I Alone Level-Up
A thought flashed by in Jin-Woo’s head.
‘I shouldn’t be wasting time like this.’
He had witnessed the power of his new skill. He could now turn the defeated monsters into his soldiers.
If that was the case, then wasn’t there a monster nearby that he just had to turn into his lackey right away?
Jin-Woo climbed up the pile of armours that once used to be the giant Iron Golem and stood on top. By being so high up, he could take in the entirety of the boss room.
Jin-Woo searched around as his glare became sharper.
Confirming the direction, Jin-Woo immediately ran over there. Perhaps he was feeling really psyched, he arrived there in the blink of an eye even though he didn’t use the Dash skill.
Jin-Woo looked the ‘corpse’ of the monster that he was planning to extract the shadow from, and swallowed dry saliva.
The creature remained in the exact same spot where he had killed it.
‘…..Igrit the Crimson.’
The sight of the red-armoured headless knight half-buried in the thick, sturdy wall told how desperate his situation was back then.
Jin-Woo stood before Igrit.
It might have been a fearsome enemy that threatened to kill him only a few hours ago, but now, it was probably the best ingredient he could find. Fortunately enough, he saw the black smoke slowly oozing out from Igrit, just like how it was with other fallen knights.
[It is possible to perform Shadow Extraction on the selected target.]
Jin-Woo’s expression brightened.
He already knew the drill. Jin-Woo took a short but deep breath and spoke out the command phrase.
He spoke the activation phrase for the skill, Shadow Extraction. However, the skill didn’t activate.
Jin-Woo tilted his head this way and that way, and was about to say the command phrase again. But then, following a ‘tti-ring’, several warning messages popped up.
[You have exceeded the number of shadows that can be extracted.]
[If you wish to perform Shadow Extraction, you must return a portion, or all, of your soldiers back to the world of nothingness via ‘Extraction Cancellation’.]
[Once returned to nothingness, the shadow soldiers can’t be summoned back.]
‘Oh, yeah. There was something like that, wasn’t there?’
At the end of the skill’s explanation, there was something he should’ve taken note of.
[Number of shadows that can be extracted: 30/30]
The maximum number of extractions he could perform was 30. Which meant the number of his soldiers was currently 30….
Jin-Woo looked behind him.
The shadow soldiers had followed him even before he had noticed it and they were standing in attention.
‘When did they?’
Perhaps fitting their title of ‘shadow soldiers’, they seemed to move around without making a single sound.
Whatever the case might have been, if he wanted to extract Igrit’s shadow, he had to get rid of one of these guys, just as the System had alluded to.
It had only been a short while, yet when he thought about them being his soldiers, he kind of didn’t want to dismiss any one of them.
Did he get attached to them already?
With a rueful, unwilling expression, Jin-Woo slowly scanned each and every one of his shadow soldiers. As his eyes swept past the soldiers, their names and levels appeared before his view.
[Shadow Infantryman Lv. 1]
Everyone possessed the same name and level.
‘Oh well, their origins were exactly the same, so…’
But then, he discovered three somewhat different-coloured soldiers right at the back of the infantrymen.
Unlike the regular infantrymen, these guys were wearing robes.
[Shadow Magic Soldier Lv. 1]
He quickly figured out what they were.
The three mages that were controlling the Iron Golem must’ve been revived as undeads as well when he gave out his ‘Rise up’ command just now.
‘So, 27 infantrymen and three mages, eh?’
This was why being ‘rare’ was a good thing. He excluded the low-numbered mages and selected the closest infantryman from him to cancel the extraction.
….And he was really sorry about this.
The soldier turned into black smoke and scattered in the air. Not even a trace remained of it.
Jin-Woo gazed at the spot of the disappeared soldier for a little while with an apologetic expression, before shifting his attention back to Igrit.
His preparation was complete.
He even had to sacrifice one of his wonderful soldiers just so he could turn Igrit into a shadow. So, he simply had to see some results here.
Time to act while the sun still shone.
Jin-Woo tried the extraction right away.
When he did that, the shadow cast beneath Igrit began to wiggle as if it came to life. It was the same reaction as when he extracted the shadows from the knights just now.
Jin-Woo clenched his fists tightly. He had a good feeling about this.
[Shadow Extraction has commenced.]
[Attempting to extract….]
What would Igrit look like after its extraction? Jin-Woo’s hands became slick with the sweat of anticipation.
A mechanical beep akin to a metal plate breaking in half rang inside his head.
[Shadow Extraction has failed.]
[Two more attempts remaining.]
Hearing that he still had more chances remaining, Jin-Woo spat out a long sigh of relief.
‘Hang on, now that I think about it….’
The skill’s explanation definitely said that the odds of extraction failure would rise up depending on the target’s Stat values.
But having experienced it personally, he couldn’t help but be dumbfounded. It felt like he got slapped in the back of his head, this taste of his first failure.
Not only that, there was a restriction on the number of attempts he could try, too.
‘So, I have two more attempts remaining….’
If he failed in both attempts, then did that mean Igrit’s shadow would disappear into that ‘nothingness’, just as the sacrificed infantryman did?
Imagining the worst possible scenario, he felt dizzy for a second. Jin-Woo quickly shook his head to clear his mind.
‘Let’s stop thinking negatively about this.’
Indeed, only positive thoughts…
Didn’t someone say that if you believed earnestly enough, the universe would find a way to help you out?
While stewing inside anxiety and anticipation, Jin-Woo attempted the extraction for the second time.
Too bad, his expectation was shot down grandly once more.
[One more attempt remaining]
This guy gave him so much trouble while it was still alive, and even in death, it was managing to give him some serious headaches.
And here he was, hoping against hope.
Now that he had failed twice in a row, his vision seemed to have blurred, everything looking a bit bleak.
Jin-Woo deeply inhaled and exhaled his breath.
There were no more attempts remaining after this. He had only one more shot left. Jin-Woo closed his eyes and reorganised his thoughts.
‘Well, it could be nothing more than percentages and odds, but….’
But, it was possible that his desire to possess Igrit’s shadow wasn’t earnest or strong enough.
Jin-Woo slowly reopened his eyes.
He sensed the black smoke rising up from Igrit reaching out to him, pleading with him to save it. Jin-Woo became a lot more serious than before.
And he reached out with his right hand as if to grab that pleading hand of the smoke.
He didn’t do it deliberately; he himself didn’t quite realise it then, but Jin-Woo’s voice sounded much heavier and graver than ever before and it reverberated throughout the boss room.
It was then!
A deep scream could be heard coming from somewhere, and chilling, eerie wind swept by the boss room.
‘Isn’t this it…?’
He remembered encountering a similar situation like this one before.
….Back when his infantrymen first popped out from the shadows.
Just as he hoped for, as the lengthy scream came to an end, a long black hand emerged out from the shadow. And when that hand pressed down on the ground, a new message popped up in his view.
[Shadow Extraction was a success.]
Jin-Woo let out a cry of happiness.
He tightly clenched his fists. The taste of success was so much sweeter since he had to go through two failures to get here.
However, the good news didn’t end there.
[The sovereign’s voice had awakened the departed’s fighting spirit.]
[You have succeeded in strengthening your shadow soldier.]
[The shadow’s level will now start at 7.]
‘I succeeded in strengthening? What?’
A shadow’s starting level could be higher than 1?
Jin-Woo’s eyes widened once more. Just as the message said, the black knight emerging from the shadow carried ‘level 7’ in its status.
Jin-Woo spat out a short gasp.
The newly-emerged shadow looked exactly as it was in his memories.
The mane attached to the helm; the highly-fashionable armour wrapped around its entire body; that noble, dignified cape.
The only difference being that the blood-like armour now sported a pitch-black colour, instead. Everything else was exactly the same.
He’d have probably believed it if someone told him that Igrit had returned to life just now.
The newly-born Igirt didn’t display a single hint of animosity towards him. No, it just stood there quietly, waiting for Jin-Woo to give it a new order.
Hin-Woo’s heart began pounding in excitement as he stared at Igrit. And there was a big grin etched on his face. Even though his heart was palpitating, there was something he was curious about.
Jin-Woo’s gaze shifted just above Igrit’s head.
‘Why doesn’t this guy have a name?’
[?? Lv. 7]
For some strange reason, there was a couple of question marks instead of its name.
‘And its grade is also different.’
He understood that its level was high because of that strengthening thing, but still, this guy exhibited quite a few differences from the regular infantrymen.
Perhaps it read Jin-Woo’s mind, because the System sent him a new message with excellent timing.
[You can bestow a name to a knight grade soldier.]
[The bestowed name will be maintained until the shadow soldier is dismissed.]
[Please set the soldier’s name.]
‘A name, is it?’
At first, he was at a loss with this unexpected demand, but soon enough, he recalled that this ‘guy’ already had a name and a smile crept up on his face. There should be no problem calling it by its original name, no?
The message blinked as if to urge him on with the naming already.
Jin-Woo opened his mouth.
“Igrit the Cri….”
No, hang on a minute.
When the System asked him to set the name, it meant that he’d have to use that name to call this guy from here onwards. So, didn’t that also mean that he’d have to call it Igrit the blah-blah all the time from now on?
Just thinking about that gave him a nasty case of goosebumps.
‘…..That’s way too cringey.’
In the end, he decided to shorten the name somewhat.
[Will you set the name as ‘Igrit’?]
As soon as Jin-Woo spoke, the question marks on the guy’s head disappeared and the name Igrit appeared there.
[Igrit Lv. 7]
All he did was to simply give it its original name, yet Jin-Woo still felt like he had accomplished something pretty amazing. He was filled with contentment, knowing that this guy was his loyal soldier now.
‘My own loyal soldier, eh….’
Jin-Woo took a look behind him.
29 shadow soldiers were still there, waiting for his orders.
For now, the number was too small.
‘Only 30, huh….’
Either this was because the skill level of ‘Shadow Extraction’ was too low, or because his Intelligence Stat hadn’t been raised high enough yet.
But, he was sure of one thing, and that was the number of his soldiers would gradually swell up.
‘Yup, I really have myself a new army.’
Not only that, they weren’t some skeletons and corpses, but an army of shadows.
Now, there was only one problem remaining.
And that was how he’d walk around with these guys. Now that gave him a bit of a headache.
‘Doesn’t matter skeletons or shadows….’
It’d be way too eye-catching if these guys freely walked around in the streets.
Would that be all?
This skill was already way past regular people accepting it as one of the many awakened abilities a Hunter could possess.
Either he’d be under the constant surveillance, or worse, someone might even demand him to dismiss the summoning, too.
‘Woo Jin-Cheol, the section chief of the Monitoring Division, the Korean Hunter’s Association….’
Thinking about how stuffy-looking guys like that man would come around every day and annoy him to no end in the future, Jin-Woo felt like he’d die from frustration already.
That was precisely why the next skill existed, probably.
Jin-Woo summoned his Skill Window.
The skill he only checked its name and nothing else until now.
The ‘Shadow Storage’.
That name alone made him think that this skill would help him out in these sorts of situations.
< Chapter 53 > Fin.