The level difference between the poisonous and blood Gang-shis were only 50.
However, a huge difference that could not be labeled as ‘only’ existed between the two kinds.
In addition to the basic attributes that the poisonous Gang-shis had, such as attack power, defensive power, and speed, their simpleton behavior pattern was corrected.
Blood Gang-shis moved like living martial warriors of high caliber, demonstrating precise yet bizarre moves. Watching them made Vulcan not able to help himself but to be shocked.
‘Seriously, are these guys really Gang-shis? Why are their movements so fluid?’
The blood Gang-shis were manufactured by submerging the dead bodies of ultra-zenith warriors in specially treated chemicals and blood fluids and then injecting them with ancient witchcraft power.
The amount of effort and cost alone were different from the process of making poisonous Gang-shis.
Back in the days of ancients, these were fearsome existences that even low level enlightened beings were shying away from facing them.
Vulcan had no way of knowing this, hence he only cursed at the substantially increased difficulty.
Blood Gang-shi’s fist tore through the air and came at Vulcan.
It was incredibly fast that it made Vulcan wonder if the fist was coming at him by warping through the space.
However, Vulcan’s speed at operating the Thunder God Blade was a little faster.
Instead of dodging the fist, he just cut off the arm to get over the danger. However, that was not the end.
It demonstrated a move that was absolutely impossible for a living human being.
When swinging a fist or kicking, an ordinary human required muscles on other parts of the body to move, so it was possible to know a step ahead and prepare.
However, the blood Gang-shis, although they moved like real living humans, occasionally attacked using marionette like moves that had no precursor movements, making Vulcan panic.
Vulcan cast magic in a hurry.
Three hellfires were generated in front of Vulcan and blocked the blood Gang-shi’s attack path.
A hellfire had destructive power that was enough to obliterate a town in the lower dimension. However, it was not enough to stop a blood Gang-shi’s kick.
Still, the hellfires were successful in reducing its power.
Using this narrow chance, Vulcan used lightning dragon step to dodge and tried to charge in at the same time. However, Vulcan felt another blood Gang-shi behind him.
Vulcan clicked his tongue and gave up on the chance for the attack. He quickly pulled back. The blood Gang-shi with its arm chopped off laughed in bizarre voice and looked at Vulcan.
It seemed its vocal cord was half broken. It made sounds that were uncomfortable for Vulcan to hear.
Fired up, Vulcan was going to use Ifrit’s Fist. However, the blood Gang-shis were half a tempo faster in exuding cursed energy from their fists.
There were two head-sized fists coming at Vulcan.
They were coming at Vulcan in a simple linear path, but Vulcan didn’t let his guard down.
It looked simple, but if Vulcan fought it head on because it looked simple, he would not be able to handle the sudden change in movements that could happen at the very end.
Vulcan had to either watch the move to the very end and handle it accordingly against the intent of the opponent or use an overwhelmingly destructive power to wipe away the attacks so all further change in the movement would become useless.
‘I used to take the overwhelming approach as my style, but…’
To handle all of these 720 level monsters’ attacks with that, Vulcan was lacking in strength and mana.
Also, even if Vulcan had unlimited mana, he would not have used such a method.
The blood Gang-shis far surpassed ultra-zenith warriors.
They had the moves of real Murim warriors. Fighting these monsters and exchanging strikes against them was too fun for Vulcan to give up.
‘It is making me nervous and have my skin shake, but… fighting is supposed to be like this.’
What he had been doing in the forest area and the crater field were not real battles.
He was like a farmer who was satisfied with the result after diligently working toward the goal. The process was only made of repeated actions that Vulcan grew sick of.
Vulcan felt the satisfaction from rapidly rising experience points and exploit rank. However, the battles fought in the process gave him no excitement or joy, not even a handful of sand worth.
Time was spent like that for a year and a half, and now, Vulcan was facing blood Gang-shis.
The battle against them gave Vulcan the sense of urgency and excitement. Vulcan was experiencing such joy that he could not stand still.
Before he realized, their cursed energies were right in front of his nose. Vulcan had been glaring at them until the moment. He then swung his blade horizontally.
For a brief moment, the blade carried the power of the Thunder God Blade technique, and the blade was about to shoot down the energy fists. However, though a bizarre movement, the two fists of energies moved down.
Before they could reach Vulcan’s thighs, he quickly jumped. Stepping on the cursed energy fist, Vulcan launched himself toward the blood Gang-shis.
The bottom sides of Vulcan’s feet felt sore, but because he gathered enough mana there and prepared for the impact, there was no significant damage.
The two blood Gang-shis hesitated for a moment as if they panicked.
Vulcan used the Thunder God Blade and swung diagonally upward against the one on his left.
It was the bastard from earlier that had its right arm cut off.
It couldn’t defend itself properly with the arm missing.
It awkwardly raised its right arm which was missing the rest below the elbow, but its upper body was cut clean and transformed into experience points.
The other blood Gang-shi on the side poured out continuous attacks, but now that it was alone, it was not able to handle fighting Vulcan.
With countless magic attacks keeping it in check, the remaining blood Gang-shi’s movements were being hindered. With Vulcan’s swift stabbing motion with the Thunder God Blade technique activated, the Gang-shi’s head went off flying.
[Experience points went up.]
[You fought against two opponents at once who were significantly more powerful than you and defeated them!]
[You achieved an exploit!]
[Your exploits points went up.]
The notification sounds made Vulcan happy.
However, what made Vulcan even happier was realizing that he was gradually developing further.
He breathed out for a brief moment and put the Heavenly Lightning Blade in the sheath.
He stood there quietly for a while, and then he suddenly drew the blade quickly and swung through the front.
The Thunder God Blade appeared at an instant on the blade and disappeared in a blink of an eye.
Compared to before, it certainly became more natural. Having seen it, Vulcan smiled big enough to make his teeth visible.
It was not as smooth as the move of masters who trained for several tens of years.
However, the frequency of its use in the battle was increasing gradually. Also, in the battle just now, it was activated and disengaged at speeds that Vulcan was satisfied with.
‘Five months. Including the time spent in the poisonous Gang-shi area, that makes this half a year.’
Vulcan was not able to level up as fast as before.
Compared to the time in the forest area or the crater field, the gap between Vulcan’s true abilities and the indicated level had become substantially narrower.
Unless another great enlightenment came to Vulcan to lead him to achieve a significantly greater height at a rapid pace, the level up from now on was going to be slow. This could not be helped.
‘Right now, I am stronger than my level!’
Vulcan was at a similar height as before. However, if he could say that he was a dull, unmaintained blade that was soaked in peace before, now, he was a sharp blade with fearsome blue edge that was carefully sharpened and polished with effort every day, a blade that could bring out the best in any situation any time.
Through the past half a year, Vulcan properly put what he had in the right orders and arrangements.
“Still, it is not enough.”
Vulcan repeated the process of activating and disengaging the Thunder God Blade and mumbled.
“Still, it is not enough. I could do better.”
He could become a magnificent blade with an even sharper edge that shined brightly.
‘To become level 650… 20 more levels from now…’
This wasn’t just about leveling up.
He had the goal of controlling the Thunder God Blade with even more perfection and using various magic at will at any time.
He didn’t want to suffer the humiliation of retreating after facing the Master Gang-shi to level up some more and challenge again later.
‘I should end it in one try.’
Before long, Vulcan made the first attack against the three blood Gang-shis in front of him that were blocking his path.
It had been two years since Vulcan came to Act 2.
* * *
Another half a year went by, and Vulcan finally achieved the level 650.
Through the days, Vulcan became completely used to the control of the Thunder God Blade technique.
Vulcan repeated the motion of stabbing the empty air with the blade.
Against the imaginary enemy, the energy from the Thunder God Blade quickly appeared and disappeared after the moment of impact.
With a satisfied look on his face, Vulcan nodded.
‘I can’t bring out its maximum output, but…’
Vulcan was now able to bring about 2/3 of the maximum output at the critical moment without having have to focus so much.
His passive skill rank went up as well. It had been a while since this had happened.
Because Vulcan had been focused so much in magic before this, his weapon mastery was stuck in rank A. However, now the weapon mastery was increased to S rank.
Actually, Vulcan was hoping his combat mastery would also go up from S to SS. However, that didn’t happen.
He was not too disappointed.
Without a big enlightenment, his weapon mastery went up. This alone was worth being happy about.
“It is about time I left this place too.”
Vulcan slowly mumbled and looked at the door in front of him.
It was an ordinary iron door.
However, figure of the dark devil drawn above it was ominous. It was giving Vulcan the creeps.
This was the first time for Vulcan to get his mood spoiled like this from looking at just an engraving. That made Vulcan panic a little.
‘I didn’t even enter the room yet. I shouldn’t get psyched out already.’
Vulcan operated the Thunder God’s Might to the maximum output and shook off the evil aura. Afterwards, he kicked opened the door and entered it with confidence.
It was a large circular room.
On its center, there was the Master Gang-shi that was completely wrapped in iron chains that were exuding holy light.
It barely had its face out, and the rest of the body was restrained.
Surprisingly, the Master Gang-shi’s face was very clean despite being an undead monster.
Its skin was smooth and fair. It was the kind that belonged to the most beautiful people in the world. However, the skin looked cold. The Master Gang-shi said with voice full of hate.
- I was born in the Nam-gung warrior clan of Anhui. I lived a brilliant life. For the sake of the family’s honor, I mastered martial arts by throwing myself wholeheartedly into training, and I spent my days fighting for the sake of powerless commoners. However, I was swept into the trick by that wretched blood priest and now I became a wicked existence…
“What is this runt rambling about?”
This boss monster was giving a lengthy speech, complaining about its circumstances. Watching it, Vulcan tilted his head side to side.
With a serious look on its face, the Master Gang-shi was pouring his guts out in detail the terrible fate it lived through. It felt like watching a stage actor doing a soliloquy.
- … I curse them. I know they are in eternal flame of hell and suffering, but I still will curse them endlessly. I curse even the Brightest Star of the Sky for having punished me, who is without sin. The gods who were similar existence as them…
“Ah, is he invincible at the moment? What is this?”
Vulcan drew the Thunder God Blade and targetted the top of Master Gang-shi’s head. However, he stepped back with an awkward face.
Before it could even reach the Master Gang-shi’s body. The attack was blocked by a semi-transparent barrier.
Vulcan massaged his hands that felt numb from the impact. Vulcan had a strange thought.
‘Must not attack it while transforming. While it is reciting its important lines, waiting for it to finish is the right mannerism. Is it something like that?’
Vulcan became a perfect audience and watched the Master Gang-shi’s stage performance.
Of course, he didn’t forget to scan its abilities.
[Master Gang-shi, Nam-gung Jae-huk]
‘… It’s level is 20 higher than the Commander Tree… Hm.’
Of course, Vulcan was at a greater height than back then. However, it was not a huge difference.
He barely managed to slay the Commander Tree while being aided by the Demi-god’s additional attributes that gave him an edge, and the Master Gang-shi was expected to be more powerful than the Commander Tree. Vulcan’s body got nervous on its own.
‘Of course, the edge from the Demi-god’s additional attributes against undead is not bad in this case either, but…’
Vulcan ran simulations in his head about the battle that was to come very soon, and had countless magic prepared.
- … and you also have similar stench from them… The existence that imprisoned me… Yours smell is not as thick, but… it is the same as them…
Perhaps it was almost done with what it wanted to say.
The holy chains that were restraining the Gang-shi slowly untied itself and fell to the floor.
It was like a slave getting the shackles off. It was like a prisoner being released from a knife on its throat and finding freedom.
Soon, the Master Gang-shi was freed completely. It looked around itself.
It looked like a nobleman in blue suit with the look of a scion. Looking at it, Vulcan said,
“Oh, is the game finally going to begi…”
Before Vulcan had any chance to react, the Master Gang-shi charged into stab Vulcan in the chest.
Vulcan hurridly turned his upper body and dodged it. However, its hand broke through the armor and left a long injury on his body.
At that moment, Vulcan saw its eyes.
It was mixed with hate, murderous intent, and evil. It was completely dark without any white surrounding the iris.
Vulcan felt the chill on his back. He desperately controlled the magic that he prepared earlier.
Several thousands of lightning bolts hindered Master Gang-shi’s movements, and a large number of Hellfires and two compressed Ifrit Fists came at it afterwards.
Using that brief moment, Vulcan got out of the range and used the multi-potion that replenished all of his endurance, mana and stamina.
With a tense look on his face, Vulcan looked at the Master Gang-shi standing in middle of the dust clouds.
It looked like was damaged a little. It was scorched here and there.
However, it was hard to call it a significant damage.
There could have been a substantially bigger damage if he went in there with his Thunder God Blade at the same time as the impact from magic attacks. However, he didn’t manage to. This was the reason why the damage was not significant.
Vulcan raised his mana and thought,
‘I was going to pour in all of the magic as soon as the battle begins and end it there, but…’
Instead, Vulcan was subjected to the first attack, and a large portion of the prepared magic went to waste as of result.
Vulcan was not happy about the wasted magic, however, it was not like this was putting Vulcan at a disadvantage.
It just meant a lucky chance he was hoping for was now gone.
- Die… You pawn of gods.
The Master Gang-shi approached without any sense of presence like the grim reaper. Facing the Master Gang-shi, Vulcan also raised his fighting spirit in flames.
Nervousness, fear, excitement and joy were all co-existing at that moment in Vulcan.
Matching the Master Gang-shi’s attacks, Vulcan swung his blade.