The Enraged Lava Spirit, Curis, swung its open palm as if it were swatting a fly. Kang Oh moved to the side, avoiding its attack, and then diagonally swung Ubist.
His blade unleashed a jet-black wave. Curis shielded itself with its arm, causing the appendage to blacken.
"Ugh." Kang Oh scowled as Curis's blackened arm hit him. It felt as hard as a diamond.
'It can harden its body, huh. In that case...'
Kang Oh leapt into the air and swung downwards.
A white line followed his blade's path. All of a sudden, however, an unexpected system message popped up.
[Proficiency in Slash has reached 100%.]
[Slash has risen to high-rank.]
[Slash has become more powerful.]
[Slash leaves behind a wound, and also causes the target to bleed.]
'Now that I think about it, I haven't checked my proficiency in a while. When I have the time, I should check my other skills too.'
High-Rank Slash! What a joyous occasion. But now wasn't the time to celebrate. After all, he was battling Curis right now.
Curis swung its fist.
Furious Flame Cannon!
Mighty flames came flying at Kang Oh. He threw his body out of the way, but flames rose from the ground too.
"Tch." Kang Oh shielded himself with Ubist. Unfortunately, the flames passed over his sword.
[You have taken fire damage.]
[The Draka set has reduced fire damage by 30%.]
Kang Oh tried to extinguish the flames by roughly dusting off his sword.
Curis suddenly closed in and swung its fist. It was like a giant mace. To make matter worse, it was completely coated in flames.
'Too late to dodge!' Kang Oh swung Demon Sword Ubist upwards.
A giant blast of darkness spun violently, and then surged.
The darkness made contact with Curis's fist.
Curis put everything it had into its fist, and slowly pushed it back. Its strength was tremendous.
Before it reached him, its fist shattered into tiny pieces.
Everlasting Darkness hit Curis's face, and it reeled from the impact.
Kang Oh kicked off the floor and leapt into the air. Then, he raised his sword and swung downwards.
The golden tiger dashed towards Curis, but it quickly hardened its entire body.
A refreshing breeze blew, which quickly evolved into a raging whirlwind. Curis resisted as hard as it could. It ripped through the whirlwind, swung its undamaged fist, and unleashed a flame pillar.
Kang Oh dodged the flame pillar and closed in. He quickly switched to Demon Sword Blood.
'A weakness!' His Hyper Intuition was guiding him towards Curis's dangling wrist.
Kang Oh stubbornly aimed at that area with his snow-white blade.
Cut, thrust, cut, chop!
Swish, slash, swish, slash!
He'd landed four attacks in a single breath. Huge shards of light burst from its body, which were promptly absorbed by Blood.
Curis wailed and then thrust its fist.
It unleashed a fierce, fan-shaped wave of fire. Kang Oh pierced through the flames and got beside it. The system reminded him that he'd taken some fire damage, but he didn't care. He was now within striking distance of Curis's weak point: its dangling wrist.
"Haht!" Kang Oh swung Blood.
Where his sword went, a white line followed. The upgraded Slash seemed to cleave through space too.
Slash left behind a clear, vertical wound on Curis's wrist. Shards of light, about the size of a thumb, periodically fell from the wound.
'It must be causing it to bleed.'
High-Rank Slash gained the 'Bleed' ability. Then, something he hadn't expected happened. The shards of light, a result of Curis's bleeding, were absorbed by Blood! Moreover, they caused a star to manifest on Blood's blade!
'Bleed and Blood! They have good synergy.'
Slash would allow him to gain stacks more easily; thus, he'd be able to maximize Blood's attack power even faster than before!
'I'll be able to use Blood Bomb more often too!'
Soon enough, fifteen red stars appeared on Blood.
Blood red energy exploded from Kang Oh's body.
Curis stumbled. Kang Oh pierced through the resulting dust cloud and repeatedly swung Blood with both precision and speed. That wasn't all. Darkness Strike activated too. A red wave, as thick and dark as blood, struck Curis head-on.
Kang Oh didn't stop there. Darkness Strike had fully stacked Blood.
Kang Oh bombarded it. Curis couldn't withstand his relentless assault forever; eventually, its body crumbled into pieces.
[You have defeated the Enraged Lava Spirit, Curis.]
[You have defeated a monster that lives in an incredibly dangerous area (Despia).]
[You have received additional experience and proficiency.]
"Oh, it dropped some equipment." Something was glittering near Curis's corpse. They were gloves with a flame pattern engraved on them.
Kang Oh immediately picked up the item and placed it into his inventory. He wanted to take a closer look at it, but now wasn't the time. After all, he was surrounded by an inferno, and the dwarves were still fighting for their lives.
He suddenly heard a desperate call for help. Kang Oh raised his head, and saw a certain Dwarven Warrior at risk of being killed by the Enraged Lava Spirit, Baltion.
Kang Oh quickly extended his hand. Darkness Chain shot out of his hand and wrapped around the warrior's waist.
"Haahp!" Kang Oh reduced the length of the chain and forcefully pulled. In an instant, the Dwarven Warrior's body was pulled towards him.
Baltion's fist struck the area where the dwarf had just been. If Kang Oh had been even a little late, then the Dwarven Warrior would've been flattened.
"Are you alright?" Kang Oh asked.
"T-Thanks!" the dwarf said.
[You have saved the life of the Dwarven Warrior, Bedrock.]
[Closeness with Bedrock has increased significantly.]
[Closeness with the Black Hammer Dwarves has increased slightly.]
'An increase in closeness!' Kang Oh's eyes glinted.
He needed to do whatever it took to increase his closeness with the Black Hammer Dwarves. When it was high enough, he would ask them to make him a demon sword. Fortunately, he'd just been shown a way to quickly increase his closeness with them.
Kang Oh took a look around. 'Are they any people, no, dwarves, in danger!?'
* * *
Kang Oh kept doing more than his fair share. With Eder's help, he was able to take down the Enraged Lava Spirit, Baltion, as well. In addition, Kang Oh saved two Dwarven Warriors, which increased his closeness with the Black Hammer Dwarves.
Ultimately, the expedition force defeated the spirits.
"What about the lava wave?" Randeloff asked Book.
"Good. Good job everyone. I know it's tough, but let's pick up the loot and dismantle the spirits. Then we can take a break."
The Dwarven Warriors did as they were told.
"How many casualties?"
"None," Book immediately said.
"None?" Randelhoff looked shocked.
They had fought the named Lava Spirits before, and had lost at least one or two warriors each time; at most, they'd lost three or four warriors. But he wasn't hearing things; Book had definitely said 'none'. Obviously he'd be surprised.
"It's because of the health potions and them." Book pointed at Kang Oh and Eder. "Especially Mr. Kang Oh. He saved several of our warriors. Mr. Eder's magic was incredibly helpful too," he added.
"Mm. I should go and thank them." Randelhoff approached Kang Oh and Eder. "Good work."
"It was nothing. It was a thrilling battle." Kang Oh grinned.
"It was my pleasure," Eder replied humbly.
"Thanks for saving our warriors." Randelhoff slightly bowed his head.
[Closeness with the Black Hammer Dwarves' Chieftain, Randelhoff, has increased slightly.]
[Closeness with the Black Hammer Dwarves has increased slightly.]
"Oh, right! Here." Kang Oh pulled out the flame pattern gloves from his inventory. "The Lava Spirit, Curis, dropped this."
They'd agreed to split the loot after the expedition was over with; that's why he was giving Randelhoff the gloves.
"You killed Curis on your own. Those gloves are yours to keep."
"I won't argue with you." Kang Oh wasn't exactly a giving person.
"I'll be counting on you from now on."
"I'll do my best!" Kang Oh yelled stiffly. 'I'll do my very best until you make a demon sword for me!'
"Me too," Eder said curtly.
Randelhoff nodded his head and returned to Book.
Kang Oh stared at the gloves in his hand. "Item appraisal."
[Lava Spirit's Gloves]
Gloves that contain the power of a Lava Spirit. The design is quite refined.
+ Metal Coat: Hardens your skin. Doubles your defense, but slows your movements.
+ Flame Cannon: Unleashes a flame pillar. MP Cost: 1000. Cooldown: 10 minutes.
Abilities: Defense +210, Physical +50, Magic +40, Fire Resistance +10%.
Minimum Requirements: Level 350, Fire Resistance 40%.
"Not bad." Kang Oh passed the gloves to Eder. "Want to buy them?"
Ooh, my financier!
Eder looked at the gloves and shook his head. "I don't need them."
"Ahem, alright." Kang Oh stashed the Lava Spirit's Gloves into his inventory.
The expedition advanced forward.
* * *
As always, the lava wave came and went. More Lava Spirits spawned, and the number of Lava Spirits that evolved into named monsters increased too.
It became tougher and tougher for the expedition force.
Kang Oh wasn't able to save every single one of the Dwarven Warriors. They started to incur casualties, one or two at a time. Still, they weren't in such bad shape that they had to retreat. They killed every single Lava Spirit they encountered and pressed on.
The expedition force made it past the bridge.
"This is the first time we've gotten across the bridge," Randelhoff said.
They'd only gotten about halfway across the bridge before; they'd fight some Lava Spirits there and then retreat. However, the expedition force had finally managed to make it all the way across! It was all due to their plentiful supplies, as well as Kang Oh and Eder's assistance.
Anyhow, the expedition force stood before a black, gaping maw. It was the entrance to a cave, which led to an area that no one had ever stepped foot in before!Previous Chapter Next Chapter