I Alone Level-Up
He didn’t even have enough time to get surprised.
The angel statue suddenly began its attack. A large, tightly-clenched fist came flying at him like a flash of light.
The attack was coming from too close a distance and its speed was also too fast to evade cleanly – that’s what his brain, trained to near-perfection through countless battles, had told him.
Jin-Woo urgently raised his arms to block the attack. It was not an incorrect decision to make, but that didn’t mean it was the correct one, either.
The power behind that punch was so incredulous that both his legs momentarily became airborne as he flew to the wall on the far side before ungainly crashing into it.
The debris from the broken wall tumbled down to the floor.
Jin-Woo swallowed back the pained moan. From that unexpected attack, he ended up receiving an unexpectedly large amount of damage. Unfortunately, the angel statue had already arrived in front of Jin-Woo’s nose, evidently not keen on giving him any time to reorganise himself.
Jin-Woo tilted his head to the side and evaded the fist of the angel statue. It left a massive hole on the wall behind him, instead.
That was just the beginning.
Jin-Woo’s back was up against the wall. The angel statue blocked off his route of retreat and then, its eight fists ruthlessly rained down on him.
Attacks poured down without a single break in between, each punch powerful enough to kill a high-ranking Hunter in a single hit.
As time wore on, though – the eyes of the angel statue were growing wider and wider, instead.
‘He’s… blocking my punches?’
The bombardment of attacks from eight separate arms was being blocked, deflected, or was redirected by just two arms. His movements were so fast that he simply looked like a collection of afterimages now.
The angel statue was inwardly impressed by this display.
From the very beginning, the end result of this battle was already set in stone. No, this was just one of the formalities to go through. And that would be the statue performing a once-over of Jin-Woo for the last time whether he agreed to it or not. Normally, this process itself should have been a rather boring one to go through. But now….
‘Isn’t this amusing.’
To think, it’d start enjoying a fight against a human like this. The angel statue had never once thought that a mere human could ever be an even match in its long, long life.
The moment its thoughts reached there, a light suddenly flashed in its vision. No, it wasn’t actually light.
It was a punch the human threw at the statue.
Jin-Woo jumped up and threw a punch. It hit the face of the angel statue, resulting in it being unceremoniously deposited on to the ground and rolling away in the dirt. It still stood right back up again, though.
There were minute cracks developing on its still-smiling face.
How long had it been since it felt this joyous?
The angel statue was so excited that it began to shudder in regret from the shortness of the remaining time.
Jin-Woo managed to land a good-looking hit on the angel statue, but he didn’t bother to celebrate his feat. He instead spat out heavy, laboured breaths.
Indeed, his opponent was way stronger than any enemy he had faced so far.
This ‘thing’ introduced itself as the architect of the System.
The questions of why it created the System, why he was chosen as a Player, and just what was going on with this world – the questions he wanted to ask so badly were already forming a small mountain in his head.
‘If I want to ask them….’
He needed to prioritise bringing that thing down first. Jin-Woo clenched his fists tightly. It was then.
He felt a warm, sticky liquid sliding down his face. It was his blood.
It was trickling out from a tear on his forehead.
‘I guess I didn’t dodge everything, huh.’
He thought that he perfectly countered all those attacks, but it seemed that one or two did get through to him. What bad luck it was, his blood seeping into his eye and interfering with his vision.
On the other hand, the enemy was completely fine. It’d be very hard to describe this situation as a good one for him, even if he were to exaggerate somewhat.
‘Fighting up close puts me in a disadvantage.’
That was a rather obvious assessment to make. The enemy’s physique was several times larger than his, and it also enjoyed the benefit of having six more arms, too.
Realistically speaking, it was nigh impossible to evade or defend against speedy attacks coming in from all sorts of angles. The wound on his forehead attested to that fact.
‘In that case.’
It was time to change the look of this battle just a tiny bit.
The moment he made up his mind as thus, the angel statue flew in like an arrow and swung its big fist at him.
The punch sliced open the air and crashed into the wall. It collapsed into countless pieces of rubble. The angel statue tilted its head to the side.
Jin-Woo had taken some distance away from his enemy even before the statue had the chance to consciously realise it.
‘I certainly am a match for it in terms of speed.’
So, if he maintained this distance and damaged it from afar….
Jin-Woo immediately activated ‘Ruler’s Authority’ towards the angel statue as it turned around to face him.
The powerful attack pressing down from the sky to the ground!
The technique used to swat the king of the ants, Beru, off the air swooped down on the angel statue’s head. However….
Jin-Woo did a quick double take.
The skill that managed to tilt the torso of the massive god statue only managed to tilt the head of the angel ever so slightly. He couldn’t be sure, but the opponent seemed to have activated a skill of its own to defend itself. There was no other explanation he could think of other than that one.
‘What could it be?’
His confused state couldn’t be maintained for long.
[How amusing. So very amusing.]
From some time ago, the angel statue’s low voice and the System’s mechanical female-like voice were overlapping in his ears. That unnatural combination was really getting on his nerves a bit.
[This is so very amusing.]
The angel extended all of its eight arms out, and the weapons previously held by the stone statues began vibrating on the ground.
Jin-Woo’s eyes widened greatly.
The weapons of the stone statues soon rose up in the air and flew towards the angel. Eight different weapons were now tightly grasped in the angel’s eight hands all at once.
‘That’s Ruler’s Reach.’
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the angel statue also knew how to use the skill ‘Ruler’s Reach’. Its power seemed to be below Jin-Woo’s own skill, but whatever the case may have been, he now knew what the angel used to counter the attack earlier on.
Indeed, this thing was not an ordinary opponent at all.
Abruptly, Jin-Woo’s gaze shifted up.
[Remaining time: 06:19]
And now, he only had roughly six minutes left.
‘I need to finish this quickly.’
He learned that long distance attacks weren’t going to work. Jin-Woo revised his plan once more and summoned the ‘Demon King’s Shortsword’ again. The other one that he tossed away in a hurry was currently nowhere to be seen.
‘Fighting against eight weapons with a single shortsword, is it?’
The more he was pushed to the corner in a fight, the faster his heart beat.
The angel statue jumped up high as if it wanted to touch the ceiling, before landing back down in front of Jin-Woo.
The stone tiles on the floor couldn’t endure against the falling statue’s momentum and spat out bits of debris as it shattered into countless pieces.
Jin-Woo pointed forward with his shortsword as he felt the small pebbles pelting him on his ankles.
‘I can do this.’
He definitely could do this. Jin-Woo stared into the angel statue’s eyes and calmly drew his breaths in. Immediately, he felt a chill brush run down his back. Sure enough, eight disparate weapons, such as a sword, a spear, a blade, an axe, a war hammer, etc., flew at his way as if they all possessed individual wills.
Jin-Woo spat out heavy, white-hot breaths, his brows shooting up high.
Under the glare of the interior that was neither too bright nor too dark, the light in Jin-Woo’s eyes left behind long shimmering trails that chased after his movements.
Would blocking countless flying bullets with bullets fired from an opposing gun create a cacophony of noise similar to this?
The deafening roars continued on unabated as Jin-Woo and the angel statue exchanged innumerable attacks and counterattacks in an instant.
Within the world slowed down to a crawl, only these two writhed and struggled mightily as if to rebel against the flow of time itself.
There was no one superior or inferior; just an evenly-matched battle of blades where only one would emerge as the victor. Even then….
‘I can feel it.’
Jin-Woo’s shoulder moved ever so slightly. The sword wielded by the angel statue brushed past his shoulder with a gap that couldn’t be detected by the naked eyes.
He stopped caring about his other eye that couldn’t be used anymore. His sensory perception that had exceeded the extreme limits and stepped into a whole new realm helped him to read the trajectories of every weapon his enemy held.
He began dodging every attack the angel statue threw at him by truly paper-thin margins and accurately landed his counters one by one.
More and more wounds appeared on the statue. The angel’s speed remained constant, yet Jin-Woo was getting faster and faster.
Naturally, the angel statue was deeply astonished by this.
If it was only for the purpose of a test, there was no reason to go this far. However, this human had managed to draw out the angel’s full power.
Indeed, just as the term implied – it had to fight with everything it had.
But then, a human was able to fight evenly against the angel statue going at full tilt?
The angel’s puzzled, suspicious eyes began peering deeper into Jin-Woo now. And then, it realised the reason for this.
‘It’s only by a little, but… it’s mixed in there.’
The shoulders of the angel statue trembled in shock. Was that the reason why he could freely wield the immense power so naturally like this?
However, that was also another thing this ‘creature’ wished for from the beginning, anyway.
Just as the look of elation formed on the angel statue’s face, a cleanly sliced off arm flew up into the air. The statue’s head was raised up to look at it.
The arm let go of a weapon as it flew away…. it was the angel’s right arm.
Even if this statue was not its real body, the pain still got transmitted in full. The angel statue tottered unsteadily and retreated after losing its arm in the blink of an eye.
[How dare a measly human!]
The colour of the angel statue’s eyes reddened in an instant. Its true nature woke up and it forgot its true purpose, its duty, for being here.
It cried out in anger, and the fallen, destroyed stone statues all stood right back up.
Even the god statue and its partially-destroyed head began pushing off the ground as well.
Jin-Woo could sense all the enemies being reanimated, but he didn’t fall into a panic and simply pounced on the angel statue again.
The four arms of the angel were used to block a single shortsword, yet it was shoved far, far back from the impact force.
Agility, Perception, Strength, and even Stamina – all of Jin-Woo’s Stats had far exceeded the expectation of the angel statue.
The angel statue roared out like a wild beast, and the reanimated stone statues pounced on Jin-Woo. And so, the fight between every single thing within this temple and the lone human commenced.
Even in the midst of all this chaos, the timer was still resolutely ticking down to zero.
Jin-Woo’s shortsword sliced away yet another of the angel statue’s arms. This time, it was one of the six created out of its wings.
Unfortunately, the resistance of the reanimated stone statues was nothing to scoff at.
There were far too many of them surrounding him now and it became too much of a task to dodge every single attack coming his way. He focused on attacking the angel statue and dodged only those attacks that might critically injure him while ignoring the rest.
His HP and Stamina were cut down in double time.
A stone statue slammed down with its shield on his left shoulder.
Jin-Woo diverted his attention towards this particular statue.
It was preparing to strike for the second time with its shield. Jin-Woo’s expression crumpled into something unsightly. He didn’t really care about others, but he simply couldn’t forgive this b*stard.
Only then did Jin-Woo move slightly away from the angel statue; using the elbow of his left arm not holding a weapon, he stomped the head of the offending statue.
The elbow drop containing magic energy ensured that the statue’s head exploded into tiny bits and pieces.
In the meantime, other statues quickly surrounded him and tried to jump on top of him. However, Jin-Woo simply activated his skill and pushed them all away.
A group of stone statues were flung away as if they were thrown off from the centre of an explosion.
Unfortunately, even before Jin-Woo had time to catch his breath, the god statue threw its massive fist down on his head. He lightly leapt to his side and avoided it.
The gigantic fist only managed to sweep away dozens of stone statues from Jin-Woo’s vicinity. He ran in a wide arc to lose the stone statues mindlessly trying to jump on him and approached the angel statue again.
And the angel greeted him with a deeply crumpled expression. That was the expression of pure rage.
For the second time today, Jin-Woo, the angel statue, and the stone statues all fell into a frenzied melee. His blood and sweat danced in the air and flew everywhere. But, all of that lasted only for a brief moment.
Soon, blood and sweat evaporated from the sheer heat generated and red mist rose up from Jin-Woo’s shoulders.
The stone statues were forced back, the god statue slammed its fist down, and the arms of the angel statue busily moved about. And in the middle of it all stood Jin-Woo.
Another one of the angel’s arms flew off, and Jin-Woo’s shortsword found itself pressed tightly against the angel statue’s neck. Way above both of them, the god statue was about to pound down with its two hands locked together.
Jin-Woo calmly strengthened the arm pressing the blade to the angel statue’s neck to cut it off in one go.
At that moment, the angel statue announced its surrender.
Simultaneously, the god statue and the rest of the stone statues all froze up and stopped moving.
[Your test has ended.]
Like a lie, the timer ceaselessly ticking down also froze up along with the angel’s words announcing the end of everything.
[Remaining time: 02:11]
Red hot steam was rising up in a fine mist from Jin-Woo’s entire body.
Only after confirming that the timer had stopped for real, he lowered his head. His glare was locked onto the angel statue.
“I have a question.”
[You can ask anything. I shall answer if it’s within my knowledge.]
Rather unexpectedly, the now-expressionless angel statue agreed to his demand without offering any resistance.
Jin-Woo didn’t say anything and thought to himself.
When he asked the angel statue ‘What are you’, the thing mocked him for asking the wrong question.
However, his confusion got more confounded after he heard the identity of this ‘thing’ from its own mouth, and now, he had more questions than ever before burning a hole in his head.
That was why Jin-Woo decided to heed the advice the angel gave him earlier on and ask the right question.
“Who am I?”
< Chapter 158 > Fin.