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I passed through the exam door and I appeared at the top of the Tree of Life.
The great top that felt like it touches the sky, the Tree of Life, seeing it, I felt a sense of welcome familiarity. It’s been 60 days.
It was only early dawn and the village was quiet.
It was peaceful.
Why are the humans in such angst to harm these peacefully living elves?
‘I’m sure it’s because there is something to be gained from it.’
The opponents are the undead.
The dead ones have been revived not as the living nor the dead, being controlled by a dark magician using his evil magic.
Odin said that dark magic was derived from trying to figure out the secrets of immortality but was now considered a forbidden art.
Death, resurrection, immortality, life.
When I connected those keywords to the elves, naturally what came to mind was the Tree of Life.
The elves have a dim sense of it. There was that time Derrick mentioned the undead coming for the Tree of Life.
He said that because the zombies are instinctively drawn to life, that they are immensely attracted to the Tree of Life, which has the greatest life force.
But the dark magician who controls those zombies probably have their eyes on the Tree of Life for another reason.
Probably for resurrection or immortality, a goal related to that.
“You are up early.”
I suddenly heard someone behind me.
The middle-aged elf warrior.
It was Derrick.
“Why are you so excited to see me?”
“I’m just happy to see you.”
It has been 60 days since I last saw you.
“Huh. Anyway, since you are awake now, let’s get an early start today.”
“Do you always wake up at this time?”
“Then I will also wake up at this time!”
“Do as you wish.”
Derrick and I headed off together.
The purpose of today, just like before, was to look after the small Tree of Life. And to also fight the cliff-climbing zombies.
Running alongside Derrick, I felt a small sense of accomplishment.
After clearing the 5th exam, with the karma I earned, I increased the limit of my physical strength buff.
Intermediate level 5.
That was the limit of how high I could get without having mastered the aura control.
And the intermediate level 5 effect was the limit of an elf’s physique.
Thus, compared to the best elf warrior Derrick, I am not falling behind at all.
Of course, that is only when speaking in terms of stamina.
“You are keeping up well.”
Even Derrick was amazed at my improved fitness.
“I have improved a lot lately.”
“But you have improved a lot from yesterday.”
“Regardless, it is impressive.”
“Then starting today, you will be able to properly run.”
“Try to keep up.”
After that, Derrick shot off like a shot arrow.
I was astonished.
I had been running at my full speed. But he is moving much faster than that, I couldn’t believe it.
‘But haven’t I reached the physical limit of the elves?’
How Derrick is running faster than me is the real question though.
Anyway, catching up was the first thing I have to do.
“Divine Protection of the Wind!”
Eventually, I run using the Divine Protection of the Wind and was able to keep up running alongside Derrick.
Lightly, lightly, every time I took a step, the wind that surrounded me helped to push my body forward.
Its nearly like taking a jump, but instead was a big stride. I ran with and was easily able to match Derrick’s pace.
As I ran, I looked at Derrick.
‘He doesn’t look different in any way?’
His running posture is the same as before. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what the difference was compared to me.
When we get to the small Tree of Life, I asked Derrick.
Derrick explained it to me.
“It is similar to how humans harness aura.”
“It is aura control?”
“Yes. Humans apply aura to get stronger, like that, elves know how to use the power of nature. Spirit summons is also another way of using power of nature.”
“So that is why the Tree of Life is precious to elves.”
“That is right. In a place where the power of nature does not occur, our elves’ power greatly diminishes.”
Even if one could harness aura control, without aura, it is pointless.
Elves without the Tree of Life would be in that situation.
“When this tree is grown, everyone’s power will become stronger?”
“Yes. With two Trees of Life, we will have nothing to fear.”
In that case, the most important thing for me in the 6th exam will be to grow this tiny Tree of Life.
The 4th and 5th exams and now the 6th exam, this continuation, looking at the overall context, I can see the answer.
‘More so than fighting together with the elves, this may have the biggest effect.’
It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten much stronger, amongst the stronger warrior elves, having me lend an extra hand in fighting, how much help could that be?
That is probably why even if I cleared the exam that way, I probably won’t get too much karma from it.
‘Yep, this is it. It was just like in the first exam, using your head more so than fighting will give out a higher prize.’
First, I created two flames of life and blew them into the small Tree of Life.
Eat lots and grow big.
The small Tree of Life, as if in a reply of thanks, shook a small twig. I’m sure it was from the wind though.
Then I look happily at Derrick.
“Kim, you are the greatest gift given to us from mother nature.”
“Huh? Why are you being like that?”
“Uh, nothing. I am just so moved.”
Whew, I almost fell in love with him just now. He says such things that target my heart! Derrick, you devilish elf!
“Now, if it is all done, let’s go.”
We headed towards the cliff.
Atop the cliff, other older elves are already waiting. This place, in shifts for 24 hours a day, is always guarded.
“Let’s do good again today.”
“You’ve improved greatly lately.”
Now, I was friendly with everyone and everyone said a thing or two with a sense of friendliness.
Good, today I will show everyone my improved skills.
I raised the Divine Protection of the Wind to entry level 5, and thanks to practicing the violin, my reflex skill was intermediate level 2.
‘The time limit is 12 months. Thus, protecting the elves for 12 months will clear the mission.’
A long period of 12 months, I can’t recklessly use my bullets.
Of course, my spacial storage space was raised to entry level 4 and thanks to that, the virtual space has enlarged and the magnum bullets for the guns are stacked high inside.
But with the endless number of zombie hordes attacking every day for 12 months, those bullets won’t be enough.
‘I should save the dual guns unless a really important fight breaks out.’
Then, I began to fight.
The corpses shouted as they clambered up the cliffside.
“I’ll go first.”
Going straight down towards the zombies, pulling out his dual swords.
At the first moment of contact, he swung around both swords simultaneously.
With their arms or legs or head cut off, the zombies fell down.
Derrick stepped on zombies that were climbing up and slowed his own descent. The zombies that had become his stepping stones fell down too.
Slowing himself by stepping on the falling zombies, in that time, Derrick continually swung his swords with unsurpassed skill.
Seeing Derrick in action for the first time in 60 days, my mouth dropped open and I couldn’t help but be amazed.
‘How high does my reflex skill need to be do be able to copy that?’
Probably the advanced level at least?
“I will go next.”
I stepped up.
“Oh, you, Kim?”
“I’ll watch this!”
The older elves encouraged me.
I smiled and used the Divine Protection of the Wind and ran towards the zombies.
With both feet aimed below, I gained my balance with both arms and landed properly.
The second I landed within the zombie group, I used all my strength and kicked beneath me.
It’s a dropkick using even the speed of my landing.
An incredible wind pressure was expelled from around me. Because the Divine Protection of the Wind level has increased, its strength has definitely gotten stronger.
The small typhoon that began in my feet, swept the zombies.
A group of eight zombies got swept up and flew off together.
With one hand, I grabbed a crevice and, while hanging, I continued to kick.
Each time, the force that came out dropped two or three zombies.
I was dropping zombies like a duster drops dust.
“That was a great kick!”
The praises shot out from the elves above the cliff.
I got excited and as I stepped on zombies again, I traversed across the cliff.
The zombies became my stepping stones and fell in droves.
Of course, I cannot yet maneuver the landscape like Derrick and have to grab the cliff with my hand.
Actually, isn’t it the abnormal to move about freely on a cliffside with two feet!
Other elves joined the fray and the zombies got swept as if by a broom.
After fighting a long while, the zombie horde finally halted the attack.
“Whew, finally it’s done.”
“Today in particular I felt like there were a lot more undead, is it just a feeling?”
“It is not just a feeling. I felt that too.”
The elves exchanged conversation as they rested.
The fight was won but everyone’s voices were still filled with worry.
Derrick must be thinking something as he was just staring down where the zombies fell from.
“What are you thinking?”
“I am thinking about the undead.”
“There were more than usual today?”
Derrick nodded his head.
“I don’t know if this is just a coincidence.”
“I am sure it is not a coincidence.”
Derrick’s gaze fixed upon me.
“I heard that the one controlling the undead is a dark magician.”
“I am sure it is.”
From his speech, it didn’t sound like Derrick knew that much about dark magic.
“If the zombies have increased, it means the dark magician has sent more than the usual amount.”
“Think about it. Up to now, the dark magician has sent zombies to attack here every day. And each time, we repelled the attack.”
Derrick nodded his head.
I continued to speak.
“We are fighting with the zombies but the real enemy is the dark magician. Not simple zombies, but a thinking human.”
“The magician kept attacking and kept failing, wouldn’t a human then try a method different than usual?”
“Probably, the reason the magician attacked the same way repeatedly, it probably thought that at some point you would grow tired.”
“You mean to see the magician was waiting for us to exhaust ourselves?”
“Yes, but continuing that tedious fighting repeatedly, the dark magician lost its patience first. He realized that continuing like that would see no end.”
“… that thinking makes sense. Humans have shorter lifespans than us and an equally shorter lack of patience.”
“So, in order to change something, the numbers were increased today.”
At those words, Derrick’s face became grim and I said one more thing.
“But this is just my thinking.”
Because my thinking could be wrong.
But Derrick nodded his head.
“No, Kim, your words are right. Thinking that way fits the situation.”
“Then Kim, let me ask you one thing. What do you think we should do?”
“Excuse me? Wouldn’t that be something the mothers decide?”
“Yes, the ultimate decision will be made by them. What I want is an opinion that will aid in that decision. You are a human like this dark magician and having another human’s opinion would be helpful.”
It is an opinion that will be delivered to the mothers too and I had to think hard about what I would say.
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