The pained scream reverberated thunderously throughout the valley. It was so loud, in fact, the creatures busy rushing towards the fortress walls had to stop their advance and take a look back.
The electricity danced and crackled like a fish meeting water for the first time, causing a spectacular electrocution effect. Electrical sparks arced up from the entire body of the Medusa, scorching the creature black – so much so that its flesh even melted and bodily fluids began leaking out.
The Medusa writhed around in agony. One of the Bugs even forgot to finish chewing on a human that had been bitterly resisting the horde until now and dropped its jaw open. A corpse with clear fang marks fell to the ground.
Yet another spell ball flew and hit the head of the painfully-shrieking Medusa. Dozens of arrows of light rained down and evenly pounded on the creature's torso. The second scream from this attack caused the ground to quake even further.
Normally, this monster would have shaken off tens of such weak, simple magic attacks. However, it was already gravely wounded and there was the 'small' matter of the flames from the electricity burning it up.
Enraged beyond control, the trembling Medusa turned its head in the direction of where that strand of electricity had come from. In that spot, a lone human was taking aim at it with a bow and arrow. The Medusa flinched in surprise and hurriedly raised its hand to point at that offending human.
It exploded in fury, and fittingly enough, spat out a huge ball of flames. Seol Jihu hurriedly discarded the bow and reflexively fell down to the ground.
The ball of flames missed its target and managed to blow away over half of the strange cliff formation behind him, instead. The falling debris caught on fire and rained down on the valley below like burning hailstones.
'I'll just throw this, and…?!'
Seol Jihu was pulling out the last spell ball, but then, he abruptly raised his head.
The air touching his face suddenly felt hot. Black smoke blowing up furiously from almost everywhere blocked his view. And past that….
He could hear the noises of countless legs running on the ground. Not to mention, buzzing noises of furiously beating wings resounded at the same time as well, making him feel dizzy.
Just as he internally yelled, ‘shit!’, a certain leg suddenly parted the smoke and popped into his view. Almost instantly after that, dozens of Bugs jumped out of the smoke and flames simultaneously.
“Son of a….”
He didn't have the time to finish the rest of his sentence. Startled silly now, Seol Jihu simply chucked the last spell ball at the rushing horde and out of pure instinct, he turned around and ran as fast as he could.
He heard a cacophony of explosions and loud roars coming from behind him. He sneaked a glance behind him, but nearly lost his balance and tripped over from the sight.
The fury of the Medusa must have been rather great, because the number of creatures chasing after him was not in the dozens, but had ballooned to several hundreds. The chasing horde managing to blacken the land behind him.
Their direction was, without a doubt, towards him. Having confirmed their speedy and rather energetic pace, Seol Jihu shifted his focus back to his front.
The distance between him and them didn't decrease, but neither did it increase – not even when he was going around a massive boulder, or when he was going up a hill. The reason he was able to prevent his speed from dropping too much was all thanks to his abundant mana.
Just as he began thinking that the plan might succeed with less pain than he expected, the sounds of beating wings scratching at his ears froze up his thought process.
A disgusting odor suddenly wafted in and his neck felt itchy. There was no time for him to think; he just lowered his head as fast as he could.
A revolting sensation diagonally swept past the back of his head. The thing grazing past him didn't crash to the ground below. As if it was performing a drift, it drew a sharp curve in the air and stormed in again.
The flying insectoid creature with three, four pairs of wide beating wings was a Cockroach.
There was no time to feel horrified. The horde of flying Cockroaches easily scooted past him and soared high up in the air - their aerial maneuvers resembling a person's disheveled hair somehow.
On top of that, what's in front just so happened to be the middle point of the distance he had to cover, which also happened to be one of the most rugged and rather steep hilly terrains.
As he began running on the rising slope, Seol Jihu had to concede that he had underestimated the enemies' capability to fly. Unfortunately, just because he had recognized the problem, that didn't mean his situation would improve on its own.
Soon enough, the Cockroaches stopped soaring higher before descending rapidly - all at the same time.
Seol Jihu had been frantically running up the hill until then; the enemy's organized actions left him utterly breathless. They were like eagles taking aim at their prey. He could definitely sense their strong desire to kill him from the decisive manner they were rushing at him.
What surprised him even more was the fact that they were not ramming straight into the location of where he was but, while maintaining their frightening rate of descent, they were actually landing on the steep slope at an angle!
Front, rear, left, and to his right – Cockroaches landed everywhere and rushed towards his position as if they were gliding on smooth surfaces. The distance he thought he could maintain disappeared in an instant.
The sight of these creatures speeding towards him while scattering sparks and pebbles all around was terrifying enough to be mistaken for a nightmare. Their noisy, beastly bellows were more like a frenzied declaration of their desire to catch him and rip him to pieces.
Seol Jihu nearly freaked out at their intense suicidal attacks and gritted his teeth. These things had chosen to smash into him, rather than pouncing on him. Each Cockroach was several times larger than regular Bugs; just their momentum alone would be similar to a giant speeding truck with no brakes. A little graze and he'd be sent flying or die outright.
Originally, he was planning to use 'that' once he ran past the summit of this hill, but now that his life was on the line, he was left with no choice.
'I'll trust him.'
Seol Jihu decided to trust Ian and without hesitation, poured his mana into the Festina Earring. Immediately, storm winds enveloped him. And right away, he spun on his heels to avoid the large black creatures trying to crash into him from his sides.
Cockroaches crashed into one another; their bodies crumpled, momentarily floating up in the air.
Meanwhile, he roused more of his mana and kicked the ground. With barely a hair's breadth, he slipped past the Cockroaches.
These massive creatures never imagined that a human's speed would suddenly increase so greatly. He was able to leave behind some of them with this sudden burst of speed, but he knew he couldn't relax just yet.
A silver lining here was the fact that the enemy failed to change or divert his escape route at all.
Seol Jihu ran like the wind in a zigzag pattern in between the Cockroaches that were trying to ram him from the front. While displaying remarkable on-the-limit evasive maneuvers, he managed to break past the Cockroaches' attempts to crash into him, but then, his face was drained of all color.
The summit of the hill was almost there, but he still could see more Cockroaches flying overhead. Not only that, each of them carrying Bugs, too.
The Cockroaches trying to take him down with the suicidal attacks had done their jobs by making their human target take several steps more than necessary.
Perhaps these things figured out that he was far quicker than their initial estimate because they gathered in close proximity to eliminate all visible gaps. And then, they began dropping their loads.
'God damn it!!!'
Seeing the Bugs raining down from above, Seol Jihu clenched his teeth.
If he wanted to avoid the falling Bugs, then he had to go around them, but that would definitely result in him getting caught. But, for him to run blindly ahead, their descent was just too impeccably timed. It was almost enough to make him blurt out some choice words.
The only remaining option was to increase his speed even further. However, if he were to stack the Boost one more time, he had no confidence in dealing with the potential rate of descent once he got to the downhill part.
Unfortunately, the current situation demanded him to make a quick decision. Preparing himself, Seol Jihu roused up his mana once more.
With one more Boost stacked on top of the initial buff, his entire body suddenly began vibrating. He shuddered like an automobile failing to endure the excessive speeding.
Seol Jihu ran like a cheetah towards the summit in that state. And just as he was close enough to look straight into the eyes of one of the falling Bugs, he leaned his body back.
If he ran upright, he'd have collided with that Bug without a doubt. There was only a gap of less than 80 centimeters between the falling creatures and the ground below, yet Seol Jihu successfully got through by sliding on the ground.
Right after that, his sliding body became airborne; he was then assaulted by the sensation of his lower torso being sucked down towards the ground. He had 'run' past the summit in this fashion, and as if he was plunging down to earth, he began sliding down the hill almost out of control.
His body parts rubbing hard against the solid rock surface below was burning up.
The danger hadn't ended yet, though. The bottom of this steep hill was getting ever closer. If he continued on this rate of descent, it would not end with just a couple of bones breaking; as for what would happen after that, well, that would be as clear as the midday sun.
Even though the pain shooting up from his back was crippling, he still desperately managed to press down on the ground with both of his hands. He somehow forced himself up, but his body tottered unsteadily, and his legs couldn't quickly adapt to the current speed.
Just as his body lost balance again and teetered on the edge, his leg extend out with great difficulty and met the ground.
The sensation of his foot almost breaking under the impact nearly made him faint. He stopped breathing for a moment there, and that led to his chest feeling like it was burning up from the lack of oxygen.
However, the sole reason he didn't tumble down but use the inertia to continue running was that he had already experienced something like this before. He recalled the days he spent running over and over again on the track, and….
…. He gritted his teeth and finally managed to regain his balance by taking one step, then another, forward.
And then, he began raising his speed again!
From the perspective of the Parasites, such a scene was unbelievable. They must have found the human managing to evade their attempts like a slippery eel completely detestable, because they all began emitting loud roars of anguish. Cockroaches driven mad with rage chased after him like crazy, and the Bugs rolled themselves into a ball and began rolling down the hill.
Seol Jihu could only marvel at their dogged pursuit, but still, he didn't let go of his focus.
Having overcome several close brushes in a very short amount of time, his situation finally changed for the better. The rest of the way was on a piece of land that looked utterly flat and peaceful when compared to the dangerous terrain he had been running on until then.
More importantly, he could see it now – a pair of tall, imposing cliffs facing each other as if something had split them into two. And then, a deep ravine running in between the two.
His goal wasn't far away now.
Sensing that the successful completion of his mission was just around the corner, Seol Jihu activated the final stack of the Boost.
Three stacks of explosive burst of speed.
As fast as the storm winds, Seol Jihu disappeared into the ravine.
“He did it!”
Ian clenched his fists tightly.
The anxiety the Magician felt when the youth broke past the encirclement of Parasites on top of the hill's summit with near-miraculous dexterity quickly changed to half-belief when the boy slid down the hill, and finally, to joy when Seol Jihu managed to regain his balance and continue running.
If it were up to him, Ian might have broken into a dance routine right there and then. Unfortunately, he had no leeway to do that.
Below the tall cliffs that might cause one to faint when peering over the edge, the Parasite horde was chasing down the youth in an arrow-like formation that made them look a lot like a deadly-sharp drill.
If Seol Jihu was seen as the most important person in his plan, then the second most important person would be Ian.
The youth had exceeded all expectations and carried out his part of the plan. As for the rest, all Ian had to do was pretty similar to enjoying a nice, luxurious meal provided free of charge.
Ian's current location was on top of a massive triangular rock formation jutting out of one of the cliffs. On the surface below his feet, some kind of white powder had been thickly laid down to form a straight line over eight meters in length.
Ian vigorously swung his staff.
Something amazing happened, then. The white powder suddenly transformed into liquid and soaked the ground.
The liquid then began boiling over and rapidly melted the rocks below to seep deeper into the cliff. Soon, a thin, lengthy fissure formed on the ground.
Ian immediately slammed his staff down on the ground. From the fissure that continued to cut deeper into the bedrock, visible fractures began spreading out.
Ian chanted out the same spell once more. The fissure visible on the surface widened faster and faster, and it spread out rapidly like the webbing of a spider.
By this time, Seol Jihu had entered the ravine.
Right then, Ian pulled out an envelope and poured its contents out in the air. Yellowish green powder scattered in the wind before disappearing from the view as if they had become one with the sky. And the Magician activated his fourth Memorised magic.
Sharp, ear-screeching blades of winds gathered around the tip of his staff.
From here onwards, Ian could not afford to make a single mistake. White smoke rose up from the newly-formed cracks and blocked his vision, but they failed to blind a Magician who had raised his concentration to the extreme. Sweat trickled down his face, but he still continued to look on with slightly bloodshot eyes as rapid calculations took place in his head.
And when he confirmed that Seol Jihu had run past the entrance of the ravine to enter the midway point, he didn't hesitate and slammed his staff down once more.
The blades of winds continuously condensing near his staff suddenly lashed out to below. More specifically, they disappeared into the deep cracks formed by the liquid on the ground. And then, slice!
The noise of something being cut came out from the gap.
Next up, the giant triangular rock formation spat out huge chunks of dust and it began gliding downwards at a diagonal angle. It was cleanly separated from the rest of the cliff, revealing a smooth cutting plane as it got ready to gently slide down, but then….
Smash, crash, rumble, boom! Craaack!!
The triangular formation smashed into the cliff walls three, four times before it broke up into several tens of massive pieces.
The sharp, pointy rocks plunged to the ground. Each and every one was as big as falling meteors, and they proceeded to crash-land on top of the Parasite horde chasing after Seol Jihu in a bloody frenzy.
This was a precise attack performed after many calculations. The Parasites had been driven into the berserk state after the youth made an utter fool out of them, and so, they could not evade in time and had to receive the falling boulders in full.
A short while later….
Boom!! Boom!! Boooooom!!
The ravine quaked violently with frightening explosions as the boulders hit their targets.
The boulders crashed down on the Bugs, crushed past their carapaces, and slammed into the hard ground below. The gravity-assisted momentum caused the boulders to explode into countless shards as soon as colliding with the earth like a hand grenade. Those Parasites that luckily evaded the initial fall were all swept away by the stormy whirlwinds of the shrapnel-like rock shards.
And so, after the first 'crash', the ravine had transformed into a living hell.
Those that got killed in the initial crash were the fortunate ones. As for the rest, some simply exploded after being crushed by the bouncing pieces of the boulders, or their bodies were torn asunder by the shrapnel. The jutting rocks spread around the greenish bodily fluids and chunks of their victims in the air.
Seol Jihu had managed to escape out of the ravine in the nick of time, but he still continued to run non-stop.
He couldn't hear anything at all anymore. Tinnitus caused by the incredible impact force behind him rang loudly in his ear. He could only use his intuition to roughly guess.
Suddenly, he realized that time had slowed down. His vision began shaking abruptly, and his entire body felt like it weighed a ton.
Only then did he figure out that time hadn't actually slowed down, but it was his speed that had returned to normal, instead. The effect of 'Boost' had run its course.
And then, the familiar sense of alienation came crashing down.
Seol Jihu faltered about in confusion and took a look behind him before his eyes shot up wide. Nobody could tell how it managed to escape, but a single Cockroach was rushing towards him like a fired arrow.
Reflexively, Seol Jihu's hands searched for his spear but he belatedly remembered not bringing it with him. But at the same time, a spear flying in from out of nowhere skewered the wayward Cockroach into the ground.
Seol Jihu was stunned out of his skull and finally tumbled down on his rear – only to sense something hard and metallic supporting him from his back, as well as someone gently embracing him.
Rose-colored strands of hair tickled his face. When Seol Jihu's eyes met a pair of deep rose-gold irises, all he could do was to blink several times in a daze.
It was Teresa. She was staring at him with passionate eyes of a young maiden falling in love for the first time.
Her lips moved rapidly, so she must've been saying something, but Seol Jihu couldn't hear her, as his ears were still ringing loudly.
The princess knight saw his dazed expression, closed her lips and quietly stared at him. However, she still couldn't disguise the pure happiness burning brightly in her eyes.
She then suddenly pressed her face close enough to touch his. Their noses pressed tight, and he could even feel her rough breathing, too.
She swept back her waterfall-like hair and spoke again.
“Did you know?”
Her voice sounded rather flushed just then.
“I said, did you know!?”
In the next moment, Seol Jihu felt a pair of hands tightly grasping the back of his head.
“You, you're so fucking hot and sexy right now!”
Teresa yelled out and pressed her face to his. Seol Jihu formed a stupid expression. Only after about five seconds went by did he realize that soft and moist sensation rubbing against his lips happened to be her lips.
“Wu, wuup?! Mu, mupp…”
Smooooch.Teresa swallowed saliva as if she was trying to suck his lips in, and after that she let his face go. She snorted in satisfaction and even licked her lips slightly too.
She carefully put the dumbstruck youth on the ground in the sitting position, and then, with a still-excited face, she shifted her gaze towards the ravine.
The triangular rock formation crashed into the front and the middle of the enemy horde, and as a result, the Parasites making up the rear fell into a state of pure chaos.
However, they were no better than rats stuck in a trap. Around Teresa, a dozen or so Earthlings and hundred-plus soldiers stood by, waiting. The important thing was, though – this wasn't the only place where the army was waiting.
“Looks like a feast has been prepared for us.”
From Dylan, who quickly came here after successfully sniping the Medusa….
“I wonder. Isn't it more like someone else's leftover?”
Even from Chohong….
“Who cares if it's leftovers?! I'm always up for any type of tasty treats, you know!”
Even Hugo, too.
From the countless side paths leading out of the ravine, the concealed Earthlings and elite soldiers revealed themselves one by one.
Once the net had been cast, Bugs and Cockroaches faltering around in confusion in the rear belatedly began looking around. By then, it was well beyond 'too late'.
Clang! Teresa pulled out her beautiful longsword and raised it to the sky.
And staring from above the cliff, Ian was filled with admiration. From the very beginning till this moment, everything played out according to Seol Jihu's plan.
'He really has managed to create this miracle!!'
In that moment, Teresa's spirited roar resounded throughout the ravine.
Ian's eyes sparkled brightly.
The army that had been separated into ten groups and lay in ambush….
….Began their simultaneous attack on the lured enemy.Previous Chapter Next Chapter