Chapter 18: How Many Tails? (2)
The Players stared at the nine swaying tails before them.
“…No way. It’s a Nine-tails?”
“T-this is crazy! Specter was barely able to defeat a Six-tails!”
All the Players, including Cha Min-Woo, turned pale. They lost the will to fight just by the sight of it. Such was the nature of a ‘Boss Monster.’
Even if he was going to die soon, Cha Min-Woo was still an elite. He raised his voice and spoke to the fearful Players. “There’s no place to run within the Gate. As soon as we turn our backs, we’ll all die!”
Of course, he hadn’t expected a Nine-tails. But his spirit wasn’t shaken.
‘It’s still a monster. If we pierce its heart or cut its head, it’ll die.’
Plus, the traps that they had prepared for the Cinder Fox were at least three times stronger than the first wave of traps earlier.
“We can do it! Everyone, get it together!” He shook them out of their stupor.
“Y-yeah. Let’s get it together.”
“…We’ll die if we try to run. We should at least get in a punch or two.” The Players got back into formation. At the same time, the Cinder Fox slowly started toward them.
As soon as he gave the command, the Players activated the trap.
The trap activated in the same manner as before. The transmitters were three times as thick, and it boomed like thunder as it activated.
It made the Cinder Fox pause.
“The trap worked!”
“We can do it…We can defeat it!”
They had hopes that they would be able to write their names in the pages of history.
And then they saw it
The eyes of the Cinder Fox became filled with rage.
“G-gah!” They lowered their eyes without even knowing. A shiver ran down their spines and goosebumps prickled their skin under the eyes of the predator.
The Cinder Fox splayed its tails like a fan.
The magic it released destroyed the trap in one fell swoop.
Crackle! Pop! Boom!
The Players started to panic as they looked upon the remains of their trap.
“H-how could it break right now?”
Dozens of Fire Foxes trailed behind the Cinder Fox. Each one held as much magic as a magic user’s ‘Fireball’ spell. They attacked at once, breaking through the Players’ formations.
The sand kicked up into the air, and the Players started to fall, shrieking.
“Urk, my leg! My leg!”
“I-I…I can’t see!”
As battle erupted around him, Cha Min-Woo shouted to the Players. “Where are you going?! Stick to the formation! If we break it, now, we’ll…Ahh!”
His shoulder was suddenly filled with burning pain. Quickly turning, he saw that it was ablaze with foxfire.
‘I didn’t even see it coming…!’
As soon as he put it out, the skin on his shoulder started to bubble and blister.
This was the strength of his enemies.
He was arrogant to ever think that he could defeat them.
“…What is this?”
With a dejected look on his face, he let out a low laugh. Weren’t the monsters supposed to be at his level?
He shivered. The desert was hot, and the Cinder Fox’s fire only made it hotter. But his chest was starting to feel cold.
His eyes glazed over; his conviction broken.
“None of our strategies, tactics or hi-tech equipment worked. How…” How were they supposed to defeat it? How had Specter killed such a monster?
He couldn’t find an answer. He looked up at the sky, feeling the heat gather around him. The air above him glowed. The fire fell around the Players like a falling sun.
At that moment, he thought to himself.
‘Ah…This is how I die.’
He had no thought to dodge it, nor did he have any time to process it as the fire hurled toward him.
But a clear voice brought him back to reality.
“Strategies, tactics, and, what was it, hi-tech equipment? Sure, they’re good.”
A man walked on the hot sand, toward him. He casually stood in front of Cha Min-Woo and looked up. “Do you want to know what you do when you come across a Monster that can’t be defeated by those things?”
Without knowing, Cha Min-Woo nodded. He didn’t understand why he thought this, but he believed that this man would know the answer.
Despite his scrawny body, it felt like Seo Jun-Ho was like a light in the darkness.
“It’s simple. Players sought it even when they first appeared. Even after all these years, it’s something that every Player needs.”
Seo Jun-Ho’s sword rang as he pulled it from its sheath.
“It’s overwhelming combat ability.”
Cha Min-Woo’s eyes reflected against Seo Jun-Ho’s back.
He sliced from the top to the bottom. With a single swing, he cut through a wall of fire.
It was the Cinder Fox’s strongest attack—Cinder Fireball. Seo Jun-Ho lowered his arm with a frown.
‘Tsk. Still a long way to go.’
It had used a third of his magic in the attack. But the poor soul next to him was still in shock.
‘But…will this be enough?’
Seo Jun-Ho looked behind him and sighed. First, he had to get the others out of harm’s way.
He looked back to the Cinder Fox.
“Take the others and run.”
Already flustered, Cha Min-Woo quickly answered. “Light…I-I mean. Seo Jun-Ho-nim, what about you?”
Seo Jun-Ho turned around in confusion as he heard the formality. “I have to fulfill my inherent duty as a Player.”
“Inherent duty…as a Player?”
“Why are you asking? Is there anything else I should do?”
Hunting monsters and clearing Gates. That was the first and last purpose of the Players.
The Cinder Fox directed its fury at the Player that had blocked its attack.
Seo Jun-Ho made a face and muttered to himself.
“…It’s hot.” The air around him was as hot as a sauna.
‘I thought this last time too, but this guy sure is hot-blooded.’
Cha Min-Woo had snapped back to his senses and gathered the others behind the dunes. After Seo Jun-Ho saw this, he let out a small laugh. “Now that the stragglers are gone…”
He stared into the raging eyes of the Cinder Fox.
“You and me, let’s have some fun.”
The sand exploded as the Cinder Fox roared. But Seo Jun-Ho wasn’t shaken. He took a step forward.
Dozens of foxfires started to form again above him.
“Now that there’s no one here to see…” He could use his Frost skill as much as he wanted.
A shield formed before him. It was at least twice as thick as before. With his ice shield in hand, Seo Jun-Ho rushed forward.
He wasn’t quick enough and foxfire rained on the shield, but Seo Jun-Ho gritted his teeth and ran.
‘I have to close the distance for now.’
Still, the human did not stop. The Cinder Fox opened its mouth. It planned to use its strongest attack, Cinder Fireball, once more to stop him by force. Seo Jun-Ho blinked.
‘It’s taking a long time to charge up. Is it Cinder Fireball again?’
There was a small window of opportunity whenever a powerful attack was used. Seo Jun-Ho wasn’t stupid enough to miss his chance.
As the Cinder Fox released Cinder Fireball from his mouth, his aching legs pushed him off the ground and over the dunes.
‘Even if it’s me, if I take a direct hit…’
Neither his magic nor his body would be able to take it. Knowing this, Seo Jun-Ho lowered his shield and stepped on top of it.
He rode the shield like a board over the sand dunes.
The attack grazed over his head.
Anyone watching would have felt their heart race from danger, but Seo Jun-Ho didn’t even blink.
The dune that was hit exploded and dust rained down.
The Cinder Fox narrowed its eyes. It couldn’t see the human because of the sand.
But it could ‘smell’ it.
The Cinder Fox followed the scent and swiped with its front paw.
Its claw caught on to something. Its eyes quickly turned violent. That was because it hadn’t caught a human, but a towel drenched in sweat. Seo Jun-Ho emerged out of the dust and leaped into the air, stepping on its nose.
The Frost skill sure is nice.
As soon as the dust started to kick up, he threw the towel and froze himself. Of course, his scent was erased perfectly since he was frozen. From the very beginning, the Cinder Fox would only have been able to take the bait.
He jumped over its enormous body.
‘I’m finally here.’
As it turned, its nine tails were perfectly in view.
The Cinder Fox was a monster that got stronger the more tails it had.
Before the previous Specter had died, he had considered the opposite.
‘It gets stronger the more tails it has. But what if the number of tails decreased?’
Seo Jun-Ho brandished his sword. His past self had seen it himself. He was sure of the results.
The temperature around him dropped. The sword in Seo Jun-Ho’s hand radiated a cold energy.
As the sword and tail met, they let out a sound like shattering ceramics. The corner of Seo Jun-Ho’s mouth quirked up as he saw the hundreds of ice shards fall before him.
“Last time, I got all burned while cutting each tail one by one…” Thankfully, there was no need to do that anymore. “Now all I have to do is to freeze and break them.”
The Cinder Fox let out a piercing cry as it lost four of its precious tails.
1. Same attack as the webtoon but has a different name from the Players’ Fireball ?
2. He uses the word ‘burn/hot’, which can also mean wild/full of energy ?
3. Man be jumping like a frog ?