Book 2: Chapter 75
Joanna stared at Lee Jong-hak’s back.
He’d shot down towards Gullard with explosive speed. The force of his charge was so powerful that it felt like he could use his sword to cut through even steel like it was tofu.
She couldn’t help but feel that having this man on their side was more reliable than having a thousand hunters.
Or at least that would have been the case if they were in a different situation.
Now, Joanna couldn’t help but think that Lee Jong-hak was in a very precarious situation.
He’d just spoken confidently, saying that he would give them a chance to run away.
And not long afterwards, Gullard revealed an ‘opening’.
Joanna had noticed it too. Nevertheless, she failed to respond to it as quickly as Lee Jong-hak did.
This was because she was unsure. There was a chance that Gullard had revealed this opening on purpose.
However… what if it really was the first and last chance?
‘I don’t know.’
Her brain wasn’t working properly. If Joanna had been in Lee Jong-hak’s position, she definitely would’ve missed the opportunity.
But Lee Jong-hak didn’t hesitate. As soon as he saw the opening, he immediately drew his sword and swiftly closed the distance to his opponent.
In a way, it was no different from a moth leaping into flames.
She felt Joffrey’s presence fade. He’d turned and began running away without any hesitation. He’d obediently listened to Lee Jong-hak’s words.
Joanna was about to join him before she paused.
Was this really the best option?
Leave everything to Lee Jong-hak and run away?
…No. Technically speaking, it wasn’t running away. This could be considered a strategic retreat.
She could guess what Joffrey was thinking. It was possible that he intended to reach all of the Gray Sun members in the city and ask for reinforcements. Maybe Elijah Kipatosh would also come to help.
But would their presence change the situation?
Would the Vampire Duke be put at a disadvantage if the dozens of Gray Sun members, including Elijah, joined the battle?
Joanna shook her head inwardly. She was certain that it was absolutely impossible.
Joanna bit her lip as she finally realised.
There was no ‘best answer’ for the current situation. The moment during which it was possible to find the best answer had already elapsed. To put it simply, the ‘best answer’ would have been to not partake in this operation in the first place.
At that moment, she heard a scream from behind. It was Joffrey’s voice.
Joanna turned around in a hurry.
Joffrey lay on the ground, his body crushed by two large men.
The men who had been standing on either side of Gullard. No, they were Demons.
She’d obviously seen them walking beside Gullard before the confrontation began, so why were they so far away now?
‘It has to be…!’
It was because of Gullard’s presence. Despite being the size of a normal human, it felt like he was so large that he filled the entire street. And because of this, she hadn’t noticed when they had disappeared.
Joanna’s back was instantly covered with cold sweat.
It was clear that these two Demons had been monitoring the area. They must have been tasked with finding any other hunters that might be hiding or killing anyone who tried to run away.
She got goosebumps.
If she’d tried to flee with Joffrey, she would have died similarly.
In the meantime, it seemed Lee Jong-hak had begun to fight. He was squeezing all the energy out of his body to the point where it seemed he even wanted to use his soul as fuel.
Even Joanna, who didn’t know anything about swordsmanship, could tell how desperately he was fighting.
Nevertheless, Gullard simply smiled as he avoided all of the attacks with ghost-like movements. It didn’t seem like he had any intention of attacking.
Maybe he intended to capture him.
The stronger the Demon, the more obsessed they were with enslaving strong humans.
Joanna looked back once again.
The Demons just stood where they were with their arms crossed, showing no signs of approaching her.
Right. So they really were only ordered to kill any escapees.
Joanna grit her teeth.
‘They’re looking down on me…’
If she were her old self, she might be trembling in fear at that moment. But now, the emotion that Joanna felt most was humiliation.
She had been chosen by the God of Magic.
Ignoring her was no different from ignoring him.
“I’ll do it even if I die.”
Even if she lost her life, she would wipe away that disgusting smile.
It was possible that she would die. And it scared her greatly.
But after reaching this point, she couldn’t help but throw away the thought of surviving.
Since she was going to die anyway, she might as well do it on her own terms.
‘…I wonder what he’s doing right now…’
When she thought about that aloof, gray-haired man, she couldn’t stop herself from smiling slightly.
They were just beginning to grow closer, but it was a pity. It seemed that their journey together was about to come to an end.
Nevertheless, she couldn’t help but feel relieved.
That man didn’t come here, so it meant that at least one of them would survive.
‘I’ll use a spell he deciphered for me.’
It was a spell that was written in her notebook. The magic formula had been discovered a long time ago, but no one had been able to decipher it.
It was a spell that had never appeared in this world.
Naturally, this also meant that she’d never practiced it. It could be considered fortunate that she’d even managed to force herself to remember the formula.
She had no choice but to attempt it.
Recalling the formula, Joanna began to cast the spell.
“The vine coiled in the darkness.”
Her loud voice rang out.
Casting spells was a type of self-hypnosis, so there was no fixed chant. Instead, it depended on the mind of the caster.
The important thing was to have the ability to properly decipher the formula and how to direct your mana.
“Wriggling like the tongue of a serpent.”
That was why bluffing was a major part of Joanna’s chant. For her, chanting spells was also a type of performance.
“Trap my enemies in thorns sharper than poisonous fangs.”
Her mana was raging.
This spell wasn’t for offensive purposes. It wasn’t for defense either.
It was a spell that limited the opponent’s movements. It was a trapping or binding spell.
Joanna finally revealed the name of the spell she was casting.
* * *
About a decade ago, there was a topic that was the most frequently mentioned in conversations between hunters.
No, it was a topic that interested everyone involved in Demon hunting.
‘Who is the strongest hunter?’
It was a discussion that usually began as a light conversation, but it often ended with a conversation of fists.
Numerous names were listed, and new ones were added every day.
Cha Gung-hwan, who was retired but led the Asian hunters with outstanding skills.
The Three Dragons of East Asia who had just started making a name for themselves.
Neil Prand, the President of the Hunter Association and the Wizard’s Association.
Oceania’s Champion, Captain.
Nina Rednikova, who raged as the Head of the Iron Blood Division in Europe…
There were dozens of people who were well-known outside of their own countries. But if those who were relatively less well-known or who weren’t famous at all were included, then the list would be so long that it would take days to read.
Nevertheless, they weren’t able to reach an answer. In the first place, it was a topic that was difficult to determine in the first place.
Due to the nature of hunters, they rarely fought against their fellow humans or compared their strengths. Sometimes, duels of life-and-death battles were held, but they were extremely rare, and there were cases where people died.
In addition, because of the different characteristics of each profession, fighting in a limited space would not allow for fair competition.
It was at that time when a columnist from Brooklyn, Jack Brewbaker, approached the issue in a one directional manner.
He discussed the role of a hunter.
Their essence was hunting, and their enemies were the Demons, not their fellow human beings.
So why not compare their performances instead?
Ignoring status, honour, rumors, and even their true strength. Only looking at their hunting performances.
The results from this approach came much sooner than anyone would have expected.
It turned out that there wasn’t much of a difference in the hunting performances of the various top-class hunters.
And for a long time, the seat of ‘Strongest Hunter’ remained empty.
Unless all of the top class hunters came together and fought to the death, the strongest hunter would never be revealed.
That was the conclusion that was reached.
—Then, a few years later, the Top Three appeared.
Three hunters whose unbelievable achievements and unparalleled feats that no other hunter could compare to.
Among them was Kran, who was given the title ‘Strongest’.
But the sources from each group never considered him to be the ‘Strongest Hunter’.
After all, his performance was still comparable to the Black Witch’s and the Saint of Salvation’s.
Some people said that Kran’s achievements were exaggerated because he only worked alone.
But those voices had disappeared not long ago.
Because Kran had accomplished a feat that should have been impossible for humans.