Chapter 323. Immediate Battle (2)

The expedition team decided on a course of action.

The World Tree only grew in a specific area of the Spirit Realm. And currently, the five Spirit Kings were being held captive in that place.

If all went well, they would be solving two difficult problems at once. However, even a child would know things wouldn’t go so smoothly.

The Parasites would try to hinder their plans without a doubt, and the key to success was to effectively break through the Parasites’ plan.

Seol Jihu hastened the march just in case, but the expedition team was slowed down as time went on. Not by their will, but by outside intervention.

Little Chick, who was leading the expedition team with its hurried steps, suddenly halted.

“What’s wrong?”

“…They’re already here.”

Little Chick groaned, then sighed.

“Damn it! We still have ways to go before we get to the center…! That was too quick…!”

The startled Seol Jihu looked around his surroundings. Now that Little Chick mentioned it, their surroundings were oddly quiet.

It was so quiet, in fact, that it seemed dreary. Moreover, though he wasn’t sure whether he was mistaken, a buzzing ringing reverberated in his ears.

The vibration was full of the negative yin energy he felt when the Nightshades were massacring the Spirits.

“It looks like the enemy is making their move.”

Little Chick muttered as he quickly shot back.

At the same time, the ringing in their ears stopped. Just as the surroundings regained its dead silence—

“They’re coming!”

A haze began to flare up around them less than a second later. The haze gradually turned blue and changed into the shape of will o’ wisps.

“Don’t underestimate them. Their numbers are incomparable to that of last time!”

As Little Chick said, the enemy forces springing up around them were uncountably many. There were so many of them that Seol Jihu thought all the Nightshades in the Spirit Realm gathered here.

Pressured by the sheer number of Nightshades, the expedition team immediately took action.

Before Seol Jihu even gave the command, the team formed a circular defensive formation around the Magician and the two Priests.

“Oooh—!”

At that moment, Audrey Basler screamed. It was because a large number of Nightshades suddenly spawned in the air next to them and rushed toward them simultaneously.

While Audrey Basler was taken aback by the unexpected attack, Philip Muller, who was on high alert, moved quickly.

“——. ———. ——. ———.”

Chanting a spell in an instant, he pointed his long oak staff in her direction.

As he opened his closed eyes in a squint…

Bullet.

His thick robe fluttered in a huge motion, and a convex barrier appeared in front of her.

The Nightshades that rammed into the barrier were all bounced back before exploding in the air.

That wasn’t the end. Philip Muller retracted his staff, then immediately opened up his book. The pages automatically flipped like a leaf in a breeze. The book stopped somewhere in the middle, and Philip Muller tilted his chin up and looked up into the air.

“Avar・Ava・Avaritia.”

Dozens of spinning magic circles appeared in the air. Soon, the spinning stopped, and the geometric shapes inside the magic circles shone in a pale color.

In the next moment, the few-dozen magic circles all flashed, shooting out various magic spells.

Boom, boom, boom, boom!

As magic spells rained down like a passing shower, the Nightshades cried out in agony. A single man instantly bombarding such a huge group of monsters to death made the expedition members cheer together.

Of course, given the sheer number of enemies, a good number of lucky Nightshades broke through the explosions. However, these monsters were quickly dispatched by Agnes.

In a fit of rage, she swept the enemies flying in from all directions. As she spread her arms out and opened her palm, silver threads constantly shot out of her fingertips.

Surprisingly, the released threads coiled around the gaseous Nightshades like spiderwebs and bound them. Then when Agnes flicked her arm fiercely, they were torn into pieces and ceased to exist.

What terrifying power!

Seol Jihu’s jaw dropped slightly.

‘I knew they were strong, but this…’

Seol Jihu couldn’t hide his shock at the fact that Philip Muller and Agnes’ true abilities easily massacred such a large army.

Most of the other members had similar reactions, but the two members who annihilated the enemy had dissatisfied expressions.

“Each fight just leaves me with more questions…”

Philip Muller closed his book with a tap and murmured to himself.

“I agree. They’re certainly enough to kill young Spirits, but they’re nothing compared to the Seven Armies. I almost feel bad comparing the two.”

Agnes seemed to think the same thing.

And Seol Jihu was no different.

There was nothing wrong with nice and easy battles. The problem was that these battles shouldn’t be this easy given the nature of the expedition.

[The tiny bit of divinity I couldn’t digest… a leftover, if you will.]

[Anyways, it turns out that putting this leftover in the solar plexus has the greatest effect. Because of it, my subordinates were able to grow stronger too.]

According to Undying Diligence, a Commander’s army consisted of members of the Commander’s race who absorbed remnants of divinity that the Commander failed to digest.

Even a tiny fragment of divinity was still divinity. Since they carried divine power, they should be multiple times stronger than normal.

‘Why are they so weak?’

For Seol Jihu, who could barely take on a single Vampire even with the help of Flone, he had no choice but to agree with Agnes and Philip Muller’s opinions.

‘It’s also strange that we’re seeing Spirit Creatures when the Commander is a Mythical Beast…’

Seol Jihu scratched his head, not knowing what to make out of this.

That wasn’t his only worry. A huge number of enemies had suddenly appeared on their marching path.

This could only mean one thing — the master of the Nightshades had noticed their presence. Otherwise, so many Nightshades couldn’t have appeared at the same time.

“What’s that?”

At that moment, Hugo yelled out.

Seol Jihu snapped out of his thoughts, and his eyes widened. A strange phenomenon was happening at the place where the Nightshades exploded like fireworks.

The ones that died earlier on were being sucked away, leaving behind long tails.

Back then, he didn’t see well because they were in the middle of a battle and only one Nightshade flew off. But this time, with so many of them dying at the same time, the phenomenon was easier to see.

There was one other thing that was different this time around. That was that the Nightshades that turned faint from exploding didn’t fly far away like the first time.

They were gathering in a nearby area, in the air about one meter above the ground. As a terrifying number of hazy figures clumped together, the entire area looked like it was shimmering.

“That’s…”

As Chohong knitted her brows, an arrow cut through the air with a sharp sonic boom.

Feeling that something was gravely wrong, Kazuki had followed his instinct and shot an arrow at it.

However, the arrow passed through the gas, and the spherical clump of gas became thicker while turning blue.

A big frown formed on Kazuki’s face.

“It’s too late.”

It was just as he said.

The gas sphere mutated in a split second. It grew in size as if to take a certain shape—

Crackle! Then, a deep blue blaze flared up, and a figure popped out from the flames. It was a beast-shaped monster resembling a horse with a conical horn on its forehead.

Right, almost like a white unicorn…

‘Unicorn?’

When Seol Jihu’s thoughts reached this point, the beast’s long muzzle opened.

"I see… It was you all."

An unpleasant voice akin to forcefully scratching a rusty iron rang out.

…No, the unpleasant sensation wasn’t just because of its voice.

From the moment this enemy made its appearance, Seol Jihu had felt that something was off. On the surface, it was undoubtedly a beautiful unicorn with a sacred air, but a part of it felt uncomfortably dark.

Its lustrous white hair was like that, and so was its mane, horn, and body. There was something about them that felt dark. It was inexplicably unpleasant, uncomfortable, and nauseously revolting.

"So predictable, so expected, so obvious. So The Queen’s insight is truly incredible."

Seol Jihu furrowed his brows. What it just muttered under its breath made it sound like the Parasite Queen knew about the expedition team entering the Spirit Realm.

In that case, this bizarre creature that made him all too reluctant to call it a ‘Unicorn’ had to have been waiting for the expedition team’s arrival.

"Good, very good. I was just getting tired of being stuck in this place while doing nothing but hunting weak runaway Spirits. This is perfect. Let’s see."

The Unicorn nodded its head and looked down at the expedition team from the air with a rather arrogant expression.

"Hoh. Two Executors and… hmm?"

Its eyes were indifferent even when it saw Baek Haeju. But upon discovering Seo Yuhui, they lit up all of a sudden.

It finished scanning the expedition team before putting on a proud face.

"Keuhuhu, this damned body! It’s instantly become excited!"

Seol Jihu doubted his ears.

"I just can’t understand this race. Females are all the same. Why obsess over pure maidens?"

It had been muttering to itself for a while now. Seol Jihu couldn’t understand why it referred to its own body in third-person and called it a ‘damned body’.

But not caring for Seol Jihu’s thoughts, the Unicorn flaunted its tongue while giving lecherous glances. The female members of the expedition team, like Seo Yuhui and Phi Sora, shuddered.

The horse’s eyes slanting up to a crescent shape was weird enough, but when its crude gaze scanned their bodies, chills went down their backs as if there were caterpillars crawling all over them.

“Euuuuu!”

Failing to withstand the unpleasant feeling, Phi Sora rubbed her arms and twisted her body. Seeing this, the Unicorn guffawed as though it was cute.

"You look like a healthy female. Great! I will give you special care and attention, human female."

“Fucking hell.”

Phi Sora growled.

“The hell are you saying, you shitty horse!?”

"Oooh, feisty. I love it. Don’t worry. I might look like a Horus, but my junior is long and beefy!"

The Unicorn retorted with a grin.

"Look forward to it. Once you taste my thing, you won’t be able to escape the pleasure of your stomach bulging out!"

“What?”

Phi Sora’s eyes shot open. But before she bellowed in rage, Seol Jihu stepped in.

“Are you the Parasites’ Fourth Army Commander, Raging Temperance?”

"Hmm?"

With an uninvited guest suddenly interfering, the gleeful Unicorn frowned. However, after carefully studying Seol Jihu, it blinked its eyes and exclaimed.

"Oho, I see. You are the one that the Queen mentioned…"

“You’re the one who summoned the Nightshades?”

The Unicorn didn’t answer. Although it showed interest in Seol Jihu for a moment, that was it.

"Well… that’s enough chitchatting. Let’s get down to business now."

“What business?”

Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed. He had a feeling that the Unicorn changed the topic on purpose.

"Do I need to explain?"

But that wasn’t the important thing.

"You have to break through me, and I have to stop you. The winner takes all. Very simple."

As soon as it finished this sentence, the dim, hazy energy around it instantly turned clear. Then, the terrifying pressure that the Unicorn was giving off revealed itself and pressed down on the expedition team.

“Don’t be scared! This bastard is the leader of a bunch of weaklings. How strong can it be?”

Phi Sora shouted in high spirits as if to shake off the pressure. However—

"Puhahaha!"

The Unicorn cackled with its head tilted back.

"Funny. Very funny."

Revealing its buck teeth in a grin, it glanced at Phi Sora with a pitying gaze.

"Truly an idiotic female. Shouting so triumphantly after defeating trash that is only a part of this body… a remnant energy that I… released!"

With that final word, its voice suddenly vibrated out, causing the expedition members to flinch.

The aura of the Unicorn took a complete turn. It now gave a bone-chilling aura that made their skins tingle.

On one hand, Seol Jihu nervously raised his guard against the Fourth Army Commander that finally revealed its full presence. On the other, he tilted his head curiously.

‘A part of its body? Remnant energy?’

He recalled the Unicorn’s strange words. Though it was hard to pinpoint, it seemed a bit different than the First Army Commander.

Undying Diligence had shared the divinity it couldn’t absorb with members of his race and treated them as his subordinates.

But this Unicorn… how should he put this, rather than forming an army or a battalion of subordinates, it was treating them like ‘trash’, no different than leftover food that was thrown out.

"Keuhuhuhu. I would have been disappointed if they gave you trouble. This is fantastic!"

"Since you’ve got such a foul, manly mouth, you must surely have the ability to back it up!"

A vigorous voice resounded in Seol Jihu’s ears repeatedly.

It wasn’t just the aura that was different. The Unicorn was much bigger than when it first appeared.

‘Hold on.’

He wasn’t mistaken. The Unicorn was standing when it first appeared, but now it had gotten bulkier and was standing on the ground on four legs.

"You might not know—"

The clacking of its hooves resounded loudly.

‘Shit!’

Seol Jihu’s brain frantically sent warning signals, causing him to strengthen his grip on the Spear of Purity reflexively.

"I, with the body of a Mythical Beast, am—"

In the next moment, the Unicorn snorted as its pitch-black pupils flashed blue.

"The strongest Spirit Creature of the Spiritual Dimension!"

Shortly afterward, the unicorn tossed its head up as if a rider forcefully pulled on its reins.

"Now then—"

At the same time, it opened its mouth wide and shouted with a thunderous voice.

"I will show you the power of a Darkshini!"[1]


1. Also known as Amanojaku (in Japanese folklore). It is a type of yokai or oni.

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