CH 55


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Merlin shot another arrow.
Since the arrow’s flight time was greater than ten seconds, it was impossible to aim at a specific target, especially one that was moving.

That makes five hits.”

There were 10,000 monsters in the monster corps.
As long as he sent an arrow toward their general vicinity, one of them was bound to be hit.


Soon, a sixth target went down.
As he thought about the path that the last arrow took, Merlin checked on his internal energy levels.
His internal energy capacity had expanded to 60 points, so he had 30 years of internal energy or half a cycle.
Each arrow consumed half a year of internal energy, which meant that so far, Merlin had used three years of internal energy.
He currently had 27 years remaining.
With this significant amount, Merlin thought that he’d be able to fell another 40 or so monsters, but they weren’t proving to be such simple foes.

“… Hmm.”

Merlin saw his seventh arrow land on a large monster’s arm.
While the monsters still hadn’t located Merlin’s position, they knew the direction the arrows were flying from and the frequency of the attacks.
With these two pieces of information, they could take cover or raise their defenses to counter the projectiles.
Merlin’s arrows were formidable, but they still couldn’t kill large-sized monsters unless the arrow struck their heads or hearts.
Of course, small and mid-sized monsters would sustain a critical injury no matter where they got hit, but they had hidden behind the larger monsters long ago.

“Damn it.”

Not having any more targets readily available, Merlin clicked his tongue, opened his inventory, and took out the short spears that he had enchanted earlier.
He had expected his arrows to be countered at some point.
Since that time had come, he’d attack using a slightly different approach.

“… Huh?”

Yet, Merlin was vastly underestimating the monsters’ power and strength.


Sungmuk had been standing on a serpent’s head when he abruptly started flying toward Merlin like an arrow.
He was flying; it couldn’t be called ‘running.’ Sungmuk was truly flying.
No living being could leap an entire two kilometers within 20 seconds.


Once Merlin released the bowstring, a short spear flew towards Sungmuk’s chest.
However, Sungmuk casually deflected the oncoming spear with his sword.
This movement was so graceful and natural that he didn’t slow down in the slightest.


Sungmuk stomped down and shot forward.
The tower was 150 meters from the shore and 50 meters above the surface, but Sungmuk seemed to be heading straight towards Merlin while parallel to the ground.


Merlin sent another spear at Sungmuk.
It seemed as if it was impossible for Sungmuk to avoid this, as he was suspended in the air.


‘This guy…’

Sungmuk narrowed his eyes.
Merlin’s reaction speed wasn’t too fast, but Sungmuk knew that Merlin was a user who had, about a month ago, never been in a real battle before.
After all, Merlin had come from a relatively peaceful planet.
Yet, rather than be taken aback at Sungmuk’s rapid approach, Merlin had calmly sent two attacks at him.
Wasn’t this behavior more fitting for a veteran mercenary that lived their whole life on the battlefield?

Sungmuk couldn’t help but appreciate Merlin’s battle instincts.
An individual’s battle instincts, or any similar sense for that matter, couldn’t be obtained through training.

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One had to be born with it.

“However, it’s not enough.”

Sungmuk spoke out in a low voice as he took out his sword, Blue Steel, and started swinging.
Even if hundreds of bullets were shot at him, he wouldn’t have been hit.
Despite the short spear’s rapid pace, they were nothing in front of a peak expert’s defenses.

“No, it’s enough.”


Suddenly, Merlin’s short spear disappeared.

[Sudden Blink].

This was something that Merlin created with his own magic system, and he called it Thousand Worlds.
It was a second-level spell.
Its foundation originated from the spell Blink, which was used for instantaneous movement through short distances.
Essentially, Thousand Worlds could bypass an enemy’s defenses.
Thus, Merlin’s short spear had skipped a 50-centimeter space and found itself right in front of Sungmuk’s chest.
This time, Sungmuk couldn’t avoid the attack!

“… Not bad.”

As he heard Sungmuk say this, Merlin felt a chill run down his back.
Then, the spear struck Sungmuk’s chest.


With a thunderous sound, the spear started splintering and disintegrating.
Despite hitting Sungmuk’s chest, the spear didn’t possess enough energy to pierce the orc’s skin.
The genuine qi that flowed through Sungmuk’s veins gave his body overwhelming strength.
While he hadn’t perfected his self-defense technique yet, once he did, Sungmuk would be able to withstand a modern missile strike without being injured.


As Sungmuk swung his sword, five plum blossoms sprang out and started to bloom.
Sungmuk’s sword qi started emanating the scent of plum blossoms and an air of elegance, but each petal was a deadly weapon.
And those many petals started rushing towards Merlin.


All of a sudden, another plum blossom started blooming.

“… What?”

The scent of the blossoming plum blossom made Sungmuk frown.
Furthermore, when Sungmuk saw that the plum blossom was blooming in Merlin’s bare hands, Sungmuk started questioning what he was seeing.


The aura from Merlin’s plum blossom didn’t compare to Sungmuk’s.
In addition, this single plum blossom was barely able to withstand the aura from Sungmuk’s five plum blossoms as they approached.
Yet, all Merlin needed was a moment… a few seconds.

“Gear 3!”

In an instant, Merlin was covered in silver armor.


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Merlin dodged the brunt of the oncoming attack and let the weaker, unavoidable forces hit his body before he jumped down from the tower.

“Where do you think you’re going!”

Of course, Sungmuk wouldn’t allow Merlin to escape, so he was about to launch another sword strike when…

“Gear 4!”


A Mithril bow abruptly appeared in Merlin’s hand, and he began using it to shoot the short spears at the orc.
The effects were weaker than when he used the Decian Great Bow, but it was enough to mess with Sungmuk’s sword strikes and his advance.
Moreover, these short spears had been enchanted.


Sungmuk couldn’t understand how the short spears were able to pop out of the reservoir’s water at such high speeds.
A bow used tension to create propulsion for an arrow.
However, rather than being slowed by the friction in the water, the arrows were flying at normal speeds.
How could this be? Of course, this was possible because Merlin had the water attribute, but Sungmuk wasn’t aware of this fact.


A column of water shot above the surface of the reservoir as Merlin shot out.
At some point, Merlin had swapped out his Mithril armor and put on his bathing suit.


Another short spear flew towards Sungmuk, but the spears wouldn’t hurt him, as he was aiming to reach rank 10 of Divine Violet Mist.

The short spears weighed in at about one kilogram and weren’t as fast as the metallic arrows, but they still flew quick enough to cause critical damage to most things.
The spear attacks were nothing for Sungmuk because he was an expert martial artist; if it were an average monster, they would be deadly.
Furthermore, Merlin was being pushed back by several meters from the recoil of launching the short spears, which showed just how much force each spear had.


Sungmuk deflected the oncoming spear and stood on the water’s surface.
His stance was firm and balanced, as if he were standing on solid ground.

‘However, he’s standing on water, not the ground.
There’s no way he isn’t affected.’

Merlin wasn’t doing well.
While their clash had been brief, he had already used a large amount of his internal energy.
Luckily, Merlin could use his boosters with his physical strength points, but his bow attacks required internal energy, with each short spear attack costing him half a year.
On top of that, Merlin also imbued some of his attacks with internal energy.
By doing this, he had expended quite a bit of his reserves.
When Merlin used Aura Vision to see Sungmuk’s internal energy capacity, he saw that Sungmuk had an enormous amount left over.
If this fight began to drag on, Merlin wouldn’t be able to compete anymore.



All of Sungmuk’s plum blossom attacks had uneventfully landed on the tower, so Sungmuk couldn’t help but frown.
Although his attacks had cornered Merlin and left him with no way to escape, Merlin had avoided the attack by instantaneously moving a great distance at the last moment, as if a giant had grabbed him and swiftly moved him to the side.
Logically, Merlin shouldn’t have been able to evade the attack.

‘Spiritualist and Elementalist qualities, water chakra, water attribute and affinity, attribute-based spell casting without verbal chanting, water-based aura… it seems he has one of these abilities.’

In the end, Sungmuk could only conclude that water allowed Merlin to move freely and at will.
Merlin could advance at impossible angles and accelerate or decelerate whenever he wanted without any delay.
Also, Merlin was able to utilize the water around him to cushion himself against any blow or displace oncoming force.

In conclusion, while he was in any source of water, Merlin was harder to catch than a slippery fish.

‘Damn it.
If we continue this battle of attrition, I won’t gain the upper hand.”

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Merlin didn’t find this situation to his advantage, so he fell into thought.
In the water, he was confident that he’d be able to avoid Sungmuk’s attacks, but he didn’t have any viable options to hurt Sungmuk either.
Sungmuk had avoided all his attacks, and even when one of the short spears hit the orc, it had been easily nullified.
In the end, Merlin resorted to just avoiding any incoming attack.
Luckily, the tower at the center of the reservoir seemed to be designated as an indestructible object, so he’d been using it in his favor by running around and having it block Sungmuk’s attacks.

“… Hmm?”

Then, Merlin realized something.

‘The tower is moving downward?’

The stone tower had already sunk about five meters.
Merlin remembered that the tower hovered slightly above the water’s surface, so the tower’s downward movements puzzled him.
Yet, Merlin couldn’t spend any time thinking about this issue.
Sungmuk had stopped moving and stood still, and he began emanating an immense amount of killing intent.

“You’ve… taken up too much of my time.”

“Gear 3.”

Merlin felt as if he’d suffocate under the extreme, immobilizing pressure.
He couldn’t take a step forward nor move down to get into the water.
As such, Merlin took up a defensive posture.


Merlin raised the water to create a sphere around him that was two meters in radius.
He also compressed the water to make it more viscous, like honey or mud.
This increased viscosity was to counter any attacks that may come his way.

/Your swimming skill has increased to rank AA!/

Merlin didn’t pay any attention to the new pop-up message.
Sungmuk’s raised sword didn’t give him an opportunity to think of other matters.

“I want to ask you something.”


As Sungmuk spoke, he created a slight opening.
Merlin could’ve used this to get back in the water, but he wasn’t sure if he could make it in time, so he didn’t take the chance.

“Your hand skill… where did you learn it? What you’re using is undoubtedly based on Flower Mountain’s principles.
However, Flower Mountain doesn’t have a martial arts style with the exact movements that you exhibit.
Of course, I know that there are many branches of martial arts styles that don’t exist at Flower Mountain, but I’ve never heard of a hand skill that utilizes the Plum Blossom sword skill.
That could only mean….”

“I saw you use it.”

“… You saw me use it?”

“I copied your sword skill.”


The tip of Sungmuk’s sword lightly trembled.
The shaking alluded to Sungmuk’s wavering resolution, but Merlin took it as a sign that an attack was coming, so he prepared himself.

“You copied what you saw?”

“Did you trademark it or something?”

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Hearing Merlin’s reply, Sungmuk fell into thought.
After a while…

“… I’ll start my attack.”

Sungmuk brought his sword upwards.

“Oh, you have manners.
It’s nice of you to give me a warning.”

“However, I won’t be attacking you.”


Merlin didn’t understand what Sungmuk was talking about.
Yet, Sungmuk didn’t care if Merlin knew what he was talking about.

“I will ‘reveal’ everything.
Whether you live or die is your problem.”

Once Sungmuk moved his sword downward, their entire surroundings were converted into an image of a plum blossom.

Showering Heavenly Plum Blossom Flowers.

An uncountable number of plum blossoms appeared and started blooming all at once.
Merlin couldn’t block this attack.
There was no avenue of escape for him either, as he was entirely surrounded by the blossoming flowers.


The plum blossoms were beautiful, but the sword qi that they carried was firm and unyielding.
Each of the blossom attacks was sharp, accurate, and overwhelmingly powerful.


The tower, which took the entire attack, quickly started sinking.
This was because the stone tower had been programmed with an objective: [Move downward in relation to the force applied].
In other words, the tower wouldn’t move if it were hit by forces that didn’t meet a certain threshold.
Although, it was clear that even if Merlin channeled all his internal energy into the Great Strength Vajra Hand to hit the tower, he’d only be able to move it by about ten meters.
Yet, Sungmuk was able to immediately move the tower 45 meters with his attack.
And so, the tower made its way to the bottom of the reservoir and onto the hole that it had previously hovered above.


Sungmuk stood above the reservoir, with neither the tower nor Merlin being anywhere in sight.
The plum blossoms that had filled the entire area had all disappeared.

“… Hmm.
I wonder what came over me.”

Sungmuk made his way down to the surface of the water and started walking toward the shore.
Although its numbers had been slightly depleted due to Merlin’s long-ranged attacks, the 10,000-strong monster corps had made their way to the reservoir.

“It seems you had a grand ol’ time.”

“I was interested in something.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve felt any excitement.
Anyway, how long before we arrive at Starting?”

“At our current pace, it will take about 15 to 20 minutes.”

“Good, then let’s go.”

Having said this, Sungmuk walked back onto the serpent’s bowed head.
And with that, the Forest of Despair’s 10,000 monster corps started moving towards the beginner village.

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