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The spot where Yi Ji-Hyuk and Jeong Hae-Min appeared together was in the sky well above the Gate’s position. Since they didn’t know about the composition and the scope of the monster horde, they wanted to find the most optimal place to scope the enemies out before jumping in.
The problem was….
“Why are we in the air?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What? Is there a problem?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Not for me. But, what about you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When Jeong Hae-Min saw the ground rapidly approaching her at the rate of knots, her entire body froze up in an instant.
“K, kyyaaaahhhh~~ahck?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Seeing her screaming her lungs out like that, Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly facepalmed.
‘Why is she an idol? She’s more like a dol-ai-ee.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL: “dol-ai-ee” means a moron. It’s a wordplay on the pronunciation of ‘idol’ but in reverse. I know it doesn’t make sense, but there you go.)
He lightly caught Jeong Hae-Min and made her float in the air; then dropped right into the midst of the monster horde, in order to accomplish the first thing Choi Jung-Hoon had asked him. Which was to eliminate them as quickly as possible.
For now, he decided to deal with the small fries first. Because he had went and performed the Time Reversal not too long ago, he ended up expending almost every single drop of Mana in his reserve, so there was a need to recharge himself.
Yi Ji-Hyuk frowned as he took a long look at the gnat-like monsters pouring out from the Gate.
There was way too little of them. He just knew this amount wasn’t going to cut it.
“God dang it!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Unfortunately, the current situation didn’t allow him to be picky, so he would have to make do with what he got.
As he dropped to the ground, he punched out.
With loud impact noises, two gnat monsters became meat paste and dropped to the ground.
*SFX for monsters shrieking out in anger*
The flying gnat monsters discovered his presence, and madly dashed towards him. Seeing this, Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly dusted his hands.
‘Time to get serious.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He deftly dodged the front claws of the monsters as if he was flowing around them, and landed a series of powerful kicks on the narrow joints of their legs.
*SFX for bones and ligaments breaking*
As their joints were destroyed, the gnat monsters fell one by one to the ground.
Mana escaping from the dead monsters rapidly got sucked into his hands. As the loud, buzzing noise broke out, black Mana gathered in his palms and then, emitted dark but blinding light.
*SFX for a sudden expansion of blinding light*
As if a massive bomb had gone off, the black light of Mana expanded in the blink of an eye and swallowed up every single monster in the vicinity.
While still floating in the air, Jeong Hae-Min was trembling as if there was an earthquake or something. She saw that black light envelop everything, and then – there was nothing left afterwards.
Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk was absorbing the residual Mana from the surroundings.
And as he expected, this was not enough. He had high hopes since the Gate was ranked a Level 5, but this amount was just too little. He needed to find a bigger source of Mana than this.
‘By the way… Since when did my punches become this strong?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He was able to destroy the surroundings quite easily with a single punch – something he couldn’t even dream of doing not too long ago.
Yi Ji-Hyuk began touching his body here and there.
‘It feels like something inside me has grown a bit bigger…’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Could it be ‘Ether’?
For sure, he could definitely tell that his physical body had grown way, way tougher, compared to what he was like back in Berafe.
If it weren’t for him having this intense thirst, thanks to all the ‘things’ he had lost while coming back, he’d have been fine with this gradual improvement, but…
“Kyyaaaahhh?!! Heyyy!! Where are you looking at?! Look over here!! Can’t you see I’m falling!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Eii, seriously now, this girl…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk reached out with his hands and lightly caught the falling Jeong Hae-Min.
And it was the famed princess carry.
*SFX for a face reddening up in a millisecond*
When their eyes met in an unexpectedly close distance, Jeong Hae-Min’s face reddened up in an instant for some reason. She used both of her hands to shove him away.
“P, put me down, please!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“You…. You’re only a shorty, so how can you be this heavy?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hey!! I’m not heavy!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Oh, wow. You’re full of muscles, aren’t you? Is it because of all that dancing? Does that count as exercise?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk put her down as she had requested.
Now that he thought about it, the unfamiliarity he felt just now must’ve been because him not embracing a human female in such a long time. Indeed, he got way too used to embracing dark elves and demonesses so, that must’ve been it.
Well, he barely had any contact with humans during the thousand years, so there was that.
“By the way, you!! How can you even think of telling a woman that she’s heavy?! Seriously, you…! Are you that thoughtless?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“A woman, my a*s.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk waved his hand around dismissively.
“Go away, preferably to over there or something. It’ll end up a bother if my shuttle were to get blown up by accident, after all. I’m not done here yet.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Argh!! Get bitten by these monsters for all I care!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“….Is she losing her dang mind or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seeing the back of Jeong Hae-Min hurriedly trot away, Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a short groan.
“Look at them coming out in dribs and drabs.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Those gnat-like monsters were pouring out from the Gate once more. Since he was on such a tight schedule, he had to finish up here quickly. But the enemy raid hadn’t ended yet. It was a given that he couldn’t prolong this any more and waste the precious time….
It was then – accompanied the spine-tingling buzzing noise akin to a swarm of bees beating their wings, a shadow of substantial size began to squeeze out from the Gate.
A 7 metre-tall monster with an outer appearance resembling the praying mantis emerged and it began studying Yi Ji-Hyuk standing in front of the Gate, its forelegs spread open and ready to strike at any moment.
“A Mantis, is it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Compared to the Mantis monster Yi Ji-Hyuk was familiar with, it was a bit bigger and had a different colour. But, there was enough of a resemblance.
“Man, you’re really ticking me off with all these similarities.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Too bad, it seemed that the Mantis was in no mood to worry about Yi Ji-Hyuk’s feelings, as its foreleg struck out in a deadly attack that seemed to bisect the space in half.
The serrated cutting edges, resembling a saw, protruded out from its forelegs; they reflected the sunlight and gleamed like cold, hard blades. If a person got caught in that, his body would be ripped into shreds in the blink of an eye.
But this was Yi Ji-Hyuk, not some random guy!
Now normally, he’d have taken a step back to avoid it, but right now, he really didn’t have a lot of time. He spat out a short cry and used Mana to reinforce his body.
With Mana circulating and surrounding both the inside and outside of his body, Yi Ji-Hyuk reached out and grabbed the Mantis’ attacking front leg.
*SFX for metallic screech*
Unable to fully absorb the rebound, the joint of the Mantis’ front limb issued a screech one might hear from rusted metal joints.
Yi Ji-Hyuk simply lifted the Mantis up just like that, and then, slammed it down onto the hard floor.
As the Mantis’ large body bounced up, Yi Ji-Hyuk jumped up just above the monster. And then, black tentacles shooting out from his hands promptly swallowed up the large monster.
The magic power spreading out like a black net wrapped around the Mantis and constrained it. The monster put up a fierce resistance of poking and slicing with its front limbs, but as if the net itself was a living being, it continued to crush the Mantis relentlessly.
The Mantis let out a bizarre roar.
The whole area reverberated with the scream of the huge monster as the black Mana net utterly crushed its limbs and tightly squeezed its body.
*SFX for something hard being crushed bit by bit*
Hearing that noise, Jeong Hae-Min’s face gradually lost all colour.
She believed that, after having witnessed countless battles and deaths of monsters that fell from the powers of various special abilities, she had built up some sort of tolerance to violence, but this spectacle was something new even to her, and it sure as hell managed to rouse the feelings of pure horror and disgust within.
That sight of Yi Ji-Hyuk relaxedly devouring the Mantis alive made her wonder whether that was the same person she’d been arguing with all this time or not.
He… was a human that devoured monsters. That act seemed more monstrous than actual monsters.
As she shivered from the sense of unease and horror, she continued to watch on, as the Mantis got crushed into nothing but some lump of Mana. Which got sucked into him soon enough.
After completely sucking the monster in, Yi Ji-Hyuk rubbed his tummy with an expression of puppy enjoying a hearty meal.
“Yep, now this is what I’m talking about.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Unfortunately, his happiness had to wait for another day.
The phone beeped noisily, again.
– “It’s K1, now!! Teleport to K1! I repeat, to K1!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Not even letting me take a short break here… Really now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk wanted to express his dissatisfaction but even he was well aware of now being a rather poor timing for that.
Jeong Hae-Min was already approaching him in uneasy steps.
“Okay, let’s go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk reached out to grab her hand, but she hastily withdrew as if she got stung by a bee.
After belatedly realising that she had reflexively yanked her hand away, Jeong Hae-Min looked like she was utterly shocked by her own actions. The faint emotions of fear and disgust were easy enough to detect in her eyes, and Yi Ji-Hyuk erased all expressions from his face as soon as he spotted that.
‘This, again? Huh.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He had been subjected to that kind of look from the other party way too many times, until he was truly sick and tired of it already.
Thanks to his outer appearance being the same as everyone else here, such reactions were mercifully almost non-existent, but back in Berafe, there were countless folks who treated him like a disease solely due to his looks alone.
Even when some of them found the courage to open their minds and hearts, they still ended up looking at him with such eyes when Yi Ji-Hyuk revealed his powers.
Perhaps it was an inevitable thing for human beings – distancing themselves away from those that were too alien from them.
What an unfortunate thing that was, since Yi Ji-Hyuk was always included in that specification of “too alien” until now.
Since he had experienced it countless times, it didn’t even faze him anymore. To counter that, all he had to was to end the relationship with the person in question and simply return to being strangers.
“Hey, I’ll take care of things myself, so you don’t have to….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was then. Jeong Hae-Min stood there while biting her lips, before suddenly reaching out to grab his hand without a warning.
“Eh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“We’re going.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“…Okay.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at Jeong Hae-Min’s hand holding onto his for a long time. He kind of found it just a bit hard to explain.
Didn’t her hand feel warmer than before? Was he mistaken?
“Hey, you…. Do you have a fever or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I told you to call me Noona!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
She shouted at him in anger, and then activated the teleport ability.
“What the?! In the middle of the sky again?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s no joke if you teleport into objects, that’s why!! Just catch me as we go down, okay?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“You think I’m a parachute?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
His mouth might’ve been complaining, but his arms still pulled her in close.
When he looked down to the distant ground below, he could see a monster that was so big, he could clearly make out its features from his position high up in the sky. It was busy taking on weapons fire from the defense force in the streets below.
However, it seemed like a throwdown had occurred already, because he could also see many destroyed tanks and bodies of lifeless soldiers littering the area, too.
“Damn, should I have hurried up a bit just now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
As soon as they landed on the ground, Yi Ji-Hyuk pushed her aside and shouted out.
Just before he could finish his sentence, the giant monster that resembled a gorilla swung its massive arm at his position.
“Shield!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s Shield successfully deflected the monster’s swing, ripples spreading out on its smooth surface.
“That’s nothing!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
KWAHNG, KWAHNG, KWAHNG!!!!
However, the repeated pounding from the monster caused the Shield to crack like glass. Yi Ji-Hyuk tightly pulled Jeong Hae-Min and leaped away at the last second before it shattered.
The monster’s fist impacted on the ground and the explosion akin to a bomb going off shook the surroundings. Dust clouds and stone debris flew up as a deep crater formed where they had been only a moment ago.
A thin line of blood seeped out from the corner of his lips.
“A, are you alright?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Over there….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I said, go over there!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“O, oh. Okay.”
Jeong Hae-Min hurriedly ran away from there; meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk stood up and spat out the blood pooling inside his mouth.
Seeing his blood on the ground, he began gritting his teeth.
The monster he’d never seen before glared right back at him while performing a kind demonstration on the ground with both of its arms pounding hard.
The soldiers who were unable to get close before, began to fall back even further with fear and panic spreading on their expressions.
Guns, tanks, and even the trusted back-up, the anti-air artillery, didn’t work on this monster.
When facing the never-before-seen Level 5 creature’s overwhelming might, the only thing humanity could do was to tremble in terror and despair.
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a groan and took a step forward.
The Shield managed to block only a handful of strikes before shattering from the heavy impact, transmitting the force to him which rearranged his inner organs, rather painfully as he’d like to point out.
The damage that would’ve been healed in an instant if this was in the past, continued to cause him quite a bit of grief now.
*SFX for a monster’s triumphant roar*
Yi Ji-Hyuk narrowed his eyes as he looked at the monster proudly showing off its haughty pride.
Oh, so you want to have a go with me, is that it?
With me, eh? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“This whole situation is busy spitting on my pride…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….Getting injured by a trashy monster, the injury not healing right away, and that trashy low-class thing busy rubbing it in his face with its arrogant display – all of it were p*ssing him off.
Jet-black Mana oozed out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s entire body.
That Mana was at once like a fog, and a flame; it danced and wrapped around his body.
As the black Mana surrounded him completely, Yi Ji-Hyuk licked his lips. Tasting the metallic saltiness of his blood, his eyes began shining in a dangerous light.
“I’ll rip you to shreds.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And his body shot forward faster than a bullet.
Leaving behind a long trail of black Mana, he became a black meteor that slammed into the gut of the gorilla-like monster.
*SFX for bones and muscles breaking/ripping apart*
And so, a human body pierced the flesh of the monster that proved to be tougher than forged steel.
The force behind the impact wasn’t dissipated at all, and it carried on, blowing that large monster into the air as if it was a discarded paper being blown away by the wind.
The gorilla monster couldn’t even leak out a scream; as it flew away, Yi Ji-Hyuk closed in, and his hands began to burn in the sinister black flames.
It wasn’t only this one!!
There were eight more, at the least!
Without someone willing it to happen, there was no freaking way that ten Gates would open up at once in a cramped little nation of Korea.
In other words….
It wasn’t only this one!!
It wasn’t only this group of monsters!!
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t know who the culprit was. But he needed to let him, her, them, know this one crucial fact:
He was here. Him!
None other than Yi Ji-Hyuk was here!
From the shoulder blades of Yi Ji-Hyuk, black Mana poured out and unfurled themselves like the wings of a Death God.
< 68. Stop trying to sell snake oil and let’s get started already -3 > Fin.
Synopsis: The online game <