SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 241
I ALONE LEVEL-UP CHAPTER 241
The circular shadow spreading out from beneath Jin-Woo’s feet rapidly grew large enough to swallow up the Dragon Emperor. The creature’s expression hardened.
‘From the beginning, had he been aiming for this….?’
From the moment he appeared in the battlefield all alone, directing the Shadow Army behind everyone’s back and mopping up the western front, and finally, even drawing the Dragon Emperor to here – were all of those just for the sake of this moment?
Although this human was its enemy, the King of all Dragons couldn’t help but admire the meticulousness of the Shadow Sovereign.
At first, he created a situation where it simply had to make a move, and through what looked to be a pretty obvious tactic to lower its guard, then finally, by relying on an unexpected hidden card, he eventually got what he was aiming for.
‘….To think, he’d actually use Dragon Fear here.’
The Dragon Emperor formed an expression of someone suffering from a sucker punch. Jin-Woo’s grip on the creature’s arm tightened after witnessing that unmistakable expression.
‘I did it.’
There had been no mistakes so far. A couple more steps, and then…
Soon, the shadow swallowed up both Jin-Woo and the Dragon Emperor.
The darkness blinding them quickly rescinded and they re-emerged at the pre-selected destination.
Having succeeded in his endeavour of inviting the Dragon Emperor to the true battlefield of his own choosing, Jin-Woo quickly distanced himself away from his opponent.
And now, finding itself in a location very far away from its underlings, the creature began scanning the surrounding scenery with mystified eyes.
[And this is….?]
“A place on the opposite side of the world from where your army is.”
Truthfully, it was a bit incorrect to call it the exact opposite side, but regardless, that’s how far they were now.
They were in Japan, a land where an enormous amount of Mana had densely permeated into its every pore after the King of Giants died.
The land and atmosphere fortified by Mana should be able to withstand much of the potential impact forces resulting from his battle against the Sovereign of Destruction.
Once a massive sea of forest, this location now resembled a barren wasteland stretching endlessly beyond the horizon, all thanks to the concerted efforts of his Shadow Soldiers cutting down the trees present here.
What particularly drew one’s attention was this huge white-coloured fortress built up on the top of a hill. The Dragon Emperor pointed at it with a black flag flapping in the wind on top.
[Is that your castle?]
“….Something like that.”
[For a castle of the Shadow Sovereign, its size is fairly lousy, isn’t it.]
Why did Jin-Woo briefly feel apologetic to Beru all of a sudden? Of course, there was no reason to get suckered into his enemy’s pace now, was there?
Jin-Woo threw out a genuine warning at the Dragon Emperor, currently looking rather relaxed despite the situation – it was unknown whether that was because of its sky-high confidence, or it was simply trying to bluff him.
“Well, I think that building’s just about the perfect size to commemorate your death today.”
Only then did the gaze of the Dragon Emperor fix on Jin-Woo. He didn’t try to avoid meeting that glare.
The King of Berserk Dragons stopped looking at the human and closed its eyes for a moment while trying to communicate with its underlings.
Sure enough, not a hint of their signal could be captured. Some creature borrowing the power of the Shadow Sovereign was using a spell to interfere with all forms of communication.
The Dragon Emperor grew conscious of the fact that his human enemy had prepared everything from the beginning in order to perfectly isolate it.
It slowly opened its eyes again and found the entirety of the Shadow Army surrounding it from all sides.
A battle that should have been ten million against one was suddenly turned on its head to become two hundred thousand against one, with the ‘one’ being a completely different person.
The Dragon Emperor had been surrounded.
[So, this is it…. A battle where either I survive or fall, until my soldiers pinpoint my current location.]
However, its expression was not as gloomy as one would hope for in the current situation.
The thing was, although it didn’t mind the types of battles where it’d use the overwhelming numbers to completely massacre its enemies, it also found the exact opposite of that situation quite enjoyable too, where it’d get to overwhelm the enemies alone.
In short, it was an existence born solely for warfare.
It was the incarnation of destruction, one who would not mind its own demise if it was all for the sake of blood, screams, madness, and destruction swirling in a dizzying storm of warfare.
That was why the Dragon Emperor could smile brightly.
[Allow me to show you the real thing.]
At the end of those words, that smile vanished from the creature’s face.
Jin-Woo also sensed something at the same time. His senses that had far surpassed the limits of a normal human continuously rang loud warning bells.
Along with a chill running down his spine, goosebumps broke all over his skin.
It was then. Like a scene from an unrealistic movie, a truly frightening roar scary enough to stop one’s heart just from hearing it exploded out of the Dragon Emperor’s mouth.
This was the Dragon Emperor’s Fear, the ruler of all Dragons. The level of terror previously never experienced before slammed into the Shadow Army like a massive shockwave.
A seemingly endless chain of ripples began shaking the atmosphere. Even the ground quaked violently.
As the shaking akin to an earthquake rocked the world, Jin-Woo detected an extreme amount of terror, pain, and confusion from his soldiers and he urgently brought them back inside his shadow.
During that process, vicious dizziness assaulted him and he wobbled unsteadily for a moment there.
The Dragon Emperor finally ended its roar. The corner of its lips curled up after seeing how pale Jin-Woo’s complexion was.
[That was the real thing.]
The true Dragon’s Fear.
Jin-Woo roughly shook his head in order to get rid of that attack’s horrifying impact. Meanwhile, the Dragon Emperor addressed him in a calm manner.
[When you grabbed my arm, I could’ve easily shaken you loose.]
However, there was a reason why it didn’t. It continued on.
[It’s only because you impressed me with your efforts to trap me.]
Jin-Woo stared at the Dragon Emperor praising him with a suspicious glare. However, there was not a single hint of ridicule within that serious light shining from its eyes.
[That made me want to speak to you in a quiet place as two Sovereigns on equal ground.]
Jin-Woo’s breathing, disrupted by the Dragon Fear just now, finally reverted back to being normal. He quickly righted his posture, his vigilance remaining high.
The Dragon Emperor continued to address Jin-Woo and his tightly-shut mouth.
[If you have inherited the previous Shadow Sovereign’s memories, then you should know this by now…. Our real enemy is not this land, but well beyond the sky up there.]
It was referring to the armies of the Rulers. The first and the last ultimate command given to them was to annihilate all Sovereigns born from the darkness.
Quite obviously, the Shadow Sovereign wouldn’t be an exception.
[I originally thought of disposing of you first and then get ready to fight them. However, I changed my mind after seeing how you conduct your battles. You possess a different set of skills compared to Osborne. And from your skill set, I foresaw our glorious victory.]
The Dragon Emperor extended its hand out towards Jin-Woo.
[If you take this hand, then I shall do as you want.]
His gaze slowly lowered towards the extended hand.
[If you wish to save your family, so it shall be. If you wish to save your nation, then that shall be done. If you wish for me to leave this land, fine. My soldiers and I shall quietly withdraw from this world.]
Jin-Woo gaze briefly lingering on the hand gradually rose up again until it stopped at the Dragon Emperor’s face. The creature was carrying an expression full of compassion.
[You shall become the master of this world. Become a master of this whole planet, not just that small castle on the hill. You amply possess the qualification to do so. All you have to do….]
A gentle smile formed on the Dragon Emperor’s lips now.
[….Is to take my hand.]
Once we cooperate and defeat the forces of the Rulers, not only you and your family, even your country – no, even more than that, everyone living on this land will gain peace and freedom.
That was the promise the Dragon Emperor was making here.
[So, how about it? Shadow Sovereign?]
Did he get enticed by the offer? A thin smile slowly spread on the face of the Shadow Sovereign as he quietly listened to the tempting words.
The King of Dragons also formed a smile of its own.
[Will you join me?]
Too bad, Jin-Woo’s reply was rather curt in nature.
“Don’t make me laugh.”
The Dragon Emperor’s expression hardened after hearing that pointed retort.
“You want me to trust a b*stard with the eyes of someone that can barely hide its desire to kill me?”
The King of all Dragons grasped its forehead and guffawed for a long time. Its laughter must’ve contained Mana, because every single wave of sound emitted by the creature caused a powerful reverberation within Jin-Woo’s heart.
When it finally took its hand away from its forehead, both of its wide-open eyes had changed to that of a reptile’s.
[I just can’t seem to hide these eyes of mine.]
Appeasement attempt had ended in failure. If conning the other party didn’t work, then the remaining way was to destroy him with everything it possessed.
The Dragon Emperor finally revealed its true self. A hostile aura that couldn’t be concealed anymore flooded out from its body.
[Bet everything you have and attack me, oh, Child of Shadow!!]
Jin-Woo’s eyes widened in shock.
In an instant, choking heat rushed into his face. He quickly retreated to a far-off distance, his gaze still locked onto the unbelievable event unfolding right him.
A mountain of raging inferno suddenly materialised in front of his eyes.
If a sea of boiling lava gained sentience and willingly morphed into the shape of a Dragon, would it look like that?
Jin-Woo watched this appearance of a Dragon made up of endlessly-burning flames and immediately recalled the outer shell of the Demon’s Castle instant dungeon that was also burning in perpetual flames.
A battle between a living ‘castle’ and a man.
It wouldn’t be too surprising for anyone to get scared by this incomparable pressure, but Jin-Woo calmly grasped the pair of Kamish’s Wraths.
When the Dragon Emperor took one step, the world rocked viciously.
The massive Dragon was trying to stomp him to death, so Jin-Woo quickly evaded that and ran to create some distance before summoning up the Sky Dragon ‘Kaisel’.
His mount was already getting ready to take off, so as soon as it emerged from the shadow, it flew up into the air. Jin-Woo quickly climbed up on its back.
Kaisel rose up as fast as it could; Jin-Woo then had his ride change directions and descend towards the Dragon Emperor’s location. As if it was waiting precisely for that, the Dragon made up of flames fired a Breath of Destruction.
Almost at the same time as the blinding flash of light exploded forth from the Dragon Emperor’s jaw, Kaisel descended at the rate of knots. The flames capable of erasing everything – the chill-inducing white beam of light brushed past right above Jin-Woo’s head.
Kaisel followed after its master’s instruction to descend closer to the Dragon Emperor while barely managing to side-step the Breath continuously pouring out towards it.
Once the Breath attack came to an end, Kaisel was already near the head of the gigantic flame Dragon. Jin-Woo gathered every drop of his Mana while riding on the back of his mount.
‘You did well, Kaisel!’
The gathered Mana flowed into the Kamish’s Wrath held in his right hand. The black aura danced and tumbled about as if to signal that it was ready for that final strike.
With everything in his power – Jin-Woo swung his sword containing all of his might towards the Dragon Emperor.
The black aura that looked capable enough to tear through anything in a single breath split up like the claws of a predator and took a powerful swipe at the head of the flaming Dragon.
‘….How can this be?!’
Jin-Woo’s brows shot up high.
There wasn’t even a scratch on the creature’s flaming scales; instead, the unscathed Dragon Emperor began raising its head towards him.
Jin-Woo’s expression crumpled.
‘Is it Breath again?’
He got ready to quickly descend again in case another round of Breath of Destruction came at his way, but he was greeted by an ear-splitting roar, instead.
Jin-Woo had developed some amount of immunity after experiencing it the last time, but it was a different story for his Sky Dragon. It couldn’t withstand the roar from the Dragon Emperor and froze up in mid-air.
Not even giving him any time to un-summon Kaisel, in came the ruthless beam of light signalling true destruction spat out by the King of all Dragons.
Even though they were in a free fall, Kaisel still twisted its body to push Jin-Woo away to a safer location, and collided head-on against the Breath of Destruction with its body.
Jin-Woo cried out as he watched Kaisel disintegrate in an instant, not even leaving behind ash in the process. Utterly disregarding his wishes, the Sky Dragon was erased from existence without a single trace.
Jin-Woo bit his lower lip and fired Mana out from behind to fly into the chest area of the Dragon Emperor in an instant. And to make sure he wouldn’t fall off, he grasped tight the scale of this nonsensically humongous creature.
His palm was instantly scorched by the ultra-high temperature.
Jin-Woo gritted his teeth and raised up the Kamish’s Wrath held in his other hand up high above his head. The shortsword held in reverse grip was enveloped in the dancing black aura.
The blade stabbing down with all his might managed to break past the scale. But that was all it could do.
Crack! Crack! Crack!!
No matter how many times he lashed out, all he could do was to leave behind small, inconsequential nicks on the Dragon’s flesh just below its scales.
It was then. Sensing this ominous chill creep up behind his neck, Jin-Woo hurriedly took a look behind him.
The giant arm of the Dragon Emperor was swinging closer to his location. To dodge that, he unhesitatingly jumped down.
He didn’t suffer any impact damage when landing on the ground due to his Mana, but then, without giving him a break, yet another round of the Breath of Destruction poured out from above.
Somehow managing to evade that merciless attack once more, Jin-Woo breathlessly panted hard.
“Hah-ah, hah-ah, hah-ah….”
He rained down so many attacks, yet the Dragon Emperor remained standing, imperious like the legendary Mt. Tai. It possessed the level of defence and attack power that not even Giants could match up to.
He realised that he couldn’t subjugate this Dragon by relying on the same tactics.
‘I need stronger power….’
Indeed, he needed an even stronger power – the power that might bring down a giant covered in thick armour with nothing but bare hands.
Just like how an insect small enough not to be noticed by one’s eyes couldn’t do much about a human being, one needed to become a mountain if a mountain was blocking his path.
It was then.
‘Hang on…. Armour, is it?’
A certain possibility flashed by like a bolt of lightning in Jin-Woo’s head.
If he could manipulate the power of darkness to create regular-sized armours, then couldn’t he also be able to create something much larger and thicker than that, too?
When his thoughts reached that far…
….The shadow beneath Jin-Woo’s feet suddenly began growing much larger.
Even the Dragon Emperor noticed this change.
The blackish liquid bubbled and rose up from that shadow to wrap around the Shadow Sovereign, layer upon layer, his size abruptly increasing at an alarming rate.
‘What is this human b*stard trying to do now?!’
The thing was, answering its instincts took priority before satisfying its curiosity.
Just before the Dragon Emperor got ready to fire yet another round of Breath of Destruction towards that unidentifiable black mass, it felt the sensation of something poking softly at its back.
It quickly took a look behind.
Fangs had been hiding in a distant corner to perform the communication-disrupting spell but to aid his Sovereign, he had grown into a giant to fire his own pillar of flames at the back of the Dragon Emperor.
Once their gazes met, the Bead of Avarice powerlessly fell from Fangs’ grip.
The massive Dragon’s murderous rage was now redirected to the scared and trembling Fangs.
[How dare a measly b*stard like you….!]
The Dragon Emperor shifted the direction of its head.
And naturally, the aim of the Breath was shifted towards Fangs, as well.
Just before the attack capable of erasing everything could be fired from the Dragon’s maw….
A humongous black shadow that had risen up high into the sky, before anyone had noticed it, viciously punched the head of the Dragon Emperor.