Murim Login (Novel) Chapter 296


Chapter 296

Time had become a blur.

His memories – of a name, a family, friends, lovers – had faded into the abyss of oblivion. Even the echoes of his birthplace and his past life had vanished.

Emerging from an enveloping darkness into consciousness, he found himself amidst the dense, whispering trees of a forest.

'Where is this place?'

But such queries were soon drowned out by a monstrous instinct, urging him into relentless combat.

He fought against humans – his former kin – and other beasts of the night.

In life, he had been a revered knight; in this new existence, his prowess only grew, fueled by burgeoning dark magic. His dominion expanded, soon eclipsing even the necromancer who once commanded the undead in the vast Black Forest.

- This... this creature! How dare a mere Skeleton Knight...!

- Tha- Tha- That... Ah!

Crack!

With a resonant crack, the Fallen Knight claimed his new title.

He was the ruler of the Black Forest, now known as the Skeleton Warlord.

'Is this my new reality?'

He marveled at his transformation, feeling an overwhelming surge of magical energy within the forest infusing his skeletal form with immense power.

To this reborn entity, a small band of humans seemed inconsequential.

'They are few and all seem terrified.'

To humans, death is the ultimate fear.

To him, already a dead being, such human fear seemed laughable.

'Run away. And bring me more souls for my legion!'

Now the undisputed lord of the Black Forest and commander of an undead army, he dreamed of expanding his reign beyond these darkened woods.

With thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, under his command, he would need new territories to conquer.

Only then could he truly transform, not just as a commander of the undead, but as a true sovereign.

'I shall leave this place and conquer more territories.'

It was during this contemplation that he noticed something peculiar.

Among the scattering humans, one stood out.

'That one is...'

The human was valiantly battling three Skeleton Knights.

Surprisingly, he understood every word uttered by this human, a stark contrast to the unintelligible speech of others.

"It’s fine. Just go!”

How did this happen? He speaks the demon world's tongue with such fluency.

Could he be more than human, perhaps a monster in disguise?

He was oblivious to the System bestowed upon Jin Tae-Kyung, especially the [Integrated Language Pack].

To him, this human was merely a potential asset, a future minion for his undead legion.

- So. Fool. Ish. Human.

But he should have known.

That he himself was the foolish one.

“Phew, they’re finally safe.”

- What. The․ Hell. Are. You. Schem. Ing?

Leading all his forces into this constricted path was a grave mistake.

“You all are going to die here. That’s all you need to know."

- What. Did. You. Say?

The answer came swiftly.

"One Strike."

Swoooosh!

As the blue flame wrapped in a dragon's breath soared, the Skeleton Warlord experienced a long-forgotten terror.

It was a fear of death which had become more of a friend than a source of dread.

- 'Every. One. Flee...!'

But his command was lost in the inferno.

A wave of blue flames consumed him and hundreds of his skeletal followers.

Kwaaaaaa!

***

- All energy and physical strength exhausted!

- Status abnormality. [Exhaustion] has set in!

- You have defeated [Lv92. Skeleton Knight]!

- You have gained a substantial amount of experience!

- You have defeated [Lv75. Skeleton Warrior]!

- You have gained a small amount of experience!

- You have defeated [Lv78. Skeleton Mage]!

- You have gained a small amount of experience………!

.

.

.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

The system notifications pierced my ears, relentless in their rhythm.

Suddenly, the world spun around me.

My legs buckled under the unforeseen weight of the spear in my grasp.

I thrust its blade into the ground, a desperate measure to keep myself upright.

'Damn, I'm going to die.'

One Strike, my most formidable skill, demands energy and physical strength, unleashing unprecedented power.

As my martial prowess grew, so did my control over this power, but its aftermath remained brutally taxing.

'One Strike is as dangerous as it is powerful. A do-or-die mindset won't let you live long.'

Efficiency in combat is key; maximum impact with minimal exertion.

But overreliance on One Strike is perilous – it's a final move, leaving no room for error.

Yet, this moment was an exception.

'If not now, then when?'

The narrow path lay crowded with monsters, a perfect setup for One Strike.

I plunged into [Exhaustion], a necessary toll for my strategy, but always with a plan B in place.

Ding.

- Mass Slaughter! You have gained a tremendous amount of experience!

- Level Up!

- You have gained points!

- All status abnormalities have been recovered!

As I anticipated this alert, a wave of rejuvenation swept through me.

Swoooosh.

My drained energy center refilled while strength returned to my shaky limbs.

My blurred vision gradually cleared, revealing the aftermath of One Strike.

"Wow………”

Expectations were one thing, but this... this was inconceivable.

In awe, I clicked my tongue at the carnage sprawled before me.

Crackle, crackle.

The path had doubled in width, a testament to the might of One Strike.

Giant trees and rocks that once stood majestically were now uprooted, their remnants scattered amidst the scorched earth. Amidst this desolation, piles of bones, remnants of the undead, smoldered in the dying flames.

'How many did I take down in one go?'

Among the destruction, some figures still stirred - not alive, but not yet fully vanquished. Perhaps fifty of these creatures lingered, though they were hardly more than shadows of their former selves.

'Did I take down about three hundred?'

Now I understand why the System called it a mass slaughter.

Although the reward of experience points felt meager in comparison to the magnitude of the act.

"Only one level up for all that effort. Stingy."

I clicked my tongue, turning my attention to the remaining skeletons.

Every bit of experience was crucial now, as the requirements for each level up grew exponentially.

- Screech. Screeech.

Crunch!

With a swift motion, I obliterated the skull of a skeleton crawling pathetically without its legs.

Ding.

- You have defeated [Lv73. Skeleton Warrior]!

- You have gained a small amount of experience!

Damn, they really skimp on the experience points.

Grumbling, I turned my head to look for the next monster.

"Oh. Oh wow. Could that be...?"

A surge of warmth flooded my heart, my eyes sparkling with recognition and excitement.

I approached a small mound of dirt, my heart beating with anticipation.

There, amidst the rubble, lay the remains of a formidable adversary: a skeleton, now reduced to merely a head. Its ghostly flame, once fierce, flickered feebly, akin to a candle in the wind.

Yet, it was unmistakable.

[Lv.105 Skeleton Warlord]

A broad smile spread across my face as I greeted the decapitated foe.

"Nice to see you, friend!"

- .........

"You were here! Why didn't you say something sooner?"

- Creak. Creeeak?

"This sly thing, pretending to be a mere Skeleton Warrior?"

I feigned a sigh of disappointment, lifting my spear with a theatrical flourish.

"Ah, what a letdown. Just a regular mob. I'll have to kill it."

- Wait. A moment!

"Gasp. It speaks. Could it be?"

- Yes. It's. Me.

The eyes of the Skeleton Warlord widened, an odd hint of urgency in its disjointed speech.

- Ruler of. The Black Forest. Commander of the undead. The Warlord. That's who I am.

"Wow! A Warlord!"

- Do you. Recognize me. Now?

"Wow! Experience points!"

- ...What. Did you. Say?

The Warlord, sensing the shift in the air, spoke more hastily.

- You don't mean to kill me, do you?

This guy... even his speech gets smoother when he's desperate.

"Who's dying? You're already dead."

- Even in death, I can die and die again a hundred times over!

"………Jeong Mong-Ju?" [Note: Jeong Mong-Ju was a prominent Korean scholar, statesman, and poet during the Goryeo Dynasty. He wrote the famous poem "Dansim-ga", or "Song of the Faithful Heart". The Skeleton Warlord is referencing this poem, where the direct quote would be "Though I die and die again a hundred times".]

Did he just reference the 'Dansim-ga'? Seems like he's read some classics.

My disbelief must have been evident, as the Warlord clacked its jawbone in frustration.

- Human. How about we make a deal instead?

"A deal?"

- Yes. I can offer you many things.

"Start with your offer."

- Start with... What does that mean?

"List what you can give. Then I'll decide.”

Seemingly deep in contemplation, the Warlord eventually replied.

- I am the ruler of this forest. I shall bestow upon you this vast Black Forest!

"The Black Forest is already ours."

- ・・・・・・Nani?

"I have exclusive rights to the gate, so it doesn't matter."

- Exclusive rights to the gate? Though I am unfamiliar with such a concept, surely ruling this forest would be a superior option!

"Nah. I prefer coming here when the monsters respawn and doing a sweep hunt."

- A sweep hunt! You dare to hunt us, mere human!

"Yeah. I'm even thinking of sending one more to the other side right now."

Crunch.

The grip on the skull tightened, and the Warlord frantically rattled its jaw, a note of desperation in its voice.

- Wait! Hold on! I just heard a strange noise!

"Now that I think about it, how can you hear without ears? You're quite a curiosity."

- There's a crack at the top of my skull! If this continues, I'll be annihilated!

"Wow! Loads of experience points!"

- You brute! I am the ruler of the Black Forest, the commander of the undead………

Crack!

- Ruler of the Black Forest! Commander of the undead! Show mercy!

"......."

This creature's knack for changing tactics rivals that of Hyuk Mu-Jin.

While engaging in such extended dialogue with a monster was novel, it was high time to end these theatrics.

"Open inventory. Summon dagger."

Swoosh.

As the blue blade shimmered before its eyes, the Warlord inquired, its voice quivering.

- What? What are you planning to do?

"Hmm? Nothing much. Just close your eyes and stay still. It'll be over quickly."

- Over? What do you mean?

"Shh, quiet. Keep your jaw still. Even bones lose their value when chipped."

The remains of the wyvern and the One-eyed Carus I had previously conquered were as precious as gold. I wondered which part of this skeleton would prove most lucrative.

'Even a named monster's skull could fetch a high price as a decoration, right?'

Despite its decay, the bone glistened with a dark luster, oddly captivating.

I planned to ensure its complete destruction first, then collect the nearby bones.

- Wait! Just wait a moment, please!

Click! Tadadadadak!

"Ah, this guy is really noisy."

I was about to clamp down on the Warlord's constantly chattering jaw when it blurted out something unexpected.

- Ex- experience points! I will give you experience points!

"Right. I was about to collect them anyway, so can you stay still? And you don't even know what experience points are."

- No! I will give them to you! I will somehow order my minions to gather and bring them!

"What nonsense. Experience points aren't objects……"

My words trailed off, a sudden, intriguing idea sparking in my mind.

Could this actually work?

"You said you're the ruler of the Black Forest, right?"

- Yes. Yes, yes!

"How many minions do you have?"

- All of them! All of them! Not right now, but if I roam around the Black Forest, I can summon over a thousand!

"A thousand?"

- That's the minimum! Have you forgotten who I am?

“Skeleton Warlord.”

- Yes. No soldier dares to defy their commander. The lower entities cannot oppose me!

"Hmm."

- I will scour the Black Forest, even turn it upside down, to find what you desire!

Observing the flicker of its desperate green eyes, I mulled over the proposal.

And my deliberation didn't last long.

"Hey."

- Yes.

"Let's work on something together."

- What kind of work…?

“Just do as you're told.”

A mischievous grin spread across my face, causing the Warlord's skull to quiver in apprehension.

---
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