‘Phew… If it was not a hidden quest area again, I would have been so frustrated.’
Vulcan smiled as he looked at semi-transparent notification window for the quest.
This was the first hidden quest since Vulcan came to Act 2.
It would have been odd if Vulcan was not happy about it.
Of course, hidden quest areas were not always great on every aspects.
For instance, in the Act 1’s Cursed Underground Graveyard, the reward and the item from slaying the boss monsters were all lacking.
Still, compared to the usual monsters, the monsters in hidden quests were worth the anticipations.
There was not a single reason for Vulcan to hate the hidden quests.
‘Also, this place is restricted to just one person, so it is impossible for anyone to get in my way. Well, it is not like anyone could possibly stumble in here, but…’
Vulcan jumped down from the entrance.
After a light landing, Vulcan looked around.
The walls were made of stones that were different in composition from the walls in the underground cave.
The walls were smooth and shiny like polished marble stones. However, it had ominous black tint that lingered.
Upon closer observation, Vulcan noticed that there were various drawings engraved on the walls.
‘Pictures of human dissections and experimentations… They are unpleasant things to look at.’
Making a conjecture based on the explanation about the quest, it seemed the drawings were depicting the process of research and manufacture of the Gang-shis. (TLN: Also, known a s Jiang-shi)
Vulcan looked around the wall and watched the drawings. Doing so rapidly spoiled his mood.
It was because looking at the Gang-shi manufacture process made him think about Chimeras.
Vulcan wondered if Chimera factory in the ancient time would have looked like this. The drawings were making him think that.
Vulcan steadily glared at the wall which had the man looking overjoyed after making Gang-shis.
It made Vulcan think about the Chimera maker who was after Vulcan. The thought made Vulcan cringe.
The wall with the engraved drawing of the man was destroyed by Vulcan’s fist.
It didn’t really make Vulcan feel completely better, but Vulcan felt it was a little better.
“Next time, I’ll find your main base and obliterate it.”
Vulcan mumbled as if he chewed and spat it. He slowly approached the door.
The door was green as if it was painted over with poison.
There were even letters written on it.
[Curse to the bastards that disrupted the order of the world, evil beings who treated people’s lives carelessly and created abominations. They will never be able to rest. In eternity, suffer in this place.]
‘It’s perfect with the quest’s concept. It is far more detailed than in Act 1.’
It didn’t feel like ordinary monsters that were common. It felt like real ancient monsters were captured and imprisoned inside.
‘Of course, it doesn’t matter to me.’
Vulcan opened the door, which made a creaking sound.
There were light spheres embedded on the ceiling wall in consistent intervals, and under the light, there were cursed existences slowly revealing themselves.
Vulcan raised his Demi-god and magic powers.
The lightning flowing along his blade generated fearsome sound.
* * *
They wore warrior’s getup, a black colored fabric with extravagant patterns embroiled on, and had a large beads neckless hanging on the neck.
There were talisman written in blood attached to their body, and they had abhorrent, disfigured nose, eyes and mouths.
However, Vulcan had been looking at them for a day now. It no longer fazed Vulcan.
[Poison Gang-shi Go-gwang]
[Poison Gang-shi Nam Gung-un]
The bastards were exactly what Vulcan thought they would look like when he was a child.
Due to rigor mortis, their bodies were completely stiff. They were not able to bend their joints properly. Their movements were stiff like a piece of log.
They were incredibly fast, completely ignoring the abovementioned drawbacks, so Vulcan could not take them lightly.
A Gang-shi charged at Vulcan in a straight line. He dodged it using the lightning dragon step. The Gang-shi that went past Vulcan collided with the wall and caused a loud noise.
There were broken pieces of stones and dust cloud rising up.
Piercing through the dust cloud, the Gang-shi charged at Vulcan once again. Vulcan thought,
‘They are just like the cheetahmen… They are incredibly fast. Also, they are far sturdier than the cheetamen. Their attacks are heavy as well…’
Cheetamen had the weakness of not being able to take much hit for their level, but these runts were not like that.
The move just now was also different.
A cheetaman would have adjusted the speed accordingly just in case of running in to the wall. However, these runts formed a synergy between brainless actions and sturdy body, special traits of undead. Their attacks were crude, but fearsome. The Gang-shis were repeating such attacks endlessly.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.
Of course, Vulcan was at a greater height than the monsters, so they only managed to run in to the wall repeatedly.
Vulcan had been dodging the Gang-shis using rhythmical-like movements to the sound of beating instruments.
From the blade on his right hand, an unstoppable lightning poured out.
It was the Thunder God Blade technique.
It was not as powerful as the last time in the underground cave, which felt like it was going to cut through the sky and the ground. However, enough power to slice through the Gang-shi’s neck was layered on the blade.
With ice-cold eyes, Vulcan glared at the poisonous Gang-shi. Vulcan cut off its neck at the moment it charged at him.
It was like dodging a cannonball that was fired at himself and then slicing it with a blade. It was incredibly difficult. However, to Vulcan, who maintained peak concentration, it was not that difficult.
A poisonous Gang-shi’s head was chopped off.
Because it was charging at Vulcan when its head was cut off, its head and the body ran into the wall separately. Again, the impact formed spider-web cracks on the wall.
Targeting Vulcan who was looking at this, the second Gang-shi charged at him. However, it met the same fate as the one earlier and ended up rolling on the floor.
[Your experience points went up.]
[All at once, you fought and defeated two opponents that are stronger than you!]
[You achieved a new exploit.]
[Your exploit points went up.]
‘Now even the exploits won’t go up easily. Well, I had been sucking the honey from this place until now, so I shouldn’t complain.’
Vulcan disengaged the Thunder God Blade and picked up the items.
He noticed the vitality marbles among the items and smiled.
‘I don’t know about other things, but it seems hidden dungeons certainly give more vitality marbles.’
That alone was making this place worth being called ‘hidden.’
Also, because the monsters here were considered undead, it was a good fit for Vulcan who possessed Demi-god’s power.
The Demi-god’s power had the additional attribute of dealing extra damage to evil monsters. Because of this, even though Vulcan drew the Thunder God Blade with less magic power, it was still more than enough to cut through poisonous Gang-shis.
However, despite this, maintaining the Thunder God Blade for a long time was taking a toll on Vulcan.
The technique was more powerful than others, but it was proportionally more taxing in mana.
‘I reduced the mana to exact amount needed to cut the Gang-shis, but… Compared to before, the mana is being drained rapidly. This place is more difficult than the poison crater field.’
Vulcan went to find the next target and repeated casting and disengaging the Thunder God Blade.
To ordinary people’s eyes, it may have looked like Vulcan was casting and disengaging as if he was doing it quickly without any preparation time. However, Vulcan was very dissatisfied.
The Thunder God Blade was not a skill that was officially registered as one in the SYSTEM. It was a combination technique that was formed from the Demi-god’s power and Vulcan’s exceptional understanding of the lightning and mana management. Casting it easily and conveniently through the SYSTEM was not possible.
So, to improve the casting speed, Vulcan had no other way but to achieve it through the improvement in his magic skill as if he was using the magic in traditional way.
‘With a slow-poke casting speed like this… Using it instantaneously like flipping on and off switch won’t be possible.’
Until now, Vulcan had been using the technique like it was a special move.
The technique was not about magic efficiency. It was about maximizing the destructive power.
It was too inefficient to be used on slaying small-fly monsters like now or maintain it for a long duration.
However, Vulcan was using it over and over because…
‘If it becomes possible for me to control the Thunder God Blade to the point I can activate it exactly at the moment of impact… Maybe I will be able to use it like ordinary skills without taxing me so much?’
Theoretically, it was possible.
At Vulcan’s current height, he was able to cast and disengage at an instant for magic such as Thunder God’s Might, Ifrit’s Fist and others, which were beyond high level magic such as Firefield.
However, the Thunder God Blade required even higher level control.
The amount of mana required to cast it was at a whole another dimension.
If the Thunder God’s Might was a pond, the Ifrit’s Fist was like a lake, and the Thunder God Blade required an ocean worth of mana.
The control difficulty increased exponentially with the amount of mana required, so even Vulcan was having a hard time.
It was an art that required a long time horning one’s best skill, even for a very talented individual.
‘Still, I think it might work.’
Of all magic techniques in flame and lightning, there was not a single thing that Vulcan failed to achieve after training with determination.
Beyond the Rubel Continent, Vulcan overcame the Beloong City and even arrived at the land of Act 2.
He no longer doubted his talent.
‘It won’t be possible to cast and disengage magic without any delay like the SYSTEM, but… let’s try to make it so it will be close to that speed.’
Once this became possible, Vulcan was going to be able to hunt much faster than the current speed.
It would have substantially reduced the time Vulcan would have to spend waiting after drinking mana potion to replenish his mana.
Also, what Vulcan looked forward to even more was against boss monsters.
‘When facing a difficult opponent like the Commander Tree that would definitely lead to a long battle, being able to do this would be a huge boost in my offensive power.’
Vulcan smiled a little as he imagined himself firing magic at will while maintaining the Thunder God Blade through the entire battle.
Determined, Vulcan wielded his blade and went to find more poisonous Gang-shis.
Obtaining sudden enlightenment like high priests was not Vulcan’s style.
Violent and ferocious bastards that would hang out with him was absolutely necessary.
Vulcan had a smile on his face as if he was really happy about something. He walked forward.
In the forest area and the poisonous crater field, he had been firing ranged magic like a machine. Compared to those experiences, Vulcan was enjoying this a lot more.
* * *
A month passed.
Vulcan gained four levels, making his current level to be 604.
It was a little slower than how it was in the poisonous crater field. However, the experience points required to level up increased with the level, so Vulcan figured it could not be helped.
There was something else that Vulcan was genuinely dissatisfied with.
In an instant, poisonous Gang-shis’ heads and bodies were separated and fell to the floor.
Vulcan shook his head left and right.
“This is not working at all as training.”
Gang-shis didn’t know about doing anything else but the linear attack. It was as if they were machines with stupid systems installed. Watching them, Vulcan sighed.
Vulcan needed to maximize the sensation of being on the edge in a tight battle, and through that sense of urgency as the catalyst, Vulcan was going to increase the training efficiency. That was his plan.
However, because the Gang-shis were charging at him at too predictable pattern, his plan was at the brink of failure.
“They are as stupid as bricks.”
Vulcan tried to kick the fallen head, but before his foot could reach the head, the dead body disappeared through the SYSTEM.
After missing the head with his kick, Vulcan sighed.
Objectively speaking, the Gang-shis were not so weak that the battle should be so one-sided.
Of course, their simple movement was a big drawback, but they had incredible speed, heavy power, and toughness, which were enough to cover that drawback.
However, they were not enough to overwhelm Vulcan’s speed, which was one of his strong points. Their defensive power was also not enough to withstand the Thunder God Blade’s overwhelming power.
Moreover, their poison, which could have been the most tricky thing to deal with, was being rendered harmless because of the Blue Dragon’s Breath. It could not be helped that these things were making the battle not as intense as Vulcan needed it to be.
Vulcan stood there for a moment and thought about this problem.
As if he decided to do something, he nodded once.
Using the Thunder God’s Might and lightning spirit form, he quickly went past the poisonous Gang-shi’s area.
He stopped in front of an iron gate that was completely red as if it was plastered in blood.
“I was going to come here a little later, but…”
Vulcan have opened this door and entered this place five days ago.
Even then, the training was not going well by fighting against the poisonous Gang-shis. Back then, he thought it would be better to fight the blood Gang-shis which had higher levels.
However, after noticing blood Gang-shis with level markers that read 720 were roaming around in groups of two or three, Vulcan closed the door.
He figured he should come here after getting used to controlling the Thunder God Blade a little better.
However, after spending five more days at the poisonous Gang-shi’s area, his body was itching to do something else that Vulcan could not stand it anymore.
He wanted to say no to doing more grunt work that was no fun.
‘I don’t know. I’m sure it will work out somehow. If I continue to maintain the Thunder God Blade, it will be definitely enough to handle two or three of those. It would be difficult to hunt continuously, but… It will be possible once I perfect the control so that I can cast and disengage the skill rapidly.’
“Master Beruneru, as usual, I’m going forward with this by believing in your teachings.”
He was thinking about that old man with foul personality who figured out before anyone that Vulcan got stronger from facing hardships.
However, Beruneru was also a great teacher that Vulcan trusted, second only to Filder.
Vulcan slowly opened the ominous door that looked like blood would come off from touching it.
It was the start of the round two