Sungchul stood in front of Marakia, then raised Fal Garaz onto his shoulders as he spoke.
“I heard that you were in the class of lesser gods, but I guess you haven’t quite gotten there yet.”
“…What do you want?”
Marakia wiped the blood from his beak as he spoke with a disgusted face. Sungchul looked down at the avian king apathetically as he held his hand out.
The Crown of the Nahak King was believed to possess an unimaginable amount of magic power. The crown was the sole reason that Sungchul hadn’t already torn Marakia to shreds. However, Marakia appeared as though it was the first time he heard of a Nahak crown.
“The King of Nahaks don’t wear crowns. The color of their feathers symbolize their royalty, and also…”
Marakia quickly recited a spell that caused a mysterious square barrier to form around him. He then laughed loudly within his barrier.
“Kuhahaha! I’ve already caught on the fact that physical attacks are all that you’re good at. You will not be able to break through this barrier as long as my unlimited mana endures!”
Sungchul picked up his hammer and took a swing at the barrier as a test. There was no recoil from the blow, but the hammer moved not one inch beyond the barrier. Sungchul’s Soul Contract, the Eye of Truth, activated which let him peek into the nature of the barrier.
‘A barrier technique that nullifies all physical attacks. It could even be sustained for as long as the caster desires.’
In other words, it was the perfect defense. However, it is impossible for mortals to make something perfect. Marakia had to place a critical weakness in exchange for a perfectly sustainable defense against physical damage. Sungchul’s Soul Contract, the Eye of Truth, activated which let him peek into the nature of the barrier.
‘The barrier can nullify all physical attacks, but he had to include a form of weakness, so he increased his vulnerability to magic by several times.’
In other words, even the weakest of spells would become quite powerful through that barrier. That was the vulnerability placed within his own technique. It was because the power of the spell increased proportionally to how crippling the weakness was and so Marakia took advantage of this method.
This could have been effective a year ago, but Sungchul had gone through a similar ordeal and had been looking far and wide for a method to break through this obstacle. Now was the moment of truth, to find out if his efforts were not in vain.
Sungchul put down his hammer and extended his finger.
A magic formation flashed for an instant at the tip of his finger. Marakia’s violet eyes grew wide as he saw this.
‘That bastard. He can use magic too?’
In the next moment, a beam of light extended from the tip of Sungchul’s finger directly onto Marakia.
He used his last remaining wing to shield his body from the piercing light from Glare. Bone-numbing pain scraped through his entire body. The situation weakened him and empowered the enemy; it was the worst case scenario. But Marakia was not just anybody. He who is called the Last King calmly calculated and assessed the situation despite it being seemingly hopeless.
‘This guy’s magic power is insignificant. It’s a low-grade magic that doesn’t even reach the third circle. It might hurt like I’m dying, but this isn’t lethal.’
As he expected, Sungchul’s magic attack stung, but it didn’t leave a mortal wound. It was due to Marakia’s exceptionally high magic resistance. Generally, magicians with extraordinarily high magic power would have equally remarkable levels of magic resistance. Marakia was no exception. His magic resistance reached the levels only a transcendent could, around 600. Most half-assed magic wouldn’t even be enough to put a scratch on him. If they hadn’t been in this underground maze, the magic resistance that covered his entire body might have nullified the spell entirely. He sustained this much of an injury because he was within the barrier and because he was in the underground labyrinth overflowing with mana.
He thanked the corpses of Mimi Azrael and her Homunculus that were sprawled out in the corner and refocused on the battle. A shadow wrapped around the burnt flesh that Sungchul’s Glare had seared, and it quickly healed.
‘If I didn’t go through emergency measures by eating those two beasts, it might have been really dangerous.’
Sungchul was pouring in Glare from beyond the barrier. Marakia felt intense pain on every strike, but the shadow continued to heal him every time.
Sungchul felt annoyed.
‘This bastard. He recovered his Magic Fingerprint.’
When Sungchul tore away Marakia’s wing, he felt that he had torn away one of the pillars that supported Marakia’s magic system. However, it had recovered after Marakia devoured Mimi and the homunculus.’
“Why did you just watch him eat that pitiful Homunculus and that rotten woman?”
Bertelgia had popped out of his pocket at some point to ask the burning question. Sungchul lightly sighed.
“I wanted to see the potential.”
Sungchul didn’t reply. Instead, he circled around Marakia who was still behind the barrier and tried Glare several more times. Marakia spat out cries of pain, but as time passed, he regained his confidence and began mocking Sungchul where it hurt.
“Your flesh might be fearsome, but your magic is pathetic. This place might be overflowing with mana, but how long can you continue to fire off blindly with your pathetic amount of magical talent?”
He had a point. Sungchul had also been thinking on that point, and he knew the answer. He pulled out a sleeping bag from his Soul Storage and laid it out on top of the skeletons. Marakia, who did not know what a sleeping bag was, watched puzzled as to what Sungchul was up to until Sungchul lay down on it.
‘Wait, is this human planning to…’
His speculation soon became a reality when Sungchul turned his back and spoke in a composed voice.
“It’s ok. I’ve got a lot of time. I’ll just take a snooze and knock on you some more afterwards.”
It wasn’t just empty words. Marakia could feel the truth in his voice. That stupid oaf with more brawn than brain would never give up before he got what he wanted. And thus, Marakia asked the question.
“I do not have a crown. But if there is anything other than the crown that I can give, I wish to make a deal with you. What is it that you desire, human?”
Sungchul, who was facing away from Marakia, turned his head over his shoulder. He looked at Marakia indifferently and put forward his demand.
“That’s right. I know another sneaky little bastard like you, and I think both of you are very similar. I want to get rid of him with magic.”
“Are you perhaps telling me to give you my magic power?”
“Anything is fine. Magic power or relic. As long as it’s acceptable to me, I’ll take it.”
Sungchul said as he laid back down.
Marakia closed his beak and began to contemplate. Something acceptable. The weight of those words fell heavy on Marakia’s shoulders. The human in front of his eyes was an existence that even he could not contend with. How much would such a person require before he could be satisfied?
‘Could it be… does this human want my entire magic power?’
In other words, stat transference. Dreadful suspicion rose in Marakia’s eyes as he continued to contemplate what this human could possibly want.
There were largely two ways through which a being transferred stats to another being. One was through quests, but the creation of a quest required a long time and effort as it required the permission of a god and the stats that could be given were limited. In order to hand over the acceptable amount of plentiful stats, it required another method. It was Soul Inheritance.
But this method had a dreadful consequence
It results in the death of the one giving his stats.
The Soul Inheritance required strong will, desire and the death of the giver. This was considered as the greatest form of inheritance a denizen of the other world could leave for their posterity.
Even if the amount of stat that could be transferred via Soul Inheritance was roughly a tenth of the sacrifice’s original stats, being able to raise stats by even one for those who are close to becoming Transcendent was an immense boon. But as already stated, this method requires the death of the one transferring the stat; a prerequisite Marakia could never come to accept.
‘Do you really think I would hand over my Soul Inheritance to some lesser species like you, who’s not even of my kin?’
No, he wouldn’t even hand it over to his kin. Marakia corrected himself before calming himself within the barrier.
‘First, I have to heal my wounds in here till my wings recover. Once my wings recover, I’ll find a way, human. I’ll show you that time is not only on your side.’
At that moment, something beyond his sight began to stir. It was the green monster with the avian skull that was covered in mucous. It was the Despair of the Abyss.
‘Why did that cursed creature appear in my kingdom? It is also in the form of the Nahak. Strange? My kingdom had no connection with the Ancient God.’
The Despair of the Abyss dug through the skeletons that blanketed the ground to seek out a single corpse. It was Willie Gilford’s corpse. The creature lifted the corpse, opened its maw, then swallowed his body whole. It was an unrealistic scene that couldn’t be believed, and it sent shivers down Marakia’s body.
Sungchul rose from his knapsack a bit later. After feeling a bit rested, he began shooting out Glare without warning. Marakia continued to endure Sungchul’s attack and ultimately managed to protect himself. This continued for a while longer until Sungchul realized that he was making no progress.
‘Do I have to bring Deckard? No, he’s too weak. He might crumble to some mental attack before he can use any magic.’
Sungchul rethought his plans as he turned to his rectangular friend.
“Hm? Why do you seek me, Bertelgia, O’ Mr. Scary Scary Man?”
“Do you know any way to resolve this situation?”
Marakia who was hunched over within the barrier lifted his head to see Bertelgia flapping behind Sungchul.
‘Is that a living book? Wait, now that I look at it, it’s not just a normal living book. I can feel a faint trace of life force and a soul within.’
Curiosity rose within Marakia’s eyes as he could hear Berltegia’s voice from afar.
“Mmmm… how about you keep bashing at it with your hammer? That bird brain’s mana can’t be infinite, so just keep bashing away at it until it breaks.”
Marakia’s voice interrupted her.
“Do you think that method will work? My mana is infinite.”
At that, Bertelgia flapped around Sungchul meekly as though pitying Marakia as she spoke.
“Well, this mister’s strength is also infinite.”
“Ah, that’s a good idea.”
Sungchul picked up Fal Garaz once again, and fear rose within Marakia’s eyes.
Bertelgia’s words were correct. He may call his mana infinite, but it was something earned through the death of tens of thousands of Cave Elves and the lives of his own kind. There was an end.
However, what about the man that stood in front of him? It wasn’t clear how he obtained his strength, but each and every strike of his hammer seemed to possess the might of a god. What would happen if infinite mana contended with infinite strength? Marakia already knew the answer.
Sungchul stood before the barrier with his hammer in hand. Marakia’s eyes grew wide, but Sungchul stopped and placed the hammer before the barrier.
“On second thought, I want to use a different method.”
It was an unexpected opportunity. Sungchul wanted to dominate the avian king through a method other than his own strength.
Marakia fought with all his strength to maintain his expression, but the danger had not yet passed for him. When Sungchul put down the hammer, he asked Bertelgia another question.
“Bertelgia, do you know of any way to enhance magic in your alchemic library?”
“Why wouldn’t there be?”
Bertelgia spun up into the air with vigor as she answered. Marakia felt intense desire to tear apart that chattering book in the air, but despite his wishes, Bertelgia’s mouth did not rest.
“There is a drink and a powder. Which do you prefer?”
“Doping, eh? I personally don’t like strengthening up temporarily by drinking. I’m not weak.”
“How about the powder?”
“It is a type of item that lowers enemy magic resistance?”
“No, it is a powder that enhances the might of the magic.”
“The description itself does not seem all that promising.”
“What a rude thing to say! It’s one of the popular items that the Seven Heroes that you like so much came to dad’s shop for!”
Sungchul’s eyes lit up. The method didn’t sound all that promising, but if the Seven Heroes used it, it was another story. Sungchul felt like things were going his way as he asked in a slightly different tone.
“And the ingredients?”
It was the critical problem with alchemy. No matter how good of an Alchemist you are, your hands are tied without the ingredients. Thankfully, there wasn’t an issue this time.
Bertelgia flew above Sungchul’s head as she flapped her pages with one swoop.
“All the ingredients aren’t here, but the critical pieces are lying around here. Yep, it’s those things sparkling above your head.”
Sungchul looked up. Above his head, gems emitting a green light were stuck to the ceiling like stars in the night sky.
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