A bright pillar of light came down from above. Sungjin couldn’t help but bounce his leg in impatience as he waited. Normally he would be calm as he obediently awaited the teleportation. But seeing a glimpse of Illich’s face pass by from the Cube filled him with a sense of urgency.
‘Did I really see Illich? If he truly is the enemy…’
Even Franz who had the buff from ‘Chosen One’ would have a difficult time. It was because Illich was a man with might of steel and flawless judgement; a near perfect hunter.
Sungjin pressured the innocent Cube
“Hurry hurry, send me!”
Of course, it made no difference as to the speed of which Sungjin was teleported to the new dimension where Franz awaited. Once he arrived in the Frostplains, Sungjin quickly examined his surroundings.
Franz was lying down in the snow, and Illich stood over him as he held an axe over his head. A moment of great peril. Sungjin quickly fired the sword from his right hand.
Illich who was about to bring his axe down sensed the sword flying in his direction and jumped back. Sungjin who had successfully thwarted the attack,
“Haa” retrieved the sword. Illich gazed at the direction the sword had come from, and the two men locked their eyes together. Sungjin bit his lower lip.
‘It really is… Illich.’
The surprising fact was Illich’s title. He was using the title Sungjin had just obtained today. Illich asked Sungjin
“…Who… are you?”
The red aura surrounding his body indicated that he was in a troll state. But Franz also had the same aura. It was not likely that Franz who despised trolls would attack Illich to steal his contribution.
‘I don’t know what’s going on but…’
Sungjin trusted Franz more. Sungjin prepared his weapons and charged towards Illich to save Franz.
Franz was the first hunter he had used the ‘Holy Water of Baptism’. He did not wish to lose him here like this.
Illich did not understand what was going on but took up defensive stance for now. Sungjin recalled the past.
‘Sungjin, you take the rear. You can handle it, right? And once you’re freed up, come back to the front and help Nada as well.’
He was a cold man, but he wasn’t someone who caused other people problems. For now, Sungjin only wanted to push Illich away from Franz, so he swung his sword as a threat rather than to kill.
He swung twice, and it was enough to fulfill his goal. Once Illich realized Sungjin’s speed, he had to back off while raising his shield.
Meanwhile, Sungjin approached Franz. He was bleeding from the many cuts on him, but it was not life threatening.
“What happened here?”
“That guy… killed the others… so I challenged him and…”
Sungjin stared at Franz. If anything was good about him, it was his honesty. An honesty which bordered on naivete.
“I have no excuses. I thought I could win… so I was late in requesting help, Kei.”
He bit his lips and frowned as if it hurt his pride. Although he had lost, Sungjin liked the man even more.
The people he wished to pick weren’t hunters who were strong like steel, but honest men like him. Sungjin turned to face Illich.
“No, it’s fine. That man…”
Meanwhile, Illich was using his Frozen Heart title
“Operator, show me the stats of that Adjudicator.”
He was looking at Sungjin’s stats without permission. Illich was not often surprised, but once he saw the numbers, his eyes grew wide before coming back to normal.
Sungjin stood back up and left Franz alone on the ground. Illich was looking back and forth between Sungjin and Franz. He must have been piecing the puzzle together.
Sungjin narrowed his eyes and prepared his sword. But then Illich covered himself with his mantle and said
And disappeared from sight. It was an invisibility item. Sungjin tensed up for a moment. A surprise attack could come flying at him at any time. But Besgoro said to him
‘Kei, it’s a field of snow. Look for footprints.’
And as he suggested, Sungjin lowered his gaze. Besgoro’s Ghost Vision allowed Sungjin to see the surrounding area and the prints very clearly.
‘…What is he trying to do?’
Sungjin remained on guard for any sneak attacks as he walked towards where Illich had stood earlier.
‘He was here just now…’
He paid attention to the footprints in the snow. The footsteps were all over the place due to the fight earlier, but Sungjin was able to distinguish everyone’s steps in time.
‘These are mine… this is Franz moving backwards… and Illich’s is…’
He saw that Illich’s footsteps changed directions and led away from him. And it continued into the distance. Sungjin soon realized
“He ran away!”
Illich was an intelligent man. Once he saw Sungjin’s stats through the Frozen Heart, he must have determined that he could not win.
Sungjin chased after the footsteps. While running, all sorts of thoughts came to his mind.
‘I can’t believe Illich was actually a troll. I had believed in him as a trustworthy ally… so this is how he became so strong?’
He had thought of the possibility that Illich might have relied on trolling to get stronger, but seeing the proof disappointed him to no end. Sungjin resolved himself. He was a little hesitant because he was facing his old comrade, but if this method is what Illich had used to get to the final 10, then how much had he sinned until then?
‘In fact, I cannot forgive him.’
Sungjin gripped his two swords and ran after the footsteps. After a minute, Illich’s footsteps suddenly stopped.
‘What is this?’
Illich appeared in midair and came swinging his axe. Sungjin quickly raised his left hand with Artemio to block the strike. Illich who failed his ambush backed off a step.
He charged at Sungjin and swung his axe again. The man was fast but straightforward; rather than relying on fancy and complex skills, he strove to find the most effective and efficient ways to defeat his enemy.
But that was the worst way to fight Sungjin because it meant he was engaged in a pure contest of stats.
Sungjin used the Blood Vengeance to block the axe and used his strength to push Illich away. Then he used Artemio to attack him.
But still, Illich’s attack was worthy of a man who reached the final 10. Unlike the other trolls, he was able to block Sungjin’s strike at least once. Illich who was unsuccessful with his sneak attack tried to use magic to escape the situation.
“Push away my enemies! Gust!”
But such tricks did not work on Sungjin.
Artemio let out purple light as it absorbed the spell. Sungjin charged towards Illich right away. Once Illich’s spell was blocked, he raised his shield hastily to defend.
Sungjin’s sword and his shield clashed, forming sparks. Sungjin gazed at the shield. The shield was decorated with a lion-shaped insignia and looked familiar.
“This was the shield he was…’
It was the item he had brought to the last raid. It meant it was an unbelievably good item. And seeing that it was fine after taking a direct hit from the Blood Vengeance gave proof of its exceptional quality. It was a Legendary class item at the minimum.
It wouldn’t have withstood his attack if it was a heroic tier item or below. It would have split in half and fallen apart. An axe was swung as a follow-up strike. But there was something strange about the axe. A blue afterimage escaped the axe and froze Sungjin’s hand. Sungjin backed off with his hand behind him.
‘So Franz didn’t lose to him without reason. I cannot forgive this man.’
Sungjin raised his sword and muttered
Of the four animals depicted in the ring in his hand, Chimerao, the eyes of the goat began to glow. Once he became immune to cold effects, Sungjin swung both Blood Vengeance and Artemio at the same time. He borrowed the power of the Ring of the Siamese Twins to swing both swords freely. But Illich continued to block his unusual attacks.
‘Clang clang bang clack!’
The fact that he could block Sungjin’s attacks despite the immense difference in stats meant that he was able to predict Sungjin’s attacks by watching his motions and both swords at the same time. It was an impressive display of skill. Almost none of the other hunters would be able to pull off a similar feat. But he was only strong when compared to other hunters.
Once Sungjin began to attack in earnest, he became pressured to defend properly. Sometimes he was slightly too slow in reading the direction of the attack and took on a small cut. Sungjin added one more skill into the mix.
His swords began to move even faster. Illich who was accumulating cuts then had his axe knocked out of his hand.
He tried to jump up and grab the axe, but Sungjin pointed Artemio and said
He used the previously absorbed ‘Gust’ to fling the axe far away. The fight was over, Sungjin thought.
‘So… no matter how strong he is, this is his limit.’
If he had to fight Illich before the regression, he would have had to put his life on the line and use everything he had to survive. But now even if he put aside all of his big guns (Ring of the Great Sage, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Cain, Soldamyr, etc.) he could still win without much difficulty.
Sungjin approached him with his sword drawn. But then the man prostrated and said,
He was a man of cold and accurate judgement. He must have known that Sungjin was someone he could not defeat in single combat.
So he had run away with an invisibility item and launched a sneak attack from the dark. And once he saw Artemio’s special effect, he completely gave up trying to fight at all. Sungjin gazed down upon him and said
“Such a disappointment, Illich.”
Illich raised his head.
“…My name… how…”
Despite looking up at him from a lower position, his eyes were sparkling. His eyes were always good. His eyes saw through everything, allowing him to make sound judgement.
But no matter how intelligent he was, it was impossible for him to know that Sungjin had fought alongside him for several chapters before Regressing.
Especially since the more intelligent he was, the more he would be unable to predict things far from common sense. During discussion before the beginning of the raids, he was often found saying
‘That’s an exceptional case. First, do as I say.’
By exceptional, it means the probability of something happening was low, all things considered. Something that would be rare to witness. Illich asked Sungjin from a prone position.
“You… what are you?”
Sungjin raised his sword and answered
“I am an exceptional case, Illich.”
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