"Trapped merfolk? Are you sure?" John asked after hearing Life Runner's report.

"Yeah. I got the Ancient Eagle Spirit bloodline as well. I used the Eagle Eye skill to zoom in on them," Life Runner answered. "Well, I kind of regretted it after, because I saw something disturbing."

"What thing?"

"The dragon turtle plucked a merfolk from one of those gel orbs and then feed it to its kid."


"Not the chomping kind of feeding, mind you. I was thankful for that. It seemed more like the small dragon turtle was absorbing the merfolk. The merfolk was enveloped by a shroud of light before he turned into a particle of light and went into the dragon turtle's mouth. Probably the game mechanic to make it less gory. But still disturbing, nevertheless, because the merfolk was just a kid."

"A kid?"

"Yeah. Actually, all those merfolk trapped inside those orbs are kids except for one who is a male adult and dressed like a warrior."


"I'm thinking. While we go to capture that small dragon turtle, can we also free those… Why are you grinning?" Life Runner asked after seeing John's expression.

"Because this is better than I expected," John answered.

"How is this better?" Life Runner asked, confused.

"Because in my original plan, I want to pit that adult dragon turtle against the merfolk. But doing this has the drawback of earning their ire. It will cut off all relationships that our guild might have with that minor race in the future. But now, we can still pit them with the dragon turtle. But instead of earning their ire, it will be gratitude instead."

"How do we do that?"

"You just leave that to me. Do you manage to get the level and grade of the adult dragon turtle?"

"I managed to do it when it was swimming slightly close to me. I thought for a second there that it might sense me despite my invisibility. Luckily, it didn't," Life Runner informed. "As for the Dragon Turtle, it is a level 80 Mythical monster."

'Hm, a bit higher level than I expect,' John thought. He said to Life Runner, "Tomorrow, you go down again and continue your scouting."

"Scout for what? Ain't I already find the lair and our target?" Life Runner asked.

"You mentioned that there are some smaller caves, right? One of them might be a side door into that cave hall with the dragon turtle. Do you see any other entrances into that cave hall?"

"I'm not sure. Maybe? I didn't dare to go inside the cave hall to check, the dragon turtle might notice me."

"Then try to enter those small caves and check. We need to have as many options as possible before we take action."

"There are monsters inside some of those caves. I'm not confident I can take care of them."

"I will send a small squad following you starting tomorrow. From the information you gathered, there shouldn't be any troublesome monsters down there except for the Dragon Turtle. They will take care of the monsters in the smaller caves."

"When will we take action?" Life Runner asked. He was thinking about the merfolk kids trapped in the gel orbs. The adult dragon turtle had gone back to rest in the lava pool after feeding its kid one time. So, the rest should be fine for some time. But if they took too long, those merfolk kids might be gone already by the time they took action.

"Once I got a full picture from yours and Hideout's scouting," John replied. When he saw that Life Runner was slightly unsatisfied with the answer, he added, "I estimate another two or three days top."

Life Runner nodded. He guessed this was the best he could get.

Not long after, Hideout came out of the water. He added more drawings to the map, showing more of the terrain down there around this place until the merfolk's territory. The largely blank map was slowly getting filled up.


In the next two days, they continued the same activities. With the exception where a small squad of players followed Life Runner into the water. Since the group was not invisible, they were easy to be spotted by monsters. It was not a problem to take out those monsters, though. It just took longer time to reach the bottom than Life Runner used to do in previous days.

After arriving at the bottom of the gulf, Life Runner guided them to one of the smaller caves which were infested by monsters according to the God-eye monocle he wore. The group went inside and exterminate the monsters. The monsters were not at higher levels than the monsters they encountered outside the caves.

After checking that there were no more red dots further in, Life Runner asked the others to wait while he activated his Hide and went in to investigate.

After two days of searching, Life Runner had found three alternative entrances from the smaller caves. One of them even brought them close to the back of the cave hall where the baby dragon turtle and the captive merfolk were located.

When Life Runner peeked out from that entrance, he found that two more young merfolk were missing compared to two days ago. He assumed this meant the baby dragon turtle was fed the merfolk once a day. He felt bad about those young merfolk but he couldn't do anything by himself. He could only wait until John decided to act.

By the end of the fourth day after they arrived at Demon Tooth Rock, the map showing the terrain underneath their location was mostly completed. Life Runner had also surveyed most of the small caves. John decided the scouting part was enough.

He called Hideout and formed a team with him and several other players. Will, Billy, and Rough Criminal were on the team as well. He wanted to go down into the water now.

"Now?" Hideout asked. He had just come back and completed the map. The sky was starting to get dark already. "Why not wait until tomorrow?" He asked.

"Yeah. If we can do it tomorrow, why do we have to do it today?" Will asked. Everyone ignored his nonsensical wisdom.

"If we do this now, we should be able to carry out our capture operation tomorrow," John answered Hideout. "Let's go! We are burning daylight!"

"Uh… The daylight has gone already…," Everyone complained, but they still followed John's instructions.

The team consisted of ten players, with Jet and Bowler also joining. The ten soon jumped into the water. Hideout led the way as they fought monsters that came their way.

"Have you ever interacted with the merfolk?" John asked Will, Billy, and Rough Criminal via messages.

"No. We avoided them after receiving news about players getting killed for trespassing their territory," Billy answered.

"I have. I got chased away," Will said. "They are not exactly friendly."

After some swimming, they finally saw signs of civilization under the water. They all drank the Underwater Vision Potions. But even without the potions, they should have no problem seeing the merfolk territory, because there was sufficient lighting around the underwater town.

The lights came from the head of some tall plants scattered throughout the town which as Hideout described were filled with many giant seashells. The heads of the tall plants emitted lighting. They resembled large fluorescent bulbs. The light turned the entire place alive. The giant seashells had variations of colors. With coral reefs and plants all over the place, the colorful landscape was extremely beautiful.

Everyone marveled at the sight. Even Hideout who had seen the place numerous times still found the view amazing. While they gazed at the beautiful view, three merfolk swam toward them. With such a group and without invisibility, they were easily spotted.

These three merfolk were mermen who carried tridents and wore thin mail armor on their upper bodies. Their exposed body was covered in blue scales. They had webbed hands and fish's tails for legs. A large fin was spotted on their backs with smaller fins on their elbows and the two opposite sides of their waists. Gills slits could be seen along their necks. Frills of fins covered the back of their heads, replacing hairs.

The three mermen watched the players with hostile stares. John and the others hadn't stepped into their territory but they were close. The stares were to warn these surface dwellers to not go any further.

"Okay, stay back. Leave everything to me," John messaged the others and swam forward. The mermen were agitated when they saw John ignore their stares. Their tridents were lifted.

"I come in peace!" John exclaimed. He had drunk a bottle of Underwater Communication Potion. His voice could now travel magically underwater. Water also didn't go into his mouth when he talked. Everyone there heard his words as if they were on the surface.

"What is your intention?!" One of the mermen asked after hearing that John could communicate underwater. They themselves had a natural ability to speak underwater Their voices carried a slight echo. "We don't welcome you, surface dwellers. Begone or face our wrath!"

"Don't be so unfriendly," John said with a smile. "Can you please call your leader? I wish to speak to him or her. I come with a proposition to help your kind."

"We don't need your help, surface dwellers!"

"Don't dismiss me so quickly. What if I tell you I can help you deal with the problem of your missing children?"