The Hero Returns - Chapter 304
Chapter 304: Chapter 304
A monster resembling an ox waved its horns. Right after that, another monster that looked like a toad displayed its lengthy tongue.
The long tongue was sliced in half, and blood splattered everywhere. The toad-like monster screeched and thrashed around in pain.
The human it tried to devour was simply too fast. The monster, even while in pain, tried to attack once more, but its supposed prey had already escaped.
Shortly after that, sword-brandis.h.i.+ng Hak-joon descended from the air.
A thin but lengthy line followed Hak-joon’s movement as he wielded his blade. The line was produced by the magical crimson energy emanating from his sword.
In the blink of an eye, dozens of monsters were cut down. While wielding a lengthy sword made out of magical energy, Hak-joon spun in the air and landed on his feet.
He took a deep breath, the one he had been holding back subconsciously until now, and exhaled loudly.
It had already been three hours. He lost count how many monsters he killed so far.
“It got harder to count after going past the 1,000 mark,” Hak-joon commented.
Things got more challenging when the more skilled and superior monsters appeared. This group of monsters was a mix of p.a.w.ns and skilled fighters.
Just like now…
Hak-joon extended his hand and created a transparent barrier. Immediately, ma.s.sive hooves slammed right on top of it.
His body slid on the ground. He was trying to dodge the creature’s attacks.
‘The Undead Unicorn…’
The unicorn had a half-broken horn. It was a superior creature from the blue dungeon. It wasn’t that large, but it moved fast and its strength was impressive.
Hak-joon gritted his teeth and shoved aside the Undead Unicorn’s front hooves. Just as the monster lost its balance, a magical energy gushed from Hak-joon’s sword.
The Undead Unicorn’s head was severed. The headless creature thrashed for a moment before trying to kick Hak-joon again with its front hooves.
This was the reason for its ‘undead’ moniker. Even if its head was cut off, it still had life in it that it would continue to survive unless it was cut into pieces.
Hak-joon dodged the Undead Unicorn’s relentless attacks. The creature did not even bleed despite its head being cut off. Hak-joon swung his sword again.
Hak-joon’s sword enlarged to match the Undead Unicorn’s size.
He then forcefully wielded the enlarged sword. The Undead Unicorn, along with the advancing monsters, was cut into pieces. Blood was everywhere.
The Undead Unicorn fell on the ground, but it continued to neigh. Although it was quite a chilling sight to behold, Hak-joon was not a bit horrified. He was actually relieved that it was over.
Hak-joon’s skill, the ‘Ma.s.sive Sword’, was one of the best techniques he currently possessed in terms of pure power. Unfortunately, it cost a lot to use it.
The Undead Unicorn proved to be a challenging opponent. Hak-joon had no choice but to use the ‘Ma.s.sive Sword’ skill to defeat it in one strike. It was worth the steep cost of magical energy anyway.
It was right then when a sharp spike was thrown at Hak-joon’s direction. It was aiming for his unguarded back.
He was panting heavily. He didn’t notice the sudden attack. However, as the weapon was about to strike him, he caught sight of it, and then it stopped midair.
The pitch-black fog trapped the spike and prevented it from making contact with Hak-joon. Soon, the fog traveled across the spike and spread out to the white monster wielding it.
It was a short white human-shaped monster, only about one meter tall.
The creature looked like a dwarf, but its opponent would do well not to underestimate it. What he lacked in size, he made up for in his skills. Besides, it was a terrifying monster and appeared at blue dungeons. Its main method of attack was to adapt to the color of its surroundings like a chameleon and stealthily stab its prey in the back.
It was one of the monsters that one should be most wary of in a battlefield like this one. Hak-joon heaved a sigh of relief and turned his head. “Thanks, Thomas.”
“I got another one!” Thomas replied with a grin.
Despite Hak-joon and Thomas energetically fighting the monsters, they were exhausted. Although they had killed a lot, the monsters still outnumbered them.
‘It’s like their numbers have increased somehow,’ Hak-joon noticed.
He wasn’t mistaken.
He was focused on the battle that he did not notice monsters arriving. What’s worse was, this new batch was larger than the last one, of which members were mostly dead by now.
One could not deny that a ridiculous number of monsters had been flooding out of Gangwon Province.
“This is totally nuts, man.” Hak-joon chuckled helplessly.
With how things were, he couldn’t fall back anymore. If he and Thomas retreated now, no one could tell where these monsters would be heading to. They would surely destroy each town that they pa.s.sed by.
Moreover, the city of Yangpyeong was not too far from here. With their remarkably acute sense of smell, these monsters could head over there next and wreak havoc.
‘What about reinforcements?’ Hak-joon considered.
‘Out of the question,’ he thought, responding to his own question.
The remaining manpower currently consisted mainly of low-ranked awakeners around C-, maybe even D-.
Majority of capable individuals were dispatched to locations other than Gangwon Province to raid the dungeons being generated there. As for those awakeners ranked B or higher who had not been dispatched yet, they were all either injured or recovering at the moment. Hence, they were not fit to fight.
What help could they possibly provide even if they came here?
Probably nothing more than killing one or maybe two monsters out of so many here and bravely meet their ends. That’s all.
‘If bro was here,’ Hak-joon mulled, ‘he would have fought till the end. He would go on no matter how spent he was.’
“Fine.” Hak-joon raised his arms that used to falter from this sense of hopelessness. “Let’s go as far as we can, shall we?”
The sun set beyond the horizon, and the skies darkened.
Night fell, yet the battle continued. Hak-joon couldn’t tell just how his body was still able to move and fight.
Hak-joon, in the midst of his swinging his swords, punched to his side. Then a red-nosed monkey trying to attack him flinched in surprise.
Hak-joon moved with momentum and swung his sword.
The monkey’s torso split in half and its blood splashed everywhere.
Hak-joon didn’t bother to keep away from the blood bath. He was too exhausted to do so that he opted to save his remaining energy for the next opponent.
While panting, Hak-joon felt the smartphone stashed in his pocket vibrate. The call was most likely coming from Lee Ju-ho.
…Probably calling to find out why Hak-joon had not returned despite his promise of coming home soon.
‘How many calls did I miss?’ Hak-joon wondered.
His phone had been ringing nonstop for the past 30 minutes or so. Lee Ju-ho must have been really worried over there.
Then again, he should have realized that something was wrong by now—realized that a large number of monsters were flooding out of Gangwon and heading towards Yangpyeong.
Then a thought occurred to Hak-joon, ‘Bro, sorry about this but…’
Hak-joon’s knees were shaking, and he had to use his sword as a support. “It looks like we may not have that good meal as promised,” he muttered softly.
He didn’t have any means to answer the phone.
Almost half of the wave of monsters still remained. Thomas was extremely fatigued as well.
“I’m…tired…,” Thomas whispered.
Thomas’s voice, always energetic, was faltering. Both his stamina and magical energy reserve had already been depleted.
Could they even escape in their current state?
‘If it was bro…’
Hak-joon squeezed his eyes shut. As much as he wanted to think of him and what he would do in such a situation, staying alive was more important than wishful thinking.
He mustered his remaining energy, and then focused on the horde of monsters before his eyes.
“Come at me, you ugly motherf*ckers!”
This would be Hak-joon’s final skill activated through his remaining magical energy. This skill attracted all of the monsters’ attention caught in his field of vision.
Hak-joon’s yell prompted the monsters to focus their attention on him. Then he turned around and started to run as fast as he could.
‘He would have done this.’
It was impossible to keep on fighting.
Hak-joon planned to put as much distance as possible from the monsters. He was thinking of running elsewhere, far from a city inhabited by people.
…While leading tens of thousands of monsters giving chase right behind him.
But just as he began to dash away, a strong blow landed on his head.
Hak-joon’s vision spun and his knees faltered before cras.h.i.+ng on the ground face first. Wondering what just happened, he took a look and discovered a tall ‘scarecrow’ mocked up to resemble a clown standing there with a club in its hands.
‘It’s a Scarecrow Clown,’ Hak-joon realized.
A Scarecrow Clown was a superior monster from blue dungeons. Despite the considerable size and shabby appearance, this monster infamously used strange, unpredictable movements to drive many awakeners to their deaths.
If such a creature was on the battlefield, one should always be on guard because it possessed a rather cunning streak.
Hak-joon stopped himself from saying something. He didn’t have enough energy to finish it anyway.
He sensed his own demise looming, but was oddly at peace. Probably because he didn’t, or even tried to, run away. He had no regrets.
‘Was I really this brave?’ Hak-joon asked himself.
Then a face suddenly popped in his mind. A half-smile formed in his lips.
‘Yun-seon… She…she’ll probably get worried.’
Would it be only ‘worry’, though?
She would probably be very sad, too.
Recalling her face only made him feel even sorrier.
‘It would be better for her to not cry because of me.’
Hopefully, something like that would not happen.
“Kekek, kekekekek—,” the Scarecrow Clown cackled.
It must have found something very amusing. Hak-joon would love to punch the b.a.s.t.a.r.d’s lights out, but was unable to.
Thomas’s voice came out of nowhere.
Even then, that voice sounded strained. Hak-joon could not help but feel how unfortunate it was that Thomas would be joining him soon.
‘Man, you should have escaped,” Hak-joon thought when he saw Thomas. ‘You could have warned them at least.’
‘But then again, it was the same for me anyway.’
He closed his eyes while thinking of unimportant things.
Shortly after, the Scarecrow Clown’s club flew towards Hak-joon and hit his head.
And then, a dull noise resonated.
‘Was my head struck just now?’ Hak-joon asked himself, confused. He couldn’t feel any pain. Then he opened his eyes.
And he was able to see ‘him’.
“What are you doing there, lying face down in the dirt?”
“Bro?” Hak-joon weakly responded. The man’s voice was familiar to him.
The Scarecrow Clown’s head was smashed into pieces.
Su-hyeun was standing tall, looking at Hak-joon.
Hak-joon felt as if he was coming back to life as energy returned to his exhausted limbs. He forced himself up.
“It’s okay,” Su-hyeun insisted. “Stay down. You almost died.”
“Are you back for real?”
“Yes, I am. And although I don’t understand what the h.e.l.l is up with this pandemonium…”
The third eye in Su-hyeun’s forehead opened. The atmosphere around him cooled down rapidly at the same time.
“The first thing Ju-ho told me was to come here as soon as possible.”
[Third Eye – Predator]
From his comparatively small figure, a ma.s.sive sense of presence came out. The target of this skill were the monsters in the surroundings. However, Hak-joon was the closest to Su-hyeun, and he felt some difficulty in breathing from the pressure alone.
Hak-joon’s eyes widened.
This kind of skill simply announced the wielder’s presence. Su-hyeun did not mean to affect Hak-joon with his ability. It was just that, when it took effect, Hak-joon was exhausted and had nearly zero stamina remaining. His poor condition also explained why he failed to sense Su-hyeun’s presence until now.
“Su-hyeun!” Thomas exclaimed.
At Su-hyeun’s call, Thomas hurriedly went to his direction, leaping from one monster to another.
Due to the effect of the ‘Predator’ skill, the monsters couldn’t easily move from their positions. Thomas used the monsters’ backs as footholds to quickly reach Su-hyeun.
Su-hyeun gestured for Thomas to stop. Thomas flailed both of his arms and tried to get closer to Su-hyeun. He was too happy to see Su-hyeun.
“Please calm down for a sec, okay?”
“Okay!” Thomas replied energetically and nodded his head.
Thomas was relieved that Su-hyeun was now here, but he was exhausted from the fight and sustained wounds. He also had bloodstains from all the monsters he had killed. He looked pale and was sweaty. His current state was not that good as he already used up most of his magical energy despite his reserve being larger than average awakeners.
“Both of you,” Su-hyeun began, addressing Hak-joon and Thomas, “stay close to me…”
Su-hyeun slowly unsheathed his sword and went on, “…if you don’t want to get killed.”
At the same time, a soft breeze blew from somewhere. It was pleasantly cool, but Hak-joon felt a chill run down his spine for some reason.
‘What kind of wind does that?’ he wondered.
Hak-joon felt a stinging pain on his cheek. He touched his cheek and then gently scratched it.
He noticed something from his cheek. When he looked at his hand, there was blood in it. The skin where the breeze made contact just now had been sliced open.
“I want to know more about the situation later,” Su-hyeun commented. “For now…”
Su-hyeun tightly gripped his sword. He was now ready for battle.
“Sweep them away.”
And while swinging his sword skillfully towards numerous monsters, Su-hyeun softly whispered, “Palm Leaf.”
[The Wave Sword – Explosion Style]
[Palm Leaf Sword]