Before he could even finish his thoughts, his interlocked hands were smashing down on Undying Diligence’s flopping body.
His body was reacting a step ahead of his head.
Because he knew.
All Army Commanders were monsters in their own regard, but this vampire was an immortal monster that was truly exhausting.
One couldn’t relax even when he stopped breathing, and they couldn’t stop attacking even if they smashed his organs into smithereens.
At least, not until the unique sign that could only be seen when an Army Commander died happened.
As such, Seol Jihu raised his interlocked hands once more. But suddenly, his field of vision shook and he fell backward.
Only after rolling on the ground a few times did scorching pain seize his back. His sides felt hot as well.
Vulgar Chastity glared at Seol Jihu with her blackened face. Her hair, which was long enough to touch the ground, was half-burnt off.
She had succeeded in breaking through Seo Yuhui’s obstructions and managed to land a blow.
“This crazy bitch.”
Seol Jihu muttered quietly and reached out. The Ice Spear, which was lying on the ground, stood up on its own and flew into his hand in a spinning motion.
Vulgar Chastity let out a curdling scream and flew toward him. A fierce wind brushed past his ears. She was flying with such speed and vigor that Seol Jihu could no longer ignore her. ‘Should I trust Seo Yuhui to take care of it?’ As he wondered briefly—
The clattering of chains scratched his ears.
Out of nowhere, an arrow flew in from the left, cutting through the air and hitting Vulgar Chastity’s ribs perfectly.
Vulgar Chastity screamed as she was knocked back.
The clattering of chains continued. Surprisingly, two arrows attached to chains flew at Vulgar Chastity. She quickly twisted her body and dodged the attack, but the arrows changed course as though they were alive and tried to bind her wings.
In the end, Vulgar Chastity hurriedly folded her wings and cried out in frustration.
“Why is the Star of Pride here!?”
Unsightly Humility, who managed to push the Sacred Empress back by an inch after a fierce exchange, lamented loudly.
He was experienced enough to know that the presence of these iron chain arrows meant that the Executor of Superbia had come to help, even if he wasn’t visible to them.
Looking around at the fortress, Unsightly Humility quickly realized what situation they were in.
Dozens of Valkyries were flying near the fortress gate.
The Star of Sloth had returned.
He didn’t think she would have fully recovered in such a short period of time, especially given the severity of her injuries. She must have forced herself to return to the battlefield.
The humans had sent the Executors as soon as they could afford to. This was the exact development that the Army Commanders had been wary of.
When they initially attacked the humans with no strategy other than pushing with an overwhelming force, they thought everything was going in their favor.
So how did things turn out like this?
Just as the very things they had been worrying about started to come to reality one by one—
As if to make matters worse, a horrible shriek suddenly resounded throughout heaven and earth.
The sound came from the backside of the valley. To be more precise, it was where the Nests were located.
Vulgar Chastity’s eyes shot open.
She immediately realized that she had lost control over the high-rank Nests. No, she couldn’t even communicate with them! Such a thing was impossible unless the Nests were destroyed.
Soon, a group of people appeared in the distant valley where black smoke was rising up.
It was too far to be clearly visible, but recognizing the energy encompassing the entire valley, the two Army Commanders became dazed.
The stunned Vulgar Chastity muttered meekly as if she no longer had the energy to be angry.
“The Star of Avarice… didn’t he go back…?”
The stubborn young man, who had insisted on going back while citing a contract violation, looked down at the battlefield and grinned.
“What are you so happy about?”
When one of the female Servants behind him asked, he quickly erased his smile.
“Nothing. I was just wondering what those Army Commanders must be thinking right now.”
“God damn it. I understand wanting to trick the Army Commanders, but couldn’t you have told us about it beforehand?”
“To deceive your enemies, you first have to deceive your allies.”
“What’s the point in deceiving both? If you were going to help, you should have done so from the beginning. Even if you show up now, people will just say you’re an opportunist. If you had at least let the other Executors know beforehand—”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m used to criticisms.”
With a clear reply, the Star of Avarice pulled his glasses up.
“Plus, I had a feeling that the Parasites would find out if I said it beforehand. Since the Army Commanders would have reacted accordingly, tricking them would have been meaningless.”
“That again? You really think someone is collaborating with the Parasites and carrying out the Parasite Queen’s orders to instill chaos among humans?”
“I don’t have any definitive evidence for now, so it’s just a conspiracy theory. But I think there is a possibility. How can Paradise be in such a mess otherwise?”
After saying so, the Executor of Avaritia opened the book in his hand.
The woman, who was grumbling endlessly, widened her eyes when she saw the quickly-flipping book pages.
“W-what are you doing? Here…? Didn’t you do all this so you could destroy all of the Nests in one go?”
“That was the original plan—”
The young man’s profound gaze became fixed on the battlefield.
“But there’s been a miscalculation. Ah, in a good way.”
The woman tilted her head with a confused look.
“Destroying one high-rank Nest is better than destroying nine mid-rank Nests. But you know what’s better than destroying nine high-rank Nests? …Whoa, what’s he in such a hurry for?”
He clicked his tongue and reached out as if to push the air with his hand.
At that moment, Seol Jihu, who was charging toward Undying Diligence, suddenly staggered and took a few steps backward.
It was because an invisible energy blew against him like a gust of wind and blocked his path. Judging by the way it gently pushed him, it wasn’t obstructing him but telling him to wait for just a bit.
Seol Jihu soon found out why.
Ropes made of mana appeared out of nowhere and began to whip Undying Diligence, who was tenaciously trying to pick himself back up.
At the same time that the ropes coiled around Undying Diligence, a magic circle filled with geometrical shapes and patterns appeared in the sky and poured out a transparent liquid.
As a result, Undying Diligence got drenched by the mysterious liquid.
Seeing the horrific acid drill a huge hole on the ground, Seol Jihu whistled.
Meanwhile, Undying Diligence was no longer able to scream. He turned into a grotesque, unsightly mess as his rag-like flesh melted down and mixed together.
But at that moment, something sparkled out of the blue.
In the blink of an eye, Undying Diligence’s body was dyed in light.
Next, his arms and legs grew longer, and his body began to grow larger.
Realizing what change Undying Diligence was going through, Seol Jihu’s eyes tensed up.
When Undying Diligence finished his transformation, he had become a giant easily surpassing 4-meters in height. Although he was just as grotesque as before from all the attacks he had suffered, the air around him had gotten heavier.
Seol Jihu felt a heavy pressure similar to when he was facing the Seven Gods.
When Undying Diligence finally used Divinity Manifestation, Vulgar Chastity and Unsightly Humility both gasped, and Seol Jihu let out a soft exclamation.
Finally. He had finally reached this stage.
He felt like he got lucky and arrived at the final stage when he only planned to beat the first.
Undying Diligence using the normally forbidden Divinity Manifestation had two significant meanings.
The first was that he would not be able to return to recapture Tigol Fortress, where a fierce battle should be underway. In fact, he would not be able to return to the battlefield for some time.
The second was that Undying Diligence accepted his death as a possibility.
Although he received divinity from the Parasite Queen, the Vampire Lord was still a mortal in the end. It would be a different story if a god directly lent him their power like the Seven Gods did to their Executors, but it was impossible for a mortal to fully digest the power of an immortal god.
After long deliberation, the Parasite Queen devised two stopgaps to deal with this issue.
The first was Parasitizing a member of a foreign race to enlarge the size of their internal vessel, and the other was to seal half of the divinity she bestowed upon them.
Since this was only a makeshift way of dealing with this problem, the holder of the divinity could carry this sealed power with them and release it when they were in an important battle.
However, the power of the unsealed divinity was tremendous, so much so that the holder would have to suffer a terrifying recoil that they could not withstand even with their enlarged vessel.
In other words, Undying Diligence’s use of Divinity Manifestation in this situation was a certain signal of his impending death and his final struggle to escape from it.
On the other hand, it was a complete gamble. He would have to rest for a long time after using Divinity Manifestation even in his peak condition. Suffering the backlash of Divinity Manifestation in his current half-dead state?
There was no way to be sure, but Seol Jihu was confident that Undying Diligence would not reappear for at least one to two years.
And that was if he managed to return alive.
“Going all out since you’re going to die anyways, huh.”
Seol Jihu mocked him, but on the inside, he understood why Undying Diligence chose this method.
Using Divinity Manifestation should have never crossed his mind when he first entered Arden Valley, and he most likely never imagined things would turn out this way even when his heart was pierced through.
Undying Diligence calmly raised his claw and scratched his face deeply. From the gash, eyeballs sprouted out and blankly stared at Seol Jihu.
Next, when he lightly waved his hand, the cages of light imprisoning the Nosferatus shattered.
It was truly a terrifying display of power. However, blood spurted out from Undying Diligence’s body once again.
How long would he last in that state?
Half a day? Six hours? No, Seol Jihu was confident he wouldn’t last more than two hours.
Seol Jihu snickered. Of course, he didn’t forget to be wary of the Nosferatus that were getting back up one by one.
If he had been attacking like a rabid dog, it was now time to focus his attention on dodging everything like a squirrel.
After all, the more he depleted Undying Diligence’s strength, the less time he would be able to maintain that form.
[I sure was foolish.]
Just as he thought so, a grand, virile voice resounded.
Seol Jihu’s laughter stopped. Undying Diligence’s voice was calmer than he expected, and he felt an unpleasant gaze pierce through his body. Perhaps he was mistaken, but it felt like Undying Diligence was smiling.
[Being provoked so easily and acting without thinking of the consequences… huhuhuhu.]
A dreary voice continually rang out.
[Everyone. Hear me.]
Next, Undying Diligence—
[We shall retreat.]
…said something simple, yet completely unexpected.
It was so unexpected that even Vulgar Chastity let out a confused yelp.
“Are you mad? You’re going to run away after using Divinity Manifestation?”
[Staying further will only be a waste of time. Our goal— we’ve already accomplished it.]
At last, dozens of Nosferatus flew forward and stood in front of Undying Diligence, blocking the way between him and Seol Jihu. The latter’s eyes narrowed.
[All we have to do is go back. I’ll leave the rest to you two.]
With that, Undying Diligence turned back and began to grow farther away from the fortress.
“Damn it—! Just what are you thinking!?”
When Unsightly Humility quietly turned around and went after Undying Diligence, Vulgar Chastity screamed in frustration and spread her wings out.
When the Army Commanders really began to escape, the Executor of Superbia muttered in shock. The Seven Armies running away in the face of an enemy was something he had never seen or heard of before.
Next, an unpleasant racket began to sound out behind him. The army of corpses that invaded the fortress was making their way out. This included the Medusas and the Hydra.
Undying Diligence’s intention was clear. He was abandoning the lesser Parasites to buy time for his escape.
The Level 7 Archer turned back to the front with a look of utter disbelief. It was then that he realized that neither Seol Jihu nor the Sacred Empress was there.
‘Damned piece of shit.’
Seol Jihu was already chasing after the enemy, squeezing out every ounce of strength remaining in his body.
He fiercely glared at Undying Diligence and his entourage of Nosferatus as they disappeared into the valley.
‘Just what is he thinking?’
After calculating all possibilities with his knowledge from Future Vision, he concluded that Undying Diligence escaping was not an option once he released his divinity.
It would be a different story if he was running away without using Divinity Manifestation through the other Army Commanders’ help. But in his current state, it was obvious that he would not last long and perish.
Even absorbing all of the Nosferatus would only be pouring water into a sieve. Of course, he might be able to survive if he managed to reach the Parasite Queen, but—
‘The Parasite Queen can’t leave the Corrupted Throne for now.’
There were more than a couple days of distance between Arden Valley and the Empire, and the only one among them who could use teleportation, Abhorrent Charity, was not present.
No matter how hard he thought, Seol Jihu couldn’t figure out what Undying Diligence was thinking.
Unless he planned to devour an Army Commander—
A piece of memory suddenly flashed in his mind.
Future Vision had recalled the one internal conflict among the Army Commanders that happened in the past.
However, Seol Jihu’s legs did not stop. He had no way of knowing what Undying Diligence would really do, and among the Army Commanders, Undying Diligence was someone who had to be killed when given the opportunity.
Moreover, he had an inexplicable worry.
That this disgusting bastard would somehow survive once again.
Unfortunately, Seol Jihu couldn’t close the distance. In a way, this was to be expected. After all, Undying Diligence was using Divinity Manifestation to flee, even if he couldn’t utilize it to its fullest potential.
It was at this moment. Starlight fell from the sky, and dozens of magic circles appeared in the air.
Seo Yuhui and the Star of Avarice had acted quickly after figuring out what happened. However, the Army Commanders acted just as quickly.
Vulgar Chastity countered Seo Yuhui’s Stellar Requiem, and, in a surprising fashion, Unsightly Humility’s spectral horse flew up by riding on the cliff and began to strike down the pouring magic.
Seol Jihu’s face distorted.
He maintained his composure even in such an urgent situation.
He could no longer accelerate himself the same way he did when he first ambushed Undying Diligence. Not only did Festina Earring run out of use, but his body also was in no condition to handle any additional load.
He was certain that his body would be torn to thousands of pieces the moment he attempted to reverse the flow of his energies again.
Of course, he had one trump card he had saved until now, but he had a feeling it would fail to reach Undying Diligence from his current position by a hair’s breadth.
Just once was enough. If someone created a tiny opening just once…!
“I’m going to load all of my remaining mana into this.”
At that moment, he heard the whispering of an unknown voice and felt the sensation of something pressing down on his shoulders before bouncing back up.
When he tilted his head instinctively, he saw the Sacred Empress flying up, her white traditional jacket fluttering in the air.
She managed to take up a battle stance midair and thrust her arms with force.
It was a beautiful, clean spear throw that Seol Jihu had never seen before, both in his dream and in reality.
Her green spear flew out like a bullet, penetrating a Nosferatu, and just as it was about to pierce the back of its intended target, Undying Diligence hurriedly twisted his body.
Although the spear brushed past him by a paper-thin margin, that was the opening Seol Jihu wanted so much.
Not a tiny opening, but a fairly large one, at that.
At that moment, one Nosferatu suddenly broke away from the group. The Nosferatu flew up against the cliff, clearly trying to draw Seol Jihu’s attention.
Seol Jihu immediately became dazed.
Because in its hand was a clearly unconscious Teresa.
[She’s a gift for the Queen. Do not kill her.]
Undying Diligence grinned, then stopped himself by grabbing the cliff and fixed his posture.
Sparks flared up from Seol Jihu’s eyes.
He couldn’t tell whether Undying Diligence had planned to do so the entire time or if he was simply utilizing every tool at his disposal.
What was important was that it worked.
“Flone! Get the Prin…!”
He did a double take after shouting. He had forgotten for a second that Undying Diligence had already beaten Flone.
It was then.
Just as Seol Jihu was about to reluctantly change his goal, black smoke cut through the sky and flew forward. He could hardly believe it, but the black smoke was definitely Flone.
She had been freed when Undying Diligence retracted his energy to treat the injury from the Sacred Empress. Now, she had returned after recovering her lost strength.
Of course, Seol Jihu had no way of knowing this, but what was important was that he got back the opportunity he thought he’d lost.
The chance created by the Sacred Empress had yet to disappear.
From Seol Jihu’s sharply opened eyes, a chilling light shot out smoothly.
Level 7 Highlander, Ultimate Profound Art — Evolution.
In the next moment, Seol Jihu’s aura suddenly disappeared.
At the same time, his body faded.
Undying Diligence, who was back on the run, glanced back when he felt the aura of the man chasing him like a demon suddenly vanish.
‘Did he give up?’
When he turned back hoping that was the case, his face instantly froze.
No one could blame him. After all, Seol Jihu’s figure was appearing in front of him like a ghost.
Their eyes met. From the pulled-back speartip, a golden light emitting a terrifying energy shot out like a pillar.
At that moment, setting aside the fact that Seol Jihu had caught up, Undying Diligence dropped his jaw, sensing the density of the energy compressed in his spear.
The Nosferatus were already gathering in front of their leader.
Along with a lion-like howl, the spear drew a beautiful golden line, blowing up the flesh of the obstructing vampires and finally reaching the head of its target.
The attack carrying all of Seol Jihu’s remaining energy vertically sliced Undying Diligence’s body, causing the two halves to fall to the ground.
At the same time that the earth rumbled explosively, the two Army Commanders could clearly feel it.
When they hurriedly turned around, a brilliantly glowing golden reinforced qi was splitting the earth along with Undying Diligence’s body.
And from the surface of his severed halves, faint white light erupted and dyed the entire world white.
It was the unique reaction that happened when a divinity-carrying existence perished.
This was the end of Undying Diligence, the Parasites’ First Army Commander.
1. A fairly well known Korean martial art technique, similar to Sword Qi Wave and other moves used by Seol Jihu. This technique is the gathering of qi into a weapon, transforming qi into reinforced qi.
2. Also, for those who are curious, it is sword qi because that’s the standard name in Korean for these moves, but it is somewhat synonymous with “weapon” since you can do the same thing with any weapon.