The stone statue began moving as weird creaking noises came out from its various joints. Jin-Woo glared at this ‘creature’.
There were several differences between this guy and the other stone statues, but the biggest one had to be the wings attached to its back, which made it look somewhat like an angel.
Indeed, this guy was the only one among the statues designed to resemble an angel. Not just any angel either, but one with six wings on its back, too.
The angel statue slowly stood up from its sitting position and straightened its bent back. As it turned out, it was over three metres tall.
Jin-Woo quickly retreated and summoned the second shortsword into his other hand, before lowering his stance to get ready.
When he made up his mind to fight against that thing, every single strand of sensory receptors on his body awakened in full; every part of himself, from his mind to all corners of his body, had become fully optimised for the upcoming battle.
However, the angel statue showed no signs of wiping that smile off its face, even though it must’ve clearly sensed Jin-Woo’s desire to fight. That smile was so disgusting and unnatural that it sent a shiver down his spine.
The angel statue took a look at the stone tablet damaged by the shortsword and simply tossed it away, as if it meant nothing to the ‘creature’.
….As if, it was doing the most obvious thing in the world.
The stone tablet clattered on the floor and shattered into countless pieces. The angel statue stiffly laughed as it took in the sight of the now-useless tablet.
Jin-Woo narrowed his eyes.
‘So, from the very beginning…..’
Just then, he realised that there was no meaning behind them from the very beginning. That stone tablet, and the so-called laws written on it, none of them meant anything.
‘If not, there’s no way that thing would’ve treated it so recklessly.’
In that case, just what exactly was this place? And what did this thing want from him?
All those quests, levelling up, instant dungeon keys, etc. All those strange events that took place after he left this temple – what did they even signify?
Finally, an opportunity to get the answers for all of his burning questions had come. When he thought like that…
Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump!!
His heart began madly pounding away in his chest. Usually, it beat in a regular rhythmic pulse most of the time. But now, right at this moment, it shook and rumbled and revved harder than a race car’s engine.
‘This thing knows everything.’
Jin-Woo didn’t lower his vigilance and threw out a question in a low voice.
“Were you the one calling me here?”
Jin-Woo was asking about what the statue’s relationship with his System was through that question.
The angel statue moved its individual fingers before carrying on.
“You have done well to get here.”
Next up, its neck. The ‘creature’ rotated its head from side to side.
The d*mn thing was busy loosening itself. It didn’t take a genius to tell why it was loosening up like that.
Now normally, Jin-Woo wouldn’t hesitate to get the first strike in when finding himself in a situation like this one. However, he was making an exception this time.
He had far too many questions to ask this angel statue and didn’t want to end the little conversation that he got going here.
Jin-Woo threw out another question.
“Are you a monster?”
The waves of magic energy being emitted from the angel statue were certainly different from the ones emitted by the regular monsters.
However, meaning behind the term ‘monster’ was simply created by humans for their own convenience. If that term was used to denote a true monster, then yes, that statue was without a doubt, a real ‘monster’.
A stone statue that could speak and move around – where would anyone even hope to find a monster more monster-ish than that?
So, what Jin-Woo wanted to find out here was whether this thing was in cahoots with the regular monsters or not.
The angel statue bent down to loosen up its back before standing straight up again.
“That’s the wrong question to ask.”
“Rather than asking what I am, you should be asking what you are, instead.”
Jin-Woo was frozen for a brief moment there, but he couldn’t stay flustered for long.
The sound of the angel statue clapping its hands wiped all distracting thoughts out of his head.
“Well, then. This will be your final test.”
The smile was long gone from the angel statue’s face as it finally finished loosening up.
“If you still manage to stand on two feet by the end of the test, then everything you wished to know will be revealed to you. That….”
The angel statue snapped its fingers, and almost immediately, a red glow appeared within the eyes of the countless stone statues within the temple.
“….Will be my reward to you.”
It was then.
Every single head of the stone statues densely packed into this chamber all snapped in Jin-Woo’s direction.
And they all uniformly stepped off their pedestals.
All the statues raised the weapons in their grasp.
Jin-Woo swept his gaze around the stone statues. Even if they were puppets, they still seemed quite tough opponents to deal with. He actually almost died several times because of them in the past, too, didn’t he?
Jin-Woo remained calm as he summoned out his Shadow Soldiers.
[For the duration of the final test, all of your Class-specific skills have been sealed.]
[Usage of various potions and the Store’s functions have been prohibited, and status recovery effects from levelling up and quest completion bonuses will be inapplicable during the duration of the test.]
[You can not exist this chamber until the end of the final test.]
Jin-Woo’s forehead creased up as mechanical beeps continued to go ‘Tti-ring, tti-ring’ in his ears, but even those lasted for only a short while. Because the stone statues had begun sprinting towards him right then.
Their movements were eerily silent, yet also incredibly fast as well. This was on a whole new level compared to back when he faced down hundreds of ‘knights’ during the Class Advancement test.
‘Oh, so you want to play it like this, is that it?’
All the hidden cards he had come prepared with, just in case – various potions, quest rewards, etc. – had become useless in one fell swoop. The System had been with Jin-Woo ever since the beginning, and knew how he operated the best.
‘In that case, I shall overcome this with nothing but my own power!’
Jin-Woo firmed up his resolve and gripped his shortswords even tighter.
The easiest way to get out of this dangerous situation was to eliminate the main body enabling the stone statues to move. And that would be the angel statue. However, he’d not be able to get what he wanted if the angel statue was killed off. So, that would have to be consigned as the final resort for now.
For the time being, he decided to go along with this ‘test’ thing the statue talked about.
‘And that is why, I….’
….That was why he never stopped getting stronger right up until now.
He never once stopped polishing his skill levels, just so he could achieve everything he aimed for regardless of what sort of situations tried to hinder him.
Jin-Woo spat out white-hot air from his nostrils and mouth.
The things he initially couldn’t see, the stuff he had missed when he first set foot in this place began entering his field of vision. His naked eyes could chase the movements of the stone statues that looked like instant teleportation to him back then.
‘From my left.’
His shortsword blocked the spear of the stone statue stabbing forward from his left.
Another stone statue launched itself in the air by stepping on the shoulders of the statue with the spear, and slammed down with a war axe.
It was inefficient to defend against an attack falling from above head-on, so Jin-Woo tilted his body halfway to the side and let the axe simply brush past him.
Broken bits of rock spat up from the floor, now shattered by the force of the axe. Meanwhile, Jin-Woo powerfully kicked the face of the axe-wielding stone statue.
The moment its head came in contact with his foot, it got crushed into fine powder. However….
Jin-Woo bent backwards and dodged an arrow. It flew straight past him and got embedded in the wall on the far side.
He didn’t even have time to feel happy about eliminating one enemy – the proper assault was only just beginning now.
This time, it was a sword.
Jin-Woo used his physical strength to shove away the blocked sword of the statue and at the same time, drew a diagonal line in the air with the shortsword held in his other hand.
The stone statue, now missing an arm, fell away while writhing around as if it could feel crippling pain.
From his left, right, right, left, front, front, right, and left.
‘I can do this.’
The more he concentrated on the battle, the slower the movements of the stone statues became. On the other hand, his own movements got progressively faster and faster.
It was then – he sensed a chill right behind his neck.
Jin-Woo jumped up above the head of the stone statue trying to ambush him from behind and while still in the air, easily sliced its head off.
He let his Perception Stat cover him from the enemies that tried to attack him in his blindspots.
His exhaled breath exploded out.
His body, trained to the absolute limit, and every cell within his flesh, were reacting to the movements of these stone statues. Light burned fiercely within his eyes.
He began gradually thinning out the horde of the statues while blocking, slapping away or shaking off their persistent, annoying attacks.
‘As if, for this very moment….’
It felt as if the ‘Demon King’s Shortswords’ were solely created for this moment. He held them tightly in his hands and easily sliced up the limbs and body parts of the statues made out of solid stone.
Jin-Woo sensed his body, his mind, his cells and even his shortswords become a single entity. He endlessly moved, fleeted in and out, and continued to slither around without rest.
The angel statue, silently observing Jin-Woo’s remarkable movements with a great deal of interest, began to shudder greatly.
‘How could he move like that with the physique of a mere human…..?’
The smile that was gone momentarily on the angel statue’s face was back in full force now. It knew it had made the right choice.
However – it was still far, far too early to end the test.
The angel statue looked behind itself. With that, the eyes of the humongous statue of the god sitting on the throne and silently waiting for its turn, began glowing an eerie crimson hue.
It gripped the armrests of the throne tightly and slowly lifted up its unimaginably huge frame.
Because it was so gigantic, simply seeing it stand up sent shivers down one’s spine.
The god statue took its first step, and the vast interior of the temple shook hard from the resulting noise.
THUD, THUD, THUD.
The god statue’s strides were so enormous that it didn’t need to walk for long before arriving where Jin-Woo was. The rubble of the fallen stone statues was forming small mountains all around him by then.
The god statue stopped walking in front of him and raised its right arm.
It was also around this time that Jin-Woo, in the midst of a maddened melee among the stone statues, felt something change around him.
He realised that the surroundings had become dark for some reason and raised his head.
A giant descending palm was rapidly filling up his entire vision. The god statue slapped down on the ground as if it couldn’t care any less about the well-being of the stone statues surrounding Jin-Woo.
He hurriedly flung himself away to get out of the range of that gigantic palm strike. He rolled on the ground several times, before shooting right back up on his two feet. His expression hardened as he glared at the god statue.
‘Right, there was that guy, too.’
This was definitely the case of one headache after another.
Jin-Woo lowered his gaze to see around a hundred or so still-surviving stone statues busy sprinting towards him right this very moment. These tireless enemies arrived in front of his nose in no time at all.
He lightly tipped away the iron mace flying his way at a frightening speed with the end of his shortsword; he then slid forward as if he was skating on ice and sliced off the head of the mace-wielding statue.
As if the head of the statue crashing to the ground was the signal, the rest of the statues following right behind pounced on Jin-Woo like a pack of wild, but well-organised, animals. However, the truly dangerous opponent wasn’t one of these statues.
It felt as if every hair on his body was standing up straight. Jin-Woo flinched in nasty shock and hurriedly raised his head.
Sure enough, the bone-chilling red light was coagulating in the two eyes of the god statue.
‘Dodging it…. it’s too late for that.’
His brain quickly calculated that his escape routes would be blocked off by the stone statues if he were to make a wrong move now. The odds of him getting melted down to nothing by that laser beam or whatever would be too high for his liking if that happened.
‘In that case….’
Jin-Woo quickly put the shortsword down and immediately extended his now-empty left hand at the stone statues pouncing on him.
Five of the stone statues got caught in the skill ‘Ruler’s Reach’ and were stacked up together in the air.
[Skill: ‘Ruler’s Reach’ has been upgraded to its ultimate version, Skill: ‘Ruler’s Authority’.]
Too bad, he still didn’t have a single second of leeway to bask in the happiness of his skill getting an upgrade right now. Jin-Woo quickly moved the make-shift shield made from the stone statues into the trajectory of the god statue’s glare.
Just as he expected, red laser beams shot out from the eyes of the god statue.
It didn’t even take one second for the shield made out of the stone statues to melt away, but Jin-Woo successfully used that brief respite to safely get out of the attack range of that beam.
He withdrew the skill ‘Ruler’s Authority’, and the smouldering remnants of the statues dropped to the floor.
Jin-Woo rapidly revised his battle plan as he confirmed the power of the god statue capable of completely evaporating these stone statues.
‘As I thought, getting rid of the god statue should be my priority.’
His next goal had been set now. Before the god statue could fire the second laser beam attack, Jin-Woo kicked the ground hard and dashed forward.
Jin-Woo’s movement was already fast, but with that skill activated, his speed immediately shot past what the god statue could actually follow with its perception.
Jin-Woo arrived at the foot of the god statue in the proverbial blink of an eye and tensed up his leg muscles to the extreme. An unbelievable amount of energy, reserved solely for jumping up, condensed within his crouched position.
He had only one shot.
Without a doubt, it’d become much harder to dodge the red laser beams flying in at a terrifying speed once he was airborne. It was impossible to move freely in the air, after all.
But then again, hadn’t he learned that valuable lesson already?
If he weren’t willing to take on some risks, then he’d not be able to find himself with any opportunities.
‘That is why….’
Jin-Woo’s lips shut tight in a straight line as he powerfully leapt up from the ground.
His entire frame flew up like a fired rocket.
‘….Just get destroyed already!’