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Boss Monster. (1/4) The day was clear. The sun shined brightly on our backs, caressing our heads with its rays. While it wasn’t a bad mood per se, no one spoke and just kept walking.
It has been six hours since we departed from the hut. Since then, we only conversed on important issues but otherwise remained silent. The mood between me and Kim Han-byeol was cold but that wasn’t the only thing the party was looking at.
Anyways. After having hiked for so long, they should be getting tired. But we didn’t rest and kept on walking.
I wonder how much have we traveled?
Soon enough we were about halfway there and an impossibly humongous Warp Gate came into our sights. It was like everyone made a pledge to keep their silence as we got closer and closer to the Warp Gate. The only thing I could hear was their shallow breathing.
Everyone seems excited by the prospect of the finish line.
You could reach the destination full of excitement but in return, it was impossible to be relaxed. As I expected, we did not encounter any monsters on our path to the Warp Gate. With the lack of monsters, everyone seemed unconsciously lax.
But my heart was uneasy. If the Boss monster appeared, there would be no time at all to organise ourselves. The Boss monster could appear suddenly like a ghost if it got a whiff of our position. As long as we weren’t separated in the confusion, it would be fine. Even though I was here, if I didn’t reveal my true abilities, there would definitely be casualties.
The Warp Gate was in front of our eyes. Just a bit more and we would successfully complete the Rite of Passage. With the small distance left, it felt like a waste to abandon our concepts and plans.
By my rough approximations, there was about 600 meters left to the Warp Gate. Wu Jung-min was attacked by the Boss monster at about 300 meters. Half our distance more and we would meet the same fate. I wanted to walk slowly and think of a plan but with our footsteps becoming faster, it was going contrary to my desires. An-hyun feeling the fast pace, finally broke his silence and spoke to An-sol.
“Sol, just a little bit more. If we can reach that big oval building, I am sure we can escape from this scary place. Until then, just hang on.”
Hearing An-hyun’s gentle voice, An-sol brightened and nodded energetically. Seeing such a rare smile on An-sol’s face, she must be quite happy right now. I was about to ask everyone to rest for a moment before continuing but I kept quiet. I couldn’t think of any good excuse. I obligingly met their pace and as time passed, we got closer to the Warp Gate.
Of course, it could be pointless worries on my part. The best thing to do was enter the Warp Gate as calmly as possible. A happy path where no one was hurt or injured. Still, that feeling of foreboding did not disappear, it was lodged in the corner of my heart. Since entering the Rite of Passage, I conducted an extensive and minute observation with my Magic Detection, yet I couldn’t find a hint of the Boss monster.
In no time at all we were 500 meters from our goal. The Warp Gate gradually revealed its commanding presence. Upright altars were supporting the oval like structures, its grandness could match any tall buildings. And at its centre was a large doughnut like hole, with a spherical blue light floating in it. The fine blue current flowing through the Warp Gate was definitely the magic power driving the spell.
The outward appearance was an exquisite marble and all our eyes were drawn to it. An-sol was innocently admiring it while Kim Han-byeol looked at it with twinkling eyes, finding it to her satisfaction. Lee Yu-jung couldn’t take her eye off the bright light emanating from the marble structure as she continues to gaze at it with a stupefied expression.
“It’s really pretty… I want to chisel it out and make earrings. It would look really nice on my ears. I want it.”
“Unni. I like it just the way it is. It’s a beautiful masterpiece.”
An-hyun looked deep in thought as Lee Yu-jung and An-sol were sharing a friendly conversation. He must be thinking about how Yu-jung would look with such earrings. After a while, he shook his head and spoke.
“It’s would be horrific.”
“Huh? What do you mean by that Hyun…?”
“I found it a bit funny about you want something like that as earrings. I think it will suit Sol better.”
At An-hyun’s indifferent comment, Yu-jung flew off into rage and kicked him on his hips. An-sol’s mouth was slightly ajar after hearing that the earrings would suit her better. The mood of the scene wasn’t so bad. An-sol had a slightly shy smile on her face. An-hyun had all the qualities to become a Harem King but it was unfortunate that he was a siscon. Finding myself going off tangent, I laughed unconsciously.
400 meters left. Looking around, the surrounding had a very similar environment as our starting point. Here and there, there were few grass roots growing but it was mostly bare soil. Some parts of the earth were darker colour and when we stepped on it, the darker soil felt harder than the soft lighter soil. Was the soil soaked in blood and had hardened?
If it was, it probably was the Players that had reached the Warp Gate before us who had been attacked. The only person who realised this gruesome truth was me but I kept my silence and kept on walking.
300 meters left. Our pace was fast enough that we were now literally running. We did it, we survived, those emotions bled through in the party’s expressions. An-hyun and Yu-jung who moments before were snarling at each other now were smiling at each other. An-sol laughed openly and Han-byeol maintained her unperturbed countenance though she did seem relieved.
Dashing through the 300-meter mark, the Boss monster had yet to appear. In the end, it seems Wu Jung-min’s party was just unlucky. I felt it would be alright as our party had An-sol who boasted100 Luck points. The last few meters, it was in these few instances when I felt nothing with my detection and was about to let my magic subside.
I didn’t know what but what I did realise was that we had opened the champagne too early.
After passing the 200-meter mark, I heard a crackling sound in the air. The air current changed and space began to contorted in a bizarrely manner. It was a phenomenon which occurred when something large moved through magic. The party stopped, feeling unease. I quickly activated my Third Eye.
The space was washed with unexpected mana waves. To the untrained eyes, it may look like the mana was dispersing but at a closer look, it was all moving in one direction. I kept calm and tried to analyse the pattern the magic was drawing on the ground
A loud sound reverberated through the air and a large shape began to appear on the path we were walking on. When I saw the Magic Circle, it suddenly clicked. It was an Advanced Summoning Magic. I quickly sent out my mana to destroy the circle but…
I was too late. The completed Circle rose into the air and began to shine brightly.
Was this it? Did the Boss monster appear through summoning magic? We all looked at the Magic Circle in the air with a stupefied expression. Without a doubt, they could clearly see the Magic Circle as well. But no one spoke. The Magic Circle exuded evil and foreboding.
Finally, the Magic Circle began the summoning process. The first thing we could see was the Boss monster’s face and its fingers. Its face was grotesque, elongated without eyes and from it’s jagged mouth, sharp teeth protruded. One could mistake the monster’s fingers for large scythes. It’s pitch black steel like carapace came out with a large tail stuck to it.
The summoning spell finished and the monster that showed up was over 5 meters tall.
The Boss monster had appeared.
Geck, geck, geck, geck. Gulp!
Blood was splattered on the Boss monster’s mouth as if it had just finished eating. As if it’s meal wasn’t enough, the monster smacked its lips while looking at our direction.
I immediately sought out my party. It was admirable they hadn’t fled in sheer terror but Lee Yu-jung, Kim Han-byeol and An-sol were in a state of panic. Their body looked frozen in spot, unable to move at all. They were all overwhelmed by the bloodlust emanating from the monster.
Only An-hyun alone looked at the monster in disbelief.
“Thi… Impossible… Just what…”
An-hyun couldn’t complete his sentence as the Boss monster roar swept through our bodies. Being hit by the roar filled with bloodlust, their bodies should be prickling all over. As if they were released from a magic spell, the party wavered but could only take a step or two. There was no time to dawdle. I spoke to everyone in a low but clear voice.
“Don’t get distracted. Don’t panic and keep calm.”
“Hy, hyung… it’s impossible. This much is impossible. We can’t win. We need to get away!”
An-hyun replied in a shaky voice after he saw
me aim my crossbow at the monster. The overpowering aura coming off from the Boss monster made him lose the will to fight. Shouting and spurring him on in this situation would only cause panic. I had no intention to fight it with the party in the first place. Lightly using mana on my voice, I allayed their stiffened bodies.
“I’m not saying we are going to fight. Fighting that thing is crazy. Like you said we are going to run for it. But if we run without a goal, we are going to get killed one by one. That’s why we are going to run toward the Warp Gate.”
“Y, yes. At once…”
Yu-jung was gasping for breath as she agreed with me. Inside I sighed in relief. An-hyun and Han-byeol seemed to have gradually overcome the bloodlust, though feeble, I could see the desire to live in their eyes. Putting my faith into the magic that was supported my body till now, I spoke up confidently. They all believed I had a workable plan.
“Everyone, throw away your weapons. We are going to lighten ourselves and run towards the Warp Gate.”
The Boss monster roared once again. We were now truly out of time. I felt frustrated when I saw An-sol looking around bewildered. Walking to her, I forcefully flung the bag on her back and spoke.
“An-hyun! Drop your sword and shield! Are you going to run with that?”
An-hyun, Yu-jung and Han-byeol threw away all their belongings and weapons. But the Boss monster was running on all four legs towards us. With it’s every step, there was a loud “Boom” that followed by a mini-earthquake.
Using the first earthquake as a signal, I grabbed An-sol’s hand and started to run. The party followed suit and we all began to run full speed towards the Warp Gate.
We ran. Ran and ran and ran. We ran with all our strength but the sound of the monster stomping became louder. I saw an anxious Yu-jung trying to look back.
“Don’t think about looking back. Only keep your focus on whats ahead of you.”
The Boss monster was summoned about 300 meters from the Warp Gate. We were 200 meters from the Warp Gate. There was a 100-meter difference between us but I was certain it would catch up to us. It was my goal to overcome this eventuality. It felt like the Boss monster was gaining more speed as it ran but if I could stop him temporarily then the monster would lose all momentum.
Stopping the monster once would force it to build up its speed again, chasing us with its initial slow speed. We could use this chance to enter the Warp Gate. I readied my grip on my crossbow.
180 meters remaining.
160 meters remaining.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!
Remaining distance, 140 meters. The interval of the stomping sound became shorter and we could all feel the monster’s speed increasing. Even if we kept up our speed, it was only a matter of time before the Boss monster caught up. I felt that the time had come. While everyone was focused on running, I took this opportunity to slip in a unit of mana into the crossbow bolt. It would be impossible to pierce through the monster’s steel like carapace with a normal arrow.
When the mana transfer was completed, there was a feeling of sharpness that wasn’t there on my left wrist before. The preparation was complete. It was finally my time to step up. My hesitance might cause an irreversible situation. I stopped my legs from moving and I let go of An-sol’s hand.
An-sol’s screamed in horror as she passed my abruptly still form. Everyone stiffened slightly but before they could turn their heads towards me I spoke out loudly.
“Don’t look back, keep running!”
They were all alarmed at hearing my angry voice for the first time. After I made sure that their hesitant faces turned back to face the front, I immediately turned to face the monster. The monster saw its first target. And I promptly raised my left arm toward the monster.
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