Just 56 seconds.
Casualties occurred less than a minute after Jishukas’ group left. Ruby, Jishuka, Peak Sword, and Euphemina—there might be four people missing, but the direct problem lay with the limitation of the ultimate skills.
The ultimate skills. There were many different types. Grid’s five fusion sword dances or attack skills with tens or hundreds of times the attack power such as Euphemina’s Prominence Wave. There were wide-range field skills that weakened enemies while strengthening allies like Grid’s Storm of the Fire G.o.d or Yura’s h.e.l.l Regulation. There were skills such as Kraugel’s Poetry that Praises the Sword that increased his personal power or Ruby’s Sanctuary that cleared debuffs, enhanced immunity, and strengthened allies. Finally, there were skills like Grid’s Falling Moon Sword and Kraugel’s s.p.a.ce Sword that caused great damage to the enemy and temporarily neutralized them.
The expedition members exhausted these ultimate skills from the beginning. It was in the first two minutes after Eligos appeared. This was why the expedition was able to let four of their colleagues escape. Rather, it would be a problem if the ultimates of five legends and 15 high rankers didn’t work. It would’ve been a sign that the players had no dreams and hope.
“Yura… I’m sorry, but please take care of Oasis.”
Eligos’ spear fell toward the back of Oasis, who was nimbly avoiding the flames and poisons breathed out by Cerberus. It was misfortune after the 80,000 Army Sword cut Eligos’ shoulder. The aggro that was focused on Kraugel changed momentarily.
Luck came out. He was. .h.i.t by the spear instead of Oasis. The damage was severe. There was no time for Luck to kill himself. The spear was created by Eligos gathering his demonic energy and the power depleted Luck’s health in a single strike.
Luck was already dead. The reason he could stand and speak was because he had the indomitable character of a ‘pillar of war.’ It was a characteristic that gave him five seconds of grace from time when struck by deadly damage. It was different from the immortality of legends. No matter what he did, such as restoring his health in those five seconds, he would die unconditionally after five seconds. Thus, he was already dead.
The expression ‘deteriorated version of immortality’ was correct.
“This guy… he will really lose a lot if he dies once.”
In fact, Luck had wanted to ask this from the beginning. He had hoped Oasis would be taken with them when Jishuka‘s party escaped. However, he gave up when he saw the selected members. Ruby, Jishuka, Peak Sword, and Euphemina—Luck had witnessed the fact that the combat effectiveness of these four people in large-scale combat was different. It was shameless to ask, especially when even Kraugel, Faker, and Chris had also conceded to them.
However, he could ask when it was the second time. “Please. Let Oasis go through the next h.e.l.l gate.”
Luck’s indomitable character came from his status, not his occupation.
A pillar of war.
On the battlefield, the death of a general endangered the army. He was aware of this fact and temporarily transcended death.
“It isn’t much of a subst.i.tute, but the Ares Army will pay for it.”
After Jishuka’s group left, there were other direct reasons for the weakening of the expedition. It was the absence of some pa.s.sive skills. In the past when Kraugel’s level was much lower, he had just changed to the Sword Saint and his growth was reset. In the great demon raid, Kraugel showed an attack power that surpa.s.sed his insignificant level. It was thanks to the pa.s.sive skills that increased the physical attack power of the party members as well as physical attack resistance and the power of swordsmans.h.i.+p skill.
Like him, the pa.s.sive skills of the Bow Saint, Saintess, and Mumud’s Successor brought tremendous strength to the expedition. This was a bittersweet fact for Grid. Unlike blacksmiths, the essence of these bright combat cla.s.ses could only be seen on the battlefield. They gave allied troops great strength just by being present.
The same was true for the position of general. Their existence itself was power.
“……?” On Cerberus’ back, Eligos’ eyes widened slightly. The man who had warped the ‘flag’ that Lantier left on him earlier caused him to feel fl.u.s.tered. He couldn’t help being surprised. The human who should’ve died from the demonic spear appeared alive in front of him. It was hard to believe a person with half his chest blown away and even the cells destroyed was still alive and rus.h.i.+ng at him. “Were humans such a durable race?”
The confusion and admiration only lasted a moment. Eligos’ fist was already shooting toward Luck. At the same time, his fist was cut from three different directions. The Sword Saint of this time used a greater variety of swordsmans.h.i.+p than Muller in the legends.
Nevertheless, there was nothing difficult. Humans needed power, not technique to harm a high ranking great demon. It was an absolute destructive force that made regeneration and recovery meaningless. In that sense, the Sword Saint of this time wasn’t yet a major threat.
What was the use of a good cut? Eligos could just stick it back together again.
A huge explosion occurred. Eligos’ fist was cut into three parts but it immediately reattached and reached Luck while surrounded by a thick demonic energy. It tore the sky apart with wind pressure alone. The dark clouds tinged red from the remnant of Prominence Wave disappeared without a trace. A hole was drilled in the sky.
Luck’s body was already torn in half and based on this destructive force, it wouldn’t be strange if he turned to dust. Yet the targeted Luck was unharmed. He broke through the wind pressure, avoided the fist, and his attack pierced deep into Eligos’ chest. Then he punched straight at the face of Eligos, who was smiling arrogantly beyond the helmet.
Cross Counter—it was the strongest counterattack that was Luck’s symbol and had even counteracted the swordsmans.h.i.+p of the sky above the sky, Kraugel. Now it turned the jaw of one of h.e.l.l’s strongest individuals with an unparalleled power.
“Hahat! How about it? This is the fist that brought the sky above the sky to his knees!”
“That never happened,” Kraugel immediately denied it, but Luck didn’t hear it. He turned to gray ash. The unyielding willpower of the general who didn’t inform anyone of his death had a limit.
[You have died.]
[Black Knight ‘Eligos’ has wielded his authority. Your soul has failed to reincarnate and you will receive the penalty of being unable to resurrect.]
[You can’t reconnect for the next 24 hours.]
“Luck!” Oasis screamed from the ground. He was frustrated and angered by the death of a colleague who sacrificed himself.
Kraugel didn’t waste Luck’s heart and sacrifice. He didn’t miss the opportunity that Luck created and linked the attack. “Muller’s Matchless Sword.”
A high ranker had an average of five ultimate skills. However, there was a large variation in power for each ultimate In the case of an ultimate skill gained in the beginning, it was a bit elusive to call it an ultimate when they progressed into the second half of the game. For example, if Grid’s sword dances didn’t have the ‘fusion’ function, then one of Grid’s ultimate skills would still be Kill.
In other words, the ultimate skills were powerful and had many types. Moreover, based on the current standards, one of the ‘special powerhouses’ was Kraugel. He was always a few steps behind Grid, but he was still the players’ idol and object of longing.
“Secret technique, Cutting a Planet.”
He consistently created his own swordsmans.h.i.+p and at the end, he even acquired Muller’s best secret techniques. The two swords in his hands whirled like a vortex and created countless sword lights. Eligos’ body floated in the air and was. .h.i.t.
“…How ridiculous!” Unfortunately, it lacked destructive power. Eligos’ body was cut like he was in a mixer, but it was restored in real time. The restoration was beyond the destructive power. The hand that pierced the vortex of sword energy had dark demonic energy around it. It was demonic energy reminiscent of a flame. Every time the demonic energy was cut by Kraugel’s sword energy, it flew everywhere and spread like wildfire. Cerberus’ dark fur caught on fire.
The expedition members who were grabbing Cerberus’ aggro on the ground clicked their tongues. It was because Cerberus was engulfed in black flames and roared proudly as if it was originally like this. The fact that it was becoming stronger was vividly felt from the flow of air alone. Eligos’ demonic energy was buffing Cerberus. In addition—
“Give up hope. I’ve adapted.”
Eligos himself also became stronger. No, it was correct to say that he had adapted rather than becoming stronger. Contrary to the decrease in the h.e.l.l penalty for the expedition members after h.e.l.l and the surface mixed together, Eligos was actually penalized. He had just adapted to his weakened physical ability and the flow of demonic energy.
Eligos no longer struggled with the gap between perception and reality. He clearly realized that his body was moving slower than his will. He grasped that the flow of demonic energy being delivered to his body was slightly off. He correctly adjusted it.
In front of Kraugel’s eyes, Eligos’ weaknesses disappeared in an instant. His super sensitivity started to ring an alarm.
“You are still weak.” Eligos’ fist pierced through the storm of sword energy and struck Kraugel in the face. Kraugel ignored his super sensitivity warning to avoid it. He fixed his feet that were trying to withdraw like a habit.
Many years had pa.s.sed since he became the Sword Saint. He fought dozens of times against Mir in the East Continent. Yet he was still being treated as a weakling? It was unacceptable.
Kraugel gritted his teeth and moved the two swords held in both hands at the same time. His two arms crossed naturally. It was the peak of defenselessness. Eligos’ fist struck Kraugel’s face without much difficulty. It was surrounded by demonic energy that cut at Kraugel’s health.
“Hahat! Did you give up…?” Eligos’ voice cut off in the middle. It was because the two crossed swords aimed to behead him. It was the swordsmans.h.i.+p that combined Peak Sword’s sword drawing technique and Luck’s counter. The just-created Twin Fang Strike was the first move to critically injure Eligos after s.p.a.ce Sword and Prominence Wave.
“Kraugel.” A voice was heard at the shadow of his feet. The bleeding Kraugel barely managed to reach out a trembling hand. Faker’s hand popped out of a shadow, grabbed him, and took him into the shadows. Immediately after, a spear of demonic energy plunged into the spot where Kraugel had been standing.
There was a smile on Eligos’s face as he bled from his mouth and nose while reconnecting his neck.
‘The Sword Saint is the strongest human being since old times.’
As if to prove that this phrase wasn’t a false delusion, the present day Sword Saint was growing in real time. Eligos felt a sense of regret. If the present Sword Saint was in a more complete state, the act of killing the Sword Saint would be an achievement and greatly help him establish his dignity in h.e.l.l. Now… he had grown, but it wasn’t enough. It was one level lower compared to the apostles of the not-so small G.o.d he saw a while ago. He would be on the same level soon, but that wasn’t today.
‘There is nothing more to see. Cerberus isn’t in a good condition, so I can only finish it off.’
A few humans were running and distracting Cerberus’ gaze. They seemed to be aiming to attack at the moment when the Sword Saint and Lantier hiding in the shadows reappeared. At first, Eligos wasn’t sure, but now he was certain that Cerberus was in a terrible state. It would s.h.i.+ver every time it was. .h.i.t by the swordsman with the ignorantly large sword.
In a way, it was natural. Cerberus was the keeper of h.e.l.l. The mythical stage where it appeared was also h.e.l.l. It meant it had never left h.e.l.l. Cerberus was unable to adapt to the current environment where the boundaries of the world had collapsed and h.e.l.l and the surface were mixed together. It couldn’t concentrate and felt pain. It was a bad reaction.
Darkness surrounded both of Eligos’ hands. It was a darkness as never seen before. It appeared and disappeared and the world looked white at this moment.
“Now you have to settle for death. Death is the truth of h.e.l.l.”
The spear forest appeared in every s.p.a.ce Eligos perceived. It was a forest of demonic energy that denied life. Eligos and Cerberus were the only ones who could survive in this domain…
Eligos turned around as if there was nothing more to see, only to feel something strange that caused him to stop walking. He realized that the development speed of the spear forest was very slow, unlike his intentions. He figured out the reason one step late.
h.e.l.l Regulation. The Demon Slayer suppressed h.e.l.l. It made h.e.l.l become not h.e.l.l. As a result, there was a problem with the flow of demonic energy. The growth of this spear forest used demonic energy as food, so it slowed significantly.
‘Is this calculated?’
The majority of demons mistakenly thought this, but the Demon Slayer’s h.e.l.l control skills weren’t omnipotent. It was easy to guess after knowing the meaning of the word ‘regulation.’
Regulation was to set and restrict rules. The Demon Slayer’s h.e.l.l Regulation didn’t just suppress h.e.l.l by force. It applied every rule that would transform all the environment h.e.l.l had to respond to in order to induce h.e.l.l to lose its shape. Insight to understand the surrounding environment, the calculation ability to effectively change the environment, and the mana control to fix the changed environment in place were all needed.
There were too many abilities and conditions required. The Demon Slayer of this time kept sniping and met all the conditions.
‘Was there any record of Alex using h.e.l.l Regulation during battle?’
At least, it wasn’t in Eligos’ memories. Alex, the former Demon Slayer, was very powerful, but he didn’t show the same G.o.dly techniques as the modern day one. She established h.e.l.l Regulation in advance and used her ability to enter the battle.
It happened as Eligos was admiring Yura…
The humans, who were crushed to the muddy ground by the spear forest, rose up and attacked. The powerful wind magic was giving them temporary flying ability. It was a flight that made Cerberus’s high ground advantage useless. It was done by the only wind magician among the humans.
‘There are many people who are gifted enough to covet their souls.’
Eligos became serious as his power, vital spot attacks, and angled attacks raged. He fought back and turned the human’s attacks to nothing. It was while reconstructing the flow of demonic energy. Eligos intended to use demonic energy again, regardless of h.e.l.l Regulation. He had already adapted to the new environment.
He bent back to avoid the Demon Slayer’s sniping, barely grabbed the greatsword with both hands, blocked the sword of the Sword Saint that rose from the shadow at his feet, and poked his elbow toward the armpit of Lantier who appeared above him, smas.h.i.+ng the shoulder.
Eligos completed the adjustment of demonic energy and deployed the spear forest again.
As if waiting for it, h.e.l.l Regulation was released. An error occurred and too much demonic energy was sucked into the usage of the spear forest. Every single one of the thousands or tens of thousands of demonic energy spears linked to Eligos sucked up demonic energy as if to kill him.
Eligos’ expression distorted from the unexpected pain and he got gooseb.u.mps all over his body. A strange feeling chilled his brain. ‘It was on purpose?’
The modern day Demon Slayer, Yura. She started to monopolize the consciousness and gaze of Black Knight Eligos. It was as it should be and in a dignified manner. This was the dignity of the existence born with the fate of destroying h.e.l.l.
The leader who led the best players during the h.e.l.l expedition—Cerberus rushed at her. It focused the poison and flames that had previously been shot around randomly. It aimed precisely at Yura. It wasn’t under Eligos’ command. It was the instinctive judgment of a beast that felt the danger.
The earth shook, Yura’s balance collapsed, and the faces of the expedition members turned white.
“Black Knight. I have always wanted to compete with you.” Just then, an unidentified woman landed lightly in front of Yura. Her face wasn’t seen because she was wearing a hat pressed deeply down, but her small physique and voice seemed to belong to a woman. The gentle and solemn tone spoke in an awkward manner.
Supreme King Leraje—the 10th great demon who didn’t know defeat was now taking the side of humans.