<Chapter 42. Sun God's Hero - 1>
The protagonist awakens in the midst of danger and bravely defeats the final boss; he's embraced by the princess and then goes home with everyone... That stuff only happened inside comics, Lee Shin Woo realized.
Even though he'd gained a new ability, there was no guarantee that he could take down the final boss with it. For example, against the Sun God Garuda in front of him!
Whenever the black and golden flames clashed, it would let off a deafening roar, as if the sky itself was collapsing. The dungeon had already reached its limit. The explosions caused by the golden flames, which distorted and erased cause and effect, had an indirect effect on the dungeon, causing it to collapse.
Whereas Lee Shin Woo was in the heart of these raging flames. Whenever he clashed with the Garuda, he would grit his teeth at the resulting shock.
It had been imprisoned for hundreds of years, and had been contaminated by the undead curse. And because of its fight with the Dark Flame Ghosts, its magic had declined; it was in the worst possible situation. Despite that, it wasn't being pushed back very far in a head-to-head confrontation with Lee Shin Woo.
[Time remaining: 317 seconds]
Three minutes had already passed. If he couldn't beat it by then, then he'd be completely screwed. If it was this tough fighting it while in the Titan, then how would he fare without it? He wouldn't get out of this losing just one or two lives.
'As expected of a level 9 Garuda. It's strong. Really strong.'
Now that he thought about it, he felt the exact same way when he'd first met the Archmage. One didn't level up purely through an accumulation of stats; one needed to achieve enough feats as well.
He'd completely changed his way of thinking to reach level 8, but the Garuda had also grown both physically and mentally to reach level 9, so much so that it was difficult for him to comprehend the difficulty. Lee Shin Woo thought he'd be able to defeat such a high level entity by just matching its stats, but he was wrong.
Lee Shin Woo gritted his teeth, as if to dispel all his hesitation, and thrust his sword. His sword, enveloped in flames, was threatening enough to instill a sense of fear in any strong foe, but the Garuda merely expelled flames from its body and took his greatsword head-on.
It was always like this. Lee Shin Woo was used to fighting against stronger foes, and swung his sword so that the Garuda couldn't dodge. However, the Garuda took his strike head-on, as if never intending to avoid his attack.
Even if he attacked again, the Garuda wouldn't be hurt. The shining flames would be diminished for a mere second; they would return to full strength in but a moment.
'I can't even inflict a little damage to it like this.'
During their 3 minute long clash, Lee Shin Woo had come to a realization. That it didn't move its body to fight; it only controlled its shining flames to fight.
The shining flames, which enveloped its body, was both a peerless shield and weapon. It would naturally change the shape of its flame to match Lee Shin Woo's attacks, and it could effortlessly change from offense to defense. Thus, Lee Shin Woo realized that it was far greater at handling its innate element than he was.
'Most of its stats are probably in magic. It's completely optimized for fighting with its element alone. But there's one saving grace: that maintaining its shining flame drains its health and magic simultaneously...'
As Zenon had said before, the Garuda had transcended its physical body, and was halfway to becoming a spirit. Therefore, its fighting style resembled that of a spirit using an element, rather than a living being with a physical body. And whether its power came from natural law, magic, a natural element, or an innate element, its shining flames was an almighty ability that erased everything and anything!
He could understand why the Magic Emperor had imprisoned it within a barrier rather than fighting it. Rather, Lee Shin Woo thought, 'You're lucky the barrier lasted so long.' It was a conceptual barrier that could not be erased by the shining flames, so if he were to fight against the Magic Emperor, then he'd need to prepare some countermeasures. If he could survive, that is.
The Garuda seized the opportunity, unleashing dozens of shining flame spears, but with one swing of his greatsword, Lee Shin Woo was able to repel them without much difficulty.
Although his sword swing looked simple, it was actually quite complex; he loaded his dark flame into the magic wavelength and moved inscrutably, repelling the shining flame. It was a shocking sight, but Lee Shin Woo, who had managed to do such a feat, just gritted his teeth in fury.
'We're still at a stalemate, even after all this...!'
Now that he could use level 5 High Rank Dark Flame, he remained unscathed, but he had a time constraint. He had 280 seconds left before his time was up; he had to kill the Garuda within that time.
'There's a way I can beat it. Though it pisses me off that it's similar to what the Emperor came up with.'
If he could, Lee Shin Woo would've wanted to defeat it head-on with his dark flames. Since there was no better opponent than a foe of equal strength to test out and develop his innate element.
But that was a miscalculation. He'd promised himself that he wouldn't get conceited when obtaining great power, but he had been conceited ever since he thought he could beat the level 9 divine bird head-on. He was a level down and had just obtained an innate element. He had just realized this fact.
[...Fine. I'll throw away my useless pride, and return to who I used to be: someone who does anything to win.]
[Can we really call this guy the Sun God's hero...!?]
Lee Shin Woo hadn't been wasting time. He had been observing the Garuda's shining flame ever since it had fought against the Dark Flame Ghosts. And as a result, he concluded that... The way to win was extremely simple, unrefined, and somewhat pissed him off!
[So what is that simple and unrefined method? I'd appreciate it if you let me in on it, since I'm in the sword you keep smashing into it!]
[Fine. Let me explain.]
The Shining Flame was both a fusion element and an innate element. Thus, the price for using it was high. The more the Garuda (which was specialized in magic) expelled such flames, the more it exhausted its magic. In other words, all he needed to do was make it use up all of its magic. He could easily kill it if he just waited until it wasted all its magic!
That's probably what the Emperor was hoping for when he created this barrier. Although, it had recovered its energy through the undead curse...
[Everyone knows that! If we (spirits) use up the magic that makes up the source of our existence, then we die too!]
[That thing's too strong for me to kill it with any other method!]
Lee Shin Woo couldn't hold back and yelled. Likewise, Zenon lost his temper. Zenon gritted his teeth and asked.
[So how exactly are you going to go about this? At this rate, your armor will give out before its magic does!]
[Hoo. You're clueless. Everything I've done was to gain momentum...]
If he continued on like this, he'd never beat it. However, Lee Shin Woo still had a card to play. His innate skill, Wild Card, which he'd gained upon leveling up that combined all of his offensive skills!
[If you had something like that, you should've used it earlier!]
[Shut up. This skill isn't easy to use; it won't unleash its full power just because I want it to. I wanted to beat it with just my innate skills, but I couldn't activate Wild Card before. I needed time to gather info while I clashed with it.]
Wild Card, as its name might imply, transcended the limitations of active and passive skills. Thus, it was a skill that buffed all of his actions. Strictly speaking, he had constantly been using it up until now.
Whenever Lee Shin Woo swung his sword in an attempt to harm his foe, his attack would become much faster and more powerful than before. And it was all because of this skill. Lightning Sprint, Lightning Shadow, and Bursting Thunder, all his high rank combat skills dwelled within this skill. Thus, their buffs were included as well. But unlike them, he could use Wild Card with any element.
'But that's ultimately just the basic property of this skill. That's why it doesn't work unless I'm using my active combat skills, or using an element at the same time.'
Not only did it fuse several skills in order to explosively increase his offensive and defensive capabilities, but whenever he attacked, he could swiftly switch from a skill to an element. That alone made it an amazing ability, but that wasn't its true value.
[Wild Card - Innate Skill Lv1]
[The most offensive of the Joker's cards used to engrave their existence onto the world. When you're in a pinch, all of your abilities are fused together, allowing you to perform an almighty act which can surmount any obstacle, regardless of the circumstances you are in. All of your stats, characteristics, and skills are fused together, and that power is amplified. This skill grows when presented with a clear, indisputable victory.]
In a game, a wild card could change into any other card, but the fact that it could change wasn't very important. What was important was that one could 'win' as a result of its change.
Therefore, Wild Card didn't give him a 'method' to achieve some result, but would lead him to the result itself. In other words, it would lead him to 'victory'.
[So, in other words, you win just by using it!? Isn't that the strongest skill there is!?]
[You still don't get it.]
Nothing is free. Every skill had a price, and Wild Card was no exception. In order to be victorious in a game, one must first understand the game.
[There are four conditions to fully activating Wild Card.]
Understanding his abilities, understanding his enemy's abilities, understanding the situation he and his enemy are in, and understanding the win condition (the game's rules).
Missing any one of these would make the Wild Card a half-assed skill. Like Lee Shin Woo's battle with the Garuda.
[Then... Then, can you use the skill to its fullest now?]
Normally, he would have to use his innate element (which was a match made in heaven with Wild Card), Dark Shadow, to reverse cause and effect a few times to keep things going smoothly. However, his foe had such a specialized power that it had taken this long to set up the game.
But if he were to defeat the Garuda and obtain its shining flame as well, things would be different from now on. He would possess three innate elements; he was happy just thinking about it.
He didn't need to, but Lee Shin Woo decided to say it out loud to signal the start of his comeback.
Lee Shin Woo's greatsword rushed towards the Garuda a second time. The Garuda snorted, as if saying 'it'll be the same, no matter how many times you try' and ignited its shining flame.
At that moment, Lee Shin Woo's Combat Sense, Assimilation, Mana Bone, Soul Seeing Eye, Dark Flame, Rule of Bone, Bone Armory, High Rank Regeneration, Mana Acceleration... Acting, Disguise, and Instigate skills simultaneously activated.
The world was instantly filled with the dark flame covered greatsword. It wasn't a figure of speech. The vast dungeon clearing was filled with countless greatswords. These greatswords, armed with Dark Flame, the only power that could erase the shining flame, radiated darkness at their edge and aimed at the Garuda!
The Garuda was flustered and widened is eyes, yet it still ignited its shining flame, burning all of the greatswords. But in the blink of an eye, hundreds, no thousands of dark flame swords rushed towards it.
[I've already seen through all your abilities. Erase them all, if you can.]
Lee Shin Woo was still encased in the golem, with dark flames violently blazing atop it. The Garuda was furious, and expelled shining flames in every direction, as if saying 'I won't lose'. However, the golem before it remained unscathed.
No, it looked a little closer than before.
The show had already begun.Previous Chapter Next Chapter