions they all projected were irritation and mental anguish. Even though he wanted to swear as well, Yeon-woo suppressed it and instead asked, “Laplace?”


“That’s right. We met each other on the eleventh floor, right? It’s been a while.”


Although he had a weird air, Laplace possessed considerable power. Yeon-woo had only made his guess because they were still in the same place, but he hadn’t been certain. Did this guy always have this kind of personality? Yeon-woo felt his mind going into a tumble cycle. His thoughts grew muddled and chaotic.


His younger brother mentioned in his diary that players had to be most wary of the rabbit and snake Guardians. However, his brother was talking about their insidiousness, not their appearance. The rabbit Laplace was naturally playful and curious, and so, unlike the other Guardians who maintained their neutrality, he was known to intervene in other people’s business often. This was why many players were wary of him. However, Yeon-woo had never heard stories or rumors of Laplace’s weirdness.


“You were just a green rookie back then! It gives me so much pride to see you all grown up and developing so well!”


For a brief moment, Yeon-woo felt conflicted. Was this Laplace’s true personality or was it a test to elicit an impulsive response from him? Or was this a carefully planned move to set up a grand scheme?


Master, can’t you do something about that guy? I feel like my ears are rotting… Shanon cried out again. Yeon-woo felt that Hanryeong, Rebecca, and even Boo were nodding.


“Why aren’t you say anything? Are you embarrassed? Teehee, teehee. Contrary to what I’ve heard, you seem to get embarrassed easily…”


Bam! At that moment, someone slapped the back of Laplace’s head so hard that a bump formed almost instantly.


“Stop using that disgusting tone. I think my ears are rotting. And stop that crazy way of speaking,” the Vampiric Lord said with an irritated expression. Yeon-woo never thought that he would hear such welcome words. However, Laplace only laughed without giving in to her harsh criticism.


“Do you know how cute I am?”


“Do you want to die?”


“Pahaha! Bathory, whether in the past or present, you don’t understand what it means to be cute, search as you might…”


Sss! “Do you really want to die?” the Vampiric Lord said in a low voice. Her face was twisted as she raised her hand. A black haze started puffing out of her palm, revealing a set of ugly, serrated teeth. The Vampiric Spirit seemed to be waiting for its master’s order to come out at any time.


“Well, looks like you’ve found out what it means to be cute. Of course. I’ll change. It would be an honor to change for you.” Pong! Laplace stopped fooling around and revoked his polymorph magic. With a deflating sound, he appeared as the anthropomorphic rabbit that Yeon-woo recognized.


“Is this better?” His appearance resembled that of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. The red eyes were cute, but Yeon-woo shuddered when the image of a middle-aged, bald muscle man kept overlapping with Laplace’s current appearance.


“Hmph! In the past, you weren’t so frivolous, but look what’s happened to you ever since you arrived at the Demonic Sea. Tsk!” the Vampiric Lord said in an irritated voice as she clucked her tongue.


However, even after Laplace returned to his original form, the smile on his lips remained. “What do you mean frivolous? I’m just so happy to return to my hometown, so I regained my true identity which I had forgotten until now.”


“If that’s your true identity, you should crumple it and feed it to the dogs,” the Vampiric Lord spat violently, but Laplace still laughed and did not seem hurt by her words.


“Ha!” In the end, the Vampiric Lord sighed loudly and folded her arms.


After looking at this kind of Vampiric Lord and Yeon-woo, Laplace changed the subject. “It looks like we’ve said our greetings. So, may I ask what business you’re here for?”


***


‘I never knew there would be a place like this in the Demonic Sea.’ As soon as Yeon-woo exited the room where he was staying, he gasped softly. The island where Laplace lived was beautiful enough to be called a paradise. The sky was blue, and the wind was cool. Beautiful flowers bloomed and danced all over the garden and fields.


White and black rabbits pranced around a picturesque field. Small larks flew in the sky and large and small fish swam leisurely in the stream. It was a world where one could relax by just sitting still. Yeon-woo never thought that a place like Demonic Sea, a cutthroat place where one was either the hunter or the hunted, would contain such a peaceful place. Furthermore, considering their violent encounter with Nessie, it was strange that the island was still intact.


‘Wait, no. Is it an Illusory World?’ Yeon-woo recalled Nessie’s Illusory Change and realized that this place must be Laplace’s Illusory World, his innermost sanctuary. Furthermore, Yeon-woo seemed to have seen Laplace’s real identity. During his conversation with the Vampiric Lord, Laplace had said something about returning to his hometown and regaining his identity. That meant that the Demonic Sea was his hometown. Even an idiot would understand the implication of that—he was a king of the Demonic Sea. Like Nessie, he was the ruler of this area inside the corpse.


That meant… ‘It would be more correct to say that the Central Bureau exiled Laplace to his hometown instead of imprisoning him here. Laplace has returned to his own territory.’ No one knew what the conflict between Laplace and the Central Bureau was, but there must have been an internal situation.


‘And.’ Yeon-woo turned his eyes to the Vampiric Lord, who had a sour expression on her face. ‘Bathory is also a king of the Demonic Sea.’ After dealing with Nessie, Yeon-woo had passed out, but he hadn’t been completely unaware of what was going on, even though his memories were fragmented. He recalled his amazement at seeing the Vampiric Spirit threatening Nessie. Was it not comparable to Hades?


‘If she’s reached transcendence… It’s clear how the Vampiric Lord, who reached the brink of death in the Tutorial, became so strong. The answer was the endless battle.’ When one died, everything ended. It made sense that surviving the endless battle would allow her to achieve that much growth. Yeon-woo was beginning to admire the Vampiric Lord, but he continued to wonder the same thing. In fact, his curiosity had even grown. ‘If she fought Master in one-on-one combat, which of them would win?’


It was clear that the Martial King hadn’t achieved awakening and transcendence. Still, Yeon-woo couldn’t help thinking that it was unlikely that the Martial King would lose to the Vampiric Lord. While his thoughts rambled on…


“Hmm! A Tutorial ticket, you say.” Laplace touched the fluffy white fur on his chin after hearing everything from Yeon-woo. He sat with his legs crossed and fell into deep contemplation as rabbits ran around his knees. “I definitely do have something like that, but…”


Yeon-woo clenched his fists. His guess was right. However, he continued to keep his face expressionless. Laplace smiled as if he could read Yeon-woo’s thoughts.


“You are aware that the price is not at all insignificant, right?”


“I am,” Yeon-woo replied as he nodded. He then tried to make an attempt. “For a High Guardian who has vacated his lofty position, you won’t need something like that…”


“The price varies greatly depending on the needs of the buyer. I have the item, and player ### very, very, very much needs that item. Isn’t that right?”


Yeon-woo lightly clucked his tongue. As expected, it wouldn’t be too easy to close the deal. He felt that the mysterious merchant Atran had a lot to learn from Laplace. Lana, who was listening to the conversation from the side, gulped audibly. Although she had reached the limit of her allotted time to stay, she had been increasing the time of her own will. The more she postponed her return, the less she would be summoned in the future. However, this moment was important to her. She had to help Yeon-woo secure a way to find Jeong-woo’s soul. It was her last, remaining regret that she wanted to resolve.


“However,” Laplace said as he watched Yeon-woo and Lana. Behind them, the Vampiric Lord quietly stared at him with her arms folded. “Would I do anything to instill hate in player ### and my lovely neighbor, Bathory? Who knows what will happen in the future and who might become more powerful? I’m not a heartless swindler, so don’t worry.”


Of course, Yeon-woo did not easily believe his words. “So, what are the details of the transaction?”


“First, take this.”


Yeon-woo caught the object Laplace threw at him. His eyes widened slightly at the message.


[You have received a ‘Tutorial ticket’.]


[Currently, this ticket cannot be used.]


“This is?” The ticket was the size of his palm. Although it was labeled “not available for use” in the upper-right corner, Yeon-woo felt his heart pounding. Laplace’s smile grew wider as he looked at Yeon-woo’s changing expression. “I want to barter, item for item.”


“A trade?”


“Yes. As you can see, I’m in exile here, so it’s not easy to move around. All you have to do is go somewhere for me and hand over this book. Then, shalala! The ticket will be activated. Isn’t that easy?” Laplace rummaged in his coat, pulled out a book, and shook it gently in front of Yeon-woo. It was sealed with a rabbit-shaped wax seal so it could not be opened. “Of course, you should never open the book. I’ll be notified immediately if you do, and the Tutorial ticket will rip itself up on the spot. Privacy deserves respect, right?”


An errand boy had to just run the errand. It was easy to say, but Yeon-woo knew that it might be as dangerous—or perhaps even more—than dealing with Nessie.


At that moment, the Vampiric Lord, who had been watching and listening silently, narrowed her eyes and said, “Does that book have something to do with you being exiled here?”


“No comment. That is an invasion of privacy.”


The Vampiric Lord snorted at his response and then turned to Yeon-woo. “The choice is yours. But you must keep the deal you make with His Highness.”


What else could he do but accept Laplace’s offer? If he ran Laplace’s errand, the path to the Tutorial would open. He had to do it. As soon as Yeon-woo was about to ask where he needed to go, Laplace suddenly looked up and laughed. “Oh darn. I guess more uninvited guests have come. They’re trying to enter this place without the owner’s permission. Indeed, there are so many rude people in this era.” His red eyes glittered coldly.


Yeon-woo understood the meaning of his words and frowned. It seemed that too much time had passed while he was unconscious, and the Central Bureau had continued to pursue him. They were now nipping at his heels. Time was running out.