Chapter 8: Chivalry (1)
Kim Jin-su, the party leader and tank of the raid team, swallowed his saliva as the horde of skeletons closed in.
“There’s too damn many of them.”
“Umm, Team Leader, should we distribute potions?”
“…Distribute them at maximum capacity.”
Unlike the private hunter guilds that spared no expense in raiding the Gate, the association’s raid team had limited resources and budget.
They couldn’t supply an abundance of instant strengthening potions or life-saving recovery potions during critical moments like the hunter guilds could.
After all, the Hunter Association was a government-affiliated organization, and exceeding the predetermined budget was difficult.
“Still, it’s fortunate that we’re up against skeletons.”
“But don’t let your guard down. Even a blind sword can strike.”
Skeletons were the easiest among the undead to deal with.
Strength primarily comes from muscles, and although hunters who awakened their magical powers had a greater emphasis on that aspect, the basics remained the same for living beings.
Skeletons were bizarre boneheads without a single muscle. They moved through the power of their souls or magic.
Their fundamental power was different, so caution was needed, especially against skeleton archers shooting blind arrows or occasional skeleton mages.
Team leader Kim shouted to his subordinates.
“Deputy Sa, Employee Park, both tankers, fall back! Join forces with Deputy Han’s two dealers as reserves!”
They were the youngest and most talented friends within the party. Kim Jin-su designated them as reserves and scanned for any skeleton mages that might appear.
“How many archers and mages do you see?”
“I can see around thirty archers and two mages!”
“Prioritize dealing with snipers who have long-range skills, and the shield-bearing ones should intercept the approaching ones! Trust me, you bastards!”
The skeleton army charged forward, their bone masses colliding with a frightening force. Kim, the manager, felt the weight of his shield heavier than expected.
‘It’s heavier than I thought. Is the crimson gate really different=?’
However, as a B-rank tank, he could endure even such a weight. With one hand, he blocked the frontal skeleton warriors, and with the other hand, he swung his warhammer, shattering their skulls.
That’s when it happened. An arrow flew through the gaps between the skeleton’s ribs. Fortunately, his shield was slightly longer, narrowly avoiding a shot to the knee.
‘What the hell? Skeleton archers can snipe too?’
Manager Kim was taken aback for a moment, but he shouted as he cut down the new skeleton.
“Archers, mages, take care of those bastards quickly! The blind arrows from the skeleton archers are the most dangerous!”
In retaliation, the snipers among the association’s hunters quickly aimed and took down the skeleton archers. With their skulls pierced one by one, Kim smiled in satisfaction.
That’s when it happened. A magic circle appeared in front of them. The skeleton mages had cast a spell.
‘Damn it, we don’t even have a single mage here, but they have skeletal mages too!’
The fee of Magic Tower’s mages were usually very high. Manager Kim shouted, swallowing the sorrow of the organization of the poor.
“It’s me! I’m right here!”
His voice carried magical power. The threat level suddenly escalated, and the attention of the skeleton mages turned towards Kim.
Thanks to that, the coordinates for the bombing spell that was about to fall in the middle of the party shifted. It was a direct hit on Kim.
As thunder struck down from the magic circle, it directly hit Kim, the manager. However, he endured it. He was able to withstand it.
“I’m fine… Just a tingling sensation. This armor is expensive—”
At that moment, a shadow enveloped Kim. He locked eyes with the ‘gaze.’
A head nestled on its waist. A headless knight. A gigantic warhorse. All of them stared at him.
In a moment when his body was paralyzed and unable to react, the headless knight charging alongside the colossal warhorse crashed into Kim Jin-su, the manager.
Manger Kim was sent flying with a thud. Voices calling out to him echoed from all directions, but they soon turned into screams.
The headless knight, Dullahan. The boss of this dungeon began rampaging with its enormous sword.
“Wh-what, what kind of greatsword is so fast…?!”
“What are you doing? Seal off the openings!”
After the devastating cavalry charge, openings appeared. Skeletons poured in through those openings.
Skeletons weren’t formidable opponents. With the right formation, even a party focused on D-rank could handle them easily.
On the contrary, the most critical moment for skeletons was chaos.
Unless you broke their skeletal structure, they could move even with just finger bones and end up entangling with allies.
“Ah, Manager Kim!”
Han Hari, who was on standby as reserves, and the rest of the party couldn’t help but be stunned as they witnessed the collapse of the front line.
“What should we do? We have to rescue them, Assistant Han!”
They had to save them. They needed to provide immediate support. That’s why they had prepared the reserves. However, Han Hari naturally directed her gaze towards Leon, who was waiting behind her. If that’s the case… If even the Great Demon himself, the self-proclaimed Lionheart, would dare to intervene…
“Your Majesty! We humbly request your assistance!”
Everyone’s gaze naturally turned towards Leon. However, in response to those gazes, Leon only narrowed his eyes disdainfully.
“There is no need for a king to take the forefront in such a small battle.”
“What? What do you mean…!”
“One must find a way to elevate their own honor. Is it worth moving my body for such insignificant bones?”
The Knight King genuinely expressed his disgust towards the group and didn’t draw his sword.
“To think that my sword would touch such lowly undead skeletons is an insult not just to the goddess but also to me. It sickens me even to watch.”
What is he even saying, seriously!
But Hari understood it clearly. This man had no intention of stepping forward. His gaze is solely fixated on the headless knight, as if finding it interesting.
“Assistant Han! What should we do?!”
“Damn it! The reserves, go now!”
Hari unsheathed her sword. While the allies entangled with skeletons were in danger, the most dangerous one was the Dullahan, who was rampaging in the formation.
“I will take care of the boss, please support Manager Kim and our allies!”
She took her position. Using the skeletons as stepping stones, she leaped through the air and swiftly approached the Dullahan.
A deadly surprise attack, even without a sound. However, the Dullahan, whether his eyes were on the back of his head or not, leaned the greatsword on his back to block Hari’s attack.
“H-He blocked it?”
The surprise attack was thwarted in an instant. It was a setback, but there was another move.
Ignoring the Dullahan’s words, she immediately spun in a whirlwind motion. Swish! With a cunning maneuver, she sliced its chest.
However, the strike was blocked by the Dullahan’s armor, resulting in just a scratch.
“Ah… I should have bought a more expensive sword!”
Within the limited budget, it was the best weapon she could afford. However, the dungeon boss’s armor was much heavier and sturdier than anticipated.
Hari was satisfied that she had successfully drawn the Dullahan’s attention towards herself. In fact, the Dullahan, unlike when he was rampaging recklessly, was now focused solely on her, pulling on the reins of his horse.
In response to her provocation, the pulled reins moved the horse. With just a slight distance between them, the Dullahan launched the most aggressive cavalry charge.
Thud! The Dullahan crashed into Hari, a charge that even knocked away Kim Jinsu, a B-rank tanker, in an instant. The intense impact was about to be transmitted to her—
At the moment of impact, flames erupted. The impact of the charge was cushioned by the flames. Hari, realizing that it wasn’t ordinary fire, smirked at the Dullahan.
“Sorry, my skills have quite a wide range.”
As if waiting for this moment, flames erupted from her sword.
She had been waiting for the cavalry charge to move away from her allies before unleashing her skill.
The flames ignited by the rotational force of her heart instantly turned into a massive inferno, engulfing the Dullahan.
A scream echoed from the burning the Dullahan. Hari didn’t stop and pierced through his burning head.
The confident strike that ensured victory made a surprisingly cheerful sound, as if the attack had collided with steel.
“He blocked it with the flat side of his greatsword in that situation?”
-Hooh. With someone’s admiration and a momentary pause, a fist flies through the flames.
Hari rolls on the ground from the single strike. She couldn’t expect to defeat him with one strike. However, there was no satisfaction in it at all.
At that moment, hunters rush to assist Hari. However, their attacks couldn’t surpass the Dullahan’s swordsmanship.
With a swift swing of his greatsword, taller than a person, the Dullahan easily blocks their attacks and counterattacks with the same momentum.
It may be an unavoidable choice to protect the critical weakness of his head, but the Dullahan’s overwhelming display, overpowering the hunters with such penalties, is truly awe-inspiring.
The overwhelming mastery of swordsmanship. It was a moment of receiving fatal attacks, blocking them, and counter-attacking with a fatal strike.
At that moment,
A booming voice resounds throughout the dungeon, shaking the whole place.
All eyes turn towards the blond man at the rear.
* * * *
To call him a headless knight was to disdain the undead.
Leon had always felt a strong aversion towards the wretched things.
From skeleton soldiers, ghouls, corpse golems, to death knights.
There was no honor or glory in raising the dead and using them as meat shields.
Devoid of their former skills, relying solely on strength and magic, they were not even worthy opponents for a knight of the Holy Grail.
“I was mistaken. It seems that thing is not a simple undead.”
Having faced countless undead, Leon had never encountered someone with such skill in wielding a sword.
It’s impossible for the undead to perform such precise swordsmanship in the first place. How can a damned creature exhibit such refined sword skills?
And so, he decided to step into the fight.
If he witnessed an exceptional knight, wouldn’t it be dishonorable not to defeat him?
His booming voice grabbed everyone’s attention, even the skeletons were not exempt.
“First, let me apologize. To mistake a great knight like you for a lowly undead is a result of the shallow perception of this King.”
The Dullahan put aside his sword that he was about to swing at Hari and listened to his words.
“You, despite wielding a single-handed sword, possess excellent swordsmanship. The utilization of strategy and tactics. You must have been a renowned knight in your lifetime.”
He was addressing the dungeon boss. Even the hunters stood frozen in this absurd situation.
“Very well! I, Leon Dragonia Lionheart, the Lionheart King, permit you to speak your name! Declare your name!”
The Dullahan did not respond. He couldn’t do so accurately.
It had no vocal cords. He was closer to an undead being driven by a lingering spirit, but he wasn’t an undead. He had no means of communication with the ethereal fairy.
Understanding this, Leon nodded.
“Hmm… I see. This king has been impolite. It is regrettable that I do not know your name, but let it be a tragic consequence of the battlefield.”
“…No, Your Majesty.”
How can he talk to the boss… Hari couldn’t bring herself to say the rest of her sentence.
Leon, undisturbed by the hunters’ astonishment, continued speaking in his own way.
“To the nameless knight! I grant you the right to challenge the Lionheart King to a duel!”
A duel? No, not even a duel request, but the right to request a duel? To a monster?
It was an unprecedented event in history since the appearance of the Gate. However, his actions didn’t stop there.
“There’s no need to harm the soldiers. Let’s end this fight with an honorable duel between knights!”
Would that even work? At that moment, everyone swallowed those words.
It was an unprecedented occurrence. The dungeon boss accepted the hunters’ request for a duel?
No, there wasn’t even a hunter who originally requested a one-on-one duel!
But the saga didn’t end there.
“Hmm… However, it appears that as a knight, I lack a warhorse necessary for the duel. Due to circumstances, I am currently unable to prepare a horse. This is clearly the king’s fault…”
So, what should be done…?
“Knight, for the sake of your honor, wouldn’t you agree to have a fair and honorable duel on foot?”
Why would the boss descend from his horse…?
It’s coming down?!
Hari and the hunters couldn’t close their gaping mouths. The headless rider, wielding a sword larger than a person, riding on horseback, dismounted on its own.
For a fair duel between honorable knights!
In no time, they moved away from the chaotic battle and formed a circle, leaving the hunters bewildered.