They all became utterly speechless. There could not have been a more fitting description than that.
Choi Jung-Hoon forgot what he wanted to say. But, he was certain of something. The origin of that ominous energy he sensed before entering this Gate was that living sculpture.
The magic energy leaking out of that thing was so great that the space surrounding the d*mn creature seemed to twist around in his view.
He was simply staring at it from far away, yet goosebumps were breaking out on his entire body.
His gaze was redirected towards Jin-Woo.
It made some sense to see someone as strong as Hunter Seong lying unconscious if he had been in a battle against a ‘thing’ like that.
No, hold on.
Fighting against such a ‘thing’ while also finding enough leeway to destroy all these other enemies – the stone statues – was only possible precisely because it was Hunter Seong Jin-Woo and not someone else.
He felt nothing but admiration in his heart. However….
‘It’s our turn to fight against such an opponent now.’
A thick drop of sweat slid down the side of his face and stopped on his chin.
The strength of this one monster easily exceeded that of the mutated ant that appeared on Jeju Island. No, it was unknown whether this enemy was really a monster or not, to begin with.
His dry saliva painfully slid down his throat.
Choi Jong-In glanced to his side and found that the complexions of Cha Hae-In and Woo Jin-Cheol were utterly pale from fright as well. These two had also figured out the depths of the enemy’s power and were in the middle of inwardly freaking out.
On the other hand, the Hunters behind them were getting surprised by something else entirely.
“That thing… did that thing just speak??”
“Wait, I didn’t hear incorrectly just now, did I?”
“A monster can speak our language?”
Hunters exchanged glances with one another, their faces filled with incredulity. Something like this seemed impossible.
It was already public knowledge that the monsters with intelligence spoke the language of their own.
Back when these Gates began appearing for the first time, some tried to learn the language of the monsters. Of course, their attempts all ended in failure.
The sole reason for that was the violent tendencies of the monsters. Monsters captured alive through great difficulties couldn’t seem to endure being around humans the longer they remained in contact.
Even if their entire bodies were restrained, they tried to rampage around trying to attack humans – even when under the intense pain of their flesh being ripped apart and their bones snapping in half. In the end, either they were killed off by their human captors, or died naturally after being unable to win against the tides of their rage.
– It is impossible for monsters and humans to coexist. It is also impossible to communicate with them.
This was the unanimous conclusion reached by the scientists researching monsters from all over the globe, one they were completely certain of.
However, the monster in front of their eyes was speaking in Korean as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
A monster that could be seen as the find of the century had made its entrance, but for some reason, these Hunters all felt this inexplicable sense of dread in their hearts.
That was the warning bell rung by the primal instinct only detectable by the first-class Hunters such as these people.
The angel statue took one step forward, causing the trembling Hunters to hurriedly back away. The creature slowly shifted its gaze left to right as if to appreciate the sight of these humans and their expressions of fear and terror.
“Oh, strong humans.”
The statue spoke up as it began looking at the Hunters with the eyes of someone finding a delicious snack.
“It seems that there are no shortages for the first sacrifices prepared for the king.”
If a snake could smile, would that be as disgusting as the one on this creature? The movements of the Hunters froze stiff from the smile forming on the angel statue’s face.
Could there have been yet another monster here?
Choi Jong-In’s head slanted to the side briefly, but too bad for him, now wasn’t the time to dissect what the monster was saying.
The angel statue ripped up the arm of one of the stone statues strewn about on the floor.
‘What is it trying to do?’
Hunters and their confusion didn’t last for long. It placed the torn arm in its right shoulder socket that was already missing a limb, and the two parts suddenly began fusing by themselves.
As the Hunters gasped out in astonishment, the angel statue moved the newly-regenerated arm around this way and that. It was then.
The statue suddenly appeared before the Hunters. They didn’t even have any time to respond. The angel statue took a swing with its right arm. The face of the Hunter standing in front of the group was crushed inward.
The Hunter and his crushed face flew backwards and slammed into the wall. Other Hunters nearby threw out urgent counterattacks, but by then, the angel statue was already gone.
The creature was now standing on the same spot as before as if it never made a move in the first place. As a matter of fact, it was busy fidgeting with its newly-attached right hand and its fingers. It looked like it was testing out whether its new limb was functioning properly or not.
Hunters belatedly discovered the casualty among them and began crying out in anguish. He was killed instantly. A rank A Tanker working for South Korea’s best Guild had died in a single hit.
Choi Jong-In’s eyes as he stared at the angel statue began shaking unsteadily now.
‘Hunter Seong Jin-Woo fought against such a thing all by himself…?’
Rather than the pain of losing one of his comrades, his mind was overcome with this hopeless sense of vagueness at not knowing how to break out of the current situation.
Unfortunately, not everyone was capable of rational thought process like Choi Jong-In.
“You son of a b*tch!!”
One of the female Hunters, the lover of the deceased Hunter, screamed out and dashed forward in anger. A pair of flames were burning brightly in both of her hands as she did so.
Just as she was about to launch those flames, someone grabbed her wrists from behind. The female Hunter looked to her side and discovered that Cha Hae-In had approached her before she noticed it. The female Hunter shook her arm and yelled out.
“Let me go!”
“Unni, you must hold it back.”
“I said, let go of me, right now!!”
“Please, you gotta hold it back!”
The female Hunter glared straight at Cha Hae-In’s face. The latter carried a grave but determined expression as she bit her lower lip.
“I’m also holding back, you know….”
Cha Hae-In’s hardened expression caused the female Hunter to stop writhing around in anger. Because… even she knew it was unwise to agitate a monster that no longer showed any interest in their group after making that initial attack.
It was just that, she found it nearly impossible to hold herself back. Someone she loved was met with a horrific death, yet she was unable to do anything. The female Hunter began sobbing under her breath.
Once she stopped displaying hints of making a rash decision, Cha Hae-In shifted her attention over to Jin-Woo lying on the ground far away. The female Hunter wasn’t the only one holding herself back, indeed.
For some reason, the monster had stopped attacking the group. And Jin-Woo looked unhurt as he continued to breathe normally. His expression was peaceful, as if he was simply asleep right now.
….She and others had to buy as much time as possible until Jin-Woo woke up. That was the best they could do.
It was then.
The angel statue moved its body this way and that before laughter abruptly broke out from its lips.
The empty interior of the underground temple was suddenly filled up with the echoes of the angel statue’s voice. It kept its laughter short and shifted its gaze over to the Hunters.
“Well now, should I get the fun started?”
The colour of the angel statue’s eyes suddenly reddened up.
Was that the beginning of the assault? The Hunters strengthened their grips on their chosen weapons and prepared for battle.
If it was only one… if it was only one enemy, couldn’t they be able to do something here? Not only did they have two rank S Hunters present, but there were also dozens of top local Hunters gathered here at the moment, too.
As such an optimistic outlook quickly raced past the minds of the Hunters, this happened.
Suddenly, an earthquake broke out inside this huge, open chamber.
“Ah…. No, this can’t be….”
The dark shadow of despair drew upon the faces of the Hunters. The broken stone statues were beginning to stand up one by one, that was why.
The b*stards without heads, b*stards with holes in their chests, and even b*stards with limbs missing all began standing up. But the absolute worst among them all was the statue of the unknown god that could only be described as truly gigantic.
“….Oh, my god.”
The god statue and the stone statues were standing upright and glaring at the Hunters as if they had never been destroyed in the first place. Their expressionless faces only made the already creepy atmosphere that much more bizarre.
Hunters began to backtrack a step at a time, only to run into something solid behind their backs.
It was the door.
Even before they had realised it, the doorway to this once-empty arena was closed shut tightly. It seemed that the angel statue had no thoughts of letting these humans go at all.
The angel statue spoke to them.
“Those who manage to survive until all of my dolls have fallen will be given the opportunity to witness the glorious rebirth of the king.”
The monster kept saying ‘king’ this and ‘king’ that for a while now.
‘Just what is it trying to say here?’
Woo Jin-Cheol’s brows creased up.
He just couldn’t understand the words the creature was busy spewing out. However, one thing was for certain. He knew that this creature was trying to kill everyone within the chamber.
He gritted his teeth.
He spent the last four years of his life in the Association.
He had faced plenty of hair-raising situations, but still managed to pull through by bitterly struggling till the end. Today would not be any different. He wasn’t planning to die as easily as the monster wanted him to.
‘Even I can’t make it out of here….’
At least, he’d try to save Hunter Seong.
His thoughts reached there and he glanced at Jin-Woo. Rather coincidentally, the angel statue also pointed at the youth lying unmoving on the ground.
“This person was able to destroy all my puppets in less than five minutes.”
The pointed finger of the angel statue was then locked onto the rest of the Hunters.
“How many minutes will it take for all of you to die today, then?”
Just as the words of the angel statue came to an end, Woo Jin-Cheol cried out at the top of his lungs.
“Everyone, get down!!”
Hunters hurriedly bent down to the ground.
A red laser beam sliced right past just above their heads with almost no gap to spare. The casualty was zero this time. It was almost a miracle in and of itself.
The red energy beam shooting out from the eyes of the god statue slowly dissipated.
The angel statue stared at the Hunters with eyes of some interest as it took a step back. It seemed that these humans might be able to provide some fun distraction before the king awakens.
“Pant, pant, pant.”
Woo Jin-Cheol panted out heavily. Cold sweat poured out from his pores.
If he hadn’t heard about the special trait of the god statue beforehand, would he be able to survive that blast? His entire body shuddered from sheer horror. Still, they managed to somehow live through the first attack.
Of course, that wasn’t the end.
‘No, it’s merely the beginning.’
Woo Jin-Cheol raised his head.
The stone statues were rushing towards them now. They were so quick that only the high-ranked melee-type Hunters would be capable of following their movements.
Fortunately, Woo Jin-Cheol was one of the very best within the rank A Hunters. He rose up from his spot in an instant and while rotating his waist, sent out a powerful punch. The specially-constructed glove slammed hard into the face of a stone statue.
Woo Jin-Cheol’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
He genuinely believed that one punch would be enough. However, the stone statue was unscathed.
Because he saw that one of this statue’s shoulders was completely destroyed from an unknown attack, he ended up making a mistake on his enemy’s durability. It was a gaffe he shouldn’t have made when thinking back to just who it was that destroyed all these statues in the first place.
The stone statue’s face was pushed back only by a little bit, but it recovered from the impact force almost right away and thrust forward the sword in its hand.
Woo Jin-Cheol inwardly clicked his tongue.
He threw that punch out without taking into consideration the possible counterattack so he was unable to dodge. Besides, the enemy wasn’t slow enough for him to evade at such a close distance, anyway.
A powerful explosion wrapped the statue up and it flew away.
Woo Jin-Cheol frowned and shook his head hard to recover from the buzzing sensation in his ears. Only then did he get to hear the voice coming from his side.
“Are you alright??”
It was none other than the ‘ultimate weapon’, Choi Jong-In. Woo Jin-Cheol nodded once to express his gratitude. They simply didn’t have enough time to leisurely share a conversation.
Because, the god statue began moving in earnest, and…
…And, the stone statues had already arrived right before their noses by then.
“Chairman Choi!! Aggro skills don’t work against these things!!”
Tankers loudly cried out.
“What was that??”
Choi Jong-In’s expression hardened considerably. If the aggro skills didn’t work on them, then these creatures would instinctively start targetting the physically weakest Hunters present.
If the Healers were killed off first, then their line of defence would collapse in no time at all. It was nigh impossible for them to fight against powerful enemies without some sort of a defensive line to back them up.
Not only that….
Right behind these d*mn stone statues, the massive god statue was now raising its equally massive fist as well.
‘Can we really get out of this place alive?’
Their situation was despairingly critical.
However, he still could think of one final method. And that would be waking up the unconscious Hunter Seong.
The angel sculpture b*stard said it, didn’t it?
‘That thing said that Hunter Seong was able to destroy them all by himself. In less than five minutes, too.’
Their situation could change greatly if his guess was correct and the only reason why Hunter Seong lost to the angel statue was that he became too fatigued from destroying all these stone statues.
Indeed, weren’t there dozens of first-class Hunters present here that could aid Hunter Seong right now?
That is why….
‘I need to wake up Hunter Seong Jin-Woo.’
Flames alighted on Choi Jong-In’s hands. It was not for nothing that he was called the ‘ultimate weapon’. Not only his firepower, but even his accuracy didn’t lose out to any of the modern firearms.
It was now ‘sink or swim’ time.
Choi Jong-In fired the magic he cast in Jin-Woo’s direction.
Hunter Seong might experience some discomfort, but he wasn’t weak enough to get injured greatly by this level of magic. But, if he did wake up from the impact of the explosion, then the human Hunters would stand a good chance of surviving this event.
‘That is why, please…!’
The flames flew towards their target while leaving behind a long trail. However….
The flames simply exploded on the torso of the angel statue that stepped into the trajectory in the blink of an eye.
Choi Jong-In was greatly taken by surprise from the unexpected interference from the angel statue and hurriedly raised his head.
Every muscle on the face of the angel was distorted unsightly until they couldn’t be twisted any further to form a truly terrifying expression.
For the first time ever, the angel statue stopped smiling and bared its fangs.
“How dare you try to interrupt the slumber of the king!?”