I Alone Level-Up
Fifty thousand or so Hunters from all corners of the globe, here to defend against the super-massive Gate, watched dazedly as the black monsters began kneeling before Jin-Woo.
This sea of soldiers wrapped in black armour or black smoke seemed to go on forever. Every single one of these creatures possessed an incredible amount of magical energy, but there was something else that made the gathered Hunters doubt their own eyes even more.
“T-that, that, that! Could that be?!”
“Right at the end there, you see what’s right at the end there, right?”
“…..Yeah, I can see it.”
Hunters pointed to the back of this army of black soldiers, their complexions paling greatly. More specifically, they were pointing to the three black Dragons at the back of the army who were obediently lowering their heads before their owner, as if they were house-trained pets or some such.
The gathered Hunters were now rendered completely speechless after discovering those Dragons being the part of the line-up of these black soldiers.
The Dragon that appeared for the first, and last, time in human history had been ‘Kamish’. That one creature alone managed to wipe out almost every single elite Hunter alive back then, and the whole world was in danger of being thrust into a horrifying conflagration of destruction.
Seriously now, would people begin calling that Dragon with a name carrying the meaning of ‘undying flames’ for no good reason?
And so – only one such creature was enough to threaten the very existence of the human race, yet there were three of them now. It couldn’t be helped that the Hunters gathered here to fight these things felt as if all of their energy was quickly abandoning them.
Just what would have happened if they decided to clash against this army? Hunters imagined the potential combat situation against these black monsters currently in bowing positions and felt goosebumps rapidly spread throughout their bodies next.
And at the same time, they grew really curious about the real identity of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo, standing before them as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Jin-Woo swept his gaze over the Grand-Marshal Bellion and the seemingly endless number of Shadow Soldiers kneeling behind their leader.
‘So, this is the real Shadow Army….’
What Igrit said was right.
His black knight asked for an audience and spoke to Jin-Woo in his usual dignified manner yesterday.
[My liege, the Shadow Army has concluded all of their preparations.]
Jin-Woo needed a bit of time to completely digest those words. That’s how surprising it was to him.
That was why he was in a dilemma.
He knew better than anyone here regarding the matters with the Sovereigns and the Rulers, as well as the truth behind the Gates. But the thing was, he himself wasn’t certain about the overall narrative, so there was no way he’d be able to convincingly explain what was happening here to everyone else.
No, it was an impossibly tall order to convince every one of these Hunters coming from all over the world to stop the Gate before it turned into the worst calamity in human history.
In the one-in-ten-thousand case, no, make that one in ten million chance that Igrit’s information was faulty, could he be able to handle the fallout from that?
That was why Jin-Woo decided to wait.
He decided not to make up his mind until he could confirm the truth with his own eyes first, and waited until the Gate opened up. And the result of that was now kneeling before his eyes.
Jin-Woo inwardly swallowed his saliva and scanned his soldiers. Although he was not responsible for raising these soldiers, he could still sense that every single one of them was connected to him.
It was a complicated network, connected like a spiderweb. And through this network, the level of sheer joy they felt at reuniting with their master was fully transmitted to him.
‘This is the inheritance the former Shadow Sovereign had given to me….’
These creatures were all swearing their loyalty to their new master. Just like how quickly their hearts were racing, Jin-Woo’s own chest was as well, now filled up with powerful emotions.
He took a brief look at the Dragons at the back before returning his gaze to the front of the army.
The Grand-Marshal Bellion.
This guy certainly possessed a suitable amount of dignity and strength, fitting for the title he carried. There was a trace of torn-off wings on the back of his armour, though.
‘Two pairs of wings….’
Jin-Woo recalled that regular silver-clad soldiers possessed a pair of wings, while the Rulers had six wings, and from that fact, he could roughly estimate the level of Bellion’s capability.
Jin-Woo focused his sensory perception and the light within his eyes gleamed brightly.
With that, he could take a gander at the truly humongous reserve of magical energy the Grand-Marshal chose to hide because of the presence of his liege.
Because he possessed this much power, he was indeed qualified to lead a Shadow Army that contained even Dragons.
Jin-Woo raised his head.
The Shadow Army. The king wishing to go to war had finally regained his soldiers.
Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump.
Jin-Woo took a long, hard look at his soldiers as his heart raced faster and faster. The thing was, those kneeling before him weren’t the only Shadow Army, now were they?
If these guys were the soldiers that belonged to the former Shadow Sovereign ‘Osborne’, then Jin-Woo too possessed his own loyal soldiers, as well.
Even more Shadow Soldiers materialised from behind Jin-Woo at his beckoning. Their numbers had already ballooned to near two thousand by now.
Beru, Igrit, Greed, No. 6, Fangs, Iron, Jima, Tank, etc., all filled up the space behind Jin-Woo. And then….
….They too knelt down and lowered their heads, just like the Shadow Soldiers that came out from the massive Gate. Every single Shadow Soldier, surrounding him from both sides, swore their allegiances in silence.
Jin-Woo nodded his head.
Finally, the separated Shadow Army had become whole.
A powerful force capable of standing up against the enemies and their armies had been completed. Things seemed to be unfolding quite smoothly right now.
However, Jin-Woo could feel quite a few gazes flying in his direction, stabbing him rather painfully on his neck, and he just had to take a look behind him.
That’s where he discovered tens of thousands of Hunters standing there staring at him, along with hundreds of reporters risking their lives to record the historic battle that was supposed to take place here.
Understandably, all of them were sporting the same sort of expression that screamed, “Just what the hell is going on here??”
‘Okay, so now….’
As a sort of reply to their frozen-stiff expressions, Jin-Woo formed an awkward smile.
‘….How am I supposed to explain this?’
Quite obviously, the whole world was in an uproar.
Well, every single monster emerging from the super-massive Gate started kneeling before Hunter Seong Jin-Woo, and this shocking scene was broadcast live to the entire world, so the pandemonium breaking out was rather understandable.
Viewers were watching on with anxiety and dread as the Gate opened up, so it was quite hard for them to drag themselves out from the pit of heady mental shock, akin to someone smacking them unexpectedly in the back of their noggins.
Pretty much every single online community went into a heated frenzy over this matter.
– What the freak? Those black monsters just now, just what the f*ck happened? Is anyone capable of explaining this sh*t?
– Don’t tell me, all those monsters are Seong Jin-Woo’s summons????
└ Horsesh*t…. I heard from somewhere that well over a hundred thousand monsters came out from that Gate.
└ What the hell. How can summons pop out from a Gate? You should start spewing things that make sense.
└ Oh? Why don’t you, good sir, enlighten us, the ignorant masses, then?
└ First of all, they all look exactly like Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s summons, don’t they? But still, how can summons come out of a Gate?
Many displayed the reactions of disbelief, but there were also a few who viewed the incident in a different light.
– Still, isn’t it a relief that those monsters weren’t our enemies?
└ For real. ㅇㅈ.
└ If they were, we’d all be dead by now. I saw an interview and they say there were three Dragons in the horde, too.
└ Three Dragons LOLOLOL So f*cking crazy. LOLOL
└ Kamish comes out, sees them, he be like, “Nope”, goes away ROFL
└ What are you even talking about? Kamish died almost nine years ago, so how can that thing come out and goes away again?
└ The commenter above mine, whoooosh. You must be a delight in dinner parties.
– Argh, this sh*t is driving me nuts. Seriously, man…. I wish Hunter Seong Jin-Woo just comes out clean and tells us what happened….
Meanwhile, TV stations continued to repeatedly broadcast the same shocking scenes from back then, and did their best to analyse and come to a suitable conjecture.
Unfortunately, there were no experts on this planet capable of convincingly explaining away the event of summoned creatures, not monsters, that belonged to a single person and even contained Dragons, coming out from a Gate boasting an unprecedented size.
“As to figure out how something like that can happen, even I….”
Every single one of them was at a loss and could only shake their heads. They even spat out astonished gasps at the recorded footage of a hundred thousand-plus summoned creatures kneeling before Jin-Woo played over and over again.
Anyone could tell that was the sight of those creatures acknowledging who their master was. Some quarters in the world even raised the idea of calling Jin-Woo with a nickname of ‘Demon King’ because of that memorable scene alone.
Indeed, Jin-Woo was emitting the kind of manly aura befitting the title of ‘Demon King’ as he was being surrounded by all those black soldiers.
Soon, experts collectively defined this incident as….
“Although this event unfolded in a shocking and unexpected manner, there is little doubt the end result is a fortunate one for all of us.”
“It’s fortunate, you say?”
“Can you see how many monsters, no, summons there are on screen right now?”
The expert pointed towards the Shadow Army displayed on the screen. Beyond Jin-Woo standing before them, one could see a nearly-infinite number of soldiers busy bowing their heads.
The emcee didn’t think too deeply about it as he began counting with his eyes before dry saliva automatically slid down his throat from that outrageous number on display.
One didn’t even need to bring up the fact that there were three Dragons included in this army. That was how horrifying the overall number was.
“If our Hunters were to fight those things, then it would no longer have been the issue of whether we’d win or lose. No, the remainder of humanity would have been counting the hours until those creatures get to the other side of the planet and completely exterminate us, instead.”
The emcee’s head nodded all by itself.
“Fortunately, they are summoned creatures of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo. And it seems that he can control them just fine.”
Regrettably, though – that remained a conjecture at this stage.
“Only Hunter Seong Jin-Woo knows the truth.”
That was where the expert ended his explanation. With rather excellent timing, the screen now displayed the very last scene from that event, the one responsible for causing everyone to be so astonished like this.
“Right here, this moment.”
Jin-Woo was taking a sweeping look at the other Hunters before he literally slid into his own shadow and disappeared without a trace.
That’s how he vanished from everyone’s sight.
The emcee helplessly shook his head before adjusting his glasses and continued on.
“The protagonist of this chaos, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo – just where could he be right now?”
The Korean Hunter’s Association was inundated with telephone inquiries, lodged seemingly by the entire world. Their only reply so far had been, “We don’t know, either.”
That, though, was like adding fuel to the already burning flames of interest for the event the world had laser-focused onto. The emcee stared straight into the camera with a still-excited face and addressed the viewers at home.
“We can only pray that he returns as soon as possible to clarify all the questions that continue to burn a hole in our heads.”
Jin-Woo put aside the curiosity of many, many people for the time being and made his way to the sea of trees in Japan. This vast expense of abandoned land was just about the perfect place to observe the movements of the entire Shadow Army.
Jin-Woo stood at a far distance, while the 130,000 plus army was split in two and stood on either side of a vast field.
He issued his order inwardly, prompting the two columns of armies to powerfully rush towards each other.
The sounds of their feet pounding on the ground seemed to rock the earth. The distance between the two columns of rushing soldiers closed up in an instant, and just before they were about to clash head-on….
….Jin-Woo shifted the platoons that fell behind in the rush right behind the other column and had them surround the opponents in this mock battle.
Was that all?
In a location where there was a shortage of soldiers, he sent reinforcements. When some soldiers were left isolated, he simply unsummoned them and brought them back out in an adequate-enough location. The smoothness of his actions was like a river flowing to the ocean.
Deployment and manipulation of soldiers based on the experiences of battles he fought so far also applied to this hundred thousand-strong great army, as well.
Jin-Woo spoke in a soft voice but that was still enough for the Shadow Soldiers to hear his will. They all came to a standstill in an instant.
Their movements were in perfect synchronisation. After stopping this mock battle, Jin-Woo took a look to his side.
“So, what do you think?”
The Grand-Marshal Bellion spoke in an amazed, admiring tone of voice.
“I’ve never thought about mobilising the forces in this manner. I can only express the emotions of awe and shock, my liege.”
It seemed that, to Bellion, controlling the combatants in this manner was a fresh concept to mull over, even though he had roamed countless battlefields with the former Shadow Sovereign.
Especially the part about utilising the aspect of freely summoning and un-summoning Shadow Soldiers – that part left him with quite a pleasant surprise.
Igrit had been with Jin-Woo since the beginning and was perhaps the most familiar with how their master fought, so he proudly opened up his chest just a little bit wider.
Jin-Woo smirked softly while watching the black knight and his growing nose for a bit. He had to stop and pick up his phone, though, when the device suddenly went off noisily inside his pocket.
– “Hyung-nim, it’s me, Jin-Ho.”
“Hey. What’s up.”
According to Yu Jin-Ho, calls inundated not just the Association but the Ah-Jin Guild as well after Jin-Woo went and disappeared on everyone without saying a word, leading to the phone lines temporarily breaking down.
“….My bad. Can you hold on for a bit longer until I properly organise my thoughts first?”
– “Don’t worry about it, hyung-nim. Didn’t we establish this Guild so that you can focus on doing raids without being harassed by stuff like these?”
After hearing Yu Jin-Ho’s smiling voice coming out of the phone, Jin-Woo also formed a smile.
– “Ah, by the way. Have you called your family yet, hyung-nim?”
“Yeah. I told them I’ll be home after cooling my head a little bit.”
– “Well, in that case, they should be less worried about you. That’s a relief, hyung-nim.”
Jin-Woo pocketed the phone after ending the call, but a heavy, lengthy sigh slowly escaped from his mouth as he did so.
He knew that he shouldn’t be avoiding ‘it’ like this. However, in order to explain the Gates and his Shadow Soldiers, then naturally, he had to speak about the matters of the Sovereigns and Rulers, as well.
Soon, soldiers of the Sovereigns would pour out from the eight remaining Gates. How was he to go about telling others that the entire world would be turned into a fierce, bloody battlefield?
In order to give himself some time to think, he simply had to get away from there.
He thought that this was for the best.
Just a little bit longer.
He wanted humanity to enjoy peace even for a little bit longer.
‘I’m sure I can delay this for a few more days.’
Jin-Woo kept telling himself this; meanwhile, Beru sneaked closer to him and spoke in a serious voice. He had been rather quiet for some reason lately, though?
“Oh, my king….”
Jin-Woo turned around to look at Beru kneeling on the ground, his head lowered deeply towards the ground as he opened his mouth.
“I beg of thee to bestow unto me an opportunity to compete for the position of the Grand-Marshal.”
“The position of the Grand-Marshal, you say?”
But, didn’t they already have a Grand-Marshal?
Jin-Woo felt puzzled by this, before abruptly recalling the System’s information on the highest grade of Shadow Soldiers available.
‘In that case, could he be….?’
Sure enough – Beru raised his head.
“As a Marshal of the army, I’d like to challenge the Grand-Marshal Bellion.”
< Chapter 227 > Fin.