The ominous darkness started to creep into the stadium, even devouring the light in the process. When he saw it, JiHan readied his Ki.
‘It’s a power so overwhelming that its source can’t even be perceived… Defeating it is impossible.’
It didn’t matter how high his Martial Power or Force stats were; at his level, he wouldn’t be able to beat a constellation.
‘There’s no need for me to beat it.’
JiHan recalled the epic quest.
[Find the Shadow Queen sitting in the audience of the Colosseum map and provoke her.]
The quest didn’t require him to fight the Shadow Queen. Rather, he just had to find and provoke her.
It seemed like he’d cleared the prerequisite of finding the Shadow Queen, but…
‘Since the quest hasn’t been cleared… It seems like I haven’t provoked her yet.’
How could he provoke the Shadow Queen? Throwing the Phoenix Arrow into that darkness probably wouldn’t have any effect.
As JiHan fell into thought…
The Phoenix Arrow he’d shot through the barrier returned to his hand.
‘So it still retains its returning feature even after entering that darkness.’
He knew of its returning function, but he’d figured the powerful darkness would render it ineffective.
He wasn’t sure if the Shadow Queen had pretended not to see it, but the Phoenix Arrow was still emitting a strong white light as always.
As JiHan put some Ki into the Phoenix Arrow, its white light grew stronger, illuminating the surrounding area and pushing back the darkness.
He felt something twitch beneath him. As he looked down, he noticed that his long shadow had twisted into a strange shape.
His shadow’s head resembled a sword.
The sword-shaped shadow suddenly leaped up, attempting to pierce him.
It melted back down, and the shadow on the ground returned to its original shape for a moment before beginning to transform again.
‘There’s someone supplying the shadow with a constant source of power. At this rate, it’ll go on forever.’
Not only that, but the darkness continued to pour into the arena. There didn’t seem to be any solutions in sight.
‘I need to assess the situation first.’ JiHan decided to retreat.
He was about to use the Lightning Thunder Step, but…
He noticed that the electricity emanating from his legs was slowing down the shadow’s transformation rate.
He did it again and intentionally let the electricity from Lightning Thunder Step flow into the ground. The shadow was noticeably paralyzed.
‘I can suppress the power flowing into the shadow, but it won’t disappear entirely.’
No matter how much he tried to eliminate the foreign power with electricity, it didn’t completely vanish.
‘I’ll have to leave it like this for now.’
Having made up his mind, JiHan used Lightning Thunder Step and began to look for other players.
* * *
The stadium was in chaos.
“Wh-what’s going on?! What’s up with this shadow…?”
Players’ screams echoed all over the place.
Unlike JiHan, who could easily suppress the shadow and freely move, other players were helplessly attacked by their swordlike shadows.
Attempts to block the attacks with shields or barriers were futile. For some reason, the shadows ignored the players’ defenses and immediately took their lives.
[There are 5 survivors left.]
[The ‘Top 100’ match will end soon.]
The number of survivors was rapidly decreasing, and JiHan felt anxious when he saw the message.
‘I haven’t cleared the epic quest yet.’
How could he provoke the Shadow Queen? He looked around.
Apart from the barrier he’d pierced, the other barriers around the stadium were also deactivated. Darkness was creeping in from all directions.
Four players gathered at the center of the stadium. It seemed like they weren’t in the area of the shadow’s influence yet, but judging by the way their shadows were starting to move, it didn’t seem like there was much time left for them.
‘I’ll have to save them for now.’
Sung JiHan used the Lightning Thunder Step and approached the survivors.
As JiHan approached them at an incredible speed, the Warrior attempted to use a skill, but…
JiHan ignored the Warrior as if he found him unworthy of being faced. Instead, he just immobilized him. At the same time, he stomped into the Warrior’s shadow, and electricity poured from his feet.
The shadowy sword threatening the player vanished and returned to its original form.
‘What…? Why’s he helping me?’
The Warrior, unable to move his body at all, could only blink in disbelief.
JiHan used Force to lift him and moved to the center of the arena after saving the other survivors.
All four players stood side by side at the center of the arena, petrified and unable to do anything other than stare at JiHan.
If he let them die, he would win. Why was he saving them?
The four looked at him, confused, but JiHan paid no attention to them. He peered into the darkness that was closing in from all directions.
Based on what he’d seen so far, although the darkness looked uniform on the surface, there were clearly different power levels within.
‘To verify that…’
JiHan flowed electricity into his and the other four’s shadows.
The shadows trying to transform into swords returned to their original shapes, but they didn’t stop attempting to transform.
JiHan wasn’t trying to suppress the shadows completely. He wanted to check where their source of power was coming from by stimulating them.
Soon, he felt a strange energy flowing from the northeast.
At the same time, the shadows started to recover.
‘There you are.’
He was sure that the Shadow Queen was in the place he had broken through. Since he knew her location, all that remained was to provoke her with an attack.
His problem was that not even the Three Talents would be enough to reach the target. That’s how non-standard she was.
No matter what technique JiHan used, he was inferior in terms of power, but still…
Among the many different techniques he could use, one came to mind that would allow him to take advantage of the enemy’s weakness to electricity.
The Phoenix Arrow ignited once again. That time, it wasn’t just covered with white flames. There was also blue electricity circling around it
‘Although I haven’t fully inherited Nameless Divine Arts…’
It wasn’t a technique that had been registered as a skill, but his body remembered it clearly.
JiHan chose one of the Nameless Divine Arts’s higher Three Divine Techniques branches to overcome the situation.
Nameless Divine Arts Heavenly Lightning Technique: Thunderclap Lightning.
The Thunder God’s Techniques composed one of the three higher technique branches of Nameless Divine Arts.
It was ideal for suppressing darkness and evil, but it was too high-level for JiHan at the moment. Even if he had fully inherited Nameless Divine Arts, he wouldn’t have been able to use it at full strength.
‘If I lack power, I can borrow it from the Phoenix Arrow.’
The Phoenix Arrow had a maximum of five uses, but if one ignored that limitation, its power could be compared to an SS-rank item’s.
JiHan’s hands were set ablaze, unable to withstand the heat, as a side effect of having attempted to use a higher technique despite not having Nameless Divine Arts fully registered.
An intense pain spread through the palms of his hands. He didn’t use a Battle Net connector, so any pain was fully experienced.
Instead of frowning, a bright smile lit up JiHan’s face.
A loud sound started to emanate from the Phoenix Arrow.
JiHan got into a spear-throwing stance. Every muscle in his upper body, including his arms and shoulders, contracted as if they would burst at any moment, and his shoes were torn apart by the destructive force.
A ground-tearing boom spread from JiHan.
The Phoenix Arrow left his hand and transformed into lightning with a white flame as it pierced through the darkness.
At the same time, the darkness that seemed to be about to engulf the entire arena receded, revealing the Dark Elf with black eyes who’d been making eye contact with JiHan.
JiHan’s forehead creased. To think that the being he believed to be the Shadow Queen would reveal herself. Moreover, she was standing directly in the Phoenix Arrow’s destructive path.
The Phoenix Arrow stopped moving just in front of the dark elf’s nose.
[——–.] As she muttered some words in an unknown language, the Phoenix Arrow’s flames gradually died, and its electricity faded away.
The Phoenix Arrow, which seemed like it would devour the dark elf only moments prior, reverted to its original form.
From the looks of it, she had completely neutralized JiHan’s attack, but at that moment…
A ray of white lightning brushed past her left cheek.
Lightning from JiHan’s burnt hand had followed the Phoenix Arrow from behind, hidden by the Thunderclap Lightning.
‘The second attack couldn’t catch up with the arrow’s speed, so it ended up being delayed, but…’
It had somehow worked.
Although it was only for a brief moment, the dark elf’s left cheek was slightly scorched before returning to its original state.
[…] The dark elf stopped talking and touched her face.
[You’ve provoked the Shadow Queen.]
[You’ve cleared the epic quest.]
[You’ve earned 50,000 achievement points.]
Although the second attack he had prepared barely scratched her face, JiHan was satisfied with the result. The attack was only meant to provoke the Shadow Queen, after all.
[———–.] The dark elf with black eyes opened her mouth and stretched her right hand out. The surrounding darkness instantly disappeared and gathered around her hand in the shape of a single, massive, black sword that stretched from her hand to the infinite sky.
The remaining players’ shadows went wild.
Up until then, the shadows had been immobilized by JiHan’s electricity, but they could no longer be suppressed when the dark elf started to fully exert her power.
The shadows restricted their arms and legs. JiHan and the other four became captives as if they’d been tied to a gallows.
It was clear they would be slain in one stroke, and they could do nothing about it.
JiHan would be the first one to be executed and was about to lose the top position, but for some reason, he still had a smile on his lips.
“Sorry, but I cannot afford to die.”
The players behind him let out groans and, one by one, turned into light and vanished. JiHan was the last one left.
[——?] The dark elf’s eyes widened for a moment. The shadows should have already locked JiHan’s abilities. He shouldn’t have been able to do anything before her overwhelming power, so why…?
Why did they die?
“See you next time.”
[You’ve won the ‘Top 100’ promotion match.]
[You’ll be logged out in 5 seconds.]
Before the five seconds elapsed, the massive, black sword descended upon JiHan, but…
JiHan, whom she thought had been fully restrained, twisted his body at the last moment and turned it into a glancing blow. His left arm was severed and fell to the ground.
‘Considering the circumstances, I did well.’
Despite the pain he felt from losing his arm, JiHan grinned and completed the logout.
[The constellation ‘Shadow Queen’ has shown interest in you.]
[The ‘Sun’s Shadow’ has been attached to your left arm.]
He didn’t see the final two messages.