“I have been well. How about you? Mr. Dokgo Hoo? Lately, I only had been hearing rumors about you. I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
“Hey! Mr. Dokgo Hoo? Call me big brother!”
It was hard for Vulcan to utter those words, but because he didn’t want to have an argument with Dokgo Hoo over it, Vulcan chose to call him 'Big Brother' as he wished.
“Yes, big brother. Were you cooped up somewhere and training? I heard nobody saw you for a month.”
“Yes. I had a small enlightenment, so I was cooped up in the mountains for a while.”
“Ah, on the south side, that place…”
For a reason unknown to Vulcan, those from Murim especially liked training in the mountains. It was more likely that there were more of them cooped up in mountains meditating instead of training by fighting against monsters.
“So, was there good resu… Looks like there was a good result from it.”
“You sure have quick eyes when it comes to noticing things.”
“It’s the ability of my SYSTEM.”
[Zenith-Rate Swordsman Dokgo Hoo]
‘How does he level up so easily like that?’
When Vulcan was hearing explanations from Jake about reaching new heights, it sounded incredibly difficult, yet whenever Vulcan looked at how Dokgo Hoo was doing, it looked like the easiest thing in the world.
‘Of all people, I shouldn’t be saying this.’
Of course, since Vulcan was also getting stronger at a substantially faster rate than others, he figured he shouldn’t be the one to say such things.
Vulcan ended his useless thoughts and said to Dokgo Hoo,
“Big brother, this is Mr. Jake. Mr. Jake, this is Dokgo Hoo, the one I trained with under Mr. Filder.”
“Haha. I already know. Nowadays, you and Mr. Dokgo Hoo are the most famous ones. There is no way I wouldn’t know him. Also, I sold him a weapon a month ago.”
“Haha. The blade I bought from you, I have been using it well. It works really well, so I like it!”
Dokgo Hoo casually joined the table. He said as he ate snacks,
“So, what have you guys been talking about? At a glance, it sounded like you guys were talking about duels or whatnot?”
Vulcan’s face was obviously saying he does not want to, but he explained it all to Dokgo Hoo. Vulcan wasn’t liking it because he thought Dokgo Hoo, someone that usually enjoys duels, would give an opinion that was opposite of his own.
As expected, after hearing everything Vulcan had to say, Dokgo Hoo quickly yelled at Vulcan,
“What! Why are you talking about dueling as if it is a useless exercise? Don’t you know that dueling against a superb opponent is critical for reaching new heights?”
“… That is true in general, but, for me, it is not really necessary at this point. I just need to get to level 500 and defeat Sarantis…”
“That’s not true. Hunting to level up is for the purpose of getting stronger, right? A duel has an advantage of its own. Even for me, if it wasn’t for duels against top-notch warriors, I wouldn’t have gotten the last enlightenment.”
Dokgo Hoo continued as he fingered his chin,
“That’s right! Little brother, when is the scheduled time for the duel?”
“8 PM in the evening, five days from now. Why?”
“I’ll join you during the duel.”
“… From the start of this conversation, I figured things might turn out like this.”
Vulcan held his forehead with his hand. Dokgo Hoo looked excited like a kid who was about to go to an amusement park.
“The people who will be coming for the duel, they are Horune, Seo-Whee, and Ultoru, right? I know all of these guys. Maybe it’s time for me to have some fun swinging around my sword!”
“Do whatever you want.”
Vulcan said as he drank foamed up beer.
A man with a sturdy body, as if it was shaped from metal, ran toward Vulcan with a violent intensity.
BOOM BOOM BOOM.
Vulcan avoided his attacks with light movements.
The man tracking Vulcan had very rough movements, but they were fearsome.
A large crater was formed as if a bomb exploded every time he stomped on the ground to rapidly change his trajectory. Although he was constantly doing movements that would seriously strain his body, his fighting spirit was not showing any sign of backing down.
In order to stomp on the man’s momentum, Vulcan launched multiple shots of Hellfires. With speed and power far superior to when Vulcan was just level 99, the Hellfires flew toward man and bombarded him continuously.
BOOM BOOM BABOOM
Even after taking heavy hits from Vulcan’s magic attacks, the man didn’t know to stop.
He crossed his arms in front of him and blocked Vulcan’s attacks with his body. Like a bulldozer, the man marched forward with a heavy momentum.
To the ground and to the sky, the flames that collided with his body bounced off. Some of the Hellfire shots hit the ground or trees in the surrounding area, and the impacts resulted in dust clouds foaming up.
Thick dust clouds blocked the man’s vision, but the dust clouds couldn’t prevent him from sensing someone standing nearby. He quickly ran toward the direction where he felt a presence, where he predicted Vulcan was standing.
It appeared that his prediction was correct. He could see a shadowy figure of someone through the dust clouds.
Until now, the man had eyes like an innocent country boy, but now they were bent into crescent shapes. With a face completely different from a moment ago, now with a face that resembled that of a devil, the man’s right hand was opened wide.
With his right arm, the man grabbed the shadowy figure by the neck, and like a tiger extinguishing the life out of a deer by viciously biting through its neck, he threw down the figure into the ground.
“Huh? It’s just a skeleton?”
The man was confused after crushing a skeleton instead of person.
However, before he realized, there was already a blade pointing at the back of his neck.
“Huh? I lost again?”
The man of muscles, Ultoru, said like an idiot.
Vulcan put away his blade with a clean movement and turned around, but Ultoru’s voice could be heard,
“One more time! Let’s try it one more time!”
“I already did twice for you!”
“But… but… If I tried just one more time, I think I will be able to win this time…”
“No way. Instead of me, go over there. Fight Mr. Seo-Whee, Mr. Horune or big brother Dokgo Hoo.”
“But I already dueled with Seo-Whee and Horune a whole bunch of times…”
“In that case, why not fight big brother Dokgo Hoo?”
“Because, with him… it hurts too much when I get hit…”
Vulcan had a look on his face that said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Vulcan looked at Dokgo Hoo and said,
“With a sparring partner who is obviously weaker than you, you should have held back enough. While I wasn’t around, just how many people have you been beating up?”
“Kuhaha. Getting stronger faster by taking on beatings is how it is actually suppose to work!”
With a big laughter, Dokgo Hoo deflected the subject and said to Vulcan,
“What do you think? Duels are pretty helpful, right?”
“… I am not sure.”
Vulcan looked unsatisfied.
Certainly, duels were helping.
Dueling against Zenith-Rate warriors, the people that could be called the true powerhouses, was a very different experience.
Vulcan took turns fighting a master of magic, a swordsman specializing in high precision blade techniques, and a lightning bruiser who focused only on physical strength. In comparison to fighting several hundred of simpleton monsters, there was a lot to gain from the duels when it came to combat senses.
However, if someone was to ask if this was more efficient to the point of foregoing leveling up all together, the answer was no.
Hunting had a definite reward for the hard work and time invested in. Vulcan was wondering why he should abandon hunting for the sake of gaining more combat experiences from duels.
This was the reason why Vulcan was looking miffed.
“You are thinking about leveling up again.”
“If I said I wasn’t, I would be lying.”
“Why are you so fixated only on leveling up? Little brother. You became stronger by training in the traditional method like me and these men. Isn’t that right? You have no reason to insist on a Player’s method.”
“You are right about that, but I don’t have a reason to be held up taking on an uncertain approach when I know there is an alternative that will definitely get me the results I want.”
“So you are saying that leveling up is the most certain approach?”
“Yes. Is it not?”
“If that is the case, how come other Players are all still weaklings who are not even able to get to the Second-Rate?”
Dokgo Hoo said to Vulcan.
Vulcan was caught off guard. He responded with a little dumbfounded voice,
“Little brother, if leveling up was the surest way, and all you have to do is follow that path, how come the Players, the people that are diligently doing exactly that, are crawling on the lowest end of the bottom?”
Vulcan was at lost for words.
Certainly, it was as Dokgo Hoo just described.
Leveling up through SYSTEM was an arrangement with a definite reward, and the Players followed this path single-mindedly with the goal of leveling up.
However, the average level of such Players was Third-Rate.
Even Uruo, the one that was at least the best of them all, was barely at the lower end of the First-Rate.
On the other hand, by breaking away from repetitive and mechanical hunting, Vulcan reached the new heights from training and enlightenments, and now, after just a few short years, he was able to successfully go past the level 300.
He believed that his momentum in level-up would not falter until he reached level 500, the level Vulcan thought of as his true strength at the moment.
However, Vulcan wondered what would come after reaching level 500.
He was not sure if he would be able to continue leveling up at an abnormally high rate like he was doing now.
“Well, little brother, certainly, you do have a need for leveling up since you are different from me. You said that, even if you have an enlightenment, you need to level up in order for your body to reach that capability?”
“… That’s right.”
“However, even if you level up to match the capability’s requirement, you will run into yet another wall blocking your path. Well, it would not matter to you if your current abilities are enough to perfectly overwhelm Sarantis… But if not, it is not a bad idea to think about ways to break through the wall.”
Having finished his explanations, Dokgo Hoo grabbed Ultoru, who was standing with a blank face, by the back of his neck and stepped away to a far distance from Vulcan.
Vulcan watched Dokgoo Hoo dragging Ulturu away and peeked a smile.
Vulcan was thankful of Dokgoo Hoo’s consideration for giving Vulcan some alone time to process what he just heard.
‘Although it feels a little awkward.’
Vulcan stretched big. It was enough to make cracking noises. Vulcan drew his blade from the sheath, swung it a few times in the air, and walked toward Dokgo Hoo.
There was no need to think about this for a long time.
Vulcan’s mind was already completely refreshed; it was cleared of all tangled up questions.
It was because Dokgo Hoo was right.
‘Once I reach level 500, I’m guessing I would be able to handle a one-on-one battle against Sarantis, but… It is a matter of life and death. I can’t fight such a battle where I am not certain of my victory.’
Vulcan thought that he should reach level 600, or at least 550. By then, he figured would reach a new height that would make him be certain of victory.
Earning the qualification by just leveling up was a way that only worked in lower dimensions.
‘In this place, you need to have the qualification to level up because this place is Asgard.’
Vulcan shouted toward Dokgo Hoo.
“Hey. Big brother!”
“Um? What is it?”
Dokgo Hoo was getting ready to beat the crap out of Ultoru, but then he turned to look at Vulcan.
“Instead of that poor guy, how about we have a duel? It’s been a while.”
Dokgo Hoo was proud of Vulcan for having such confident tone of voice, but at the same time, he was thinking that Vulcan was being arrogant toward him. Dokgo Hoo took out his buster sword and pointed it toward Vulcan.
“All right! It’s about time for me to slap around my little brother.”
“Have you forgotten? You have taken on more beating than I have.”
“When it comes to running your mouth, you are beyond Zenith-Rate. You are Ultra-Zenith-Rate. I think it would be able to run around on its own. Really.”
“When it comes to running one’s mouth, I think you are the one with the longer tongue.”
“You won’t give in on even one argument.”
Seo-Whee and Horune, who were having a duel by themselves on a corner, took Ultoru and moved far away from Dokgo Hoo and Vulcan.
The three essentially turned into spectators.
Besides these three, before anyone realized, there were a few dozen people gathered. They were eating something and waiting for the duel to start.
They were all people dueling in the nearby area.
“No. I mean, why… Why don’t they just go mind their own business…”
“KUHAHAT. A fight between two top-notch warriors is exciting for anyone. If you look at it from another way…”
Dokgo Hoo pointed at himself and Vulcan as he said,
“That means we are strong enough to be called top-notch.”
Vulcan nodded without any words. As if Dokgo Hoo wasn’t expecting any reply either, he continued,
“For the sake of spectators, or for the sake of our pride as warriors, let’s show them what we are really made of.”
“I was already planning on it.”
The battle spirits from the two ignited with intensity.
The aura was powerful enough to cut through leaves flying around in the air.
It was enough to affect even the spectators watching from the far distance.
They may not be in the Golden Ranking, but the two could be considered as incredibly powerful warriors. In anticipation of the duel between them, the spectators gulped through their dry neck.
It was a rare battle between two super comets.
Everyone was getting heated up from the anticipation of witnessing superb martial arts or ultimate magic techniques.
However, from somewhere, there was a voice could be heard, the kind that was like throwing a bucket of cold water at someone.
“Both the 1st and 2nd places of the Rookie Ranking are here.”
It was an unwelcomed guest.
Wearing a black martial artist getup with highly decorative golden linings, and with his long hair tightly tied, he had the look of a nobility’s young master.
After looking at the man, who made an entrance with a smile overflowing with confidence, Dokgo Hoo cringed.
“Just who do you think you are to interfere in others' duel?”
“If it is someone like me, I am more than qualified to interfere in a duel between two rookies.”
With an arrogant glare, the man was staring at Dokgo Hoo and Vulcan, and then he pointed his finger towards Vulcan.
“Are you the 1st place in Rookie Ranking, Vulcan?”
“… That’s right, but just what do you think you are? You are getting in our way. Also, you dare to use non-honorary language to someone you don’t even know?”
Immediately after Vulcan finished talking, the two men escorting the young master tried to step forward. However, the young master stopped them, and they backed down.
“Huhu. It has been a while since meeting someone spewing out such crass words towards me.”
“What makes you think you can do whatever you want like this?”
“You are right. I did not introduce myself. I figured you would know who I am.”
The young master murmured, implying he was surprised that Vulcan didn’t know who he was. He looked at Vulcan and said,
“I, the Order of Virtue’s little sky, the sleeping-dragon shining-tiger, request a duel against Vulcan, the Rookie Ranking’s 1st place.”
He looked very arrogant with his chin slightly raised up. Looking at him, Dokgo Hoo thought,
‘Who is this retard?’