I slightly bent my knees before kicking off in a sprint. But dispiritingly, my Level 165 body began screaming out in protest from the start. I had thought this would get a little better if my Level rose but compared to my prime when I busted the Demon King’s ass, Level 4 or Level 165 was small fry level all the same.
But this was all relatively speaking as well.
This was the status of the Elf archer who had wounded my cheek. Her skill set was lacking in focus and even her reaction to my approach was poor. She didn’t try to create distance as if thinking her arrow shots would only naturally make their mark.
The Elf released the bowstring of her bow.
The arrow shot forth in a straight line accurately targeting my vital as I charged forward. It was such a straightforward attack that it put me on the verge of laughing.
Oh, come on. I can see where your eyes are looking.
Ting! Swip! Ting!
I either dodged the incoming arrows or parried them with my sword. Perhaps it might have been different had those arrows, which drew a parabola as they came flying, contained a fantasy-like element such as changing trajectory or accelerating by influence of a Wind Elemental or magic, but these kinds of ordinary arrow shots were no different than child’s play. What’s more, she was even telling me where she was targeting with her pretty little eyes.
The Elf belatedly retreated with a face of disbelief. Her decision of swiftly abandoning the bow and drawing the dagger by her hip despite her panic was impressive. It was just that her response was mistaken.
Also taking into account the Fire Elemental which was targeting my side, I vertically slashed down my raised bastard sword.
The Elf hurriedly raised her dagger horizontally above her head to block, but it failed to stop the momentum of the sword which carried the entire weight of my body. I lightly ignored the burns inflicted on my back and waist by the Fire Elemental; so long as my bones and tendons weren’t injured, it would have no effect on battle.
“That’s one for starters.”
The Elf whose pretty little head was split apart like a watermelon crumpled down.
She hadn’t even shown anything worthy of being called Swordsmanship. Since she had chosen to use a dagger, whether it’s purpose was for self-defense or just carrying around, she shouldn’t have retreated and instead made a deep lunge towards the chest of this Big Brother right here. Daggers had shorter range than longswords after all. But that charming little Elf had attempted to create distance instead of closing it—a clear lack of experience.
This meant that she had never fought against a human before. Or that she had only ever shot arrows gracefully from afar.
I threw away the bastard sword on the spot as its blade was damaged from splitting the skull of an Elf which had the hardness of a Level 189. It wasn’t damaged to the point of being entirely useless, but I had just found a better weapon then.
Out of the air, I caught the dagger which had left the hand of the Elf who was now a bloody heap. The dagger was a stiletto which had a distinctive fine blade and extremely sharp point—it was the weapon of an assassin specialized for stabbing.
Although I was one to prefer heavy two-handed armaments that were like siege weapons, this stiletto was a bit of an exception. There wasn’t a single chip on its blade despite having clashed with the bastard sword. Perhaps it was a superior item which was made with quite the effort?
“Bastard! You killed her…!”
Immediately afterwards, an Elf male attacked me from behind while bellowing.
“There’s an even bigger fool over here?”
While I had long noticed it from the chilling flow of air touching my skin, shouldn’t you not scream if you’re going to sneak attack? It was such a blatant move that for a moment I could have suspected it to be a diversion or mind game.
The weapon of my attacker was a rapier which had a long and thin blade, a longsword which suited a feeble-looking Elf male. It was completely opposite to my preferences, but I wanted it as well.
The opponent was right-handed, so I gripped my stiletto in my left hand.
The Elf drew near aiming for my back with his rapier. I spun my body like a top while holding the stiletto in a reverse-grip and then brought it to meet the rapier at a slant.
Blue sparks arose, caused by the friction of metal against metal. In that state, I slid the stiletto up from the end of the rapier’s blade to its hilt like riding a train rail.
I had drawn close enough for a certain two sweaty men to share a hot embrace. The dagger had fallen into my hand at an extremely advantageous timing. The eyes of the Elf male who knew this fixed itself on the stiletto—he was wary of the dagger’s next course of movement.
He was truly an easy to understand friend. And because of this, while just barely holding in the laughter which threatened to burst from me, I tightly curled up my right hand which had been lonely from having nothing to hold into a tight fist.
And then I returned his kindness with a hard punch.
My right fist landed a direct hit on the tip of the pretty boy Elf’s slender chin. His jaw was sent spinning and his head slumped backwards. This friend had apparently been hastily attempting something using his left hand as well, but I was too busy to pay attention to that as well.
With a quick movement, I grabbed the Elf male who was out of it by the throat and then moved him to and fro like a shield, using him to block the arrows and Elementals’ attacks flying at me.
Puk, puk, smack, boom, puk…
This friend was sturdier than most shields due to his high Level and he had the distinctive slender physique of an Elf so he was even light. Moreover, he had yet further value as he was still alive.
The arrow shots decreased in frequency.
“Elf buddy, let’s switch weapons.”
I deeply stabbed the stiletto into the Elf male’s belly. He wouldn’t die easily as I had avoided any major arteries.
In my left hand I held the rapier I had exchanged with him as a sign of friendship and in my right I wielded the friend I just made like a shield and charged in.
The other Elves who were surprised by our camaraderie didn’t know what to do. They were hesitant to attack their own kin who was still alive, and so I decided help them make a decision a little.
I slashed out with the rapier in my left.
“This makes two.”
The cute head of a young Elf girl holding a staff flew up into the air and as a result, a dozen or so Elementals vanished from this battlefield like they were illusions. That was payback for my well-done waist from the fire before.
Blood shot up from the severed part of the girl’s neck like a fountain. And right next to her corpse, another pretty little Elf, drenched in the blood of the cute one whose head had gone missing, was babbling her friend’s name as she wailed in grief.
I thrusted my rapier into her open mouth.
“What a great singer. Three.”
I had ripped through her hindbrain which was the part of a brain responsible for controlling respiration, heartbeat, digestive functions and so on, so she would have no hopes of surviving that.
And this friend of mine in my right hand was about to reach his limit too.
“It’s time for me to forget this short friendship of ours. Four.”
I snapped the neck of the Elf male I had used well as a shield since his EXP would disappear if he died naturally from excessive blood loss.
After I retrieved the stiletto which was exchanged as a sign of friendship, his corpse was set afire by a ball of fire shot by a Fire Elemental.
Ordinary corpses were Level 0. Apart from the bodies of races which were sturdy from birth, corpses were no more than lumps of flesh that couldn’t be used as shields. In particular, Elves were as fragile as dog bones.
“Kill that human-!”
The enraged Elves aimed their bows and staves at me all together, but I wanted to advise them that their actions were very much rash.
I wasn’t the only one here. The black market guards were facing the battle with clear heads despite the death of their comrades. They were pushing back the intruders so hard that even the furious Elf princess couldn’t pay me attention.
In contrast, the Elves were easily swayed by their emotions. This was because the Elves who possessed long lifespans spent hundreds of years together with the people around them; their neighbors, comrades, friends and the like. They would live as a community for a long time and naturally grow to become like family.
This was a strength and at the same time a weakness. And at present, this weakness was standing out clearly.
“Blockade the exit!”
“Provide cover for Sir Wolf-Mask!”
“Hurry with assisting the flank!”
The black market guards began to press the attack—the Elves had revealed too many openings as a result of losing their calm at the grotesque death of their comrades who were like family.
The Elves began to collapse one after another like dominoes.
I felt like I was about to cry of regret each time I witnessed the miserable end of an Elf who fell down like dry straw.
“My precious EXPs…!”
My EXPs were lessening at every passing moment, and the Elf princess’ state of mind worsened the more it went on. She went on a wild rampage alongside the Elementals like a crazy bitch souped up on chemicals.
But even so she was strong.
Today would have been the day I died had I not raised my Level further. This wasn’t the time to be fighting with caution.
I should battle with the resolve to lose a finger or two at least.
My growth was only starting now.
… Every word has power, was it said? I really did get a finger sliced off. For that I received a nice bit of EXP as compensation.
“Dirty bastard, shooting off Sword Ki after feigning weakness.”
I picked up my right forefinger, which had been cut off in my attempted bare-handed blade block, from the dirt. My conceit had almost cost me my neck instead of a finger. I used the clean battle vest of one of my attackers, who had become a cold dead body about 10 seconds before, to meticulously wipe off the dirt on the severed part of my finger.
And then I very carefully stuck it back where it was originally connected.
It felt slightly crooked, but I was probably imagining it.
“Haagh, hah, hurgh… Are you a demon?”
The future Elf Queen, who had survived by herself just like in the 1st Playthrough, asked me this as she took ragged breaths.
The look in her face had gone from fury to fright. It seemed she was truly mistaking me for a demon.
“That’s a sad thing to say when we’ve both done a share of the slaughtering.”
History had changed because of my interference.
The black market side which had failed to take a hostage didn’t manage to get the rampaging Elf princess to surrender and in the end, suffered losses close to a wipe out.
You could tell how many humans in the Level 150s had died just by looking at the princess’ changed Level.
Her Level had gone up by a whole 4.
And as for me?
My Level had increased by 199 in this black market alone.
… As for skills? They were a trifling change so it was nothing to pay attention to.
I had clearly witnessed the effect of the fivefold-EXP Hero perk this time round. My Level had shot up and I had grown stronger with every Elf with the average Level of 200 that I killed. I had to give thanks to the encouragement and support of my Elf friends who had become EXP for my dream.
Wouldn’t I be able to have the Demon King at my mercy within 6 months if I raised my Level at this pace every day?!
Now there was only one EXP remaining. An old comrade whom I couldn’t let escape ever.
Silvia’s was exhausted, had suffered fractures and was bleeding. And these conditions were all at a serious degree which meant the black market elites had absolutely whittled down her life.
It was now hard for her to even take one step forward. However, she still had her strongest method of attack at her disposal.
“Demon! You’ll die here together with me! Elementals of Earth!”
The Elf princess cried out in a fierce voice.
It seemed she had no intention of abandoning the corpses of her comrades and friends, who had followed her to their deaths, and running away.
The corpses of Elves were traded for a considerable price. Like how virgins symbolized ‘purity’, the blood and bone of Elves were often used as magic catalysts that held the meaning of ‘eternity’—in the form of meat that was cut up like you would have at a butcher’s.
It was impossible that Silvia who loathed humans didn’t know about this. And that was why…
“You intend on turning this place into all of our graves? What a riot. You’re the one who invited your comrades and friends to this hell of an ant’s nest. Isn’t that right?”
This princess planned on causing this black market to cave in using the Earth Elementals, taking herself down along with it.
“Demon! It’s your fault! Things wouldn’t have come to this if not for you! We would have won! There would have been no problem if we won!”
“Don’t involve your comrades without even being prepared to suffer defeat. That’s called causing trouble. And you’ve been insisting I’m a demon from a while ago, but…”
I slowly drew nearer towards her, and I took off the wolf mask which was stained with the crimson blood of Elves.
The Earth Elementals who were about the collapse the black market stopped their destruction. They didn’t move an inch even when the Elf princess desperately begged them to. Was it because they didn’t want her, their friend, to die?
That wasn’t it.
“Why are you protecting this demon-?!”
Silvia fell into confusion at this unknown situation.
Betrayed by the Elementals whom she had unconditionally trusted until now. I smoothly stabbed my stiletto into the Elf princess’ heart who was at a loss because of this betrayal. And after that, I told her the reason behind it.
“Elementals, you see, consider the great Hero far more important than your fake friendship, using them like murder tools while calling them friends.”
Elementals loved nature. And to protect nature? They couldn’t do without the Hero-nim slaying Demon King Pedonar. It would be a huge problem for them if the Hero ended up buried alive before that happened.
Silvia asked this with wide open eyes as if hoping I would tell her I was joking.
“Let’s not meet for the 3rd time, Silvia.”
The future Elf Queen had become a stepping stone for the great Hero.
You should be honored!
The indignation of it all! My dear respected Professor Morals!
Those violent Elves were the first to attack me!
I think I’m capable of killing Sword King Alex now.