This chapter is brought to you by AnmesicCat, Crytach, Lei, and OpenBookWorm.
He saw the cave entrance through the overgrown forest.
When he received the quest in Lancel, the location was displayed on his map. It wasn’t far from the village. Ark left Lancel after organizing his bags and arrived at the destination in only an hour. Two Gnolls were standing guard at the entrance of the cave. They were slightly different from the Gnolls he had hunted until now as they were wearing shabby leather armor. It was likely they were about 1 or 2 levels higher than him. But he had hunted Gnolls until he was sick of it. Though their levels were slightly higher, they weren’t a match for Ark.
“Grrrr, isn’t there some kind of smell?”
“Sniff, sniff. I was thinking the same thing.”
“It smells like a human… Are there still humans lingering nearby?”
“Let’s catch him and make him into a sacrifice.”
Perhaps because they had dog heads, Gnolls had a keen sense of smell.
The Gnolls raised their spears and, with their noses quivering, approached Ark’s location.
At that moment, Ark jumped out from behind the bushes.
“You bitches are the sacrifice. Bat, go!”
Bat shot towards the Gnolls like an arrow that had been loosed from a bow. With a pa-thump sound, the Gnoll who had been struck on the bridge of its nose tumbled to the ground. The other Gnoll was alarmed and thrust its spear towards Bat.
But the Bat who had his summon cancelled and then recast was already sitting on Ark’s shoulder.
“Eyes of the Cat! There isn’t time. We’re going with plan A!”
Ark, Skull, and Bat sprang forward in a flash and concentrated their attack on the stumbling Gnoll.
They had become familiar with Gnolls through battles, so predicting their movements was easy.
Even before the Gnoll moved, Ark made evasive movements and let loose a chain of sword attacks. As a critical hit and co-op attack bonus erupted in succession, the Gnoll died before it was able to properly thrust its spear even once.
The Gnoll staggered and charged in, but instead it received several counterattacks, lost 80 percent of its health, and ran away terrified. The Gnoll was consumed by fear and ran away frightened. But Bat rushed forward to block its path, and when Skull tore into its leg, it fell to the ground again.
Double critical chance!
The Gnoll received a strike to the heart and disappeared with a moan.
As the Gnoll disappeared it dropped a leather.
“Huhuhu, it’s too easy, and this is 20 Silvers a piece?”
A smile spread across Ark’s lips as he held on to two pieces of leather.
20 Silver a piece, so it was an item worth 2,000 Won (~$2). He was literally picking up bills that had fallen to the ground, how could he not be happy.
“Master, those eyes are creepy.”
“Shut up, what do you know? One of these leathers can become a full sushi roll! That’s an entire meal.”
“Sushi roll? What’s that?”
“It’s nothing. Cut the small talk and do the recon well,” Ark snorted as he entered the cave.
When he stepped foot in the cave, an information window popped up with a booming roar.
Ghastly Snake Lair
At the edge of the Argus Mountains, you have found a cave emanating a ghastly aura. The chilling aura you can feel from the cold blood flowing through these reptiles and an eerie smell permeates the entire cave. The noise of dogs barking can be heard from the depths of the cave, and slithering sounds are flowing from the small holes drilled everywhere.
There is no way to guess how many Gnolls and Snakes are inhabiting the cave. If you are someone with the wisdom to avoid danger, you will never enter this cave.
You have discovered an undiscovered dungeon. Because this is a newly found discovery, if you register your discovery in the Hall of Fame, you can gain an additional 700 experience and 50 Fame.
Would you like to register it?
Of course, Ark had absolutely no intention to share the information.
After refusing the registration, he entered the cave and found himself in darkness.
He would have hated it in the past, but presently Ark was a Dark Walker.
The dark was Ark’s irreplaceable weapon and armor. Outside when it turned night time, Gnolls’ stats rose by 30 percent. As a result, even though Ark’s stats also rose, Gnolls were still stronger.
But right now it was daytime. So only Ark was strengthened from the cave’s darkness. His strength was replenished and he felt his five senses becoming extremely sharp. Also, using ‘Stealth’ in the darkness would further improve Ark’s chance of survival.
Dungeons were environments where Dark Walkers can display 100 percent of their abilities!
With Gnolls, even if five or six of them flocked together, he had the confidence to win easily.
“Master, four dog heads are gathered in front of us.”
Bat, who had left to survey the surroundings, reported its findings.
“Good, you guys stay here and move when I give the signal. ‘Stealth!’”
When Ark used the Dark Walker’s special ability, he was absorbed into the darkness and disappeared. While maintaining this state, Ark walked into the interior of the cave. Just as Bat had reported, about 200 meters ahead, four Gnolls had gathered and were whispering.
“We’ve run out of sacrifices. Grrr.”
“This is a big problem. God will be angry.”
“We have to storm into the village and catch a human.”
“After the humans came, God got really angry.”
“Will there still be humans in the village?”
“Even if we have to go far away, we have to capture some. If we don’t, we might get caught and be eaten.”
‘God? He’ll catch and eat them?’
He was wondering what they were talking about, but the Gnolls’ conversation ended there.
“Shh, this is strange. For some reason I can smell human.”
“Have humans come again? That’s good then…”
The Gnolls’ eyes gleamed as they looked around.
Ark went to stand behind one them and sent Bat a signal through telepathy.
‘Pretend to be a human.’
Since the Familiars were spiritually connected to Ark, communication without words was possible.
Bat received the signal and dropped pebbles as it flew around. Then the Gnolls flinched and looked away. At that instant, Ark cast Eyes of the Cat and stabbed one in the nape.
– Critical strike! Backstab effect has increased damage by 200%. The Gnoll will be stunned for 10 seconds.
Backstab effects were applied when an unexpected surprise attack from behind was dealt! It was an attack often used by Thieves who could use ‘Stealth’.
With a single strike, the Gnoll’s health dropped by 50 percent.
With a rapidfire-like attack, Ark attacked the stunned Gnoll’s weak points. After attacking the weak points exposed by Eyes of the Cat, the Gnoll collapsed without being able to attack properly.
Once ‘Stealth’ was lifted, the Gnolls roared savagely.
“It’s a Human!”
“It’s a sacrifice! Let’s offer the sacrifice. Grrr!”
The Gnolls didn’t even notice the death of their comrade.
They ran forward wildly swinging rusted spears, swords and the like.
“Bat, charge! Skull, Plan B. Support Bat!”
Following Ark’s commands, Skull and Bat charged towards a Gnoll.
When Bat violently rammed into the back of the Gnoll’s head, it yelled as it turned around.
Bat was wise. While maintaining the proper distance from the wildly charging Gnoll, he led it far away from Ark. Bat surrounded the Gnoll with Skull and ravaged it by nipping at it from both sides.
There were two Gnolls left!
‘If there’s two of them, it’s worth trying!’
Ark deflected the swords and thrust himself between the Gnolls.
The experience he had gained from fighting hundreds of Gnolls became Ark’s strength.
New World’s graphics was more realistic than reality.
When the Gnolls swung their spears, their bloodshot eyes as they faced him, the movement of their muscles, and even the swelling of their beating chests with every breath, was perfectly implemented.
If it was a monster he was encountering for the first time, it wouldn’t be easy to predict its movements by little things. The muscle movement was different for each monster.
But after facing countless battles, with just the movements of a Gnoll’s muscles, he could tell where they were thinking of stabbing.
Of course, it wasn’t something anyone could do.
Taekwondo was a martial arts where the outcome of a battle was decided in close proximity with the speed of an instant. If one light step or the movement of a shoulder was missed, a person could be defeated in the blink of an eye. The concentration and keenness of threading the eye of a needle was necessary. Also, you wouldn’t to able to make the deciding blow if you can’t read your opponent’s breathing and strike at the right moment. This was a technique that required a high degree of actual combat experience.
There were people who said the modern time usage of Taekwondo in actual combat had fallen. But it was a consequence of Taekwondo becoming world-renowned Martials Arts. As it became more renowned, there was more research done on it in order to systematically develop methods for dealing with it.
By no means had Taekwondo become weaker.
In the 1970s, throughout North America, Africa, and elsewhere, Taekwondo received praise as the invincible Martial Art. Even the gangs of Harlem showed respect to a Taekwondo Master!
Ark had been training with Taekwondo for years.
In addition, Taekwondo had more sparring than other martial arts. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say he was an expert in reading his opponent’s intentions.
‘The upper right!’
Ark tilted his upper body and deflected the spear.
Simultaneously, a red spot emerged on the Gnoll’s side. The weak points identified by Eyes of the Cat weren’t just for show. In this situation, it was the strongest strike available and it was in a blind spot difficult to defend! The area Ark had predicted coincided with it.
Before the spots were revealed, Ark’s sword was already piercing through a spot.
– Critical Strike!
While staggering, the Gnoll fell backwards.
Taking a single step, Ark twisted in the air and threw out a kick.
It was a habit formed in his movements when he was still unfamiliar with dual-blade combat.
As he reached intermediate in Dual-Blade Combat, all his movements were slickly connected. But it wasn’t easy. In fact Ark, who had begun his training once more, had lost the kinesthetic sense needed to perform an advanced technique like a mid-air roundhouse kick fluidly.
In New World one’s stat bonuses were added to their natural strength.
Here, the bonus of an intermediate level Dual-Blade Combat was applied to the technique’s success rate and power. The sharpness wasn’t comparable to reality.
With a “chop” sound, he attacked the back of his enemy’s head.
The Dual-Blade Combat’s effects were similar to Taekwondo’s points system.
Dual-Blade Combat (Intermediate, Passive 163/300): As the understanding of the technique increases, speed and accuracy will also rise. Grants additional damage to all types of swords and knuckle-related weapons, and dramatically increases evasion and critical hit rate.
General attack power is increased by 30%. When a shield is equipped, Dual-Blade Combat’s effect disappears.
* Additional Effects. When a kick hits the target, a random status effect occurs, with a probability of 5% for small monsters, 3% for average monsters, and 1% for large monsters. When a very difficult technique is successful, the probability also increases.
A very difficult attack. So if a techniques like a flying kick or a double kick hits the target, there is a greater probability of an additional effect, such as a knock down or stun, will be inflicted. This effect was not available when he first reached the intermediate level, it was only available after he had gained 150 points, so as he gains more points, probability will also grow.
The difficulty of a mid-air roundhouse kick was of the highest level!
The Gnoll received a stun hex and stumbled.
Ark followed it up with jumping crescent kicks!
He took turns attacking both sides of the Gnoll while switching kicks. After which, he unsheathed Dark Blade. The Gnoll was defeated by a stream of continuous attacks that were truly like a typhoon as it moaned in vain. Then, the Gnoll behind him thrust its spear towards his back.
Ark twisted his hips and let the spear fly past his side. When the newly formed stat, flexibility was applied, the damage was reduced. Then his kicks and sword strikes emanated like a storm!
“Grrrr, this, this Human………!”
The Gnoll let out a voice of disbelief, as if he couldn’t believe Ark’s incredible skills.
Ark was actually a little surprised.
‘My body is light as a feather!’
Sometimes while training martial arts, one experiences an awakening event.
There are times when a usual failing technique suddenly succeeds, or a feeling when nerves get extremely sensitive, which allows you to completely see through your opponent’s attack.
It was Ark’s current state.
Since starting the game, he had been training his Taekwondo without resting for even a day so he was recovering his sense from the past. With his abilities raised from the darkness within the cave, he was able to exert power even surprising himself!
The Gnoll who was struck in its abdomen by Ark’s side kicks, flew threw several meters in the air and then crashed into the ground. It raised its body while staggering, but at the next blow struck the back of its head and it fell once again.
When the battle against the two Gnolls first began, it already only had 40 percent of its health left.
Falling down for the third time, the Gnoll was consumed by fear.
However, Ark got momentarily careless due to his heart-pounding vigor, the Gnoll suddenly blew a whistle.
‘This is bad. Did it call its comrades?’
“Bat, Skull! Stop him, make it so he can’t blow that whistle!”
But before Ark’s finished issuing his command, a sharp sound echoed throughout the cave.
It was then when the cave began to shake.
Ark was the first one who smelled something fishy.
A fishy smell so strong, it paralyzed his sense of smell the moment something poured and writhed from the small holes drilled into the cave like a honeycomb.
It was hundreds of snakes!
It was another danger of the cave Galen had warned him about. No matter how good of a swordsman you are, it isn’t an easy task to fight against hundreds of snakes.
However, Ark only let out a sigh of relief.
‘Fortunately he wasn’t calling for his comrades. If the opponents are snakes I’ll welcome them.’
“Spirit of the Cat!”
A sharp cry swept through the inside of the cave.
At the same time, the illusion of a huge black cat rose above Ark’s head. As its glittering golden eyes slowly opened, the snakes who had been making threatening sounds were left paralyzed.
The paralysis effect for small monsters!
The Gnoll screamed, “Kyaa, it— it’s a monster!”
“That isn’t something someone with a dog’s head should say!”
Ark ran forward while treading on the snakes and defeated the Gnoll.
He then dispatched the stiffened snakes at random.
“Ooh, master. For some reason you look especially strong today.”
Bat and Skull’s expressions were filled with energy.
The snakes’ paralysis soon wore off, but he didn’t need to worry.
Though the paralysis wore off, the effects of Spirit of the Cat lowered small monsters’ attack and defence by 30 percent. On the other hand, the Cat Knight title Ark had received meant he also received a bonus in attack and critical hit rate against small monsters and damage taken from them was reduced.
It wasn’t an exaggeration to say Ark was invincible when facing small smonters. That was the reason he didn’t care about the snakes when he accepted the quest.
‘Huhuhu, if it’s snakes it doesn’t matter if it’s a hundred or a thousand.’
Whenever Ark swung his sword, three or four snakes were sliced into pieces.
On the other hand, the damage he received was just 1. Ark defeated hundreds of snakes as if he was trampling on worms.
‘The quest’s difficulty being C was probably because of these snakes.’
Truly, if it had been any other user, even if their levels were a lot higher than Ark, they wouldn’t have been able to face such a tough fight with snakes as their opponents. No, they wouldn’t have even dared to enter this cave. But for Ark, who had the title of Cat Knight, snakes and such things didn’t even count as snacks.
The only thing he had to worry about was the poison that was sometimes inflicted. But since he only lost 50 Health in 30 seconds, it wasn’t a very strong poison. He just needed to make food with detoxification effects through Survival Cooking after the battle ends and eat it, so it wasn’t a problem.
‘This is a smorgasbord of a quest!’
There were no difficulties for Ark who was full of confidence.
While he wove his way left and right through the cave, he hunted down and defeated all the Gnolls he set his sight on.
‘This place really is a moneytree!’
A joyful cry unconsciously burst out of him.
To Ark, the Gnolls no longer appeared as monsters.
He saw them as if they were 2,000 won bills or a moving roll of sushi that had come to life.
Whenever Ark saw a Gnoll, he rushed towards them while drooling.
“UHUHUHU, MORE, SEND OUT MORE!”
“M-Master. Calm down, your eyes look really dangerous.”
Clack clack clack.
Bat and Skull, who had been very excited, were now trembling in fear.
When the Gnolls were driven into a corner, they had always called on the snakes, but to Ark it was nothing more than a bonus game.
Ark defeated a hundred Gnolls in just two hours.
“With a hundred, I’ve made 20 gold!”
If possible, he wanted to spend a few days hunting inside the cave.
However, perhaps because he had received the quest, the Gnolls didn’t regenerate even after he went back to the entrance.
Well, if he returned after hunting about a thousand of them, Galen, a mountain village store owner, would probably be unable to afford the reward money and go bankrupt.
In the end, the cave’s Gnolls were almost completely annihilated by the merciless Ark.
Ark crossed through the deserted cave and headed into its deepest depths.
A hole with no end in sight gaped at the end of the cave, and at its center, there was a jagged, altar-like protrusion.
A totem resembling the shape of a snake had been placed on top of the altar.
As unfortunate as it was, the three Gnolls gathered in that area were the last ones.
Ark hid his body with ‘Stealth’ and went closer.
‘Is he the Gnolls’ boss?’
One unusually dressed Gnoll caught his eye.
He was draped in a rag-like robe, and atop his head was a crown that appeared to be woven with tree roots. However for a boss-level monster, he didn’t look particularly strong.
‘He’s still a boss. I don’t know what kind of attacks he’ll try.’
“Grrr, what the hell happened? Have you still not captured the invading Human?”
“Th-that’s… the bastard is stronger than we thought.”
“Even though we let the snakes loose, we weren’t able to kill him.”
“Grrr, we won’t be able to appease the God’s fury like this.”
The Boss Gnoll trembled with a frightened expression.
“God was wounded by the Human who entered awhile ago and is furious. If we allow another human to approach…. Grrr, in any case, we must stop the Human.”
The Gnolls who had received the command lifted their weapons and neared Ark’s location.
Ark stayed far away and waited for his opportunity.
When he judged the distance between him and the Boss had widened considerably, he approached at mach speed and attacked one Gnoll with a Backstab.
The Gnolls were immediately bewildered and the line of battle was disrupted. Once Bat and Skull pitched in, the fight was decided in an instant.
“Ho-how could this be! When did the Human come all the way here… grrr!” The Boss Gnoll burst out in shock as the Gnoll guards were defeated without a proper fight.
“Come on, you dog head!”
Now the only one left was the Boss Gnoll.
Ark leveled his sword as he prepared for the enemy’s attack.
But the Boss Gnoll didn’t come to attack Ark.
Instead, it hastily fled towards the altar, and while shaking the snake-shaped totem he began to recite a strange incantation.
“Nunak, nanak, sandalani! Great King of Snakes!”
‘What the hell is he doing?’
While perplexed, Ark rushed towards the Boss Gnoll.
No, the rush was only for an instant.
The cave suddenly began shaking and something enormous abruptly rose from beneath the cliff. It was a huge monster making a hissing sound as its eyes flashed… Its identity was a snake with a body width appearing to be several meters wide.
A warning message popped up in front of him.
– The boss monster Kundalini has appeared!
“Gulp! W-What is this?”
Ark was petrified.
Ark was no longer a beginner at virtual games.
Whether he saw a wolf, a rat the size of a bear, or a zombie with its flesh decaying, he didn’t even blink. But the giant snake that appeared before his eyes, Kundalini, was cut from a different cloth than those monsters.
His felt shivers go down his spine as he faced the hatred mixed with distinctive bloodthirst the snake exuded. Ice-cold sweat poured out of him like a waterfall and flowed down his back.
The will to fight that buoyed him also cooled.
“Ooooh, my God! King of Snakes! Punish the human!”
Once Kundalini emerged, the Boss Gnoll let out a cheer. They were the Boss Gnoll’s last words.
Kundalini moved with incredible speed and swallowed the Boss Gnoll down.
Its jaw convulsed as it munched on the crushed Boss Gnoll, and blood gushed out. Kundalini gulped down the Boss Gnoll and raised its head. The several-metered snake raised its head as blood dripped from its mouth in the darkness!
A moan unconsciously escaped him.
The visual impact was enormous.
Ark felt like he was watching a terrible horror movie.
Kundalini’s gaze turned towards Ark. They were eyes of a predator staring at him as its prey, not an enemy.
‘Was this the reason why the difficulty was C?’
He had been severely mistaken. Ark didn’t have to worry about something like a snake. Rather, it was an enormous demon that couldn’t even be called a snake.
Kundalini slowly glided across the floor, approaching Ark as if there was no need to hurry.
‘Th-the hell is this?’
Bewilderment escaped Ark’s mouth.
He tried to raise his sword, but his arm wouldn’t move. His legs didn’t budge either, as if they were rooted to the ground.
– You looked into Kundalini’s eyes, inducing the complete effect of Forestallment. If you are inflicted with Forestallment, you will always be denied First Strike. Until you are attacked, the effect will not disappear.
‘First Strike? I’ll be swallowed in one strike, so what kind of damned First Strike is this!’
To give up the First Strike to a demon who swallowed the Boss Gnoll in one bite, didn’t it mean he was just prey? It really was a bamboozling skill for a bamboozling body.
Kundalini surreptitiously narrowed the gap as it yawned open its cavernous mouth. Ark couldn’t even move a muscle.
Just like a frog being captured by a snake, Ark could only stare with dazed eyes at the inside of Kundalini’s crimson mouth. In the instant its mouth was about to touch him, a red light suddenly flashed before him.
It was Skull.
At the very moment Kundalini was about to devour Ark whole, Skull rammed Ark.
As Skull clattered, it disappeared into Kundalini’s stomach instead of Ark.
“What are you doing, Master! Get yourself together!”
As the belated Familiar recall damage registered, he was shocked back into his senses. Once the effect of Forestallment disappeared, the horror that crushed his body disappeared like a dream.
‘That’s right, this is virtual reality. Even a huge snake like this is just EXP was prepared for the sake of the users. There’s no reason why I can’t win. No, I will win!’
“Eyes of the Cat!”
Kundalini’s information window popped up as he cast the skill.
When he checked the information, he sucked in his breath. Ark’s level had risen once inside the cave, so it was currently 46. On the other hand, Kundalini was a whopping level 80.
Even if he included the advantages he had in the dark, there was still a difference of 30 levels. This wasn’t an opponent he could defeat by any regular means.
However, there was no need give up yet.
‘Kundalini only had 50 percent of its health remaining!’
Ark immediately saw why.
There were exceptionally large red weak points marked on Kundalini’s forehead, and in the middle was a single sword was deeply lodged in.
Numerous thoughts instantaneously combined inside Ark’s head.
‘It’s Lancel! It’s Lancel’s sword!’
Galen said Lancel had gone to the end of the cave alone. And after several hours, deafening roars had erupted.
There had also been an hint about Lancel within the Gnolls’ conversation. They’d said an invading Human had inflicted a wound on the God awhile ago which made God sensitive.
So Lancel had faced Kundalini here, alone.
Lancel had been defeated without reaching his goal, but with his will, he had protected the village, and its residents were still living and breathing. The sword lodged in Kundalini’s forehead was his will!
A scene of a Warrior fighting desperately against a huge snake painted itself in front of Ark’s eyes.
‘You’re awesome, Lancel!’
Courage surged in him like an erupting volcano.
‘Alright! I will inherit your goal!’
Although the monster was level 80, it was a different story when its health was already down to half.
‘It’s ridiculous if I don’t win after all the arrangements have been made for me!’
Ark swung his sword like lightning and struck a red weak point.
Kundalini staggered with the sounds of impact. But it wasn’t that easy to close the 30 level gap. Even though he’d dealt a critical hit, Kundalini’s Health decreased by just 2 percent.
Kundalini began its counter attack.
The thick tail curved like a whip as it flew forward.
When he rolled on the ground and avoided it, the cave walls were hit so it began to crack and shake.
It had power so outrageous, it wouldn’t even allow him to block!
‘I’ll have to put my all into avoiding its attack!’
“Bat, attract its attention.”
“Dammit, you always give me the hard jobs!”
Bat wailed its complaint as it hung in front of Kundalini’s nose.
The accuracy of Kundalini’s attacks dropped. It had no time to properly concentrate on Ark, so it randomly swung its tail.
Ark waited until the tail was right in front of his nose, then rolled on the ground and stabbed it with his sword. He didn’t have the luxury of aiming for something like a critical hit.
Although he wasn’t dealing much damage to it now, it was all he could do to steadily chip off its Health.
Once he made up his mind and evaded, Kundalini’s attacks were slower than expected. The sword wedged in its forehead was probably also influencing Kundalini’s stats. However, even Ark couldn’t avoid all the attacks.
Ark was pushed back several meters.
From just one slam of the tail, he lost 400 Health and he was poisoned. Almost only half of his Health remained.
In other words, it would be game over if he took just one more attack. Moreover, he had only touched the tail, yet he was poisoned and his Health was being steadily eaten away. With an attack of this level, it would be no use even if he was to drink a potion.
If he took an attack while drinking four recovery potions, which cost 100 Gold each, he would incur a loss instead.
‘No matter how slowed Kundalini’s movements are, considering the level difference, I can’t avoid it forever. I can’t help but be hit by one attack every five. And the poison is stronger than regular snakes by 3 or 4 times. The battle will get worse the longer it goes on! Some kind of decisive strike…’
Ark’s eyes turned towards the sword wedged in its forehead.
A bigger red point than any other!
That was likely Kundalini’s decisive weakness!
‘I have no choice, I’ll have to risk it!’
Ark made up his mind and quickly commanded, “Bat, attract its attention upwards!”
“Got it, Master! Up here, you big worm body!”
Bat flew rapidly in front of Kundalini’s eyes and soared up. The moment Kundalini’s attention turned upward, Ark flung forward and clambered onto its back.
The snake was several meters wide.
Ark ran up Kundalini’s back while displaying the sense of balance honed by Taekwondo. When he climbed up to its neck, Kundalini sensed Ark’s intention and fiercely raised its neck.
As the slope became vertical, Ark slid down.
Ark flung himself forward and stabbed his sword into its jaw.
Kundalini lowered its neck again and a heavy noise of impact burst out. At that moment, Ark crawled up Kundalini’s neck and stood on its head. Then he put all his strength in one strike towards the forehead.
– You do not have enough Mana!
Ark screamed at the unimaginable pop up message.
The chronic dilemma that had plagued him, lack of Mana, reared its ugly head in the most decisive moment.
Ark had only used Eyes of the Cat once at the start of the battle. But grating away Kundalini’s Health had consumed too much time. Because he had steadily used up Mana while sustaining Bat’s summon. He only had 80 Mana left.
It had been 7 minutes since the start of his fight with Kundalini. The Mana he’d used was 420.
If Skull hadn’t been forcefully recalled earlier, Bat would have already returned to the Netherworld. Ark had forgotten about this fact because he’d never fought this long with them before.
‘Stupid! How could I have not checked the amount of Mana I had left!’
It was an absurd mistake.
While Ark exploded in embarrassment, Kundalini began to glow.
Ark groaned as he clutched the sword stuck in the writhing Kundalini’s forehead.
‘Damn, is it really going to end like this?’
Bat would return to the Netherworld in 80 seconds.
He couldn’t use his deadly Dark Blade, either.
Kundalini’s remaining Health was 30 percent. A win wasn’t guaranteed even if he used Dark Blade three or four times, but he couldn’t even use it once! Even if attacked it with at least a dozen normal critical hits, the remaining Health wouldn’t be depleted.
Of course, Kundalini wouldn’t just let itself be hit, either.
A way to win didn’t emerge no matter what. It would be game over if he let go of the sword he was holding onto. Even if he wasn’t eaten by Kundalini, he would die instantly if he fell into the chasm with no bottom in sight that yawned underneath him.
Suddenly, an idea flashed across Ark’s mind.
‘That’s right, I may not be able to win, but there’s a way to die together!’
Ark opted for this final idea.
Fortunately, before he left Lancel village, he had set it to be his resurrection place. Then even if he died here, he didn’t have to worry about returning to Jackson. Dying together with Kundalini was one method.
If he hurried and returned to the cave, he could still get the Kundalini’s dropped loot. Since he could complete the quest on top of that, it was worth penalty.
‘That’s the most I can do right now!’
The problem was how they could die together.
“Bat, lure it towards the chasm!” Ark shouted as he hung from Kundalini’s head.
“Understood, Master. Hey you!”
Bat stabbed Kundalini’s eye and fled towards the chasm.
Ark clutched onto the sword hilt and was wrenched around; when Kundalini arrived at the edge, he stabbed the forehead with his sword with all his strength.
As he landed a critical hit, Kundalini grated its body against the wall. He was wedged between the wall and Kundalini’s body, so his Health dropped steadily. But Ark didn’t stop and stabbed his sword two, three times in succession.
His tenacity called forth a miracle.
Having writhed against the wall, Kundalini couldn’t balance its weight and slid towards the cliff. The bottomless pit gaped underneath it.
“I did it!”
Ark clenched his eyes shut.
He experienced a peculiar sense of floating.
A few seconds, or perhaps minutes flowed past. Then Kundalini crashed into the ground and he felt an enormous shock. Kundalini, who had received a huge amount of damage from falling, had its Health sucked out, leaving only 3 percent.
‘What? How am I still alive?’
Ark was stunned.
Even Kundalini’s incredible Health had been decreased by over 20 percent. Then Ark, who only had about 300 of his Health left, should have died instantly. However, Ark was still alive.
He had just 20 Health left, but he wasn’t dead.
Just then, a message window popped up before Ark’s eyes.
Due to Cat Knight’s ability, falling damage has been reduced by 50 percent. Effect of Flexibility while rolling has also reduced falling damage by 30 percent.
‘It’s a chance!’
Ark’s eyes flashed.
Cat Knight had reduced his falling damage! An ability that he hadn’t cared about until now had activated in a desperately dangerous moment.
Also, thanks to the Taekwondo he had trained every single day since starting the game, he had automatically attempted to roll in the moment of impact.
As a result, Ark slid past 80 percent of damage and survived.
‘I don’t have time to waste. The poison wasn’t cured, so my Health is still dropping.’
Ark sprang up.
Perhaps it was because of the falling damage, but his body didn’t move properly. However, Kundalini, who had received 100 percent of the falling damage, hadn’t even gathered its senses yet.
Kundalini was stretched out panting as its body glowed red.
Double critical chance!
With Bat, Ark plunged his sword toward Kundalini’s forehead. It was a single strike enveloped with the effects of Indomitable Will and Indomitable Body as well as the double critical chance.
Through double critical chance, you have landed two critical hits. As a co-op bonus, 30 percent of damage is added.
Kundalini’s forehead, which had taken massive damage, split right in half.
Kundalini, which writhed like a fish out of water, slowly disappeared.
You have defeated the boss monster Kundalini.
Your level has increased.
You have gained 2 levels, so your current level is now 48.
Ark heaved coarse breaths as he flopped to the ground.
“Huff huff huff.”
“Ma-master! We won! We won!”
Only after hearing Bat’s shout did Ark realize that he had won.
Ark forcefully subdued his trembling excitement and pulled out his pot. After making an urgent antidote, he made food that recovered Health. His Health had dropped to the bottom, so he finally recovered after making and eating food three, four times.
The sword that had been lodged in its forehead and a skull had fallen where Kundalini had disappeared.
Lancel’s Sword (Cursed)
This is the sword used by Lancel, the leader of Lancel Village. It’s a sword that gives off such a gloomy feeling that you can’t believe that it was a sword used by a normal mercenary.
Additionally, the sword became strongly cursed after being wedged in Kundalini’s forehead and saturated by poison for a long time.
Until the curse is lifted, you cannot check its stats.
The remains of the Lancel Village leader, Lancel.
Disappointment floated across Ark’s face.
A cursed item was a kind of unidentified item. But it was harder to use than an unidentified item. An unidentified item could be checked after paying a certain amount of money to a user in a big city, but lifting a curse was only possible at a cathedral in the capital city of Schudenberg Kingdom.
That meant it was an item that he couldn’t even use until he arrived in the capital. Moreover, it supposedly took a considerable amount of money to lift a curse.
If he lifted the curse and it turned out to be nothing much, his loss would be extreme. But Ark soon shook his head.
‘No. It’s still a sword that had cut up to 50 percent of the Health of a strong monster like Kundalini. It might actually be an incredible sword. But is there any other item?’
Ark packed the sword and Lancel’s Remains and looked around.
However, he didn’t see an item no matter how much he looked. Instead, he discovered a pathway leading upwards and climbed back to the place where the Boss Gnoll had been. He was able to start leaving the cave when he saw a dim light suddenly flowing from one side.
It was the altar that the Boss Gnoll had prayed at when calling forth Kundalini.
When Ark approached and touched it, a new window popped up.
You have discovered an ancient artifact, the Altar of Incubation.
Through Knowledge of Ancient Artifacts, you have discovered hidden information about the Altar of Incubation. Located in the dreary cave in which the giant monster Kundalini lurked, the Altar of Incubation is one of the ancient artifacts. Since ancient times, the Altar of Incubation has garnered curiosity from many scholars
The Altar of Incubation has the ability to quickly hatch eggs of all kinds. It’s certain that the huge monster Kundalini used this Altar of Incubation to propagate the thousands of snakes that lived in the cave.
By gaining information about the ancient artifact Altar of Incubation, you have acquired bonuses.
Knowledge of Ancient Relics +10, Intelligence +5, Luck +3, and 30 Fame.
‘So that’s why there were so many snakes?’
It wasn’t that big a secret, but it was good since his Mana rose because of the intelligence bonus.
Since Ark couldn’t carry the altar away, Ark was about to just pass it by. But a thought that suddenly surfaced made him stop in his tracks.
‘Wait? It’ll accelerate the incubation of any egg?’
If so, it might be surprisingly useful.
Ark did have one egg. Just in case, Ark summoned the young Netherworld’s Egg. Then he placed it on top of the altar, but there was no change.
Ark tilted his head, placed his pot on the altar, and made food just in case. Then, as soon as he plunged the egg in, a message window popped up.
Survival Cooking has been completed. However, Netherworld’s Egg has absorbed all of it. You have not determined what effect the food has.
A reaction from the Netherworld’s Egg has been detected.
* Through the effect of the Altar of Incubation, Netherworld’s Egg’s growth rate has increased by 500%.
‘Yeah, this is it!’
The growth rate quickened by 500 percent. That meant that he could give the effect of five feedings with a single one!
‘If I can’t make it hatch here, I can’t guarantee when it’ll wake up.’
Ark pulled out all his food ingredients and made food with Survival Cooking. His success rate was only once every ten times. After succeeding about five times in fifty tries, Survival Cooking finally rose to Intermediate.
Your level of Survival Cooking has risen through much experience.
Survival Cooking (Intermediate, Passive): You can mix spices to ingredients and raise the success rate.
Food with added spices will have stronger effects. The duration of effects of the food will also be doubled. However, please note that not only good effects will be stronger. It will require more courage to test out the effects of the food.
At the same time, numerous cracks spread out on the Netherworld’s Egg and it finally split in half.
Netherworld’s Egg has ingested sufficient nutrition and has hatched!
Ark focused his attention on the form that was rising with hazy light. Finally, he had three Familiars!
Even two Familiars provided considerable power. If he had three of them now, his hunting speed would increase even more.
Ark’s eyes glimmered with expectation. But the light disappeared, and the form that appeared made Ark grimace with loathing.
“The hell is this? A s-snake?”
His new Familiar was a snake with a broad neck, like a cobra.
Amongst many, many animals, why the hell did it have to be a snake?
After entering the cave, he had been attacked by a thousand snakes. As if that wasn’t enough, he had almost died fighting Kundalini, so he was sick and tired of snakes.
However, when he looked more carefully, he didn’t really feel a sensation of disgust.
The Familiar’s appearance was very different from all the snakes he’d seen until now.
Its silkworm-like, smooth body even looked pretty at first sight. In particular, its saucer-like round and large eyes were as blue as sapphires. The way its eyes shined as it stared at him did have a cute aspect.
“In any case, seems like it’s somehow okay since it’s a snake… Information window!”
After checking the information window, Ark once again tilted his head.
“W-what, what is this?”
It is a mysterious snake living in the Netherworld, an Alamone’s offspring.
An Alamone is a mysterious snake with the habit of placing all the items it sees into its stomach. Because they do not digest the swallowed items, those who desire the items have indiscriminately captured them, so now they have become extinct. Therefore, there are not many who know of them.
They are obedient and highly affectionate. Also, an Alamone recognizes the first existence it sees after hatching from its egg as its parent. The first existence the Alamone saw after hatching was you.
Now the Alamone will think of you as its parent, and it will become a loyal Familiar that will never betray its master no matter the situation. In addition, because it is tied to you by familial love, it will not consume Mana even if a battle breaks out.
Race: Creature of the Netherworld
* It can store the same number of items as the summoner with no weight limit.
He had struggled like crazy and had finally hatched it, but it didn’t have a single stat. That meant he couldn’t use it in battle.
However, its special ability intrigued Ark.
‘It can store items?’
Ark stared at the snake, which was charmingly clambering onto his arm.
Just in case, he tried holding out Lancel’s Sword a bit. The snake stared at it blankly, then suddenly shot out its tongue like a frog catching a fly and swallowed it.
‘Huh? Did it really eat it?’
Ark stared at the snake with a perplexed expression.
“Spit it back out!”
When Ark shouted in a bewildered voice, the snake opened its mouth again and spat out the sword onto Ark’s hand. Then it blinked its bright eyes and rubbed its head into him as if it were asking for praise.
A laugh escaped Ark’s lips.
“Ha, what the hell is this?”
Should he call it fascinating, or funny?
He felt an indescribable feeling. He no longer felt his initial disappointment, because he had desperately needed a spare bag. Moreover, there was no burden if it didn’t eat Mana during battle like his other Familiars did.
It was something he learned too late, but a Dark Walker had a smaller bag capacity in comparison to other professions. Merchants and production classes were provided 6 basic bags. Magic professions had a basic bag and 3 spare bags with half the capacity. Even Warriors had one spare bag in addition to their basic bag.
But Ark’s bag capacity had only expanded slightly with his job-change. After packing in all kinds of food ingredients, he’d found that he always lacked bag capacity.
Of course, there were ways to increase bag capacity. But the magic bag sold in large cities was a whopping 200 gold for only a quarter of the basic bag’s capacity! Ark had given up early after hearing about the outrageous price.
‘Since it can store the same capacity as a basic bag, it means I’ve earned 800 gold. Is this little guy the reason why a Dark Walker isn’t provided an additional bag?’
“Alright, from now on I’ll comfortably call you ‘Snake.’”
Snake nodded as if it had heard. Then it excitedly rubbed itself on him repeatedly and wrapped itself around Ark’s waist.
It looked like a belt made out of snake skin.
“You’re a really likable fella. I’m satisfied with this much.”
Now he had finished everything he had to do in the cave.
Ark headed back to the village of Lancel.
* * *
“You really did it!” The store owner exclaimed once Ark spread out the Gnoll leathers.
“This is the promised compensation. 20 silvers per leather. It’s a total of 21 gold. And this is the reward for saving the village.”
Galen gave him a total of 31 gold as a reward.
After completing the quest, his intimacy with Galen had risen considerably as a bonus. He was able to sell the japtem he had acquired within the cave for an additional 10 percent. Ark roughly finished tidying up and returned Lancel’s Remains as he spoke of Kundalini.
Galen was surprised, but he soon nodded with understanding.
“So a demon like that lived in the cave. Lancel was a Mercenary stronger than anyone I know. I didn’t believe that such a person could been killed by just Gnolls.”
“Yes, if it weren’t for the wound on Kundalini that Lancel inflicted, I would have never been able to win. But who exactly is Lancel? If he was able to enter the cave alone and face that demon, which indicates that his skill wasn’t common…”
Ark asked because he thought he might be able to learn more about Lancel’s Sword.
Galen hesitated with a dark expression and spoke, “You’re right, Lancel was no ordinary Mercenary. Once, he was so violent a Mercenary that they called him ‘Vampire’ in a border war. Over a hundred Soldiers died at his hands. But that was against Lancel’s will. It’s just that the battlefield and the sword made him go crazy. Eventually, Lancel regained his senses, realized the disillusionment of his actions, and left the battlefield. Then, with the determination to be a help to someone, he led the pioneers and decided to set up this village.
“So even as he fought a dreadful demon, he couldn’t give up on the village.”
“That’s right, he really was atoning, in a way.”
Galen let out a sigh.
“No matter his past, I admired him. I also love the village he set up. Now that the danger has disappeared thanks to you, I’m of a mind to rebuild this village even if I have to devote my whole life to it. Speaking of which… are you thinking of continuing your journey?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Then, will you listen to my request?”
“Please tell me.”
“The pioneers who followed Lancel all love this village. The only reason why they left was because they worried about their family’s safety. But now the danger is gone. If you happen to meet them in your journey, please let them know of this fact. If it’s them, they will definitely return. Of course, it’s good if you find and send new villagers, too. This village is open to anyone.”
“I understand. I will speak of the person named Lancel to people I meet in my journey around the world. I will tell them how honorable and amiable a place this village is.”
When Ark nodded, the quest was updated.
Quest has been updated.
Pioneer Village Lancel’s Misfortune = Find New Settlers!
Lancel’s general store owner, Galen, wants to continue Lancel’s wish and rebuild the village.
What Lancel Village needs most right now are residents. Many people must gather and the laughter of children must fill the air for Lancel to be reborn as a true village.
Galen has requested that you find residents for Lancel, like the pioneers who shared Lancel’s goal in the past and even people who have nowhere else to go. Galen has accepted Lancel’s wish to become helpful in the world and has promised to openly accept all residents. If you guide them to this place, Lancel Village will definitely become the village that Lancel desired.
Finding new settlers: achieved 0%
There wasn’t any information about how to solve the quest. But after receiving the quest first, there would be a hint somewhere.
“You should hold onto Lancel’s Sword. I know Lancel would also want that.”
Of course, Ark had no intention of giving it up even if he was asked to.
Anyways, Ark left Lancel after those words.
The very first thing he did after leaving Lancel was to summon Skull.
Clack clack clack
When he saw Skull clacking its teeth as if there was nothing wrong, tears blurred Ark’s eyes.
Although it was revived again, Skull had thrown away its life for his sake. In a sense, it was an action that was harder for an NPC that actually died than it was for a player. But Skull had sacrificed itself without hesitation. In addition, Bat had done its best to help Ark.
When he looked at these Familiars, affection surged forth anew.
‘Such praiseworthy little rascals.’
Snake, the new addition to his family, was definitely lovable. Perhaps because Snake truly thought of him as its parent, but it put its all into rubbing Ark affectionately whenever it could.
‘That’s right, these guys are all I have. Sink or swim, I’ll go together with these fellas.’
It wasn’t just that his sense of unity was strengthened; there was also an actual benefit. He no longer had to give up items because of bag space. Now that he could store double the items thanks to Snake, Ark became even greedier.
‘Now that the family has increased, I have to earn more, even if it’s just 1 Copper.’
Ark scraped in all the japtem and ingredients he could get his hands on as he followed the Hand Mirror’s light. Because of that, his pace slowed even more, and he crossed the Argus Mountains after a week.
There were still unexplored regions on the other side of the Argus Mountains.
Even when he walked for several days, he couldn’t find any players, let alone NPCs.
After passing a plain where he could see the horizon and floods a few times and hunting the monsters he encountered in those places, he reached level 50. When his two bags were nearly chock full of japtem, Ark was able to arrive at his destination.
‘It’s the lighthouse!’
On one side of the beach stood a picturesque, scenic lighthouse.
It was the lighthouse he’d seen through the Hand Mirror; he had finally reached his destination after a very long journey.
When he had seen it through images, it was a place that had only looked beautiful. But when he actually arrived and looked, the area around the lighthouse was crawling with monsters he had never seen before.
They were monsters with shark-like appearances equipped with both arms and legs. When he checked the information with Eyes of the Cat, he found they were called Sharkmen. They were level 55, but they were a little stronger than monsters of the same level.
‘Well, I’ll manage to fight them somehow, but it’s hard to face more than one of them. It’ll be good to wait until night for now.’
At night, all his stats increased by 20 percent.
To fight in the dark. It was one of the Dark Walker’s basic tactics.