The same message appeared before everyone’s eyes.
[The Rank Match is about to begin.]
[The Tam Tam is an aggressive and savage monster.]
[Escape the Tam Tam’s predation for an hour.]
[However, defeating it automatically fulfills the Victory Condition. If you can that is.]
“I don’t see Mister Yungjong.”
Sunghae began looking around the arena nervously.
“What happened? We promised to help each other…”
Sunghae let her words hang as she desperately looked for Yungjong. However, it wouldn’t be easy looking for a person in the large Plaza filled with a thousand people.
“Yungjong…Where are you?”
It most likely wasn’t out of the goodness of her heart that she was now looking for him so desperately. Sungchul remembered the Elixir that Yungjong had been fidgeting with behind his back during his conversation with Sunghae. Like many other men, he might have overpromised when he was with her but then chose to disappear when the time came to keep his word; it was a common story.
Sungchul chose to look away towards the rest of the crowd positioning themselves in the arena, rather than reply to her muttering. On the right was the disorganized mob composed of Hakchul’s faction and unaffiliated Summoned, and on the left side stood Jungshik’s gang in a slanted single file line. Jungshik’s faction stood closer to the Tam Tam, but he didn’t immediately order his men back.
The Preselected were also split into two forces. The ones with the Divine Elixir stood harmoniously in the corner to the right, but the ones without the Elixir stood opposite Jungshik’s faction, together with Sungchul. However, there was one thing that stood out. Ahram was within the right corner conversing loudly with people, wearing a very satisfied expression on his face.
‘Why is that bastard over there?’
As he put the question aside, screams broke out towards the front of the crowd. The Tam Tam began its hunt.
The Tam Tam used his two arms to propel himself forward, like a quadruped, towards the right side.
“Everyone run! Hurry!”
With Hakchul’s shout, hundreds of people began to scatter like leaves in the wind. The Tam Tam’s massive hand swept across the floor and grabbed three people at once.
“UWAAK! S-Save me!”
The struggling captives quickly entered the open maw of the massive creature.
His massive teeth tenderized their flesh and blood into boluses of meat which then slithered down his throat and into his stomach.
Sunghae’s whole body trembled in fear.
“W-what is that? Just what is that?”
It wasn’t just her. The other Preselected lost all will to fight in the face of the Tam Tam’s oppressive show of force.
“Just run for now. There’s no time to discuss this.”
Sungchul ran forward with all his strength as if to lead the charge, and hundreds of people behind him began to follow his lead because of their fear. Behind them, the massive monster busied itself with tossing people into its gullet.
The feast of an oppressive monster: This was the traditional scene of the Pac-Man Rule Rank Match. On the other side of the Plaza walls, various powers of the Other World were enjoying the grotesque slaughter, smiling from the packed seats.
“Blanche Plaza has no luck at all, to get Pac-Man rules on their second Rank Match, and with the Tam Tam at that.”
A middle-aged man holding a glass of blood-colored wine who was surrounded by beautiful women acknowledged the fully-armored man.
The fully-armored man was tense, unlike the middle-aged man with the wine.
‘Fucking Summoning Plaza dogs. They’re trying to suck us, the Order of the Iron Blood Knights, completely dry. Have we lost the support of the Empire?’
The man was the Iron Blood Knight’s Grand Knight, Sanggil Ma. He stood wordlessly and walked towards the Observation Tower. Two knights closely followed behind him like they were his shadow.
Sanggil let out a roar as soon as the Observation Tower’s door opened. The collective gaze of all the Mages in the tower gathered on Sanggil. A Mage coyly walked over towards him within the silence. Unlike most Mages, she wore a tight dress which revealed her feminine charm. She was Dolorence Winterer. Her freckled face greeted the incensed Grand Knight of the Iron Blood Knights with a smile.
“Were you looking for me?”
Sanggil glared at Dolorence with contempt and sternly asked her.
“How is the Captain’s son? I’ve read from your report that he didn’t receive the Divine Elixir in the first Rank Match.”
Dolorence looked to be surprisingly comfortable under Sanggil’s seething gaze.
“It has been taken care of.”
Sanggil’s hand gripped his blade. His raging eyes emitted an undeniable murderous intent, creating a suffocating atmosphere for the Mages sitting within the Observation Tower with them.
“The Captain’s son managed to get a hold of a Divine Elixir.”
“How can that be?”
Sanggil looked as though he didn’t believe it.
‘The Divine Elixir of Escape can only be obtained by the blessings of the ‘God of Order’ that presides over the Summoning Palace. It is only granted through the trials and can’t be reproduced with Alchemy or Magic of any kind. And this red-headed bitch still managed to get one for her Charge?’
It sounded impossible. Sanggil believed as much and continued trying to drive her into a corner.
“I’m supposed to just take your word for it?”
Dolorence donned a smug smile and spoke in a cheerful tone.
“You’ll see. But try not to blame me later.”
“What does that mean?”
“I simply followed the Iron Blood Knight’s doctrine.”
“Speak plainly, Mage.”
Sanggil finally pulled out his blade; Dolorence placed a scrying orb onto a nearby desk.
“‘Sacrifice the few for the sake of the many’; isn’t that one of the Iron Blood Knight’s famous doctrines?”
Ahram’s appearance was shown within the scrying orb. It closed in on his hands on the Divine Elixir held tightly within his grip.
Twenty more died. The Tam Tam continued to loudly chew on the people and look around for more victims. The summoned were screaming madly in fear.
Among the crowd, it searched through those with long hair; it was hunting for women. Men were muscular, making their meat tough, but women tasted better with their fatty flesh. The Tam Tam wiped off his bloody mouth with his massive hand and reached out to his next victim.
The victim quickly flew into the Tam Tam’s mouth. It continued looking for its next meal as it chewed.
“How long do we need to keep running for?”
Sunghae asked with ragged breath.
“Until the bastard is full.”
“When will it be full?”
“Around thirty people.”
It wouldn’t be long until a hungry predator became stuffed.
In Sungchul’s grip was the Explosion Scroll. Retaliation would have to wait until it lowered its guard.
That moment came unexpectedly soon as the beast shoved ten more people into its mouth. It leaned back in satisfaction and then burped.
It was easy to ignore the sound, but now there was a disgusting stench which filled the arena. The Tam Tam scratched its head as it looked around with even more savagery in its eyes.
It was play time now. The Tam Tam was an unusual creature that would also kill for sport. It grabbed another pair of victims with its hands. It looked at the struggling humans with curiosity filling its eyes as it began smashing them together like a child playing with his toys.
The two people cried out desperately a few times before they became crushed into tenderized meat in the Tam Tam’s hands.
The Tam Tam laughed and bared its teeth as it sought out some more toys.
It looked at a group of people that weren’t running away like the others. The Preselected.
“Shit. It’s looking at us.”
One of the Preselected spoke hurriedly.
“Everyone be prepared.”
Yuhoon calmly took a step back and pulled out his Divine Elixir. The Tam Tam slowly moved towards the Preselected.
Yuhoon was the first to pop open the Divine Elixir and pour it over his head, with the rest of the group following his lead. The approaching Tam Tam hesitated and tilted its head in confusion when the group of Preselected disappeared before it.
It quickly lost interest, but there was one person that hadn’t used his Elixir yet; that person was Ahram. He broke past the group of Preselected and headed over towards Sungchul, having no fear of the monster.
“Over here! Here, you stupid monkey! Over here!”
The Tam Tam was quick to respond to the provocation, and Ahram became even louder and more animated.
“Rip this fucker apart! Do it now!”
The Tam Tam turned around and moved towards Ahram. At that moment, Ahram pulled out something which caught Sungchul’s eyes.
‘That…is the Divine Elixir of Escape. How did that bastard…’
The bottle’s shape looked extremely familiar. He dug through his memory before finding it: the image of a man and a woman sitting around a bonfire last night. An outspoken male, an experienced woman; the male nervously fidgeting with a small vial behind his back.
‘That must be Yungjong’s.’
Ahram fully displayed himself before he poured Yungjong’s Elixir over his body.
“Kyahahaha! Now, you stupid fucking monkey! Go and kill that fucker!”
The Tam Tam simply ran past Ahram, who was now blessed by the Elixir, and roared out in anger rather than the curiosity displayed before.
“Yungjong…Where did he go?”
Sunghae began looking for Yungjong again as another disaster approached. Sungchul said resolutely in her direction.
“Yungjong is not coming, so do what we had discussed.”
Sungchul gripped his Explosion Scroll and headed to the front. He waited for the perfect moment while the frenzied creature continued stepping on people like they were ants. He opened the Scroll and shouted out clearly after all the fearful people had fled far enough away from the creature.
The scroll became dyed in light and created a massive explosion beneath the creature’s feet.
The Tam Tam, who had been running about excitedly, suddenly lost its balance due to the force of the explosion and fell forwards.
It was a great enough force to shake the entire Plaza, but the Tam Tam was still not dead. It had only fallen over; all within Sungchul’s expectations.
Sungchul lifted his blade high and ran over to the unconscious monster.
“Ah…Where the fuck is Yungjong!”
Sunghae swore in frustration and began using Moonlight to fire at the creature’s eyes, signaling the countless other Summoned to also start attacking the fallen Tam Tam.
“Now! Bastards! It’s time to get our payback from that fucking monkey!”
Jungshik and his subordinates stood at the front lines.
“Everyone! Now is the moment! Let’s also go attack!”
Hakchul lifted his sword and tried to follow with the momentum, but only a handful of people from the front bothered to follow him.
Stab! Stab! Stab!
Dozens of blades continued to stab at the unconscious beast, but its tough hide and even tougher muscles didn’t allow the average Summoned to cause more than a few superficial wounds to it. The majority of critical damage was done by the Preselected and Jungshik’s faction. Their blades, unlike the average blade, could cut through its flesh and sever its muscles, causing it to twitch, but that was the limit to it; they couldn’t deal decisive damage by reaching the organs or breaking the bones. Sungchul also appeared to be doing a similar level of damage, but it was deceptively different.
It looked as though he was simply plunging his blade halfway like the rest of crowd, but he also twisted the blade, causing the Tam Tam’s tough muscles to wrap around it, inflicting much greater damage to the beast. Sungchul seemed to move more slowly, yet he alone was the one who destroyed the creature’s left leg.
Every time Sungchul drove his blade into the creature, the Tam Tam would scream in agony. Every one of the attackers believed it was their own doing and attacked with even more vigor.
The fallen Tam Tam eventually regained its senses and opened its eyes. When Sunghae aimed for the eyes once again, it brought up its arms to protect its face as it stood up.
“Fuck! The monster! It’s still alive!”
“Everyone fall back!”
Everyone that had been excitedly stabbing the creature quickly fell in behind Jungshik’s faction.
The Tam Tam glared at everybody with an enraged expression and began beating its chest. That was the worst signal the Tam Tam made; it meant that it was about to go berserk. The infuriated and blood-soaked monster inspired tremendous fear, enough to make them feel as if their souls was being sucked right out of their bodies, except for Sungchul, who was looking over the monster peacefully.
Without warning, the Tam Tam who was angrily beating its chest swayed. It soon lost balance and fell. The onlookers didn’t know what to think of it, and looked at one another, but only Sungchul knew the reason.
‘I have ripped all of your leg muscles to shreds. You will never stand again.’
His attacks seemed quite ordinary, but he had worked towards disabling the creature’s movement.
“Now! Stick to it! Stick it to that fucking monkey until it dies!”
Jungshik and his subordinates rushed with the crowd at the monkey once more. The Tam Tam flailed its arms desperately in defense, but the tens of thousands of cuts slowly accumulated damage to its body, making the Tam Tam’s movement weaker and weaker until the monster finally gave out.
[What a surprise!]
[You have felled the monster!]
[Beyond expectation, the trial was completed. Regardless of results, top rewards are granted to the Blanche Plaza.]
[Congratulations! You have survived the second Rank Match!]
This was how the worst of the trials was completed with the greatest of results, but Sungchul’s objectives hadn’t been accomplished yet. He quietly kept his sight on a certain man who was celebrating happily; it was Ahram. Sungchul finally decided that it was time to act.