The strongest Hunter screamed out and everyone else in the vicinity couldn’t hide their shock and astonishment.
The helicopter dispatched from the TV station flying in the air filmed in its entirety Thomas Andre suffering in great pain.
Right in the middle of Korea’s capital city, Seoul, where the focus of the world had gathered due to the appearance of the super-massive Gate – to think, a Special Authority-rank Hunter trying to stop a monster was screaming out in pain like that?
“How can this be….??”
All those watching the two being’s fight, whether in the location itself or through various screens, prayed fervently in their hearts that this wasn’t the end of this battle.
Too bad, the ‘beast’ snatched and then, slammed Thomas Andre’s wrists into the ground as if to mock their prayers.
It then climbed on top of Thomas Andre, reversing the previous position.
Blood spewed out from the Goliath’s mouth as he bitterly resisted even with his broken hands, but now that the beast had fully revealed its true powers, he was unable to endure against his opponent’s physical prowess.
The beast stomped on Thomas Andre’s face and roared loudly into the sky.
The horrifying howl loud enough to tear out the eardrums of everyone listening reverberated like a thunderclap in the city’s streets.
A predator didn’t fight. It simply hunted its prey.
The Hunters nearby were overwhelmed by the howl containing an inconceivable amount of magical energy and began kneeling down one by one from the closest position to the furthest back.
As for Thomas Andre, the closest one to hear the howling, his eardrums had ruptured and blood leaked out from his ears.
The beast smirked derisively.
[Are you scared now?]
One of the joys a hunter could derive from the process of hunting was seeing the prey shiver in fear.
However, Thomas Andre didn’t give up. He clenched his messed-up fist with great difficulty and threw a counterattack.
Quite unlike before, when they exchanged many crippling blows earlier, the beast’s head didn’t even rock once.
He looked into the disinterested eyes of the beast glaring down at him and began picturing an imposing wall stretching endlessly into the sky standing tall to block his path.
He had felt something similar to this once before.
What a strange thing this was; for a moment there, Thomas Andre thought he saw Jin-Woo within the beast’s glare.
‘But, how come….?’
He didn’t have any chance to sort out his confusion, though, as an attack from the beast rocked his head violently side to side, the ground underneath caving into a crater.
That was just the start of the onslaught, though.
Just like how he had done, the beast began raining down powerful attacks from above. As if to teach the human what true attacks looked like, the vicious punches continuously slammed down without mercy.
Thomas Andre’s lips continued to issue pained grunts over and over again, unlike back then when the beast simply withstood his punches.
It was then; the beast, in the midst of enjoying the pain of its prey, discovered something odd just beyond the human.
The beast stopped its attacks. What it was glaring at, as if to bore a hole into it, was Thomas Andre’s shadow.
[I see that there’s a rat hiding in there.]
The beast stabbed its hand deep into the shadow and grabbed ‘something’ within the subspace.
When the creature pulled its hand out, an ant soldier hiding inside the human’s shadow was dragged out along as well.
The beast stood upright again. The ant soldier, its neck tightly grabbed by the powerful grip, desperately struggled but the monster didn’t even budge from the spot.
This one was a soldier belonging to the Shadow Sovereign.
It was impossible to destroy an immortal soldier like this one through regular means. However, the creature holding onto the ant’s neck was no ordinary being, either.
The Sovereign of Beastly Fangs was a higher existence. It simply focused the energy inherent within the spiritual body to erase this ant soldier from the very fabric of existence altogether.
The ant soldier spat out a short death throe and turned into dust, returning to the void beyond. The beast grinned as it watched the grey ash scatter in the air.
It was then.
Thomas Andre got up and positioned himself behind the beast before anyone had noticed it. He then wrapped his arm around the creature’s neck and secured his grip with the other arm.
If he lacked teeth, then he’d bite with his gums, instead!
His hands may be broken, but his arms and shoulders were still fine. Thick veins bulged on his arms as he poured in all his might to exert enough pressure to crush a steel beam in one breath.
Thomas Andre continued to gasp out breathlessly and concentrated on this final attack.
There would be nothing left after this. His eyes shot wide open in concentration as he clenched his teeth, fully knowing that he’d get killed if he missed this chance.
He heard the displeasing noises similar to bones being crushed into powder. If that was the sound of the enemy’s neck breaking, then there was still a chance of victory here.
‘….I’ve done it!’
Unfortunately, the incoming rush of pain had been slightly delayed by the adrenaline coursing through his body. Thomas Andre bore the full brunt and screamed out in agony.
The beast shattered the American’s arms locked onto its neck with nothing but sheer physical hand grip. It then grabbed his head with both hands before proceeding to slam him down on the ground.
Viewers watching this scene through their screens saw the Goliath’s arms dangling around and quickly averted their gazes. It was a scene they simply couldn’t bear to watch with their eyes open.
Too bad, the horrifying scene didn’t stop there and continued on. The beast pounced on the sprawled Goliath and began biting him.
The predator’s mealtime had begun.
Dozens of sharp, knife-like fangs began tearing into Thomas Andre’s skin and made a mess out of his flesh.
He didn’t give up until the end and continued to desperately struggle, but it was obvious that he had no chance in hell right now. His blood poured out and the bits of his flesh flung into the air.
Seeing this horrendous, sickening sight, the other Hunters supposedly guarding the location began backtracking inadvertently in terror.
As for the regular people that had bet their hopes on the Goliath, they had scattered away in fear a long time ago after seeing the incoming end result.
However, something unexpected happened then; among the ranks of the hesitating Hunters, one man dashed forward like a bolt of lightning and ran straight towards the beast.
The monster had been drunk on the victory and the taste of its loot, so it got caught unaware and was struck cleanly by this unexpected attack, which resulted in it getting flung away.
It was none other than Lennart Niermann. Germany’s best Hunter quickly stood next to the grievously wounded Goliath.
Thomas Andre recognised Lennart and somehow managed to squeeze out his voice.
However, Lennart shook his hardened face.
“I’m also a Hunter, you know.”
‘….Although I’m far weaker than you.’
Back when he Awakened his powers and made up his mind to become a Hunter, Lennart had promised himself this one thing – that he’d never turn his back on a comrade.
Sure, they might not even be in the same team, but from Lennart’s perspective, Thomas Andre was an exemplary comrade who was fighting against a common enemy.
Didn’t matter what the American thought of him, because as a Hunter, the German simply couldn’t back away from this situation.
‘However…. Just staring at that thing face to face is making me break out in cold sweat here.’
Lennart watched the beast’s expression crumple unsightly after its mealtime had been unceremoniously interrupted, and his own legs began turning to jelly right then.
Seeing him shiver like that, Thomas Andre opened his mouth again.
“You… will… die….”
He knew that already. Of course, Lennart knew that.
He didn’t even have his equipment with him. And his strongest one-hit-kill trump card, the skill ‘Charge’, only managed to shove the beast away.
Germany’s best Hunter?
12th in the world rankings?
He knew better than anyone that such things had no meaning in the current situation.
‘….I don’t regret anything.’
Even if this moment turned out to be his last, he’d still choose exactly the same over and over again. Rather than the life of a coward, he would choose to go out in a blaze of glory!
‘I’m not wrong. I am not wrong!’
Lennart continued to psyche himself up as he glared at the massive power gradually running faster and faster towards him.
‘I’m definitely not wrong!’
He locked his eyes on the chill-inducing maw of the beast opening up wide as the monster closed the distance in an instant. Lennart summoned up every ounce of energy and swung his fist.
For a very moment there, the life he led up until this moment flashed past him like a revolving lantern. He didn’t even work that hard yet this incredible power was handed to him, allowing him to live an overabundant and perhaps undeserved lifestyle.
But, he did live a happy life, didn’t he?
That’s right, he did.
A grin floated up on Lennart’s lips as he saw the beast’s throat approaching ever closer.
Indeed, he was not wrong. Right up until the end, he didn’t live an embarrassing life.
Just before the beast’s maw swallowed his head, Lennart quietly closed his eyes, thinking that there would be no more need to open them again.
A sudden noise of explosion coming from his front shocked Lennart and he quickly opened his eyes.
‘What was that?!’
The beast struck by his fist was flying away in a straight line for dozens of metres before rolling ungainly on the ground. The asphalt cracked up into pieces, cars were blown away, and street lights were bent in the middle.
‘Was I this strong?’
Lennart dazedly stared at his fist, only to realise that someone was standing right next to him.
Confirming that man’s face, Lennart joyfully cried out in a half-tearful voice.
“Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim!”
He was cutting it really close.
If he hadn’t attached a Shadow Soldier to Lennart Niermann when the German came to the Guild office, would he be able to make it in time, even?
After confirming that the Shadow Soldier attached to Thomas Andre had disappeared, Jin-Woo searched for another one near the location and activated ‘Shadow Exchange’. But to think, that Shadow Soldier just so happened to be the one in Lennart Niermann’s shadow.
Thanks to that, he got to save the lives of these two men.
Jin-Woo hurriedly checked Thomas Andre’s wounds and breathed a sigh of relief. The American’s wounds looked pretty serious, but thankfully, he’d be able to survive.
He must’ve had no more energy left to even speak, as Thomas Andre could only quietly look up at Jin-Woo. The latter also remained silent but nodded his head as his reply.
He silently thanked the Goliath for his courageous effort in stalling for more time.
When he turned around, his ears were filled up with Lennart’s emotional voice.
“Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim!!”
“Thank you for stopping that b*stard. My apologies, but can you evacuate Thomas to somewhere safe?”
Jin-Woo politely asked in English, and Lennart nodded his head energetically. Compared to fighting that monstrosity, this job sounded so much easier.
“Ah, yes! You don’t have to worry about that one.”
The German cautiously lifted Thomas up and hurriedly distanced himself. Meanwhile, Jin-Woo shifted his gaze over to the beast raising its body up.
Tangible, horrifying, murderous intent oozed from the creature. He sensed power on another realm compared to other monsters from the b*stard.
‘I knew it….’
His guess was on the money.
This thing possessed a similar sort of aura to the Ice Elf he met earlier. It was, indeed, one of the Sovereigns that were hunting down the Hunters.
However, what was going on here? Unlike with the Ice Elf, this thing showed no signs of panic. No, more than that – even though its fight had been interfered with, it looked composed, nay, relaxed, even.
Did it possess a calm personality, to begin with? Even though it looked half man, half beast?
While Jin-Woo was stewing in his confusion, the beast emerged fully from the building’s debris and walked leisurely over in his direction.
It was sloshing something in its mouth before spitting whatever it was to the floor. They turned out to be its broken fangs.
The beast glared at Jin-Woo who managed to break off several of its fangs with just a single punch and didn’t even bother to disguise its surprise.
[So, it was for real. The smell of the Shadow b*stard is mixed in among that human’s scent.]
The beast sniffed the air noisily and asked as if it had discovered something rather amazing.
[But then…. how can a human manage to bring out the power of a higher existence to this degree?]
‘I raised up my levels, that’s how. You dumba*s.’
Rather than choosing to solve the b*stard’s curiosity, he summoned the pair of ‘Kamish’s Wrath’, instead.
He had a lot of things to ask this Sovereign. But, the Q&A session could only take place after the battle was over and he had grasped the right to decide the creature’s fate.
Jin-Woo glanced at the traces of the victims still visible here and there in the street and an ice-cold murderous rage began overflowing out of his eyes.
….The voice he hadn’t forgotten yet suddenly resounded out right from next to the beast.
[It’s possible that the architect has found a way. Well, the business dealings between the Shadow Sovereign and the architect started a long time ago, after all.]
The thin, fog-like smoke suddenly coagulated into a singular mass before morphing into a humanoid shape.
It was the ancient Ice Elf. The Sovereign of Frost, hiding its presence as a fog until now, had finally revealed itself.
Jin-Woo realised that the fog wrapped around the city was not a natural phenomenon the moment he came in contact with it.
And this time, it was from his behind.
[In that case, I can eat the corpse of this human, right?]
A weird female voice harsh enough to grate his ears came from behind him, and Jin-Woo quickly looked back.
And that’s where he discovered a spectacle that made him doubt his own eyes.
A horde of insects poured out from the sewerage and began merging into one to assume the shape of a humanoid female.
[I really want to find out what a fellow Sovereign tastes like, you see.]
Jin-Woo’s expression hardened, now that he found himself suddenly surrounded by his enemies. And then, he realised it.
They gagged his Shadow Soldiers by confusing the signals not because they were worried about their hunt being disrupted by him. No, they did that in order to hide the fact that there were more than one of them here.
In other words, this was a trap. A trap laid out in the entirety of Seoul in order to box Jin-Woo in.
Sure enough, the System finally recognised the severity of the situation and urgently sent out warning messages.
[The King of Snow Folk, the Sovereign of Frost has designated you as an enemy.]
[The King of Beasts, the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs has designated you as an enemy.]
[The Queen of Insects, the Sovereign of Plagues has designated you as an enemy.]
Enemies possessing power on another scale altogether, and three of them to boot, too! His Black Heart, sleeping quietly until now, began to pound away madly at the entrance of these three incredibly powerful foes.
Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump!
The corners of Jin-Woo’s lips arched up.
These things were thinking that they had managed to surround him, but the thing was, he wasn’t alone. In reality, they were the ones surrounded now.
Jin-Woo kept his senses ultra-sharp in order to not miss their movements and summoned out his army that’d surround his enemies.