Solo Leveling (I Alone Level-Up) - Chapter 217
Chapter 217: Chapter 217
Only a few minutes ago.
Beru always prided himself as the most loyal subject to his king. But now, after getting trapped within the ice prison of the Sovereign of Frost, he realised what the taste of sheer powerlessness was like.
Was I really this weak?
Why did I continue to grow stronger? For what purpose was it?
Beru felt so pathetic by the fact that he couldn’t do anything while his liege was being besieged by his enemies. However, there was nothing the former ant king could do.
The Sovereign of Frost was an existence on another level compared to Beru. And he didn’t possess the requisite power to escape from this magic. All he could do now while trapped in ice was to pray that his liege would be safe.
Fortunately, his liege wasn’t pushed back at all, even when facing off against transcendental enemies.
‘As expected of my liege…. This lowly slave can only be moved by your greatness.’
Beru was so emotionally moved by his master’s display of power that tears overflowed from his eyes as he continued to watch Jin-Woo’s battle.
But then, the disadvantage of numbers gradually tightened around the neck of his liege. The progressively-worsening cycle of attacks and defences of the enemies began pushing Jin-Woo back and Beru desperately struggled against his restraints.
‘My king!! My king!!!’
And finally, Beru watched as Jin-Woo was sent flying by the Sovereign of Plagues’ large palm and slam into a wall.
The king was in danger. The king was in danger. The king was in danger!
‘I must protect my king.’
Something inside Beru’s head snapped loose. The empty void where his reasoning used to be was replaced by the ’emergency mode’ designed to protect his king.
Beru’s expression crumpled to resemble a frightening devil as he screeched out loudly.
Arms, shoulders, neck, chest, thighs, calves, ankles! Every part of his body ballooned up at the same time and began pushing away the block of ice imprisoning him.
The seemingly-inescapable ice prison began to develop several large cracks. Beru shook his entire body.
The ice prison could no longer contain the power of the ant soldier going crazy inside and its surface cracked even more so. Even in the midst of this, there was only one thing in Beru’s head – the thought of rescuing his king.
He poured out all his strength and twisted his body, causing a big crack to run down the ice block.
He used his sheer physical strength to prise out the gap even further and extricated himself from the ice prison. Beru then disregarded everything else while flying straight towards Jin-Woo’s side.
Even before he felt happy at his master looking back at him, all those little nicks and scrapes on Jin-Woo’s body entered Beru’s vision first. They were caused by the insect woman when she smacked his liege into the building just now.
A mere insect woman dared to lay her hands on his king!
She dared to touch his king!!!
Beru’s anger reached a new height and he flew directly at the Queen of the Insects. The thunderous screech of Beru reverberating throughout the battlefield that used to be city streets rendered the Sovereign of Frost quite surprised.
[A measly Shadow Soldier managed to break free of my binding magic?!]
Such a thing shouldn’t even happen. It took a closer look at Beru’s power in the ’emergency mode’ for a second there and spat out a gasp of shock next.
This power didn’t belong to some ‘measly’ Shadow Soldier at all.
[How did a mere human manage to rear up a Marshal grade being?]
Each and every single one of the soldiers with ‘Marshal’ grade acting as the Shadow Sovereign’s hands and feet could be considered as destruction personified.
The Sovereign of Frost couldn’t have imagined that it would see a Marshal grade creature today and failed to hide its astonishment. In the meantime, Beru had arrived right before the Queen of Insects, the target for his unquenchable rage.
[I must punish an unruly child that can’t even recognise his own mother!]
“Kiiiieehhk, shut up, you crazy wench!”
[What did you say?!]
The resident of the Chaos World and the master of all insects living there, the Sovereign of Plagues got triggered by the former ant king’s statement.
Beru ably dodged an attack from the Insect Queen and took aim at the centre of the insects swarming together to form a single body before screeching out with his magical energy.
The former ant king’s thunderous roar forced the insects to fall off from the Queen’s body in an instant, causing the real body of the Sovereign of Plagues hiding within to briefly reveal itself.
It was a humanoid female with rotting, distorted skin, and a pair of empty eye sockets filled with wriggling maggots.
The Sovereign of Plagues displayed violent rage against the detestable former ant king that dared to bare its fangs at its original owner.
The screech from the Insect Queen resounded out loudly enough to tear asunder the heavens, and Beru was forced back with no way to block the attack.
He was pushed far, far back before he managed to regain his balance and floated back down to the ground.
“Kiiechk, kyahk, kyaahk.”
While Beru was shaking his head left and right, a heavy groan leaking out of his mouth….
The Queen of Insects had managed to recall the bugs back to rebuild its giant body once more.
‘Okay, that’s good.’
Jin-Woo nodded his head after watching the exchange between those two.
Of course, he knew that Beru wouldn’t last long. The enemy was far too strong for that. However, if he could just steal away the attention of one of these three….
While Beru was fighting against the Queen, Jin-Woo shifted his eyes back to the other two Sovereigns. The tension hidden within their eyes was transmitted in the air, and he could clearly sense it.
The amount of time Beru could buy him wasn’t much.
So, move faster than anticipated!
Jin-Woo dashed towards the Sovereign of Frost with all his power.
The impact force from each and every one of his steps destroyed the ground below. The Sovereign of Frost glared at Jin-Woo making a beeline towards him and created a sharp ice spear between its two hands.
But, just before he collided with his target, Jin-Woo abruptly changed his direction and leapt towards the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs, instead.
The Sovereign of Beastly Fangs was getting ready to counter the moment Jin-Woo attacked its fellow Sovereign, but it flinched in nasty surprise at this stunning movement.
By a mere whisker, the beast managed to block Jin-Woo’s shortsword by nothing but sheer primal instinct. Its eyes shook hard.
Jin-Woo could only click his tongue as their blades remained locked like this.
He was planning to fatally wound this beast-like thing after making it assume that he was aiming for the ancient Ice Elf, instead. The reflexes of the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs were faster than Jin-Woo’s expectation.
However, it wasn’t as if it was a total waste of time. He sensed the creature getting flustered just then.
‘I must push this b*stard back like this.’
In the blink of an eye, he gripped the Kamish’s Wrath in reverse grip and rained down a barrage of powerful attacks.
The horrifying sounds of air tearing up resounded throughout the area as the ultra-sharp blades left behind countless cut marks in the surroundings.
Clang!! Khang! Claaang!! Cah-hang!! Clang!!
The beast became fully occupied with defending against Jin-Woo’s shortswords. Step by step, the creature was pushed back as it gradually lost out to his speed. The look of panic began clouding its face.
Jin-Woo sensed this sharp killing intent right behind him and urgently tilted his torso out of the way. The Sovereign of Frost thrust its ice spear and it slid past the location where his waist had been, barely missing him.
The ancient Ice Elf had entered the fray between Jin-Woo and the beast.
For the brief moment their eyes met, Jin-Woo discovered this incredibly heavy enmity from the eyes of the Elf b*stard.
The grating noises of grinding teeth leaked out from Jin-Woo’s mouth.
He slapped away the ice spear with his shortsword and quickly closed the distance as the Sovereign of Frost’s posture crumbled from the after-effects of the weapon shaking loose in its grip.
He swung his blade, hoping to slice up the arrogant eyes of the creature, but regrettably, he missed by a hair’s breadth. Instinctively pulling its head back to escape the danger, the expression on the ancient Ice Elf crumpled into something unsightly.
‘Too bad, but….’
What followed after the attack was to defend. Jin-Woo ably blocked the beast’s blade as if he knew it was coming.
Blocked again by a whisker; however, there was no time to sigh in relief after blocking the attack. The Sovereign of Frost grasped its spear again and commenced with its counterattack. The beast, too, came at him with its own barrage of attacks.
At the back, the Sovereign of Frost.
From the front, the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs.
Scary attacks from the two monsters possessing powers on another level rained down on him.
Clang! Claaang!! Clang, clang, clang!! Claaang!! Claaang! Clang, clang, clank, clang, clank, clang!!
Two lengthy shortswords flashed about like bolts of lightning to either block or deflect all attacks coming from the two monsters.
Jin-Woo’s movements had now firmly surpassed the limits of one’s vision and they resembled just one long afterimage. It even looked as if he was blending into the already-blurry shapes of the two Sovereigns.
It went without saying that he couldn’t possibly have seen every single attack coming in from his front and back, and respond to them in time with nothing but his eyes.
However, he could see something else, and that was the flow of each incoming attack. Things like pre-movement, the eyes, breathing, muscles twitching, the direction of magic energy, etc.
His sensory perception pushed to the absolute limit didn’t miss out on a single little thing and accurately read each and every one of the enemies’ attacks.
‘….I can see it.’
That was why, just a little bit more! If he could go a little bit faster and surpass these b*stards…
‘Faster, faster, faster, faster, faster!’
As the countless hits were exchanged, he got faster and faster. The complexions of the two Sovereigns fighting Jin-Woo hardened more and more.
‘But, how…. how could this….?!’
‘It’s impossible! This human can’t be fully utilising the power of the Shadow Sovereign!!’
But that wasn’t it. Their enemy had exceeded the limits of humanity and was evolving further and further right before their eyes. That’s when the two Sovereigns remembered it – the fear they held towards the strongest king that ruled the Chaos World.
And this happened around the same time.
Jin-Woo crossed blades with the weapons of both Sovereigns and then, with nothing but his physical strength, shoved them both far away.
Shock and astonishment quickly dyed the expressions of the two Sovereigns.
Lennart Niermann was sure of it now.
He was sure that there was no one else around here that could chase after the battle of those three with their bare eyes except himself, as long as the grievously-wounded Thomas Andre remained lying on the ground while being treated by the Healers surrounding him.
Even then, he couldn’t clearly chase after Jin-Woo’s movements with his eyes.
Only sighs of admiration kept leaking out of his mouth.
Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was not being pushed back by an inch even though he was fighting against the ‘beast’ that subdued the Special Authority-rank Tanker with brute strength, as well as a monster that froze up the vast ground with a single breath.
And soon, Hunter Seong’s shape simply melted into thin air and only the series of unending metallic clangs reverberated around the battlefield.
It was as if there was a violent storm whipping about only around where he was.
Thomas Andre couldn’t win against his curiosity, roused up from all those suspicious explosive noises, and had to ask.
“….What is going on?”
Lennart murmured with disbelieving voice, unable to tear his gaze away from Jin-Woo.
“It’s as if….”
If the monsters capable of destroying the world were engaged in an almighty dogfight, would it create a situation similar to this one?
“….I’m looking at the end of the world.”
Lennart spat out his genuine thought stewing in his head, not even bothering to dress it up in fancy words, and shook his head. The sole silver lining in this dark cloud was the fact that one of the three happened to be on the side of humanity.
It was then.
Jin-Woo heard Beru’s scream and his head snapped in that direction.
The former ant king was being trampled under the Queen of Insect’s foot and was putting up a desperate struggle to escape, but it was proving to be inadequate.
At that moment, Jin-Woo’s eyes widened. Magical energy was leaving Beru’s body and his existence was gradually thinning out.
‘Could that be how the soldier attached to Thomas’s shadow was erased, too?’
Jin-Woo quickly slapped back the attacks of the two Sovereigns and tried to summon Beru back to his shadow.
[The designated target cannot be called back.]
[The designated target cannot be called back.]
The System repeated the same message over and over again like a dumb little parrot. Jin-Woo’s expression hardened.
He couldn’t afford to lose Beru like this. That guy was one of his most precious soldiers and at the same time, the greatest fighting power within the Shadow Army.
‘If Beru disappears and stops distracting the Queen of Insects, then this precarious balance will break down.’
This problem was also linked to his current battle as well. Jin-Woo once more shook off the ice spear and the blade heading his way and dashed towards the Queen of Insects.
Since the Queen was far too focused on destroying the most powerful Shadow Soldier, it discovered Jin-Woo’s approach a little too late.
Just like what Beru showed him, he concentrated his magical energy in his throat.
His loud yell, carrying a horrendous amount of magic energy, slammed into the insects wrapped around the Queen and blew them away. After its true visage was revealed once more, the Queen failed to disguise its fluster.
It hurriedly spat out a green-coloured liquid onto Jin-Woo’s face, but he simply activated ‘Ruler’s Authority’ to deflect it away. As for the obvious poison remaining in the air, his passive buff easily neutralised it.
[Effects from ‘Skill: Strong Poison’ have been detected in the surrounding air.]
[Effects of ‘Buff: Detox’ will now commence.]
[3, 2, 1…. Detoxification has been completed.]
The powers of the Sovereign of Plagues couldn’t threaten Jin-Woo in the slightest, and she was already within his attack radius. In that brief moment, a cold gleam flickered within his eyes.
‘Just now, the Sovereign of Frost didn’t die when its heart was pierced.’
There was a good chance it’d be the same story for this Sovereign of Plagues, too.
In that case – since he had no idea where this creature’s weakness was, he might as well continue to attack until he found it. Jin-Woo got even closer until he was within touching distance to the Queen of Insects and gripped his shortswords real tight.
The blades rained down like buckshots on the Queen of Insects and turned the creature’s entire body into a torn rag in an instant.
However, the maggots wiggled and tangled with each other inside the monster’s body to quickly restore its body.
It wasn’t a problem, though. If it possessed an ability to regenerate its body, then all he had to do was continuously pour out attacks that surpassed the rate of regeneration. That was all.
Jin-Woo chased after the Queen of Insects being knocked back and activated the skill, ‘Violent Slash’, over and over again.
The ‘Kamish’s Wraths’, carrying the jet-black aura, fired out without a single break like a gun with infinite ammo.
He activated ‘Violent Slash’ with all his might, repeatedly, until he completely disintegrated every little bit of flesh that the Queen of Insects could potentially regenerate.
[You have killed one of the Nine Sovereigns, the Sovereign of Plagues, ‘Querehsha’.]
The ecstasy of level-up messages filling up his vision still felt great.
However, when recalling the fact that he still had two more enemies aiming for his neck, he couldn’t lounge around feeling happy for himself.
Jin-Woo urgently tried to turn around towards the direction of the intense murderous intent in order to defend himself, but….
….His enemy was just a little bit quicker.
While he was preoccupied with killing the Sovereign of Plagues, someone rushed towards him and extended its long hand. Five separate strands of sharp wind blew in from behind his back.
Jin-Woo discovered five claws plunging past his chest.
The beastly Sovereign had completely transformed itself into a Werewolf and accurately stabbed Jin-Woo’s back with five blade-like claws on its right hand. All five had penetrated through his vital point. Jin-Woo’s body froze up at that moment.
The pair of ‘Kamish’s Wraths’ fell from Jin-Woo’s hands.
The Sovereign of Frost stood before him. Icy cold air spun and coagulated in the Ice Elf’s hand and created an ice dagger.
[This is the end.]
The ice dagger stabbed Jin-Woo in his belly.
Beru had barely regained his consciousness by then and cried out in anguish.
The ant soldier forced himself to stand back up on his unsteady legs but Jin-Woo simply shook his head at him. Even then, Beru extended his claws and tottered ungainly towards the Sovereign of Frost.
The despair and sorrow Beru felt was being transmitted in full to Jin-Woo as well. And that was why he didn’t want to see his ant soldier get erased at the hands of these Sovereigns.
Just before Jin-Woo could issue an order to return, it was now the turn of Beru to shake his head as tears fell from his eyes.
However, Jin-Woo still had Beru return to his shadow. Against his will, the former ant king reverted back to the shadow form and quietly merged with his master’s shadow.
Completely assured of its victory now, the ancient Ice Elf began moving that tree-bark-like skin to form a contorted grin.
[Is this as far as you can go, human?]
The b*stard leaned in closer to whisper in Jin-Woo’s ear.
[In that case, I guess you won’t be able to see it, then. You will not get to see the moment our armies set foot in this world. When that happens, the corpses of humans will form mountains, and their blood will form endless rivers.]
The Sovereign of Frost distanced itself from Jin-Woo’s ear and stared at his hardened expression before forming an insidious grin.
[However, this country you grew up in will be different. I shall personally freeze every single human on this land and make sure they suffer eternal hell, all because you walked among them. I shall ensure that they enjoy an existence neither living nor dead for all eternity.]
The icy coldness spread out from the dagger stabbing into his belly and froze up Jin-Woo’s body. As the icicle reached up to his face, his eyes continued to emit flames of sheer anger.
Even then, the Sovereign of Frost was smirking derisively.
[Yes, resent me endlessly in your death. That, too, will serve to please me even more.]
The Ice Elf yanked the dagger out and immediately, stabbed it into Jin-Woo’s heart. The icy blade oozing whitish light easily shattered his rib bones and accurately penetrated his heart.
The Sovereign of Frost confirmed that the human’s heart had been destroyed and pulled the dagger out. Jin-Woo powerlessly collapsed to the ground.
His head clattered on the hard surface and he felt this crippling vertigo. At the same time, he sensed his two enemies getting further away from him.
‘Not yet….I can still….’
He tried to move again, but he didn’t possess a single bit of energy left to even lift a finger. Along with the abrupt loss of all senses, his consciousness rapidly dimmed.
And everything he could see and hear became submerged within inky darkness.
The human’s heart finally stopped operating.
When that happened…
On top of the unmoving Jin-Woo, several System messages began floating up.
[HP of ‘Player’ has reached ‘0’.]
[‘Player’ has died.]
[‘Player’ is in possession of the ‘Black Heart’.]
[You have met all the requirements for ‘Passive Skill: (Unknown)’.]
[‘Passive Skill: (Unknown)’ has been activated.]
The Skills information window opened up by itself and a small change occurred to one of the Skills within the blinking ‘Passive’ column.
– (Unknown) Lv. MAX
– Tenacity Lv.1
– Master of Shortsword Lv. MAX
– Evolution Lv. MAX
– Tenacity Lv.1
– Master of Shortsword Lv. MAX