I Alone Level-Up
While Jin-Woo had his eyes closed to focus all of his attention on searching for the escaped beast, the Sovereign of Frost had intuitively sensed it. It was an opening left by the Shadow Sovereign.
Such an opportunity would not come around a second time. Even if there was a huge gap in individual strength, how dare he take his eyes off his enemy?
Avoiding death would be impossible if this chance was left ungrasped.
It was facing unavoidable death right now. In order to struggle free from the shadow of death taking large strides towards itself, the Sovereign of Frost decided to bet everything on one final move.
‘I must end everything with this one hit.’
Its right arm slipped behind its back and Mana began gathering there in a large lump. It then proceeded to create the most powerful spear of ice it had ever created.
Every ounce of energy dragged up by the desperation it felt would be contained within this attack!
A terrifying amount of magical energy was being forcibly concentrated on the ice spear. The power gathered was so great that the ground beneath the Sovereign wielding the spear froze up in pure white while issuing cracking noises.
Just before one would be tempted to wonder whether the Sovereign’s right arm grasping the spear had expanded far too much or not…
The spear was fired out with the velocity of a bullet and tore straight through the air.
At the same time, the ice humanoids received orders from their master and pounced on Jin-Woo like a nest of enraged fire ants.
Moments before the spear aiming at his forehead could penetrate into his face…
….Jin-Woo opened his eyes.
Simultaneously, the time flow of the surroundings came to a standstill as if the ‘pause’ button had been pressed on the playback. No, actually, the time had slowed down to such an extent that it almost looked as if it had come to a standstill.
The ice spear’s shaft spinning at a scarcely-believable speed was definitely getting closer, albeit only an inch at a time. And behind that, he could see the Sovereign of Frost’s rather deeply distorted face glaring in his direction.
Was that all, though?
He even could see the faces of every single ice humanoid surrounding him from all sides pouncing on him.
This was the scope of the Shadow Sovereign’s vision once he got ready for battle. His ability to perceive that had reached the realm that no other human being could ever hope to touch upon, and made it as if everything around him had come to a dead stop.
Jin-Woo was like an alien invading the world of a paused video and relaxedly scanned his surroundings.
‘Haven’t I felt something similar to this before….?’
When could that have been?
He slowly combed through his memories and eventually recalled that moment when he was about to die from the assaults of the stone statues.
Back then, time had come to a standstill as if everything had been paused, too.
‘Ah, so I had already possessed the power of the Shadow Sovereign in me, even then.’
Only now that he got to unlock the full powers did he realise once more just how long the Sovereign had been watching him. Jin-Woo continued to check out his vicinity and soon, discovered the backs of his two Marshal grade soldiers.
Even though the time had seemingly frozen, both Beru and Igrit were moving in to intercept the enemies, albeit very slowly. This was as good evidence as any that their agility had reached an incredible height now.
Jin-Woo studied them in happiness before remembering that there was a spear coming his way.
Like an insect studiously crawling forward, the spear was continuously closing the distance bit by bit. To stop the weapon’s advance, Jin-Woo used one of his powers.
This was one of the Shadow Sovereign’s powers, although he trained on using it proficiently while thinking that it was merely a skill.
The moment he activated ‘Ruler’s Authority’, he got to see the Mana dispersed throughout the surroundings suddenly rush in and wrap about the ice spear.
Once caught in the magical energy, the weapon lost all forward momentum and stopped in its treks.
He got to see for the first time how the skill ‘Ruler’s Authority’ worked and he couldn’t help but softly sigh in admiration.
‘Ah, so it was not an invisible hand or some such.’
No, it was more like ‘invisible Mana’. Simply put, Mana moved according to the will of the skill’s activator. Jin-Woo’s eyes could capture the movement of Mana so clearly now, when it was impossible to do so in the past.
Now that his sensory perception had reached the peak, he could definitely pick up on the flow of Mana surrounding his vicinity. As he observed its flow, his eyes sparkled brightly.
This was the end result of the Rulers trying so hard to fortify this world. A world once devoid of Mana was now overflowing with it. And as the inheritor of the Shadow Sovereign’s powers, he was given the right to freely wield this energy with nothing but his will.
His heart raced faster as he sensed the surrounding Mana breathe.
‘….Let’s do this.’
Jin-Woo broke past the slowly-moving time and approached his two Marshals before resting his hands on their shoulders.
“There’s no need for you guys to step up here.”
Beru and Igrit heeded their master’s order and immediately stopped moving. Jin-Woo stood before them.
He’d now maximise his control of Mana that he trained whenever he had the time through ‘Ruler’s Authority’. He took a sweeping look at the ice humanoids and deeply breathed in and out once.
The emotion still filling his chest was the gratitude towards the Shadow Sovereign welling up from deep inside his heart. Also, gratitude for teaching him how to control his powers through the System’s guidance.
Jin-Woo was done focusing on himself and controlled the Mana in the air at once. In that blink-of-an-eye moment, the space around him tumbled.
It truly was for just a moment.
In an instant, a powerful wave of Mana, starting from Jin-Woo as its centre, crashed out and swept away the huge masses of ice humanoids trying to pounce on him.
The Sovereign of Frost also detected the violent storm of Mana rushing at it.
It hurriedly spread out an ice barrier to protect itself.
Once the violent winds of Mana went past, the Sovereign quickly undid the barrier and it was greeted by the sight of debris, belonging to the ice humanoids, scattered everywhere. The powerful pulse of Mana had destroyed them all. Even the blizzard storm clouds it had summoned were gone, too.
This was the power of Shadow Sovereign.
[But… but how!!]
The Sovereign of Frost shivered from shock after witnessing the true power of the Shadow Sovereign, formerly the greatest Fragment of the Brilliant Light, as well as one of the most powerful Kings in existence.
The completely insurmountable wall.
Didn’t the gap between it and him seem far too great?!
Jin-Woo took a look around himself and nodded his head at the rather satisfying result before locking his gaze with the frightened eyes of the ancient Ice Elf.
He could sense that creature shivering even at a distance away.
He still had a score to settle with that thing. Jin-Woo recalled the face of the late Association President Goh Gun-Hui and his expression became colder in an instant. However, he wasn’t the type to expose his emotions that easily.
The enemy he wanted to kill the most would be disposed of at the very end. He’d make sure that the opponent would get to enjoy enough time to shiver in terror from the unavoidable death.
Jin-Woo raised his voice.
“You shall be the last.”
Suddenly, Jin-Woo’s figure slowly submerged into the shadow beneath his feet.
“Until I go and catch that beast, you stay and quietly wait, okay?”
As soon as the TV’s broadcast got cut off, the Association President Woo Jin-Cheol slammed his fist down on the desk.
The final scene before the live footage got cut off was the one of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo powerlessly crumbling to the ground after getting struck by those two monsters.
Watching that scene play out, Woo Jin-Cheol felt as if his whole world had come crashing down. If only this desk wasn’t an item that Goh Gun-Hui had used, he’d completely smash it into pieces with one punch.
Woo Jin-Cheol’s clenched fist trembled greatly.
All the other subordinate employees present within the President’s office and watching the broadcast with him shut their mouths up as well. Heavy silence permeated in the office now.
The Association President Woo Jin-Cheol knew better than anyone that he shouldn’t be wasting time here like this. He quickly threw out a question.
“How many Guilds are on site now??”
“All five major Guilds have arrived on site, sir.”
Woo Jin-Cheol stood up from his seat and urgently issued his new order.
“Our Monitoring Division will go, as well. And I’ll accompany them, too.”
“But, it’ll be far too dangerous, sir!”
“You think being dangerous or safe is important in our current situation?!”
Woo Jin-Cheol shot a scary glare, immediately rendering those employees trying to persuade him not to go utterly speechless.
The Republic of Korea had just lost its final line of defence, Seong Jin-Woo. Meaning, there was no more room to retreat. Every Hunter had to cooperate to kill those monsters, otherwise, there would be no future left for anyone anymore.
Woo Jin-Cheol hurriedly put on his jacket before raising his head to spot the real-time footage being transmitted from the CCTV camera, currently shown live, right next to the giant TV screen.
This camera was pointing to the sky 24 hours a day. It continuously streamed the sight of the super-massive Gate floating above the skies of Seoul. Woo Jin-Cheol’s eyes staring at the screen trembled for a moment then.
Perhaps, the nation of Korea was already doomed.
His heart tumbled to the pit of his stomach. Even if they got lucky and were able to kill those monsters, they would suffer grave casualties. Could they be able to deal with that nonsensically humongous Gate with the remaining Hunters, no, more accurately, without the presence of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo?
Just from thinking about the monsters in the city centre and then the super-massive Gate in a row, the despair he so desperately tried to deny rushed in like a tidal wave.
However, Woo Jin-Cheol forcibly shook his head.
Even if tens, hundreds of thousands, no, the entire population of Korea thought the same as he did, someone still had to step up and fight. The powers Hunters possessed were precisely for that purpose.
Woo Jin-Cheol gritted his teeth to shake off all unnecessary thoughts from his head. He was about to step outside his office when one of the employees hurriedly called out to him.
Woo Jin-Cheol looked behind him. Not at the employee calling out to him, no, but at the large TV screen with the news anchor urgently speaking to the viewers.
[Everyone, one of our cameras have finally reached the site!]
Maybe the camera was positioned on a rooftop of a high-rise building, because the scene now on screen was being filmed from a great distance away. But, that alone was enough.
The blizzard covering up the city was being dispersed by some kind of an unseen force.
Feeling rather agitated now, the Association President Woo Jin-Cheol brushed past all the employees that had stood up from their seats and rushed to the front of the giant screen.
Once the icy fog was blown away, it became possible to see clearly the figures standing on the street.
There were five people. No, make that four people, plus one creature.
Among them, the man standing before a certain ant soldier was someone Woo Jin-Cheol was quite familiar with.
“It’s Hunter Seong Jin-Woo!!”
Woo Jin-Cheol shouted out unbeknownst to even himself. Other employees saw the shattered remains of the ice humanoids strewn about around Jin-Woo and roared out in elation.
Not only was Jin-Woo, who looked to be dead for sure, standing upright completely fine, he even seemed to have pushed his enemy into a corner as well, so how could they hold back their cries now?
Indeed, tears even threatened to break out of Woo Jin-Cheol’s eyes.
There was only one enemy now; the sole creature of ice seemed to be terrified out of its skull, because it was completely rooted to its spot, unable to even move an inch.
No one could tell just what transpired within that blizzard, but the situation had done a complete 180 now.
He didn’t need to hear it, but Woo Jin-Cheol knew that the attention of the entire world was focused on this very same footage being broadcast.
Just with what method would Hunter Seong demolish that monster now? The Association President Woo Jin-Cheol’s face was quickly filled up with anticipation as he watched Jin-Woo.
Jin-Woo seemed to be saying something to the monster, before he began submerging below his feet and disappearing from the site.
The expressions on the employees hugging each other to celebrate gradually hardened.
….Jin-Woo completely vanished from the battlefield.
The cameraman must be panicking as well, as the camera kept moving this way and that in order to locate Jin-Woo. Unfortunately, not even his hair could be seen now.
Woo Jin-Cheol couldn’t hide his fluster and rubbed his mouth. Yet another bout of heavy silence descended on the office of the Association President.
After returning to the hideout located in a jungle somewhere, the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs’ teeth began clattering.
That aura of death gradually tightening around its neck. What a regretful thing it was, wasting time arguing with the Sovereign of Frost and delaying its escape from that place.
Back when it was out hunting Brazil’s greatest Hunter, Earth was nothing more than a hunting ground filled with weak prey. The beast had been drunk on the feelings of freedom after leaving behind the dreary, boring gap between dimensions where there was practically nothing fun to do.
Who’d have thought that the Shadow Sovereign had descended to this world with a malicious plan up his sleeve? Unless they were talking about the human masquerading as the King of the Dead, fine, but the beast definitely didn’t want to fight against the real Shadow Sovereign.
If one wanted to stop that guy, then one needed power far exceeding him. One needed the Sovereign of Destruction.
‘Now that things have turned out this way, I have no choice but to hide here and quietly wait until the Dragon Emperor shows up….’
The beast lied down on the bed made out of leaves and branches.
When it did, several wild beasts of the Chaos World, referred to as monsters by humans, gathered around and laid down around the Sovereign’s feet.
These wild beasts possessing powerful magical energy were none other than the Sovereign’s royal guard. They purred and rubbed their faces when their King began stroking them.
But then, the Sovereign sensed something was off and stopped stroking the heads of its pets in his comfy reclined position.
The furs on the pets had all stood upright.
The sixth sense possessed by all animals; the inexplicable sensation travelling down the back of its neck caused all sorts of goosebumps to break out on the Sovereign’s body.
It wordlessly shifted its gaze over to the same spot where the nervous beasts were glaring at, before its own eyes narrowed down to a slit. The shade of a tree several steps away was wavering noticeably, that was why.
The voice thickly laden with despair leaked out from the mouth of the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs after picking up the scent of death quickly permeating into its hideout.
“Could it be….?”
< Chapter 222 > Fin.