Sungjin swallowed in reflex. Besgoro said to him
‘Hey, Kei. It’s common sense that a Dragon grows stronger as they age. Several times over. Let’s skip this one. The one you killed earlier is a really young one, you know? But her…’
Sungjin recalled the opening introductory message the Operator gave as he arrived.
‘Please be warned. The Red Dragon Khal Gal just reached full maturity and is infamous for his brutality.’
Khal gal just reached full maturity. And this was his mother. Even if their age difference was unknown, it was without a doubt she was much more powerful than her son. Sungjin glanced at the other hunters for a moment.
The hunters were almost unable to breathe due to intimidation. It was impossible to ask them to fight. They were all probably thinking
‘Please let us go in peace.’
‘Look, they’re freaking out as well.’
Meanwhile, Khal Gal’s mother ignored them as she took a look around the Mountain of Treasure. She picked up a necklace from the mound and said
“My, it’s an item ‘from that kingdom’… A kingdom’s heirloom is considered quite precious… and he managed to steal it. No wonder they blamed me.”
She was unconcerned with the Hunters. She walked around the mountain of treasure and said
“I’ll have to check them slowly at home.”
She whispered as she placed her hand on the mountain.
The entire mountain of treasure began to glow. And soon, treasures which had been giving off irresistible glow disappeared all at once. Including the gold coins upon which the hunters stood.
All the hunters fell on their behind. They were left in the air with the treasure gone. Now the only ones left in this giant space was the hunters and the woman. She turned her gaze upon them
“Yes, brave adventurers who have slain a dragon. If you got everything you came for, get out. It is a rule to destroy lairs of dead dragons. I will give you 30 minutes. I will blow up this volcano in 30 minutes. So get out of this lair, and run as far as you can from here.”
Someone asked the Operator,
“Operator, how much time remaining in the raid?”
[1 hour and 58 minutes]
The timing didn’t match. If she exploded the volcano, everyone would die. There was nowhere to run. If they left the Volcano, the Operator would tell them
‘This area is forbidden for Hunters’.
“30 minutes won’t work…”
She arrived between the hunters and grabbed a cube.
All the hunters were shocked to see what she had done. The Operator’s cube never took a hit from any monsters. It would dodge incoming arrows, or fly higher if there was a fire.
And no other hunters could so much as touch the cube of others. But the cube was caught by her, and very effortlessly.
Someone let out a strange sound. But once she inspected the cube, she said
“What’s this? You aren’t just any adventurers, are you?”
She rechecked the hunters as if seeing them for the first time and said
“And not people of this world to boot. Those who are fated to cross dimensions… So that’s why you were sent to kill Khal Gal. How sad. Who designed all this?”
No one knew what to say. She, for the first time, was a monster who seemed to understand the circumstance the Hunters were trapped in. But then she stopped fiddling around with the cube to say
“Then… Am I… a boss too?”
Everyone was shocked. They had long lost the will to fight against her. But she was the one to suggest that she must be fought. Noting that no one replied, she turned to the owner of the cube and said
“Hey tell me Human, am I a boss? Someone you must kill no matter what?”
The hunter was unable to reply and stood in place. So she lowered her tone and asked again
“Tell me. Truthfully.”
As if under a spell, he began to tell her everything he knew.
“You are a hidden boss. A boss that’s much stronger than the raid boss; a secret. There is no requirement to kill, but doing so is rewarded with large bonuses as a part of hidden elements.”
She began to laugh at his words.
“Ka ha ha ha! Really? How fun! And a hidden boss… what a pleasing name, Hidden Boss…”
She suddenly turned around and said
“So? Any challengers?”
Nobody moved. She grinned and said
“Come on, try. I promise. If you can defeat me, then I will give you a REALLY good reward. A reward that can completely turn around your pitiful fate.”
But the hunters still couldn’t dare. Her son Khal Gal was already immensely powerful. There was no hope against her.
Sungjin was also checking the others’ state. It would be difficult to fight alone.
‘If it was just Khal Gal, I could have put my life on the line and won alone, but… if it’s about his mother who is far stronger than he… there is no possibility of success.’
Sungjin already decided to give up on the hidden boss. He had already collected all the hidden pieces up until now. Giving up on it just once would not drastically affect his future performance.
It was the right decision to preserve his life now. But, she added
“Ah… I guess you all learned to be careful. I guess you’ve learned a thing or two while traveling between dimensions.”
She twisted her neck twice before continuing.
“Obviously, it would be impossible to defeat me with even a hundred more of you. But what if I imposed a penalty on myself? About three?”
She grinned mischievously.
“One, I will fight not in my dragon form, but in this human one. My physical powers will greatly diminish.”
The hunters had seen her close the lid to the chest with one arm. Her reduced power was only in comparison to her dragon form, not that she had grown weak by the hunter’s measure.
“Two, I won’t use any magic above 8th class. Since doing so would probably kill everything in here.”
This also was no major penalty upon her. When Khal Gal launched a fireball (and two at the same time) the size of the fireball was massive. If she were to seriously use magic, the class was not even the main problem.
“Finally, Including my clothes, if you can hurt me in any way, I’ll consider it your victory. How about it?”
The hunters glanced at each other.
They thought. But, she threw in another word.
“Oh, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop at just grazing your clothes. I don’t have such a precise control over fire magic.”
This brought the hunters back to reality. They would have to bet their lives to even scratch her clothing.
This hidden boss must have been set to ‘scratch the tip of her clothes’ level of difficulty. Sungjin, as well as the other hunters, seriously pondered over this.
‘What should I do? Is it worth betting my life here?’
As if she read his mind, Moon Specter said
‘I am prepared to fight, Master.’
Besgoro said to her in surprise
‘Hey don’t say something stupid, lady. If he dies, we die and disappear as well’
Besgoro was against it.
‘Hey Kei, you aren’t seriously considering fighting right? That’s madness! Just look at her, you can tell, right? Her pure strength, not to mention her completely ludicrous teleportation magic. Did you ever see that kind of magic? That’s a dragon class power. Power which completely supersedes the idea of Classes, magic at its natural state. If that woman so much as thinks ‘you’re dead’, you’ll just die.’
Sungjin was in a dilemma. She was undoubtedly powerful. But the reward for merely causing a scratch against her clothes was making him have second thoughts.
Especially with her promise of ‘A reward that can completely turn around your pitiful fate’ strongly urged his will to fight.
‘You’ll die like a dog Sungjin. Give up.’
He thought, as well as
‘If I give up now, won’t I die later anyway?’
After a little bit of time passed, she sighed as her enthusiasm waned
“Yeah well… I guess it was too much to ask for. I’m done with this boss pretend so…”
Sungjin raised his arm to stop her.
“Wait, could you give us a moment to discuss this?”
She grinned at his request and nodded.
“Sure. For us Dragons, time has very little value. I will give you one day’s worth of time to talk it over. Or two… I’ll give you a week.”
But it was physically impossible for hunters to actually take advantage of her good will. Especially for Sungjin who was on a time limit. Sungjin gathered the hunters and said to them
“Anyone here who wants to try?”
No one dared to speak. Sungjin grew frustrated and touched the ‘Jeremiah’s Eye’ as he asked again
“I’ll ask one more time. Anyone here who wants to try?”
He could hear the inner thoughts of others.
‘No way, this is suicide. I’m out.’
‘Master Hunter… I know he’s strong, but isn’t he overestimating himself?’
‘If it is with him… it might be possible… but it’s too dangerous.’
‘If it is Master Hunter, he might be able to leave a scratch on her clothes. But what if I die meanwhile? What’s the point then?’
‘I feel like even if all 10 of us were to cooperate, a few of us would die… this is too dangerous of a gamble.’
It was mostly negative. Not a single one of them seemed interested in trying to figure out if the challenge was even feasible. Sungjin who took turn looking at the dragon of unknown age and the hunters thought
‘What should I do? It’s too tempting to just give up now…’
He considered his options.
‘Ah… if it is him, he might help a little…’
Sungjin took out Soldamyr’s lamp from his vest. He had been saving Soldamyr to face the hidden boss anyway. If they were to give up now, there was nowhere else where Sungjin needed him.
Sungjin stepped away from the others and rubbed the lamp. The Genie was about to greet Sungjin as normal but
“Have you called for me, mas… eh?”
He couldn’t finish his words as his eyes grew wide. He saw the woman across from Sungjin and asked
“Master, that creature…”
He must have noticed she was no human in a glance.
“She’s a hidden boss. Just like you were once.”
“You can probably tell but…”
“A Dragon. Red Dragon.”
“Yes. How is she in your eyes? How strong is she?”
“Unimaginably strong. Strong enough to have no match in this coun…no, this entire planet.”
“Really? You can tell that just by her appearance?”
“No that would not be possible to judge with just her appearance. In fact, doesn’t she appear to be a human woman of about 30 years of age?”
He was right. She had a rigid expression, but in some ways she even looked as young as twenties. Although that was up to the interpretation of the beholder.
“Thanks to an immortal contract, I am able to measure the level of mana. From what I can see of the mana of that creature… She is about 10,000 years, perhaps even older, dragon.”
10,000 Years. She would have had to begun her life long before written history to have lived to the current day. So Sungjin asked him
“So, do you think we have a chance?”
“A chance? No. Truth be told, the only reason why master and the rest of the hunters are still alive is because she has allowed it.”
“I know that. But she said if we can so much as graze her clothes, she will consider it our victory. How about it? Do we stand a chance?”
Soldamyr fell silent as he carefully contemplated the idea.
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