While looking rather gruff, Dokgo Hoo approached the group. He glanced at Vulcan up and down and then started walking along beside Filder.
“Who is this man?”
“That’s Sir Dokgo Hoo to you! You small fry!”
“You saw him in the pub before? This is Mr. Dokgo Hoo from Murim, the finest swordman of the Nokrim. He will be training with us from today and on.”
‘But he got pissed off and left the pub saying that he cannot take such a treatment.’
Vulcan looked at Dokgo Hoo, who was now walking proudly with them as if there was nothing about it that bothered him. Noticing Vulcan’s eyes, Dokgo Hoo asked.
“There is an old saying that you will get rusty if you don’t keep up with training, so always strive to learn and improve. There is also a saying that a man trying to learn should not be concerning oneself about embarrassment. I’m just following the ancient wisdoms and concentrating on learning to sharpen and smooth my blade.”
Ah, is that so.
What an incredibly thick skin he has.
On the other hand, it made Vulcan curious. Dokgo Hoo was not the kind of man that would just lower himself and come along like this.
‘Did something happen.’
Vulcan’s question was answered by Filder.
- It appears Mr. Dokgo Hoo had an altercation with someone while going around Beloong City recently. The opponent took into consideration that Mr. Dokgo Hoo is a newcomer to the Beloong city and did not hurt him badly…… but it seems the incident severely damaged his pride. He said he would do anything to have his vengeance against that man.
Filder’s explanation echoed inside Vulcan’s head, completely clearing all of his curiosities.
Vulcan glanced at Dokgo Hoo up and down just like how he did to Vulcan earlier.
Dokgo Hoo glared at Vulcan. Vulcan turned his eyes away like there was nothing wrong.
‘Still, I am better than that guy.’
Vulcan found something to feel better about.
The place that Vulcan’s group arrived at was a forest not far from the east gate. The place was packed with lively trees thanks to the bountiful sunlight.
“This place is where you all will be training.”
Filder said with a smile as usual. Dokgo Hoo inquired immediately.
“Hey, there is nothing here but trees. What was the point of coming here? We could have trained in front of the city.”
‘What a tone for someone who just made a big speech about learning.’
Filder did not mind Dokgo Hoo’s tone at all. Filder explained as he pulled his slightly wavy brown hair.
“It is as Mr. Dokgo Hoo said. Since there is nothing here but trees, we will be going through basic training with trees.”
“What? With these trees? What could we possibly do with these trees?”
“Making firewood, of course. Isn’t the story common in the world you came from Mr. Dokgo Hoo? New apprentices climbing a mountain, drawing water, and working hard at cutting firewood, and so on. I know it to be a fairly common story……”
Filder tilted his head, suggesting his surprise.
Certainly, it was a common story. Even Vulcan remembered seeing a martial art flick featuring a similar story.
‘However, isn’t that a really basic training?’
Vulcan himself was level 99, and even Dokgo Hoo, although he had been waltzing around the town and getting his ass handed to him, was at level 92.
It was unthinkable to believe there is anything to gain from cutting firewood.
As if trying to advocate what was on Vulcan’s mind, Dokgo Hoo angrily stepped forward and started pointing fingers at Filder.
Vulcan thought to himself.
‘Is that guy suffering from an anger control disability?’
“What is this, a child’s play? Cut firewood! I’d rather practice sword dance in an empty space. Are you trying to make a fool out of me?”
“Of course not. I am not someone with such a terrible personality.”
“Hold on…… Hmm. Do you see that one in the front? That one tree sticking out by itself, that one. If you cut down that tree in one swing, we can end this training and move on to the next level.”
Filder pointed at the tree with a smile.
Amongst all the trees full of life and vitality, the tree that Filder was pointing at was disturbingly ill. Even its girth was substantially lacking in comparison to others.
Dokgo Hoo cringed.
As if trying to say he misheard, he asked again.
“Yes, that one.”
Dokgo Hoo spat on the ground. His expression looked absolutely rotten as if he was just insulted.
‘Aren’t you patronizing me, as if I’m less than a dog.’
Dokgo Hoo thought about saying something, but changed his mind. Thinking that he should end this child’s play, he said loud and clear.
“Don’t go back on your words!”
His sword made a swift noise in the air as he took a stance.
A massive sword that even a troll would drop in one hit was being held in Dokgo Hoo’s right hand. It looked rather primitive but sturdy, and a strong aura emanating from the blue light surrounding the sword exuded its violent existence.
‘It looks strong for the level.’
Vulcan thought about the goblin that he faced when he first arrived in Asgard.
Although it was smaller, quality wise the craftsmanship was far superior. Murderous intent, the kind that that would strike viciously at the first sign of a gap in the defense, could be felt from Dokgo Hoo.
Dokgo Hoo grinned and walked toward the tree. Cracking his neck, he took an offensive stance.
“Hmm, this is nothing…… Hah!”
His sword was swung with force.
It was a strike with an exhilarating speed that even trained martial artists would have had a hard time following.
The sword forcefully bounced off from the tree.
Dokgo Hoo’s upper body was also shaken up, but he rapidly balanced himself and saved himself from the embarrassment of losing grip of the sword.
‘What the hell!’
“This~ Da~mn bastard tree!”
A sense of panic could be felt in midst of all the swearing.
Vulcan too was panicking just the same.
Dokgo Hoo rose to the ranks of those with absolute power by his sword technique alone. Yet, here was a tree that withstood its power without a scratch. Beyond panic, it was sending a sense of terror down Vulcan’s spine.
Filder said to Dokgo Hoo, who now seemed to have lost his mind.
“Then can we start the training now?”
“No! I was careless! If I try again, I can cut it!”
“You said no going back on our word, did you not?”
Filder paid the words right back at Dokgo Hoo.
Grinding his teeth, Dokgo Hoo said with his teeth still locked.
“I can… I can do it……”
“Hmm…… If you say so…… I can give you one more chance. No going back on your word this time.”
“Of course! Who do you think I am! I am Dokgo Hoo, the finest swordsman of Nokrim!”
After yelling at Filder, Dokgo Hoo took to his stance again.
Taking a deep breath and concentrating his energy, he looked extremely angry from the back, but the way he suppressed his emotion and stared at the tree in front of him looked quite convincing.
Like a focused martial art trainee trying to come up with a new technique, he looked disciplined and amazing.
Vulcan and Filder held their breaths and watched him.
This suffocating silence.
Breaking that tranquility, Dokgo Hoo’s sword swung.
Cutting diagonally from the top, it was one amazing strike as if the sword and Dokgo Hoo became one!
‘Heart and blade …… no, heart and sword becoming one!”
Vulcan’s eyes opened wide with anticipation.
However, the end result was a failure.
Unlike the first try, which only left a barely visible scratch and bounced, the sword penetrated almost halfway through, but it was far from calling it a complete cut-through.
Filder said toward Dokgo Hoo.
“Now you won’t say any other words?”
Dokgo Hoo looked really down unlike how he was moments ago.
Taking a knee on the ground, and with his head tilted down, Dokgo Hoo looked pathetic as if he suddenly aged ten years. His wrinkles on his forehead looked deeper, and his shoulders were sagging like an old man at the retirement age.
‘……He lost to a tree so.’
It was understandable how Dokgo Hoo must be feeling.
However, Vulcan knew what the tree’s level was, so he thought it wasn’t something to feel so defeated.
There is nothing to feel embarrassed about not being able to cut down an opponent in one strike who has a higher level than oneself.
[Unhealthy Max Level Tree]
It was a sight that reminded Vulcan again what kind of world Asgard really is.
Vulcan sighed inside.
The tree that Dokgo Hoo tried to cut was the one with the lowest level amongst all the trees in the area and even had ‘Unhealthy’ as part of its title.
Somehow, Vulcan felt the uneasy sense of being subjected to disgrace.
Filder asked Vulcan, who was looking at the tree and Dokgo Hoo with a disturbed face.
“Mr. Vulcan, are you going to challenge the tree as well?”
Honestly, he did not have the confidence.
Vulcan thought his strengths were the concentrated attack utilizing various skills and the pro-active use of the ‘SYSTEM’ to be flexible and rapidly adapt in situations.
He was at a disadvantage on a test of the strength of a single blow; hence, it made him hesitate.
With all sorts of buff skills on and one-shot-kill, one-to-one combat skill ‘Thunder God's Strike’ perhaps ……
‘It is still not enough.’
Even with all that, it didn’t seem enough.
Perhaps it may get to three-fourths of the way in, or it might come just short of all the way through, and that made him thinking about tasting defeat. Even so…..
‘If I just walk away like this, that will hurt my pride.’
Also, Thunder God’s Strike wasn’t the only skill he had.
“I have one question.”
“Yes, please ask.”
“Is striking the tree with a magic instead of a sword allowed? Also, up to what still constitutes a single strike?”
“Hmm…… First, using methods other than a sword is fine. We are here to train, not to gather firewood. As for the second question, I don’t quite understand.”
“For instance…… Am I allowed to use only one skill, or before attacking… am I allowed to activate skills that will bring about multiple synergy effects.”
“No way! There is no such a thing! Even I did one sword strike! Don’t you try to use dirty tricks!”
Dokgo Hoo yelled in protest as soon as Vulcan finished talking.
Dokgo Hoo must have thought that if Vulcan succeeds right after he failed, it would have made him look like a fool.
Vulcan ignored Dokgo Hoo’s words. After all, it was Filder that made the decisions.
Still with face full of smiles, Filder closed his eyes for a moment and looked at Vulcan.
“Ok. Let’s try it that way!”
“What! Isn’t that cheating? What in the world……”
Filder interrupted Dokgo Hoo, and using his index finger, Filder pointed at a different tree.
Even at a glance, it was a tree with girth obliviously thicker than the last one.
[Max Level Tree]
“Since I am giving you a lot of allowances, may I include a handicap? If you choose that tree as the target of your challenge, I will accept the terms you described earlier.”
“……I accept the challenge.”
Vulcan made a big stretch and approached the target.
The humungous tree greeted him, boasting its heavy existence.
The level of difficulty had increased substantially, but Vulcan did not mind. It would not look good to back out because of it, and besides, he felt the desire to just take on the challenge regardless.
Ever since arriving at Asgard, he had been living his life holding his breath.
Beneath Vulcan, the hellfire poured down.