Those were the last words from Uruo before he lost consciousness.
From the start, he was barely holding on using the little bit of mana he managed to recover from disengaging his energy orbs. Actually, his body was in shambles.
The severity of his injuries was to the point where Uruo could lose his life if he wasn’t taken to an infirmary soon.
Vulcan walked toward Uruo without saying a word. A strong determination could be felt from each step that Vulcan took.
Blocking Vulcan’s path, a giant, Berkman stepped in.
“Why should I go back?”
“The outcome of battle had been decided. There is no need to see further bloodshed, don’t you think?
“You should have thought of that before picking a fight with me.”
The ironclad response from Vulcan, and his cold tone of voice, made Berkman take a dry gulp.
Berkman was getting nervous from the possibility of a battle that could break out at any moment. He prepared for the worst and said to Vulcan,
“I acknowledge that we were the ones that started it. However, from the start, we had no intention of taking your life. It is just that there were many misunderstandin……”
“……that’s right. I’m sure you figured it out from the conversations earlier, but we do not kill Players so carelessly. We force them to take parts in trainings or employ them in hunting, but we are, in essence, an organization in pursuit of all players’ advancement as a the whole.”
“We just have a different path to our purpose. Please, stop this here.”
Berkman continued with a sincere face.
“As Berkman, the second-in-command of Players Alliance, I promise you that, from now on, we will never do anything that would get in your way.”
Vulcan poked at his ears as he watched Berkman.
Although he was saying it all with a desperate face, it wasn’t invoking anything particular in Vulcan.
There was one thing that Vulcan learned from struggling through Rubel continent for five years.
Do not leave loose ends.
“Before I came to this dimension, there is something that I heard. About the skill that enables its user to steal another’s abilities…… It appears your boss has an interesting skill. I heard that in order to obtain that skill…… you have to murder someone. So you are still telling me there was no intent to kill?”
Vulcan tossed the broken sword to the ground and brought out a spare from his inventory.
His actions spoke louder and clearer than a hundred words.
Berkman cursed in a low voice. He took a boxing stance and said a skill command,
Berkman’s tanned skin turned gray. He looked solid as if nothing could pierce him, as if he would not shed a single drop of blood if he was stabbed. Vulcan faced Berkman as he took a quick-draw blade technique stance.
‘I’m not going to take it easy like I did with Uruo in the beginning.’
It was going to be a big problem if the patrol team came by before the battle ended. Vulcan was bent on defeating Berkman in a single strike. Vulcan tightened his stand’s focus on tip of his feet.
The intense atmosphere felt like the fight was about to break out at a drop of a pin.
Breaking that uneasy atmosphere, a man suddenly dropped down from the sky.
It looked like he jumped from a pretty high place, making an arc as he came down at an accelerated speed, but strangely, his landing step sounded too soft. It was almost miraculous.
It was a feat that could only be demonstrated by martial art grand masters with a complete mastery in speed step technique. Vulcan’s alerted gaze turned toward the unwelcome guest.
[Zenith Swordsman Lee JungYup]
‘That man…… It’s that guy I ran into when I first came to the city.’
He was one of the two that Vulcan had squabbles with when Vulcan first arrived at the Beloong City.
‘I was certain he was around 300 level…… Did he have an enlightenment since?’
His current level was 493, an astonishing number.
Of all Zeniths, his level was unmatched. In light of this incredible level, Vulcan’s alertness spiked to its peak.
A relaxed voice full of ease was flowing out of Lee JungYup’s mouth. Berkman greeted the man with an awkward face.
“…… How do you do Sir?”
“Oh, well, well, how’s your boss doing?…… Oh, this can’t be, who could have done such a vile thing!”
Lee JungYup made a fuss as he rushed to Uruo who was lying unconscious on the ground.
“KU… this kid isn’t someone who would go around getting beat up. There isn’t anyone from Powel or Murim that would be so rotten to the core to do something extreme like this…… Let me do the first aid.”
Lee JungYup brought out a potion from his sleeves, sprayed it all over Uruo’s body, and performed pressure point treatments to prevent Uruo’s condition from worsening.
Even though Berkman had his eyes wide open and strained them to see, it was difficult to follow Lee JungYup’s hand movements. His movements were that fast.
Lee JungYup had his back turned towards Vulcan, and that was hurting Vulcan’s pride. However he couldn’t make a move against Lee JungYup’s back so carelessly either. Vulcan didn’t exactly have a just cause to attack him, but it was more about the fact that Lee JungYup looked so relaxed and was exuding natural confidence. There was also the matter of his high level.
“Now, I roughly put out the biggest fire.”
Lee JungYup stood back up, pretended to wipe sweat off his forehead, and directed his gaze toward Vulcan’s eyes.
Up until now, Lee JungYup was acting like a comedy actor for a stage with exaggerated mannerisms, but that attitude suddenly disappeared. Lee JungYup revealed his true self as a man of martial arts.
Lee JungYup was a man who joined the ranks of the strongest in the Beloong City. His extraordinary aura pressured Vulcan’s entire body.
Vulcan resisted the aura by gathering his magic power. Although it was not easy because of the difference in levels, Vulcan could at least pretend to be at ease and start a conversation.
“What makes you think you can interfere?”
Lee JungYup stared at Vulcan with a surprised look. He turned his head toward Berkman.
“Hey, that guy is a Player right? What’s his current level? Tell me mine too.”
“……It’s 190. Sir Lee JungYup, your level is currently 493.”
“Wow, really? Then this guy is not even a Second-Rate. How is he standing his ground?”
Lee JungYup murmured as if he was standing in front of a mystery he could not solve.
Vulcan was having an extremely bad feeling about the current situation. Vulcan tossed a question at Lee JungYup who appeared to be deep in thought.
“Who are you?”
“Ah, by chance, you don’t know me? I am pretty famous.”
“Lee JungYup. Level 493. Other than that, I don’t know anything about you. Should I?”
“No, not necessarily……”
“Anyway, if you are from Murim, then you must be fully aware how disgraceful it is to interfere with someone else’s indebtedness or grudge.”
Vulcan didn’t know much about Asgard, but he at least knew that in matters of indebtedness, grudge, vengeance, and duel among individuals, those from Murim honor them with their lives.
Now matter how Vulcan looked at it, based on Lee JungYup’s getup and his facial features, it was apparent that Lee JungYup was from Murim.
This was the reason Vulcan brought up the subject about honor.
However, Lee JungYup’s response was completely off from Vulcan’s expectation.
“I know, but I am an honor-less bastard, so I don’t give a damn about such.”
Vulcan could not hide his surprised face. On the other hand, Lee JungYup looked as if there was nothing wrong with what he said, and he casually continued,
“It was a joke. I am suppose to be one of the leaders in the ways of virtuous conduct, so I can’t just poke into other people’s business without a just cause.”
Lee JungYup looked around the surroundings.
His gaze passed through Miluwall, who was knocked out even before the battle started, Huran and then Turan. In the end, Lee JungYup directed his gaze at Vulcan.
“These men are my subordinates. I will apologize in their place, so how about ending it here?”
Of course, it was unacceptable for Vulcan.
They were like time bombs with unspecified time remaining before they go off. Vulcan couldn’t think of a way to stand having something like that hanging over his head at all times.
“These men made attempts at my life. I have absolutely no intention of taking on the risk when I have the cleanest solution at hand.”
Lee JungYup strained himself in thoughts for a while and said to Vulcan,
“For a runt that isn’t even from Murim, it seems you sure know a lot about the ways of Murim. So let me ask you this……”
Sensing sudden rise in Lee JungYup’s aggression, Vulcan winced as he took steps back.
Overflowing with murderous aura streaming out of him like fountain, Lee JungYup slowly approached Vulcan.
“In all of Murim’s sacred principles, there is one that is the most important above all else. Do you know what that is?”
“Thunder God’s Might!”
Vulcan raised the Thunder God’s Might to its peak power. Vulcan no longer had any margin to spare to keep up this bravado.
On the other hand, Lee JungYup was still pressuring Vulcan with a calm face, still looking confident as ever.
“…… It’s the pride of being the strongest.”
Vulcan took a combat stance. The blade on his right hand pointed toward Lee JungYup, and his left hand had mana gathered and ready to launch magic at any time. In light of Vulcan’s reaction, Lee JungYup asked as if he was surprised.
“…… By chance, are you intending to come at me?”
There could be difference in the destructive power due to the gap in levels.
However, that was all.
Vulcan already had masteries exceeding level 500.
As long as he diligently took potions and dragged this out to a battle of attrition, Vulcan thought that it would be enough to overcome the difference in stats.
Vulcan’s and Lee JungYup’s gazes collided.
In suffocating silence, Lee JungYup was standing there with a menacing face as if he was now a completely different person from a moment ago.
In light of Lee JungYup, who appeared to be like a Grim Reaper of abyss, neither Berkman nor Miluwall, who just regained consciousness before anyone realized, could say a word.
However, the one that broke this silence was, ironically, Lee JungYup.
“Hum, this poses a problem for me. When it comes to duels, I am the type that, in eight or nine out of ten, no… in ten out of ten cases, I only pick fights that I would win.”
Lee JungYup instantly squashed his fighting spirit and went back to his usual self.
Everyone was confused by the situation.
They could not tell to what extent he was being serious, and to what extent he was joking, so everyone didn’t know what to make of it all.
Vulcan didn’t disengage his stance. He asked Lee JungYup,
“Are you backing off?”
“That’s right. I will be backing off, however…”
Lee JungYup brought in Huran, Turan and Uruo through telekinesis. While Vulcan was giving a blank stare for the moment due to not having fully comprehended the situation, Lee JungYup brought out a piece of paper and tore it apart.
A magic circle formed underneath Lee JungYup and the members of Players Alliance. With smile on his face, Lee JungYup said his last farewell to Vulcan.
“I’ll be backing off with everyone.”
The magic circle, which was shining in blue light, disappeared. In the northern field, all that stood was now just Vulcan.
After confirming that there was nothing around him, Vulcan plumped down on the ground where he stood and started to think.
‘I had a moment to stop him, but I hesitated. That means……’
Vulcan repeated making fists and opening the hand thereafter, and he looked at his arm, which was visible through gaps on his clothing, sliced through during the battle. The sensation of being creeped out was still there. It wasn’t gone still.
‘It means I was lacking certainty.’
Vulcan looked up the sky. Just like on Earth, a moon was spreading gentle light across the night sky.
“So in the end, perhaps leveling up would be best.”
The fastest way to close in the gap.
Vulcan’s gaze moved toward the Beloong City.
* * *
It was close to the midnight, but the Beloong City Pub was full of people.
In groups of three or five, people were gathered to enjoy their favorite beer, wine or Oriental liquor. Through middle of all those people, a young man walked past them.
People in some tables that recognized the young man changed their table topics toward him.
“I heard that is the man.”
“He looks very young.”
“When it comes to age, even Mr. Filder looks younger than his age, so you can’t tell how old he actually is.”
“Anyway, he is incredible. It hasn’t even been that long since he came to Asgard, but he is already the strongest of all Players……”
“Hmp. Even if you say he is the strongest of all Players, that’s still just around First-Rate. It’s no big deal.”
“Honestly, still, a First-Rate belongs on the upper class even on Beloong City. Also, Uruo is not an opponent to be taken lightly just because he is a Player.”
“That’s what I’m saying. This runt doesn’t know what he is saying. He is still struggling in Second-Rate level. He is all talk.”
“What? What did you just say? Are you done?”
“Yeah you rascal. Did I say something wrong?”
“Right now, by chance, are you fighting in my pub?”
Before anyone noticed, Filder appeared in the corner where a commotion was happening. As soon as they saw Filder, the two men’s rage toward each other disappeared like snow melting away. The two sat back down quietly.
Filder went away after putting down a roasted duck on the table of two mages chugging on bear. The conversations in the area continued in subdued voices.
“…… Anyway, this guy still has some reasons to be called a rookie.”
“In that case, looks like the rookie ranking will be updated soon. Along with that guy, Dokgo Hoo?”
“I think that man went beyond the level of a rookie……”
Vulcan, the subject of the conversations, couldn’t hear what they were talking about because of all the noise in the pub, but he could still notice occasional gazes toward him. Vulcan spoke toward Jake.
“Somehow, it feels like people are staring at me.”
“Of course. Two days ago, you destroyed the leader of Players Alliance.”
“…… Mr. Jake. How do you know that?”
“It would be weird if I did not know that. Not just the leader, but you obliterated all others in command. Were you hoping the story would not spread?”
Jake drank Whiskey from the bottle and made ‘KHAH…’ sound in satisfaction.
“And for a merchant, it is imperative to be quick on latest information. Of course, there is also making the moves quickly as well. That’s how I manage to be where I am today.”
Vulcan steadily gazed upon Jake. He had an expressive scar on his left cheek, but he didn’t have any strong aura or toughness that could be felt from him.
[Third-Rate Swordsman Jake]
Even his level was only 1 level higher than the first time Vulcan met him. In Beloong City, where strength was valued the most, there would not be any objections from anyone to call him an outlier.
‘But this man has such a strong influence.’
Vulcan stopped with examining Jake’s appearance. Instead, he looked at Jake’s eyes.
“So, what is it that you want to tell me?”
The one who makes a living as a merchant in Beloong City, a place full of fight maniacs, Jake the Weirdo started talking.