READ SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 164 ( Only I level up )
For a moment then, within the recalled data, Jin-Woo had become THE Shadow Sovereign. And that’s when he realised it.
He realised that there was another heart of magical energy beating within his chest. He felt powerful surges of energy ceaselessly flowing out from this new heart.
Could he have made a mistake? It was rather easy to confirm the truth, actually.
While keeping his hand firmly locked around the angel statue’s neck, he summoned his Status Window. What he wanted to see out of the many listed values in there was his current reserves of magic energy, which the System had designated as ‘Mana Points’ or ‘MP’.
Jin-Woo’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
‘Over one hundred grand?!’
He confirmed the truth with his own two eyes, yet he still couldn’t believe it. The last time he checked, he definitely only had around nine thousand or so. He confirmed it before arriving here, so he couldn’t have made an error on that one.
But now, it was over ten times greater?
However, that wasn’t the only surprising thing he discovered.
‘My Title has changed?’
As if to let him know of a big change that had taken place, the ‘Title’ column was blinking continuously. He didn’t even change his Title, yet it had been swapped out to something else.
And the new Title was ‘Demon Hunter’.
He had been putting this Title in the background because its information was hidden from him until now. Jin-Woo quickly confirmed its newly unveiled info.
[Title: Demon Hunter]
‘You have satisfied its requirements.’
You have recovered the memories of defeating the King of Demons, Baran, Sovereign of the White Flames. An immense power has acknowledged the Player as its new owner.
Effect ‘Black Heart’: Additional MP +100,000
This here was the reason why his MP reserves had shot up to a nonsensical degree.
Additional MP of one hundred thousand – that was enough power to regenerate his Shadow Soldiers almost infinitely.
Abruptly, Jin-Woo recalled the sight of the Shadow Sovereign from the recalled data. The beings that fought against the silver soldiers blotting out the entire sky were part of the immortal army led by that person.
They went through an endless cycle of destruction and revival while managing to gradually overwhelm their enemies.
The silver soldiers, strong enough to easily suppress roughly the same amount of monsters, couldn’t endure against the regenerative abilities of the Shadow Soldiers and, in the end, were forced into retreat.
If it weren’t for the timely arrival of the reinforcements, those silver soldiers would not have avoided the fate of being annihilated. And that was all due to the bottomless amount of magic energy the Shadow Sovereign from the data had possessed.
‘If that’s the case….’
‘….As long as I have the effect of this ‘Black Heart’, then my own Shadow Soldiers can become the immortal army, too…’
When his thoughts reached that far, Jin-Woo’s entire body shuddered from the shock.
“But how….. can you be….??”
Jin-Woo raised his head. A trembling voice was leaking out of the angel statue’s mouth.
For the first time ever, Jin-Woo saw another expression besides that disgusting smile or the one of anger from this statue’s face. The emotion revealed by its new expression was clearly fear.
The angel statue looked at Jin-Woo with true fear and spoke as if it couldn’t believe what had happened.
“How can you still retain your former ego, even with the Black Heart beating within you?!”
‘What was that??’
Jin-Woo heard the creature’s mutterings and quickly realised two important things.
One, the angel statue was definitely not responsible for this ‘Black Heart’ appearing within his body. Two, the result of it waking up within him shouldn’t have ended well for him.
Jin-Woo strengthened his grip on the angel statue’s neck, and deep cracks formed on its neck.
The face of the angel statue distorted in pain.
“What is this ‘Player’ thing? What were you trying to do to me?”
Jin-Woo didn’t lower his vigilance, so he could shatter this thing’s neck at any given moment. However, it seemed that the angel statue wasn’t of the right mind to provide an answer.
“Could it be….?! Y-you, you d*mn Shadow Sovereign, you dare to… against us….!! You think other Sovereigns will take this lying down?!”
The angel statue glared at Jin-Woo and kept muttering out some nonsense.
Jin-Woo’s fingers dug quite deep into the angel statue’s neck. If he simply pulled his fingers back, the creature’s neck would shatter into pieces. The enormous pain was transmitted in full to its real body somewhere.
The angel statue screamed to the high heavens.
“Answer my questions.”
That was why he went ahead and gained the right to ask for the result of the test. So, it was only right that he demanded the promised rewards be handed over.
At that time, red lights flashed from the angel statue’s eyes.
Jin-Woo heard the Hunters’ shocked cries and looked behind him.
“They’re coming back!!”
Red lights were burning within the eyes of the god statue and the stone statues that were moved to one corner of the chamber. And then, they began moving again.
The angel statue guffawed out loudly.
“If you kill me, no one will be able to stop my dolls.”
‘So, can you really kill me now?’ The angel statue glared at Jin-Woo with eyes that screamed that question at him.
Inferior beings possessed far too many weak points. Since this man was also human, this would be one of his weaknesses, too. Without a doubt, he’d have the so-called friends among those humans. However, quite different from the angel statue’s expectation, Jin-Woo suddenly formed a smile.
Jin-Woo asked the dazed statue.
“So, what will happen if I kill you first, and then destroy those dolls afterwards?”
The angel statue hurriedly replied in a panic.
“If you kill me, the architect of the System….!”
“You know, I also thought about that.”
Jin-Woo cut the words of the angel statue off. The look in his eyes was rather similar to what the statue had when it was looking at the human Hunters earlier on.
“Here’s the thing. Just because the guy who created the System disappears, that doesn’t mean the System will suddenly start breaking down, does it?”
The bluff was called.
This human already knew the truth that the angel statue deliberately failed to mention.
This was a serious miscalculation on the angel statue’s part. It had forgotten with what criteria this particular human being had been selected in the first place. This man, even in the past, was capable of seeing through the set rules.
‘If that’s the case, you’ve forced my hand!’
The angel statue activated the final hand it possessed.
[System has denied the System Administrator’s access.]
[System has denied the System Administrator’s access.]
[System has denied the System Administrator’s access.]
Several more mechanical beeps rang in his head. The exact same Message repeated itself again and again, however.
[System has denied the System Administrator’s access.]
The face of the angel statue hardened considerably.
It attempted to use the System and do something to Jin-Woo, but unfortunately, even the System itself had turned its back on the creature.
Jin-Woo shrugged his shoulders, causing the angel statue to go berserk in rage.
“Uwaaaahk!! You b*stard!”
If this thing wasn’t going to answer, then….
‘….Then, no point in keeping you alive.’
Jin-Woo let go of the angel statue’s neck, but at the same time, injected magical energy to his left fist and punched out.
The immense impact force broke past the angel statue and left behind a massive crater on the wall behind it.
For a moment there, silence filled the surroundings.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Jin-Woo bestowed an appropriate level of punishment to the angel statue that tried to use him.
Not just its head, but the entirety of its upper torso had been obliterated. What remained of the creature slid down against the wall and sunk to the ground.
‘It’s a bit regretful that I didn’t get to hear any answers, but…’
But, this thing was trying to deceive him from the get-go, anyway. Could he be able to believe anything such a creature told him?
‘With this, it’s done.’
As if he was shaking off the regret, Jin-Woo lightly shook the dust off his left hand. It was at this moment that he heard the desperate voice calling out to him.
Jin-Woo quickly turned around. He was far too focused on the angel statue and had forgotten about the other stone statues. These things were indiscriminately attacking the Hunters as ordered by the angel statue just before its death.
Choi Jong-In pitifully sought out Jin-Woo as he used his magic to keep the stone statues at bay.
Even then, even as he called out, these statues were still descending on them in their droves like a black storm.
Woo Jin-Cheol was struck in the chin by a stone statue and he unsteadily staggered on his feet. He tried to maintain his balance with his faltering legs, his eyes searching to his left and right.
He caught the sight of the blood and sweat belonging to his fellow Hunters spraying into the air as they desperately mounted a resistance against the monsters pouncing on them.
The inside of his head blanked out.
‘Wait. What was I doing just now?’
When he regained his senses, the stone statue was already right in front of his nose.
He confirmed just what had struck him on the chin just now. It was actually a d*mn book with a thickness of several encyclopedias stacked together. Of course, it was made out of stone so it was only obvious that his head would spin like that.
‘No, hang on a minute… can a thick book be considered as a deadly weapon?’
For a brief moment there, Woo Jin-Cheol recalled watching a certain televised criminal law amendment process and smirked to himself. In any case, he no longer possessed any strength to block the book, nor could he avoid it now. He definitely didn’t have any strength left to throw a counter, either.
And that’s why he finally gave up with a wry smirk, but then….
The stone statue’s head split into two and the monster was flung away as if it got swept up in an explosion.
His mind abruptly woke up from that. He blinked his eyes and shook his head to clear his mind, and finally spotted a familiar man standing next to him.
“Are you alright?”
Woo Jin-Cheol could only gasp out at that moment. That familiar man was none other than Seong Jin-Woo.
Woo Jin-Cheol kept that look of surprise on his face as he managed to leak out a question.
“By any chance, you only used bare hands to…..??”
“Let’s talk about the details later.”
Jin-Woo left behind the dazed Chief of the Monitoring Division and dashed away to elsewhere. Even then, he never stopped searching and eventually, he spotted a certain something reflecting the light just over yonder.
It was his missing ‘Demon King’s Shortsword’.
Jin-Woo extended his hand out to the weapon. He activated the ‘invisible hand’ and sucked his shortsword back into his grip.
The sense of grip transmitted through his hand remained top-notch.
First of all, he kicked away an annoying stone statue blocking his path and began slicing all the statues that had been tangling with human Hunters.
In the midst of doing that, he took a deep breath.
Time slowed down greatly, but only he remained unbound and free. Right afterwards, Jin-Woo seemingly vanished from the spot and, while using the movement that not even the top-ranked Hunters could follow, he began destroying all the stone statues.
Four stone statues fell apart simultaneously.
The Hunters who barely made it out alive thanks to Jin-Woo’s timely intervention could only look on dazedly as their jaws dropped to the floor.
Woo Jin-Cheol eventually made his way next to these Hunters and quietly spoke to them.
“That’s all you can think of, am I right?”
Hunters nodded their heads.
“Yes, I’m the same as you.”
Woo Jin-Cheol had seen this spectacle a few times by now, but even then, the only thing coming out of his mouth was a gasp of astonishment. He grinned wryly and placed a cigarette between his lips. A Hunter from the Monitoring Division stood next to him.
“Chief, will it be alright for us to step back like this?”
“Right now, Seong Hunter-nim is still engaging the monsters…..”
The Hunter from the Monitoring Division turned his head towards Jin-Woo, but even his jaw fell.
Woo Jin-Cheol placed another cigarette in the slack mouth of this guy and even lit up for his subordinate.
“Can you see how should we go about helping him?”
“No, sir… I can’t.”
“So, stay here and quietly smoke that.”
Hunters gazed at Jin-Woo with eyes of awe but still, didn’t forget to swarm around Woo Jin-Cheol. And as a result, his stash of cigarettes ran out very quickly.
But, for some reason, his nose began stinging just a tad.
‘I can’t even remember how many times I nearly died in this place.’
He thought those monsters were a wall he could never overcome, no matter what he tried. But now, seeing Jin-Woo single-handedly sweeping those things away, the sense of relief and powerful emotion of delight were flooding into his heart.
“Section Chief? Are you crying, sir?”
“No, I’m not, you idiot. It’s just this spicy cigarette. Okay?”
“Right. It’s also too spicy for me.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Maybe this batch of cigarettes tasted far too spicy for them today since teardrops were clearly visible within the eyes of all these Hunters.
Sohn Ki-Hoon managed to block the punch of the god statue with his shield and gasped out a pained grunt.
His knees were bucking hard. With no Healer around, he had no choice but to take on the impact force all by himself, but he knew that anything more than this was asking for too much.
He painfully turned his head to the side and spotted a quiet gathering of his fellow Hunters sitting over there.
What the hell.
He was sh*tting blood trying to block the attacks of the god statue all by himself, yet why wasn’t anyone trying to lend him a helping hand here??
Sohn Ki-Hoon was royally p*ssed off and angrily yelled at them.
“What do you all think you’re doing?!”
When he did, the Hunters all pointed above him. Sohn Ki-Hoon interpreted that as them warning him of another attack, so he flinched greatly and raised his shield up again.
However, the expected attack didn’t materialise.
He finally noticed that the surroundings had become eerily quiet for some reason.
‘What’s going on here?’
He sneakily scanned his surroundings below his shield, and finally noticed that all the stone statues in the vicinity had been destroyed.
He got startled out of his skin and hurriedly lowered the shield. And that allowed him to see what was going on above him. He saw the sight of the god statue, as tall as a skyscraper, and Jin-Woo standing on the d*mn thing’s shoulder.
Even before Sohn Ki-Hoon was done with his surprise…
Jin-Woo’s punch blew away the other remaining half of the god statue’s face. With its head gone now, the massive statue began unsteadily tottering around.
Sohn Ki-Hoon sensed something awry was afoot and ran as if his back was on fire. And just as his senses had warned him, the god statue crashed down right where he used to be standing a second ago.
A choking dust cloud kicked up and filled the entire interior of this place.
Choi Jong-In coughed out repeatedly and while blowing away the dust from himself, he quickly made his way to Cha Hae-In.
“How are you feeling? Can you stand up?”
She was still lying on the ground, moaning in pain. She shook her head at his question. Not one part of her body was okay right now. Choi Jong-In’s brows furrowed as he felt somewhat helpless at this.
“Let me help you. Try to slowly stand up.”
Just as he was trying to support Cha Hae-In, Jin-Woo arrived next to him, having finished off all the stone statues in the room.
“Will it be fine if I aid Cha Hunter-nim?”
Choi Jong-In shifted his gaze towards the direction of that voice. It was then, he thought that for a little bit there, Cha Hae-In was pushing his hand away. He replied in somewhat of a daze.
“Oh. Uh, yes. Why not.”
Jin-Woo quickly lifted her up in an embrace. Cha Hae-In’s face reddened instantly.
“Please, hold on for a little while longer.”
Jin-Woo promptly ran over to the exit and kicked the closed door, hard.
A locked door such as this only needed a good kick from him. The sturdy door that didn’t even want to budge an inch when these high-ranking Hunters pushed at it got destroyed in an instant.
He cautiously laid her down outside the chamber and summoned up his Store. Her current condition was considerably bad. Jin-Woo quickly purchased a superior grade healing potion and carefully emptied the vial in her mouth.
Her wounds began recovering at a scarcely-believable rate.
Jin-Woo raised his index finger and pressed to his lips. Right now was ill-suited to explaining himself, wasn’t it?
Hunters emerged from the chamber one by one. Could this be called a silver lining within the sea of misfortune? Their current appearance was truly wretched, but thankfully, none of them required emergency medical assistance.
Jin-Woo closed the Store’s interface.
Not knowing the existence of the healing potion, Hunters and their eyes could only pop out of their sockets when Cha Hae-In stood back up as if nothing was wrong.
“Huh?? But, Cha Hunter-nim, weren’t you…..?”
She was about to answer back reflexively, only to sneak a glance at Jin-Woo and quickly diverted the conversation away.
“This isn’t the right time to discuss that, so let’s get out of here first.”
Hunters all agreed with her.
“Are there any more survivors?”
She asked Jin-Woo, who possessed the best sensory perception among the group. He looked into the interior of the chamber and shook his head.
Only seventeen remained standing outside the chamber. Over half of who stepped inside had died. Their joy at surviving this encounter only lasted for a short while and the atmosphere grew gloomy and heavy.
“In that case….”
Cha Hae-In turned around with a stiff face, but Jin-Woo reached out and held her wrist. She turned to face him.
The reason why the Hunters Guild came here was secondary. He was a lot more curious about something else at the moment.
“Excuse me, but… what happened to Japan?”
Jin-Woo had entered here just before the dungeon break of the rank S Gate occurred and so, he was getting legitimately curious of the news coming out of Japan.
Cha Hae-In hesitated slightly, but eventually, came up with a suitable description.
“They have been destroyed.”
< Chapter 164 > Fin.