Once they dealt with the Centaurs, Kang Oh's party continued to hunt in the Black Forest.
They encountered other monsters such as Forest Ogres, which possessed incredible physical strength, and Swamp Crocos, which resembled crocodiles. They were all over level 400. The monsters weren't really that hard to kill, but they couldn't afford to lower their guard.
Kang Oh was hoping that his team would get used to hunting in the Black Forest, since they would eventually have to face Diak here. He was also hoping that their teamwork would improve.
As they made their way through the Black Forest, Kang Oh's party also discussed how they would defeat Diak.
"I can use a spell called Gravity Ball. If used well, it can slow down Diak," Soren said.
"Wouldn't using binding magic to keep it from moving be a good idea too?" Karin added.
"Eder, do you think you'll be able to cast a slow curse on it?" Kang Oh asked.
"If I use the AoE version, then I should be able to. But I'm not sure it'll work."
"Gravity Ball, Sand Bind, and a slow curse. It'd be great if we could use all three against it," Kang Oh said.
"There's something that worries me though," Darion said.
"What is it?"
"Me, you, and Mr. Sephiro are all physically fit, so we'll be able to respond if it attacks us, but... The twins and Mr. Eder might get taken out."
"I could summon a Sand Golem as soon as it shows up," Karin said.
"What if I make a bone fortress?" Eder asked.
"Yeah, let's think about it some more," Kang Oh said.
Kang Oh's party kept hunting, and eventually, the sun began to set.
"It's nighttime. Let's end it here for today. We're not ready to fight Diak yet."
At nightfall, the Black Forest became Diak's domain. Kang Oh's party wasn't ready to fight it yet, so leaving now was the correct call.
"Are we coming back tomorrow?" Soren asked.
"Yeah." Kang Oh planned on hunting here until they were ready to fight Diak.
"See you tomorrow."
His party members left one or two at a time, and Kang Oh ripped a return scroll.
* * *
It was D-Day.
Kang Oh and his teammates stared at the full moon. It was a good night for hunting!
"Let's go, shall we?" Kang Oh said.
Eder nodded his head, and the others stared at him resolutely.
Kang Oh had already turned on live film mode. First Hunter's contestants and its production crew were probably watching him right now. Several people would see it later down the line too.
'Let's go with confidence.'
People were normally more conscious when they knew people were watching them.
Kang Oh entered the Black Forest, and his teammates followed behind him.
The Black Forest contained several bizarrely twisted trees with sharp spikes. Thus, it looked like a scene out of a horror movie, and it only got worse once night came. It was as if graves and ghosts would suddenly pop out.
'I could never bring Soo Ah here.'
Soo Ah couldn't even watch B-grade horror movies, so he couldn't bring her to a place as scary as this.
Fortunately, neither Soren nor Karin were afraid of the forest. They had nerves of steel, and could watch horror movies without issue. Thus, there was no reason that they'd be afraid.
Anyhow, Kang Oh's party roamed through the forest in search of the silver-furred beast, Swift Diak.
Diak wasn't the first monster they encountered.
A black leopard stepped out of the shadows. It was called a Shadow Leopard, and it supposedly only appeared in the forest at night.
There were five of them in total.
They snarled and hid within the darkness. Befitting their name, Shadow Leopards could freely move through shadows.
The Shadow Leopards appeared beneath Karin and Soren's feet. The twins quickly pulled back, and Kang Oh and Darion rushed over and swung their weapons.
The battle had begun.
The Shadow Leopards weren't just quick, they were stealthy too. If you took your eyes off it for a second, then it would sink into the shadows and disappear. And if you lowered your guard even just a little bit, then it would reappear beneath your feet or in the shadow of the trees.
"Aht." Karin yelled in pain. She'd been swiped by a Shadow Leopard's sharp claws. Waryong's neck was also bitten too.
"Watch each other's backs," Kang Oh yelled.
His teammates fought crazily.
Eder cast various spells. The Shadow Leopards didn't give Sephiro the chance to shoot arrows, so he swung his bow at them or kicked them.
Soren and Karin were weak physically, but they cast quick spells. Darion moved flashily, wielding a gladius in either hand.
Kang Oh stood like an impregnable fortress; whenever a Shadow Leopard popped out, he'd respond with a mighty counterattack.
The battle continued for some time.
'What is this?' Kang Oh suddenly had a strange feeling. He instinctively raised his head and widened his eyes at what he saw.
A beast with shimmering silver fur watched them from the top of a tree, beneath the light of the full moon!
[You have discovered the Master of the Black Forest, the Moonlight Shard, Diak.]
"It's Diak!" Kang Oh yelled.
His surprised teammates quickly looked around, and eventually found the silver-furred beast.
"It really is Diak."
"T-The battle's not over yet."
"I'll let you know if Diak moves, so finish off the Shadow Leopards first," Kang Oh yelled.
Kang Oh kept his eye on Diak. Fortunately, Diak did the same; it watched Kang Oh and his party, but it didn't make any other moves.
'It's aloof, so it doesn't do things like surprise attacks.' Kang Oh recalled what Darion had told him. If his information was right, then it would explain why Diak wasn't doing anything.
'It'd be cowardly, so it won't attack us while we're fighting other monsters, huh?'
Was it because of its aloofness?
However, this was all just a hypothesis on his end. Perhaps it was just watching Kang Oh's party and collecting information on them.
Whatever the case, the best he could do was keep a close eye on it and make sure it didn't make any sudden moves. At the same time, he relied on his Hyper Intuition to fight off any Shadow Leopards that attacked him.
Kang Oh, who'd cleared Ubist's trial several times already, was used to having his sight cut off. Thus, it wasn't hard for him to fight without his eyes.
Kang Oh's blade and Karin's Sand Spear pierced through two Shadow Leopards, killing them. Then, the rest of the Shadow Leopards escaped through the shadows, believing that they couldn't win.
Kang Oh and his teammates couldn't follow them. Diak was right in front of them, after all!
"Commence operation! As planned, build a fortress..." Diak interrupted him by suddenly disappearing from the tree top.
"Damn it, he's coming!" Kang Oh yelled urgently.
All of a sudden...
"Aahk!" someone screamed.
"Karin!" Soren yelled.
Diak reappeared in-between their party, having bitten Karin's neck.
"No!" Kang Oh swung his sword as fast as he could.
[You have used Transcendent Blade.]
[A large amount of HP, MP, and Stamina has been spent.]
[Please keep an eye on your Stamina!]
The world began to slow. The only thing that moved at normal speed was his blade. Or that's how it should've been. Something else was moving normally within the slowed world.
It was Diak!
Diak ran off with Karin.
A flash of light.
Demon Sword Blood was swung so fast that it couldn't be seen. Despite that, it didn't hit Diak. It had been even faster than his sword.
Diak quickly widened the distance between them with Karin in tow. Huge shards of light kept falling from her neck, and Diak bit even harder.
Karin stopped moving and her body turned ashen. The Desert Fairy, Karin, had met her end so easily.
This was the first time he'd ever lost a teammate so quickly. However, this was only the beginning.
Diak vanished once more. Kang Oh responded with another Transcendent Blade.
It was rushing at Eder. Kang Oh swung his sword, faster than what should be possible, and also used Lightning Breath too. Right before it bit into Eder's neck, the snow-white blade unleashed a blast of lightning that struck its body head-on.
Diak's fur bristled, and sparks danced over its skin. It also rolled onto the floor two or three times. But then, its body glowed brilliantly like a star. Its scorched fur had been restored to its original state.
Kang Oh knew exactly what had happened.
It had a special characteristic that increased its healing and quickly removed status ailments like paralysis.
"Arise!" Eder just barely regained his composure and yelled.
He built a fortress that protected Soren, Sephiro, Waryong, and himself. It was like a giant cage.
Originally, Karin would've added her sand magic to fortify the fortress, but... Karin had died right out of the gate, so the plan had gone astray from the very start.
Would this bone fortress be able to stop Diak's attacks?
Diak moved. Kang Oh lost him again.
If it'd been aiming for him, then his Hyper Intuition would have warned him and he would've been able to handle it, but it was aiming for Darion.
However... Darion's gladius shined. It was like a flash of light!
Diak fell to the floor, spurting shards of light.
'Transcendent Blade!' Kang Oh's eyes widened. That's right. Darion had just used Transcendent Blade.
Transcendent Blade was Master Gladiator, Burkan's secret move, so it made sense that Darion would be able to use it. However, one's swordsmanship had to be at high-rank in order to use it. In other words, Darion's swordsmanship had already gone up to high-rank!
Kang Oh couldn't hide his astonishment. He hadn't had high hopes for Darion, but he'd managed to surprise him. But that only lasted for a short period of time.
He focused on Diak once more.
"Haahp!" Kang Oh quickly swung his sword at the downed beast.
However, it was a trap. It was as if it'd been waiting for this moment. Diak suddenly stood up, avoided his blade, and bit his neck.
His Hyper Intuition had warned him, but it didn't matter if he couldn't react in time.
Like right now...
Diak's sharp teeth bit into Kang Oh's neck. It was a game, so it wasn't that painful, but it was a scary feeling; it was like he was getting a shot.
Ding, ding, ding!
The warning bells rang in his mind. He also received an actual system message stating that his HP was dropping too.
'Damn it!' Kang Oh gritted his teeth and swung his sword.
It was a close range aura attack. However, Diak quickly moved out of the way!
Ultimately, the golden light struck the ground.
"Hoo." Kang Oh rubbed the bitten area with his off-hand. He was almost sure that the path ahead would be nothing but trouble.Previous Chapter Next Chapter