His heart beat louder just then.
The ripple generated from those two words spread out at a frightening speed and roused up the shadows. The battlefield dyed in the colours of monsters’ blood roiled and tumbled in black waves.
The Shadow Soldiers leaping out of the ground roared out in what could have been either loud cheers or screams of horror. They then shifted their blackened eyes towards their enemies.
Those eyes carried not one trace of fear towards their enemies now.
For the silver soldiers of the skies supposed to deal with this new army, the scene before them was worthy of sending cold shivers down their spines. Too bad for them, the Sovereign’s powers didn’t stop there.
The Sovereign bellowed heavily towards the skies. That powerful roar didn’t attack the eardrums of the listeners, but directly shook their hearts, instead.
Hearts, legs, and even the ground shook from his roar.
The land began crying as its response.
Jin-Woo didn’t need a lot of time to figure out what that roar was meant for. Because… the Shadow Soldiers raised their weapons up high and roared alongside as well.
Just that single roar alone, and the Shadow Soldiers all transformed into completely different beings in an instant.
From this corner of the land, all the way to the other side – the dead monsters were instantly reorganised into Shadow Soldiers.
Jin-Woo had been quietly observing this process while holding his breath. A powerful shudder ran through his entire body from the combined roars of the Shadow Soldiers.
His heart loudly beat again.
If this scene was supposed to demonstrate the true pinnacle of the Shadow Sovereign Class, then it certainly succeeded in letting him know just how much further he still had to walk to get there.
Eventually, the soldiers of the sky stopped hesitating and began moving again. They gathered into one large mass, and like a gigantic swarm of bees, descended on the black soldiers below.
However, the monsters that were reborn as Shadow Soldiers didn’t fall as easily as before.
Weapons clashed against weapons.
Soldiers collided against soldiers.
The silver army and the black army got tangled up on top of this expansive land.
Explosions rang out constantly, and the ground quaked over and over again. The battle that should have ended as a one-sided massacre reverted back to full-on warfare.
Just the entrance of a single individual had changed everything. Now that was the display of truly shocking power. Jin-Woo didn’t know why this scene was being shown to him, but nevertheless, he found himself unable to tear his eyes away from it.
The violent, fierce clash continued on.
A desperate and bloody engagement, incomparably fiercer and more violent than the first battle that took place, unfolded before his eyes.
Monsters were unable to contend with a single soldier of the sky while they were still alive, but after becoming Shadow Soldiers, they were now able to stand their ground and not get pushed back.
But, well, the truly terrifying thing about these Shadow Soldiers weren’t their fighting spirit or their combat potentials.
The soldiers of the sky drove the Shadow Soldiers back with their powerful attacks and excellent martial prowess. The ferocity of the Shadow Soldiers that rebelled against death itself wasn’t enough to bridge the gap of strength.
The balance of the battle seemed to tilt in favour of the soldiers of the sky once more. However, the Shadow Soldiers regained their original appearances almost right after they were destroyed.
A Shadow Soldier writhed and screamed out as a spear belonging to a soldier of the sky pierced through it.
The silver soldier sensed that its victory was near. It let go of its spear and unsheathed the sword on its hips to slice off the head of its enemy, the Shadow Soldier.
However, right after the head flew off….
The head of the Shadow Soldier falling to the ground and the headless body all transformed into black smoke, before combining back to one form a couple of steps away.
As the soldier of the sky flinched, the Shadow Soldier used the sword it held to stab the chest of its silver-clad enemy.
The blade broke through the chest armour, dug into the internals, broke through the back skin and emerged out in the open again.
The silver soldier of the sky powerlessly fell to the ground.
As the light of life within the fallen silver soldier’s eyes faded away, someone’s dignified voice entered its ears and woke it back up.
In an unknown instant….
The soldier of the sky discovered the black spear being held by its hands. What came to visit this soldier wasn’t death, but a new beginning.
Its now-blackened eyes shifted towards other soldiers of the sky who used to be its comrades only a few breaths ago.
When their gazes met, it saw the trembling shoulders of its former comrades. Even then, the reborn soldier knew what it had to do.
It joyously accepted the brand new fate bestowed upon it.
Jin-Woo tore his eyes away from these soldiers and took an overview of the entire battlefield and its situation.
The battle taking place between the soldiers of the sky endlessly pouring out from the Gates in the air, and the Shadow Soldiers reborn through the orders of the Shadow Sovereign, was incredibly even.
Many poured out of the Gate to match the number of the dead, and just as many stood up from the shadows to match the dead, too.
If war broke out in hell, would it resemble something like this?
Horrifying warfare that a human’s intuition couldn’t even properly tell what would happen next breathlessly continued on in this vast land.
However, the balance between these two opposing sides broke in a single instant.
The flow of the war shifted very quickly when the Shadow Sovereign stopped issuing commands to his troops from far back and personally stepped forward to enter the fray.
The black horse carrying the Sovereign dashed into the battlefield.
Whenever he swung his sword, thousands of enemy troops fell to create a pathway. And the dead enemies, without an exception, became Shadow Soldiers and stood back up.
Just one flick of the Sovereign’s hand and all those enemy soldiers flying away to safety had their wings broken and they all crashed back down to earth.
The areas the Sovereign dashed through got utterly swept away as if a storm rampaged past there. For the first time ever since the two opposing camps started clashing their weapons – the soldiers of the sky were being forced back.
Hundreds of thousands, no, millions of silver-clad soldiers couldn’t deal with a single enemy and were constantly pushed back.
Jin-Woo could only gasp out in admiration at this sheer marvellous spectacle. He thought that the war would come to an end like this.
Just as the Shadow Soldiers began pushing back the tides of the silver soldiers of the sky, an ominous, eerie wind that was hard to describe in words blew in from somewhere behind him.
Auras powerful enough to send a shudder down his spine rushed in.
The Sovereign temporarily disregarded the enemies to his front and looked behind him. Two ginormous Gates had been generated in some place far behind the Shadow army. Their sizes didn’t lose out to the ones floating up in the air.
And from these two Gates, two disparate groups of monsters poured out in droves. On one side, beast-type creatures being led by a wolf the size of a mountain.
And from the other one, knights and soldiers rushed out with countless banners proudly announcing their clans being waved about in their midst.
Jin-Woo’s eyes grew wider and wider.
The clan crests embroidered on those banners were all familiar to him. From Ricardo’s, Faestos’s, Rokan’s, Ingreyace’s, and even Radiru’s.
Those crests belonged to the aristocratic clans of demons he ran into as he was climbing up to the top floor of the Demon’s Castle.
His confusion regarding why those demons appeared here could only last for a short while. The beasts and the demons began attacking the shadow soldiers together as if they had a prior agreement.
The back line of the Shadow Soldiers was immediately torn up into shreds from the combined assault of the two monster armies.
That wasn’t the end, however.
Their front was occupied by the soldiers of the sky, still alive and ready to battle. These silver-clad beings changed their strategy and began striking back once more.
The soldiers of the sky to the front and the armies of monsters at the back surrounded the Shadow Soldiers in a pincer attack and closed in on them. The flow of the battle had changed once more.
Jin-Woo grasped his chest tightly.
His heart was aching now.
His gaze slowly shifted towards the Sovereign standing next to him.
Why was this? Why could he sense the Sovereign’s emotions so clearly like this?
Just like when he was reading the thoughts of his Shadow Soldiers, the Sovereign’s emotions were vividly transmitted to him. The emotion welling up thickly from the deepest depths of his heart was none other than indignation.
No, it had already exceeded past the level of indignation and into the territory of pure wrath.
Now that they were surrounded by enemies from all sides, the Shadow Soldiers had to endlessly repeat the cycle of destruction and regeneration. Although they seemed to have possessed a never-ending power of recovery, Jin-Woo too possessed the same ability and he knew its fatal weakness very well.
‘It can hold up as long as there’s MP….’
When MP ran out, the Soldiers would not be revived again. Meaning, the Sovereign wouldn’t be able to use his army again. He sensed the Sovereign’s magical energy that felt bottomless and vast in the beginning, slowly reaching its limit.
The Sovereign changed the direction of his mount away from the army of the sky and towards his rear. His black horse kicked the ground and rushed forward.
The ensuing battle was truly intense.
Corpses formed mountains. Blood formed oceans.
This conflagration called ‘war’ created by countless soldiers swallowed up every single lifeform still standing on this land and continued on its horrific path of destruction.
But, even then – this stubbornly persistent battle that didn’t seem to end was slowly marching towards its inevitable conclusion.
Not too many remained standing on the battlefield now.
The Sovereign lost his mount during the battle. He wasn’t hindered in the least, however. He cut down two demon knights blocking his path and stood before a certain demon breathlessly panting away as it leaned against a bizarre rock formation.
The demon’s face was hidden behind its helm, but the Sovereign seemed to know its identity as he glared down at his feeble prey.
[We could have ended the war with them today.]
[But, why did you betray me?]
The demon weakly faltered its head, but it forced himself to look up. It had already suffered grievous wounds and it seemed unlikely it’d be able to survive its injuries.
The voice coming out from beneath the helm sounded precariously close to being cut off.
“So…. regrettable. We could have ended you for good today, but….”
The Sovereign’s voice became even icier as he asked again.
[I said, why did you betray me?]
The demon’s shoulders trembled as it painfully cackled, before it raised its head up again. And then, it replied.
For some reason, Jin-Woo couldn’t properly hear that answer. Did he lose his concentration and miss it somehow?
No, that wasn’t it.
The demon said something else, but he still couldn’t understand a single word of it.
However, it must’ve sounded different to the Sovereign’s ears, because as soon as he heard the reply, he extended his hand out and sucked the demon in. The creature spat out a pained moan as its neck was tightly grasped by the Shadow Sovereign.
The piece of armour protecting the neck crumpled up. Even in the middle of this, the demon continued to say the things it wanted to say.
The Sovereign’s thumb plunged into the throat of the demon.
The demon spat out a mouthful of blood. And that was precisely the moment when his gaze met with the demon’s eyes staring back from within that helm.
But, how could this be?!
Jin-Woo freaked out and let go of the dying demon’s neck.
Its life had ended by then and its body limply crumpled to the ground.
‘But, that doesn’t make any sense.’
Those eyes in hidden in the helm – he had seen those eyes before. But, such a thing could not have happened.
His heart began pounding madly now.
Jin-Woo shook his head hard and cautiously approached the dead demon to take its helm off. Even in death, the creature was maintaining the same glare it shot him back when it was still alive.
How could he ever forget that glare?
The removed helm fell out of Jin-Woo’s hands and clattered to the ground.
The wide-open eyes of the demon were still filled with the light of pure rage. It was the exact same light he saw back on the top floor of the Demon’s Castle.
‘The Demon King… Baran?!’
The moment he realised this fact, he also discovered one more strange thing.
He saw his hands decked out in black armour. He then saw his feet, his legs, and his own chest. From a certain point in time, he had been using the Shadow Sovereign’s body as his own.
Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump!!
The pounding beats of his heart grew even heavier and louder, assaulting his eardrums. Jin-Woo placed his hand where his heart was.
Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump!
His eyes grew wider and wider.
‘How… How come I haven’t noticed it until now?!’
He had grown more conscious of his own heartbeat after surviving the events of the underground temple. Even then, he had failed to notice it until now.
Jin-Woo’s trembling hand moved to the right side of his chest. He sensed the tremor there. One coming from the left, and then another coming from his right.
Two hearts were issuing exact same sounds.
His shock-filled eyes were lowered immediately, but then, he discovered four shadows on the ground, slowly growing larger. Some things were approaching him from above. His head hurriedly rose up to the skies.
And, right above his head…
Four angels with six wings each were slowly descending towards him.
The ‘memory’ lasted only up until then.
Along with that mechanical beep, darkness blinded him again.
He heard the clear, concise voice of the System as his consciousness grew further away.
[Playback of the saved data has concluded.]
< Chapter 160 > Fin.