Chapter 172. Disheartened
“Well… I guess it’s not the strangest thing for a new Star of Sloth to have been chosen. After all, it’s been a while since that happened.”
Unsightly Humility answered his own question.
“I’ve been hiding it pretty well until now.”
Cinzia revealed her teeth and smiled.
“What a shame I had to reveal it because of a certain someone.”
The King of the Death Knights, Unsightly Humility, tilted his head back and guffawed.
“My apologies then. But… did you come here alone?”
He spoke intimately even though he was talking to an enemy.
“I understand only one Executor being here… but with only a single Servant with you….”
He turned his head left and right before abruptly tilting his head and fixing his gaze on a spot in the air. Suddenly, Agnes emerged out of thin air and opened her palms.
Spider webs shot out of her hands like rays of light and pounced on the enemy. However, Unsightly Humility didn’t allow himself to be restrained as easily as the Medusa.
Just by twisting his body with force, the threads snapped off or were blown back.
Cinzia clicked her tongue, and Agnes landed next to her expressionlessly.
“Evil-Hunting Tarantula… You have talent, but what a shame. If you want to buy even a little bit of time against me, you will need at least three other Servants.”
Unsightly Humility seemed to be worrying about them, but it was clear what he actually meant was ‘You two are not enough to stop me.’
The corners of Cinzia’s mouth twisted up.
“You really do blabber on with unsightly humility.”
Unsightly Humility clattered his teeth as if to laugh before suddenly swinging his longsword in an arc.
Clack, clack! The knights of death clad in jet-black armor stepped forward, holding their longswords straight.
“I apologize for the late introduction. I would love to entertain you for a little longer, but this lord is very busy, you see.”
“Well, that’s no surprise. I’m sure you are worried sick because of Tigol Fortress.”
Cinzia sneered as she threw off her crimson cape. Although she retorted pompously, she felt cold sweat oozing out from her back. This was because she knew of the horrible death the previous Executor of Sloth suffered when two Executors and their Servants fought against Unsightly Humility. Plus, she could also feel strength surpassing her own emanating from him.
Valkyries clutching onto shining spears flew up and blocked the Death Knights’ advance.
Soon, light and darkness violently clashed, and Seol Jihu, who was watching two opposing auras become entangled, snapped out of his daze.
Cinzia and Agnes had stopped the skeleton knight, but two of the Seven Armies still remained.
Vulgar Chastity flew toward the rear of the army to prepare against any potential threat to the Nests. But it was a mistake to think that she wouldn’t be able to participate in the assault just because she had retreated to the back.
Vulgar Chastity took in a deep breath before moving her palm to her cherry-colored lips. As if to send a kiss, she opened her puckered lips and let out a breath.
It looked as if a heart would fly out of her mouth, but what really came out was a violet poison mist.
The gas expanded in an instant, voraciously approaching the fortress as a huge cloud that hindered everyone’s vision.
Of course, the human side didn’t just stand still. While Priests hurriedly cast barriers around the fortress, the small number of Magicians including Ian shot wind magic towards the mist.
Thankfully, the fierce gale created by their magic pushed the mist away and seemingly scattered it to the sides.
As a result, Seol Jihu was able to barely catch a glimpse of the battlefield. But in the next instant, he furrowed his brows.
The air that the violet mist touched had been dyed red. Almost like evaporating water, a red mist glimmered and quickly rushed forward.
He lowered his gaze subconsciously. He couldn’t see the central army.
‘Could it be?’
Seol Jihu quickly turned his head, and what caught his sight…
…was a group of vampires led by Undying Diligence, violently tearing the layers of barriers apart as if they were pieces of paper and descending on the fortress wall like hail.
They were the Parasites’ strongest force – the Nosferatu.
Although hundreds of them landed on the wall, not even a tiny footstep rang out. Only the sound of their capes brushing against the ground was heard.
Landing softly, the squadron of Nosferatus immediately pounced in all directions.
A fierce battle broke out in the blink of an eye – both on the ground and on the fortress wall.
A Nosferatu also rushed in front of Seol Jihu, and Seol Jihu quickly reacted by thrusting his Ice Spear.
The Nosferatu easily parried the attack with its claw before jabbing with the other.
When the razor-sharp claw shot toward his face, the startled Seol Jihu hurriedly ducked with a gasp.
And in the next moment, almost as if it had been waiting for this series of events, the Nosferatu shot its leg up while slamming down with its claw.
Its lightning-fast movements were something to note in and of themselves, but what was really shocking was the unavoidable, elaborate attack carried out using its spectacular physical abilities.
But Seol Jihu shot his head up, avoiding the kick, and twisting his body in an instant to just barely dodge the claw.
His Intuition had activated, causing his body to move on its own.
When he spun once and repostured himself in a hurry, the Nosferatu opened its mouth slightly. It slowly retracted its out-reached arm and leg, clearly surprised that the youth was able to dodge its attacks.
Then, it grinned.
Seol Jihu swallowed hard. Teresa’s words suddenly brushed past his head.
[Sure, the Medusas are the ultimate evolution among the mid-tier Parasites, but still, if I were to be honest, they are more like the leaders of local hoodlums.]
[Only when things like the Nosferatus pop up can you say, ‘Oh, the Parasites are serious this time.’]
One. With just one exchange, Seol Jihu realized Teresa wasn’t exaggerating in the slightest. No, never mind exaggerating, she might even have been understating its power.
The Nosferatu was far too different from a normal Parasite. There was no need to even compare the specifics. This vampire in front of him was in a league of its own, so much so that he mistakenly thought he was facing an enraged Agnes.
The problem was that there were hundreds of these monsters on the battlefield.
The Nosferatu rushed in once more.
It was then that Seol Jihu realized he was backing up little by little.
Pang! He forced himself to stop and activated the Festina Earring, but as expected, he was put into a disadvantageous position in a few moves.
While the Nosferatu was relaxed, seemingly checking out what Seol Jihu was capable of, Seol Jihu was being pushed back even while he brandished his spear with all his might.
In a single moment of ‘Ah’, the Nosferatu grabbed onto Seol Jihu’s spear and forcefully pulled him in. Before he could let go of his weapon, a fierce gale blew against his upper body.
Seol Jihu put up his left arm to his face reflexively and activated the Blessing of the Circum, but the Nosferatu’s attack shattered the tricircular shield as if to snap a child’s toy in half.
Seol Jihu’s eyes shot open.
Death had approached him all too easily.
A shrill cry rang out. It wasn’t from Seol Jihu, but the Nosferatu.
The vampire was bleeding from its gouged out eyes and writhing in pain.
After barely fixing his posture, Seol Jihu saw the black smoke stuck in the Nosferatu’s eyes.
It was Flone. This was a stroke of fortune and a golden opportunity.
Rather than expressing his gratitude, Seol Jihu followed his survival instincts and hurriedly thrust his spear.
A speartip sparkling with a golden aura pierced the enemy’s chest.
Pzzzt! When electricity crackled, the Nosferatu paused. Then, its body shuddered before its eyes regenerated and glared down at Seol Jihu.
‘It’s not dead?’
Ordinary Parasites would collapse with a single thrust, but this? The Nosferatu no longer had the sense of leisure it had before, but it charged forward while emanating fierce hostility.
No, that’s what it tried to do.
Flone coiled around the Nosferatu’s body with a do-or-die spirit.
Hearing Flone groaning intensely and seeing her being shaken around like a leaf dangling on a tree branch, Seol Jihu quickly pulled his spear out and began to stab indiscriminately.
He stabbed the vampire’s face, neck, heart, stomach, and even the groin, but the Nosferatu only screamed desperately and did not slow down trying to shake Flone off.
In fact, Seol Jihu even tried slicing its head open, just like he did with the Medusas, but tentacles squirmed out of the sliced cross-section of the head, shattering the ice caused by the Ice Spear’s freezing effect and coming together to mend the head.
The word ‘monster’ wasn’t enough to describe this thing.
It was then. When Seol Jihu’s flurrying spear coincidentally dug into the Nosferatu’s solar plexus, its fierce resisting stopped.
It suddenly shuddered as though it had been electrocuted.
This time, Seol Jihu felt a unique sensation in his hands. As he was pouring his mana into the speartip just to be sure…
Boom! The Nosferatu let out a curdling noise before turning into smoke with an explosive sound.
‘Did I do it?’
[Don’t think you can escape!]
As soon as Seol Jihu wondered if he’d slayed the vampire, Flone chased after a departing red smoke and clawed at it sharply.
Realizing that the Nosferatu was still alive, Seol Jihu chased after the smoke and thrust his spear.
Unexpectedly, he wasn’t thrusting into the thin air, as he felt himself stabbing into an unknown sticky flesh.
Along with an ear-piercing scream, the Nosferatu popped out of the smoke, just like when it descended on the fortress wall. Next, its body charred black before falling down to its knees.
His arms shook for only a moment. Soon, its stiff neck drooped down.
It was until a blowing wind scattered the ash away that Seol Jihu breathed a sigh of relief.
He had finally succeeded in defeating a Nosferatu.
It was easier than he believed as well.
Of course, he didn’t think he won because of his skill. He knew he was at a disadvantage for most of the battle, and he had almost been killed as well.
The Essence of Soma and Flone. With even one of these missing, he would undoubtedly be a cold corpse by now.
The moment the thought of his comrades crossed his mind, a familiar scream struck his ears. When Seol Jihu turned his gaze in a hurry, he saw a Nosferatu mounted on top of the fallen Hugo while baring its teeth at his neck.
As Seol Jihu turned around, Flone quickly flew out and pounced on the vampire. Struck by an unexpected force, the Nosferatu tangled with the smoke. And after arriving there a moment later, Seol Jihu stabbed his spear into the enemy’s back.
The information on the Nosferatu’s weak point was something he had just obtained with his life at risk.
The Nosferatu resisted fiercely, but unlike the previous one, this one quickly lost its strength.
Seol Jihu twisted his spear left and right while pouring his mana. Only when he confirmed the monster’s death did he retract his Ice Spear.
He had only killed two Nosferatus, but he had used up over a quarter of his internal energy.
This was an unfamiliar feeling to Seol Jihu, who was usually brimming with mana, but now wasn’t the time to complain.
Hugo looked fine on the surface, but something must have happened to him, as he was convulsing ceaselessly with horror-struck eyes.
Maria quickly ran up and spat out a few curses before kneeling down next to Hugo.
Deciding to entrust him to Maria, Seol Jihu turned his gaze to the battlefield. Immediately, he furrowed his brows.
Oh Rahee, Phi Sora, and Chohong were each fighting a Nosferatu. They were all respectable High Rankers but were being pushed back greatly.
Their fights couldn’t be described as a simple struggle. Given that Chohong’s hair was silver, she must have used Manifestation, but she was having difficulties even then.
Oh Rahee and Phi Sora were having also trouble that Seol Jihu didn’t know whom to help first.
He swallowed the saliva pooling in his mouth as his complexion quickly darkened.
He had several buffs helping him out, but with other powerful combatants having such difficulty, he didn’t even need to look at the rest of the battlefield.
But if there was a stroke of fortune in the midst of all of this, it was the existence of Flone and the fact that the number of Nosferatus didn’t reach a thousand.
Flone was helping Seol Jihu’s comrades even without him having to tell her.
…Right, he didn’t expect to win.
But now that he knew the enemy’s weak point, if he could just fight with Flone to take care of one Nosferatu after the other, then…
“The solar plexus! Their weak point is their solar plexus!”
He shouted loudly so that everyone could hear. And just as he was about to run to Chohong….
His breath suddenly stopped.
And after his breathing, his body stiffened. Just by hearing this voice, his hair stood on end and he nearly jumped out of his skin. A sudden light-headedness crept up over him.
“The tiny bit of divinity I couldn’t digest… a leftover, if you will. Anyways, it turns out that putting this leftover in the solar plexus has the greatest effect. Because of it, my subordinates were able to grow stronger too.”
Seol Jihu was still frozen in a running posture. A voice inside him seemed to be screaming, ‘Don’t look. You must not look.’
The moment he did, he felt like he would be disheartened and accept his fate. His rational mind persuaded him multiple times, but his instincts coldly creaked his head to the side.
And when he saw Undying Diligence standing by himself on the fortress, clear despair descended on his complexion.
He was trying to rekindle the extinguished embers of hope in his heart, but the final boss had appeared as if that was unacceptable.
There was a reason Undying Diligence appeared in front of Seol Jihu. Strictly speaking, he wasn’t here to participate in a war.
He was here to execute the revered Parasite Queen’s command, and the war was only a means to achieve this goal.
Since he had to prioritize his mission, he had stood on the fortress and observed the battlefield, rather than choosing to participate in the battle. And soon, he was able to discover an abnormality.
Less than thirty minutes had passed since the outbreak of war, yet one of his subordinates had been killed.
It wasn’t as if they were fighting the Federation. So it was extremely uncommon for him to lose a subordinate of his, who possessed the power of a hundred warriors and was near-immortal.
And after observing Seol Jihu kill one more of his subordinates, he was able to understand what happened.
“A lightning-attribute anti-evil power… You have a frightening power.”
Undying Diligence lightly stepped on the fortress wall.
“Where did you find it? It shouldn’t be something that is easily obtainable.”
He asked softly, but no reply came back.
“…Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. Rather than that—”
Undying Diligence shrugged his shoulders before continuing.
“Human, I will make you a special offer. You can think of this as an opportunity only you may obtain.”
Seol Jihu’s eyebrows perked up. Seeing this reaction, Undying Diligence went straight to the main subject.
“Won’t you join the Queen?”
Looking left and right, he raised his arms as if to show off his surroundings.
“As you can see, we have already taken over most of the fortress wall. The Star of Sloth is holding out in front of the gate, but she should be subdued soon.”
This was an undeniable truth and reality.
“Rather than dying a dog’s death here, wouldn’t you rather save your life?”
Seol Jihu blinked his eyes quickly.
“It’s not just that. If you prove your worth, you can receive even greater power. You will escape the shell of a lowly insect and be reborn as a new species.”
Undying Diligence’s voice grew solemn as if he was making the sweetest offer.
“The Queen is magnanimous!”
Before Seol Jihu could say anything, he suddenly raised his voice.
“Do not worry. The anti-evil power will prove you more than worthy. Even I am curious as to what will happen when the essence inside your body receives the Queen’s power.”
When Seol Jihu’s mouth opened slightly, Undying Diligence waved his hand.
“Ah, if you’re going to blabber on about friendship and whatnot, don’t bother and just raise your spear. I’m too lazy to persuade anyone now, and it will be an insignificant emotion compared to the new world the Queen will introduce to this world.”
Undying Diligence spoke as if he had given the same speech multiple times.
And for a moment, Seol Jihu had an unthinkable thought.
He wanted to reject the notion, but he couldn’t help but be enticed by the thought of staying in Paradise forever without ever going back to Earth.
“For the record, it isn’t as if Earthlings haven’t crossed the aisle before. Well, I admit that most of them have been forced, but it’s not like there isn’t a single one who entered the Queen’s embrace on their own…. Yes, there was even one person whom you call a Unique Ranker.”
When even more shocking news came out, Seol Jihu bit down on his lower lip.
Imaginations were only imaginations. It was true that he was enticed by the thought of staying in Paradise forever, but that was because he wanted to be with people he knew – Jang Maldong, Chohong, Hugo, Teresa, and others. He didn’t want to live if he had to become their enemies.
‘I’d rather die than let that happen.’
Seol Jihu raised his spear without hesitation.
Undying Diligence, who was awaiting Seol Jihu’s response with a little bit of hope, smacked his lips with regret.
“Truly an incomprehensible species… it’s not as if they lack intelligence, so how can they be like this…?”
Shaking his head, he let out a deep sigh and slowly raised his right arm.
“The possibility seems small… but he is a user of anti-evil power….”
With a face still showing a hint of interest and excitement, he gestured with his index finger.