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Chapter 586. Two Wars (4)
Was it because she was excited at the thought of satisfying her hunger soon? The princess hummed a melodious tune.
Seo Jun-Ho continued his thoughts without taking his eyes off her. At the moment, the only people who could partic.i.p.ate in the battle were himself and Geon-Woo. The rest of the Players were still electroshocked and they needed time to recover.
Even at a glance, he could tell there were thousands of skeletal remains on the floor. The queen of the bees that had devoured all those Overminds seemed incredibly relaxed.
"Now that the power plant is closed, it will be difficult to find prey... Should I go on a diet?"
She seemed as if she didn't even consider the idea of fighting against them. Her gaze, which had been scanning around for her prey, fell upon Seo Jun-Ho.
A transparent tear trickled down from one of the princess's eyes. She wiped away the tear with her finger and looked at it blankly, then lifted her head.
"Could it be that you are also a bee?"
"What, are you not? But if so, what is this longing...?"
She was taken aback by the complicated emotions she felt when looking at Seo Jun-Ho. Perhaps it was an emotion imprinted in the absorbed genes.
‘That must be it.’
She was not aware of it, but Seo Jun-Ho had absorbed the nucleus that had appeared after defeating Janabi. In other words, the emotions she was feeling amounted to nothing more than longing for a dead child.
‘Of course, such things wouldn't mean anything in the current situation.’
No, if she really thought about it, it was a disaster.
The princess's face stiffened.
"What is this? Why is anger suddenly boiling up...? I hate it. Just looking at your face."
It was a natural anger felt toward someone who killed her child. The princess's back split open, and a pair of wings sprouted out.
- Partner! Dodge!
Seo Jun-Ho bit his lip. Despite the warning of Intuition, instead of evading, he crossed his arms to protect his upper body and head.
The flying kick that came swiftly and forcefully shattered both his arms instantly.
As his weakened arms dropped down, Seo Jun-Ho's chest was left wide open. At that moment when the second flying kick from the princess, spinning in the air, was about to strike his defenseless chest…
"Lightning-Cla.s.s, first move. Lightning Speed."
…Baek Geon-Woo sprung up from the side and struck the princess's side with a lightning-like attack.
Seeing her buried in a pile of bones, Baek Geon-Woo gave him a reproachful look.
"Why didn't you dodge the follow-up attack?"
"Because I saw you move."
"What if I was even slightly late...?"
"There was no way you would be late."
Baek Geon-Woo was the fastest Player in the world. Seeing that level of expectation in someone's eyes was something he was not accustomed to, so Baek Geon-Woo had a puzzled expression on his face.
"Are you alright?"
The Players standing behind Seo Jun-Ho couldn't hide their guilt. Unless they were idiots, they could see that the reason he didn't dodge the attack and instead blocked it was that they were behind him.
"Take a moment to recover your strength."
Seo Jun-Ho's gaze made it clear that it was an order.
The princess slowly stood up from the pile of bones.
Seo Jun-Ho's eyes narrowed as he briefly glanced at her.
Lightning itself was destructive enough to instantly kill most creatures upon contact. Moreover, the lightning energy that Baek Geon-Woo had just emitted was quite powerful.
"How unsightly." The princess, with her disheveled hair tied back, murmured. "To every creature in this world, there is a duty a.s.signed to them. You are no exception."
Her cold gaze turned toward them. "Bringing me pleasure by allowing me to devour you. That is your duty."
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"Then why don't you give it a try," Baek Geon-Woo retorted as he gathered his lightning energy. "I'll roast your throat as I go down."
"Hehe." The princess giggled as if she found it adorable. "Foolish and ignorant. It's almost cute."
She proudly displayed her beautiful, pristine arm, which didn’t have a single scratch.
"Do you still not understand? I am practically a G.o.d."
"If you doubt it, try confirming it for yourself. I will not strike back."
The princess chuckled and spread her arms wide. It was an exposed posture that anyone could see as defenseless. Baek Geon-Woo’s face hardened as he looked at her.
"... Don't regret it."
His fist shot out like a lightning bolt and struck the princess's face.
‘It's a direct hit.’
Baek Geon-Woo's face brightened. The moment he hit her, he felt a sensation in his hand. He didn't know what scheme she was pulling, but he had cracked her skull. She had to be dead.
But the next moment, Baek Geon-Woo's face froze.
"How is it? Have you confirmed it?" The princess gazed at him with a provocative look in her eyes, completely unharmed. "Hehe, what a foolish face."
The princess laughed, covering her mouth. As she approached slowly, Baek Geon-Woo unconsciously stepped back.
"How... I clearly cracked your skull."
"I told you already. I am practically a G.o.d."
Seo Jun-Ho shook his head.
‘If she could really wield the power of a G.o.d, there would be no reason for her to be beneath the Overminds.’
Naturally, the Overminds wouldn't have allowed her to grow so strong. In other words, her absurd strength had some fatal flaws.
- Power Plant.
Seo Jun-Ho's eyes widened slightly at the hint from Intuition. As he said, this place was the most power-abundant location on the continent. Moreover, what was imprinted in her body was the genetic code of the Atonic Bees.
‘That's right. Janabi was the same.’
His ability to restore his body using magic was exceptional. As an Overmind, she would be able to infinitely restore herself in this place overflowing with power, just like before.
"Oh? It seems I’m regaining feeling in my body..."
"Jun-Ho-nim, from now on, we will fight together!"
"That d.a.m.n daughter of the emperor! We won't stand by idly!"
The Players and Failures whose senses had returned stood up one by one, looking at the princess with determined eyes. However, Seo Jun-Ho commanded, "No. All of you, leave this place."
"Yes! Of course... Wait, what?"
s.h.i.+n Sung-Hyun blinked at the unexpected order.
"I believe that we can't kill her unless we destroy the power plant."
"... Are you saying that the power produced by the plant is the source of her vitality?"
"It’s nice that you catch on quickly."
s.h.i.+n Sung-Hyun sighed deeply after immediately getting to the core of the matter.
"But... you are not saying that you will stay here alone, right?"
"I won't be left alone."
No matter how he thought about it, that would be too reckless. Seo Jun-Ho looked at Baek Geon-Woo, who was facing the princess.
"Geon-Woo hyung and I will try to buy as much time as possible. Please destroy the power plant during that time."
"Are you sure about this?" Gilberto stretched his stiff body as he approached.
He didn't distrust the two of them, but he couldn't help but worry because the opponent was too strong.
"... Honestly, it’d be a lie if I said it was okay.”
If Skaya were here, she would have chosen the same method. She always preferred the option with the highest success rate.
"And now is not the time to worry about us." Seo Jun-Ho's gaze turned toward them. "If you think destroying the power plant will be easy…forget about that idea."
In a sense, the outside might be even harsher. They might have to move forward without even having time to collect the bodies of their allies.
Gilberto tapped his shoulder without saying a word.
"You're not telling me not to get hurt."
"That should be enough. For you."
Seo Jun-Ho smirked and tapped Gilberto’s shoulder. And when he looked at s.h.i.+n Sung-Hyun's face, he nodded with a determined expression.
"Then... good luck!"
As s.h.i.+n Sung-Hyun reached out his hand, a crack appeared in s.p.a.ce. He gestured toward the Players.
"This way! We will destroy the power plant!"
With his natural leaders.h.i.+p, the Players and the Failures crossed the dimensional door. When s.h.i.+n Sung-Hyun went through and closed the door behind him, only three beings remained in the bas.e.m.e.nt.
"Hmm. It's a pretty clever plan. You’re going to try to destroy the power plant since you can't kill me?" The princess nodded as if she found it interesting. "But isn't there one important thing you’re missing?"
An unpleasant vibrating sound filled the bas.e.m.e.nt.
"Can you stop me from killing you and chasing after them?"
"... I always leave the possibility open." Four swords floated behind Seo Jun-Ho. "Who knows, maybe we’ll kill you and go help them instead."
"Interesting. Truly interesting."
The unpleasant sound abruptly stopped. The princess's mouth curled up, and half an instant later, she appeared right in front of Seo Jun-Ho.
"So interesting that it would be a shame to kill you."
Without thinking or hesitating, his body moved. That saved Seo Jun-Ho's life.
"Hoh." The princess looked at the arm she had torn off with an unexpected expression. "It was supposed to be a killing blow... but you're quite strong. Strong enough to kill Digor."
Baek Geon-Woo's entire body was covered in lightning, and his eyes glowed with determination.
By transforming the very particles that made up his body, he became pure lightning. As a bolt of lightning, Baek Geon-Woo struck the princess with his fist.
"You're fast, just like a fly."
The princess murmured, her voice filled with disdain. With a casual swing of her arm, she easily deflected Baek Geon-Woo's attack, sending him cras.h.i.+ng into the wall.
She was strong. Much stronger than when they faced Janabi.
'Even without the power plant...she's stronger than Digor.'
Seo Jun-Ho looked at his slowly recovering arm and bit his lip. Despite his optimistic words, all he hoped was to buy as much time as possible.
'But it seems she won't allow that.'
She was unlike the brutes that were simply rampaging with power. He could understand why she had been allowed this much power by the emperor, and also why she had been entrusted with the power plant.
'She's a clever one. It's not a situation where I can afford to conserve power.'
Seo Jun-Ho wanted to keep in reserve the Enhanced Overclocking he had learned from Sung-Joon. The incomplete technique would turn him into a candle as soon as he used it.
'A candle that will burn up quickly and leave only ashes…'
But if he didn't use it now, he would undoubtedly die. Keenly aware of that fact, Seo Jun-Ho slowly closed his eyes.
He opened all the magic circuits installed throughout his body and drew in all the nearby magic power with his Black Moon Heart Method. The intense magic filled his body, causing pain and a surge of heat in every part of him.
Layers of ice covered the magic circuits, forcibly lowering the temperature while using the Wheel of Time (S) to accelerate the cooling and slow down the rise of heat. From here on, it was up to his mindset.
The princess, who had been watching Seo Jun-Ho, showed a puzzled expression. It felt as if something had changed, but she didn't sense any difference in his aura.
After all, machines were like that. If you suddenly increased the output, they’d easily break down. To prevent that, he had to do some 'preheating.'
The princess let out a small exclamation. She felt that the human in front of her had become even stronger than before.
"It's fascinating. How can a human's aura expand like a rubber ball?"
Seo Jun-Ho didn't respond. Rather than him ignoring her, it was more accurate to say that her voice didn't even reach his ears.
Like a firewood furnace suddenly bursting with ma.s.sive flames, the magic circuits, which were being forcefully pushed open with magic power, emitted intense heat with each push. He suppressed that heat. He kept a cool head.
"Hmm? Another increase from there?"
The princess's eyes widened slightly. Compared to the beginning, his aura had grown nearly twice as strong, and now it had increased even more.
'Should I attack?'
She hesitated for a moment. It was due to her pride and the sheer weight of her status as a princess.
That weight suddenly became insignificant. Her wariness toward the opponent surpa.s.sed her pride.
"Leave him alone."
A bolt of lightning lit the room. Lightning-Cla.s.s second move, Lightning Domain.
The whole bas.e.m.e.nt was covered with lightning, which tied up the princess.
“I’ve been too lenient with you!”
The nonchalant princess lightly swung her arm, tearing through the lightning that covered her body. It took her a mere moment to get rid of the bindings—or so it would have seemed to an uninvolved observer. To the people in that bas.e.m.e.nt, that fleeting moment felt like an eternity.
Seo Jun-Ho opened his eyes.