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Haroon Book 5 Chapter 2

Haroon Volume 5 Chapter 2


The Land of Terror

Haroon searched about ironsnakes on the official Beyond webpage just in case he found something useful.

'This isn't what I wanted.'

All he could find was that ironsnakes were usually found on mineral lands, about three meters to seven meters long, hostile and equipped with strong venom. Their horns, blood, and especially their gallbladders were known to be the most expensive medical material. There were no records about ironsnakes that were forty meters long, like the one he killed. There was only one result he found, and he found it untrustworthy, as the source was an ancient book stored in the royal palace library.

While he was looking for more information, Bell brought him a cup of tea.

"Oppa, arent you at the Huk'ran Mountains now?" She asked.

"I am. Why?" Haroon wondered why she would ask that.

"Video game channels like Virtual Vision have been broadcasting about them for days now. They are saying the Hukran Mountains are a very dangerous place, and I was wondering if you were doing fine."
"Really?"

Virtual Vision was one of the broadcasting companies whose main content was video games and anything related to them. The company had its own global scale communication network, unlike other broadcasters who uses the Union Network. Supported by the popularity of virtual reality games, they had the most, and solid viewer ratings, stomping government-run companies.

"Lets hear what they've got to say. Bell, display that TV show."

"Okay."

Bell displayed Virtual Vision before his eyes on a holographic screen. As it was already evening, it was broadcasting 'The World of Imaginary Games', the representative show of Visual Vision.

Layura Sing, one of the best celebrity of the Unions, was the host of the show. She was having a conversation with the guest, who seemed like a gamer, and the background was the beautiful scenery of the Huk'ran Mountains taken from different angles.

Layura Sing was half-black, half-yellow, a genius who finished her bachelors degree at the age of eighteen. She had charming dark skin, with a well-proportioned body. With her bright eyes and her smile that was like a beautifully blooming flower, she was enjoying immense popularity from Union's lower cla.s.s people.

She was asking the guest about The Huk'ran Mountains.

"So what you're saying, Dalat, is that users are heading to The Hukran Mountains because of the jewel mines you just mentioned."

"Thats right. It seems some guilds have found them already. According to the top secret intel we, The Arapa intelligence guild acquired, these jewel mines are open-air mineral lands, and are as wide as six mountains with heights of over a thousand meters above sea level."

Layura's shining-white teeth were revealed as she gaped at Dalat's words.

"You just said they are open-air mines, does that mean jewels and ores are just exposed to the surface?"

"Unfortunately not. It's not like how it sounds. Of course, some mineral lands have ores just a few meters under, but normally open-air mines refer to mineral lands that have ores within a hundred meters of the surface. But compared to normal mines that are dug several hundred meters or even a thousand meters down, open-air mineral lands are surely easier money."

"That sounds awesome. We users can't help but want to claim those mines, can we?"

"You're right. What's more intriguing is that according to unconfirmed reports, semi-precious ores such as crystals, ambers and opals can be easily unearthed as they are buried just a few meter below the surface."

"Oh, my. I cant believe such a place exists. It's like a women's dream come true."

"Hahaha, I wouldnt say its only a womens dream. It's known that not only are jewels buried, but tons of gold, silver, and iron ores, so not to mention the users but even Beyond residents are going after them. It wouldnt have been this crazy if it wasnt for the facts that these lands dont require a huge investment to mine or special technology."

Layura knit her brow as if she was finding something worrisome.

"So will there be any?"

Dalat knew what she was going to say.

"Yes. There will be b.l.o.o.d.y battles. Well, there were battles already. We've got cla.s.sified intel that Advance parties from four huge guilds got wiped out before they could even get to the mines."

"Oh my G.o.d, that's awful!"

Layura made a scared face with a flutter of her long, dark eyelashes.

"Hahaha! You don't have to be so scared by it, La'yura. You're safe as long as you're not there."

"But its scary just thinking about so many users and NPCs dying for this. Shouldn't life come first before money? We wise users should know that. This is so horrible."

Layura quivered.

Haroon frowned, disgusted by her actions. Many men might like a female figure that stirs up protective instincts, but Haroon didn't. He preferred people with tough and level-headed personalities. It was his thought that both men and women need a tough, daring mindset to be ready to face the challenges of living in this world.

"Bell, please turn the channel to a different one."

"Haha!"

Laughing softly, guessing herself about what Haroon thought of the show, she switched to another show from Houl Vision that happened to be talking about the same subject.

The host was Nora, a female warrior who was a high ranker in the game 'Rakrano of Twilight'. Just like her character in the game, she was wearing a warrior's outfit that exposed her muscular body.

"Let us hear from Allin about the geographical features of the Huk'ran Mountains. Give us the brief, Allin."

Allin, too, was a well known player to the public being a ranker of several VR games.

"The Huk'ran Mountains consist of over four hundred mountains, and they are excellently located in such a way that river Seine is surrounding their three sides. The area is about a hundred times the size of Ko-1 Union, and its east-west width is shorter than its north-south length. The northern Huk'ran Mountains are usually the highest, covered in permanent snow, and is the most dangerous place because of the wyverns living in the area. The eastern mountains are lower, but the western mountains are just as high as the northern mountains. The southern area is a plain field. The interior of the Huk'ran Mountains consists of several fields, small mountains and highlands. It has a good climate for living in as hot, humid winds blow from the south into the north."

"Then I a.s.sume it would be rich in monsters?"

It was a fair a.s.sumption. Since monsters weren't like humans, who have the intelligence to adapt to harsh climates, it was normal for monsters to live where the climates good for them.

"Yes, that's right. According to the finders of my guild who observed the south-western area of the Huk'ran Mountains, there are a large number of high-level monsters such as trolls and ogres. It'd been a long mission for our finders thanks for that. The thing is, that these trolls and ogres live in groups or tribes, whereas it's normal for them to act individually or as a small family unit."

The one that answered Nora's question was Osiris, another ranker. He was a self-made man who became a ranker in two different VR games as an adventurer, also known as a finder.

"Woah! Just one of them is enough to kill an orc tribe, and they live as a tribe? That's amazing!" Nora exclaimed.

Her eyes lit up with a fighting spirit. Her guests smiled rather bitterly seeing her natural born warrior reaction. Osiris wet his lips and continued.

"We couldn't explore the southern part because we couldn't cross The Seine River; It's too wide, full of water monsters like man-eating fish and it's too fast to swim across. But from a distance, we were able to observe it teeming with herbivorous animals, as well as orcs, goblins, and beasts. The northern mountains that are next to The Jorlen Plains are steep, rocky, and full of the most dangerous monsters such as wyverns. The eastern mountains are the easiest to enter from as it's where the rivers at its narrowest, although orcs do live in the fields next to the river. But, once you're inside, it seems like it's a totally different story."

Everyone looked up at Osiris. He enjoyed that reaction for a bit, then continued.

"This is what I found after searching through lore, legends, folktales, history records of the Terron Empire and villages near the Hukran Mountains. The inside of the Huk'ran Mountains, excluding south-western and northern mountains, is what people call Devil Orcs' Land. Devil orcs have lumps on their heads. According to our research, these orcs are called Lump Orcs, named by magicians from the ancient era, and they are twice or thrice as strong as normal orcs. Some claim that their lumps are some kind of biological manastone that's created as a result of constantly consuming maninfused water that exists in the Hukran Mountains, which is produced over thousands of years. Although we aren't sure if it's the lumps that are causing it, they're as intelligent as humans, and the ones that are ranked as raid leaders or higher even seems to be capable of using mana just like human knights. According to unofficial intel we acquired, It was the work of those lump orcs that killed the users and knights who entered The Hukran Mountains recently."

Everyones eyes lit up with curiosity upon hearing him say the orcs as intelligent as humans.

"Do you know how many of them are there?"

It wasn't the host who asked Osiris, but yet another guest.

"Im afraid n.o.body can answer that. Its because the Hukran mountains are considered to be one of the forbidden areas. It's rare that anyone survives after entering the Hukran mountains, not to mention the users, but even for the NPCs."

According to what Osiris said so far, the Hukran Mountains lived up to its name.

"But that doesn't mean we don't know anything about them. Thanks to the financial support Houl Vision provided, we were able to find a record from the Imperial Palace Library."

Their eyes lit up once again. This wasn't something that any individual or guilds could find. It proved how capable Osiris' guild was.

"This record is a scoop for us. This record was made by survivors who entered the Huk'ran mountains. This is how it goes: Three hundred years ago, a marquis who ruled the Jorlen plain and its surroundings acquired a treasure map with jewel mines marked on it, and sent ten groups of one hundred fifty knights and three hundred servants, two magic armies lead by six-circle magicians, and twenty thousand infantry. Entering via the eastern mountains, which were the easiest to enter, they separated into two groups and began exploring, one group headed northwest while the other went southwest. Six months later, no more than ten people returned. According to a report made by the survivors sent to the royal family, there were more than ten tribes of lump orcs, and each tribe has about ten thousand to fifty thousand warriors."

"Wow! That's just beyond imagination. So there are at least a hundred thousand of them, just counting the warriors. It's surely the Devil's Land as the NPCs like to call it.

Opposite to her words, Nora's eyes were burning with unconcealable fighting spirit. She was making the eyes that showed she would like to go fight them at once. But she hadn't forgotten that she was the host of a TV show at the moment.

She restored her calmness pretty quickly, and changed the subject.

"By the way, Allin, I heard you have acquired video footage of these lump orcs?"

"Yes, I have. A user contacted us right before I arrived here. He claimed to have video footage of a battle between a user guild and some lump orcs. He sent a one minute sample of the video, and it was amazing."

He seemed to be excited. Not only him, but the host Nora and other guests were all excited. Seeing video footage meant being able to study the lump orcs' ability and combat skills.

"Itll be a scoop."

"Yes. It's thanks to the users who appreciated our humble but great reward on their report. We might be able to show you the video, exclusively on Houl Vision next time."

"Im already looking forward to that video."

Allin grinned hearing Nora's words. His face was full of joy and excitement after getting exclusive news. Bringing scoops like this one earned him not only money but the chance to be hired as a private reporter which would earn him a huge salary and a good house.

"I think viewers appreciate the pa.s.sion and hard work put in by people like you, Allin, and that's what I think brought Houl Vision this far. Now, Ellan, the magician, will tell us about what's actually going on, right now, inside the Huk'ran mountains. Ellan?"

Nora changed the subject after attracting high expectations for the next episode of the show.

Ellan was a magician who wore a golden colored robe, also a ranker who made a name for herself as a ranker in the game "The Land of the Dawn."

"According to some information we, the Golden Magic Tower acquired, the first ones to acquire information about the mines was Ko-M guild."

Haroon knew about The Golden Magic Tower thanks to the information Bell gave him. The Golden Magic Tower was an organization of magician players, all of which received magic instruction from NPC magicians from a larger organisation. Just like the other Magician players. There was no telling how these organizations would grow, but they weren't different from the guilds for now.

"Oh, I know a few things about Ko-M guild."

Nora interrupted. Ellan gave her a smile, then Nora started to talk about Ko-M guild.

"Ko-M guild is a medium sized guild, it's number of members just went over two thousand. I know Seryu, the leader of Ko-M. We met in other games, and she always had solid financial support and high-level production cla.s.s players."

"I agree. They've got everything to grow as a ma.s.sive guild. Anyways, Ko-M guild secretly acquired a map and the intel about the mines from an intel guild. But the intel guild deceived Ko-M guild by making a complicated contract so that they could sell the same intel to other guilds. And that's how the advance parties from ma.s.sive guilds and n.o.bles gathered around Baron Thaust Castle, the largest city to the east of the Huk'ran Mountains. Here is the list of them."

Ellan showed the list of guilds and n.o.ble families whose parties were at Baron Thaust Castle.

"But there was a problem: No one knew the terrain of the Huk'ran mountains, neither users or NPCs. Ko-M guild's first exploration party got wiped out in a week, and only the leader and vice-leader survived."

"Do you know how large the group was?"

It was an archeress carrying a golden bow on her back who asked. Haroon knew many popular gamers from watching internet broadcasts, but he'd never seen her before.

"Oh, I didn't know you would be interested in this, Samir," said Ellan, surprised.

"Of course, she would be. She's a ranker too, who leads a guild," Nora added.

"Well. Their first exploration party had about three hundred members with an average level just above fifty. I heard they had to start prematurely without their rankers because the other factions were flooding in."

"They didn't last a week with that many skilled players?" Samir asked.

Considering the distribution of users' levels, level fifty was in the mid-upper range. At this level it was possible to solo kill an orc warrior, they were a tough monsters so if you could it would prove your skill level. Moreover, as a guild, there would be many different cla.s.s including magicians. It was normal for groups to have higher performance as each persons skill contributes as a synergy.

Ellan smiled knowing it would be hard to believe, and continued.

"No, they didn't. The thing was that the map drawn by the survivors three hundred years ago was too inaccurate to locate without a pathfinder. They asked every single hunter and herb gatherer, but no one dared to enter what they believed to be a forbidden area. It was something that not only Ko-M guild, but also every other faction couldn't deal with. But somehow, Ko-M guild has found pathfinders."

"They did?" Nora and others excitedly asked.

"Only Seryu knows the details, but we've got a general idea about them. An elite group of mercenaries from the guild named 'The Gusts of Wind' escorted Ko-M's second party to the jewel mines. To our surprise, they had rather detailed geographical information as well as the monsters' habitats, and they were skilled enough to save users from danger."

"That's an amazing mercenary guild," Nora exclaimed. "The second party must have consisted of the elites of the elites. This meant their average level would be about fifty five to sixty. And yet, those mercenaries were still able to rescue them from various dangers. That gives us a general idea of just how skilled they were."

"Indeed. But here's the thing. So I did a little research regarding The Gusts of Wind, but it ended in a mystery. There were more than ten guilds with the same name, and it was hard to locate their whereabouts. Long story short, there was no such guild that could execute such a mission. One of them was even a tiny guild with only five members who registered just a few months ago. So I concluded that The Gusts of Wind, is not, a guild registered to the Mercenaries guild. For your information the world of Beyond we play in has a lot of unregistered mercenary guilds who secretly make deals with high ranking n.o.bles."

Listening to Ellan, Haroon felt a bit underappreciated and safe at the same time. It was still remarkable that they'd found his guild's name.

"Anyways, according to the intel that Ko-M guild members leaked, The Gusts of Wind either seemed to have hunted in the Huk'ran mountains for a long time or have experienced dealing with requests in the Huk'ran mountains. Otherwise they wouldn't have such detailed information on such a vast area."

It was fortunate that his name wasn't mentioned, though now the public knew his guild's name. He was thankful that his name was only known to the leading members of Ko-M. Thought n.o.body would believe it was him even if they found out his name, Haroon still didnt want to be known to the public. He was slightly fearful of being a popular person as he never had been one before.

"Still, it's remarkable That gusts of wind managed to find the way."

Oddly, even to Haroon, The Gusts of Wind was drawing the casts' attention too much.

"Oh, right. Why don't you tell us what happened next?" Nora spoke to call their attention.

"Well, as Ko-M guild suddenly disappeared, the other factions gathered in Baron Thaust Castle belatedly realized what was going on, and chased them. Considering that it was a large group moving, it wouldn't have been hard for them to locate Ko-M guild's track. Unconfirmed information says there was a user accompanying Ko-M who made secret deals with other factions to guide them, but we couldn't ascertain if it was true or not. Now back to the factions that were chasing Ko-M, unlike Ko-M who had few casualties, user guilds and knights suffered heavy casualties from the monster attacks and the rugged terrain. Especially the last faction, three groups of knights were wiped out by the attacks of the devil orcs that were aggravated by the other factions that went through before them."

"But the users must have been able to get to the jewel mines by taking advantage of the revival system. So what happened? Was there a fight at the jewel mines?" Nora asked.

Though there was a three-day suspension as a death penalty, setting resp.a.w.n location by their leaders location would help them conserve the force.

Ellan smiled and shook her head.

"Theoretically they would have been able to, but they faced a problem. After arriving at the jewel mines, someone in Ko-M guild noticed there were factions chasing them. Enraged, they made surprise attacks in the night, wiping out two guilds over three days. But as the users alerted the other guilds in real life, yet another two guilds that were following Ko-M united and set a trap. Both sides fought desperately, and it resulted in the deaths of the Ko-M guilds members as their forces had been weakened over time."

The casts' eyes were shining when Ellan ended her briefing. The public now had all the information they needed. Even if the advance parties got killed, theyd located the jewel mines so they would bring more members to claim the jewel mines.

"And then?"

"This is where it gets odd. It wasn't long after Ko-M's party was defeated that these two guilds were wiped out as well. While searching for veins of ores, they got ambushed by enormous monsters and were killed."

"Monsters?"

"Yeah, some says they were dragons, some says they were giant lizards, but we couldn't confirm what they actually were. What we know is that most of the users were killed due to strong poisoning."

"Well, now that the jewel mines' whereabouts are known, the factions are going to fight over it," Nora worriedly added.

"It was going to happen eventually. Even in other games we've seen what happens when a treasure is found. In fact as this intel secretly spread, the users are already gathering around Baron Thaust Castle. Under the idea that they might make a killing once they survive the journey, they are heading toward the jewel mines as individuals or as groups. Of course, the residents of Beyond are also joining this trend."

Nora sighed on Ellan's words.

"This is literally a Jewel Rush," said Nora.

"That's one way to put it. Like you said, because this is a Jewel Rush, even the rankers are gathering, one after another. At this rate there might be a war breaking out between the factions before the Golden Battle's main stage actually begins, which is way earlier than we expected. Since we have more potential imperial successors than any time in history, financial support will greatly affect the Golden Battle, and that's why they're so interested in claiming these jewel mines. It's a perfect opportunity to become one of the major faction," said Ellan.

"Even the devil orcs, the masters of the Huk'ran Mountains, and the unknown monsters of the mines will eventually fall under the greedy humans, no matter how strong they are. But I'm afraid that the blood that will be spilt during the process, and the blood that will be spilt under the name of securing the mines will destroy this beautiful Beyond," said Nora.

Everyone nodded to her words.

Humans were the strongest creature because of the greed. As humans had no sense of satisfaction, they were the scariest creatures because they could beat anything given enough time.

" I hope for peace. It worries me that this many users gathering in one place could greatly affect Beyond. The fantasy world we dreamed of has finally appeared before our eyes, and now we have no idea how things will go."

On Nora's words, a cloud of anxiety was drawn over the guests' faces. They were afraid that this whole affair would break the balance between the forces and would ruin the game experience. Before they knew it, Beyond had become a big part of their lives.

"Osiris, for those who are planning to enter the Huk'ran mountains, could you introduce to the viewers some known safe routines?"

"Gladly. But first, please take a look at this map."

The subject was now turned to the Huk'ran mountains' terrain. Haroon didn't need to watch it any longer. Haroon looked at Bell, she seemed to be busy checking something.

"Bell! I'm going back to Beyond."

"Already? You could have a rest. You sure you won't be tired, Oppa?"

"I'll be fine. By the way, would you look up information about the Ra Empire recorded in Beyond's history?"

"Got ya. Ill see what I can find while you're gone."

Haroon decided to return to Beyond as he grasped the situation. All kinds of questions popped up in his head learning that such events took place in just a few days while he was fighting an ironsnake and training. Though he felt no special relation to Ko-M guild, he had to check if what he'd heard from the show really happened.

Translated by Channy_
Edited by Kmatt

Editors' notes:

Channy: Jewel Rush sounds like a fun mobile racing game & I feel like I should watch more talk shows.

Kmatt: Well after that IRL pitstop guess it's time to dive back into Beyond, maybe we'll get a Science lesson next :p

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