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Drinking the potions was definitely a good choice. I could clearly experience the effect.
I drank a few potions including the ones that strengthened my power and agility stats, in addition to two other tonic-type potions which are supposedly beneficial for my health.
It didn’t look like much of a difference when I looked at my final stats.
I only became a little bit faster, and a little stronger.
But those tiny enhancements have enabled me to bring the most important plan in this battle to realization: to attack before attempting to defend, and to stay clear of the enemies’ attack before making a move.
The attack that would have missed the enemy now spears through their vital points.
Including these results, the absorption of potions has made this battle much easier and convenient for me.
I breathed a sigh while watching the giant chimera ball rolling down the steep hill.
I was dealing with them pretty easily since I took advantage of the steep hill and the fact that the enemies were standing very close to one other; it just made the whole chimera ball thing a lot easier, in addition to the potion’s effects streamlining my movements.
I killed at least a million chimeras in just the first three hours.
I think it’s a pretty impressive record.
I have already exceeded my initial expectations, which was only to annoy them to h.e.l.l and slow them down before they could even arrive at the front of the fortress.
But it seemed like the fun, easy chimera hunting was over now.
The chimeras had completely stopped marching towards me.
I a.s.sume they’ve finally figured out that it’s much more efficient to deal with me first than to indiscriminately charge the fortress.
Not bad at all.
My objective is to prevent them for conquering the fortress for 10 days exactly, no less and no more: exactly ten days.
If they decide to create a battlefield here with me in a place far, far away from the fortress, then it will be in my favor.
The chimeras stopped marching, but they didn’t immediately attack me.
Instead, they took a step back, moving farther away from me.
They are surrounding me in big circle while maintaining a certain distance away from me.
It’s approximately 200 meters.
And then they distanced themselves from each other, and lowered their posture.
“What the heck is going on now, huh?”
n.o.body answered my mumbling, of course.
The chimeras kept on doing whatever they were doing.
I guess they finally learned their lesson and were trying to prevent themselves from rolling down the steep hills this time.
If they’re maintaining that large of a s.p.a.ce between each other, even if the front line falls off, the back line would be able to catch them and set them upright.
Since their muscle strength is unbelievably strong, they’d be able to catch anyone easily even if I hit them off really hard.
And if that’s the case, the next thing they’d bring to me is-.
One giant chimera jumped over all the other chimeras, occupying my field of vision.
I knew it. If they’ve created a circular ring, the next thing to appear is obviously a player.
This black chimera has a beast’s head.
His head, arms and legs, and whole body were all black.
It wasn’t painted; the skin itself was just naturally black colored.
His head and body figure reminded me of a black jaguar.
If it weren’t for the sewing marks and uneven body parts, I would’ve mistakenly thought he was beastman, and not a chimera.
Indeed, this chimera was very well-made.
“I knew something was up, they suddenly wised up and reacted to my attack wisely,” I murmured to myself. “Definitely a commander nearby.”
This one talks.
“Human. What is a human doing in a place like this? There is no way a soldier of empire would have come to this mountain already.”
Well, he speaks well.
Let me try to communicate.
I needed some information anyways; plus I’m sort of really curious.
“I don’t belong to the empire’s army. I just happen to be here by coincidence.”
“Then. Then may I ask why you are here?”
Wow, he is awfully polite; that’s totally unexpected.
And he talks in a far better manner than the dwarfs.
He seems to stutter a little when he talks, but his method of speech is good enough.
Unlike the other chimeras, who seem like they are only half-way to their completed form, this one has one completed figure, and seems to possess great intellect as well.
“To temporarily protect the dragon’s inheritance.”
The jaguar Chimera was silently deep in thought for a while.
“For how long are you planning on protecting the dragon’s inheritance?”
“For exactly 10 days.”
“No, No good. The army of the empire would be here by then. Could you please open the way for us? I beg of you.”
This is unbelievably surprising.
When I first saw chimeras, I didn’t expect us to be able to converse like this.
And he wasn’t even threatening me; he was asking in a very polite and gentle manner.
“Could you tell me why you want that d.a.m.n inheritance?”
“If, if I tell you, would you give it to us?”
The jaguar chimera’s facial expression had hardened into a grim expression.
The black pupil of his beastly yellow eye’s narrowed like an angry bull.
I slightly switched my foot position, and prepared for a fight that could happen any second.
“Then, then why are you asking me that question?”
The reason was quite simple.
“I am curious.”
The jaguar chimera’s face turned even more frightening.
I didn’t know it was possible for his face to frown to a greater degree it already was.
One more thing that surprised me was the fact that he eventually answered me even though he was growling at me.
“To get our, our humanity back.”
“We are human.”
“Dude, your joke isn’t funny at all.”
At this point his face was thoroughly contorted.
* * * * * *
The jaguar chimera began to speak his story.
He told me how they were originally human, but unfortunately got kidnapped by black magicians and transformed into hideous-looking monsters.
And he also told me about what kind of life they were forced to live on as monsters.
He told me all about that painful past, and its sorrow.
He told me that now there are only few Chimeras including himself who still remember their former lives.
He said that the other Chimeras have completely forgotten about their past now and they only thoughtlessly follow his orders.
He also mentioned the fact that even though the black magicians are all executed now, they’ve left such a grave curse on the chimeras; chimeras that don’t have self-awareness are now indiscreetly expanding their numbers through meaningless reproduction.
And he said that he’d finally made up his mind, after seeing the monstrous-looking offspring endlessly coming to life.
He said he decided to end it all.
He said he decided to take the dragon’s inheritance in order to become a human, and abandon their hideous monster-like selves.
He said that was his final decision.
That was his side of the story.
I felt one thing, after listening to his long life story.
I felt like this story was something he’d been waiting to tell somebody for a long time.
I could tell that he thought through about how to tell this story to someone over and over.
He wanted to tell somebody, somebody who was not a chimera.
I can’t imagine how much he wanted to justify himself, and to be comforted by someone.
I’m not so sure about any of this anymore.
That was all I felt.
Nothing else really.
“What, what is?”
“So after the dragon died, the dwarfs seem to want to become dragon soldiers by using the dragon’s inheritance. They don’t seem to realize that even if they successfully become dragon soldiers, the dragon that they devoted themselves to has already died and gone.”
“That’s right, right. They dream of something meaningless.”
“And for you chimeras, when the empire killed all the black magicians, you started dreaming of becoming a human again by using the dragon’s inheritance, even though the other chimeras have gone too far from being able to return to normal human lives.”
Now the jaguar Chimera’s eyes were becoming bloodshot.
I wondered why they didn’t choose to commit suicide instead while I was staring at the jaguar chimera that was low-key growling at me.
They could’ve committed suicide after killing all of the brethren who aren’t self-aware anymore.
If they did it then, they might have been able to realize that they have a hint of humanity left in themselves, and that they have some dignity left as well. Then, they would’ve been able to rest in peace.
People often talk about suicide as if it’s some sort of an escape designed for weak cowards.
They talk as if it’s the act of giving up every possible future opportunity just because you are unable to handle a tiny bit of temporary pressure.
But in reality, death offers a great rest for someone whose life has been put through horrifying conditions.
A person whose life has been put in those terrible conditions can’t shake themselves of the temptation of ending life and becoming free easily.
Surviving in a meaningless and equally worthless life is more anguishing than any temporary pain, and even the pain that comes through and after death.
I know this because I am a survivor myself who is still alive despite harming myself on multiple occasions.
Keeping yourself from committing suicide is not an easy thing to do.
Maybe that’s the reason why the chimeras have created one definite goal to achieve instead, and started to become overly obsessive about it.
They are obsessed with their long-lost, now nonexistent humanity.
They must have put their lives on the line to achieve their dream.
That objective must be the one and only reason why they’re still alive and breathing.
But humanity is something that is hard to maintain, even as a human.
Even though they somehow gain the ownership of the necklace and awaken its hidden powers, that wouldn’t be enough to fully transform them back into humans.
The chimeras might think that the necklace will solve all their lives’ problems and set them free, but I definitely do not agree with that.
Not even a G.o.d can do such thing for them; what makes them think a necklace can accomplish it?
They might gain some sort of human features on the outside, but they’d still be a monster hiding under imitation human skin.
Just like what the jaguar chimera has just said about the dwarfs, they themselves also carry a very meaningless desire.
“Wha, Wha, Why?”
“Are we that disgusting? Do you despise us that much? Why are you humiliating us with such cruel words with such conviction, when you have just met us and barely even know who we are?”
I remained silent for a while after hearing this from the jaguar chimera.
And I had to admit it.
It was true that I disliked the chimeras and the dwarves equally.
It’s because they shared one thing in common.
They both wanted to change who they were and how much they were worth, just through ownership over a dragon’s inheritance.
Another thing they shared in common was the fact that their creator has set their limitation by birth, which limits their purposes in life as well.
The chimeras were created by black magicians to be used for warfare and destruction.
The dwarfs had been created by the dragon to do tedious work as minor laborers.
Now I’ve finally figured out why I highly dislike them, especially the dwarfs.
I stopped thinking.
I stopped myself from being distracted by all these irrelevant thoughts, clearing my mind.
Now is not the time to think about these unimportant things. I’ve got a battle to fight.
These are inappropriate thoughts to have right before the beginning of the battle.
“Name. What is your name. Human.”
Will he laugh at my name too?
Since he has a jaguar head, maybe he might laugh too.
Thankfully, he didn’t.
Instead, he screeched with a voice loud enough to be echoed through the whole mountain like thunder.
“Lee Ho-Jae! I won’t forget your G.o.d d.a.m.n name! The name of a heartless human who humiliated us all!”
I almost lost my hearing, oh my gosh.
My ears were ringing.
Especially because I was paying him more attention to listen to what he was about to say.
“We will kill you, AND we will get our humanity back!”
Followed by his scream, millions of other Chimeras started to chant at the same time.
I felt the ground shaking as they were chanting.
As tension increased, I became more excited as well.
Their yelling and screaming weren’t only meant to stir up their fervor for battle.
They actually created some sort of magical buff effect.
The jaguar chimera has furtively disappeared from the sight.
He no longer had such angry facial expression; instead, he seemed like he somehow managed to find his calm.
Among the chimeras that were forming the circle ring, the front line began attacking me.
The back line chimeras took one step forward, and stayed still in their positions.
I guess they were not just any normal monsters, but monsters designed specifically for warfare.
Either that or they were specifically trained to function in this way.
I activated my Soul Steal skill, Indomitability skill, coercion skills and changed each Thousand Arms into a long sword and a shield. I fought against the frontline chimeras that were readying their attacks.
While I was killing the Chimeras one by one very calmly, the second row of chimeras began their attack.
As soon as the second row started their attacks, the third row chimeras took one step forward, made another ring, and stayed in their positions until they were ready to jump at me.
I guess they’re trying to attack me row by row, like this.
I guess it’s not bad.
I like it like this as well.
The advantage of this fighting strategy was the fact that I can manipulate time to tire them out slowly without giving them time to rest; this way, I become closer to winning this battle.
One chimera jumped at me with his cut-up arms, I gave his head a nice slice.
The chimera lost its head and its balance, collapsing onto the ground motionlessly.
That’s when I activated my Soul Steal skill.
If I activate this skill, my health and vitality will recharge back to normal.
As long as I have my soul steal skill and its health regeneration effect and plenty of enemies that I can cut into pieces, I won’t be the one that dies of exhaustion first.
The chimeras continued to execute their enveloping attack seamlessly like well-trained war soldiers.
I need to draw a very clear perimeter.
I need to ensure that I have a wide enough perimeter to act in.
I need a perimeter I can protect myself in.
After continuing this battle for a while, the enemies had begun to grasp vague line I’ve set.
And then they had nevertheless begun to cross over that line daringly.
I mustn’t prioritize certain enemies over others.
If I were to make moves against the ones who’ve crossed the line and are hesitantly stand and wait for me to come at them first, they will look for the moment I am defenseless and attack me in the moment.
So, I need to make a smart move.
I need to a.n.a.lyze their unique characteristics, skills, and objectives.
I need to be aware of each and every one of them and their movements; I need to fight against them all at the same time.
In the correct order.
I need to make quick decisions about who to defend myself against first, which one to stay away from first, and which ones to attack first.
I am trying to solve a problem without giving a wrong answer, not even once.
That’s why it’s very crucial to stay extremely focused on the battle around me, rather than focusing on maintaining an unscratched body.
And of course, I need to be wise enough to be able to save my mana and energy efficiently while battling them.
I am quite confident in a battle like this.
There was an incident once when I let one of the enemies successfully jump onto me.
In the past, there were several incidents where I wasn’t able to completely defeat the enemy.
There were other incidents where my health was too low and I had to hide away momentarily.
But never have I ever, lost in a battle.
I am the living proof that such a defeat has never happened, not even once.
I swung my sword.
I slit the throat of one of the chimeras standing slightly outside my mental perimeter.
He was attempting to attack my blind side, but I killed him before he could do anything to me.
Someone was swinging an axe behind me.
Instead of turning my body backward to block the hammer, I opened Talaria’s Wings and dodged the axe’s swing.
At the same time, I sliced a chimera’s body into two parts.
There was another axe coming from my right side.
I ignored that attack and positioned by shield to cover my left side.
Using my momentum from swinging my sword, I did a half-spin to greet the next chimera.
Blood spat out from the body of the chimera which I had just cut in half in a blink of an eye.
The giant chimeras began to collapse onto the ground one by one.
They became an obstacle that blocked the other chimeras from running towards me directly.
And an increased number of dead corpses laying around me became some sort of a trench for me unintentionally.
I was able to kill them one by one much more smoothly now that I had a trench that protected me from Chimeras vigorously jumping onto me from my blind side.
If they slow down their running speed in order not to stumble upon those corpses, I can jump on them before they can jump on me.
At one point, they finally began to realize their disadvantage, and finally stopped themselves from drawing any attacks all together.
They were only screeching weirdly now, outside of my attack range.
Are they waiting for their commanders’ new order?
I screamed right back at them.
I completely ignored the fact that my skill effect was dismantling the scrum, and I started laughing joyously at the chimeras, which began to jump at me again.
[PR: For all the people that are not fans of American football or rugby, a “scrum” is basically describing the line of players before they smash into each other.]
* * * * * *
After the sunset, the chimeras had made their way back to their base, away from the mountain.
I sat down on the ground, watching them march back toward their base wherever it was.
My b.u.m got wet.
It was mostly because of the blood of dead chimeras, but it was also mixed with some of my blood.
I opened a bottle of Elixir potion with shaking hands, and drank it all.
My body was full of wounds.
After I killed more than a thousand chimeras, their method of attack changed.
Their immature formation or traps didn’t work on me as long as I had the Soul Cry skill.
Their new attacking method was to continue attacking without giving me a second to relax, while placing a few outstandingly talented fighters here and there.
Since they were hard to distinguish, I faced several near-death scenarios.
I stood up after the Elixir potion’s healing took effect, and I was able to move my legs again finally.
I walked toward the mountain top, and as I stepped onto the dead corpses, they tumbled down.
The corpses rolled down to the bottom of the mountain, making a loud rolling stone noise.
Instead of stepping onto any more corpses, which would only destabilize the mountain of corpses and create unnecessarily loud noises, I decided to fly with Talaria’s Wings.
When we look at today’s result, it seems like I had unilaterally slaughtered them all, but that’s not entirely true.
I experienced my limits today.
No, I was pushed over my limits.
I really had very close calls with death; I could’ve died, for real.
The enemies must have been able to a.n.a.lyze my power and strength fully today.
They will prepare a new battle plan for tomorrow.
And they still have so many chimeras left.
The number of chimeras is way beyond my prediction.
The battle tomorrow will be much more dangerous.
But I decided to look at this situation in a positive light.
What I felt while fighting against them wasn’t a lack of improvement on my part.
I only felt like I was lacking on some aspects, but only because I haven’t been put into rigorous battles in the past stages and for that reason I wasn’t completely used to battlefields anymore.
But I felt it all coming back very quickly, all thanks to this fierce battle against the chimeras.
Tomorrow’s battle will definitely be more dangerous than today’s, but I trust myself to overcome it as well.
Regardless, I can make this defense into guerrilla war anytime if I feel like I am not good enough.
I could return back to the fortress in a better mood.
I was very happy, since I faced and overcame such critical and dangerous situations. I was so proud of myself and it felt great indeed.
As soon as I got back to the fortress, one dwarf attempted to communicate with me, instantly ruining my mood.
I waited patiently.
I waited patiently until the dwarf had managed to say until “Big problem. Liza-“ before I realized that it was about the lizardman, Iddy.
“Idy what! What happened to….”
G.o.d d.a.m.n it, please talk faster, please.
F*** this s.h.i.t.