[Active skill ‘Desperate Maneuver’ applied.]
Sungjin kept his gaze fixed on the Dragon as he kept an ear open for the Operator’s voice. He would decide his strategy based on what the Active Skill was.
[Desperate Maneuver: When MP is completely exhausted, consume HP instead of MP.]
Sungjin was surprised but did not let it show.
‘Consume HP instead of MP? Then when I use magic…’
All sorts of plans appeared in Sungjin’s mind. However, he did not have the time to review them one by one. Instead, Sungjin made a simple decision.
‘In any case, I can only win by using magic.’
For the moment, Sungjin threw out both of the spells stored in Artemio.
Giant ice spears flew out from Artemio. The Dragon held out his hand and absorbed them just as he had done before. However, that did not matter since, from the beginning, Sungjin was only aiming to buy time.
After expelling the spells, Sungjin shot Artemio at the Dragon like he did earlier at Commander Zeratar. The Dragon struck the approaching Artemio with the end of the staff and deflected it high into the sky.
Afterwards, he grasped Artemio, which was spinning in the sky, by its handle. This was impossible unless you could read its trajectory and velocity, and precisely read the amount of strength required when parrying it.
The Dragon glanced at Artemio and examined it closely. As befitting his nickname ‘Magic Researcher’, he seemed to have a lot of interest in magic related items.
“Hoh, this… Is this a sword that can absorb the power of magic and then expel it? This too… I’ll have to take it with me and study it.”
Saying that he’ll take someone else’s sword and what not, the Dragon was maintaining quite an arrogant attitude.
‘Arrogant bastard. Let’s see you stay cocky after this.’ cursed Sungjin as he took out and held Ariane with his empty hand. Though the Dragon did not know, taking out Ariane was no different from indicating that Sungjin would use the ‘Ring of the Great Sage’. Sungjin first ordered Ariane to handle half of the mana cost.
Ariane, the sword made from a Dragon’s heart, began to quietly cry out.
Sungjin continued and initiated the Active Skill of the ‘Ring of the Great Sage’.
Soon, the ‘Ring of the Great Sage’ gave off a bright light. The Dragon saw Sungjin doing this, yet still looked at him with eyes filled with curiosity and not fear.
“Hoh… So, you know how to use that?”
Sungjin immediately launched a spell at him.
It was not just a fireball. It was a fireball after Sungjin’s Magic Power had been amplified by five times. This incredibly huge fireball had completely destroyed the Ice Palace of the Ice Witch. The Dragon Archae’ard, who had been relaxed until just a moment ago, showed a flustered expression for the first time after seeing the fireball.
“What? Arise! Ice Wall!”
“Arise! Ice Wall!”
It seemed that the Dragon was not satisfied even after creating two layers of ice walls as he cast a defense spell on himself.
“Protect me! Anti Magic Shell!”
The Dragon’s calculations were right for the most part once again. The flame that Sungjin shot broke through the Dragon’s ice walls one by one and then crashed against his Anti Magic Shell.
The Dragon Archae’ard was astonished. Even though he had been able to roughly guess the power of the fireball after seeing its size, it had been several hundred years since his magic defense had been damaged.
‘No way… Had there been a time when a human’s spells have been this strong?’
While the Dragon was surprised, Sungjin charged at it with an unbelievable speed. Flustered, Archae’ard urgently held up his staff and began to block Sungjin’s attacks.
‘Clang Clang Clang!’
Having perfect proficiency with both hands thanks to an item allowed Sungjin to make unpredictable and flashy dual-sword style attacks. If it had been an inexperienced Dragon, then he would have already turned into minced meat.
However, Archae’ard was different. He had already regained his composure before even a few seconds had passed.
‘Clang Clang Claaang!’
This was because he had already received Sungjin’s attacks dozens of times. The Dragon Archae’ard was a scholar. Having read thousands of books on magic and combat and having fought tens of thousands of times, he was akin to a living avatar of war.
The level of Sungjin’s attacks was something that he could perfectly defend against with his experience. However, he had a small lingering doubt.
‘Why did he stop using attacking with magic and return to hand-to-hand combat?’
It was obvious that the spells cast using the Sky Gem were threatening even to him. But the human came charging back with the same swordsmanship which had previously failed to work against him. Now that he thought about it, he really began to wonder. However, shortly after, Archae’ard was able to come up with a reason.
‘This guy. He doesn’t have enough mana.’
The fireball that he had just shot out was a spell that was obviously beyond the what a human was capable of. Even if he used the ring embedded with the Sky Gem to drag out his Magic Power, he was incapable of doing anything about his mana.
‘Since he can’t use it many times, it seems that he wanted to create a diversion to end it with his sword.’
With this in mind, Archae’ard began to look for a chance to counter attack as he used his staff to block Sungjin’s swords. His sword technique was impressive, but there were still portions that were somewhat predictable.
At the perfect moment, he would stop the human’s attack with his staff and counter with magic. This was the Dragon had planned.
Meanwhile, Sungjin was doing his best to try and memorize every swing of their weapons as they continued to duel.
He never counted on defeating a dragon with a mere fireball. It was used to draw its attention away.
‘The real fight begins after the time reversal.’
That was Sungjin’s true aim. Because the opponent was a blue dragon, he was worried that the dragon might notice his time reversal magic.
He had only one chance. Even with Zhuge Liang’s ‘Increased Mana’ and ‘Desperate Maneuver’, it probably would not be possible to use a class 10 spell twice. So once the close quarter combat progressed to a certain extent, Sungjin resolved himself and intentionally pushed himself away from the fight.
He used magic to create clones. With five times the Magic Power, the total number of illusions reached twenty which left the dragon Archae’ard in shock. For one thing,
‘He still had more mana?’
the fact that he still had mana at his disposal was surprising. The other was the effectiveness of the spell. No matter how familiar he could get with the opponent’s sword style, that only applied in a one on one situation. If twenty of them were to attack at once, he could face serious danger. The dragon hastily chanted a spell.
“Go away, Gust Wind!”
Five of the clones were blown away. They rose high into the air and disappeared with a ‘poof’ upon landing. But there were still fifteen Sungjins remaining. Archae’ard chanted another spell.
“Fry! Chain Lightning!”
Of the fifteen, seven disappeared with a ‘poof’. Unfortunately, the original was not among them. The Dragon frowned and cast the final spell.
‘Return! Dispel Magic”
Now only four out of the eight remained. But that was it; even with shortened incantation, there was no more time remaining to cast more spells.
The remaining four Sungjins charged at the Dragon and surrounded him. And together as one, they attacked. The Dragon prepared to face the clones.
Even Archae’ard himself was forced to guess which one was real. He swung his staff and knocked away the Sungjin on the right as he dodged the sword from the front. He was forced to take the attack of the Sungjin to the left and the one in the back. The swords found their mark, but no sounds were made. Only
the sound of a sword hitting the ground could be heard. The real one was directly in front of him. Archae’ard quickly used his staff to knock the sword away and grabbed Sungjin’s now empty hand. He then confirmed by touch that this one was real.
“Ha ha ha… A reverse psychology. I had guessed that you would choose to come from the front or the right where my staff is.”
Sungjin looked into his eyes and said,
“How smart of you. But the moment you made that guess you already lost.”
Dragon grinned at his words.
“What is this? Bluffing when you’re caught by me?”
The moment the dragon spoke, Sungjin recited a spell greatly condensed by the power of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Sungjin began to travel back in time. The Dragon let go of his hand then Sungjin began to be hit by magic that the Dragon had cast in reverse order.
Each time he was hit, his clones increased. This was the side effect of playing the video backwards. And around the time Sungjin cast the illusion spell, he stopped the time reversal.
Stopping at his convenience rather than be taken to the limits of his mana, he was able to learn that he could control when to stop going back in time with the help of Soldamyr’s experiments. If he wants the time to resume moving forward during time reversal, the spell ends there. Once arriving at the frame of time of his choosing, Sungjin recited the spell again.
But unlike last time, he felt his body strangely ache.
The Operator said,
[Mana at 0%]
[Health will be consumed instead of Mana]
It seemed that he had used all of his mana with Fireball, Illusion, and Time Reversal. Regardless, Sungjin attempted to recreate the exact same situation as the past. Twenty copies of Sungjin. The real one stood at the very back to prevent himself from being hit by magic.
“Go away! Gust Wind!”
“Fry! Chain Lightning!”
“Return! Dispel Magic!”
After three spells had passed, Sungjin sent the three fakes towards the right, front, and left of the Dragon, while he himself went to the back. Then, they attacked the Dragon as one.
The Dragon, the same as before, avoided the swords of the copies that approached him from the right and in front. The original Sungjin which had circled behind the Dragon struck out heavily with Ariane towards the Dragon’s right hand which held the staff.
The Dragon’s hand was cut away, and the staff that the hand had been holding fell to the ground with a thud. The Dragon looked behind him with wide eyes. His eyes seemed to scream,
‘Not the front, but at the back?!’
Sungjin continued and swung Moon Specter. However, the Dragon held the other hand towards the Moon Specter even as it approached and shouted,
Sungjin unconsciously dropped Moon Specter that he had been holding. However, he could not let go of this opportunity. Time flowed as if it was in slow motion.
At the same time that he dropped Moon Specter to the ground, Sungjin grasped the sheathed Blood Vengeance and once again raised Ariane towards the sky.
The Dragon was about to shout something, but Sungjin’s Ariane was faster. The black sword, whose damage had been upgraded by several times with the activation of the Ring of the Great Sage, swung down on the Dragon’s shoulder without mercy. The Dragon’s mouth, which was about to chant a spell, let out a shriek instead.
At that instant, Sungjin was certain that he had grabbed ahold of a chance for victory. He took out Blood Vengeance from its sheath as he shouted,
“Besgoro! Frenzy! Yanhurat! Let’s kill him!”
Just an interesting side note. When the Dragon catches Sungjin, he says this:
“Hu hu hu… 허허실실(虛虛實實) it was.”
With korean phonetics…
“hu hu hu… hu hu shil shil iguna”
Huhushilshil is a tactic/strategy used to disguise the valuables by making it appear as though it is devoid of content (Empty fort strategy used by Zhuge Liang is actually a subset of huhushilshil)