The Spear of Purity pierced the charging enemy. Just as Seol Jihu tried to swing his spear to the right to parry the incoming attacks—
He suddenly felt a chilling claw grazing past his pelvis to his shin. The chilling sensation soon turned into a scorching heat that spread throughout his body, followed by a creeping stinging pain.
Seol Jihu almost screamed, but he clenched his teeth and swung his arm with a growl.
The spear shaft spun and popped the head of the enemy that aimed for his back.
Seol Jihu was still in an endless battle against the Parasites.
He had no idea how many days had passed by as he stopped counting after a dozen. He couldn’t even tell where he was. Although more than a dozen days had passed, he couldn’t say he walked a dozen days’ distance. After all, he had been fighting the entire time he was running away.
He had reached his limit long ago. Considering the countless number of attacks he suffered through, it would be strange if he didn’t have injuries. Not to mention, the contaminated land was continuously sucking out his stamina.
Seol Jihu’s physical level had exceeded the realm of human beings, but the torment he was undergoing was also beyond any ordinary person’s imagination.
The Special-ranked skill, Indomitable Will, allowed him to ignore most injuries and fatigue, but it was only to the extent that it allowed him to maintain his battle prowess.
It wasn’t as if fatigue didn’t build up in his body, and it couldn’t suppress exhaustion that resulted from injuries like torn limbs or mana depletion.
In other words, the fact that he was feeling tired meant that the state of his body had deteriorated to the point that Indomitable Will could no longer suppress it.
It was like forcefully driving a car when its engine was burning out. The correct thing to do would be to let the car rest and let cool the burning engine. The car’s fate would be determined if one continually stepped on the accelerator.
Now that things had come to this point, all sorts of thoughts swirled inside Seol Jihu’s head.
‘Should I… escape…?’
After another round of battle, Seol Jihu had a quick thought before shaking his head.
The Parasites were blanketing the sky and earth in every direction. There was simply nowhere to go. Moreover, this was the Parasite Queen’s territory. She would notice the moment he tried to escape and change her tactic.
‘Wouldn’t someone come and help?’
Seol Jihu smiled bitterly while fiddling with the communication crystal. The orb didn’t react to his mana, most likely due to the Parasites’ interference wave. This was proof that Nests were in the vicinity.
But even if he somehow managed to get in touch with others, it was hard to expect a rescue. As the situation stood, it was more likely that he would run out of steam and die before any reinforcements could come.
Entering the Empire’s territory wasn’t an easy task. It would take at least ten days to notice the situation, form a military force, prepare supplies, and enter the center of the Empire.
Not to mention, it would be extremely challenging to get to him with the vast net of parasites encircling him.
Most of all, there was no way the Parasite Queen would let that happen. Even if reinforcements came, all she would have to do is detach a portion of the army encircling him. Regardless of victory or defeat, this would be plenty to buy enough time.
The point when the Parasites ran out of ordinary soldiers, thus ending the Wheel Tactic, would be when the Parasite Queen and the six Army Commanders make an appearance.
Simply put, there was no way out of this situation. Seol Jihu could not imagine what the Parasite Queen wanted or what would be waiting for him at the end of this long battle.
‘Should I die?’
A sudden thought crossed his mind. Seol Jihu came to an abrupt stop.
He had no intention of dying easily, but killing himself was something he had in mind as a last resort.
Dying meant exiting from Paradise. Once he did, there was no guarantee he would return. Although he could be revived, a Divine Wish wasn’t something that could be taken lightly.
Luxuria said so. That the distribution of contribution points took the background situation of the event into account.
Even Seol Jihu, who accumulated contribution points until he was Level 5 while performing unprecedented achievements, cut it close when purchasing a Gold Stamp and a Divine Wish.
Though there was no way to be sure, he doubted that anyone at the moment had enough contribution points to use a Divine Wish.
Seol Jihu sighed. Who would have thought things would turn out this way when they left Scheherazade?
He refused to be drained of his energy and be taken captive. He would rather die than become a parasite.
But he had no intention of dying just yet. If he was going to die, he wanted to take as many with him as possible.
‘I can still… fight.’
He wanted to self-destruct in a splendid fashion rather than to die easily. Otherwise, he would be disappointed with himself.
‘I have to keep fighting.’
Seol Jihu began to move forward.
Eventually, the enemy appeared again.
There was no reason to think any further. It wasn’t like thinking at this point would change anything.
And so, Seol Jihu emptied his mind.
Putting strength into his loose hands and shaking legs, he kicked off the ground and rushed to battle.
Another day went by.
Seol Jihu was still advancing while undergoing battles. And as he fought one fierce battle after the other, there was a pair of a man and a woman watching him on a nearby hill.
The two beings, who gave off extraordinary auras, were none other than Sung Shihyun and Twisted Kindness.
Seol Jihu was ferociously and viciously crushing through the Parasite ranks to the point that ‘intense’ was insufficient to describe the situation. The gruesome, grisly sight would make any spectator shudder in astonishment and shock.
“…He’s unexpectedly putting up a good fight.”
Twisted Kindness said a few words. According to her calculations, Seol Jihu should have collapsed several times already.
They should have arrived at the outcome before the seventh-day mark. Seol Jihu should have collapsed from exhaustion, losing his mind to despair, but he was still holding on tenaciously and doggedly.
That was what Twisted Kindness wanted to know the most.
Just what kind of hardships could a mere human have endured to be so calm in the face of death? The way Seol Jihu acted was as if he had died at least thousands of times before. It just didn’t make sense otherwise.
Of course, no matter how strong his mind was, his body clearly wasn’t invincible.
“I was hoping to end this quickly, but it looks like our hero doesn’t want that.”
Twisted Kindness muttered quietly, then glanced to the side.
“It’s about time we make a move. What’s your plan?”
“I would have preferred if his mind had broken down too, but I guess it can’t be helped.”
Sung Shihyun, who was crouched on the ground spectating, smacked his lips. Then, he spoke.
“We will have to destroy his vessel thoroughly.”
Sung Shihyun got up.
“The revival setting allows an Earthling to revive in Paradise by returning him to a state before death. More specifically, the setting brings about the result before the cause of death. It’s a simple yet powerful setting, really.”
Sung Shihyun continued.
“Here’s what’s important. The cause of his death needs to be different from the cause that makes him powerless even if he revives.”
“You’re saying we need to make it so that his state before death persists even if he revives?”
“Exactly, and that’s the problem. Think about it. His mana, anti-evil attribute, and physical level won’t disappear just because he revives.”
“But is there anything we can do about it?”
“Of course. Anything can become poison if you have too much of it. It’s the same with medicine.”
Sung Shihyun grinned.
“By the way, I thought of this method after I absorbed the Divinity of Diligence.”
Just as Twisted Kindness furrowed her brows…
Sung Shihyun smirked.
“We have no divinity to give him. Even if we did, it would become a problem regardless of whether he can digest it. If he does, he will become the only being among humans to become an existence that surpasses both you and me. And, if he is unable to digest it, it will become the cause that brings about his death, and he will revive perfectly healthy.”
“You’re trying to say that it’s too risky, right?”
Twisted Kindness shut her mouth. It seemed like Sung Shihyun thought of everything and had a solution in mind.
“Don’t worry. All it means is that we need to make him accept an energy that he can’t digest. Forcefully, until he is on the brink of death.”
“An energy that’s even stronger than that of the Seven Virtues?”
“We have one, don’t we?”
Sung Shihyun glanced to the side. Twisted Kindness’ jaw dropped open.
“Don’t tell me…”
“From what I know, our queen was originally a mighty god. Never mind the Seven Virtues, not even the Chief Deity could hold a candle to her strength.”
Sung Shihyun continued.
“No matter how amazing he is, at the end of the day, he is only human. As long as he’s human, there has to be a limit to his vessel.”
“That’s right. We’re going to inject the Queen’s divinity into his mana. Just until his vessel cracks.”
Sung Shihyun shrugged.
“This is the only surefire way. You and I only barely managed to absorb our divinities. The other Army Commanders failed and were forced to seal them away even after turning into parasites…. Do you think he can do anything if he receives an energy that surpasses the ones we got?”
No, that was unlikely. The most likely scenario was Seol Jihu dying from accepting the divinity. But, if the Parasite Queen personally performed the injection, she would be able to identify the limit of his vessel and make minute adjustments as necessary.
“That’s a lot of work just to get rid of a single human.”
“He’s worth it. The Queen has decided. Of course, it will shave away at her power a bit, but you’ve seen how that guy’s come this far. It’s a negligible price if you think about it.”
“…What are the chances that the Seven Sins will try to pull something?”
Twisted Kindness asked after pondering on the matter for a long time.
Sung Shihyun asked back.
“What can they do about a god’s power that far outranks their own? Ah, it will only be a small portion of the Queen’s power, so I guess they can do something if they join hands, but it will be far too late by the time the result comes out. I doubt they made any preparation for this either.”
Sung Shihyun raised his eyebrows and asked, “Don’t you think so?”
He seemed to be asking if she had any more questions. Twisted Kindness lowered her head.
“Good. I’m heading back then.”
Sung Shihyun turned around.
“It will be easier to achieve our goal if his mind breaks down. That will also increase the chances of him committing suicide on Earth…. But by the looks of it, he’ll be fighting until the bitter end.”
Sung Shihyun glanced back at Seol Jihu and clicked his tongue.
“It’s not like we didn’t get any result. Trying this method when he’s as exhausted as possible, will make it easier for our queen.”
Twisted Kindness gave a nod in agreement.
“Anyway, I’m leaving. You shouldn’t stay here for too long, either.”
Sung Shihyun took his eyes off of Seol Jihu and disappeared in a blink.
Soon, as Twisted Kindness was about to leave as well…
She felt a burst of bright light from behind. Twisted Kindness flinched right before spreading out her wings. Then, she hurriedly looked back.
A strong look of astonishment flashed across Twisted Kindness’ face as she confirmed the identity of the light.
Seol Jihu, who was on the verge of collapse, was going through a change in movement.
Panting heavily, Seol Jihu’s eyes were slowly losing their light.
Fighting on and on, killing endlessly, he must have swung his spear ten thousand, no, a hundred thousand times already. Because of it, he couldn’t make heads or tails of the situation anymore. He couldn’t even tell if he was thrusting his spear or if he was just imagining it.
His lungs screamed and demanded air every time he breathed. His throat was scorching hot. It was so bad that he wanted to grab a parasite or even a corpse and quench his thirst with blood.
His eyelids felt like they weighed a ton. He was confident in falling asleep the moment he closed his eyes.
His arms and legs were no longer moving as he wished. It felt like he was shackled with huge iron balls.
Seeing a parasite rushing toward him, Seol Jihu’s eyes lost their light and sank.
The moment he thought so, his arms went limp.
‘It’s time to die.’
His legs also lost strength, and his body gradually tipped to the side.
‘I did enough.’
He wanted to keep fighting, but his body refused to listen. He had fought without a single moment of rest for more than a dozen days. No one would fault him even if he collapsed.
He quickly got closer to the earth. A faint smile hung on Seol Jihu’s lips with how soft and comfortable the blood-soaked ground looked.
‘It should be comfortable….’
It was then.
Seol Jihu’s face twitched faintly while he was blankly staring at the ground. The scene in front of him abruptly changed.
For a split second, the flat ground resembled a slope. A thought immediately crossed Seol Jihu’s mind.
How could he forget? He had climbed this path for seven years, pleading and screaming at himself to take just one more step.
At that moment, light burst out from the Spear of Purity, and a strange sensation enveloped him.
Within this familiar sensation, Seol Jihu dazedly raised his eyes.
‘…What was that?’
It was slow. Unless he was seeing things, it looked like the world stopped. The parasite, which should have reached him long ago, was approaching him ever so slowly.
Seol Jihu’s mouth closed shut in a trance.
He breathed in through his nose…
And breathed out through his mouth.
The moment he breathed, his unmoving body suddenly moved as if attracted by a magnet. His collapsing legs went up, and his raised foot stepped on the ground.
Almost as if he was climbing a slope.
In the next instant, the brightly shining Spear of Purity pierced through the parasite.
It was an unfamiliar, yet familiar sensation. The Spear of Purity seemed to have done something, but it felt different from an Authority.
[Thousand-Ton-Pushing Strength is a technique based on tai chi.]
At that moment, for some reason—
[Have you heard of the expression ‘softness overcomes hardness’? The point of this expression is that even powerful strength cannot subdue softness.]
[Think of inertia or a lever. Suppose someone is running at full speed towards you.]
Seol Jihu felt like he could hear Black Seol Jihu’s voice. His alternate self seemed to be whispering into his ears while holding up his collapsing body and grasping his spear-clasped hand.
[But in order for this to work, you need to be capable of identifying the size of your opponent’s strength, the direction of his movement, and his center of gravity in a split second and aim for the correct spot.]
[It will be difficult, especially during a battle in which your life is at stake.]
Right, he couldn’t quite put his finger around it, but he felt like he had felt a similar sensation before.
[What’s important is the flow.]
[Pushing, sliding, and returning the weight. You need to know how to do all three in order to complete Grand Cosmic Shift.]
[I’m going to withdraw my mana soon.]
[I’ll hold your arm for you. Try it with your own mana this time.]
Seol Jihu breathed in and breathed out again. At the same time, he dug into the enemy and brandished his spear, thrusting, striking, and cutting.
Thrust, Strike, Cut.
The techniques he used thousands, no, millions of times unfolded.
Blood spurted out from all directions. Seol Jihu’s body broke through the gap softly, almost like he was skating on ice.
The world was still flowing slowly. More parasites were running toward him, but he could read their movements perfectly. They were so slow that he felt like he could dodge them by paper-thin margins if he wanted.
At that moment, Seol Jihu finally realized.
In this life-or-death crisis, the techniques he had learned in the past had combined with the Spear of Purity’s Authorities and formed a new change.
‘Right, this is…’
The moment he realized this, Seol Jihu stopped hesitating and entrusted his body to the sensation.
Then, he forgot everything.
He forgot that he was thrusting his spear and forgot even himself.
He had fallen into a trance.
Softly like the flowing water, Seol Jihu’s body swept past the wave of parasites rushing in like angry bulls.
As soon as he went by them, the parasites were cut apart, sending blood splattering everywhere.
That wasn’t the end. Just as more parasites surrounded him, Seol Jihu’s body shot up. The incoming attacks all missed him or brushed past him. There were even some spears or tentacles that narrowly flew by the gap between his armpits or legs.
Seol Jihu’s body spun. He folded his arms and crossed his legs in midair, bending and twisting all attacks that went past him. Then, when he swung his spear in a sweeping motion, everything around exploded simultaneously.
Seeing this, Twisted Kindness’ eyes trembled faintly. Before now, Seol Jihu had only been a fierce beast. He was rampaging violently and savagely like he was boasting about his strength. It was apparent that he would eventually run out of steam and collapse.
But with the sudden change in Seol Jihu’s movement, Twisted Kindness now felt an inestimable boundlessness from him. If she had to describe it, she could say that he was in a state of limitlessness.
Inside a raging river, only Seol Jihu was flowing softly. From a distance, it looked like the parasites were being drawn toward Seol Jihu in a taegeuk motion.
Seol Jihu was trying to use the state of limitlessness to step into an even higher realm.
Twisted Kindness’ trembling lips unexpectedly uttered high praise.
If she previously stopped at simple awe, now she was watching with admiration like she was looking at a splendid work of art.
When it came to battles, Twisted Kindness’ philosophy lay on how efficiently one could utilize their resources.
Just how could he show such movement with a single breath? Using the force of a few kilos to achieve the strength of a thousand tons was surprising enough, but Seol Jihu had gone a step further, tying a series of processes into a single flow and further minimizing unnecessary points. His movements had indeed reached the extremity of efficiency.
The way he moved as if his mind, technique, and body were one was enough to give Twisted Kindness chills and a sense of speechless beauty.
It was then.
When the parasites noticeably decreased in number while being swept in by Seol Jihu’s flow, another army appeared in the distance. It was an army consisting of Vulgar Chastity’s succubi and upper-ranked parasites.
Twisted Kindness sent a mental transmission to Vulgar Chastity as soon as she appeared.
Vulgar Chastity flinched as she had been hoping for the chance to get revenge after taking a one-sided beating.
[What are you talking about all of a sudden?]
[You will die if you come.]
[If you fight him in his current state, there is a chance you will die. No, you will most certainly die. You will die even if you run.]
Vulgar Chastity appeared confused.
Twisted Kindness clicked her tongue. Just how could she not feel a sense of danger after watching such extraordinary movements?
[The First Army Commander has left to inform the queen. Isn’t your attack the last round anyway?]
[Just go back, and leave the rest to the First Army Commander and me. You and the other Army Commanders are no longer his match. He has evolved yet again.]
Vulgar Chastity gasped.
[Huh? Yes, My Queen…. Yes, I understand.]
Then, Vulgar Chastity turned around, seemingly having received someone’s mental transmission. By the looks of it, the Parasite Queen seemed to have noticed the Brightest Star’s change in state.
Twisted Kindness also turned back. Just before leaving, she stared at Seol Jihu with an intense look of regret.
‘Supernova…. A star that evolves the more you irritate it….’
Before she noticed, her body became heated. She seethed with a desire to triumph, and a desire to have a proper fight surged up inside her.
But she knew she couldn’t. The last thing she wanted to do was become a stepping stone for his growth like that time in the Spirit Realm.
Twisted Kindness spread her wings and quickly flew to the location where the final fight would occur. Like a maiden who had fallen in love, she placed her hand on her racing heart.
‘So that’s why.’
She finally understood.
[That man is stronger. Far more than the First Army Commander.]
The reason why Unsightly Humility spoke with such confidence back then.
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