Side Story 14
8. Only I’m Max Level
Antares was my name.
I was the ‘First Sovereign’ born from the darkness, as well as the ‘Strongest Sovereign’. I was the king that lorded over all Dragon-kind, an existence that signified terror and destruction.
All those who knew me referred to me as the ‘Dragon Emperor’ as a sign of respect and awe.
However, something strange happened.
On a certain day, as I was getting ready to invade the planet called ‘Earth’ alongside the ten million-strong soldiers within our hideout inside the gap between dimensions….
….I opened my eyes to discover that I was now occupying the body of a human being.
And rather inexplicably, I seemed to have retained all the memories of this human, as well. I quickly found a mirror in the corner of the room and took a look at myself, only to emit a shocked gasp.
‘What’s this? Why does this human’s face look so feeble?’
Hah-ah, how pitifully pathetic this man was.
The name of this human was Seong Jin-Woo, a young man acting as a rank E Hunter in a nation called the Republic of Korea. It seemed that this human never gave up on being a Hunter, even though his pathetic level of abilities drove him to the moments of near death quite often.
‘His reason is…. his mother’s illness?’
Just as I began thinking to myself that such a measly little illness would be healed in an instant with my magic, the human’s mobile phone suddenly began vibrating loudly.
I discovered the miniature electronic device angrily vibrating on top of a desk and picked it up. When I did, I was greeted by an urgent female voice coming from the other side of the phone line.
– “Seong Hunter-nim, where are you? It’s almost the raid time, yet you still haven’t arrived yet….”
I tried to match this voice to the memories of my human body and soon, came across a result of ‘Hunter’s Association Employee’.
I was thinking of ending this call which was answered purely out of this body’s habitual reaction, but then, what this female said towards the end got on my nerves somewhat.
– “Are you going to be late again?”
The action of failing to meet the promised deadline because one lacked the ability to arrive on time. Meaning, this female just dared to ask me, the mighty ‘Dragon Emperor’ and the personification of omnipotent powers, that I’d do something which was the very symbol of incompetence.
Since this was completely unacceptable, rage quickly filled up my eyes.
“You…. Where are you right now?”
– “What do you mean, where? We are right in front of the Gate, you know. And why did you suddenly stop using the polite speech all of a sudden, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim?”
I concentrated for a bit to find the exact location where this insolent female was speaking from. My sensory perception spread out to envelop the entire city and soon enough, I found her coordinates.
– “Pardon? What do you mean by you foun….”
The location was about 11 kilometres away in the human distance measuring system, and since it wasn’t too far, I ran with all my might and arrived there in only a couple of seconds.
And then, I stopped right in front of that female Association employee as she began lowering the phone away from her ear, now that the call had been disconnected.
“Now, am I still late, woman?”
Perhaps she had sensed just a tiny fraction of my limitless power, because she began backpedalling with a deeply frightened expression etched on her face.
I reached out and grabbed her shoulders as to make sure she’d not get away and asked her again.
“Tell me. Am I being tardy now?”
“N-no, not at all.”
I released her as a look of satisfaction floated up on my face. I then swept my gaze around the surroundings to find a group of Hunters raising a bit of fuss.
Rather than focusing on these unremarkable individuals and their forgettable faces, I focused on the distinct aroma rising up from the paper cups they were holding at the moment.
“Coffee…. I also want to drink coffee.”
I turned around to look at the female employee with her rapidly-paling complexion, and she bowed her waist with all of her heart.
“I-I’m truly sorry, Hunter-nim. We ran out of coffee just now…..”
“It’s not an issue.”
Even before she had the chance to raise her bowed heard, I walked over to the closest human and snatched his paper cup away.
“W-what are you doing?!”
I swallowed the sweet liquid in one go and formed a crumpled expression, causing the flustered man who lost his coffee to me to jump up in fright and quickly flee from there.
The one possessing great powers would take away what the weak possessed, that was the way of the Sovereigns. It seemed that such logic also applied to humans and that certainly made me feel rather refreshed.
“Mister Seong…. Isn’t he acting a little bit weird today?”
“Yes, his eyes today are a bit….”
“Well, I’ve been getting this really creepy, eerie feeling from him since he showed up here.”
Other Hunters were murmuring amongst themselves behind my back, but there was no reason to pay heed to the opinions of these lowly humans anyway, so I outright ignored them.
“There, there. Since everyone is here, let’s get started.”
While the Hunters began stretching their muscles to get ready for the raid, I shifted my gaze towards the ‘Gate’ that these people were scheduled to enter.
That place, it… was quite suspicious.
The Gates that appeared on Earth were, without a doubt, the ploy of the Rulers, yet…. Why was I picking up the aura of a Sovereign from there?
There was a need to investigate this. I glared at the Gate with eyes as sharp as a hawk and stood behind the Hunters getting ready to enter.
“I’m coming along.”
“O-of course, you do need to come with us, Hunter Seong.”
Perhaps they too had detected the eerie, chilling atmosphere oozing out from the interior of the Gate, because the Hunters were forming flustered expressions as well. I accompanied them and stepped past the portal.
Pow, bang, boom, thud!!
As I began pummelling the fake monsters placed here to hide the real purpose of this dungeon into oblivion, other Hunters began showing me their respect.
“Isn’t Mister Seong acting seriously weird today??”
“No, well…. Maybe the monsters of this dungeon are just too weak…?”
“But, I can’t see his movements. My eyes can’t follow Mister Seong at all….”
I took care of all the monsters in an instant and finally discovered a suspicious entrance.
“We go through here.”
“Hold on, we need to take a vote to decide on such issues…”
This man didn’t get to finish his sentence. Because he lost his consciousness from a single hit from me.
I looked down at the collapsed old man before scanning the rest of the Hunters.
“Anyone else want to take a vote?”
The decision to enter the passage was unanimous. We walked the seemingly-infinite corridor and finally arrived at the giant door at the end.
“But, how can there be a door at the end of the cave?”
“Has there ever been a boss room with a doorway before?”
“No, this is a first….”
“This… wouldn’t this be too dangerous?”
The Hunters didn’t bother to hide their high level of anxiety. I too had detected the truly scary aura leaking out from the interior and agreed with their opinion that things could get dangerous.
That was why as soon as I opened the door, I grabbed the collar of a Hunter standing at the front of the pack and lightly tossed him inside.
The thrown idiot flailed about unsightly on the floor, but contrary to initial worries, nothing happened. Only after confirming that it was safe to enter, I strode right in. The vast open interior waiting for me was decorated like an ancient temple.
“W-what is this place??”
Other Hunters belatedly entered behind me and began searching around, but they were wasting their time doing that.
I closed my eyes for a brief moment and focused my senses; soon, I discovered the b*stard that was basically the true puppeteer of this place.
“It’s that one over there.”
Hunters quickly gathered in front of an angel statue holding a stone tablet that I pointed at.
“Looks like something is written on the tablet?”
“Uh, uh? It’s the Rune letters!”
It seemed that a Hunter capable of reading the Rune letters were not present among us, so I read it out loud for them, instead.
“The Laws of the Karutenon Temple.”
When I did, though, someone suddenly pulled at my arm. I looked behind me only to find a young girl with a completely pale complexion standing there.
“T-the god statue over there, it….”
I shook off the girl’s hands and continued to read down the stone tablet.
“One, worship the god. Two, exalt the god. Three, prove your piety. Those who do not keep to these laws shall not leave this place alive.”
It was at that exact moment two beams of crimson light shot out from the eyes of the gigantic god statue sitting in a corner over there.
I didn’t even bother to dodge or block those beams and simply stood up proudly to clash face-to-face with the attack.
“You dare to belittle this Emperor with so little power?!”
I ridiculed the destructive power of the beams that didn’t even come anywhere remotely close to that of the Breath fired by an Ancient-grade Dragon, before stepping forward to display what true destruction looked like.
The ‘Breath of Destruction’ fired out in a straight line from my mouth completely blew away the head of the god statue.
“Now that is true power.”
That served as the starting signal. The statues lining up the walls of the temple like some decorations began rushing towards me while ignoring other Hunters.
What a bunch of arrogant dolls!
With nothing but my bare hands, I began smashing apart the heads of the statues pouncing at me one by one.
Boom! Bang! Boom! Kwa-jeeck! Ka-boom!!
“Too slow!! So slow!”
Hunters quickly lowered themselves to the floor in order to dodge the debris flying all over the place. Some of them even began crying out, too.
“Why! Why does it feel like there was another way?!”
“What was up with those laws or whatever just now?!”
Even before their desperate cries could come to an end, most of the statues were turned into nothing more than shattered rubble by my hands. It was only obvious, but well, they didn’t even serve their role as a proper warm-up for me.
“Is that all you have??”
The angel statue with the stone tablet suddenly rose up from its seat and loudly shouted out, perhaps incensed by the fact that all of its careful preparation had been rendered useless by my power.
[Y-you b*stard, just what is your iden…..]
I yanked the spear loose from the grip of a broken statue and threw it straight at the angel. In less than a blink, the spear penetrated through the neck of the b*stard and it collapsed down to the floor.
I didn’t come here to converse with a fake. What I wanted to bring out was the true figure hidden behind the scenes!
“Reveal yourself, you coward!”
I got rid of all the hindrances and roared out loudly, and that prompted the headless god statue to quietly raise itself up off its throne.
Indeed, that’s better.
The corners of my lips curled up as the sensation of boiling blood coursed throughout this body. The god statue strode closer and stopped right before me to look down.
[The Sovereign of Destruction, our paths were fated to cross like this. Here, in this place, I shall put an end to our ill-fated relationship!]
“Ha-ha!! Now that is an excellent idea!”
The god statue was rapidly enveloped in a jet-black aura and transformed into a gigantic shadow, and I unleashed all of my strength in order to contend with that massive hunk of power.
An ecstatic jolt coursed from the tip of my toes right up to the ends of my hair.
Our battle would not end that easily!
Jin-Woo hurriedly raised his upper torso from the bed.
He spotted the familiar bed, familiar wallpapers, familiar ceiling, and his old computer. He quickly took a look around and finally realised that the place he woke up was in his own room.
‘It was a dream?’
It was a truly rubbish dream where he had become the Dragon Emperor. No, should he say that the Dragon Emperor became him, instead?
He hurriedly confirmed the current time with his smartphone and sighed in relief afterwards. There was still some time left before the beginning of the exams.
‘Now that I think about it… It’s been four years already since I got rid of the Dragon Emperor.’
Time flew by in the blink of an eye, and here he was, scheduled to take the College Scholastic Ability Test later today. Him having a crap dream like this was good evidence of how tense he felt right now.
Jin-Woo chuckled helplessly for a moment there before getting up from the bed. Today, he’d get to confirm the fruit of his hard work and determination of the past four years.
He had already decided on which university he wanted to go to. Because this one person he just had to meet would attend that institution later on.
‘What a relief that you aren’t so good with studying, Jin-Ho.’
Jin-Woo reminded himself of the name of the guy he dearly missed and pulled open the curtains covering up the windows to the side. The dusky aura of the dawn was gradually fading away outside.
‘I shall go there first and wait for you.’
Jin-Woo breathed in the winds of the early morning entering through the open gap of his window while thinking about the reunion that’d take place in the near future. It was at that moment when the door to his room was pushed open, accompanied by the loud, hurried footsteps.
“S-son, you know that today is the CSAT day, right?”
“Son, as your father, I can take you there, you know?”
His parents couldn’t catch a wink during the night, worried that their son might end up missing out on this all-important exam because he woke up a bit late today. Jin-Woo looked at their haggard faces and gently smiled while nodding his head.
[Let’s go, my liege.]
Jin-Woo soon stepped out of his home as Igrit, sounding tense for some reason, spoke words of encouragement.
What a refreshing morning this was.