Fangs’ power, having been buffed up by the item ‘Bead of Avarice’, was gobsmackingly incredible.
Fangs sucked in so much air that the temperature of the surroundings momentarily dropped to a bone-chilling level. And then…
He spat out a massive pillar of flames from left to right and literally vaporised all enemies before him.
[You killed a High-Ranked Demon.]
[You have earned 1,700 experience points.]
[You killed a Superior Demon.]
[You have earned 2,200 experience points.]
The messages telling him that he killed a demon and earned some experience points endlessly popped up in his view. And the tti-ring, tti-rings of the mechanical beeps didn’t want to end for a while, too.
Jin-Woo was all smiles, though.
‘I’ve hit the jackpot!!’
His Mana must’ve run dry, because Fangs stopped attacking.
A single shot from Fangs managed to vaporise the majority of the attacking demons’ group, but there were a few lucky ones who managed to somehow survive the fiery massacre. Jin-Woo simply ordered his Shadow Soldiers to go and get rid of them.
Quietly watching over one hundred of his Shadow Soldiers marching forward in perfect order, Jin-Woo finally felt like the ‘Shadow Sovereign’.
The feel-good messages continued on. Jin-Woo didn’t even lift a finger and used only his Shadow Soldiers to annihilate the monsters. The biggest contributor among them was, of course, Fangs.
‘Fangs, you beauty….’
Jin-Woo looked behind him – or, more specifically, way up behind him.
He then saw the gigantified Shadow Magic Soldier, previously a High Orc Sorcerer, and the ‘Bead of Avarice’ that had also been enlarged to match his size.
That bead was an item capable of doubling the power of its holder’s magic attack. From Jin-Woo’s perspective, it looked like that bead shored up Fangs’ powers quite nicely, which would’ve been nerfed somewhat after becoming a Shadow Soldier. And it looked like there was some room to spare too.
‘Looks like I’ll have to entrust the ‘Bead of Avarice’ to Fangs for a while.’
Even though he was also a mage-type, he possessed not one skill that might enjoy the amplification effect, so he didn’t have much of a choice here.
Jin-Woo opened his own Skill Window.
[Number of shadows that can be extracted: 127/820]
[Number of shadows that can be stored: 127/155]
‘Shadow Extraction, Shadow Storage, and Sovereign’s Territory.’ All three skills were unaffected by the ‘Bead of Avarice’ whatsoever.
If he wanted to increase the number of slots for either the extraction or storage for his shadows, the sole method available currently was to increase his Intelligence Stat.
Jin-Woo closed the Skill Window.
Meanwhile, the soldiers gathered one by one in front of Jin-Woo after mopping up their quarries.
Seeing the mountains of demon corpses piled up like that, the corners of Jin-Woo’s lips arched up considerably.
‘With this many demons, I get plenty of loot as a result.’
Tti-ring, tti-ring, tti-ring….
This time, an endless stream of item acquisition messages popped up in his view.
‘Well, I got everything I can from here….’
Jin-Woo smiled deeply as he went about acquiring all the loot, and after finishing that up, he climbed up on the back of ‘Tank’, his trusty Ice Bear Shadow Beast Soldier.
The so-called ‘Entry Permit’ allowing him to move to the next floor hadn’t come out yet. Which meant, he had to kill more monsters on this floor.
Jin-Woo ordered his troops to move out.
Tank slowly began trotting forward, and the Shadow Soldiers all followed after Jin-Woo in an orderly fashion.
‘The whole army moving around together is inefficient.’
Jin-Woo thought that all 120 Shadow Soldiers acting as one unit was not quite efficient enough. If the individual soldier was weak, fine, this tactic made sense. But, even the regular soldiers had gone up several levels now and they could more or less hold their own against the demons and still achieve some success.
Not only that, he even had assimilated monsters from a rank A dungeon into his Shadow Soldier army, too. Quite obviously, the overall quality of the soldiers had risen up by a lot.
[You killed a High-Ranked….]
[You killed a…..]
What with his soldiers boasting such a mighty combat prowess, the time taken to move around and search for monsters turned out to be longer than it took to actually kill them.
The thing was, each floor of this Demon’s Castle was as wide as an average city.
‘This will take forever at this rate.’
Jin-Woo divided his soldiers into six groups of twenty. And then, had them scatter around to hunt down monsters.
He gave them two orders.
‘One, kill every enemy you can find.’
‘Two, if the entry permit for the next floor is found, let me know straight away.’
It may not be possible to hold a conversation with his soldiers, but he could still communicate by using simple hand gestures.
Since the soldiers couldn’t pick up any loot, he had to go there personally if he were to acquire the entry permit. Sure, he’d have to give up on other loot beside the ‘floor entry permit’, but his current priority was to get to the top floor as soon as possible.
With his command, all six groups went their separate ways.
And, a short while later….
[You have earned 1,500 experience points.]
[You have earned 900 experience points.]
[You have earned 1,100 experience points.]
Experience points began raining down on him from literally everywhere.
‘Looks like my shadows have begun hunting, huh.’
Jin-Woo watched his experience points climb up and formed a pleased expression. However, he soon discovered that something was off.
‘The amount of experience points I get has decreased?’
After arriving on the upper floors, he never once ran into the commonly-found low or mid-ranked demons from the lower floors.
High-Ranked Demons appeared most of the time now, and every now and then, he would find a couple of Superior Demons mixed in among them.
The amount of experience points earned after killing a High-Ranked Demon was 1,700. And from the Superior Demon, a creature one rank higher than High-Ranked Demons, he received the fixed amount of 2,200 points.
However, the amount he was getting at the moment fell far, far short of those numbers.
‘Could it be that the further away they are from me, the less experience points I earn?’
Jin-Woo quietly observed the experience points messages popping up non-stop for a while. The amount earned had definitely decreased, albeit by a small margin. It seemed that he was right about the distance affecting the amount of experience points he could earn.
‘I got to learn about something useful.’
He wouldn’t have found out about this fact without the unique set-up of the Demon’s Castle, which let him know of the information regarding experience points.
He also thought that, he did the right thing by not letting his soldiers go out in groups to hunt on the lower floors. Back then, he wanted to refine his combat style even further by personally fighting the monsters, as well as not wanting to miss out on a single ‘Demon’s Soul’, the so-called quest completion ‘items’.
Still, he didn’t think the reduced experience points weren’t much of a loss.
‘Sure, I’m getting less experience points, but….’
Now that much more efficient hunting was taking place over a greater expanse of the hunting area, the overall rate of the experience points earned was actually a lot faster than before. Even now, the experience points messages were raining down on him.
With the situation being like this, his level that had stayed still since the first battle of this floor suddenly gained a lot of momentum.
Jin-Woo clenched his fists tightly.
Sure, he felt a bit sore about giving up on loot, but…
‘Levelling up and fast clearing speed, I shall catch these two birds in one go.’
Jin-Woo smiled in satisfaction as he confirmed his level jumping up by two.
His plan was on the money. He got to climb up to the 80th floor much faster than anticipated.
As soon as arriving there, he summoned his soldiers once more.
119 Shadow Soldiers were summoned simultaneously.
The soldiers and their levels had all climbed up pretty nicely after going on their own groups to hunt monsters and earn a ton of experience points for themselves.
‘Oh? Since when did Tank gain over ten levels?’
Jin-Woo’s eyes opened wider.
Maybe it felt happy after his owner’s interested gaze fell on it, Tank, who had reached level 28 only yesterday, stood on his hind legs and let out a roar of ‘Wuuong’. Jin-Woo wasn’t the only one to enjoy the fruits of the efficient hunting, as it turned out.
He grinned brightly.
“Alright, then. Let’s go!”
Just like before, he divided his army into six groups and had them set off. He then took off alone, as well. He was familiar with acting alone anyway, and he also didn’t really need the soldiers’ help, either.
Excluding Fangs buffed up by the ‘Bead of Avarice’, he was pretty confident of fighting the whole Shadow Soldier army and winning.
‘If Fangs is included?’
In that case, who knows?
If Fangs was indeed included, then things could get really interesting, that’s for sure. In the end, though, it was just him imagining something improbable, anyway.
‘Was it a week or so ago?’
Out of sheer curiosity, and also a bit as an experiment, he ordered Shadow Soldiers to attack him. For the first time ever, the soldiers disobeyed him.
‘I couldn’t tell whether that was from their loyalty to me, or because of another power restricting them….’
They didn’t budge an inch, in the end. Well, as the guy using them as his subordinates, that result wasn’t such a bad one.
Regardless of all that….
‘How come I can’t see any demons?’
After summoning ‘Baruka’s Dagger’, Jin-Woo lightly tossed it over his head and caught it a few times while searching for the presence of monsters.
‘I can tell that they are nearby, but….’
Jin-Woo took a quick look around. He could definitely sense their presence nearby, but he couldn’t spot a single monster.
When was it again?
Didn’t he experience something similar to this before?
It was then, the ground seemed to undulate violently a couple of times, before the earth suddenly shot up.
At the same time, three Superior Demons emerged from the ground and surrounded Jin-Woo while letting off rather unpleasant cackles.
Jin-Woo frowned deeply. Demons took that as the sign of their prey being scared, and they scrambled among themselves to throw their wide open maws first at the head of the prey.
It was to call dibs on the tastiest part of a human, the head.
However, when that prey jumped up and spun around once in the air…
Even before Jin-Woo’s feet landed back on the ground, heads of the demons fell with soft thud, thud!! first.
Jin-Woo lightly clapped his hands.
He finally recalled when it happened – it was the last rank C dungeon he cleared with Yu Jin-Ho.
‘Right, those Stonemen back then were hiding underground before bursting out like this, weren’t they?’
Jin-Woo’s expression that had darkened from failing to remember brightened up immediately. It sure felt like he had gotten a load off his chest.
Jin-Woo took care of the loot from the monster corpses, his face still bright, and began walking away again.
But, only after taking a handful of steps, he stopped again.
Jin-Woo’s eyes were now nailed to the ground.
While glaring at the ground beneath his feet, he spoke up.
“By the way, why aren’t you guys coming out already?”
No one could tell whether the thing that trembled just then happened to be the ground or the demons’ eyes.
Jin-Woo wasn’t able to easily leave the 80th floor.
‘Is there a group of really strong monsters somewhere on this floor?’
Yet another of Jin-Woo’s group returned back to him as shadows. He had no choice but to call them back because his Mana couldn’t sustain the rate of the soldiers’ destruction and revival anymore.
This would be the first time this happened.
From the 76th to 80th floor…
The method of hunting in dispersed groups during the past four floors had yielded the highest efficiency.
‘Is it because fighting against Superior Demons is still too much to ask for?’
For sure, it were the Superior Demons and not High-Ranked Demons that appeared on the 80th floor most of the time. Heck, these Superior Demons even employed petty tricks like hiding under the ground, too.
Even then, he didn’t think these Superior Demons possessed such powers, to be able to push back his soldiers to this degree.
‘Not only that….’
There was something weird here as well. And that would be the groups of soldiers getting attacked all happened to lack a ‘captain-class’ among them.
The groups with Fangs, Igrit, Iron, and Tank were all perfectly fine, but the other two with no captain-class got annihilated.
‘Wait, could it be that the enemy is deliberately attacking the weakest groups first?’
If so, this could only mean that a monster possessing high-enough intelligence to detect the opponent’s weakness existed on this floor. Not only strong, but it even possessed intelligence.
He obviously didn’t know who it, or they, were, but without a doubt, they were proving to be a bit of a pain in the neck.
There were four groups remaining. If he were to include himself, then five.
‘If the enemy has figured out the soldiers’ movement pattern, then their next target is pretty obvious.’
The moment he thought that, Jin-Woo disappeared from the spot.
< Chapter 100 > Fin.