Clumps of bright white light began gathering in Yi Ji-Hyuk's hands. Choi Jung-Hoon was quickly overcome with a strange inspiration after witnessing that spectacle.
Just how many times had Yi Ji-Hyuk rescued humanity so far? But, he always emitted or shot out black-coloured stuff whenever he did and that made the spectators feel a bit uneasy.
It'd be similar to a person observing a battle between two devils, or something like that.
But now, the feeling Choi Jung-Hoon now got after seeing Yi Ji-Hyuk emit such a bright white light was quite different from the past.
‘Now that's what I'm talking about.' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
It wasn't as if he had this fixed idea of what a hero should look like or behave. Unfortunately, it was also true that one couldn't do much about one's own cognisance and he just didn't like what he saw most of the time.
Now, it felt like he was looking at a proper spectacle…
"Die, you stinking son of a b*tch!!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
A hero isn't supposed to say stuff like that, you fool!
I see. It's not the colour of the light that matters. The reason why I couldn't get onboard was because the article emitting the light happens to be so c.r.a.ppy! (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
Choi Jung-Hoon glared at Yi Ji-Hyuk as he trembled with unhappiness.
….Hey, how high up is he planning to reach? (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk continued to rise up higher into the air. As if he was flying, he kicked the air over and over again to soar higher and higher.
"What is he doing?!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Why is he trying to go higher?
Just as Choi Jung-Hoon began tilting his head, Yi Ji-Hyuk had finally reached the same height as the Cyclops's head. After laboriously reaching the desired height, he took a mighty swing at the creature, only for the Cyclops to bow its head and easily avoid the punch. And perhaps predictably, it then smacked him down with its mace.
"Heee-iiick?!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Since he was airborne, he was a bit slow in twisting his body around to evade and ended up getting struck dead-on by the monster's large weapon. Like a fly getting smacked away by a giant flyswatter, Yi Ji-Hyuk came crashing down at a rate of knots into the ground.
Dust cloud kicked up from the very spot that he collided against.
"Aigoo, my back…." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk trudged out from the dust while holding his back and his waist.
"Tsk, tsk…" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon spat out a sigh and tutted after seeing him dust himself off. Seriously now, looking at that guy really sapped any tension out of a situation that had built up so far.
"Why did you climb all the way up to its head, then?! There are its legs, there's its belly… I mean, there are so many places you can hit it, you know!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"How naïve!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk angrily pointed at the Cyclops and shouted back.
"Can't you see its huge eye??" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Eh?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"You're supposed to kill a Cyclops by hitting its eye! That's like, the basics! How can you not know that?!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon naturally fell into confusion.
"Oh. Its weakness is its eye?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Nope. It's as tough as steel." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"…..Does that mean you can only kill it after hitting its eye first?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"There's no such thing. Just hitting it enough times anywhere will kill it." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….But, isn't that what I said?! (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
"In that case, why do you need to hit its eye, then?!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk frowned quite deeply.
‘…Did I say something wrong?' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Indeed, wasn't that his ‘I'm really angry' expression?
Just as Choi Jung-Hoon began tensing up, Yi Ji-Hyuk roared out at the top of his lungs.
"Haven't you seen a manga before?! The traditional final killshot of a Cyclops is supposed to land on its eye!! Doesn't matter if it's a sword, a spear, a fist, whatever! It will go ‘POP' or ‘Uwaahk!' and die!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Did this guy finally lose his marbles??
Choi Jung-Hoon was genuinely tempted to crack open Yi Ji-Hyuk's head and take a gander at all the fleshy noodles occupying there.
What kind of nonsense was this, him causing a scene because of such a reason??
"Who's going to mop up after you if you get killed by accident, then?! Who cares if it's a headshot or in the groin?! You're going to kill it anyway!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"This dude, seriously, man. How uncultured." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk sn.i.g.g.e.red, causing Choi Jung-Hoon to tightly clench his fists.
If only I was an ability user, too! I'd have really thrown down with that b*stard! (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
He was getting real envious of Seo Ah-Young, who could at least put up some kind of resistance since she happened to be an ability user. No matter how many times he hit that guy, it'd not even sting the b*stard, so there wasn't much of a point in fighting just to induce that ‘sting', now was there?
"Groan…." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon fished out a cigarette and placed it between his lips.
"We're in the middle of a situation, yet you're taking a smoke break?!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Then stop making me wanting to smoke! I might get hair loss because you!! D*mn hair loss!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"I haven't done anything, so what gives??" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"You aren't asking me that because you don't know, yes?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"I'm asking 'cuz I don't know! Is there someone who asks when he knows the answer already??" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"You're really hopeless!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon finally lost his cool for the first time in a long while!
"Just kill that monster already! The buildings might collapse at this rate!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Hul. Dang slave driver." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"I wouldn't be doing this if only I had power! Uh-whew! I don't understand why I have to go through this just because I'm not an ability user!"(Choi Jung-Hoon)
"It's not all fun and games being an ability user, you know." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Finishing his sentence, Yi Ji-Hyuk took a step forward again.
"Stop aiming for the thing's eye and finish it off quickly, please!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
C'mon, man. I'm telling you, you're supposed to hit the Cyclops in the eye for that final killshot! (Yi Ji-Hyuk's inner monologue)
Although Yi Ji-Hyuk wanted to say something, Choi Jung-Hoon's voice distinctly lacked any motivation nor energy, so decided to let it slide this time. He then gathered Ether in both of his hands.
"Well, it isn't as bad as I thought…." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The Ether gathering at a fair bit of pace felt rather heavy. If the current him went over to Berafe, then the time needed for him to return to Earth would've been shortened by at least five hundred years.
….No, hang on. Maybe, it'd been longer, since I might be causing all sorts of chaos trying to do something with this power?
Well, that's not important right now. (Yi Ji-Hyuk's inner monologue)
More Ether gathered and emitted bright white light. Yi Ji-Hyuk glanced at that light with a complicated look on his face.
In Berafe, white-coloured rays of light were a symbol of divinity. Things like healing magic, or divine spells, whatever… stuff that was at odds with Yi Ji-Hyuk all emitted such bright, pure light.
So, it wasn't such an exaggeration to say that he was feeling quite conflicted at the moment as he himself began emitting such a light show.
"This is all fine and dandy, but…." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Without a doubt, this energy source called ‘Ether' was worth using it.
If Mana possessed endless applications due to being ‘attribute-less', Ether's attributes were firmly set in stone but with a limited range of applications. However, it was also true that, within the limited range, Ether did exhibit a destructive power easily surpa.s.sing that of Mana.
If that wasn't it, then Seo Ah-Young wouldn't have been able to exhibit the kind of firepower equalling that of an Archmage at such a young age.
"However, it's still not quite enough." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It might be enough to deal with small-fry mobs of monsters, but not powerful enough to break past the defences of a higher-ranked creature like a Cyclops. If he were facing off against an ability user on the level of Seo Ah-Young with his Ether, then he might be able to do something by relying on his mastery of close-quarter combat, but he simply didn't possess enough attacking power to bring down a giant monster like this one.
‘Should I just use Mana?' (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
But, it'd feel like he was going back on his word if he did use Mana here and that kind of bruised his ego a bit, so no.
‘Well, I already spent some Mana by opening up a Gate of my own, so….' (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Could he argue that was a different matter altogether?
Yi Ji-Hyuk pondered for a bit before sighing out grandly.
"I'll find out once I do it, I guess." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
One of the things he got to learn during ‘training' Ether users was that, ‘Ether' within a person could actually grow.
A Mana user's capacity wouldn't increase just because he or she used a lot of it. To Sorcerers, Mana was and always would be expendable goods. In order to increase their reserve, they need to seek another way.
That was why knights trained their b.u.t.ts off, while Sorcerers researched to find new ways. If one's Mana reserve increased simply by using more magic, then well, magic research centres in Berafe would be throwing fireworks around like crazy by now.
On the other hand, Ether would increase more the one used it.
Yi Ji-Hyuk realised this after training the Earth's ability users. Not just the amount of Ether they could accept increased, he was sure of the energy doing something else to proliferate once it entered their bodies.
Which meant, one needed to use more Ether if one wanted to increase its capacity.
After using it till one's very limit, and then use some more, the Ether reserve would increase, for sure. And an opponent that he'd get to dump his Ether till his limit was right in front of his eyes.
"Fu-wuu-heup." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk gritted his teeth and gathered even more Ether than before.
When he kept on doing that, he encountered a new problem of gathering Mana alongside as well. He'd been using that energy source for almost all of his life, so just by thinking about it, his body reacted and got ready to use it. He was aware of how difficult the task of only using Ether would be, but nevertheless, he needed to familiarise with doing precisely that.
He began pushing his Ether to the absolute limit.
"Hul??" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon watched this spectacle and his jaw fell to the floor.
How should he go about describing this? Yi Ji-Hyuk's entire body was now emitting a bright white light. Seeing such a scene, how could he not feel weirded out?
Should I say that's an LED?
Or a lightbulb? (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
For some reason, no adjectives sounded right, but still, this was a scene that such modifiers were necessary to adequately describe it.
"Something is a bit…." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Strangely enough, this spectacle might've been very cool to look at were it to happen within the silver screen, but seeing a person just emit light like that, it came across as simply weird, instead.
Isn't he kinda like a firefly now? (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
Completely not caring what other people were thinking about him, Yi Ji-Hyuk continued to focus his being on gathering more Ether.
"Urgh, this is harder than I thought." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It felt like he was trying to separate oil from water using just a ladle. If a small amount of water mixed in wasn't going to be an issue, he'd not hesitate to scoop out as much as he wanted to. But he was trying to accurately gather Ether only, and that meant he was spending a lot of mental energy here.
In any case, he had succeeded in achieving the delicate control.
"Okay, now then…!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just as he got ready to do something, the Cyclops's mace crashed down on his head.
"…That must've hurt." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon clicked his tongue.
Whenever someone tried to do something grand, an unexpected tackle would come from somewhere and derail the whole thing.
"D*mn." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
That evil Cyclops didn't stop at one blow and repeatedly pounded down with its mace. How could that creature be so evil?
A smile formed on Choi Jung-Hoon's lips next.
Why am I feeling so pleased right now?
It's like, I'm feeling a lot more refreshed than ever before. (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
All the true enemies they encountered so far were either absurdly strong or not quite ‘physical' enough; Choi Jung-Hoon couldn't intuitively understand just how much damage Yi Ji-Hyuk received in a fight where magic spells were flying around everywhere. And when in a battle against a creature boasting incredible physical power, he couldn't relaxedly watch on from the sidelines, either.
However, the current situation was different from all of those!
He knew that Yi Ji-Hyuk wouldn't get done in by a monster of that calibre, and the mace pounding away looked vicious enough, so every time it landed on its target, it felt as if every single one of his innards were feeling refreshed right now.
"Hah! Cider." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Cider??" (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL: explanation at the end)
An annoyed voice suddenly resounded out from within the dust cloud, prompting Choi Jung-Hoon to quickly wipe his smile away and explain himself.
"I'm just saying, I'd like to drink cider afterwards because of all this dust, you see. The fine dust blowing in from China is a serious problem nowadays…." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"You complaining about Chinese dust when there's one right in front of you?" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Ah…. Someone must be frying a mackerel somewhere." (Choi Jung-Hoon) (TL: another explanation at the end…)
Yi Ji-Hyuk gritted his teeth at Choi Jung-Hoon acting all innocent and like. Of course, he knew that his target right now was the monster, not a fellow human being.
"You stupid son of a b*tch!!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He was getting ready to do something cool, so why?!
"Don't you know that it's a common courtesy to wait for someone to finish transforming?!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
How dare it break the unspoken rule of battles between heroic warriors and the villains since time immemorial?
Such a transgression couldn't be forgiven!
Yi Ji-Hyuk's body began glowing once more.
Now that he had done it once before, the second time proved to be much easier.
"Excuse me, will you stop gathering your Ki and start attacking already? We might be here for the whole night waiting for you to go super." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Hey, since when did this guy become so cheeky like that? (Yi Ji-Hyuk's inner monologue)
As if he understood Choi Jung-Hoon's words, Yi Ji-Hyuk pounced forward towards the Cyclops like a bullet. The latter's speed was so fast that the former momentarily couldn't catch up to his movement.
"Eyeeeee!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk's fist slammed into the Cyclops's eye.
Although the monster quickly closed its eyelid to guard itself, the attack wasn't something that could be defended against by a thin layer of skin like that.
The monster screamed out in sheer pain.
"Eye! Eye! Eyyyye!!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Bang! Boom! Bang!!!!
Yi Ji-Hyuk began pummelling the monster in its eye.
Choi Jung-Hoon pulled the cigarette out from his pocket once more and lit it up. He sucked in a deep, deep breath and let the smoke out from his lungs while muttering to himself.
"What a clingy fella…." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
He then shook his head in helplessness.
Seriously, he doesn't want to listen to other people, does he?
< 240.="" what="" did="" you="" summon,="" then?="" -5=""> Fin.
(TL: 'Cider' bit, in case you're not aware, means feeling 'refreshed'. It comes from a Korean TV advert for a soda similar to Sprite. Remember, 'cider' means clear, transparent soda in South Korea.)
(TL: As for the 'mackerel' bit, I'm not too sure, but the closest I can think of is the stink – frying a mackerel usually causes a bit of heady stink, you see. So, Choi Jung-Hoon is pretending to not hear the MC's words and searching for the cause of the imaginary smell, instead.)