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“Damn! Again… these wolf bastards!”
“Come quickly if you have time to grumble!”
I quickly moved in front of An Sol and formed the triangle formation by pulling An Hyun’s arm. A huge number of wolves had appeared in front of our eyes in a single moment. The sudden emergence of the feral canines caused my skin to tingle.
I bit my lip. All of a sudden, traces of the caravan had disappeared. The deeper we entered, the stronger the traces became, until it was suddenly lost at a certain point. I wandered around to find any other traces, but there were no clues, as if they were taken by ghosts. In the end, I was about to trigger Third Eye when I was attacked by wolves.
Even if there were over 100 wolves of the Black Forest, I was confident that I could handle them by myself. The problem was the kids. Last time there were around 20, but this time, there were a lot more wolves than that. There were at least 40 pairs of eyes watching us, so it was no surprise that the kids were frightened, when they were like freshly hatched chicks.
Despite my cry, Yoojung couldn’t help stepping back. Then the wolves started to howl. An Hyun, An Sol, and Yoojung hesitated as they listened to over 40 wolves howling at once. I could hear An Hyun muttering by my side, but the wolves quickly narrowed the distance to us at once.
If it was like this, we would suffer. There was no time to soothe the kids. Both Yoojung and An Hyun were stunned, but they quickly put themselves together and grabbed their weapons. It was good that they regained their spirits, but the disadvantage of the present situation hadn’t changed. I raised my sword.
“An Sol. Stay behind and assist me with protection. From now on, I will leave the formation.”
“Y-Yes? Oppa? Oppa!”
I didn’t give her time to answer as I stepped forward with my sword. The wolves saw me coming and opened their mouths, revealing their razor-sharp teeth. There was a scream from behind, but this wasn’t a battlefield the kids could simply adjust to. There was no guarantee that the kids could match these numbers. In the end, the answer was to reveal a little more of my skills.
Not long after, my battle with the wolves began.
I entered the center of the battle with one step and wielded my sword that contained magic power. I was surprised by the result as the power of a Sword Specialist was fully revealed. My experience with the sword and the synergy effect with my potential was bringing out a different power. Blood poured from six wolves with a single slash.
Sol used Protect on me with good timing. The charging wolves gazed at me with confused expressions, as if they didn’t expect their kin to be cut by a sword. However, that only lasted for a short moment. They still had the advantage in numbers, and I was still surrounded, so the remaining 30 wolves started clinging to me in droves.
I immediately took care of two wolves charging from the side and turned around to slice at the body of a pouncing wolf. Its hot blood soaked my body. In the meantime, the kids were fiercely fighting the wolves on the outskirts. Nevertheless, there were still a lot of wolves remaining. In this unfavorable battle, I became excited as I swung my sword again and again.
I didn’t hit just one. By default, every swing caused a critical blow to two or three wolves, just like the six wolves earlier. As soon as I swung my sword, I was already flowing into the next linked movement. It was the activation of divine sword unity.
My sword waved in succession and the bodies of the wolves in the front were neatly cut. The moment I tried to turn my body, I felt a tight feeling on my thigh. I looked down while swinging my sword, and saw teeth buried in my thigh.
“This isn’t enough to penetrate my endurance.”
I whispered quietly and stabbed downwards. Then blood gushed from the wolf’s head. I stepped on the head of the fallen wolf and attacked the ones jumping at me. I wielded my sword for a while before turning around as I felt the quiet.
It was a lull in the battle. The over 40 wolves had been reduced to just a few. In this short time, more than 30 wolves had been slaughtered. It seemed like I showed too much of my skills.
I smiled slowly and my killing intent caused the remaining wolves to step back. I stepped forward slightly and then wolves turned around and fled.
Where were they trying to run to? I was drunk on battle and going to chase after them when I heard an urgent call from behind me.
I returned to reality the moment I heard the cries of the kids. They weren’t able to see my smile because my back was towards them, but I had acted too excessively in this battle. What should I do? What should I say? Thoughts filled my head.
At that time. I bowed my head and noticed my body that was soaked in blood. The moment I smelled blood, I thought of a good idea. I didn’t want to do this but it couldn’t be helped. My movements were certainly too excessive. Suspicion would just be a minor burden, but it was best to cut off the bud in advance.
“Hyung! Are you okay?”
As soon as I heard the kids running to me, I fell to the ground and pretended to be nauseous. Of course, I didn’t forget to breathe roughly. It would be better if I was bleeding, but I hadn’t thought about it in my frenzied state.
I started sweating and had a pained look on my face as the kids came to me. Hyun took out a potion from his bag and Sol quickly chanted a healing spell. And Yoojung tried to take off my clothes. W-What? What was she doing?
“Hyung! Hyung! Steady yourself!”
“L-Loud. Don’t be so loud…”
“Hyung. Drink this quickly!”
As An Hyun pushed a bottle of medicine towards my mouth, I shook my head and flapped my hands. Yoojung took off my jacket, pushed her face into mine and examined me closely.
“W-What? There is no trauma? Perhaps… is your lower body injured?”
“Ugh… please, everyone, just stay still…”
I slowly circulated my magic power and caused white smoke to rise from my body. Then Sol’s expression became urgent. It was probably obvious to a good student like Sol. Sol stopped chanting a spell as she looked at the white haze rising from my body and she turned pale.
“Get out of the way!”
“Kyak! Hey, what is it all of a sudden?”
Yoojung flinched at Sol’s shout and stepped back. Sol placed her hand on my chest and slowly inserted her magic power into my body. She was looking at the situation of my body. I steadily raised my magic power at the same time. At first glance, it looked bad.
“What are you doing?”
“M…Mana is congested. This is the inversion phenomenon!”
“Inversion phenomenon? Then…”
Sol burst into tears and hugged me. I could feel Sol’s warm tears and breath on my skin. An Hyun and Yoojung looked at me with pale faces, like they also knew about the mana inversion phenomenon.
“Damn…I shouldn’t have frozen…!”
“How…what should we…?”
“….Everybody, be quiet.”
At this point, there was only a little bit of smoke around my body. The tearful Sol, Hyun, and Yoojung stared at me. They looked at me like I was a superhero. I slowly got into the lotus position. The kids watched me in case I fell.
“Everybody… be aware of our surroundings.”
The kids nodded three times in one second, while I slowly started to meditate. I entered into contemplation, but didn’t go too deeply. Now was the time to properly take advantage of Third Eye.
The trail had clearly become stronger before quickly disappearing. The most likely cause was a ward. However, there should be a reaction to the magic power on the surface, but I couldn’t feel a ward.
I triggered Third Eye and slowly looked around the forest.
* * *
I sighed as the analysis was finished. It wasn’t like looking at the past like he did in the Rite of Passage, but it was much harder than simply looking at information. I opened my eyes and saw two pairs of eyes blinking in front of me.
An Hyun was holding his spear and looking around with a wary expression. He turned around as he heard the kids calling out to me. Then Hyun’s lips slowly curved upwards. I was barely able to raise my body after pulling the kids away.
“Oppa. Your body? Is your body okay? Huh?”
“For now. There is no need to worry.” I replied.
“Hyung. Here. Come on.”
“Ah, no. Wasting a stamina potion just for mana inversion…”
I wanted to say that it was no use, but I couldn’t refuse after seeing An Hyun’s face. In the end, I accepted the potion with an awkward expression. Somehow, I was forced to drink this potion.
As I gulped down the potion, the kids looked me up and down. I shrugged and Yoojung opened his mouth.
“That…Oppa. We should go back.”
“Don’t talk nonsense.”
“I heard about it from Sol. If Mana inversion isn’t healed properly, it might reoccur again…”
“I have suppressed it. I can go to the city later and treat it properly.”
“There is no time to worry about that… SIgh. No. I have something to say. Didn’t you learn to never step back against monsters? It tells them that you are afraid of them.”
Of course, it was a little unfair towards the kids. This was the first time they saw over 40 wolves at once. Anyway, Hyun and Yoojung were speechless at the reminder and bowed their heads.
They wondered why I jumped forward? It was because they didn’t keep their formation. This thought was like an arrow in their hearts, indicating that they knew what they did wrong.
Despite my harsh words, the kids still looked worried about me. It was probably valid because my face distorted a few times when I used Third Eye.
I loosened my lips for a moment and noticed the kids watching my lips.
“Anyway, it isn’t necessary to go back. It is especially true for me. So everyone, firmly maintain your spirit. This time I will let it go, but I will be really upset if you show the same attitude next time.”
“H-Hyung. But… Sol said that mana inversion…”
“Stop it. I know the state of my body better than anyone. I can still go forward. Don’t worry about me.”
The kids’ shoulders dropped at my confident tone. Their faces were sulky but the atmosphere gradually relaxed as they looked at the wolf corpses. I saw that their morale had fallen and rose from my seat.
I moved forward and could feel the gaze of the kids. However, I had no intention of going back. We had come this far. I turned back to the spot where the traces disappeared.
The reason I couldn’t find any traces was due to a ward, as expected. It was a barrier that opened another world once someone stepped through. I felt excited at the thought of finally finding a clue to the alchemist’s dungeon.
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