The monsters of the Underground Graveyard were substantially harder to deal with than ordinary ones.
The monsters that Vulcan fought until now charged at him while relying only on their strength or speed. With such monsters, it was easy to defeat them once he figured out their attack patterns.
However, the two skeleton knights in front of Vulcan’s eyes were demonstrating no gap in their defenses. Using their superb swordsmanship as the basis, they came at Vulcan from both sides.
[Skeleton Knight (Ex-Swordmaster)]
[Skeleton Warrior (Ex-Mercenary King)]
It felt like dueling against Zenith-Rate Warriors.
Of course, it took longer to hunt, and it also took more mental focus.
These were opponents even Vulcan could not take lightly.
Because of this, he tried hard to avoid running into three or more at once.
Vulcan threw countless number of magic attacks at them, but the skeletons created barriers with their swords to block the attacks.
Although the barrage was unsuccessful in dealing any effective damage, it was still enough to stop them from relentlessly charging toward Vulcan.
Vulcan lightly stepped around to avoid the skeletons and poured out different amount of magic attacks to the two skeletons. The one that was pressured less by the attacks came first toward Vulcan.
Finally, one of skeletons managed to come all the way to the front of Vulcan after piercing through a storm of magic attacks.
Vulcan charged toward the skeleton as he cast Hellfire.
Vulcan cast this particular Hellfire with more care than the other ones he had been launching. The Hellfire appeared without any notice, and the skeleton, unable to dodge the attack, stepped on the Hellfire and seriously lost its balance. At that moment, Vulcan’s blade fell down across the skeleton.
CLANK! CLANK CLANK CLANK!
By Vulcan’s blazing fast swords strikes, the entire area was being filled with after images of his blade. The skeleton had its hands full blocking Vulcan’s blade strikes.
However, because of flame magic attacks coming in between, it was not able to maintain a proper combat stance, and it had no choice but to collapse to the floor with its skull broken.
The rest was refreshingly simple. Vulcan beat the crap out of the remaining skeleton. He could hear a notification sound through the SYSTEM,
[Experience Points Went Up.]
That meant Vulcan was now at level 400.
It had been six months since he started hunting in the Underground Graveyard.
In that time, Vulcan went up by 50 levels.
It was not a bad number. Even in ordinary games, more a character leveled up, exponentially higher experience points were required for further levels.
If this pace kept up, the level up speed was not falling far behind from how things were in the Abandoned Dungeon.
It appeared that, in exchange for the monsters being tedious to fight against, they were giving out more experience points.
‘Now I am a Zenith-Rate… Well, to beat Ho-Gyeong, at minimum, I need to go up to the Ultra-Zenith Rate. Still…”
That was not all. Vulcan had to do better than just barely hanging his head above the beginning end of the Ultra-Zenith Rate. He had to be at a height that could easily overcome the wall of the Ultra-Zenith Rate.
Unfortunately, Vulcan had not reached that height.
Because Vulcan was the type that improved best through real combat, he thought he might reach an enlightenment quickly since he had these skeletons to fight against, which were excellent training opponents. However, the reality was not so easy.
‘Well, since Lee Jung-Yup took 150 years from being a First-Rate to upper end of the Zenith-Rate…’
Expecting a substantial change in just half a year was being greedy.
Vulcan thought that he shouldn’t be so impatient.
Also, it wasn’t like he wasn’t gaining anything.
It wasn’t a rapid growth that would be obvious at a glance by anyone. Still, there was something he gained that was going help him in the long run.
Vulcan recalled the state of his body when he was at level 399 and started to compare the current status at level 400.
His health, strength, mana and magic power increased slightly. However, they were definitely developed further from before, and he was also able to determine that there had been subtle changes in his body for those developments.
In the past, even when he leveled up, Vulcan didn’t really have a feel for it. He just figured, ‘I got stronger. My strength is greater than before, and the damage from my magic is greater as well,’ and didn’t think much of anything else. He had no interest on the changes in his body that was being made to the stat developments.
‘Actually, I had no way of knowing back then.’
However, it was different now.
Vulcan went through structured training on traditional magic and learned the theories. Now, Vulcan was able to realize that his body was making subtle changes to fit the forced increase in mana and magic power.
Ever since he realized this, Vulcan had been aware of the changes and examining them since. He had been making strict comparison of it all for status before and after each level up.
Having repeated the process for so many times, Vulcan gained a rough idea of the direction that he was headed. In other words, it meant he was now able to make a prediction on the path forward.
‘Mr. Filder or the elder Beruneru, this must have been the reason why they had high expectations for me.’
Combining the Player’s SYSTEM with the talent of a traditional mage. It was miracle that was possible only if one possessed both traits. Vulcan have opened the gate to the possibility of being able to steadily achieve further development without relying on capricious unconscious world of enlightenment that came by occasionally in unpredictable times.
Actually, Vulcan’s understanding of magic was steadily increasing.
[Passive Skill List]
*Combat Mastery S
*Weapon Mastery A
*Defense Mastery B
*Dodge Mastery S
Fire Mastery S
Lightning Mastery S
Cold Mastery C -> B (Rank Up)
Necromancy Mastery C -> B (Rank Up)
The cold element and necromancy magic were the ones Vulcan hardly ever used. Still, through the examination of the internal workings of magic, Vulcan’s understanding of magic improved, and their rank went up naturally.
‘Although it would’ve been nice if fire mastery or lightning mastery went up too…’
However, that was being too greedy.
If any of the two went up in rank, Vulcan wondered if he would be looking at having power rivaling that of someone at level beyond 600, perhaps even level 700.
Of course, there was nothing wrong about him having such excessive greed.
On the contrary, using his greed as the basis, Vulcan was pouring in more effort than ever.
There were his fury toward Ho-Gyeong and Bellon, longing for his homeworld and his family, and his ambition for reaching greater heights, which took a place deep inside his heart before he realized.
These were taking on a role of a three-horse carriage that lead Vulcan to greater heights.
“Phew, the cooling down time had been filled already.”
Vulcan confirmed that his two-hour long cooling down for the Super Heated Inferno was completely filled. With excited steps, Vulcan walked toward deeper end of the place.
Under normal circumstances, he could fight two, or, if he overexerted himself, he could only fight up to three. However, with Super Heated Inferno, it was a different story.
It was because, within the Super Heated Inferno, if he transformed to a flame spirit, he could teleport indefinite number of times.
Compare to Blink, which required a long time to prepare, it was a difference between the ground and the sky. If he tackled the skeletons using this superior mobility, he could fight six to seven of them at once.
‘I wish its cooling time was 30 minutes shorter.’
As Vulcan murmured inside about his wishful thinking, he provoked and gathered skeletons and used the Super Heated Inferno.
The inside of the cursed Underground Graveyard filled up with scorching heat.
Sounds of blades clashing echoed through the entrance of the Underground Graveyard. As if they had been fighting for a long period of time, Jake could see Dokgo Hoo and Lee Jung-Yup sweating all over.
It wasn’t all that fun to watch for Jake. At first, he mindlessly watched their duels in awe, but having watched similar scenes for over a month, he got sick of it.
In fact, even from the start, their movements were too fast and unpredictable, making them difficult to follow or even observe very well, and now, their duels were like a random channel on a television that someone chose to leave on and watch with a vacant stare just because he had absolutely nothing else to do or watch.
“Let’s end it here.”
“… Uuuuuuu. God damn it!”
“This makes 31 win out of 31 duels? Well, it seems meaningless to continue duels.”
“Shut up! Five days, no, after two weeks, I’ll definitely stick a blade in your face!”
“… Grand Warrior Dokgo Hoo, our enemy is Ho-Gyeong. Please watch what you say.”
“You are just a rag from a faction, and you dare to butt in! Do you want to fight a round?”
Dokgo Hoo glared at Jang-Ho, who was calmly criticizing Dokgo Hoo. Dokgo Hoo sighed and put away his blade. He plummeted on the ground and said,
“I shouldn’t bother talking to you. It’s not like I’m talking to a statue of the Buddha.”
As Dokgo Hoo said, Jang-Ho was extremely emotionless and pokerfaced. He was not the type to reveal his emotions. It was to the point that made others wonder how could Ho-Gyeong have bought a grudge from someone like Jang-Ho.
Dokgo Hoo tried everything he could to provoke the man, but they were futile.
With his wariness toward them subsided to some extent, since a month ago, Dokgo Hoo released their pressure point suppressions and had been dueling against Lee Jung-Yup everyday. Even in middle of all this, Jang-Ho stood there still without a word like a monk going through a meditation training while facing a wall.
Dokgo Hoo turned his head and looked at Vulcan. He could see Vulcan preparing to go back to the Underground Graveyard.
“Little brother, before you go, please give me a shot of water magic!”
“… Thanks for using the magic, but why does it feel so unpleasant…”
After being hit by a sudden dump of water, Dokgo Hoo turned around as he complained.
Soon, he entered the world only of his own.
Lee Jung-Yup gazed at Dokgo Hoo once and turned his head to look at Vulcan.
He appeared to be in hurry. He quickly disappeared to beyond the skeleton gate.
‘He is impatient although it has only been a year.’
Dokgo Hoo, the one who had not made a single step of progress, appeared to have plenty of nerve and time to spare. On the contrary, Vulcan, the one who had been seeing noticeable developments, was looking more impatient.
Lee Jung-Yup could not understand this.
‘He is at a height that others may never get to even if they spent their entire life. To think he is showing signs of impatience only after a year…’
Lee Jung-Yup didn’t know much about magic, but he was well aware of the fact that, for a martial artist, being impatient will definitely become a poison.
He have seen countless number of martial artists overexerting themselves in order to reach a new height that they were not having an easy time achieving. In such cases, they fell into temptation of pushing themselves beyond the limit and ended up causing their energy to run amok, making them permanently crippled from being able to practice martial arts for the rest of their lives.
Of course, Vulcan had talent far superior to such people, and since he was a Player, a different type of warrior from his own kind, the situation was different. However…
‘I hope he get through this carefully. For the sake of my revenge… You need to do well.’
Lee Jung-Yup’s eyes calmed down to a chill state.
Around that time, Vulcan, who had gone to the inside of the Underground Graveyard, was running through the corridors at a fast pace.
It was to level up faster by hunting more skeletons, even if it was just a little bit more. Unlike the usual, where he hunted two at a time, or three at a time when there were many, he was facing four skeletons at once.
If Jake saw this, he would have stopped Vulcan even if he had to bite on to his leg. Fighting four skeletons at once was that reckless. However, Vulcan was not hesitating.
On the contrary, he was frustrated with himself for not being able to handle five of them at once.
[Zenith-Rate Mage Swordsman Vulcan]
The number of levels he gained in the past six months was only 28. Unlike the first six months before this cycle, where he gained 50 levels, the progress was seriously lacking.
Also, the growth rate was gradually declining.
Of course, Vulcan was well aware of the reason why the growth rate was declining.
As he avoided sharp attacks by skeletons flying toward him, Vulcan furrowed.
‘The difference between my level and the monsters… Now there is almost none!’
In the past, when he was still a Third-Rate, there were days where he gained 30 levels in just one day. He was a Third-Rate only in appearance. His real strength was closer to that of someone with level 500.
Back then, Vulcan, who had incredible abilities for someone with low levels, he was able to literally sweep and collect higher level monsters and gain explosive level ups.
There was the Goblin Dungeon, the Abandoned Dungeon, and after that, there was the time he was able to level up at an insane pace through power leveling with the help of other Zenith-Rate warriors at the north gate field.
Finally, at this place, the Cursed Underground Graveyard, the place of an other hidden quest, Vulcan had been facing monsters with substantially higher level than himself all this time, and by doing so, he had been running at the full speed without ever using the brake.
However, that streak came to an end now.
Now, the difference in level between the monsters and Vulcan had narrowed substantially. To expect explosive level up like in the past, the situation had changed too much.
Of course, through examining the inner workings of techniques and magic, Vulcan had been achieving small but steady enlightenments and continuing to develop further.
However, with just this, with just this rate of growth, it was not enough to satisfy Vulcan.
‘If I had a lot of time, I would have been satisfied with the current rate, but …’
Vulcan’s true goal was being re-united with his families. Killing Ho-Gyeong was just a side objective that he had to accomplish to get there.
At this frustratingly slow level up speed, which was making Vulcan feel like he could explode from anguish, if he just waited around for a true enlightenment that he had no way of knowing when it would come, there was a possibility that he would never get to the target height even after ten years.
‘After end of many long years, after reaching the height, beating the crap out of and killing Ho-Gyeong, after punishing Bellon, after hunting down Sarantis… When I return to the home world after all that, what if my parents are all dead? What am I going to do when I have to face my little sister, who would be in middle age by then?’
‘Even now… Almost ten years have passed.’
Vulcan wanted to say no to any further delay.
Because of this, Vulcan chose a rather risky method.
If the monsters’ levels were too low for fast level up, then he just had to hunt more monsters at a faster rate.
Of course, Vulcan was not at the height where he could easily hunt monsters at 460 levels.
Because of this, he abandoned his usual safety oriented tendencies and chose to corner himself to the edge.