But it wasn’t as if there were no problems at all.
‘If she came to love me once again…’
We had maintained a short-lasting lover’s relationship in the past, however, I wasn’t capable of curing her of her darkness because her mind was already too taken within the shadows of her ruined family. And back then I was also not so whole; harboring a festering rot inside of me. The last hero, the only hope…I was being strangled by the things expected of me. I had to put up a pretense even though it was all heading towards despair. We only ended up hurting each other as a result. We couldn’t care for each other, because we simply didn’t have the mind to spare.
But if it’s now, it may turn out differently. Even so…I couldn’t force it. Al Araxar would make his appearance 5 years later. I had caused this disaster, but even before that it wasn’t as if there were no problems. Big incidents would continue to occur from now on. It was uncertain whether she could even wait for me until the end of everything, if love did bloom. Not to mention, it was ridiculous to think that ‘absolute domination’ may be what’s waiting at that end.
‘Love my ass.’
I shook my head.
I was satisfied with our current relationship…there was just too much work to do in my future. I hadn’t even gained a proper understanding regarding Demon Lords and Jörmungandr. It went without saying that even I couldn’t be certain of victory in the events to come. ‘Wait for me, pray for me’…I couldn’t say such irresponsible words.
‘6 months later, sinkholes will appear all over the world.’
This was the most pressing matter at hand; the precursor to change would occur 6 months later! Countless lives had been lost in the past, incidents happening on a global scale, and no one could identify the reason behind its occurence. It was only later that a rumour spread, of how a certain ‘trial’ had appeared in the depths of the sinkholes. The sinkholes would later become interconnected while people from all over the world would gather, and…the place they arrived at was an enormous arena as well as a library.
It was unknown as to whom had made this happen, but it was certain that a ‘transcendent being’ had been involved. Everyone who reached that place awakened while extremely few among them gained amazing abilities, classes, equipments and such. But at the same time, a great many people had died
‘The truth of this matter was delayed because of a secret pact.’
It was the reason why those who managed to leave that place had no choice but to keep silent. A prohibition that was laid down by the transcendent being who had been involved. Even later on, it was unknown whether that being was actually one existence or many. There were even some called hero among those people who had explored the sinkholes, but seeing how even they were influenced by the prohibition, the whole matter was doubtless extraordinary.
I had to go there…and find out the truth; to determine whether they were allies, enemies, or perhaps something else. I needed to obtain some things as well.
‘The Seven Heavenly Virtues…from among them I need to obtain Patience.’
The opposite concept of the Seven Deadly Sins were the Seven Heavenly Virtues: Purity, Temperance, Love, Diligence, Endurance, Benevolence, Humility!
It was possible to obtain one of the Virtues ‘Endurance’ from that place. Hero Graxio the Indomitable had claimed to have seen it there. He’d said that no one was able to obtain it, but Endurance was definitely there. There weren’t many of the Seven Heavenly Virtues that were discovered on the surface, but every single one of them were on the level of ‘miracles’; they were objects of such incomparable power to the point that it was rumoured, that all evil could be defeated if every piece of the Virtues were gathered. Endurance would no doubt live up its fame.
Syria had tentatively called out, seeing that I showed no movement with my mouth shut.
“Drop the -nim.”
“That I can’t do.”
She was obstinate. I knew just how stubborn she could me, and it looked like her gratitude was leading her to treat me with more respect.
“Then at the very least just call me by name when there’s other company.”
Syria then hesitated for a moment after replying, but soon took a step back and closed her mouth. I could roughly guess at what she wanted to ask.
‘The relationship between Minshik and me.’
It hadn’t been more than a few days since she had come to Korea. There was no way a feeling of camaraderie would have sprouted within that time. Only, she was sure to have some curiosity as to how Minshik and I were related. Seeing how she didn’t ask regardless, she most likely assumed there were circumstances that couldn’t be spoken of, just like how it was for her. All this time until meeting me, hadn’t she pretended to not hear the voices of spirits? As such…she would probably cope well without me having to go out of my way to explain.
‘He’s not one to die easily.’
His persistence in returning to the past to become a hero even left me at awe. I knew he hadn’t come back just to die in a place like this, so I relaxed my mind. More than anything, it was possible to escape from peril of this level with the abilities of a Magic Swordsman. Rather than that, I was in more of a rush to Dominate a gnoll chief and hunt.
I took a look around me.
After a mere three days of hunting, the 17 gnolls had all evolved into gnoll warriors and then hunting had gained much more momentum. At the same time, he…Hansung Oh had also begun to act.
‘Is he really human?’
I couldn’t help doubting in my heart. Hansung’s movements far exceeded those I’d witnessed of the Chinese siblings and Minshik. He was currently crushing gnolls faster, and more powerfully than even the strongest people I had come across.
“A sword made of stone is also quite useful.”
What was most surprising was that he had sharpened a sword out of stone within a mere few hours. It appeared unimpressive at first glance, but it was a sword well-balanced. He had already slaughtered dozens of gnolls using that sword.
His swordsmanship was incredible. I had never seen anyone handle the sword like that, even among Russia’s militants. A precise, practical sword technique used along with an insane attacking style of neglecting defense. It was, however, surprisingly used with such skill that the unimpressive stone sword was able to endure without breaking.
“We’ll be entering the center of the gnoll chief’s territory. Follow me closely.”
He didn’t rest. He began moving to take down his original target after finishing all maintenance.
‘Maybe he’s not a human.’
I continued to experience amazing things after discovered a ‘Gate’ and awakening, such as beings that didn’t originate from Earth. I could even meet the ‘spirits of light’, thanks to Hansung. And the person, who wasn’t like a person, who had all these abilities…that was Hansung.
I summoned a spirit of light, Maram; the name of the biggest and strongest spirit I knew.
“Please help Hansung-nim.”
But something strange happened.
The spirit of light, Maram, shook its head. I could feel his fear.
Why? He wasn’t capable of going near Hansung like the other spirits, even though he was the strongest of the spirits. Was it because he really was a ‘dangerous existence’?
“Won’t you tell me why?”
ㅡI’m scared! He’s a really scary existence!
‘I don’t think he’s so scary though.’
Scared, was the only reason. He wouldn’t explain any further than that.
But I wasn’t scared. In fact, he was gentle. I had hardly ever felt this kind of warmth before. It wasn’t only because he had solved my problem for me. From the very first time I saw him, there was a curious warmth in his eyes. In the way he had looked at me…there was definitely affection.
I reacted sensitively to the emotion of others; I was born in that kind of environment. That’s why I was confused at first. It was the first time anyone had looked at me like that, apart from my mother. Moreover, he was helping me with truly pure intentions. And to that help, I wanted to respond in kind however I could.
Maram spoke then.
ㅡSomething has come. It’s a very ominous being. Be careful.
An ominous being? Was he referring to Hansung-nim?
But that wasn’t it. Maram was clearly looking somewhere else. It was quite a far distance away, almost impossible to make out with the naked eye.
There was an old gnoll donning a black robe in that place. The old gnoll was holding a wand in its grasp, unlike the other gnolls, and was in the middle of chanting a spell. And then as it waved its wand once, black flames flared to life and began flying toward Hansung.
I began to run out of instinct, but the speed at which the black flames travelled was much faster. It looked like Hansung was unable to spare his attention because of the gnolls he was facing.
I heard Syria scream, but that was all. My ears were deafened as I rolled on the ground.
I spat out blood.
Damn it! I was slow to detect the Magic Power since my Intelligence was low. The black flames were already upon me by the time I realized.
[You have been affected by ‘Curse of Spiderwebs’.]
[It is a powerful curse. All healing effects are delayed.]
“Ar-, are you alright? Don’t move. I’ll heal you immediately!”
Bright light began to shine from Syria’s hands. Together with the spirits of light, her power of healing was twice as effective, however…
“Just wh-, why won’t it heal…”
It was a waste of Magic Power. The spiderweb-like black stain entirely covering my body was a curse that interfered with the healing of wounds, causing holy power to be ineffective. Syria didn’t yet have the ability to remove curses.
As I shook my head, Syria’s eyes filled with worry. I then turned my gaze towards the place where the black flame flew out from.
Gnoll shaman! I’d never have expected a gnoll who’d achieved spiritual enlightenment to be here. It was accompanied by countless gnolls, and even a chief gnoll. Having stumbled into the center of their territory unawares, it looked like I’d stuck my head into the mouth of a lion this time.
I wrinkled my brows.
‘So that’s the ringleader.’
The gnolls ambush, and the gnoll chief’s strange movements…I did think it was strange how clever they were for regular gnolls.
‘A gnoll shaman of all things.’
A gnoll shaman was an existence that has attained enlightenment; a unique monster with an extremely low chance of appearing. It was definitely not something that should have appeared in this kind of place. If I’d known it was here then I wouldn’t have even set foot in the chief gnoll’s territory.
What a disaster. I had tried acting with as much information as possible, but I wasn’t capable of foreseeing such variables. Naturally it was a difficult opponent for me at present, not to mention it was also difficult to fend off the other gnolls nearby.
My insides were churning. If winning was impossible then I had to fall back. But would I even be able to run…
I calmly went into thought.
‘Only one of us two can survive.’
It would be hard for Syria and I to both escape. Someone had to be a sacrifice for the other to live. I was injured, and Syria was slow footed. For the sake of the far future, of course I had to live. But even so, was it the right choice to sacrifice Syria?
My rationality and emotions clashed fiercely.
What should I do? How can I turn this situation around?
I tried to Dominate the gnoll chief. I couldn’t buy the gnoll shaman with the amount of points I had right now because it was a Lv6 monster, which required 10,000 points to Dominate.
[‘Gnoll Chief’ is impossible to Dominate. It is being controlled by ‘Gnoll Shaman’.]
Was it impossible to use Dominator when the target is already in a state of being controlled?
My two pupils trembled incessantly, and I grinded my teeth.
But it was at that moment. I grasped onto the silver snake that was near my heart area, as if in a trance. It was an almost instinctive movement.
Jörmungandr. If it’s her, everything else aside, she may be able to eat away the ‘curse’ I was affected by. After all, she was an existence feared by the spirits of light, who even drains me of my vitality!
I didn’t think it was impossible, and the width of my understanding expanded the moment I acknowledged Jörmungandr’s existence. It was an abrupt enlightenment.
I opened my mouth.
“Devour it all.”
At the same time, the snake opened its mouth and began to move. It slithered all around my body, eating the black stains as it went. And finally, after all the black stains disappeared, something else happened.
[The user contracted with ‘Jörmungandr’ is immune from ‘all Curses of the Night’.]
[‘Jörmungandr’ has devoured ‘Curse of Spiderwebs’.]
[‘Jörmungandr’ has leveled up from 1->2.]
[‘Jörmungandr’ is beginning to undergo a change of form.]
Change of form!
The silver snake fell off me and began to change, its body expanding.