Zywane looked at Kieran with sharp, glowing eyes.
As time passed, his fighting intent and provocation got clearer and clearer.
That was why Kieran had been reluctant to join a team dungeon in the first place. Once there was a conflict of interest, no matter how harmonious the group was, a fight would break out among the team members and things would get hard.
Kieran was sure that if it hadn't been for the Team Contract, Zywane would have already started a fight with him.
Of course, so would Kieran.
It was the strong that had the authority and the right to speak.
Survival of the fittest. The law of the jungle.
Kieran had recently gotten a better grasp of the laws of nature.
Lawless, Zywane and Starbeck all abode by those laws too. Every veteran player in the game obeyed the laws of nature.
Any players who were unable to obey got eliminated from the game.
As long as there was a law or rule, even if that law or rule was unwritten, it was still traceable.
At Zywane's provocation, Kieran turned and looked at Lawless, who acted as the team leader.
He was not just the team leader. He was also the strongest one among them, so he automatically had the authority and right to speak.
Zywane also looked at Lawless, waiting for his decision.
Despite the fact that Kieran seemed to have a closer relationship with Lawless, Zywane still believed that Lawlesss decision would live up to his good reputation among the veterans.
"If two players who were not in team ran into such a problem, they would fight to the death. A long-term team would have a vote, and a short-term team would compete to see who was stronger in terms of skill levels. We fall into the third category. Do you both want to compete?" Lawless asked Kieran and Zywane straightforwardly.
It was not an impulsive decision on his part. The rule had already existed among the players right from the beginning. Although there were three possible scenarios, the essence of those rules still followed the law of the jungle. It was survival of the fittest.
Kieran could sense the hidden meaning behind Lawless' words. It came as no surprise to him, though.
"Yes!" he replied right away.
"Yes, of course!"
Kieran's tone was short and light, while Zywane had replied brightly. Truth be told, Zywane sounded like he thought he had already won before they had even begun.
Kieran had been introduced by Broker, so he had to possess some formidable strength, but he was just a second-timer after all.
Even though he had stated that he could deal with monsters with or without a physical form, that still did not change the fact that this was only his second dungeon.
This was already Zywanne's fourth time. The newbie dungeon plus three more dungeons of experience was not something Kierans newbie and first dungeon could compete with.
Plus, Zywane had gotten an S rank clear rating in one of the three dungeons. It was the S rank rating that had boosted his power and eventually gotten Broker to notice him and recruit him for the team dungeon.
He thought that Kieran, who had also been chosen by the Broker, must have gotten an A rating at both the newbie and the first dungeon. Zywane had the utmost confidence that he could beat him.
The possibility that Kieran might have gotten a higher rating than A had never crossed his mind, not even for a second. Zywane knew better than anyone that it was extremely hard to achieve an S rating. One would have to have strength, courage, and luck. All three of them were necessary for someone to get where he was, and Zywane did not believe that Kieran had them.
Lawless explained the rules before the competition started.
"It's a competition of skill levels. As long as two skills are within the same rank, the skill type can be anything. Its the rank that matters. The skill with the highest rank will be marked as double rank compared to the skill with the lowest rank. Shall we begin?"
Lawless looked at the super confident Zywane and then at Kieran's blank face.
He knew perfectly well what Zywane was thinking. Had he not had a closer communication with Kieran, he would have thought the same, too. After all, that was the logical thing to think.
However, Lawless had had multiple trades with Kieran and had been there while Kieran had traded with others, so he knew very well what Kieran was capable of. He looked at Zywane with a sense of pity, but Zywane missed the sympathy in Lawlesss gaze.
His competitive spirit was burning hot inside his heart as Lawless initiated the competition. He was impatient to bring up his first skill.
[Hand-to-hand Combat (Pro)]!
Zywane had opened up his skill window and made the skill visible to everyone. Then he turned and looked at Kieran with a smile, waiting for him to surrender.
[Hand-to-hand Combat (Pro)]!
Kieran replied with a smile of his own as he too opened up the skill window and made his [Hand-to-hand Combat] skill visible to everyone.
Zywanes smile became a little stiff when he saw his opponent's skill. That Pro Level Skill had cost him half his S rank rating points from his last mission. Zywane had thought that he'd had the win in his pocket. He had not expected Kieran to have a Pro Level Skill as well.
Plus, it was the exact same skill.
How was that even possible? Shouldnt Kieran have been expanding his firearms skill?
Zywane looked at Kierans backpack, which was obviously full of guns.
The man was carrying around a big bag of firearms, yet he had the same [Hand-to-hand Combat] skill as Zywane. Zywane questioned the outcome silently, but he knew the system was always right.
He looked at Kierans blank face in confusion before taking a deep breath and quickly opening up his second skill.
As a melee player, [Evading] was a crucial skill for Zywane to level up. Given his Points and Skill Points, that was Zywanes second and last Pro Level Skill.
He looked at Kieran a little nervously. Deep down in his heart he hoped that Kieran had already played his best card.
However, the very next moment, Zywanes hopes were shattered to pieces.
Kieran also brought up his second skill, which was the same skill as Zywane's once again. [Evading] Pro Level.
Without even waiting for Zywanes reaction, Kieran decided to solidify his position in the temporary team so he would not run into any more problems in the future. He brought up a third skill to the table.
[Firearm Weapon (Light Firearm)(Pro)]
As he looked at Kierans third Pro Level Skill, Zywanes face went totally pale. He could not even imagine how a second-timer like Kieran could have enough Points and Skill Points to level up all these skills.
Unless Kieran had cleared all his dungeons with an S rank rating or higher.
Suddenly, the way that Zywane was looking at Kieran changed. He had originally wanted to play his last card, but he gave up that thought. He could not know whether Kieran had any other tricks up his sleeves.
If Zywane did play his last card but still wasn't able to win the competition, his losses would outweigh his gains.
After all, this was just the starting point of the dungeon. The probability of a Sub Mission triggering was extremely low, so it was not worth the fight.
Zywanes mind was full of different thoughts as he chose to surrender.
No one looked surprised by Kieran's victory. Lawless knew a lot about Kieran, and Starbeck, as the employer, had also been informed of his strength after the Broker had introduced him to the team. Otherwise, he would not have paid double the original price to hire him.
In other words, it was only Zywane that had been kept in the dark. Luckily, he was too baffled by Kieran's strength and his own messy thoughts to notice Lawless and Starbecks expression. Otherwise, he would have been extremely upset over it.
As soon as Zywane had surrendered, Kieran pushed open the cabin door and exited the cabin. He knew that he had already lost lots of time. If they delayed it any longer, they might have even reached their destination.
As for Zywane? Kieran acknowledged his strength, but he would not comment on it any further. After all, they were still bound by the Team Contract. Zywane was only a short-term team member. After the dungeon, they would never cross each others path again.
"May I help you, sir? I am the captain of this ferry, Ralph."
As soon as Kieran had walked out of the cabin, Captain Ralph, who had been watching his old cabin, came over and introduced himself.
"Im 2567. Good day, captain!" Kieren also introduced himself, greeting the captain.
"Mr. 2567, please just call me Ralph!" the captain replied in an awkward, yet reverent manner.
Kieran could sense the reverence in the captains words and manner easily. His effect over the man had to be based on the identity that the dungeon had assigned to him.
He had been a refugee in the newbie dungeon, and a detective in the first dungeon, but this time he was a specialized expert.
Kieran had already gone over the dungeons background, but he still could not help but smirk. He had been assigned ridiculous identities in the previous dungeons, and this time had proved to be no different. At least his new identity gave him more of an advantage.
Although he had not acquired any memories like he had in the first dungeon, that still did not stop him from using his character identity to the fullest.
"Ralph, can you tell me more about the Alcatraz Prison? I want your side of the story, not the official one that glosses over everything," Kieran said.
"Of course!" Captain Ralph did not hesitate in granting Kierans request. He did not want to offend someone that could solve mysteries by telling him the stories almost everyone knew, or totally unrelated information.
Ralph gathered his thoughts and started his story.
"For us, Alcatraz was a giant graveyard. Although there is now a prison on the island, all the locals still remember the islands legend."
"A few hundred years ago, that island belonged to a duke. Back then, it was famous for its variety of different fish and pearls. It was strangely flourishing, and the people living on it led good lives."
"However, nothing lasts forever. After the duke married his wife, famine struck the land. The mainland people thought the island would have more food, so they sailed towards it. The duke was a charitable person, and he was willing to help them. However, his charitable nature was treated as weakness, and the duke and all the islanders were killed by the outsiders."
"The dukes wife was tortured and raped by the raiders next to the dukes own dead body.Then out of the blue, the duke came back to life! He acted more violent than he had ever been. Controlled by his frenzy, he killed all the raiders and massacred anyone who dared set foot on his island!"
"This lasted for about a hundred years, until suddenly the duke vanished. All that was left on the island were countless bones and skeletons."
"Some of the dukes distant relatives inherited the island. Their heir brought a couple hundred people to the island in an effort to revive its glory days, but just as they arrived, everyone fell sick. Luckily, there was a priest among the group and he saved everyone."
"The priest explained to the heir that the dukes resentment was gone and his soul had been set free. However, the once flourishing Alcatraz had been violated by the dukes angry spirit and become uninhabitable. Any common man that set foot on the island was affected. If they wanted to live a peaceful life on the island, the priest said that they had to protect themselves, so he taught them how to make a protective talisman."
"This is the talisman the first group of people who arrived on the island made!"
While telling his story, Ralph opened his collar and revealed a piece of unfamiliar grass-knitted tasliman. It was only the size of a thumb.
"Can I have a look at it?" Kieran asked.
"Sure!" Ralph generously handed Kieran the talisman he was wearing.
Kierans eyes brightened up as he took it.