The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 17 Chapter 8
Chapter 8 : Encounter with Da’in
Pavo had great ambitions as an Architect. He was now skillful at constructing houses and buildings for business.
There was quite the variety of preferences for houses in Morata. In other affluent kingdoms, you had to be a high leveled player or have a lot of money in order to own your own house. That's because they had to build a villa or some luxury residence in order to not be inferior to others. But in Morata, there was a representative style of house.
It could be built easily, and it cost almost no construction and maintenance fees. The shoddy shack could only block the rain and wind, but there were so many of them that there was no reason to feel ashamed all alone.
Since even beginners could build one if they acquired lumber, they would prepare a house at just level 20 or 30. They could easily realize the precious dream of having their own house. After preparing a house, the beginners would leave equipment or goods they weren't using inside their houses and even call their friends to throw parties. Morata was their hometown and they even had a house; that was the main reason why beginners couldn't leave Morata even after growing.
Normally, permission to construct shacks wasn't often given because public safety and health would drop severely if many of them were built. The price of land was also high in other cities, so building a house took tons of money. But Morata's land was on the cheap side, and public safety and health were quite good as well. The Lord had made an expensive waterway and established a vigilance corps, and relief for the poor went on smoothly due to the Freya Church's influence, so there were hardly any thieves.
"No village idealizes the shack more than this one does."
Pavo had built a considerable number of shacks. The shacks he built were popular because they were sturdy and the inside space was also well designed. A shack that had just been built had a charm of its own. It would deteriorate after a long time, rotting or breaking and leaking, but it was more or less worth living in a shack that was like new.
Adventurers, Merchants, and wealthy players who crossed over from the Central Continent wanted high-class residences.
"Please build me a house on a place that looks down on Morata. You have to make the warehouse big, and please use expensive materials, too."
There was also a lot of demand for high-class houses or business buildings, so Pavo worked hard. The thousands of shacks, hundreds of luxury villas, Morata's bridge, and business buildings that he had personally built became landmarks.
"The Designing and Construction skill haven't been growing well these days."
The proficiency from shacks was paltry. The Fame he acquired and his proficiency growth from completing a business building or villa were also decreasing.
"I'll have to make a really awesome work."
Pavo's affection towards Morata was extremely high. Since he had built many buildings that were being used by Merchants and residents, as an Architect, he was as fond of it as if it were his own city.
"Let's try making a proper building."
With perfect timing, Weed's request set the fire of challenge blazing in him, as an Architect. He needed to make a work of construction for the sculpture about birth and death, as well as the countless dolls.
- Designing is underway.
The blueprint popped up as a translucent 3D image in front of Pavo.
By using Mana, he could try setting up walls, columns, and even decorate the interior, as if he were actually making a house. The beginner Designing skill had a limit to the overall size, and you couldn't use diverse materials either.
The Construction and Designing skill were inseparable. The materials and new styles that were applied in Construction were able to instantly influence the Designing skill and develop it. Things like the arrangement of furniture and the structure of the house were completed through Designing. After making a blueprint, you could even give instructions to laborers.
Pavo's Designing skill was Intermediate level 3. It wasn't at the level of being able to construct a castle, but he could certainly make a fairly large building and garden.
"They're the skills that made 3 deluxe villas at once."
Pavo made the blueprint with an enormous structure.
Weed said he had made the dolls for some child.
"That noble aim... I can't disappoint it."
Weed had permitted a budget of 1,980 Gold! It was just enough money to barely make one house. However, Pavo planned to invest in materials unsparingly for the construction.
"Let's bring in good trees and flowers from the continent to decorate the garden. We'll make the garden about one and a half acres, and the area of the building has to be at least 8 acres."
Envisioning the ultimate landmark building, it had a size and design that he had never made before. He intended to make use of his fortune as an Architect, the profession that was said to have the most money after a Merchant, to try making a building that was worthy of emblemizing Morata.
"As an artist, it's ridiculous that Weed didn't have a single space worthy enough to display his sculptures."
He would make it so that Weed's sculptures could be put on display, allowing the residents and adventurers to see them.
Pavo began construction. He dove right into production because the work was so tremendous.
* * *
Pale was in the middle of hunting with his party in a dungeon when a whisper came from Weed.
- I have to hunt in an underground prison. It might be a little dangerous, but please send me one person or so.
The Embinyu Fortress underground prison was very complex. There were parties hunting and countless monsters everywhere. Since there was apparently a monster that used poison as well, it was tough to fight recklessly.
- I understand.
After ending the whisper, Pale spoke to his party. "Weed asked that we send one person."
"Shall I go?" Hwaryeong stepped forward at once, as if she'd been waiting for it. There was no way she would miss an opportunity to be with Weed for the first time in a while.
"Of course Weed would welcome you, Hwaryeong, but he says he needs someone who can cure poison. Irene, do you want to go too?"
"What'll you do here if I go?"
"We'll figure it out somehow. It's fine since we have Da'in, too."
Pale's party fulfilled very many requests from Morata. They were hunting and doing quests side-by-side while getting the book possessing the 'Secret of Manufacturing Ancient Breastplate.' Even though the quest they were currently doing had a difficulty of C, it was dangerous dungeon hunting where they were attacked by monsters with very high damage.
"Won't it be dangerous for the people left behind if both Hwaryeong and I go?"
"Maybe. It depends on how long Zephyr can hold on, but it'll definitely be a bit dangerous, huh?"
As a party that lacked a Warrior or Knight, it was true that they were uneasy whenever they did a dungeon exploration. Even though Zephyr took charge of defense, it was tough when there were a lot of monsters rushing in. Hwaryeong harassed the monsters with her Confusion Dance or Seduction Dance, so if both she and Irene were gone at the same time, it would greatly impede the exploration.
"I will go." Holding a cudgel, Da'in stepped forward.
Shaman was the profession that could be called the jack of all trades! She had striking power, but it was also her specialty to soundly beat up the monsters when they went crazy.
As she swung her cudgel, Da'in occasionally murmured to herself. "Flogging has to be done by hand after all. There's no fun in hunting without the taste of giving a beating."
The most popular Shaman in Morata, she had been helping out in Pale's party.
Zephyr nodded. "Miss Da'in can be relied on since she can detoxify and even cure. Looks like Hwaryeong and Da'in can go together and help him."
After they decided on the people who would go to the underground prison, Yurin drew a picture based on Weed's explanation. In the picture, Yurin, Da'in, and Hwaryeong were standing next to Weed at the entrance of a dark prison. The advantage of Picture Teleportation was that multiple people could be moved at once. Granted, the teleportation of an absurd number of people was impossible since everyone had to be drawn on one sheet. They also couldn't teleport too deep underground due to the Mana limitation.
Yurin, Hwaryeong, and Da'in disappeared, as if they were sucked into the drawing. Then, as if swaying into being, they suddenly appeared in the place where Weed was waiting, the entrance to the underground prison.
Yellowy greeted them with a gentle face, as if glad to see them. He was a male, and as the special characteristic of an art creature, he liked beautiful people.
"Ohh, what a handsome and dashing bull."
Hwaryeong gently stroked Yellow's neck. It was a happy moment for Yellowy, who went slack-jawed with a naive expression.
"Oppa, how much does this fella weigh?"
"He's a top of the line Korean cow. I added a little more to the special parts, like ribeye."
"He looks tasty. Oughta be pretty good if you slow-cooked him and ate the bone broth mixed with rice."
Yurin, who was joking because she was in front of Weed! Yellowy's complexion lost all color.
In the meantime, Weed and Da'in saw each other.
Da'in's face had become hard to recognize due to the aftermath of the curse she had received in Morata. She could get rid of the curse, but she had left it in order to see how Weed was getting along.
Da'in bowed lightly at the waist first as she greeted him. "Hello. I heard much about you."
She greeted him while hiding her complex feelings from meeting him after a long time.
Weed introduced himself briefly. "I'm Sculptor Weed. So you're the Shaman introduced by Pale."
A spark flashed through Weed's eyes. Ever since he heard that there was a Shaman named Da'in in Pale's party, he'd thought it was a strange coincidence.
"Da'in... and you say you're a Shaman."
Weed shook his head as if to clear something from his mind. "It's nothing. It's just that I recalled an old memory for a bit."
"What kind of memory was it?"
"It's just... a memory I keep to myself. Now is not the time to share a long story." Weed spoke coldly because he had remembered the bittersweet memory from Lavias.
Lots of people were gathering in order to sightsee after hearing the news that he had arrived at the entrance to the underground prison. There were also people who had followed him from the Matallost Church's temple. It would be better to take the mercenary Smith and get to the objective quickly.
"Let's go into the underground prison first and chat later."
Weed pulled out his sword and advanced. He had used Sword Grind and Armor Polish in advance, so there was nothing holding him back.
Da'in swung her cudgel as she chanted a spell. Weed was encased in the effects of a spell that amplified Strength, increased Agility, movement speed, and attack speed, and even hardened his skin. The effect was to the extent that it was unbelievable that she was a normal Shaman. Weed's Strength increased by over 230, and his movement speed also became very fast. His whole body overflowed with strength, like he had dropped off heavy luggage. With his Stamina and Agility increased, he felt like he could run like the wind and leap from cliff to cliff. He felt as if he could run like a cheetah!
'She's an incredible Shaman,' Weed thought to himself.
One of the finest Shamans in Morata, the proficiency of her skills was far from average.
* * *
"What a tremendous underground dungeon. I didn't think it'd be this deep."
The Warrior Hon looked around himself. The Embinyu's underground prison boasted a massive size, as well as a complex labyrinth and various test subjects. The level of the monsters was also on the high side, and the traps were numerous too. The Thief players in the party tried to disable all the traps, but it still took them over twenty-five days of struggling on the path to the place where the priests of the Matallost Church were tied up.
There were over 40 players who had received the 'Rescue the Prisoners of the Matallost Church' quest together, and their levels were fairly high as well. They were only able to comb this vast dungeon all the way to this point because they had the help of players like the Explorer and Elementalist.
The Paladin Billeo said, "Because it's an underground prison underneath the Embinyu Fortress... it truly wasn't a normal dungeon. About when do you think Weed will come?"
The Magician Easton lit a bonfire idly as he replied. "We heard he left Morata, so won't it take him about five days or so?"
Gallic looked unconvinced. "That fast?" He meant that was too quick compared to how much they themselves had suffered.
"We told him the path. Since we also got rid of all the traps, he should easily be able to get here in four or five days. Though it might take longer, y'know."
Hon made a decision as the party's leader. "Then since we can't waste our time either, let's hunt in the area while we wait."
"Look around you. The others are all hunting too."
There was a considerable number of monsters in the underground prison. Because it was a place where light didn't shine in, it was inhabited by hideous demons or creatures that had been cursed by the Embinyu. They were also at a pretty high level. For the most part, level 350 monsters emerged.
"He should be able to get here within five days if he hurries."
* * *
Weed closed in on the Dark Knights guarding the entrance to the underground prison. Since he was appreciating the effects from making a legendary sculpture and also had the Shaman's skill on him, he moved as fast as if he were flying.
"The enemy we have to face is fifteen Dark Knights."
They were the gatekeepers of the Embinyu Church. An excommunicated priest of the Demeter Church was also helping the Dark Knights, but they absolutely had to be taken down in order to enter the underground prison. It had only been a short amount of time, but it was common for people to fight the gatekeepers when a certain number of parties hunting in the River of Lamentation basin gathered. They needed at least 20 people in order to fight the Dark Knights at ease!
Weed was going to fight them with Hwaryeong, Da'in, and Yurin.
'It'll just be cumbersome if there are too many people.'
There were a lot of times when he also hunted alone, so he thought this many teammates was more than enough. If there were more people, he even had to distribute the japtem; the agony he would feel then would be indescribable!
"What, is he going to go hunt with just those people? Is he crazy?"
"You saw in the broadcast. He's super strong."
"He succeeded in the quest because there were a lot of barbarians who helped him."
"He'll only be able to go into the underground prison if we fight with him..."
"Let's just wait and see for now. He'll probably ask us to help if he needs it."
The God of War Weed. Without concealing their excitement at being able to become his teammate, the watchers looked on from afar.
Of course, they would leap up right away to help him if he called and would be able to show off their strength. That was because being in the same party as Weed was a tremendous honor.
Hwaryeong spoke as if worried, "Around what level are the knights?"
"In the early 330s. The Elite Dark Knights are about 380." There weren't any Elite Dark Knights here, but Weed explained for now. "If the knights have firm wills, the Seduction Dance probably won't work well on them."
Hwaryeong's Charm was enough to make Yellow wag his tail. Besides the Charm skill that was vital for her as a Dancer, with the combination of her clothes and accessories, there was no man who wouldn't fall over if she flirted with her flashy and evocative dance.
"It's just that my Health is low. I'll die pretty quick if I take a hit from a monster at the level of a Dark Knight; do you think it'll be okay?"
"I'll draw their aggro first, so please dance after that."
"I'll only believe in you, Weed."
The Dark Knights recognized Weed and reacted.
"Our church's enemy!"
"He's the conspirator who destroyed our religion's headquarters and caused the High Priest's death."
"The vicious guy who lured in the uncivilized barbarians with his cunning tongue and challenged us, the followers of a sacred purpose, has come."
The Dark Knights charged with fierce rage.
The charge of knights!
There were many cases where knights insisted on single combat. Because they had honor and pride, knights did offer to fight one to one. However, such a regulation didn't didn't apply to Weed. He had become an enemy who could not coexist with the Embinyu Church.
Clink clink clink.
Rushing in with the sound of their armor joints clattering, the charge of the Dark Knights was tremendous. A charge of the knights had been enough to deal a wound even on the former King Hydra's thick body. Because they carried the weight of their great armor, Vitality and Health would fall even if the charge was blocked with a shield. Cases where you were paralyzed from the impact were also numerous.
But Weed had a defense skill as well.
Close Eyes Tightly!
It was a Warrior technique that raised Perseverance and Toughness through the restriction of vision.
That wasn't all; he hardly used it, but the Moonlight Sculpting Blade was a skill that integrated attack and defense. When he used it as an attack skill alone, he could ignore the enemy's defense and deal a lot of damage. It was thanks to the characteristic of a Sculptor, who carved into actual materials, and the technique that was capable of handling light. It was also possible to use light to blind the enemy's eyes or to surround himself completely in light to use it for defensive purposes. There were the disadvantages that it couldn't block a physical blow as well as a magic attack and consumed Mana quickly, but the results Weed had gotten from experimenting with it had been fearsome.
His entire body covered in light and his wings spread out, he had penetrated the clump of monsters. A precise swordsmanship directed at the monsters that were approaching at rollercoaster-like speeds! He could have also shot out light and hit them, but the Mana consumption was too severe if he did that. Even when he tore them apart by swinging his sword himself, it only took a moment to reduce the monsters to ashes. 7 Caltrops! A battle against them would have taken a while if he fought normally, but they had been annihilated boringly in just 30-40 seconds with the Moonlight Sculpting Blade. Granted, he had to rest for a long time after ending the battle since he used up almost all his Vitality and Mana.
He could also use the Wings of Light that had been granted life to bypass monsters or assault them from behind. The fighting methods he could use were endless.
However, there was almost no occasion where he had to fight to the best of his ability. The biggest fighting opportunity had been when he was seizing the Embinyu Fortress, but the summoned Balkan, King Hydra, and Imoogi had fought better than he had expected. He tried to reveal his true skills for a bit when cutting the King Hydra's necks all at once, but he was so tired that it had ended all too blandly.
"I'm fed up with hunting, it's boring."
Following his own growth, Weed was at the point where he was bored of most battles. He couldn't raise Perseverance or Toughness in a fight where he had to do his best. For the ultimate hunting efficiency, there were things he needed to sacrifice out of necessity.
The underground prison was said to have monsters everywhere. Since he expected that the fighting would go on continuously, he couldn't rely on a skill that consumed Mana.
"Dirtman, turn the ground around me into mud."
The earth spirit was summoned in the blink of an eye. It was fresh since Weed had made it himself, took little Mana besides the summoning, and it was an obedient spirit. In his current state of very accelerated Mana recovery, he could use as many spirits as he wanted.
"I came because I received the command of Weed-nim, the most handsome man in the Versailles Continent. I will make the earth into mud right away."
Other spirits were arrogant and wasted a lot of time in responding to a summoning. Even with high intimacy with the Elementalist, it was rare for them to be obedient. However, Dirtman popped out as soon as it was called.
The ground the knights were charging on soon transformed into a mire that came up to the ankles. The armor wearing knights scattered and struggled on the place that had become bog-like.
"What's that spirit?"
"Is it an earth spirit? It appeared so quickly!"
That was the surprised reaction of the people who saw Dirtman.
"Hooray for Weed-nim, the being of absolute charisma! I have completed thy command. Do you have any more work for me? Please call me for anything."
Weed spoke as if being generous. "You may fight with us too."
"Thank you, Master. I shall not forget this kindness. I will treasure it deep inside my earth."
Dirtman raised a mound of dirt and attacked the Dark Knights. There wasn't much damage to speak of since it was dirt, but rocks were cleverly hidden inside so the Dark Knights had no choice but to fight it. Dirtman also didn't use much Mana, considering it was a spirit. Since Weed currently had overflowing Mana, there was no need to be stingy.
"Dirtman, you may use as much of my Mana as you want."
"I am honored, Master."
Lines of dirt flew into the sky like arrows.
Weed ran into the bog that where the Dark Knights were in mud up to their thighs and being harassed. The ground before his feet became firm, so there was no discomfort to walking.
"The foe of the Embinyu Church!"
"It's good you came; I shall rip you apart."
Even while being very preoccupied due to the mire, the Dark Knights swung their swords at Weed.
They were big knights, but their heights were about the same as Weed's because their legs were sunken in the mud.
The Dark Knights madly swung their dirtied swords. The sword Weed swung rang out with a beautiful sound as it flowed on the swords of the Dark Knights in succession.
As if a blizzard was being split, a path was cut through the flock of Dark Knights.
The swords of the Dark Knights shined as spells were cast. A damage amplifying skill that cut through the opponent's bones! A skill that penetrated by concentrating strength into sharpness! The Dark Knights even used a skill that divided a sword, turning it into five.
The Dark Knights surrounded Weed and unleashed their attacks. Weed turned violently . He avoided the Bone Cutter that would deal a fatal wound if he took a direct blow to his bare body, and he twisted to the side to avoid the sword that came straight his way. After narrowly dodging them, the sword that was divided into five attacked him.
Weed's eyes flashed. 'There's always a weak point to skills like this.'
The decisive disadvantage that strength and damage would be dispersed!
Weed agiley moved his feet as he swung his sword to parry all five of the attacks.
It seemed the Dark Knights felt great shame that their attacks had failed. That was because even though they had put away their high pride to try a combined attack, they hadn't been able to kill Weed.
Among the Dark Knights, Weed sped about like a bog eel. After leaping into their midst, he used his enemies so they couldn't use their skills and moved in a range that was close enough for their skin to touch.
'Close combat can be called the ultimate fight.'
Swordsmen used their skills from the very beginning. They unleashed their swordsmanship without hesitation, and even used long-ranged attack skills like lunges. With flashy effects, they displayed as much might. The Swordsman was a profession that had more awesome damage the more high leveled they became. There was a reason why they took the center stage in hunting.
On the other hand, Weed believed in the single Sculpting Blade and made do with his body for most of his fighting. With the least Mana consumption, he had grown through close combat, which could improve his skills and Toughness. Though the knights were quick and sharp, he was experienced and could avoid them fairly well.
'And... they're much slower than the sahyungs or master's sword.'
One could roughly predict where an attack would land just by looking at the foot movements. Weed stored the placement of the Dark Knights and their attack directions in his head and moved amongst them.
'If you're fast and smooth, you won't fall apart even when fighting greater numbers.'
His sword flowed and burrowed in while parrying.
The Sword Mastery skill that had risen to Intermediate 7 became Weed's foundation in battle. As his Sword Mastery skill was higher than the Dark Knights', there were many cases where his opponent's attack skills were nulled when he beat them at a precise strike point.
Weed used only the bare minimum of skills as he sliced past the Dark Knights as if sweeping through. He hid his Sculpting Blade, which could be called his patented move, in order to avoid the attention of the onlookers. That was because not showing a considerable portion of his skills would be helpful in a nasty situation. Sculpting Blade was effective when facing a monster that was much stronger than a normal one and it was particularly optimal for tearing apart Knights or Warriors.
"He got through."
The Dark Knights groaned heavily, but they didn't fall. That was because they had immense defense and Health from wearing full plate armor, the reason why knights were so tricky to face. However, the damage didn't end with small wounds, due to Weed's sword, the Daemon Sword that was said to have cleaved the devil.
- Daemon Sword's Freezing Curse.
A part of the body has frozen, so Strength and Agility will fall greatly.
Will reduce Health by 35 every second due to the damage of the ice attribute.
- Daemon Sword Cracked Rock Curse.
A crack has formed in the equipped armor, causing the durability to fall continuously.
- Daemon Sword's Nightmare Curse.
Evil spirits will rush in to cause optical illusions; after willpower has been weakened, they will rapidly disintegrate the body.
The Dark Knights fell into chaos from Weed's intrusion. Hwaryeong used the instantaneously created opening to push into the knights.
The sensual bubi bubi, which could only be seen in a club or a night stage!
[T/N: For those who may have forgotten, this is a dance that involves grinding and generally sexy movements, leading to the name, bubi bubi, which translates literally to "rub rub" — it is not derived from "booby booby".]
When Hwaryeong's body grazed past, the Dark Knights froze in their tracks. They drooled with hazy eyes and even lost their minds. Hwaryeong had grown enormously in the time while they had been apart, so as she danced, a butterfly flew around and flowers were strewn about.
"A dancer must always be graceful!"
She was even using the Flower Scattering skill!
As Hwaryeong danced, she left an inviting fragrance in her wake. Over 10 Dark Knights were charmed and lost their will to fight for an instant.
Weed easily hunted down the Priest with weak defense first. Killing Priests didn't take long since their Health was low even if they were high leveled. By the time he got rid of the Priest, the Dark Knights attacking Weed had decreased by three thanks to Hwaryeong's work.
Weed and Hwaryeong were perfectly in sync.
Weed slipped past the attacks of three Dark Knights with ease as he unfurled an aggressive counterattack.
- A fatal blow has been dealt.
The accurate blows that fell every time he did so!
Weed effectively used Kolderim's Daemon Sword, cleaver of the devil. The Daemon Sword allowed his skills to take flight. It was important to land fatal blows with Strength and damage, but he dealt many small wounds. He killed the Dark Knights after weakening them severely through the 7 overlapping curses of the Daemon Sword. Weed was moving so fantastically that even the armor he was wearing felt like a uselessly heavy load.
The jaws of the onlookers fell open.
"What the hell?"
"How can a person move like that? Is he seeing the attacks of the Dark Knights?"
"That's not something you can do just by seeing the attacks. He's striking the sword he's swinging in the center to change their directions."
Scenes they couldn't believe even after rubbing their eyes were cropping up one after another.
Beginner Warriors or Knights fought while getting hit by most of the attacks, trusting their Toughness, skills, and armor. Even if they accumulated a certain amount of skill, they were only at the level of using their shields or putting their weapons up front to block. Weed dodged the enemy's attacks by a finger's width, pierced the vital points, and slipped out. If they had known that Weed was restraining a lot of his skills, the people might have even fallen into severe self-doubt and frustration.
"Even the videos of famous Swordsmen on the Versailles Continent weren't at this level."
"Still, does he have no sense of fear at all? How can he run in front in a situation like that?"
"I recognized him when he fought riding the wyvern. A fight like that is really too natural for Weed!"
A battle on par with what the onlookers had thought of was unfolding before their eyes. They could only be fascinated by Weed's natural movements alone. They wouldn't have been this surprised if he had a high level or fought while using skills, but the movement of his body itself was a work of art.
Scenes of a fight that looked as if he was enjoying battle and controlling every movement!
The players knew how incredible Weed's current actions were.
"His stats and skills, all of it is optimized."
"He's putting everything he has into battle."
The ordinary standard for high leveled players was using their character's techniques well. They decided on various attack skills to match the situation and fought to win.
In comparison, like a person born for battle, Weed showed precise judgement and movements.
Even if the characters were the same, their performance in battle could only be different based on how they fought. In a brawling game, it was like the difference between heaven and earth even if characters with the same ability were used to fight.
A normal human wouldn't leap right into the middle of the Dark Knights swinging swords, and they wouldn't even try to strike those swords to slip past. No, they wouldn't overdo it by fighting the Dark Knights in the first place and would choose to safely gather more teammates.
When onlookers who had rushed over without reserve saw Weed's battle, there was something that made their blood boil. It drew them into wild excitement, and they were absorbed in the battle.
"There were over 10 Dark Knights, but he's really hunting them with 4 people. It ought to be possible if they were a party in the late 300s, but..."
"Just look at that Painter over there! She's wearing a tunic with a level 30 requirement."
"Is she really under level 50?"
"Her profession is a Painter. She's not even joining in the battle, just doodling."
Yurin was drawing the overpowering Dark Knights wearing the formal, solemn armor as no-good cavemen. With bushy beards and nose hairs sticking out, they were wearing elastic tights rather than armor.
"The weapon the Shaman has equipped isn't good either?"
"She's an extremely famous Shaman in Morata. I was in the same party as her once before, but... she's not even level 250."
"You mean she's hunting Dark Knights even so? It's ridiculous even if Weed is there."
"The Shaman is impressive too, and I've never seen a Dancer getting so aggressively involved in a battle. If only I could also dance with a charming Dancer like her..."
When the onlookers were spewing praise, Weed's expression was apathetic.
'This is boring.'
The ability of the Dark Knights was impressive. They were knights, and they rained down heavy and substantial attacks, so you couldn't be careless. If he was level 300 like before, he would have hunted with great excitement since they were monsters that were objectively stronger than himself. But since Weed was now level 370, he could defeat them fairly comfortably. Having grown while struggling in disadvantageous situations, opponents that were perfect for others merely made Weed sleepy.
Even after hunting several Dark Knights at once, he thought of this much as insignificant.
Even after entering the underground prison, Weed easily slaughtered the monsters. He was able to hunt the monsters so simply that it was futile since Hwaryeong put them to sleep. That was also because he couldn't take hits from the Dark Knights on purpose in order to raise his Toughness since there were many onlookers. Because this was after he made the sculpture, his Health and Mana recovery speeds were at a tremendous level, so he would be slow to tire even after fighting and fighting.
Monks of the Embinyu Church appeared before Weed. They were a very strong and rather quick mob that used punches or kicks as their main arsenals.
Weed overlapped another skill onto Sculpting Blade. It was a possible attack because Sculpting Blade was a technique that applied purely to Sword Mastery itself.
"15 Chain Strike."
He ran in without reserve and mercilessly beat them up with his sword. He had absolutely no mercy, and made no allowance for generosity, either.
When the Monks were barely able to extend their fists, he stood and took that much. Weed's equips were considerable, so taking a few hits from the Monks' hits was fine.
"Did you hit me just now?"
Weed's eyes twitched. His Perseverance or Toughness didn't even rise from taking those fumbling hits. He didn't really need to bear it and get hit when his stats didn't even go up!
"15 Chain Strike!"
He violently beat up the Monks. He beat them here, beat them there, chased and beat them, and beat them once more because it was a waste to use a skill right before they died. His sword rampaged as he mercilessly thrashed the Monks. It was to the extent that the onlookers felt sorry for the Monks of the Embinyu Church.
His Mana recovery speed was so fast that it quickly refilled again even if he used a skill.
"Weed! For you to come this far...! I heard much about your dirty crimes. I will take the Embinyu Church's revenge."
The Elite Dark Knight approached him in the underground prison with his mantle fluttering. If it were someone other than Weed, an exciting and tense atmosphere might have formed.
"Elite Dark Knight, you did well to show up as well. Sword Kaiser!"
He dodged the Elite Dark Knight's attack and activated his ultimate attack skill head on!
The Elite Dark Knight was flung to the opposite wall insignificantly.
- The Elite Dark Knight has fallen into a state of panic from a great shock.
Weed raised his sword and thrashed it.
"Then why'd you show up, hurry and die. Die! Die!"
The Elite Dark Knight dropped a shoulder guard and lost its life in vain.
Weed licked his lower lip with his tongue. This was a situation where he was wetting his lips with greed and thirst was rising in his throat.
"While you're like this, I guess I'll gather some Sword Mastery and attack skill proficiency!"
Crunch! Boom! Whaam!
Engrossing himself in just hunting without thinking of raising his stats for defense, all that was left were the gruesome remains of monsters.
The onlookers following him from behind drifted further and further away.
"So this is why they say the places where Weed has gone through are sucked dry of monsters.
"To think his personality was this dirty. He isn't saving even a single one and just beating them again and again and again."
"Did you see just now? He hit a monster that already died another three times before it hit the ground."
"I've never seen a hunting method that kills monsters like that."
"His notoriety wasn't just false rumors."
The onlookers backed off quickly, fearing the human who was hunting with such a dirty nature! Even though they backed off a distance, they could still hear Weed's words. It was a conversation he was having after wiping out five mobs of Dark Knights and disciples of the Embinyu Church.
"Let's fight faster."
"Angry Pebbles, come out."
Eight premium fire spirits were summoned with his overflowing Mana. The spirits with blazing, red-hot bodies went on their hands and knees before Weed and raised a fiery show as they acted charmingly. It appeared that Weed's control over the spirits had reached it's height.
"Did you call, our creator who is the most outstanding being under this sky!"
"You guys, go play with fire a bit. From the end of the passage on this side, set everything on fire in order."
Weed knew about the blocked paths of the complicated underground prison from the expedition. There were traps in the passages and monsters were teeming as well.
"Make sure that you check and only choose the places without people to set on fire," Weed warned. If a place where parties were hunting was set on fire and they happened to die, he could become a murderer.
"We shall devote our lives to fulfil thy command. It is a great honor that you did not forget us and entrusted this task."
Dark Knights and monsters were piled up in the blocked passages of the underground prison.
The dry air in the passages where the monsters were became hotter and hotter.
Spittle went flying as the monsters suffered! Once the flames rose explosively from the blocked passages, they screamed in anguish as they scrambled out.
"It's the harvest. 15 Chain Strikes!"
Weed killed every flaming monster that emerged.
Like a skilled farmer wielding a sickle, he precisely aimed for the throats, heads, and vital points of the monsters.
"This is the taste of hunting."
Monsters fell in swathes in front of Weed. When japtem and equips dropped as monsters turned to grey light, Weed sorted the expensive ones and put them onto Yellowy's back even in the middle of fighting. His hands moved with unparalleled business.
"Wah! That's really ridiculous."
"Is it even possible to hunt like this?"
The onlookers had never seen hunting like this. A normal hunting party would hunt camped out in one corner of the passage or clearing. They would also chat, make food to eat, and take breaks. If the speed of the monster appearances was slow, they would move while doing more hunting. When they did so, the party leader would entrust matters to a Thief, Adventurer, or Assassin, since they had to look for traces of monsters and chase them. Finding monsters well while considering the party members' states was the leader's responsibility. Therefore, knowing the geography and being aware of the characteristics of monsters while raising hunting efficiency was the standard.
However, Weed was different. His hunting range wasn't fixed in a narrow passage or a single spot. He took the characteristic of this enormous underground prison, this dungeon, into consideration and put the entire area around him into his hunting range.
"His EXP must be rising really damn well."
"Just look at the japtem. His hunting speed is fast so tons of items are also being dropped."
The onlookers could only be extremely jealous!
This was a hunting method that Weed could only show because his Mana recovery speed had quickened. It was Weed's way to fight while managing his Vitality and Mana well, but there was still an obvious limit. It was also comfortable since he took care of the tricky monsters that were daunting to deal with after Hwaryeong put them to sleep with her Seduction Dance. Thanks to Da'in having impressive skills as a Shaman, she gave very effective support in battle. His Agility increased and his Strength grew as well, enabling him to nullify the attacks of the Dark Knights more precisely. The fighting became comfortable and much easier thanks to Da'in.
* * *
One of the parties that had been hunting in the underground prison was taking a break.
A Warrior wiped the sweat dripping on his forehead. "The level of the monsters here is enormous."
The Cleric also plopped down without even thinking of smoothing his crumpled robe. "I've got to boast to my friends when we get back to Morata. We're seriously hunting in this underground prison."
"We oughta be able to hunt even better if we brought teammates..."
"Pft. Don't even say that, 'cause there shouldn't be many people who are hunting while raising their EXP as nicely as we are."
"We fought a whole seven times in 2 hours. That's an incredible combat record."
"It's the fastest battling I've had all year. Lots of monsters come out, so it's a really good spot for hunting."
"It is a bit lacking since we only have 7 party members this time. Next time, let's add another high damage Swordsman and Magician each and try a proper hunt."
They were chatting while taking a break when 11 vicious Heretic Hunters of the Embinyu Church approached them from the passage.
The party members took up their weapons and rose from their seats.
"They're not giving us a chance to rest."
"What should we do? There's still some distance between us, so should we run?"
Just when they were worriedly sharing their opinions, a huge creature and people approached the location of the Heretic Hunters. A man equipped with jet-black Talrok's Armor, helmet, and gloves ran in speedily. After him, an old mercenary and three ladies came riding in on a large and brawny black cow.
A Dancer who got off the cow distracted the Heretic Hunters as she danced. The Shaman used magic.
"Wavering eyes, amplify horror to make them see what they do not want to see most."
The willpower of the Heretic Hunters was very vulnerable, and they were men, so their gazes were easily stolen by Hwaryeong's dance. Da'in's high-proficiency magic was invoked in that opening. Da'in didn't even come down from Yellowy's back.
"Embinyu God, hast thou forsaken me?"
"I am a heretic. Judge me!"
While the Heretic Hunters were screaming, Weed brandished his sword. "15 Chain Strikes!"
His swordsmanship didn't back away or halt. With swordsmanship that added to his strength as he advanced, he precisely sliced only the weak points of the Heretic Hunters. His Strength, Agility, and overall fighting ability were amplified due to Dain's buff magic.
"15 Chain Strikes!"
He used effective skills for group hunting without reserve as he bore down on the Heretic Hunters. The Heretic Hunters braced for battle and swung their weapons, but they were helpless. They were cursed every time Weed's sword sliced past, and their bodies burned in flames, insects crawled over them, or their hair turned into stringy snakes. At the end of the battle, Yurin got down from Yellowy and simply picked up the japtem.
Having cleared the Heretic Hunters in an instant, they ran off to their next destination. The party's appearance, hunting, and movement happened like a flash of lightning! Monsters collided with each other as they were ran over from afar with a wave of heat. The party headed towards that group of monsters, fought them in an instant, and went off to yet another location.
The people who had been hunting there originally muttered dazedly.
"What the hell is this?"
"For them to defeat the Heretic Hunters so fast... did you see the swordsman's footwork? Even if it's a skill, how can he run in at the enemy at that angle? He went around to the enemy's back way too easily and knifed 'em, though he did get hit a few times."
"Didn't it really seem like he was just letting himself get hit because it was annoying to dodge?"
Not 5 minutes since they had left, a swarm of people tumbled in from the passage in the direction where Weed, Yellowy, and the others had appeared. They were the onlookers who had been following since the River of Lamentation vicinity.
"Did Weed and his teammates pass through here?"
"Wargod Weed. He didn't come this way?"
A young Warrior spoke urgently and anxiously, as if he had missed something important!
"I don't know such a person... Ah, a party that came in riding a black cow did kill Heretic Hunters and went past."
"Heretic Hunters!" The other onlookers who had also come asked, "How many were there?"
"11 of them."
"11 of them! How many minutes did it take to defeat them?"
"Huh, how should I say how long it took... it really happened in a brief moment."
"Please tell us anyway."
"Roughly about 2 to 3 minutes?"
The spectators cheered as they ran off to where Weed and Yellowy had disappeared.
"What was that just now?"
"Maybe... was Weed that Weed? Wargod Weed! He's hunting in the underground prison!"
* * *
As she breathlessly followed Weed, Da'in was able to feel it.
'He's really... grown a lot.'
She had offered to party together with the Sculptor she'd met in Lavias because the sight of him hunting alone without teammates had been pitiful. Despite the limitations to the Sculptor profession, she had been able to feel a strong will from him as he fought monsters with all his might. The Sculptor who had raised his Perseverance by going as far as to take hits from monsters on purpose now wielded Blacksmithing and Tailoring skills. He had made food for her in Lavias as well, but his Cooking skill had also risen to Intermediate in their time apart. He even dragged a bull named Yellowy along with him.
"This slow-witted cow."
"Yurin, if you have any paint left over, paint him yellow."
While they were resting for a bit after repeated battling, the sight of them squabbling with the sculpture lifeform named Yellowy was also cheerful. Yurin and even Hwaryeong played while chiming in.
"Oppa, he's gonna be eaten anyways, so why dye him?"
"They say the black pigs of Jeju are very nutritious and tasty; just leave him black."
[T/N: Jeju is Korea's largest island, known for its tourism, scenery, and apparently its pigs.]
Yellowy wailed sorrowfully and pitifully. However, he wasn't always treated unkindly. When mealtime rolled around, Weed gave him very nutritious hay, even though there was no knowing when he had gotten it. Yurin fed him herbs that she had on hand, and kind Hwaryeong got water and washed his face and body.
* * *
The second day of hunting in the underground prison!
In the wee hours of the day, when others had gone to sleep, Weed woke up early and was logged in. As he moved deeper into the dungeon and logged off, the spectators weren't able to follow him any longer. Weed was practicing the handling of a light sculpture using the time away from the people. Da'in had also logged in early, so it was just the two of them.
Weed was silently engrossed in the light sculpture. There was a heavy mood between the two of them.
'This is a chance to talk with him.'
Da'in started speaking first, with difficulty. "Excuse me."
Weed's response was blunt and rather guarded. He had been the same way when she had met him for the first time in Lavias. He was suspicious from the start, as if wondering if she was going to steal his japtem even though they had simply met by chance in the dungeon.
"What sculpture are you making now?"
Colorful lights matched every movement of Weed's hand. He wasn't using just one light, but diverse colors intertwined and mixed as they brought about countless changes. They grew when he flicked his arm, and the lights scattered brilliantly when he bent his wrist.
"It is nothing, just for practice."
The sculpture Weed was making was gradually taking the form of a person, like a mannequin. Da'in sat still next to him and only spectated the use of light sculpting. Since Weed was trying to make a shape by utilizing strands of light, it was no easy matter. There were countless colors, so it was also try to make them suit each other.
Da'in couldn't handle the heavy silence that followed the halt in the conversation and spoke up again.
"Is there a girl that you like?"
After asking that, she worried inwardly. She had asked something that she'd always been curious about after seeing that he had made the Goddess Freya Statue in Morata based on Hwaryeong's face. Da'in hoped that he would say that he still liked her.
Weed shook his head. "There isn't."
Stifling her disappointment with effort, Da'in replied, "Ah, is that so. Please excuse me for asking something unnecessary."
"No, it's fine."
Weed absorbed himself in the sculpture again. Though his concentration was strong and he made a sculpture even in his break time, his attitude was strangely different from usual. When there was another person with him, he had never ignored someone who tried to have a conversation. However, distressed by the words Weed had spoken, Da'in didn't realize that.
'We've already said goodbye once, so it's fine if he doesn't like me.'
Da'in contained her pounding heart and spoke up again. "Then... is there a girl you liked in the past?"
Though she sometimes acted unexpectedly and had many strange sides to her to the extent of healing monsters like Ghouls, she mustered an immense amount of courage to ask that question.
Weed's fingers stopped for a moment, trembling a little and tense. However, he soon suppressed it and replied.
"There's no girl that I used to like."
"Goodness!" Da'in smiled with an effort. "Then you've never told anyone that you liked them, not even once?"
"Yes, because there was no one I liked."
Da'in bit her lip. To think there was a guy who would discourage a lass so coldheartedly.
"I see. There's something I have to do for a bit, so I'll be leaving now."
Weed didn't even look at her when replying. "Please do so."
Da'in logged out.
Weed collected the light sculpting. The lights that had dazzled his eyes disappeared, and the dungeon became dark. There was only the crackling of the bonfire he had lit to boil water and prepare the food as it burned.
Sitting on the bare ground, Yellow raised his head and replied.
"Do you know who the girl was just now?"
Yellowy slapped his short tail on the ground as he tilted his ears. He might get a ton of nagging if he pretended to ignore Weed.
Weed spoke calmly. "My first love."
The first love that a man could never forget. He couldn't forget the memories made with his first love even with the passage of time.
"Her name is Da'in... her profession is Shaman. I met first met her in Lavias."
He hadn't been able to recognize her at first sight, as her appearance had changed greatly due to the curse. However, she was the one who listened to the other person well and had been so enjoyable to talk to that he had spoken to her about everything. He got the feeling of her from just her greeting and the few words she spoke. As a Shaman, the skill proficiency that could be called unequaled and the order by which she used various support magics were the same. She had simply cast her support magic in the order that was comfortable for her, like a habit. But from the perspective of Weed on the receiving end, he was able to distinctly realize who she was in the instant that she used the support magic.
"Da'in. It was her. How could I have forgotten someone so important?"
Those were Weed's inner feelings, which he hadn't betrayed when the girls had been present.
"I was glad to see her since it's been a while. Just that she is alive is... but does she want to forget the past since she finished the surgery and is living a new life? I don't know why she pretended to not know me, but there must be some situation or reason."
Yellowy stared at Weed with clear, large eyes. Reflected in his innocent eyes was the sight of one man being sad with his shoulders slumped.