Chapter 52. The Black Moss Chief (2)
A dark elf sat on a throne made of a rotting foxglove tree. He rested his chin in his left hand as he watched the battlefield calmly. Hundreds of humans were locked in combat with his forces, but he was only focused on one man.
That human was incredible. Even when confronted with five dark elven knights, he did not hesitate. No, it went beyond that. As if he was an adult playing with children, he was leading and using the dark elves to shatter their own allies’ formations.
‘…I can’t watch.’
He closed his eyes. It was painful to see how ugly and beastly the dark elves had become. At one point in time, they had been extremely beautiful and intelligent.
‘But that is a memory of a forgone time.’
He had been a high elf that led the Azure Moss tribe in a valley on a small branch of the World Tree.
High Elf Rodomir. This had been his name during his golden years. Today, he couldn’t bear to think of it any longer.
At some point, the human had reached him after having taken care of the dark elven knights.
“It’s my first time seeing a tribe with so many dark elves. You’re like cockroaches.”
Rodomir pulled himself up from the throne. His face was unpleasant as he gripped his sheathed sword and approached the human.
‘This time too. He speaks a language I don’t know but I understand.’
“Do not speak of those cursed beings in front of me,” Rodomir said.
“You hate cockroaches even though you’re guardians of nature? Oh, is it because you’re a dark elf?” Seo Jun-Ho shrugged.
His opponent was speaking in Elvish, but language barriers didn’t exist in the Gates. It was also the reason why he could communicate with intelligent beings like the Frost Queen.
Rodomir unsheathed his sword.
“I won’t speak any longer. Raise your sword, human.”
Rodomir’s physique was similar to Seo Jun-Ho, willowy rather than muscular. Based on his physique, he looked weaker than the dark elven knights.
‘But he’s strong.’
Seo Jun-Ho had seen how he fought with Confession of the Dead. He had walked a depraved path after betraying the World Tree, but he wasn’t consumed by his power. The tribe chief Rodomir did not forget his elven sword skills.
‘I don’t know if it’s good or bad…but dark elves are physically stronger than humans.’
And his current opponent was their leader. It was hard to tell how much power was packed into his small body.
Seo Jun-Ho waved the tip of his sword.
“Come at me.”
“…Tsk, arrogant human.”
Rodomir clicked his tongue.
With a blast of air, his blade appeared in front of Seo Jun-Ho in an instant.
Seo Jun-Ho barely blocked it with his sword as he was forced three steps back. He felt a throbbing pain in his hand that held Black Dragon Fang.
‘He’s not just fast, he’s strong. And…he knows how to breathe well.’
Seo Jun-Ho had a unique fighting technique of interrupting his opponent’s breathing. Using it, he had taken down countless enemies. But it became apparent that it wouldn’t work on his current opponent. In other words, he had to rely on his physical strength and other skills to defeat him.
‘I’m starting to get curious. Who is this guy?’
Seo Jun-Ho scanned Rodomir’s stance. His back was straight and his shoulders were open. He recognized it.
‘I’ve seen it in a book. It’s the basic stance in the Elven sword technique, Genia Manus.’
The Elven sword technique was called the Sword of Nature because it drew power from the environment. But that was only when the user was an elf that was loved by nature. For a dark elf that had the strength of neither spirits nor nature, it was a huge detriment.
His thoughts were confirmed when they crossed swords.
“…So that’s why you changed it.” The sword technique his opponent was using originated from Genia Manus, but there were subtle differences. Simply put, it was an original style that played off the strengths of a dark elf.
“Speak with your sword, human.”
Rodomir’s attack made a long cut in the ground. He was much more destructive than the dark elven knights.
The crack on the ground was like a cliff.
“Isn’t this your house?”
“It does not matter,” Rodomir said coolly. He rushed him with his sword.
Clang clang clang!
Sixteen clashes were exchanged in the blink of an eye.
Seo Jun-Ho tilted his head. His opponent was obviously strong and fast, but he didn’t feel the overwhelming strength that he had seen in the memories.
‘Is it because it was from the perspective of a dark elf?’
Seo Jun-Ho had taken the lead in all sixteen clashes.
‘If this continues, I can end this in 5 minutes…’
Something felt off. Seo Jun-Ho raised his sword, but Rodomir’s eyes were focused on the scene behind him.
All the dark elves dying under the rush of Players were his tribesmen. Rodomir remembered each of their names and faces.
‘These fools followed their cruel leader until the very end…’
Rodomir gripped the sword in his hand. All he wanted to do was to return to those peaceful days and make things right again.
But no mortal can undo what they have done.
‘There’s only one way to make the impossible happen.’
To meet one thousand enemies and defeat them all. That was the ‘deal’ that he and the creature from the gates of hell had made.
‘I will not let myself be defeated. Victory is the only option.’
Rodomir knew what Seo Jun-Ho was thinking. He himself knew that he would soon fall if things continued like this.
“…To restore the glory of the past!”
Pitch-black energy started pouring from Rodomir’s sword. The cave rumbled from the tremendous power.
‘A sword aura…? No, that’s not it.’
Seo Jun-Ho had been watching his movements closely. He shook his head for he could sense magic from the sword, but the flow wasn’t consistent. A sword aura could only be completed if you understood and controlled your magic perfectly, but the flow of magic from his sword was jagged.
“Guh…!” Rodomir gripped his right wrist with his other hand. Deep red veins crawled up his arms, looking like they would burst at any second. Seo Jun-Ho realized what was happening to him.
“Is it a 2nd phase?” He muttered.
At the same time, his intuition screamed danger.
“Guaaaahhh!” Rodomir let out a roar and ran toward him. The pressure and energy he emanated were incomparable to before.
‘So this is the case…’
Seo Jun-Ho realized instinctively that this was what he had seen in the dark elves’ memories.
Black Dragon Fang swiftly blocked his opponent’s attack, but nevertheless, he was thrown into the air.
In an instant, he was embedded into the wall of the underground cave.
Seo Jun-Ho fell to the ground and shook his head, trying to get himself together. He spat out the gravel that went into his mouth. There was no time for him to think.
Rodomir wouldn’t give him the time to do that.
Seo Jun-Ho flung his body to avoid a hit to his chest and when he stood up, a pistol appeared in his left hand.
Bang! Bang bang!
He fired three bullets.
“That’s cheap!” Though he said that, Rodomir had cut the three bullets cleanly out of the air and hit the ground once more.
‘I can’t even stall for time…!’
Seo Jun-Ho scowled and reflexively swung Black Dragon Fang in time to block Rodomir’s sword.
Seo Jun-Ho’s black sword ki and Rodomir’s mysterious black energy – both were shrouded in a black aura, but it was clear which one was superior.
‘He’s pushing me back!’
Seo Jun-Ho heard a grinding sound from his blade. It meant that the energy surrounding the opponent’s sword was much sharper and stronger than his.
‘Black Dragon Fang is a good sword, so I can hold out for now….’
But no matter how good it was, it wouldn’t be able to last long.
‘I can’t hide my other skills any longer.’
He couldn’t use a sword aura with the amount of magic he currently had. Now was the time to use either Frost or Watchguard of Darkness.
‘But so many people are watching…’
While Seo Jun-Ho was trying to make up his mind, Rodomir suddenly kicked him. It landed on his side, making him fly ten meters back.
He coughed out blood.
It was the worst-case scenario. Two of his ribs had been broken with a single kick.
‘When was the last time this happened?’
He had faced a lot of crucial moments after being awoken from the ice, but this was the first time he had been directly injured.
Was it the Frost Queen…no, his ribs were fine back then. He pondered as he got back up.
“…Dammit.” His face fell. The damage was so bad that he could see two Rodomirs.
But he couldn’t run away.
The Players were still fighting…
At that moment, the backs of the Players started to fill his sight. There were leather armor, heavy armor, light armor, and even plate armor.
It was a rare sight of unity between Players. They stood in front of Seo Jun-Ho like a wall.
“You’ve worked hard to fight the monster alone.”
“Rest for now.”
“You’ll get a stomach ache if you eat everything alone. Leave some for us.”
The party leaders and Cha Min-Woo faced Rodomir and the ominous energy that surrounded him.
“Don’t, he’s dangerou…ugh!” Seo Jun-Ho’s face scrunched from the pain on his side. All of a sudden, there was a cool feeling over his wound, and the pain started to fade.
“Your ribs are broken. At this level, it’ll take at least 30 minutes for it to heal.”
He looked to his side and found Choi Jin-Pyo, Cha Min-Woo’s party healer. His hands were at his side, awash in light.
“I’ll help too. Then it’ll be 20.”
“My healing skill is low, but it’s better than nothing.”
Two more healers crouched by Seo Jun-Ho’s side. The pain started to fade faster.
‘At this rate, it’ll take 10…no, it’ll only take 5 minutes for my bones to stitch back together.’
Seo Jun-Ho weakly tried to express his gratitude, but Choi Jin-Pyo waved him off.
“Even though we were all the way in the back, we saw everything we needed to.”
“You, fighting alone. Jun-Ho-nim took care of those five monstrous dark elves and pushed back the tribe chief in no time.”
“It inspired us.”
“You fought so hard even though it had only been three months since you debuted. We couldn’t just stand by. It would be humiliating.”
“In the end, well…we can help you now after we’ve reduced the dark elves to around a hundred.”
He liked the look in their eyes.
Seo Jun-Ho blushed and scratched his cheek.
“Hey, stay still. Stop moving, you’re injured.”
Seeing Seo Jun-Ho pout at Choi Jin-Pyo’s nagging, the Players around him laughed. It was such a human-like expression.
“Then, once we kill that guy…..”
“Yes, the battle will be over.”
They all looked exhausted, but their eyes shone brightly.
But Rodomir wasn’t planning on letting them win.
Rodomir quietly took in the eighteen players that formed a wall around him. If they all had the same level of skill as the human from before, it would be a difficult fight.
But once he assessed each person, he felt relieved.
The humans in front of him posed no threat to him at all.