Only I Level Up Recollections/After Stories
Part 5: Conclusion
(TL: One more chapter to go!)
There were around 30 metres between him and the b*stard.
'….Let's do this.'
Soo-Hoh concentrated and in an instant, the flow of time around him seemed to slow down to a crawl, allowing him to see and discover all those little things he hadn't noticed before.
For instance, the sword swung by the black knight. And then, that blue-coloured arc of lightning from the tip of that sword flying towards him in a straight line with a 'flash'.
'So, that's what it was!!'
Finally, he got to see what the powerful attack that ended the fight was, even before he could do anything the last two times. His agility and perception, raised up much higher than before through levelling up, were pushed to their absolute limits.
He dodged the streak of light flying right into his face and took a step forward.
Just one leap, and in that one moment, the distance between him and his target decreased in half by roughly around 15 metres.
The second lightning brushed past the top of his head by a hair's width.
The black knight had quickly changed his posture after sending out the first attack to follow up with his second. Soo-Hoh felt amazed at his opponent's quick reaction as he took another step forward.
The distance between them disappeared in the next instance.
Soo-Hoh clenched his gauntlet-covered fist tightly.
'Now you are in my range.'
It looked as if the black knight tensed up greatly just then, and his emotions travelled through the chilly air to cling to Soo-Hoh's two cheeks.
While inwardly thanking the level up system that pushed his abilities to such an incredible height, Soo-Hoh punched forward, hard.
His fist had broken past the level of a bullet and was more like a cannon shell now, as it crashed into the face of the black knight.
The knight urgently raised his sword to block the incoming gauntlet but in the end, he was powerfully shoved away with both of his feet briefly leaving the ground.
The ends of the black knight's boots broke the stone tiles on the floor and left behind two lengthy gouges as he got shoved back. By the time he finally managed to stop his seemingly-endless travel rearwards...
He realised belatedly that there was a stone pillar behind him.
The black knight became flustered and quickly shifted his gaze back to his front. But then, Soo-Hoh was already there, blocking the view.
'Could he have.... that attack was meant to force me into this very area?'
The black knight was left greatly stunned by his opponent's smart thinking, but still, reflexively moved his sword in the meantime. The aura oozing off the blade as reflected in Soo-Hoh's eyes emitted a chilling blue light.
The boy held his breath for a moment there and smacked the knight's blade slicing down diagonally with the back of his hand, currently safely protected by the metal gauntlet.
He then took a powerful step forward.
Soo-Hoh managed to reduce the distance between him and his opponent to zero before swinging his fist one more time. This attack landed squarely on the black knight's chest.
Now normally, the knight should've been flung away by the force, but he crashed into the pillar behind him instead, and the structure's surface cracked up grandly.
What a shocking destructive power that was.
However, what was even more shocking was the fact that an attack carrying such destructive power didn't end with just one hit. Soon after, Soo-Hoh's barrage of fists rained down on his target.
The black knight, no, Igrit continued to sigh in admiration inwardly as he blocked and deflected Soo-Hoh's non-stop barrage of attacks, which kind of reminded him of his liege's skill.
'So, this is the power of the young lord, even if he's not 100% yet?'
His father, becoming one with a godly being, while his mother, a rank S Hunter once upon a time in a now-forgotten timeline. Born from these two people, the sleeping potential within Soo-Hoh easily exceeded Igrit's imagination.
The sturdy armour began breaking and falling off bit by bit under the barrage of merciless attacks. Igrit pushed his speed to the limit, but it was still not enough to defend against every single attack raining down on him.
The sword barely withstanding against Soo-Hoh's blunt attacks finally broke while issuing a loud noise.
That was the end.
Igrit watched the shattered remnants of steel fly away and instinctively sensed that this battle was now over.
But then, this defeat also quickened his pulse to a great deal compared to before, just like back when he fought against Jin-Woo all those years ago in a place similar to this one.
Meanwhile, Soo-Hoh loaded his fist with his magical energy for that final shot.
The surrounding Mana in the air rippled like waves on the lake's surface and spread out visibly. And then….
The fist fired forward like a cannon shell left behind a large, empty hole where the black knight's abdomen was. The knight collided with the pillar again and slowly slid down. And then, he stopped moving altogether.
Soo-Hoh cautiously poked the slumped black knight before finally releasing his tightly-held breath.
He fought and won against a powerful enemy that he thought he could never win against in the beginning. Joy began welling up from the deepest part of his chest like a tidal wave.
However, rather different from his expectations, there wasn't all that much of a change.
'Maybe... this isn't the end?'
He slowly looked around his surroundings and belatedly discovered that, in the distance, a brand new Gate had been generated by the foot of the stairs leading up to the tall throne.
His eyes grew super-large.
It was the exit!
He didn't know why he ended up in this place, but still, he couldn't help but smile brightly after realising that this bizarre adventure was about to come to its conclusion.
Soo-Hoh hurriedly ran towards the black hole in happiness and threw himself inside. Just like back when he was entering this place, he passed through a long tunnel of darkness, and after opening his eyes.....
….He found human-sized ant humanoid monsters busy screeching out here and there.
"Pant, pant, what kind of ants are this crazy?!"
Soo-Hoh looked down in utter disbelief at the unmoving corpses of ant monsters he managed to defeat just now.
For some reason, he liked ants from a young age so he always cautiously avoided lines of worker ants if he happened to come across one so that he wouldn't step on them by mistake. But now, he felt rather remorseful of his past actions.
That was how powerful and obstinate these ant monsters were. Those armour monsters couldn't even be compared to these guys at all.
'Still, if I were to look for the silver lining in all of this, then....'
His level that seemed to have gotten stuck began climbing up quickly again after he hunted these ant monsters down.
He could hear the shuffling footsteps of the ant monsters coming from somewhere. Soo-Hoh was successful in regaining control over his heavy breathing by then. He tightly clenched his fists and got ready.
Remembering the lessons learned during his battle against the black knight, Soo-Hoh made sure to focus on raising his level higher by clearing out every single nook and cranny of this cavern.
And so, screams of ant monsters continued to resound out from all corners of this complicated cavern system with a maze-like layout.
How long did he roam around this cavern in this fashion?
When he reached the point where his level didn't want to rise up even after defeating the ant monsters, Soo-Hoh headed towards the last chamber in this cavern and entered it.
As it turned out, it was a giant, open chamber. An empty space, in other words.
There was not one strand of light inside the boss chamber, but Soo-Hoh's senses had already far exceeded that of a regular human and he had no problem maintaining his vision.
'Just how big is the master of this place that it has to be this large?'
Just as he began to get worried ever so slightly….
He finally discovered a humanoid ant monster with its back turned towards him. Unlike the others he fought so far, though, this particular guy sported insect-like wings.
'Is that guy the only thing in this chamber?'
The overall atmosphere of this open space was rather similar to the one found in the chamber with the black knight. However, Soo-Hoh couldn't sense any sorts of power from that ant creature, which was quite different from the knight boss of before.
Was it powerful, or a weakling?
Soo-Hoh tilted his head this way and that and while being as sneaky as possible, he cautiously approached the creature.
When he got close enough to think that he was in range now, the ant monster suddenly turned around to face Soo-Hoh without any prior warning.
Soo-Hoh flinched and quickly took a step back.
It wasn't because he got scared, though. No, he just got surprised by the unfolding situation, that was all. But, it couldn't be helped, really. The thing was, the ant monster turning around was crying non-stop.
It was sobbing so sorrowfully that, even though he knew the creature was a monster that he couldn't converse with, Soo-Hoh just couldn't bring himself to attack first.
But, why did this happen?
It'd only be normal to feel rather weirded out when looking at an insectoid creature the size of a grown man standing on two feet while thick teardrops fell from its eyes.
But, Soo-Hoh wanted to console this ant monster instead, for some inexplicable reason. That's what he felt then.
Too bad, such a compassionate thought could only last for a brief moment. Soo-Hoh sensed an incredible aura from the creature bursting forth and hurriedly leapt a good distance away.
As if it was trying to get a hold of its emotions, the ant monster wiped the tears away with the backs of its hands.
'Oh my god....'
Meanwhile, Soo-Hoh was stunned by the incredible power oozing out from his new opponent and inadvertently sneaked a look down at the hair on his arms standing up.
This ant, it was on another scale altogether compared to other ants or that black knight he fought so far. His entire body began shuddering.
Suddenly, a huge shadow drew upon him and he raised his head up to look, only to find that the ant monster had closed the distance and was standing right in front of his nose.
Its body had ballooned up to over double that of its previous size and then, it screeched out a horrifying cry next.
What a relief it was.
Indeed, there was no other way to say it than what a relief.
While lying on the ground completely exhausted, Soo-Hoh continued to think that way.
The winged ant monster was a truly frightening opponent, for sure. But, for some reason, the ant couldn't attack him whenever they were locked in critical moments, apparently feeling conflicted about something.
But, thanks to that, he was able to bring down the ant somehow, even though the task proved to be really arduous in the end.
While goading and twisting his aching body, Soo-Hoh pushed himself up. As his reward for bringing down a powerful enemy, a new Gate had been generated over yonder.
Before leaving, he confirmed his current level.
His level stopped climbing at 99. Now, normally, most games would treat '99' as the max level attainable.
'I'm sure I can go home for real now.'
Soo-Hoh's heart pounded away noisily as his expectations grew. He then gladly jumped into the awaiting Gate. And when he opened his eyes….
….He got to discover giants and dragons filling up his view, as far as his eyes could see.
It was the case of 'one mountain after another'.
While making figurative mountains out of the corpses of giants and dragons, Soo-Hoh continued down the path laid out on this seemingly-endless plains.
His level remained stuck in 99.
Although his stats didn't rise higher, he was now able to control his powers far more smoothly and expertly after going through countless battles. His incredible strength, and technique to control them, gave Soo-Hoh a rather healthy boost to his confidence.
A short while later, he discovered yet another black knight guarding the end of the path.
Unlike the previous black knight with a red plumage attached to its helm, this new guy boasted a much bigger physique, and there were traces of broken wings on its back, as well.
It was incredibly powerful. So much so that, it must've been far stronger than the winged ant monster he fought earlier. However….
'….That guy isn't my real opponent.'
Soo-Hoh was sure of this.
Why? Because, a certain existence that made him think that it was the real deal was flying silently in the air above his head, that was why.
Soo-Hoh picked up on that figure's enormous presence and raised his head high. When he did...
The Sky Dragon flying in the air roared out loudly. The scene of a lone figure jumping off from its back happened right afterwards.
The figure of a person fell for what felt like an eternity before lightly landing on the ground, causing the earth below to cave into a big crater while kicking up an almighty dust storm in the process.
Soo-Hoh swallowed nervously.
'That guy's the real deal....'
The unknown figure, his face hidden behind the hoodie pulled down low, emitted this intense pressure that even made breathing difficult.
When he made his descent, the black knight stopped unsheathing his sword and took several steps back as if to say that he'd not participate in the upcoming fight anymore.
'I knew it, the real enemy is this guy.'
Soo-Hoh tried to stop his legs from shaking anymore from this choking pressure. This was the first time an actual person and not a monster had appeared in here so he simply had to say something.
He tried to engage the mysterious figure in conversation, but the lips visible below the hoodie only maintained a simple grin, choosing not to return any verbal replies.
"Argh, seriously man...."
Soo-Hoh gave up on talking to the figure, but then, his eyes went extra-round after discovering something else besides.
For the first time during this journey, the Gate had been generated even before he defeated his enemy. Its location was behind the man wearing the hoodie.
This could very well be the final hurdle.
As long as he could defeat that man, he'd be able to go home.
When that conclusion popped up in his head, Soo-Hoh's body moved instinctively.
It moved under the influence of his overall stats that had reached their absolute limit, as well as the combat abilities that had evolved to allow him full control over those stats.
While feeling the explosive beatings of his heart...
Taht! Taht! Taht!!
Soo-Hoh broke past the speed of sound and rushed to the front of the man in the blink of an eye. His enemy was literally right in front of his nose.
Within this distance that none could possibly dodge an attack, a fist that couldn't be withstood even if blocked flew straight into the mystery man's face.
Too bad, the man only had to lean his head back slightly and easily let the attack slide by him.
It happened then.
Inside this world of slowed-down time, Soo-Hoh got to see the uncovered face of the man, revealed for a brief moment under the hood.
The mystery man smirked gently.
"Still too early."
Soo-Hoh's eyes grew wider as they caught the sight of the man's palm closing in on his face faster than the speed of light.
The boy squeezed his eyes shut.
And soon, the light completely blinded him.
Soo-Hoh shot up from his chair and hurriedly took a look around him.
He was back inside his classroom. The empty, still air of the after-school hours had permeated into this now-familiar place.
He wiped the cold sweat pooled on his forehead.
'What a weird-a*s dream that was.'
Did I play way too many games or something?
After wandering around lost inside a strange dungeon, he ended up running into his own father as its final boss….
What an embarrassing crappy dream that he wouldn't dare to tell anyone for, like, ever. He was greatly relieved that it was nothing but just a dream.
He spat out a sigh of relief and turned around, only to find a female student frozen stiff like a block of ice behind him. She got surprised out of her skull after the sleeping Soo-Hoh suddenly shot up from his spot, actually.
He wanted to break this awkward atmosphere somehow, so he started talking to her first.
"Uhm, weren't you supposed to go home?"
Now that he took another look, it was the same girl sitting behind his spot that poked him in the back earlier in the day.
"I'm supposed to do the classroom duty this week, so... I gotta lock the doors first before leaving...."
The female student stuttered and took pauses between her words, but Soo-Hoh replied as if it was nothing to sweat over.
"Want me to help?"
The girl got flustered for a moment there at the unexpected offer, but eventually, shyly nodded her head.
Around the same time.
Jin-Woo stood on the rooftop of the same school building alongside Beru and Igrit.
Igrit was the first to speak.
[My liege…. Isn't it fine to restore the young lord's powers now?]
They had performed the same test a few times before, but today was the first time the young lord reached as far as the Sovereign's footsteps. Igrit wished to give Soo-Hoh full passing marks after the boy displayed wonderful progress during the examination.
Jin-Woo replied with a grin on his lips.
"What would've happened if I tried to fight the Dragon Emperor from the get-go while believing in the powers that I possessed at that time?"
Igrit shook his head.
What Jin-Woo wanted to teach Soo-Hoh was precisely this. No matter how powerful one was, one should consider escaping when facing a situation where the victory wasn't a certainty.
It was not a sign of bravery to jump in head-long against a powerful enemy without a plan.
'Indeed, it's just a reckless, foolish bravado.'
Even when knowing that he couldn't win, Soo-Hoh still challenged Jin-Woo, regardless. His courage might be laudable, but from the perspective of his father, that was a rather worrisome result.
Right, it's still too early for him.
However, Soo-Hoh is a smart kid, so he'll soon figure it out.
He'll learn that he needs to adjust his powers according to the situation at hand.'
Beru looked at a sheet of an old paper with him drawn on it, the edges of his eyes reddening up with tears once more.
Jin-Woo lightly patted the shoulders of despondent Beru before walking closer to the guardrail to take a look at the school grounds below. He could see the back of his son leaving the school gate along with a female student from his class.
Jin-Woo rested his chin on his hands and watched Soo-Hoh walk further away, before a grin floated up on his face.
"It's been a while, so should I take my family out for dinner later today?"
< Chapter 269 > Fin.