Belgeram realized that words were useless to Vulcan, so he ignored Vulcan.
Belgeram opened his mouth and started the process.
There were times when Belgeram occasionally recited the words slowly to anger Vulcan. However, he didn’t do it this time.
Instead, he recited the words rapidly like a machine gun. It seemed like he just wanted to finish this quickly.
As he recited the words, Belgeram thought,
‘I think I should just die quickly.’
Although Belgeram thought Vulcan must had gone insane, Belgeram himself could not be considered in the right mind either.
“Ah, what are you doing? I am sorry. I told such bad jokes.”
Vulcan felt anxious.
Unlike other monsters, Belgeram could talk. It was fun for Vulcan to tease him. Belgeram was like the source of energy in Vulcan’s dreary life of grinding.
This was why he tossed useless words and watched Balgeram’s response. Having realized Belgeram completely ignored it, Vulcan panicked a little.
“Hey, are you mad? I am sorry. I had gone a little insane because I was trapped here for so long.”
Now, Vulcan was even trying to lull the Duke Demon.
However, Belgeram was so sick of Vulcan. He completed the process without giving Vulcan any response. Instead, Belgeram charged at Vulcan immediately.
Belgeram quickly swung his fist toward Vulcan.
Fearsome flame lingered around his fist. It was hard to dodge, and it was very powerful.
However, Vulcan, the one who was facing this attack, didn’t appear to be panicking at all.
The attack was powerful. However, Vulcan had experienced this punch several thousand times already.
There was no reason this attack to be tricky for Vulcan to deal with.
‘Although it is not as much as the Lava Demons, I am quite used to you too.’
Vulcan instantly used the Lightning Dragon Step to the maximum and dodged Belgeram’s fist.
Afterwards, Vulcan charged into Belgeram in exhilarating speed as he gathered substantial amount of mana on his left hand.
Vulcan’s powerful one-punch followed.
The fist was surrounded by violent lightning sparks. The sparks looked like they were going to erase everything around from existence. The fist flew toward Balgeram’s stomach.
Belgeram quickly used his other hand and defended himself. However, because Vulcan’s fist was strengthened with lightning magic, Belgeram couldn’t withstand it without taking damage.
Because of the energy from the lightning pierced through his guard, Belgeram’s body was stunned for the instant.
Aiming for this moment, Vulcan’s Thunder God Blade was swung from below like a lightning strike.
Vulcan’s blade was held in reverse. The intensity felt violent as if the blade was going to cut Balgeram’s chin in half.
However, Belgeram freed himself from the stun effect just before the blade struck him. He tilted his head to the side and managed to avoid the danger by a hair. He promptly summoned his flame whip, hell fire demons and everything he could bring out. Sparing nothing, Belgeram violently resisted.
Vulcan’s eyes gleamed from watching this.
‘In the past, I don’t think he was able to response so quickly like this…’
When it came to flame magic, Belgeram blocked them with ease. However, when Vulcan focused on lightning magic like earlier, which had stun effects, Belgeram used to have a hard time.
It seemed like Belgeram became good at handing this as well.
It appeared that Belgeram became somewhat adapted at fighting Vulcan just like how Vulcan was used to Belgeram’s combat style.
Of course, that didn’t lead to something like Vulcan having a tough time fighting against Belgeram.
Compared to the past, Vulcan now possessed substantially superior armors. Also, Vulcan had been leveling up little by little as well.
The gap between the two had only been widening, not the other way around.
After a bit of time passed, as usual, Belgeram lost his head and met his end.
Before he died, Belgram spat out words full of curses.
[Experience points went up.]
[You defeated a foe who is more powerful than you!]
[You cannot gain exploit points because you slain this boss monster before.]
“… Did he have a lot of resentment piled up?”
Vulcan quietly muttered as he watched Balgeram’s corpse disappear slowly.
Belgeram was the one who always got killed, so it was obvious why he hated Vulcan. However, Vulcan wanted to be a close friend to Belgeram.
It was because he wanted to console his boredom and loneliness, even if it was a little bit.
To do that, Vulcan no longer showed animosity after entering the boss room. He once just stood there and did nothing. However, the hidden dungeon was not so lenient.
By the rule, the boss monster had to attack no matter what if someone entered the room.
Because of this, the peaceful situation that Vulcan hoped for could never be created. Instead, Vulcan had to settle for having a brief conversation with Balgeram once a month and try to refresh his mood with just that.
Vulcan walked toward the item that Balgeram threw up.
Before he even used the SYSTEM to check the equipment’s options, Vulcan crumpled his face big time.
It was because an item that he didn’t really want showed up.
In the past, it was the item that Vulcan desperately wanted. However, now, just looking at it made him feel frustrated to no end.
Shady dark red color with crimson light lingering about… Vulcan was frustrated after seeing the ominous helmet. Vulcan brushed his hair back in frustration.
‘Is it just mocking me now… Nowadays, only this shows up.’
That was the number of helmets that Vulcan collected while being in the Lava Demon Cave for the past 20 years.
Before this, when Vulcan grinded for 10 years in attempt to get this item, it never dropped once, and that rotted his heart out of frustration. Now, as if the leftover items were pouring out, this one particular kind of item kept on popping out. Obviously, Vulcan was not in a good mood.
‘Well… Although it is not the item I want in particular…’
Vulcan carelessly tossed the Duke Demon’s Helmet into the inventory and looked below at his own equipment. He went over them one at a time.
He had the Strengthened Heavenly Lightening Blade as the weapon. As for armors, he had the Duke Demon’s Set.
He already had all the greatest equipment. Hence, it didn’t really matter what kind of item Belgeram threw out at Vulcan.
However, even so, it could not be helped that Vulcan didn’t feel great about this.
Vulcan’s crumpled face showed no sign of relaxing.
‘When Balgeram gets regenerated next time, I think I should vent my anger at him or something.’
Vulcan walked out of the round stone room as he thought about things that would throw Balgeram in to a state of panic.
Vulcan went back to the beginning of the Lava Demon Cave and hunted regenerated monsters like a machine.
[Experience points went up.]
[Experience points went up.]
“It’s a great harvest today as usual. Of course, it is always great. I’m so sick of it. So sick of it. Even though the harvest is great as usual, I am still sick of it.”
Vulcan picked up the Vitality Marbles which were dropping like rain and repeated muttering by himself.
It was his tearful endeavor to withstand boring labor.
* * *
Another 30 years had passed. Now, it had been 50 years since Vulcan came back to the Lava Demon Cave.
Throughout the years, Vulcan had become even more grumpy.
He was still doing the grinding work. However, gradually, he took longer breaks. He was sick of the work, and he was lonely. Those feelings got worse with time.
As an obvious measure to endure this, Vulcan called Dokgo Hoo more frequently.
Vulcan gave Kina Kina some Vitality Marbles and called Dokgo Hoo again today.
Dokgo Hoo let out his anger at Vulcan as soon as he arrived.
“Uu… I do have one, but because I’m at the Lava Demon Cave still…”
“Um… I’m still grinding because I think I have more enemies besides them.”
Having heard Vulcan, Dokgo Hoo shook his head.
Dokgo Hoo always thought Vulcan was a rascal with quite small guts despite the talents he possessed. However, to think that it was this bad…
Frustrated, Dokgo Hoo said,
“That’s not it, but…”
Finding Vulcan’s insistence on staying at the Lava Demon Cave to be ridiculous, Dokgo Hoo scolded Vulcan with irritated face.
Vulcan had pondering look on his face.
What Dokgo Hoo just said made some sense.
Of course, from safety stand point, leaving after completing 100 years grinding was the best strategy. However, Vulcan currently had enough Vitality Marbles to say he was practically immune to most dangers.
As Dokgo Hoo said, Vulcan could just take a walk outside, eradicate the bastards who revealed themselves and rest for a while by either escaping to Earth or Espo City. Afterwards, Vulcan could come back to the Lava Demon Cave again. Doing all that didn’t appear to be so difficult at the moment.
There was no need for Vulcan to endure 100 years at the risk of destroying his mind.
With convinced look on his face, Vulcan asked Dokgo Hoo,
“… Honestly, what I had done so far is enough, right?”
After listening to Dokgo Hoo scolding him, Vulcan had embarrassed look on his face as he scratched the back of his head.
Vulcan had grinded for 50 years. The strength of his will was indeed incredible and more than surpassed common sense. However, it was also true that this was still lacking in comparison to The Six and Dokgo Hoo.
Because of this, whenever he conversed with Dokgo Hoo like this, Vulcan felt like his own shortcomings and laziness became apparent, and that made him want to reflect on himself.
Looking at Dokgo Hoo, Vulcan was about to say that he will stop whining and work hard. However, he shouted after a thought crossed his mind.
“What now? 200 years?”
“Did you say you will be doing 200 years of training in isolation? Isn’t that insane? You are an Enlightened God, so why do you need to do such an extreme training?
Dokgo Hoo muttered that he could not take this anymore. He took a deep breath, calmed his neck and said,
Having heard Dokgo Hoo’s words, Vulcan quickly said,
“Huk… That means, for the next 200 years, I will not be able to…”
Dokgo Hoo yelled as soon as Vulcan spoke and interrupted him.
It seemed being called up by Vulcan’s Enlightened God Summon so often in random occasions annoyed him a little.
Dokgo Hoo pointed at Vulcan and continued,
“Actually, I was bored, so I had called another Enlightened God once. I just got scolded with curses, saying I shouldn’t call for no reason.”
“About that, because of the hidden dungeon’s setting, it is not possible, so…”
Dokgo Hoo no longer had anything else left to say. With determined look on his face, Dokgo Hoo walked toward Kina Kina’s mouth.
Before he disappeared, Dokgo Hoo said one more thing.
With that as his last words, he slowly got sucked into Kina Kina’s mouth.
Vulcan vacantly stared at the scene. He scratched the back of his head again and muttered,
“Did I call him too many times?”
Certainly, he did call Dokgo Hoo quite often since the 40 years mark.
Vulcan thought that he must have over done it considering how Dokgo Hoo responded.
Vulcan smacked his lips, drew the Strengthened Heavenly Lightning Blade and went back to grinding.
Vulcan’s face looked a little motivated than usual.
His movements seemed more energetic than how he was before the conversation with Dokgo Hoo.
‘That’s right… Big Bro is about to do 200 years of training in isolation. The Six said they trained for 1000 to 2000 years. I cannot even handle 50 years? Let’s work hard!’
With refreshed mindset, Vulcan cut down Lava Demons.
Of course, human minds all worked the same. The tightened screws loosened over time, and Vulcan grew lazier over time little by little. However…
This time, he was passionate about the grinding for a lot longer.
He collected Vitality Marbles for 10 years without resting a single day.
It was not like the 50 years before this. He didn’t call Dokgo Hoo in the middle or take a break for day or two. His will power was worthy of applause.
‘Still, this is the limit.’
Vulcan plummeted in middle of the cave.
He closed his eyes and thought,
‘Now, I really am at the limit. I can’t do it anymore. Let’s go outside and take a break before coming back.’
Thinking about incredible training durations of others like Dokgo Hoo, Vulcan had reflected on his own laziness and whipped himself back in to grinding. However…
Even that had reached the limit.
It felt like he could not do it anymore even if it meant getting beat up to death.
Vulcan was that exhausted.
‘I would have thought that the time was still worth it if I leveled up at least, but now… I can’t even gain one level in a year…’
He just could not find a reason to stay here any longer.
He got up and walked toward the boss room.
As Dokgo Hoo said 10 years ago, Vulcan was thinking he should go out for a while, rest quietly and then come back to fill the remaining 40 years.
‘Instead of continuing while enduring the boredom, it would be far more efficient if I came back after resting. As Big Bro said, there won’t be any danger. That’s right. Let’s pause here for now.’
Having thought this far, Vulcan’s stiff face started to relax a little.
He had been forcing himself to do grinding all this time when he didn’t want to. He was always frustrated and uncomfortable. Now, thinking about resting made him feel lighter.
It’s been a while since Vulcan’s steps felt light like this. With excited steps, Vulcan walked the inside of the Lava Demon Cave.
Perhaps because his mindset had changed to a positive tone, Vulcan felt like everything was going to be all right.
It was at that moment.
A SYSTEM notification pierced through Vulcan’s ear.
[Balroc Balgeram, the Lava Demon Cave’s boss monster, had gained Enlightenment.]
[His transcendence will be soon.]
[Due to absence of the boss monster, the Lava Demon Cave, a hidden dungeon with A level difficulty, will be temporarily sealed after this.]
[For the player who is currently using the dungeon, you can still use the dungeon’s content until you leave the dungeon. However, you will not be able to come back in once you leave, so please think carefully.]
“… What? Transcendence? Balgeram has?”
Dumbfounded, Vulcan muttered.