I Alone Level-Up
Would talking to ‘it’ work?
The Association President Goh Gun-Hui quietly observed the uninvited guest.
However, the creature didn’t say anything.
Different from other monsters, though, it didn’t immediately bare its fangs. No, it just sat there in silence while ignoring the owner of this office altogether.
As this uncomfortable silence persisted for a brief period, Goh Gun-Hui found himself with an opportunity to study his new opponent in detail.
‘It looks exactly like an Ice Elf.’
An Ice Elf, often referred to as the White Phantom, was a monster commonly seen within upper-ranked dungeons. The unique appearances of these creatures were well known among the Hunters by now.
Strangely enough, although this uninvited guest’s countenance did possess all the general features of an Ice Elf, there were a few clear differences present as well. That made him question whether this creature was actually from the same Ice Elf race or not.
‘It’s as if….’
….If the Ice Elves were trees that formed part of a forest, then this silent guest of his was like an aged tree guarding a desiccated forest all by itself.
Its skin was cracking up like the bark of a tree; its fingers were bony; a tangled, messy beard on its chin and two deeply-sunken, hollow-looking eyes.
If an Ice Elf managed to live for hundreds, no, thousands of years, then it might look like this guy. It was that kind of face.
The unusual points didn’t end at the creature’s face, though.
Goh Gun-Hui swallowed his dry saliva, unbeknownst to even himself.
‘Its presence… I couldn’t sense its presence at all.’
An uninvited guest had entered in complete silence and settled down on the couch, yet he had failed to sense its approach until he got to confirm the truth with his own two eyes.
His ultra-sharp senses wouldn’t have missed this creature’s arrival if it was nothing but an ordinary monster.
‘….This is not an opponent that I can deal with.’
Goh Gun-Hui quickly assessed his situation, and then, very softly flipped his smartphone up to glance at the screen in order to signal for help.
When he did that, the monster shifted its gaze over to him.
[All contacts with the outside world have been cut off in this space.]
Goh Gun-Hui confirmed that the smartphone had no signal, just as the creature had said, and put the device down.
“Am I dreaming a bad dream right now?”
Not only did a monster intrude into the HQ of Korea’s Hunter’s Association right in the middle of Seoul, it even began speaking in Korean, too. If this wasn’t the very definition of a bad dream, then what else could be?
It was then.
Goh Gun-Hui felt a sharp pain brush past his left shoulder and quickly grabbed it tight.
‘Something’ happened the moment this monster pointed at him. He cautiously lifted his hand away to discover a cut wound on the shoulder, as if something sharp had sliced him up.
The truly mystifying thing was, even though his flesh had been sliced open, not a drop of blood came from the wound. Instead, the area around the cut had been frozen solid and white frost had settled around it.
Goh Gun-Hui dazedly stared at his wound before raising his head back up. The monster was still sitting relaxedly on the same spot in the couch.
[Do you think that pain is also a part of your dream?]
Goh Gun-Hui nodded his head.
“I see. So, this is reality. In that case, let me ask you again. Just what are you?”
[I wanted you to recognise me first, but, in the end, you were just a simple human.]
“Just a human….??”
The monster slowly stood up from the couch.
At the same time, couches, the coffee table, and other furniture nearby the creature were shoved violently away and crashed into the walls.
The furniture froze up in an instant and got stuck on the walls.
‘Oh, my god….’
Goh Gun-Hui’s eyes opened wider.
The goosebumps-inducing chill slowly permeated into the office of the Association President.
[I don’t have a habit of toying around with a weakling. Reveal yourself, Fragment of the Brilliant Light.]
Just who would dare to label Goh Gun-Hui as a weakling in this world?
However, he realised that he couldn’t dispute that claim. The creature before his eyes possessed this Mt. Tai-like authoritative power, and whenever it opened its mouth, its voice reverberated and exploded like a thunderclap.
This thing was on another realm compared to him.
He possessed incomparably excellent senses, so he could instantly figure out the differences between his and his opponent’s power level.
Cold perspiration soaked his forehead.
[Are you worried about your vessel breaking? Even if it was not you, your vessel’s lifespan is almost over, anyway.]
The monster then added, [But, if you’re hiding away because you’re scared, then…] before flipping both of his palms up to face the ceiling. Right away, spine-chilling cold air began condensing there.
[….Then, there is no point in talking to you anymore.]
Goh Gun-Hui fell into an extreme case of confusion from the indecipherable utterance of his opponent, but in the meantime, that incredibly cold air flew out from one of the monster’s hands.
A powerful explosion swept away the spot where Goh Gun-Hui had been standing on.
White smoke created from the extreme coldness rose up like a veil of fog and covered the surroundings until it was impossible to see anything.
But then, a pair of flames emitting pure light began burning brightly within this smoke. Those were a pair of eyes glowing in a golden hue.
The monster confirmed the colour of the light oozing out from the screen of whiteness and formed an eerie smile, before throwing the remaining clump of cold air in its other hand.
Goh Gun-Hui swung his arm and swiped that cold air away. It was flung away and crashed heavily against the wall.
The cold air exploded and the entirety of the wall was blown away. Through the gaping opening, one could see a space filled with endless pitch-black darkness.
The white smoke obscuring the view slowly dissipated, and the unhurt Association President Goh Gun-Hui was revealed in full. Not just his two eyes, but his whole body was enveloped in this stupendous golden aura that wavered around gently in the air.
“You separated the President’s office and hid it in between dimensions. Quite impressive.”
A completely different voice than how he normally sounded came out from Goh Gun-Hui’s mouth. The monster began speaking again.
[Finally… finally, we get to meet each other. Oh, Fragment of the most Brilliant Light. I’ve wandered around for a long time to locate you. But, who’d have thought that you were confined in a broken vessel and couldn’t even wield your own powers.]
Unlike the tone of voice that sounded emotional, the monster’s expression remained unchanging. With a frozen-stiff face, it continued to speak.
[We have already located the whereabouts of your other seven comrades. And we have destroyed two fragments by now.]
This time, it was Goh Gun-Hui’s expression’s turn to harden. Not only him, but the locations of all the Rulers had been exposed, and two had already lost their vessels, as well?
Such a counterattack was out of the Rulers’ expectations.
[That look on your face.]
The monster formed a creepy smile.
[I always wished to see the panic and fluster in that arrogant, haughty expression of yours. And now, I can destroy your vessel with no regret.]
“Do your worst, Sovereign of Frost!!”
Goh Gun-Hui roared out thunderously!
The wavering golden aura surrounding his body intensified by a step, before transforming into a figure emitting this bright light from his entire body. The darkness filling up the space beyond was illuminated brightly in an instant.
However, even though it was being subjected to this incredible power, the Sovereign of Frost didn’t bother to wipe that ridiculing smile off its lips.
[Are you planning to resist me? How foolish.]
Ice-cold white light oozed out from the Sovereign’s eyes. At the same time, the floor beneath its feet began freezing up.
Just like how the bright golden light was enveloping Goh Gun-Hui, the intense and bitterly cold air surrounded the Sovereign’s entire figure. And then, the creature bared its fangs.
[You merely borrow a human’s body, while I have taken over mine. Do you believe that you can even touch a hair on my body?]
At this moment, when the Sovereign had let down its guard – Goh Gun-Hui instinctively realised that this could be his only chance and dashed forward like an arrow to pounce on the Sovereign.
Unfortunately, the opponent’s reaction was definitely not slow, either.
The golden light and the cold air got into a messy tangle and caused a series of intense explosions.
Boom!! Kwahng! Kwa-Boom!!
But, as the battle became protracted, Goh Gun-Hui’s movements visibly dulled. Compared to his enemy, the injuries on his body continued to accumulate. As his actions got harsher and heavier, more and more white steam leaked out from his panting mouth.
The length of time a patient at death’s doorstep could fight while stuck in such coldness was at best, two minutes tops. Just as the Sovereign had alluded to, the result of this fight was already set in stone.
His stamina had already reached its limit.
Goh Gun-Hui had already expended more than the permitted amount of magical energy his body could handle. His eyes became bloodshot, and blood began leaking out from the corner of his lips.
Too bad, all of his efforts were for naught.
A sharp ice spike stabbed directly into his chest and emerged out his back.
Goh Gun-Hui spat out a mouthful of blood.
The Sovereign of Frost inflicted a mortal wound on its opponent with an ice spike shooting out from the tip of its hand. Seeing the status of its victim, the creature clicked its tongue as if to lament this situation.
[Is that as far your vessel can go? How pathetic, oh, Fragment of the Brilliant Light.]
Goh Gun-Hui’s head was lowered as he breathed and wheezed painfully. The Sovereign of Frost looked down on him.
[How long will you take to find new vessels? One year? Two years? Unfortunately for you, our armies have already arrived in this world.]
Everything in this world would be destroyed and gone well before the arrival of the Rulers’ soldiers.
[It was your mistake trying to save the denizens of this world. Did we look like such weak opponents that you thought you could win even when diverting your attention to something else?]
The Sovereign of Frost formed a victorious smile.
To put the icing on this cake, the Sovereign raised its other hand and got ready. Cold aura began condensing in this raised hand.
The final attack to end the life of the human acting as a Ruler’s vessel was taking its shape. But, then….
Out of the blue, Goh Gun-Hui’s blood-soaked lips broke out into hoarse laughter. The Sovereign’s hand stopped moving.
Goh Gun-Hui panted heavily as he intensely glared at his enemy.
“You think I, cough, fought you without a plan?”
His left hand powerfully and tightly grasped the Sovereign’s wrist just beneath his chest.
“Just like how we didn’t expect you to imitate our ways, a huge variable has occurred that exceeds your expectation.”
The eyes of the Sovereign grew wider as it studied the expression of confidence on Goh Gun-Hui’s face.
A bluff? No, it couldn’t be – his expression was too loaded with hidden meanings for that. Just as the Sovereign’s thoughts arrived at that point…
….The creature had to hurriedly tilt its head to the side.
Truly by a paper-thin margin, an incredible amount of magical energy shot past the location where its head was only a millisecond ago. The attack was so powerful that it even burnt away Goh Gun-Hui’s right arm after firing it.
The magic energy crashed into the opposite wall of the separated space and caused a ginormous explosion.
The entirety of the separated space trembled from the sheer power.
If such an attack found its intended target, just what might have happened?
‘….That was dangerous.’
Too bad for the human, the Sovereign had sensed the enemy’s intention in that instant and as a result, was able to dodge it at the very last possible moment. The Sovereign stared at Goh Gun-Hui, who must’ve exhausted all of his remaining energy from that attack, and formed a smile.
[Was that your final hidden card?]
That smile was clearly one of ridicule. However, Goh Gun-Hui was smiling along, as well.
The Sovereign discovered that smile floating up on the pale, waning face of the human and began feeling this puzzling sense of encroaching ill omen.
How come it was being overwhelmed by this creeping chill, even though victory was at hand? Its puzzlement didn’t last for long, though.
The Sovereign’s gaze quickly shifted to its rear.
The barrier separating this space from the outside was crumbling into pieces after that enormous magical energy slammed into it.
‘Was this his original intention?’
Even then, didn’t this act ultimately a meaningless resistance?
[Nothing would change just because the wall between the dimensions break down.]
It was then, the consciousness of the Ruler dwelling within the old man’s body raised the corner of his lips.
“Will it… really be that way?”
Soon, the barrier shattered completely and the space regained its original appearance.
Lights from the other buildings; cars on the streets below those buildings; and the President’s office, too. Everything returned to their original place.
Goh Gun-Hui summoned up the last of his strength and shouted at the ground beneath him.
From beneath his feet, a blob separated from his shadow and rapidly transformed into that of a certain ant. This creature avoided the Sovereign altogether and, while screeching out loudly, jumped outside the window.
The Sovereign quickly shifted its gaze over to that creature. It couldn’t understand why a denizen of the chaos world suddenly appeared here.
However, it was just that, a lone denizen. It was just a weakling of a soldier that submitted to the King of Insects. That was all.
Even then – the Sovereign couldn’t rip its eyes away from that ant getting further and further away.
‘…Could it be??’
Eventually, the Sovereign’s brows shot up higher.
It should have realised the truth from the beginning.
It should have realised that the reason why the Fragment of the Brilliant Light poured out enough power to shatter the barrier even at the heavy cost to the human’s body, when the Ruler always chose to conserve its strength, worried that the vessel would break sooner if it went all out.
Indeed, the b*stard hadn’t been resisting so bitterly in order to escape from the barrier. There was yet another reason behind his actions.
The Sovereign of Frost belatedly realised the identity of that ant and its eyes grew even wider than before.
The Sovereign hurriedly discarded Goh Gun-Hui and leapt in the direction where that ant had run off to. Cold air coalesced in its hand and froze up to create an ice sickle.
The creature instantly arrived at the ant’s location and slammed down with its ice sickle. But then…
The wrist wielding the sickle was immediately grabbed by someone’s hand. The grasping power was so great that the Sovereign couldn’t retract its arm at all, no matter what.
But, even before the creature had any time to be surprised by that power, its neck was grabbed hard, too.
The Sovereign of Frost confirmed just who appeared in the spot where the ant had disappeared from and felt its heart tumble to the pit of its stomach. And then, it asked in a disbelieving tone of voice.
[But, you… Why?]
Meanwhile, Jin-Woo grasped the neck of this Sovereign of Frost tightly so it wouldn’t be able to escape, and shot it a puzzled look.
“An Ice Elf?”
< Chapter 200 > Fin.