San stopped his body mid-air. With the narrowest of margins, the tip of a sword passed San. The screaming wind caused by the passing sword rang out. San slid past a couple more of these thrown swords and rose up vertically into the air.
At the same time, he bent his body to his left. San vigorously swung his sword up and down and then left and right. As if he was pruning a hedge, San cut off the enemies’ shoulders, wrists, and head. With a pattering-sound, body parts, swords, and spears fell onto the ground.
San tilted his head to one side while digging through the enemy entity. There was no bleeding from the severed parts of the slaves’ bodies. The severed body parts were connected to their original owner through hundreds of transparent strings, allowing the entity to recover by quickly re-bonding the individual body parts.
[This… is pretty troublesome. I guess it’s a life form that can regenerate through re-bonding?] San commented.
[How about the mid-section?] Biyeon asked.
[0.5 seconds, at least 3 attempts are needed.]
San leapt diagonally above the entity. He was aiming for the center of the 60 meter in diameter circular formation. More than twenty spears flew like missiles towards San. Then, multiple knife-like protrusions sprang up from the entity, blocking all directions of attack. Its appearance was reminiscent of a Venus fly trap that was preparing to close on its prey at any moment.
San fell powerlessly into the trap. At the same time, his body rotated quickly, like a top, on a horizontal plane. Everything caught by his rotating blade was shredded without mercy.
In the first full rotation, he sliced off the horses’ legs within a 5-meter radius. On his second rotation, he separated the horsemen from their horses, making both fall onto the ground. Once he completed these two rotations, San bounced off the ground and rose into the air like a corkscrew. Only then did the previously thrown spears reach his previous location, digging into the empty ground.
San’s connecting movements, running around and hitting the center, left, and rear part of the entity, was so natural that it was like a fish swimming effortlessly in the midst of fierce, storming waves.
Although he fell into a cramped space with sharp blades greeting him at every turn, his movements were free flowing. Nothing had touched his body.
[What do you think?] San asked.
[You’ll have to put in some work.] Biyeon responded.
[What should I set as the standard acceleration?]
[The 2nd Stage of Acceleration.]
San became cautious. Once his feet touched the ground, he started to slow down his speed. It seemed like the entity was also taking its time to gather together after the initial clash. This seemed to be the end of the exploration stage wherein each party assessed the opponent’s combat power.
San initiated another attack. He slowed down his speed this time.
On the first confrontation, as they met blows, San frowned. He felt a tremendous power from his enemy! San reactively flew backwards to lessen the enemy’s blow. This time, his enemy took the initiative and attacked. Three spears flew at San at the same time. San gently leapt up to avoid two spears that were aimed at his lower body and deflected the remaining oncoming spear with his hands. He could feel the spear vibrating when it made contact with his hands. San turned his body to the side and let the spear go by.
[How many?] San asked.
[The entity possesses the combined force of about 10 individuals.] Biyeon answered.
San avoided his enemy’s ongoing attacks and moved closer to his enemy to initiate another attack.
[Weaknesses?] San continued without missing a beat.
[The control center must be destroyed. It seems like it’s using a central hub as the control center and giving out order to its various parts.]
[Have you identified the control center?]
[Not yet… I’m fairly certain it’s someone’s head.]
[This entity is annoying… I’ll stir it up some more so you can further observe.]
San increased his speed. He bent his body in the air and landed on the head of a horse. The blunt trauma of San’s landing caused the horse’s head to snap to its right. Using the momentary footing, San projected his body to the horse’s left. As he moved in this manner from right to left, San felled one enemy’s head after another. In an instant, the heads of five contracted slaves flew into the air.
[Testing- Lightning-] As soon as Biyeon conveyed her message, five bolts of lightning flashed with blinding light as they approached San’s vicinity. A portion of the entity seemed to have been momentarily detached and thrown into confusion, but it soon reattached to the entity’s main body. The heads of the individual contracted slaves had momentarily paused after being hit with the lightning, but they quickly fell back into an organized line once they reconnected to the entity.
It was bizarre for San and Biyeon to see the blinking eyes of the individuals as they reconnected themselves to the main body. It was as if their nerves and other connections were being recreated. Biyeon thought that the entity seemed similar to the ‘Hydra’ in Greek mythology.
San swung his sword to initiate his attack. A frown suddenly formed on his face. The entity’s reaction had suddenly accelerated. San’s attacks were easily being blocked and its counterattacks intensified. He felt that it would be bad news if things continued in this manner.
‘It learns! Moreover, as the battle progresses, its entire body hardens, and it shows little to no sign of being affected by physical impacts. Every time I hit it a metallic sound rings out.’
The entity’s attacking movement became more and more free. It seemed that the entity had properly united its 20 individual components. A tremendous energy flowed out magnificently as the entity seemed to have reached its final phase of development. San bit his lips.
He stood in mid-air and observed the dense forest of spear swords that was being made from below. A momentary silence followed. San laughed and shook his head from side to side.
[Were you able to garner some conclusions from your observations?] San asked.
[I think I roughly understand what’s going on.] Biyeon replied.
[Alright. Let’s make our move right now. We need to face it head on with all our abilities.]
With her hands behind her back, Biyeon had been observing San’s attacks and the entity’s responses from afar. Her expression was as calm as a veteran director’s face. However, her clear eyes were darting around a very large space, constantly following the appearance of San attacking the entity here and there. San had slowly been giving up the momentum to the entity.
However, the real battle was just beginning.
“Ah-” Rain quietly groaned with a wide-open mouth. She was clenching her fists so hard that she began to tremble. Gun looked at the scene below with half-open, unfocused eyes. His mind went completely blank as if his head had given up on making any sense of what he was seeing. The unfolding battle that they were watching from above was that unconventional and novel.
Ominous dark clouds filled the sky as far as their eyes could see. They wouldn’t have been surprised if an evil demon had descended from the heavens and emerged in the battlefield below. The battlefield was covered in darkness except for the burst of white light that illuminated parts of the area from time to time.
On the battle site, black tornadoes rose up as if the site was bombarded with artillery shells, and cleanly cut blades of grass cut were caught up in the mini tornados’ winds, causing them to shoot up into the sky. Gray dust filled the air.
In the midst of this chaotic environment, a huge monster/entity that no human had ever seen before was shaking and roaring fiercely. Its roars, which sounded like a thousand women crying out, were loud enough to burst one’s eardrums. The atmosphere felt as though it were a canvas that was violently being ripped apart. The shock waves from the battlefield were strong enough to cause the clothes of those far away from the area to swell up. The entire scene caused goosebumps to arise for all who observed.
‘Is that really… a human being’s ability?’
In the midst of all this chaos was a single person fighting against the monster. The monster exuded indomitable power and dominance. San, who often acted rough and silly in front of the crew, confronted the monster alone without fear.
In Rain’s eyes, he was like a man who flew freely in the air, unfettered by natural laws. Each time his white sword was swung, large rocks burst like fireworks, winds were kicked up into a frenzy, and heat waves emanated out from the unnatural friction that was created.
Flashes and thunderbolts flashed wildly, as if they wanted to split the dark sky. As each section of the monster’s body was shattered and disconnected, bright cracks started to form all over the monster’s body. The entire atmosphere felt like the descent of a heavenly deity.
The non-stop battle continued. San speed had grown so fast that the observers’ eyes couldn’t catch up to his image, and the monster was wriggling in pain. Its body was as ragged as torn cloth. The battle was coming to an end.
“Should we also participate?” Dongyoung said aloud. However, there was no confidence in his voice even though he was a special warrior who had risen to the level of a Dark Warrior (2nd Stage of Acceleration). Even within the Dark Warrior level, warriors from the Dong-Myung Clan were considered more developed and accomplished. However, at this moment, he was very hesitant to fight.
“Would we be able to do anything if we joined?” Dongha stated as she shook her head with a tired expression on her face.
‘I’m afraid that I’ll die from getting hit by one of those many pieces of rock that are floating around on the battlefield… how can I even consider entering this type of battlefield…?’ she thought to herself quietly.
Gibin gulped. He had seen many battles between Awakened Warriors (3rd Stage Acceleration), so he knew about their destructive powers and abilities. Gibin himself had recently become an Awakened Warrior. Though he didn’t make it known to anyone else, he was already in the process of mastering three skills.
However, the body… the mind… that he thought was so strong… was shaking in fear uncontrollably. Gibin rubbed his eyes. His eyes felt moist. From the tip of his lips, blood started oozing out.
“What the hell am I looking at right now?” Giyoung exclaimed before narrowing her eyes to avoid the harsh dusty wind that was kicking towards them. She couldn’t stand the unexplainable scene unfolding in front of her, so she turned her head to the side. When she turned her head, she saw the carriages atop the hill. She could see Rain and her expression of extreme anxiety and horror. However, her eyes grew wide as she saw the Essen crew next to Rain.
“What are those crew members doing?”
The Essen crew members gathered together and made a formation with weapons in hand, readying themselves to enter the battle. This in and of itself may not have been too surprising, but their body language and attitude didn’t fit this situation. They were gathering together and having lively conversations!
“5 minutes,” a crew member stated aloud.
“10 minutes,” another chimed in.
“25 minutes? Eh, no one?”
“Are you kidding?”
“Everyone! Get your bets in early! 1 Tongbo each with a 1:1 payout.”
Giyoung couldn’t make out what the crew members were saying because of the roaring sounds coming from the battle below. However, she could see Rain speechlessly looking at the crew members as if they were another species.
[Shall we wrap this up?] Biyeon stated.
[You’re done with your analysis?] San replied.
[There are 4 command hubs. Among the command hubs, the most active hub’s coordinates are XX]
[What’s the shape of the network?]
[If one were to look at it through topography, it’s a star-shaped network.]
[What acceleration level do we need to use?]
[The 5th Stage of Acceleration. We’ll need to apply the finishing blows within a 0.1 second interval.]
[Alright. I’ll start the countdown. We go at the count of 10.]
[1. 2. 3…]
San had suddenly stopped his explosive attacks. He rose up 10 meters into the air, stepping on thin air and rising higher as if he were stepping on firm ground. He pointed his sword downward toward the ground and glared mischievously towards his enemy.
The wind suddenly stopped blowing.
The roaring sounds of the battlefield disappeared, and a vacuum-like silence took its place.
Beckham looked up toward the sky. The atmosphere seemed to tremble chaotically as San continued to step on air with a smile on his face.
“I had fun. This experience helped me learn a lot, so I thank you. It’s helped me develop further in my own martial path. Tell Kamije that I thank him sincerely,” San said as he looked at Beckham with a happy, satisfied expression. A light-colored aura started enveloping San’s body.
The aura’s light started sparking from his sword. Beckham frowned, wondering what was going on.
Biyeon took a step forward. The invisible wall that seemed to have separated her from the battlefield was lifted. Her movement rang alarm bells for the enemy. Another strong opponent was entering the fray. A sense of urgency and tension entered the atmosphere. The monster/entity started to muster up more of its power. The horses within the entity neighed as if in pain.
“Well… since I’ll be going all out, I guess you’ll have to die again, no?” San calmly said as he pointed the tip of his sword at Beckham. A sense of panic flashed past Beckham’s face. At the same time, as if Kamije noticed something wrong, Beckham could feel that Kamije was planning for a final strike.
The various spears and swords were cocked back, ready to be thrown like a notched arrow pulled as far back as possible on a bow. The frenetic energy in the atmosphere reached a fever pitch. At that moment…