Chapter 26. Consume (1)
Like the ripples produced by a stone being thrown into a calm lake, waves of scorching wind were blowing away everything in their path. It was hard to even stand still.
They would get scalded any moment soon if they kept themself exposed to this heat. Yeon-woo and Kahn quickly found rocks and tree stumps to hide behind. The heat was drying up the trees, setting them on fire and steam was rising up from the rocks.
Doyle was also backing off as he hid behind a shield of flies.
‘This is getting nuts.'
Yeon-woo put on a frown as he peeked at Hargan who was continuously releasing Heat Waves.
He was eating Taragan’s body in a reverent manner as if it were a sacred ritual.
With each bite, Hargan's body seemed to undergo noticeable changes. The intensity and the temperature of the Heat Waves was also rising.
It was an unexpected message.
Yeon-woo frowned angrily. Multi-phase should be a pattern only present in strong boss monsters in the latter floors of The Tower. But right now, a mere boss monster from the tutorial was displaying such pattern. Was his resentment that big?
At that moment, Yeon-woo noticed Kahn looking his way. He was asking him what was he going to do next. Their target, Hargan’s Crown, was already in Doyle’s hand, so they could just escape the dungeon, although even that wouldn’t be easy to do.
‘He’ll follow us no matter where we go. Besides, it won’t be easy to run away from him because of the Heat Waves.'
Desertification was rapidly spreading throughout Hargan’s Lair, as well as the surrounding forest. The flying fire sparks landed on other pieces of parched wood, further spreading out the wildfire. In addition to that, the strong gusts of wind also impeded their escape.
Kahn was also knitting his brows, perhaps he was thinking the same as Yeon-woo. He then looked at Yeon-woo asking if he had any plan up his sleeve like the one he used when killing Taragan.
Yeon-woo, however, shook his head as he could not come up with a way to overcome the crisis.
No, he about to shook his head, but he paused. Something else suddenly occurred to him.
‘It’s either we do something about it or we die. Then we have to at least try it out.'
Yeon-woo's mind was quickly racing. Just when he was thinking of a way to communicate his idea,
- Ah, ah. Hyung, can you hear me?
Yeon-woo jerked his head trying to find the source of the sudden noise, but he couldn’t find the owner of the voice, only a fingernail-sized bug buzzing about his head.
The bug landed onto Yeon-woo's right shoulder.
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes.
"Is this you, Doyle?"
- Hehe. That's a relief. I was wondering if this would work well. I can hear your voice too.
"You had a bug that can deliver voices?”
- It’s actually called a mind-conveyance bug, it allows its owner to deliver their thoughts through it... But, the details don’t really matter, so you can think of it however is more comfortable for you.
Yeon-woo silently nodded his head.
- By the way, you must have thought of a way, right?
Yeon-woo smirked a little. Doyle came just at the right moment when he was trying to figure out a way to deliver his plan.
As expected, Doyle had quickly noticed that Yeon-woo had worked out a plan and made contact with him.
"Can you tell Kahn about this plan?"
- If you want me to just deliver the message, then yes.
"Okay. That’ll do."
Yeon-woo raised the corner of his mouth and started to speak.
* * *
Hargan finally finished his ritual and slowly rose from his seating position. Taragan's body was no longer there, instead, Hargan was now as big as Taragan had been. He was now three meters in size, holding his scimitar in one hand and Taragan’s club in the other.
He then let out a violent roar.
The whole forest trembled as if it were about to collapse.
"Human! Show yourself! Humaaan!"
Hargan started searching around with his blazing eyes.
The earth shook as the Heat Wave became even more intense. Steam was fuming out from the ground as it boiled from the extreme temperature.
"Human! if you don't come out, I will find you!"
Hargan grimaced and shifted his glare to one side. It was the place where the rubble left from the destroyed lair was scattered around, where the human had taken the lives of his precious wife and children.
And when Hargan was about to rush towards the rubble,
Yeon-woo suddenly came out from behind a rock. Standing on top of the rock, he stuck out his finger and made a beckoning gesture towards Hargan.
"I will kill yooou!"
Hargan kicked the ground with his feet.
With just one dash, Hargan propelled himself towards where Yeon-woo was standing.
The earth was quaking, and the Heat Wave was blowing in all directions. Flames surged from beneath the ground, giving sense of oppression. His skin almost dried up and burned from the heat just by standing near him, but Yeon-woo only stood still at the spot despite the approaching heat. He just kept a close watch on Hargan with his eyes half open.
In that instant, something very thin started weaving itself near his heart. For the first time, mana was taking action on its own in order to protect its owner and invoke his skills.
Time around Yeon-woo slowed down.
No, to be precise, his maximized concentration accelerated his thought process, making everything except for his own consciousness seem to slow down.
Yeon-woo could now clearly examine both the appearance of incoming Hargan and the Heat Waves surrounding him. Normally, his brain would have been under serious pressure. However, the changes caused by Flame Heart and Frost Crest helped him endure the pain.
Yeon-woo, therefore, cast another skill. The mana flowing inside his body gathered around his eyes. The pupils in his eyes transformed into vertical slits.
In a world brimming with flaws, Yeon-woo quickly glanced at his surroundings. Hargan, the Heat Waves, the flames… Their contours were all fluctuating with flaws. With this sight burned into his eyes, Yeon-woo made his move.
Yeon-woo swiftly threw himself towards Hargan. A move that in the eyes of others, could only be seen as an act of suicide. However, Yeon-woo sliced along the flaws displayed amid the flames as he clove through the Heat Wave. Soon, his slice formed a diagonal fault from one side of his field of sight to another, and the upper side segment seemed to slide down along it,
The fire blocking Yeon-woo's way was suddenly put out. The Heat Wave was equally split in half and brushed past Yeon-woo.
It was such an unbelievable spectacle even though it was happening right in front of their eyes.
Hargan dismissed this as a coincidence and kept swinging his scimitar ceaselessly. With every swing, pillars of flame gushed out from beneath and gales of Heat Waves swept the ground.
However, Yeon-woo slashed a few times into their flaws and easily tore off the Heat Waves. This scene looked as if the flames were intentionally avoiding Yeon-woo.
Eventually, Yeon-woo was able to reach Hargan and collided with him.
After obtaining Targan’s power, Hargan's strength was without a doubt destructive. The scimitar almost severed Yeon-woo in two pieces, but stopped right in front of Yeon-woo’s brow. A tiny crack formed in the middle of the scimitar where it had clashed with Yeon-woo’s dagger. It was the flaw. The dagger then started chiseling into the crack.
Although it may not have been able to break the scimitar, it was enough to narrow the overwhelming gap in strength. That alone was a tremendous success.
As if not being able to tolerate it anymore, Hargan loudly roared and put even more strength into his scimitar. Once again, a wave of heated wind was storming across the lair.
Yeon-woo avoided confronting him in terms of strength. He dodged left as he parried the attack to his right. The scimitar helplessly struck the ground
Hargan's body briefly stumbled after losing balance, and then,
Kahn and Doyle quickly jumped in as if they had been waiting for this moment. Kahn dashed right by Hargan, slicing his ankle. Doyle detonated a series of insect bombs made of flamebugs.
The fact that he was being made a fool by mere humans further angered Hargan. So he roughly pulled out his scimitar and held it high in the air. It was the position required to cast Heat Wave.
When that happened, Yeon-woo barged in and severed the corresponding flaw.
"How dare yooou!"
Hargan tried to attack Yeon-woo once again, and at the same time, Kahn and Doyled rushed to attack Hargan.
The three of them faced Hargan by continuously making use of this disruptive tactic. Whenever Yeon-woo interrupted a Heat Wave, Kahn and Doyle would watch for a chance to attack, and when Hargan moved to catch the two, Yeon-woo would rush back from behind to grab his aggro.
As a result, Hargan’s aggro kept switching back and forth between the three of them as his skill kept getting interrupted midcast. And in the meantime, his wounds continued to accumulate and he was quickly losing stamina.
However, Yeon-woo’s party couldn’t put themselves at ease yet. If their control went off for even a bit, it would be over for them. They had to keep their heads straight until very the end. Besides, their fatigue was also building up, and they had to cope with it with sheer mental strength.
"I will not forgive you! I have to avenge Taragan!”
But at some point,
Hargan's attacks began to slow down. The temperature around him also noticeably settled down.
"Avenge Taragan...! Have to avenge…my babies…. "
His voice also sounded weary.
Just then, Yeon-woo moved.
Yeon-woo slid in between Hargan's legs and sliced his ankle, severing his artery.
Hargan stumbled heavily due to the attack. If it hadn’t been for their stream of continuous attacks, he would have been able to keep his balance and stand up immediately, but right now, Hargan was so exhausted that he barely managed to stand up after sticking his sword into the ground to support his body.
In the meantime, Yeon-woo jumped on his shoulder and stretched out his left hand. Black energy clotted along his palm. It suddenly swung open side to side, revealing a series of serrated teeth. Yeon-woo then shoved them right into Hargan’s neck which by now was full of wounds.
It was his fourth time using a skill during the fight with Hargan.
[Bathori’s Vampiric Sword]
The serrated teeth let out a terrible, nightmarish shriek.
"Let go! Let gooo!"
Hargan tried to struggle free, feeling that his soul was being torn apart. He shook his body violently in an effort to get rid of Yeon-woo, but Kahn and Doyle took the chance to severe Hargan’s wrist and stabbed other of his vital points in order to restrain his movement.
[You have absorbed vitality and energy]
[Your Strength has increased by 3 points.]
[Your Dexterity has increased by 2 points.]
[‘Bathory’s Vampiric Sword’ skill proficiency has increased. 5.4%]
Thanks to the enormous amount of vitality Hargan had, even though their tactic had tired him out, numerous messages were constantly filling up his retina.
"No matter what! I will kill you no matter what!"
But he realized the moment of death was upon him.
Hargan poured out all his last remaining energy. The fire raged along his skin and soon engulfed Yeon-woo.
The intensity of the flames even made Kahn and Doyle stop their attacks and fall back. They could only worriedly watch Yeon-woo who was still stuck to Hargan.
Despite the searing pain, Yeon-woo pushed the teeth deeper into Hargan’s neck. He used the energy he extracted from him to heal himself and endure for longer.
Finally, Hargan fell on one knee to the ground. He tried to stand up using his scimitar as a cane, it was the last bit of effort he could make.
However, Yeon-woo’s serrated teeth also completely swallowed such will. Hargan’s hand slipped off the hilt and he collapsed to the floor.
"I have to… avenge Taragan... avenge our babies...."
It was his last words before he finally closed his eyes.
[You have slain the second boss monster, Hargan (Lizardmen King). Additional Karma will be provided according to your contribution to the raid.]
[You have acquired 2,000 Karma.]
[You have made an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional Karma will be provided.]
[You have acquired 1,000 Karma.]
[You have acquired 500 additional Karma.]
The messages popped up frantically. It was only then that Yeon-woo got off from Hargan's corpse which had an appearance similar to that of a mummy.
‘This is crazy.'
The world was spinning because of the intense heartburn and dizziness from the aftereffects of combining skills. The worst part was the burning pain in his eyes and brain due to the overload.
‘Well, we still made it.'
The basis of his plan was Bathory’s Vampiric Sword. The number 66 represented one of the best skills present in The Tower, so Yeon-woo was hoping it would somehow help him kill Hargan.
Fortunately for them, the plan did work out as he expected. If they had made any mistake, instead of Hargan’s, it would be their bodies lying on the floor right now.
Now that he was seeing the messages that informed him of the quest completion and the death of the boss monster, he was finally able to calm down. But there was something else that made Yeon-woo happy the most. It was the message that popped up at the very last.
[Bathory's Vampiric Sword has extracted the essence from the target, successfully stealing a part of the target’s skill.]
[The skill ‘Heat Wave' has been created.]