The Shadow Sovereign was the sole existence capable of dragging back a soul that had fallen to the pits of the abyss. That was why the Dragon needed only one glance to recognise Jin-Woo’s identity.
The King of the Dead, in the body of a human, was staring right back at the creature with dignified eyes. The authority of a Sovereign that he possessed sent a powerful chill through the Dragon’s body.
But, that only lasted for a brief moment.
The creature’s eyes shifted to a location a bit further away. And that’s when it discovered the stupid-looking humans and their jaws agape as they stared right back at the gigantic creature.
It immediately recalled the bottomless malice it held against humanity right up until its death. And that also helped the Dragon to remember the terrible pain it felt as it drew its very last breath.
‘Humans… must be killed.’
That’s where its rationality got cut off. The Dragon raised its body up as crimson light filled its eyes.
[Every single one of you… I shall kill all of you.]
The air of the underground storage area began boiling right up.
“Oh, my god….”
The Director of the Hunter Bureau spat out a shocked gasp.
This dome had been designed to accommodate the Dragon’s sleeping figure. So, the whole space seemed wholly inadequate the moment the creature raised his head high.
The Dragon’s head pushed against the ceiling and destroyed the concrete there.
“W-what the hell?!”
“No, could it be….?”
They could now see the blood-red light gather within the open maw of the Dragon.
A mass of red light – both the director and his deputy had seen the video footage countless times and they knew what that red light cluster was supposed to do.
Adam White urgently grabbed the director’s shoulder and shouted out.
“Sir! You need to evacuate….”
“That’s Kamish’s Breath! You think we’ll be safe because we escaped somewhere?!”
It was rather clear that, once the red light exploded out, then forget about the underground storage area, the entire Hunter Bureau building would completely be obliterated in the blink of an eye. There was no place safe from the Dragon’s attack, in other words.
One of the stationed staff members collapsed to the floor as if his legs lost all strength from the fright. The other two, meanwhile, were urgently punching the security code to open the electronic door-lock in order to escape from the dome.
The director and his deputy knew full well that was simply a waste of time. They could only alternate their gazes between Jin-Woo and the revived Kamish with dazed expressions etched on their faces.
The red glow created out of pure magic energy finally transformed into a sphere of blinding flames. The Dragon was finally finished with its preparation to erase all ‘humans’ standing before it. Just before it could spit out its ultra-high temperature Breath, though…
….Jin-Woo roared out at the top of his lungs.
The director and his entourage all raised their arms reflexively to shield their eyes from the bright, blinding light. However, after hearing Jin-Woo’s call, they all slowly lowered their arms.
They thought that everything was over once that light filled up the inside of the dome. As it turned out, they were far too hasty in making that judgement, however.
“But, but…. How can this even be possible?”
The flames within the jaw of the enraged Kamish were dying out gradually.
Did the Dragon that melted away the lives of several hundred elite Hunters with a single Breath, stop its attack because of just one command issued by Hunter Seong Jin-Woo?
The director stared at Jin-Woo with eyes that were clearly still swimming in unbridled shock. And then, those eyes nearly popped out of their sockets from an even more incredulous sight.
Jin-Woo actually began talking to Kamish, that was what.
“The Magic Crystal embedded in your head has been removed a long time ago. You have no more reason to follow the orders of the Rulers.”
The deputy director standing right next to his boss shuddered from a nasty shock and hurriedly asked.
“Is, is Hunter Seong Jin-Woo actually speaking in the monster language right now?!”
“….Even though I’m looking at it, I can’t figure out how to interpret this situation.”
While everyone else was still stuck in their pit of pure astonishment, Jin-Woo was too busy spitting out a sigh of relief in his mind.
He was worried about what he needed to do for a brief moment there, but the end result turned out to be rather good. What a relief that was.
Even then, Jin-Woo was honestly almost scared out of his wits the moment he felt the unchecked rage gushing out from the Dragon.
‘What kind of a Shadow Soldier possesses this powerful an ego?!’
It seemed that the thing about higher existences possessing stronger egos, as proclaimed by the King of Giants, could be true after all. Meanwhile, the Dragon was quite surprised by the fact that it willingly obeyed the new Sovereign’s order.
[So, this is how it feels to submit to the Shadow Sovereign….]
The Dragon then lowered its tall posture and paid its respect to Jin-Woo. The humans flinching constantly from each and every movement of the oversized creature finally spat out lengthy sighs of relief.
The Dragon lowered its head, as if to kiss the floor, and spoke.
[This lowly servant who once used to serve the Dragon Emperor pays respects to the new Sovereign.]
There was a great deal of respect in the creature’s voice that still growled like that of most monsters. Jin-Woo slowly approached the Dragon and placed his hand on the nose of the creature. It silently closed its eyes and enjoyed the warmth of its new lord.
The sensation that couldn’t be described in mere words travelled from its nose tip to the rest of its body.
Jin-Woo also sensed that the Dragon’s mood was lifting up. He had barely managed to calm his pounding heart by then, but now, it was racing hard again.
‘Kamish…. The Dragon Kamish has really become my Shadow Soldier….’
A broad smile automatically floated up on his face.
Adam White’s jaw, meanwhile, had been hanging slack from this unbelievable scene right before his eyes. But then, he discovered something even more incredulous and hurriedly confirmed it with the deputy director.
“S-sir. Is the Dragon really wagging its tail??”
‘What the heck, the worst calamity in history isn’t some puppy, so what kind of rubbish is he even talking about?’
The deputy director thought such a thing would be completely illogical and shifted his eyes to where Kamish’s tail was, only for a pained groan to escape from his mouth.
“Jesus H. Christ….”
Jin-Woo lifted his hand away and the Dragon’s tail stopped wagging, as well. It then raised his head up again.
The name ‘Kamish’ was given to the Dragon for the convenience of humans. Jin-Woo was pondering what new name he should give to his latest addition to the ranks of his Shadow Soldiers, before abruptly recalling the words it used to greet him just now.
“You said you used to serve the Dragon Emperor, right?”
[That is indeed correct, oh, my king.]
The Dragon continued using a polite tone of voice.
[I served the King of Berserk Dragons, the Sovereign of Destruction.]
‘I’m the King of the Dead, the Shadow Sovereign….’
And then, there was the King of the Giants, the Sovereign of the Beginning.
Jin-Woo realised that the former owner the Dragon served had to be one of the nine Sovereigns the System mentioned before.
However, that wasn’t important right now. No, what he wanted to know was the creature’s real name, so he could use that one, too.
“Alright, then. What was your original na….”
Jin-Woo couldn’t continue his words, though. His eyes looking up at the creature began quaking rather violently. Like a sand castle being scattered away by a gust of wind, the Dragon’s body was slowly disintegrating right before him.
[Regrettably, my king… I must bid you farewell.]
Jin-Woo’s Perception Stat communicated with the Dragon’s current emotion. And it was one of pure sorrow, not even a hint of falsehood contained within.
The Dragon was truly lamenting this moment.
[It seems that our meeting came about far too late, my Sovereign.]
Even if it was the power of a Shadow Sovereign, the gap of eight years proved to be far too wide to bridge. The Dragon had been trapped for too long within the bottom of the abyss and as a result, its magical energy had become too weak and began scattering away in the air.
Jin-Woo couldn’t accept this and desperately cried out to the System, but the d*mn thing remained utterly silent, as always.
Just like how he could sense the Dragon’s emotions, the creature could sense his, as well.
[I am truly envious of Your Majesty’s soldiers, as they are now tasked with serving you for all eternity.]
It spoke from the depths of its heart. To the king who didn’t want to lose his soldier, the Dragon left behind one final advice.
[Oh, my king. There are four humans who have borrowed the powers of the Rulers. Please, you need to be wary of them.]
As the Dragon’s body became completely blurry and indistinct, even its voice grew further and further away.
[I was honoured to be in the presence of a new king…..]
And then, deathly silence descended on the dome.
Like a shifting mirage, the Dragon’s shadow disappeared. All the spotlights flickering precariously above all reverted back to working normally again.
The director had been holding his breath as he witnessed this spectacle. Once the Dragon was gone, he quickly looked at the corpse of the creature.
Absolutely nothing had happened to Kamish’s remains.
He felt as if he had been dreaming until now and that left him utterly dazed and confused.
But, then again, if what happened was simply a bad dream, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo wouldn’t be standing around making such an empty, despondent expression right now.
Jin-Woo couldn’t rip his gaze away from the spot where the Dragon’s shadow used to stand. Eventually, the System message popped up in his view alongside with the familiar ‘Tti-ring!’
[Shadow Extraction has failed.]
[Too much time has elapsed since the target’s death and therefore, any further attempt at Extraction holds no meaning.]
[The target’s shadow has returned to the emptiness of the void.]
Mechanical beeps continued to go off in his head.
Today would be his first time hating the sounds of continuous ‘Tti-ring, tti-ring’ going off in his head. Jin-Woo’s tightly clenched fists trembled ever so slightly.
In his rage, he punched the ground hard. For a brief moment there, the entire building shook around just a little.
Jin-Woo returned to the hotel.
Because he was in such a gloomy mood, Adam White was unable to say a single thing during the trip, even though he was tasked with ‘escorting’ him here.
The American agent checked in for Jin-Woo at the front desk and that finally presented him with an opportunity to talk.
“I’m in charge of accommodating your needs during your stay in the U.S., so if you want something, please, don’t hesitate and give me a call.”
Adam White spoke with a bright expression, but the reply remained frigid and disinterested.
The smile on Adam White’s face hardened instantly.
He learned that standing in front of a very upset top-level Hunter could be a quite scary experience for the first time in his life today.
The negotiation had been postponed to a later date. Which wasn’t surprising, considering Jin-Woo’s current mood. And well, both the director and his deputy hadn’t regained their lost spirits so even they didn’t show any signs of disappointment, either.
Jin-Woo figured that he might as well sleep today’s events off and was about to head towards his assigned room, but then….
Woo Jin-Cheol was coming down to the hotel’s lobby just then and discovered Jin-Woo here. The Chief of the Monitoring Division quickly made his way.
“Seong Hunter-nim, why couldn’t we get a hold of you?”
“Oh, that… I was temporarily in a place where no calls could get through.”
Outsiders were not permitted to carry their personal phones when inside the HQ of the Hunter Bureau. There was no exception to this rule even if you were an important guest. It was a necessity in order to protect the organisation’s many secrets.
If an important person such as Madam Selner got her face photographed, the entire Hunter Bureau would be turned upside down, that was why.
Woo Jin-Cheol scratched the side of his head and asked.
“Did you get to meet Yu Jin-Ho Hunter-nim, then?”
Almost right away, an expression of confusion formed on Woo Jin-Cheol’s face.
“But, I thought Yu Hunter-nim received a message from you and that’s why he went out? The message said that you were waiting for him at the Hunter Bureau’s building.”
“That’s where I’m coming from right now, so what are you even talking about here?”
Adam White was listening to this conversation from the side and quickly confirmed the fact for them.
“There was no Yu Jin-Ho Hunter-nim in the visitor’s log.”
“Excuse me? But, how can that be? About two hours ago, a rank S Hunter came here to fetch him personally.”
Jin-Woo quickly butted in there.
“Which rank S Hunter are you talking about?”
“It was Hunter Hwang Dong-Su. He actually came to the hotel.”
Jin-Woo couldn’t understand why he suddenly felt this ominous sensation the moment he heard the name Hwang Dong-Su, which was in stark contrast to the other two men who didn’t seem to know what was going on here.
‘Is this because of the Perception Stat?’
Seeing that the light in Jin-Woo’s eyes had become unusually tense, Adam White quickly pulled his phone out again.
“I shall call Hwang Dong-Su Hunter-nim’s Guild right now.”
Several ringtones later, the manager in charge of Scavenger Guild’s high-ranking Hunters, a woman named Laura answered Adam White’s call. He briefly introduced himself and explained the current situation.
Surprisingly, though – the voice coming from the phone’s speaker was calm and collected, which went completely against Adam White’s expectations. He thought that she might be as flustered as he’d be, but no.
– “Has Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim learned of this situation yet?”
Adam White only said that Hunter Hwang Dong-Su had taken Yu Jin-Ho away, yet Seong Jin-Woo’s name suddenly popped out of nowhere. He tilted his head slightly, before sneaking a glance at Jin-Woo.
The Korean Hunter shook his head briefly. Adam White nodded his head in acknowledgement and came up with a suitable reply.
“Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim hasn’t learned of the news yet as he’s still stuck in the Hunter Bureau. However, Yu Jin-Ho Hunter-nim’s travelling party had called us to find out what was going on earlier, you see.”
– “In that case, we’ll find out as quickly as possible.”
And that’s where the call came to an abrupt end.
Jin-Woo listened to the conversation without saying a single word and when the call ended, headed straight to the hotel’s exit.
“Seong Hunter-nim?! The Scavenger Guild said they will find out, so we should wait for…..”
Adam White hurriedly chased after Jin-Woo and came out of the hotel’s exit, but the Korean Hunter was long gone by then.
“What the hell…? Where did he go?”
Adam White stared at the street with a troubled expression on his face, not knowing what to do next.
Jin-Woo sought out a deserted back alley away from the crowded main street and undid ‘Stealth’.
A rank S Hunter using his name showed up and took Yu Jin-Ho away. But then, the Guild this guy worked for didn’t even try to get a detailed explanation of what happened and simply stated that they would find out before one-sidedly ending the call.
‘Something bad is happening….’
And that thing should be related somehow to why that Guild staff member on the phone mentioned his name right away.
Jin-Woo’s expression hardened as he issued a new command. If that guy was looking for trouble, then he certainly picked a very bad day for it.
If his thousand-plus soldiers dispersed throughout the city and searched for Yu Jin-Ho’s magic energy signature, then finding him shouldn’t take that long.
A thousand shadows breaking off from below Jin-Woo’s feet quickly scattered in all directions.
Thomas Andre scanned the interior of the apartment with a hardened face.
Inside this luxurious apartment where Hwang Dong-Su should have been staying, the two Hunters assigned to keep an eye on him were lying face down with foam bubbling out of their mouths.
He clicked his tongue and removed his trademark sunglasses.
His deeply crumpled expression was finally revealed for all to see, and the complexions of his subordinates searching through the apartment paled instantly.
Thomas Andre gnashed his teeth and issued a new order in a low, growling voice.
“Hwang Dong-Su….. Find him, before Seong Jin-Woo does. No matter what, we must find him first.”