Chapter 9: System (6)
Note: Author-nim posted a Pocky Day update on Twitter!
Joo Yiwon, who makes Pepero (the Korean Pocky) by hand (Confident in his skills)
Shin Jiho, who puts in a special order for expensive Pepero (Doesn’t like messing up)
Happy Pocky Day!
Little Note: Her Twitter does have a few spoilers so be careful if you want to scroll through!
“Then let’s go.”
Tae Woong placed his hand on top of the door.
As he did so, a thin red light spread out like blood vessels from the center of his hand.
It was a sight both beautiful and creepy.
When the light had reached the edges of the door.
The door made of a large rock moved on its own without a sound, completely defying physics.
Past the open door, there was not a single bit of light; the room was completely dark as if someone had covered it in squid ink.
No, just saying that there is no light cannot fully explain all that is inside.
The two could instinctively feel that a great darkness was curled up and breathing quietly deep inside.
And the things that are associated with darkness.
Despair, jealousy, hatred, fear, illness, death…
The misfortunes trapped in Pandora’s box before she opened it were all locked up deep inside the dungeon.
And the two people had just opened that box unknowingly.
Tae Woong’s voice, which had just been full of fighting spirit, had completely died down.
Tae Woong’s body was shaking.
Of course, Jiho wasn’t much different.
The monster’s despair and fear invaded his mind.
It whispered that there was no other choice but to give up here.
There’s no way to defeat this.
This monster was not an S-rank.
It might even be higher than an SS-rank.
A monster that had never been seen before.
A strange form with no obvious weaknesses.
And on top of that, a mind invasion skill that destroys a person’s resolve from the very root…
There is no way they can fight it.
The terrifyingly high rank itself was a problem, but the fear that that monster gave off made it so that they couldn’t do anything.
It sounded like someone was scratching a plate of metal with their fingernails.
The hair-raising sound forced the two people who had been paralyzed by fear to move.
Jiho’s instinct to live woke up as though he had just been splashed by cold water.
However, his body still refused to move the way he wanted it to.
‘Stop acting foolishly and move!’
He had decided that this would be his final act as a hunter, not his final act of his life.
He couldn’t cower foolishly here and just wait for death.
Jiho tried to move his shaking body.
His trembling fingers slowly twitched at Jiho’s command before moving.
As they did so, Jiho’s body that had stopped working found its freedom again.
Although it seemed like a lot of time had passed, only a few seconds had actually passed.
Jiho looked back at Tae Woong who was still paralyzed.
He gathered all of his strength and threw his body.
Through the great darkness, a shockwave shot through the place the two had been standing at.
If Jiho hadn’t grabbed Tae Woong and threw his body, their bodies would have been split into two parts.
“HEY! SEON TAE WOONG!”1
Jiho clenched his teeth and slapped the unconscious Tae Woong on the face.
Even though a crisp sound was made, Tae Woong’s eyes were still unfocused.
Tae Woong couldn’t escape the fear.
It is actually almost impossible to naturally wake up from someone’s mind invasion skill if the user’s rank is higher.
It was a miracle that Jiho, who has a lower rank, was able to wake up easily.
There was no time to wake Tae Woong up slowly.
Jiho grabbed Tae Woong and ran while yelling:
“Wake up, Seon Tae Woong! That’s darkness! If you light up the surroundings, it’ll disappear!”
Even in this situation, Jiho didn’t lose hope.
Darkness is pushed away by light.
Before the advent of technology, the thing that had lit up people’s nights was fire.
Although the monster was much stronger than expected, Seon Tae Woong still had the advantage.
If only Seon Tae Woong wakes up.
Holding onto the still-unconscious Tae Woong, Jiho avoided the close attacks while taking out a potion.
Because there was no time to feed it to him, Jiho smashed the bottle onto Tae Woong’s head.
After he had done so with two bottles, Tae Woong’s eyes started to regain clarity.
Tae Woong, who was still slightly dazed, made unconscious sounds before looking at Jiho and frowning.
Because he was trying to protect Tae Woong, the main combative force, Jiho’s body was covered in injuries.
The arm that was holding Tae Woong was particularly injured.
Blood dripped down from the wound.
Tae Woong’s pride made it hard for him to apologize.
Tae Woong pushed Jiho away and stood up straight.
“Are you alright?”
Tae Woong looked forward after his short answer.
Although he had his defenses up right now because of his pride, it seemed that he had completely woken up.
[Wall of Fire.]
When Tae Woong used that skill, a wall of flames that was two times taller than a person shot up.
As he did so, the strength of the boss monster’s attacks significantly weakened.
Still, the power was strong enough to be life-threatening if touched.
In order to defend against the boss monster that was still hiding in the back, Tae Woong kept the wall up.
He hit the ground with his foot.
Multiple thin, bright threads of mana spread from his foot in all directions.
The lines quickly reached far inside the room.
Tae Woong inputted strong mana into the thin lines and used his skill.
He combined [Ignite], his most basic skill, with the other skill he just used.
Mana traveled through the lines like a fuse and exploded with much more power than when he just launched it in the air.
Like fireworks exploding in the sky, the attack was accompanied by a deafening sound.
CRACK CRACK CRACK!
Under the exploding fireworks, the darkness revealed itself.
The boss monster that they had thought was a formless body of darkness was curled up in the middle like a large boulder.
There was no arm or leg that the monster could move.
Instead, there was one large, closed eye and hundreds of mouths all over its body.
The boss monster, whose form was revealed, shuddered.
As he did so, the hundreds of mouths opened at once.
[Clack Clack Clack!]
The wave of sounds made by the mouths formed a large shockwave that headed over towards them.
Jiho was barely able to avoid the attack.
Even though he was being careful, the attack that flew over was much faster than before.
“It looks like it changed its attack pattern! Concentrate!”
“I’m concentrating, okay?!”2
Jiho was bothered by the fact that a person who had just been paralyzed by fear was nagging him.
Jiho yelled at him in anger before concentrating again.
The darkness that had covered the room didn’t appear again.
Seon Tae Woong took out a mana potion and drank it while he continued to attack the monster.
Whenever the flames exploded on its body, the monster’s mouths screamed.
As the number of mouths decreased, the power of the attacks also decreased.
Cornering the monster was going smoothly.
However, there was still a bad feeling.
When the number of mouths had decreased to less than half.
The tightly shut eyelid slowly slid open, revealing the eye beneath it.
A pitch black iris with no whites.
A bloody red pupil that was stretched vertically like that of a goat.
When the pupil lit up, the dark iris also shined with red light.
At that same time, the mouths that had been screaming started to whisper into the ear quietly.
The voice was the same as Joo Yiwon’s for some reason.
A voice that was the same as usual.
No, it was a voice much more familiar and warmer than usual: one that sounded almost sweet.
[It’s okay, Jiho.]
[You can rest now.]
[You’re tired, right?]
Jiho scrunched his face in disgust as he heard the voice that was trying to tempt him.
“What kind of bullsh*t is this?”
Monsters that invaded people’s minds usually use the form of the person the victim likes the most or is weakest to.3 However, for Jiho, the voice of his annoying childhood friend and former rival had little effect on him.
Seon Tae Woong’s situation, on the other hand, was different.
Tae Woong once again fell into a daze with the monster’s skill.
Jiho took the potion bottle that he already had in his hand and slammed it down on Seon Tae Woong’s head in annoyance again.
However, like before, Tae Woong’s consciousness didn’t return with only one hit.
Jiho picked up Tae Woong as he avoided the attacks again and cracked two more bottles on top of Seon Tae Woong’s head.
Only after that did Seon Tae Woong’s eyes gain a hint of clarity.
Jiho clenched his teeth as he cracked another potion bottle.
Tae Woong’s eyes finally regained complete clarity.
His face changed to one of horror as he realized what had happened.
“Do it on your own now….”
Jiho coughed and threw up a clump of blood.
Jiho couldn’t avoid the faster attacks while holding onto Tae Woong.
And so, he had no choice but to block the attacks with his body.
Although he didn’t get hit face-on, he could still hear the sound of his bones breaking.
If he isn’t treated quickly, he will probably die soon.
“You, why are you doing so much for me….” Seon Tae Woong mumbled in confusion.
Jiho didn’t have the strength to answer him.
Tae Woong seemed to have the wrong idea about something.
Jiho didn’t save Tae Woong because he liked him.
It’s just that this is much more advantageous.
Keeping Seon Tae Woong in the best condition gave them a higher chance of defeating the boss monster, even if it meant that Shin Jiho, who had no chance of killing the monster, had to sacrifice his own body.
Jiho didn’t have the consciousness to tell Tae Woong that he shouldn’t be touched over this.
His field of vision had turned red before darkness returned.
The end was approaching.
‘This is…the end.’
With this, it was over.
Now that the end was approaching, all of Jiho’s worries had disappeared and he felt strangely calm.
If he was lucky and Seon Tae Woong somehow killed the opponent quickly, Jiho may be able to survive.
Of course, there’s no way he’s that lucky…
Isn’t it better for one to die than both?
Although the end result isn’t perfect, it’s enough if one person survives.
If he did this much, didn’t he do enough?
Yeah, this is enough.
Is this really enough?
At that time, a weird sentence appeared in front of Jiho.
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