Chapter 50. The Wild Forest (7)
Humans gathered experience by seeing with their eyes, hearing with their ears, and feeling through their skin. But they were naturally curious creatures. They wanted to know more about the things they couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, and couldn’t feel. That was why they made records.
In the past, Seo Jun-Ho had read the journal of someone who had entered an elves’ village.
‘The elves’ village is a vertical structure with the World Tree at its center.’
But dark elves’ villages were completely different. There were no trees, flowers, or plants at all because they had been abandoned by the World Tree. Their villages didn’t even have a single weed.
‘Where dark elves reside, all the plants around them would wither and the trees would twist, and the fruit would rot.’
Those were the words of a dark elf who had received the curse of the World Tree. Coming into direct contact with light also gave them a terrible skin disease.
‘So they ran away to a place where they could avoid sunlight.’
Seo Jun-Ho had cleared some underground dark elves’ villages as Specter before.
“But…this is my first time seeing something like this.”
Dark elf villages usually had several entrances that led underground. The Players sounded nervous.
“Damn. There were a thousand elves living there, so I thought there’d be at least twenty entrances…..”
“Why is there only one entrance?”
The leader was smart, so there was only one entrance leading down to the Black Moss tribe.
“There’s only one entrance, so we won’t be caught from behind…” But they would have to defeat all the dark elves underground to meet the chief. Seo Jun-Ho’s face wrinkled as he turned to the stone wall blocking the entrance. There, archers in thick cloaks were standing guard.
“50? It won’t be too hard to get in then.” 50 dark elves were nothing compared to the number of Players they had. They were starting to bristle in anticipation.
“Shall we kill them?”
“At this distance, I can kill them all without a sound.”
“Just give us the sign.”
Seo Jun-Ho had no reason to refuse, so he nodded. The Players activated their skills all at once. A vine sprouted from the top of the entrance and stabbed the dark elves from behind, and the archers fired into their heads and hearts.
It took 15 seconds to kill 50 enemies.
“Let’s go.” Seo Jun-Ho stepped out of the forest and entered the clearing. The Players looked around, on guard.
“It’s really quiet.”
“One might think it’s abandoned.” There wasn’t even a single ant.
“So…there are 500 dark elves beneath our feet?” Someone whispered. The other Players shivered.
“Let’s head in. Two scouts should guard the entrance.” Seo Jun-Ho appointed two Players and went inside without hesitation. As he stepped down the stairs and looked around with his torch, he let out a sigh of relief. “…So that’s why they don’t need a lot of entrances.”
Most dark elves’ underground villages were built like ant holes. But the Black Moss tribe had built it like the Mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor. Far away, around 1 kilometer in front of him, sat a giant dark elf on a throne made of a rotting tree.
“That’s the leader.”
‘He’s about 1 kilometer away. It’s not that far. But…’
500 dark elves stood between them like terracotta warriors. All of them were under the command of five dark elven knights, who were much stronger than the dark elves themselves.
“I thought that the battle would be messy because the place would be like an ant hole, but it seems that this will be a full-on frontal battle.”
“I’ve never even heard of dark elves making a structure like this.”
The Players were starting to panic at the unexpected situation. Seo Jun-Ho spoke calmly. “This is a good thing.”
They looked at him with confused expressions.
“I was worried that the dark elves would use their manpower to surround us, but this is an open space without any obstacles.” The hall was as straight and as clear as a highway. “We’ll take them head-on. We just need to take out four dark elves per person.” Having said that, Seo Jun-Ho looked at the Players with a challenging look in his eyes. It was as if he was asking they didn’t have the confidence to kill even four dark elves.
A strange feeling started to bloom in the Players as they saw his arrogant expression.
‘What’s this? I somehow feel disgusted.’
‘What level do you think I am? Do you really think that I can’t take out four elves?’
‘Only four? I’ll kill even ten!’
Eagerness and determination rose from deep within their hearts. They wanted to prove their strengths to their savior in the face of his doubt.
“Piece of cake! Let’s do this!”
“Hey, all of you in my party will catch 5 elves. I’ll go over the videos with each of you.”
“Five? Pfft, lame. Those noobs are going for five, so we’ll catch ten each!”
Even though they were all allies, they were all from different parties and Guilds. It was natural that there would be competition. Seo Jun-Ho didn’t interrupt them.
‘Am I crazy? Why would I stop them? Of course, I won’t.’
Instead, he stoked their fiery determination and eagerness even higher.
“I wonder…Do you guys think that there will be elixirs?”
An elixir was the elves’ panacea that could save a dying person. It was the biggest reason why the Players had come to this Gate.
The mention of the elixirs made the Players light up. They were still hungry for revenge.
‘…Yes, elixirs. I completely forgot about that.’
‘When elixirs are discovered, they’re usually distributed based on the level of contribution…’
‘Wait, how many dark elves have my party killed so far?’
The Players realized one thing. Rather than all the small bits of contributions they made until now, the only thing that truly mattered was this battle. The parties that contributed the most right in this battle would receive the most elixirs.
‘Now they’re starting to look useful.’
Seo Jun-Ho smiled in satisfaction as he looked at each of the Players’ faces. They looked nervous just a few minutes ago, but now, their eyes were full of venom and bloodlust.
There was no need to wait any longer.
Seo Jun-Ho pulled out his sword from the Association and raised it into the air. He didn’t give a battle cry—he simply sprinted first to the front lines.
He cut off the heads of five dark elves. With his intrepid attack, the battle started.
“That’s unfair! How can you just go first?!”
“Let’s go, guys!”
A switch flipped, and the Players rushed into the battlefield with their weapons in tow.
A hundred Players and hundreds more monsters were locked in battle. It was a fierce contest where you couldn’t even spare a glance for your comrades.
In the middle of it all, Seo Jun-Ho was enjoying it the most.
‘Wow, just look at all the exp I’m getting.’
He had the lowest level in the Gate, but he had the highest stats. So while others had to swing their sword two or three times to kill an elf, he only needed one swing.
‘I have the best sword skills too.’
He was aiming precisely for pressure points and his sword was bloodthirsty. If he aimed it at people, he would certainly become a powerful villain, but his sword only pointed at monsters.
Perhaps that was why Seo Jun-Ho wasn’t hesitant. If a dark elf came at him with a sword, he would cut down their weapon. If they came at him with a shield, he would cut down their shield. The sword ki imbued in his weapon enabled him to do what was seemingly impossible.
‘Sword ki? And it looks more perfect than mine.’
‘I heard that it hasn’t even been three months since he debuted…’
‘Is this all because of his natural talent?’
It was a near-perfect sword ki that even made others jealous.
There wasn’t a single elf that could block Seo Jun-Ho and his deep black sword aura. Even as the dark elves swarmed him like bugs, he didn’t slow down. Riding the high of the battle, he actually started to get faster. The Players that followed him in the hopes of slaying more dark elves started to get exhausted.
‘When in the world will he start to slow down?’
‘He’s not gonna go directly to the tribe chief like this, is he?’
‘Dammit, I’m starting to reach my limit…’
‘Fuck, slow down.’
As their fatigue started to catch up to them, the Players started to fall behind Seo Jun-Ho one by one.
“Guh!” But Cha Min-Woo continued to follow him with fierce determination. He fought off dark elves coming from all directions while sweating profusely.
Seo Jun-Ho stabbed an elf that was coming at him from the left as he spoke. “You’re at your limit. Fall back.”
“B-but…” Cha Min-Woo swallowed and looked shakily in the direction where the tribe chief was. “Are you planning to get to him by yourself? That’s crazy.”
Seo Jun-Ho smirked, unconcerned. “You don’t know me well enough yet. I do crazy things quite often.” Right…He got scolded by Deok-Gu and the others often because of it.
“…” Cha Min-Woo lost his train of thought and shook his head, defeated.
‘I knew it was selfish of me to fight by his side or even follow him from behind…’
But forget going after him, watching him from afar was already hard enough.
‘I still have a long way to go.’
He realized that he was at his limit, and he made a promise. “I won’t fall behind next time.”
“You’ll have to work harder to do that.”
“Just wait and see. I’ll train as hard as I can.” Cha Min-Woo gave a determined expression and turned around.
Seo Jun-Ho watched him disappear with a pleased smile.
‘I like the look in his eyes. A person with a firm goal will quickly become strong.’
He was already looking forward to the next time they would meet.
Seo Jun-Ho turned around and checked his own status. He was at level 24, and his exp bar was around 94% full. Every dark elf gave him 0.25%, so he only had to kill 24 more to reach level 25.
“But there’s a faster way.”
Seo Jun-Ho turned to the ones that were walking toward him. They were about one head taller than the average dark elf.
“Since they’re dark elven knights, shouldn’t they give me more exp?”
There were only five of them in the Black Moss tribe, and all five had surrounded him.
“Wow, all five at once? Your leader must think highly of me.” Buzzing with excitement, Seo Jun-Ho muttered to himself as he stabbed his sword into the ground. “I should thank him properly.”
He pulled out a black sword sheath from his inventory. The item that the one and only Kwon Noya had hammered himself.
He pulled out Black Dragon Fang to feed it with the blood of his enemies for the first time. It let out a cry, as if impatient for blood.
“Damn, this guy’s impatient.”
That didn’t mean he hated it though. He was impressed by how compatible they were.
“How do you understand your owner so well?” Like the sword, he was also desperate and impatient to wield it.