It all started from the sky.
Yi Ji-Hyuk lifted his head just as Jeong Hae-Min appeared there with Oh-Sik in tow.
“Hoh, she is certainly a good soldier, isn’t she?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk lifted his hand. Two black tentacles shot out from his outstretched hand and wrapped around both the mini Ogre and Jeong Hae-Min.
*SFX for the tentacles rapidly retracting*
The tentacles yanked her towards Yi Ji-Hyuk with a terrifying speed and deposited her in front of him.
“Euh, euph!! B, blergh….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Urgh. Hey, puke over there, okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk proceeded to shove her away with his foot.
Yep, not with his hands, but with his dang foot!
How could he treat a fellow human being like this?! She had to go through the proverbial hell for him, even!
As she began to tear up from the feelings of being wronged rapidly welling up inside her, Yi Ji-Hyuk grabbed and pushed her towards the rear.
“You gonna get hurt here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
For some strange reason, she thought that his hands felt warm.
Jeong Hae-Min became very cognisant of her own reddening cheeks as she hastily retreated.
“Stop blocking the way and go over there to sulk, okay? Besides, you’re a shorty so I can’t even spot you properly. You might get swept up, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If you’re going to worry about me, then just worry about me!!
If you’re going to insult me, then just insult me, okay?!
Don’t mix those two up, will you!! (Jeong Hae-Min’s anguished inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk watched on as Jeong Hae-Min stomped on the poor ground for some reason or another, and hurriedly trotted away. Then, he shifted his gaze towards Oh-Sik still dangling in the air and smirked ominously.
“Now then…. Time to play.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Through the tentacle, Yi Ji-Hyuk transferred Mana to his pet.
Oh-Sik sensed Mana filling up within his body and roared out, his eyes gradually getting redder and redder.
His body began to swell up like a balloon; then, he rapidly descended to the ground. By the time he landed on the ground, Oh-Sik had fully regained his majestic and terrifying red-and-black frame. He raised his head to the sky and roared out.
The world seemed to resonate with his roar.
Facing this incredible presence, other eight monsters slightly lowered their bodies and began glaring at Oh-Sik.
Although they were all monsters spat out from the various Level 5 Gates, the majestic aura emitted from an Ogre, a monster considered to be the mightiest of all land-bound creatures, possessed this overwhelming pressure that easily suppressed others of the same rank.
Oh-Sik’s eyes became deep, deep crimson.
“Well, then….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, about us….” (Seo Ah-Young)
Yi Ji-Hyuk raised his hand to interrupt Seo Ah-Young.
“Don’t even think about entering the fray.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If you get caught up in the mess, it won’t be my problem, got that? You’d be best off worrying about your own lives. You see, I’m gonna let the boy loose for a bit now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I understand.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young quickly gave out the order to retreat to the rest of the combatants. Even while doing that, she didn’t forget to bite her lower lip in frustration.
Instead of helping, she and others were only a burden, a hindrance.
That… was the truth of the NDF, her own creation.
‘This can’t go on.’ (Seo Ah-Young)
If the missions were accomplished with the team composition she had envisioned before, perhaps things might have been different. But, she could see that their situation was only getting worse.
Even now, if it wasn’t for Yi Ji-Hyuk’s presence, the delicate balance would’ve been broken, and the nation of Korea as the world knew it would’ve been destroyed completely.
A new plan was definitely needed, even though she herself didn’t know what that entailed.
“Excuse me, Miss Seo Ah-Young?”
The ability user named Spitfire cautiously called out to her.
“That guy, just who is he?”
Seo Ah-Young hesitated slightly, before answering back.
There were nine monsters already in front of them, but try as she might, Seo Ah-Young couldn’t think of a more appropriate word to describe Yi Ji-Hyuk of right now.
“He’s a monster.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Indeed, he was a monster – a monster as far removed as possible from a human being.
The first one to make the move was the giant Hydra.
The disgusting reptilian monster hissed, and its nine heads bobbed up and down as it rushed in closer to maw down the Ogre. With that action serving as the signal, the rest of the monsters also pounced on Oh-Sik as well.
Oh-Sik roared out, and grabbed onto the heads of the approaching Hydra. The snake monster writhed in pain, but the Ogre ignored that and simply proceeded to rip the heads off the main body with his bare hands.
Two of the heads got torn away, but seven still remained. All seven of them shot out and began biting into Oh-Sik’s body.
Oh-Sik let out a short hiss of pain, before he slammed down hard on the main body of the Hydra while roaring out even louder than before.
The monster’s body now resembled a meat paste as blue-coloured blood poured out from the huge wound it got from being slammed to the ground.
Oh-Sik was about to finish the Hydra for good, but then, a powerful impact on his back made him tumble forward in an ungainly fashion.
A giant saber-tooth tiger like monster sneaked to the rear of Oh-Sik, and managed to puncture his side with its lengthy fangs. If it weren’t for the Ogre’s outrageously tough hide, rather than getting punctured, a chunk of his flesh might have been torn away, instead.
To his back, the saber-tooth tiger busy licking its lips, and to his front, a Hydra that was rapidly regenerating; and then, there was the Great Snake, Dae-Mang, steadily slinking its way closer and closer; even the unknown, unfamiliar monster with dozens and dozens of tentacles sprouting out from its body….
The encirclement of eight monsters continued to tighten, causing Oh-Sik to subconsciously take a step back.
Then, Oh-Sik’s entire body began trembling as well.
Because, he could acutely sense it.
….His own approaching demise.
Oh-Sik stopped in his tracks, and continued to tremble in fear.
He knew that taking a step back in retreat carried an enormous implication.
There was no such a thing as retreat in the demon army. No, there were only two possible paths for one to take – either rush forward in pure maddened frenzy until the enemy falls, or take your sweet-a*s time getting somewhere and then get trampled to death by your supposed comrades rushing past you.
Indeed, there was no room for retreat.
Because…. “he” was there, waiting.
He was an existence that didn’t accept retreat from his underlings, no matter what.
However, just as Oh-Sik stood there trembling in fear, a quiet voice entered his ears.
“It’s fine. Fine, I say.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Well, this was no longer Berafe, so there was that. This Yi Ji-Hyuk was no longer the same Bringer of Apocalypse, you see.
“But still, you shouldn’t back away like a coward, no?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Suddenly, an ominous light returned to Oh-Sik’s eyes.
Oh-Sik roared out like a frenzied Berserker and rushed to his front.
Seeing this, even Yi Ji-Hyuk began loosening his neck muscles.
You, me, neither of us…
We won’t be able to go back to how we were.
But well, that doesn’t mean we can’t throwdown to our hearts’ content, does it?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
If he had a vanguard plugging up the front, then Yi Ji-Hyuk could truly demonstrate his might as the sorcerer supreme.
From both of his hands, dark light shone brightly.
It’s gonna be tough for Oh-Sik alone, isn’t it?
So, then…. What should I do next? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
The jet-black Mana began drawing various symbols and runes in the empty sky. All these strange and evil-looking symbols began to emit ominous rays of light as Yi Ji-Hyuk waved his hands around like a conductor of a grand orchestra.
“Come out, come out.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The symbols twisted into whirlpools, and then, they combined to form a black abyss of pure nothingness. And from this abyss, a massive beast, as dark as the darkest shadow, leaped out.
It didn’t even let out the roar that most monsters seemed to be so fond of; it simply dashed forward in manner so agile and fleet-footed, its huge size seemed to be a lie. The black beast leaped towards the saber-tooth tiger monster, and sank its own fangs into the unwary target’s neck, smashing it down to the ground.
The new entrant was a huge black beast that looked almost like a jaguar. Its black body seemed to flicker in and out of existence.
“One more.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And then, another massive beast leaped out from the abyss. As soon as it stepped into this world, it unfurled its giant wings and took to the skies.
It was a hawk-shaped creature. It rose high up, before descending to the ground like a bolt of lightning; it then latched onto the Giant Snake monster large enough to wrap around a tall skyscraper, lifting it up to the heavens.
The Dae-Mang writhed to get free, but the black hawk’s claws simply broke past the giant snake monster’s scales and tightly grabbed hold.
Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk was licking his lips in a wistful manner as he watched the hawk fly higher and higher into the sky.
‘Without the Mana amplification effect, is this all I can do?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Since he couldn’t open the portal to the demon world, it was impossible to directly summon his faithful servants. What he could summon here, though, were the lifeforms created through magic.
This magic wasn’t Yi Ji-Hyuk’s specialty, nor something he enjoyed using, but it was just about perfect in this place.
Too bad, what with the limited amount of Mana he could wield right now, he was unable to create the kind of monstrosities he would have liked.
For instance, that hawk – back in Berafe, that creature’s wingspan would’ve blanketed the entire sky.
However, nothing would change from him lamenting on his currently weakened status. So, Yi Ji-Hyuk gathered his hands together again.
“Alright, then….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Should I cut loose for the first time in a while?
From the ends of his toes to the rest of his body, he began gathering and manipulating Mana.
The jet-black Mana coiling around his body pulsed and seethed like a living blood vessel and coagulated in hands.
A soft groan automatically escaped from his lips.
The jet-black Mana originally wasn’t meant for humans to control, and thus it began to gradually corrode him, ever so slightly. He had lost his cheat-like immortality buff, so he was well aware of the fact that he needed to do it in moderation.
However, his physical body had grown stronger than before, so the damage itself seemed rather negligible. The higher presence of Ether within was definitely protecting him from the corrosive black Mana’s influence.
Almost right away, the jet-black Mana gathering in front of his hands began spinning violently, and a deep resonance rumbled from the mass.
If it was in the past, he would have gathered lots more Mana and compacted it even further before utterly incinerating his enemies. But now that he was imposed with the restriction of sorts, he had to find a more cost-effective method.
What should he do next, then?
Yi Ji-Hyuk soon recalled a spell just for this kind of occasion.
His right hand began orchestrating the black Mana. The intangible substance stretched like noodle strands and danced in the air according to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hand movements.
First, he’d tie them down….
*SFX for things tightly wrapping around*
Black-coloured tentacles that resembled tree roots broke out from the ground and began to constrict the monsters.
Suddenly getting tied up by these vines/tentacles, monsters roared out and thrashed around, but these things were harder than any known precious material in the world and didn’t let go of their targets.
Next, he’d stab them….
From the constricting “tree roots”, countless thorns the length of a dozen metres jutted out and penetrated into the victims’ bodies. Predictably, the screams of the monsters proceeded to shake the entire world.
The Dae-Mang falling from the air saw the thicket of black thorns covering the ground below, and tried to tilt itself out of the way. But, too bad, this monster lacked wings to do that.
*SFX for flesh being pierced through*
The lengthy thorn easily penetrated the scales of the giant snake and impaled it. And as it writhed and thrashed around in pain, more and more thorns stabbed into its body.
In the middle of this thorny thicket, the unharmed Oh-Sik was trembling in fear. Although these countless thorns avoided him, there was no room to move, and the poor Ogre was trapped in there.
Just before he despaired too much, though, the thorny vines suddenly shifted out of his way and created a path. A relieved smile spread on the face of Oh-Sik and he quickly made his escape.
*SFX for a supple and agile movement. Yeah, me neither….*
However, the half-translucent black jaguar darted in between the thorns and vines without any fuss and proceeded to tear into the trapped monsters.
The defenseless monsters continued to writhe as the fangs of the jaguar tore into them, but the more they struggled, the deeper the thorns dug into their flesh, impaling them even further.
A little bit of time later, Yi Ji-Hyuk moved his hands again.
He figured that, to end things here, well…. he hadn’t had his fill just yet.
A small spark lit up and flew off his fingertips.
“Transform!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The spark rapidly flew and landed on the thorny vines. Then, the spark and the whole thicket transformed into a mass of lightning bolts that began shocking and roasting the trapped monsters.
From within the forest of the chaotic electrical storm, the confusing maelstrom of disgusting, burning stench and terrified screams of monsters exploded out.
Far away, Seo Ah-Young witnessed all this, while tightly clutching her fists.
She wanted to shut her eyes so badly…. Yet, she couldn’t stop looking at this spectacle, either.
All those incredible monsters, each of them capable of creating hell on earth, were being utterly slaughtered by just one person – Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Maybe, if she was seeing a bloodied, desperate battlefield full of intense life-or-death fights, then she wouldn’t have felt this way. But…. What she was seeing right now, this was no such thing.
That…. That was him just toying with his victims.
It was like seeing a cat playing with a cornered rat. It was like seeing a lion slowly licking the baby deer trapped under its powerful paws.
Yes, he was simply toying with those monsters right now.
That back of Yi Ji-Hyuk, with the unknown black substance swirling around him, seemed so terrifying to her.
She found that there was just too big a gap between the lazy, slovenly and way-too-chatty Yi Ji-Hyuk of everyday and the death god of the battlefield Yi Ji-Hyuk. She failed to reconcile the two images in her mind, no matter how hard she tried to.
Right now, he was like a completely different person altogether, and that only made her even more scared of the man.
“….Drain.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Soon, the arcs of lightning subsided, leaving behind grotesquely burnt monsters that toppled over slowly one after the other. The sound generated from their fall sounded like the feet of a titan stepping on the ground.
Yi Ji-Hyuk reached out with his hands.
“Drain.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
After successfully extracting Mana from the dead monsters, Yi Ji-Hyuk spotted a couple of them that managed to hold on somehow. He simply reached out to them.
Hoh, pretty sturdy, aren’t you?
What should I do with you, then?
Hmm….. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
A truly creepy and ominous smile suffused over his lips as he pointed at the surviving monsters.
From his pointing fingertip, magical runes with indecipherable design flew out and landed on the monsters.
These monsters on the brink of death didn’t let off such a loud and shrill screams even when they were being electrocuted, yet they were doing so now, while wildly twisting and turning on the ground.
Blood and bubbles from the corners of their mouths landed everywhere.
Oh-Sik saw this scene, then promptly buried his head to the ground and trembled in utter terror.
That was the Seal of Obedience in action.
This curse seal was designed to take over one’s soul, and it allowed the caster to rule over one’s flesh and mind.
Soon, the monsters gradually stopped writhing in pain, and seeing this, Yi Ji-Hyuk flicked his fingers.
“Burrow underground, and hide there.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Monsters got up as soon as he issued the command, and they dug the ground beneath with all their strength before disappearing into the depths.
Yi Ji-Hyuk continued to stare at them, and when they were no longer visible, dusted his hands clean and turned around to leave.
He didn’t know who was pulling the strings here.
He had no idea who they could be, but, he’d let them know that their methods of attack would never work with him here.
If this invasion continued in this fashion, then sooner or later, his army would be resurrected to its former glory.
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around and found Seo Ah-Young trembling uncontrollably like a leaf for some reason, and tilted his head in confusion.
“What the, you need to use the loo?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hey, you!! You godd*mn a*shole!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“What now?! Why are you shouting at me for?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
She simply failed to understand how this guy’s mind even worked!!
Seo Ah-Young couldn’t bring herself to admit aloud that she was trembling from the fear she felt towards this youth. She chose to turn around in order to avoid locking eyes with him.
As Yi Ji-Hyuk stood there, complaining bitterly after receiving the very undeserving insults, there was a lone figure watching him from an incredible distance away.
It was a dark and small figure of a man. It waved its hand towards the sky. A small warp gate cracked open in front of its hand, then surprisingly, a portion of his figure melted into a small bird which got sucked into the mini gate.
– Let the others know.
A voice that sounded like metal grating against metal resounded out.
– He is here. The 99th Demon Lord is residing in this world.
The end of the ‘peaceful’ days was approaching ever closer.
< 70. Stop trying to sell snake oil and let’s get started already -5 > Fin.