[All: The guild 'Citizens of the Savior’s City (7)’ has destroyed the light pillar and the guild leader Jin has entered the challenger section.]
[* Ranking (Light Pillar destruction)]
[First. Caliber: 23
Second. Hera: 9
Third. Shin Kyung-Ah: 7
Fourth. Lee Tae-Han: 6
Fifth. Apollon: 2
Sixth. Anubis: 1
Seventh. Ha Baek: 1
Eighth. Jin: 1]
Ha-Baek was able to put his name in the Hall of Fame thanks to Seong-Il. Every time Seong-Il entered a new stage, he sent some Awakened to other groups, and Ha-Baek gained benefits from it.
Behind the scene, there were numerous stages and warriors that had failed in the bottom of the ranking, and there was even a case when a challenger Awakened named Hades was removed from the ranking midway.
The good news was that Hera was showing remarkable growth by surpassing Shin Kyung-Ah, but she had not shown the explosive speed needed to be considered an Ender. Even with just one level difference, the gap between the challenger and the ender section was extremely wide.
[You have purchased Elixir of Level Enhancement (for Challenger).]
The next likely candidate to follow in his footsteps and enter the Ender was Hera. If she became the Ender, then she could also destroy several pillars in a day. Therefore, the elixir he bought using all his remaining coins was not for Lee Tae-Han.
[You have requested a trade. (Target: Hera.)]
[You have offered an item ‘Elixir of Level Enhancement (for Challenger).’]
[Caliber: Take it.]
[Hera: You are free to try, but you still owe me.]
Seong-Il’s eyelid muscles, which were already sporadically twitching, trembled uncontrollably at that moment. The one who was actually scared by Seong-Il’s uneasiness was Lu-luah. It did not dare approach him closely. It maintained a noticeable distance and was following him from the back.
[What the hell? She is such a bitch. Please bear with it, Invincible Caliber. (੭ ˃̣̣̥᷄⌓˂̣̣̥᷅ )੭⁾⁾ ]
Seong-Il’s face with bloodshot eyes, furrowed eyebrows and consciously tightened mouth appeared as if it would burst if someone touched it. He looked at Lulua and gestured for it to come near him.
There were the bodies of the dead Baclans between Lulua and Seong-Il. Among them was the corpse of the mage who had troubled him early on, which was a masterpiece created solely by Seong-Il without Lulua’s assistance.
Seong-Il was calling Lulua after such a growth. Lulua suddenly realized something that it could not help but to ask.
[Is it a special stage? Hehehe…]
Seong-Il replaced his answer by taking a deep sigh. He was clearly implying that it was not worth his attention. His indifferent gaze seemed only natural.
Then, he hit the ground just as Lulua approached him. The guardian of the light pillar in this stage was different from the previous ones. That was the information he received from the sensory network in the Ender section.
[Light Pillar Guardian (Boss monster)
This was not dispatched from any monster corps. It is a soldier created directly by the evil god Doom Kaos, and it guards the vicinity of the light pillar.
It was difficult to find the differences between the previous light pillar guardian from the information He provided and from its appearance. Nonetheless, the mysterious power had been detected for sure.
There must be a high chance of it being strengthened like the dog-head ones.
Seong-Il kept that in mind. However, there was no difference in the way that he had to tear off the massive black wings attached to the monster’s back. He signaled to Lulua with just a look.
[Go Invincible Caliber! ٩(๑˃́ꇴ˂๑)و]
Such a message looked like a skill that would instantly teleport him on top of the monster to Seong-Il. He could faintly feel the distorted flow of space. He no longer had to rely on it blindly as before because he could now anticipate this flow and combine it with his speed!
When he jumped on top of the monster’s back, his fist plunged into the monster’s spine.
[Fist Destroyer has been activated.]
The monster, feeling the impact, bristled its wings. It was the perfect moment for Seong-Il to grip and rip them off. He widened his eyes because an ominous energy poured out instead of the blood he expected. The energy made his entire body tingle from the intense malevolence. His fatigue vanished instantly.
[Warning: Doom Kaos is aware of Seong-Il.]
Seong-Il turned his head and shouted in alarm. His fleeting sense of foreboding had become a reality. Lulua was struggling within a swirl of dark energy, visible only as a faint silhouette.
Nonetheless, the bigger threat was somewhere else. The energy enveloping Lulua was just a tiny fraction. Eight massive tendrils of energy formed, and targeted the cities all around him, drawing vast arcs.
They were different in color, but they resembled the bombardment once witnessed from the towers of the Elf races.
[Caliber Kwon Seong-Il has used the Golden Breastplate.]
[Absolute Warzone has opened.]
But fuck. He could not keep up with the speed of the barrier’s formation. Things happened rapidly, starting with the cities closest to the light pillar!
[Warning: City (2) has been destroyed.]
[The light pillar has entered Danger Level 1.
* Attack power has decreased by thirty percent until the light pillar is destroyed.]
[Warning: City (4) has been destroyed.]
[The light pillar has entered Danger Level 2.
* Items have been disabled until the light pillar is destroyed.]
[Absolute Warzone has been removed.]
The ground shook as far as where Seong-Il was standing, and violent roars came crashing in succession. Although a heightened Sense could cloud judgment, Seong-Il’s decision at that moment was spot on.
He began striking the monster’s head as if it were a movement ingrained in him for a long time. Black energy oozed out instead of blood, sticking to him. The protective system from the golden armor collapsed, but the protective system on the ninth level of Passion still remained intact for a fleeting moment.
He decided there was no time to avoid the monster’s counterattacks. Cutting off its lifeline as quickly as possible was the only way out. With one punch, there was a huge crash!
[Warning: City (8) has been destroyed.]
[The light pillar has entered Danger Level 3. * Skills and traits have been disabled until the light pillar is destroyed.]
Then, the monster’s tail swung heavily, brutally striking Seong-Il’s back. He would have typically been able to dodge such a counterattack, but he clenched his teeth against the shock and mustered all his strength to throw another punch.
However, the sensation of the impact felt different. It was not like hitting the monster. Seong-Il’s punch struck the ground as his body fell limp off the monster’s back. There was a deafening noise.
[Warning: City (6) has been destroyed.]
[The light pillar has entered Danger Level 4. * All stats have been disabled until the light pillar is destroyed.]
He collapsed on the crumbled ground. His vision blurred further, barely making out the outlines of objects. The last thing he saw was the silhouette of the monster, especially its battered head that looked barely alive.
Nonetheless, when he managed to poke his head out of the pit, countless silhouettes were swarming around the fallen monster. Although he lost his Awakened abilities, he could smell the stench emanating from the monsters. Every shadow around the monster was a Baclan.
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He had ignored these low-class monsters as they did not give him much XP, but now they appeared as formidable enemies. It was not that they had gotten stronger, but that he had become weaker like an ordinary civilian.
Feel like I can bring at least one… But what is the point of that? Just with one ox-head…
Seong-Il truly felt the heart-wrenching pain. He was not afraid of death, but it was the guilt of failing to fulfill his mission. Of course, He would have had a backup plan. However, he could not deny that his death would cause serious damage to His plan.
I cannot die like this. How could I die here? Even Osiris survived, so can I. It’s me, Caliber Kwon Seong-Il.
He suddenly thought of Mary noona. She would not refuse a rescue request.
However, he was not supposed to ask for help. This stage was already ruined. The weakening curse from the light pillar would affect the newly arriving Awakened as well.
[Remaining time (until Night Raid): 1 hour 59 minutes 31 seconds)]
That was the real deadline. He needed to eliminate the ox-head creatures swarming around the monster within that time.
Fuck. They got smarter.
They would not be distracted by ordinary temptations. Although Seong-Il was covered in the blood of his kind, they would start chasing him once they smelled the scent of humans.
Even then, there will be enough of them by the side of the light pillar.
No matter the circumstances, he would not flinch at all.
There were roughly more than one hundred Baclans that were gathered around the monster. Seong-Il tried to regain his vision to gauge a more accurate count. He rubbed his eyes vigorously with the thick part of his palm.
However, it only became more blurry. The dark energy had evaporated, but the dust that got in his eyes when he rolled in the pit seemed to have continued scratching his cornea. If only he could cry a flood of tears, then he would have washed away the foreign substances.
He used to cry so easily, but he wondered why he could not do that at the time. It was not just that. The heaviness of his eyelids made his vision flicker darkly due to exhaustion was becoming more annoying.
[Guild Leader Caliber: Respond if there are any survivors! I will have a brief now.]
[Vice Guild Leader Sapa: There is no one who can move, including me… It was an honor to serve you.]
A few more messages followed, all echoing the same thing. The only thing clearly visible in Seong-Il’s sight were those messages of despair. He knew that he could offer them no hope. If sheer determination could decide life and death, then not so many would have perished before.
This was a harsher environment than the hell Osiris experienced.
I am the only one left.
Anyway, he could not remain trapped in the pit. It was something that he had to face at least once.
He threw a stone to a distance, and took the chance to pull himself out of the hole when the Baclans were distracted. Then, he started running with all his might. He did not have time to check the desperate message from some of his guild members. After running for a while, he finally reached the slope he had in mind.
The cliff was filled with the bodies of the Baclans he had slain earlier. He nestled among the bodies, then managed to push another body more over the edge. It was a close call. The Baclans that chased after him changed direction towards a detour that led down the cliff.
Seong-Il’s heart was surprisingly calm, just beating intensely due to the vigorous activity and not out of fear.
Right then, one figure approached Seong-Il as he got up. Seong-Il’s heart gave a huge thump. He clenched a small stone, the only thing that could serve as a weapon around him, not to throw but to increase the strength of his fist.
However, as he looked up, the figure was much smaller than him. It was not the muscular silhouette of the Baclans, and there were long strands of hair.
“Why did you come? Why? Why did you do that? Why…”
Tears that he had longed to shed earlier now flowed freely, washing away the dirt in his eyes. There was only one thought in his mind when he was rubbing his eyes. It was that the great plans had been ruined because of him.
This place had become a land of death, and even Mary noona couldn’t fix it.
“Don’t be so emotional. I am here for the quest. But calling me ‘noona’ is a bit disgusting. Isn’t that a Korean word that means an older woman?”
Suddenly, the face of Hera filled Seong-Il’s vision as he widened his eyes.
Now that he regained his vision, Seong-Il could clearly see others who approached him. All of them were guild members who had come with Hera. Only then could Seong-Il revisit the message he had missed in the rush earlier.
[Guild: You have joined the guild ‘Hera and a New Beginning.’]