Back in the Lair of Serpents...
Once the laughter finally died down, Reilei and her party decided to start a full clear and clean out every corner of the dungeon.
Even with Broken Fists gone, their damage was not lacking. Not to mention, the previous toxic atmosphere was no longer there with his absence. Their teamwork was also improving as every fight became easier as they progressed. There were a total of two boss monsters in the dungeon, but after fighting the Ouroboros, Reilei and her party were confident in facing anything the dungeon threw at them.
The first boss was a large naga called Ithshtra the Terrible that was almost the size of the Ouroboros, however, it was much weaker in terms of overall strength. Although it was a tough fight, in the end, they were able to defeat the boss monster.
As for the second boss monster, it was a giant serpent called Great Serpent Uriutta. Its body was at least twice the size of the Ouroboros, however, its movement was slow and it relied mostly on summoning Serpent Guards and its strong attack power. It was actually somewhat easier to defeat than Ithshtra since it did not have as much agility. However, the fight took much longer than the one against the first boss monster.
In the end, it took Reilei and her party two hours to complete a full dungeon clear of the Lair of Serpents. After completing the dungeon, they made their way back towards the entrance and were ready to leave. The overall loot drops they received were good, but the biggest take away from the dungeon was obviously the loot they acquired from the Ouroboros.
"Did you see the final attack of that last boss? I thought we were all going to be crushed by its body!" Hidden Pulse said as he recalled the final boss fight.
"Ahahaha! It's a good thing we found out how the torches worked to keep the Serpent Guards away, otherwise, we would have been in for some trouble." Two Tons said.
As they continued their conversation, they arrived outside of the dungeon. As they were about to walk away from the entrance and head towards the main city, a voice called out to them from a distance.
"Hold it right there!" The voice called out. It was a voice they immediately recognized. It belonged to Broken Fists! However, he was not alone. He had brought along some company. It was a total of eight other players that accompanied Broken Fists. None of them looked as if they came to have a friendly chat.
When Reilei and her party faced the direction of the voice and saw Broken Fists with a group of players, they immediately knew what he was after. It was easy to see that Broken Fists was up to no good. He had a darkened facial expression and a huge grin on his face.
Broken Fists was not stupid enough to charge in alone and he knew that it would be impossible for him to defeat that party by himself. Therefore, he caved in and contacted some acquaintances and convinced them to assist him in claiming what he felt was rightfully his at this point. Of course, those guys were wolves and wanted 80% of the total profit for themselves!
Unfortunately, Broken Fists had no room for negotiation. To him, 20% was better than nothing. There was also the fact that he wanted Two Tons and the others to suffer a greater humiliation than the one he had to face earlier. For that, he needed the strength and influence of the individuals who were accompanying him.
"Hand over all the loot you got from the rare boss, kneel down and slap yourself three times and I'll grant you a swift death! Otherwise, hmph, don't blame me for being nasty!" Broken Fists said with a look of hatred in his eyes. He had no intention of letting a single one of them leave from this place alive. With the backing he had, he was not afraid of Two Tons and the others retaliating or seeking revenge. After all, how could they match up to the members of a top guild?
"Watch your words!" Phoenix said in an angry tone. He dared ask them to do something so belittling and humiliating?
"Hmph, kneel down? Slap ourselves? What gives a little man like you the right to demand anything?" Two Tons said as he swept his gaze coldly over the players that appeared before his eyes landed on Broken Fists. He knew that there was a chance Broken Fists would want to claim revenge, however, he did not think that it would happen so fast. Not to mention, the players that were with him did not look like an inexperienced bunch.
Little man? Those two words nearly caused Broken Fists to leap out and attack Two Tons without thinking, but he had managed to hold himself back. After all, he was no longer the one in charge now that he brought that person with him.
"What gives me the right? Hah, you must be blind! Do you not realize that you're before the great Blood Tiger Li?!" Broken Fists announced with a grin on his face.
"You nearly got all of us killed! How can you be so shameless as to threaten us?!" Hidden Pulse lashed out.
No one had ever heard of the name Blood Tiger Li, so it meant nothing to them.
"Who are you?! A nobody, that's who! Brother Li, this the party I was telling you about. Look how they show no signs of respect towards your greatness. If you can help me as you've promised, I can guarantee that you won't regret it and our profits will be huge this time!" Broken Fists was harsh in his words when speaking to Hidden Pulse, however, he was respectful to the male that stood at that front of the other players.
The one Broken Fists called Brother Li was a bit more than two meters tall, had a muscular body with a few scars over his face. He gave off a natural intimidating aura and he made those around him look and feel small in comparison.
"Hmph, you planned on keeping it all to yourself if you never got killed, didn't you?" Li asked as he narrowed his eyes and looked down on Broken Fists.
"Brother Li, how can I dare have such thoughts? I was simply waiting for the correct opportunity to inform Brother Li as to not rise any unnecessary suspicion. How could I dream of keeping such a great treasure find all to myself?" Broken Fists responded as with a smile on his face as he rubbed his hands together.
"Once a dog, always a dog! Just a dog begging to his master for table scraps! Little man! I bet that thing down there is also-" Phoenix yelled out.
"You dare finish that sentence?! I want you dead! I want all of you dead!" Broken Fists roared as one could clearly see the veins protruding from his forehead. He already had to swallow his pride and suck up to Li, so how could he stand by and let himself be openly mocked?
Reilei frowned as she watched the situation unfold before her eyes. Even if she was a newbie, it was not difficult to see that Broken Fists and the people he was with were up to no good. She wished that there was a way to avoid fighting and simply talk things over.
"Fighting is not always the only answer. I'm sure that we can take a moment to talk things over with one another." Reilei suggested with a smile on her face.
"Are you mocking-!" Broken Fists was speaking but quickly shut his mouth when Li glanced over in his direction.
Li then turned his attention towards Reilei and her party as he said, "I'm known as Blood Tiger Li. I heard you got some good items from this dungeon. Hand them over and I can let you leave this place with your lives. If you refuse, then you'll be making enemies with my Headhunter Syndicate. You'll be hunted day and night every time you log onto the game or try to leave a town. Do you see where I'm getting at? Just consider it showing me some face."
Li spoke in an overbearing manner and showed no signs of respect or mannerism. He was confident that the players before him would not be willing to offend his Headhunter Syndicate. Not to mention, not a single one of them appeared to be from any of the other top guilds within RML. This meant that there was no chance that this would escalate to a bigger problem and create troubles for him in the future.
"Brother Li, our deal was that-!"
"If you keep talking... I'll permanently shut that mouth of yours." Li said in a cold and distant tone. This sent shivers down Broken Fists' spine and caused him to immediately quiet down. He felt wronged, but there was nothing he could do against someone like Li who had the backing of the Headhunter Syndicate.
"The Headhunter Syndicate?!" Two Tons and Hidden Pulse exclaimed. Out of everyone present, it seemed that only the two of them knew who the Headhunter Syndicate was.
"This is troublesome..." Two Tons said in a low voice as he furrowed his brows.
"I'm afraid we may have no choice but to hand over what we collected. It's better than having to live in fear of our lives or restarting our account entirely." Hidden Pulse sighed with a helpless expression on his face.
"Eh? What do you mean? What's this Headhunter Syndicate?" Phoenix questioned.
Reilei was also curious as to why Two Tons and Hidden Pulse had reacted that way. Both of them appeared to be cautious and troubled when that name was brought up.
Two Tons briefly explained about the Headhunter Syndicate and their fierce reputation to Reilei and Phoenix.
"That's... No way... After all our hard work, we have to give it up just like that?" Phoenix said in a tone filled with disbelief and unwillingness. But, after hearing the tragic outcome of other players who went against the Headhunter Syndicate, it made her sigh in resignation.
Surprisingly, the one who was actually the most upset with the entire situation was Reilei. From the sound of things, the Headhunter Syndicate was no more than a group of bullies! That made memories resurface of the time when Jin used to return home beat and bruised almost every day from dealing with bullies. Although he would say that he just fell down, how could Reilei not understand what was going on? Therefore, she had a strong distaste for those who bullied others. Even more so for the people who supported and turned their head to such terrible acts.
"We can't just..." Reilei said in a low voice as she tightly squeezed her fists.
"Realistic..." Phoenix and the others could see how upset Reilei was. Who knew that she was also capable of that kind of expression?
"We can't just give in." Shuyi said as he stepped forward. His actions surprised everyone present. There was no look of doubt in his eyes and it was as if the thought to run had never even crossed his mind. Headhunter Syndicate? So what! What was the point of thinking about the future? All they had to do was deal with what was in front of them first and worry about all the complicated stuff later.
"Brother Shuyi, you're a reasonable man. If you can get them to freely hand over all the items, then I'll be sure to-"
"Shut your mouth. Who do you think you're calling brother? If such filthy words leave your mouth again, I'll personally rip out that foul tongue of yours so that it doesn't dare to speak my name again." Shuyi quickly made his stance clear.
"You-!" Broken Fists nearly coughed up blood from anger when he heard Shuyi's words. His rage had reached a level that almost rendered him speechless. He thought for sure that Shuyi would accept his offer and so he spoke with confidence and yet he was immediately shot down in such an overbearing and brutal way.
"He's right... We can't just give in. I'm supposed to be the leader and yet I almost let all of you down. If I refuse to stand up for what's right, then how can I call myself a man, let alone a leader?!" Two Tons roared as he regained himself.
Hidden Pulse sighed as he shook his head and said, "This is crazy... You're all absolutely crazy...! Whatever, don't say I didn't warn you!" Hidden Pulse unsheathed his daggers as he prepared to fight. Despite his words, he also appeared to be motivated.
"We won't allow ourselves to be bullied!" Reilei said without a hint of hesitation in her voice. It was enough... She had enough! In the real world and now in this world as well... How much longer would she allow herself to be pushed around and bullied? Days? Months? Years?! How much longer?! As these thoughts rushed through Reilei's mind, she felt a strong force sweeping throughout her body.
Unknown to Reilei, she was being influenced and affected by the soul fragment she received from Izroth. While it did not directly influence her behavior, it slowly helped mold and reshape Reilei. In other words, it awakened and dragged out the true feelings and personality that had been long since forgotten and buried by her. Reilei had not realized it yet, but she had finally reached her breaking point.
"This is exactly why you can't try speaking nicely to trash. They start to think they have an actual choice. Kill them." Li ordered in a ruthless tone as the seven players under his command rushed forward without hesitation.