Kang Oh and Asu exited the portal, reappearing within the Quiet Lavero Jungle.
"Wow, it's a real jungle."
Asu marveled at the sight.
"The jungle’s huge, and the monsters here are around your level. It's also a hidden dungeon, so we won't encounter other players here either..."
That was why he'd brought her here.
"It's perfect, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is."
She gave him a double thumbs up as if one hand wasn't enough.
"Alright then, go on and hunt. I'm not going to babysit you this time," Kang Oh said firmly.
"That's what I’m talking about."
Asu wanted to get stronger by herself.
"Mm. Good luck."
Asu strode forward.
One step became two, and two became three. Soon, she disappeared into the overgrown thicket.
'She's good enough not to die here. Plus, a boss as dangerous as Baramut doesn't exist here anymore.'
Kang Oh stared at the area where she'd disappeared and then turned around.
* * *
The first monster that she encountered was a wolf. To be more specific, she encountered eight black wolves.
'I think they're about level 80.'
She was no longer a beginner player; Asu had faced off against wolves before.
Asu's sword radiated light, which wrapped around her entire body.
"...I will always be honorable."
She cast Knight's Vow, which increased her attack power and defense.
Did this signal the start of the battle?
One of the wolves came dashing towards her.
The black wolf, exposing its scarlet gums, lunged with its sharp teeth.
Asu carefully thrust her sword.
She struck its neck, causing red shards of light fall from the wound.
Then, another wolf attacked her from behind.
She quickly turned her body, evading the wolf's attack, and swung diagonally.
White feathers softly flew into the air. At the same time, her necklace activated, causing an ice flower to bloom upon the wolf's body.
She bent down, and then thrust forward. Her golden hair fluttered through the air.
The ice flower shattered, and the resulting ice shards shredded the wolf's body.
Asu calmly countered another attacking wolf.
Her sword fell upon the wolf.
However, another two wolves attacked simultaneously, aiming for both her feet.
She instinctively swung her sword at the right wolf and tried to pull her left foot back, but she was too late.
Asu grimaced. She was in-game, so it didn't hurt that much, but her ankle still throbbed.
[You have taken damage.]
A lump of white shards fell from her ankle.
She was about to counterattack with her sword, but then remembered that Kang Oh often incorporated kicks and punches into his attacks.
'Let’s give it a try!'
She forcefully swung her right leg.
Her thin, golden boot struck the wolf's face.
Not only was the sound a breath of fresh air, but she felt a tingle on her spine as well!
'This is fun!'
Asu got excited.
She kicked off the floor, rushed forward, and crazily swung her sword.
Her necklace, which caused her weapon to emanate cold energy, made it so that the more attacks she landed, the slower the wolves became.
Plus, she would weave in punches and kicks whenever she got the chance.
'It's easier to attack repeatedly when I add punches and kicks in!'
At that moment...
One of the wolves pushed into her side. She responded too late and took damage as a result.
'Oppa dodged them with ease... It really is a lot harder than it looks.'
Asu removed a red HP potion hanging from her belt, and drank it all down.
[HP has been recovered.]
[You cannot use another HP potion for 30 seconds.]
Asu, who'd topped off her HP, refocused on attacking.
Whenever her sword flew through the air, the wolves would either scream or fall.
Ultimately, the wolves' heads fell to the floor one or two at a time. The last wolf fell flat on the ground, an ice flower blooming on its body.
Asu caught her breath. Then, she looked at the wolves she'd just defeated.
"I think I did a good job if I do say so myself," Asu muttered, leaning on her sword.
Asu brandished her sword.
"Alright. Let's go again!"
She pushed through the thicket, looking for more prey to hunt.
Asu encountered all sorts of monsters, like purple rattlesnakes, giant wasps, ants the size of large dogs, monsters frogs with their sticky tongues outstretched, and even tigers!
She fought against all the monsters that the Lavero Jungle had to offer.
Some of them were difficult to fight because of their poison like the rattlesnake, while others were more like the tiger; brutal, ferocious, and higher-leveled beasts. Nonetheless, Asu overcame them all by herself.
By the time she'd logged off, her level had gone up four times.
It was the definition of explosive growth.
* * *
The next day...
Asu, who'd finished the day's tasks, logged into Arth late into the night.
- Oppa, I had a lot to do today, so I only just got on.
- There's a training center near Javen Square. It's called the Rain Training Center. Can you meet me there?
- Ok. I know where it is. I'll be there in a minute.
A short while later...
Kang Oh and Asu met each other within the gym, which was set up with scarecrows.
"Have you already gotten the Tenacity side stat?" Kang Oh asked.
One could obtain the side stat, Tenacity, by hitting a scarecrow repeatedly in this training center.
"I got it a long time ago."
Asu had referenced several articles as she built up her character. Thus, she'd already obtained the Tenacity side stat, which was considered essential for a beginner.
"You have? Anyway, it's late, so let's spar today instead of hunting."
Asu's eyes gleamed and began to warm up.
"I'm ready," Kang Oh said, drawing his sword with his right hand.
[Asu has requested for a spar. Would you like to accept?]
As soon as he was finished, Asu attacked him.
Her blade, which emanated white light, came for his neck!
"Your side's wide open!" Kang Oh said calmly, and simultaneously swung his sword as quick as lightning.
His demon sword struck Asu's side.
She was beady-eyed like a deer in headlights. One strike had cost her 80% of her HP.
Asu quickly retreated, but it was too late.
This time, Kang Oh thrust at her shoulder.
[Asu's HP has fallen below 10%.]
[Winner: Kang Oh]
"One more time!" Asu said, sporting an angry expression.
She had lost without being able to do anything.
Kang Oh and Asu sparred three times in a row. Of course, her defeat nor the process that led to her defeat had changed.
The duel would end with just two swings of Kang Oh's sword.
Asu refused to give up. She wasn't trying to win; rather, she was trying to whatever she could to land a single hit.
Kang Oh raised his hand.
"Do you know why you lost?"
"Because I'm a lower level."
"I'm not skilled enough."
"Do you really need anything else?"
"Your skill and level are secondary; your primary problem is that you're too aggressive," Kang Oh said.
"Yeah. You focus too much on offense, so your defense is poor."
Based on her expression, it was clear that she couldn't understand him.
Upon seeing her expression, Kang Oh realized that he'd need to explain in more detail.
"Your offense is better than others at your level. However, your defense is much worse than them as well."
Asu sported a complicated expression. It seemed like she was coming to several conclusions.
"What do I do then?" Asu asked, seeking advice.
"You have three choices. I highly recommend increasing your defense. You're a Knight, so start carrying a shield and learn shield skills."
"I don't want to."
"Carrying a shield doesn't look cool," Asu firmly said.
'Eder would be sad if he heard her say that.'
Kang Oh grinned as he thought of the four color skull shield wielding Eder.
"You could also supplement your defense. You don't need to equip a shield; you could learn evasion techniques, or survival/defensive techniques instead."
"Hmm. What's the last one?"
"Increasing your attack power so much that you can kill your enemies in one hit. It's basically 'Either you die or I die.'."
"I'd rather not. That sounds too unrefined. I'll choose option #2," Asu said.
"Option #2 splits into two paths as well. You can either choose to increase your evasion or reduce the damage you take."
"I'll go with evasion. If I wanted to reduce damage taken, then I'd carry a shield instead," Asu decided unhesitatingly.
"That's why I told you that carrying a shield was your best choice."
"I don't like shields though."
Kang Oh felt sorry for her, as she had forgone the easy path for a much harder path instead.
That's why he tried convincing her once more.
"You do know that evasion requires extremely fine control, right? Not only that, but if you make a mistake, then you can take some serious damage."
"I can do it. No, I will do it."
Her eyes didn't quiver in the least. She had already made up her mind.
"Alright. Then you'll learn some evasion abilities to supplement your defense."
"First, go to the Knight Guild and learn Basic Evasion and Fleet Footwork."
Kang Oh had also learned these two skills; these two skills were integral for any player going for an evasion build.
"Basic Evasion and Fleet Footwork."
"And this is just my personal recommendation... There's a Knight/Swordsman class skill called 'Sword Parry'. Learn this too. You won't regret it."
"What's Sword Parry?"
"If you use it at the right time, then you can parry your opponent's attack."
If Kang Oh's demon sword hadn't been a greatsword, then he would've learned Sword Parry too.
However, it was more advantageous to make use of the greatsword's width and use it to block than parry with it.
On the other hand, Asu wielded her sword with one hand, so learning Sword Parry would be a good move for her.
"Basic Evasion, Fleet Footwork, and Sword Parry. Just these three skills, right?"
"I'll come back after I've learned them."
Asu headed for the Knight Guild.
A short while later, Asu rushed back.
"Let's spar again. This time, focus on dodging my attacks."
The spar began.
"Don't try to deflect my attacks with brute force. Take a close look at the direction your opponent's attack is coming from."
Kang Oh aimed for a weak spot that Hyper Intuition had pointed out to him. Asu managed to control her strength well enough to just barely dodge his attack.
She turned her body.
His blade grazed her thigh.
"I-I dodged it!" Asu exclaimed happily.
"I'm going for my next attack."
Kang Oh kept up the momentum and followed up with another attack.
He aimed for her wrist this time!
She didn't need to yell out the skill's name, but did so anyway.
Her slender sword clashed with Kang Oh's jet-black blade, and the resulting friction created sparks.
Kang Oh felt like the force of his blow had been directed elsewhere.
This was Sword Parry!
Since his sword had been redirected, he briefly lost Asu.
She quickly transitioned from a defensive to an offensive posture and aimed for Kang Oh's side.
Of course, his overpowered Hyper Intuition and evasion allowed him to easily dodge her attack.
Then, he counterattacked.
Kang Oh carefully controlled his strength and swung his sword.
Asu rolled onto the floor and dodged his blade by a hair's breadth.
As they continued taking turns attacking and evading, Asu started getting the hang of evading.
Well, that didn't mean the result of the spar was any different.
Asu, who'd lost again, sported a disappointed expression.
"Let's stop here. Good job."
"What's your schedule like tomorrow?"
"I'm a guest on a radio program in the morning, but other than that I'm free."
"Then let's level you up in the jungle tomorrow."
"Ok, that sounds good."
Asu smiled at the chance to go hunting tomorrow.
"Have you read over the materials I sent you on the Tarnatose Prison?"
"Yes. I've been reading them over in my spare time."
Kang Oh smiled satisfyingly.
"Good. Let's make Yoon Se Hwa and Park Tae Gyu regret challenging us!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter