I Became the Youngest Disciple of the Martial God
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
Arzan and Calzark didn’t immediately understand what Luan was shouting about.
It took a few seconds for them to fully process his words—it wasn’t like he’d said “The Sapphire Snake has babies inside the cave.”
Calzark immediately checked his surroundings, and it wasn’t difficult for him to sense the group of creatures approaching the cave entrance.
What the hell is this...
However, sensing was different from not panicking. Calzark’s mind went white as soon as he detected them.
Just... when had it laid eggs? And how had he not known?
Right after Calzark processed these thoughts, he saw what Luan had seen. He saw the area that had become visible behind the cracked wall.
The moment he saw the white eggshells, a chill went down his spine.
This situation... It hid them from me on purpose?
Calzark felt a new sense of fear.
He’d known the gem beast was smart. He’d been the one to tell Arzan and Luan such in the first place.
However, he’d been too arrogant.
Although he treated the gem beast as his life’s enemy, he’d still thought of it as just a beast. He’d thought it couldn’t be as smart as a human.
But in this moment, he fully realized how wrong that thought had been. This monster, which he’d thought was just a beast, had completely fooled Calzark while also hiding its wicked intent.
Just as the gem beast was the target of Calzark’s rage and hatred, the gem beast might’ve also thought of Calzark as an overly tenacious and annoying enemy to face.
That was why it had hidden the fact that it had eggs.
This monster might not understand deception or laying traps for others... but it had instinctively realized that hiding these eggs would turn the situation in its favor.
That was why the gem beast had blocked one of the entrances with its huge body and raised its children in secret.
If that’s the case...
The snake taking over this cave as its lair might have actually been the start of its insidious plan.
While Calzark had been engaged in a mental tug-of-war against the gem beast, the gem beast had been successfully nurturing its children.
All so that, in the future, these snakes could kill Calzark in their mother’s stead.
Calzark, you idiot. How did you not notice?!
Thinking about it, there were multiple oddities.
The Sapphire Snake was much weaker than it should have been...
Its hibernation had lasted far too long even though it was winter...
And although the gem beast was known to change its dwelling at every opportunity, it had remained in this cave for a few years now.
What if Luan hadn’t come here? What if he’d decided not to subjugate the gem beast today and instead waited another half a year?
Calzark would’ve continued to look for an opening like an idiot and then been ripped apart by the snake’s children, which would be fully grown in a few months.
The children of the gem beast slithered toward them.
Compared to their mother, these snakes were still small, but their small size made them quite nimble.
Calzark moved toward the group of baby snakes and cut through them.
From this short exchange, it became clear that the strength of their scales wasn’t anything to scoff at either.
Just how many are there?
At a glance, he could see at least a few dozen.
Calzark had to use quite a bit of mana to properly kill one or two, but he wasn’t in a situation where he could afford to keep wasting mana like that.
In the first place, the enemy that he needed to absolutely destroy was the Sapphire Snake itself.
He’d been so close to getting his revenge, so he’d used his mana without much worry during the fight.
As he thought about it now, he should’ve suspected something was off from that moment.
He’d thought the gem beast didn’t feel as strong as it used to because Luan and Arzan had joined the fight, or perhaps because he’d been in better condition, but that was wrong.
The Sapphire Snake had been exhausted after laying its eggs.
This isn’t good.
If he ran out of mana, not even he would be able to deal proper damage to these snakes.
Honestly, it was enough to make his future seem bleak, but he didn’t intend to lie down and die.
Calzark gritted his teeth and imbued the edge of his sword with mana.
“Come here if you want to die with your mother!” he shouted. “You bastards!”
Maybe the snakes understood his cursing.
Maybe that was the case, or maybe they were just threatened by Calzark’s shouts.
Regardless, Calzark’s shouting succeeded in attracting the snakes’ attention, and I used that moment to think.
Firstly, there was the gem beast.
At this point, it’ll die even if we don’t do anything to it.
...On the other hand, that meant it was still alive.
Something might happen.
If left alone, perhaps it would regenerate. Enough blood had been spilled from the snake to make a pond, but one couldn’t underestimate the life force of a gem beast.
I looked at Calzark and Arzan.
Firstly, I was surprised by Arzan’s movements.
She was using the same movements she’d used when we were trying to escape the assassins before.
But it seemed like the skill might have a severe drawback; even from afar, I could tell her body was starting to falter.
She won’t last long.
Calzark’s situation looked worse than hers. That couldn’t be helped, though, since he had already given his all to kill the gem beast.
To make matters worse, he had pulled the attention of most of the young snakes, so he might die at any moment if he made a mistake.
In other words, the person in the best condition was me.
I was the only one who could turn the tides of the current situation.
* * * * *
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
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* * * * *
With that decided, I didn’t hesitate a single moment longer. I instantly enacted the plan I’d thought up.
I stepped on the tail that had become tattered from the repeated attacks and used it as a boost to run directly up the snake’s back.
The snake screamed as it twisted its body.
Calzark should’ve cut into it at least ten times by now, but it still had this much strength left?
The cave was massive, but it wasn’t large enough to accommodate this hill-sized gem beast’s tantrums. The gem beast’s rampage made its body hit the floor, walls, and sometimes even the ceiling.
The entire cave shook as if it was going to collapse at any moment.
Did this bastard want to crush everyone here?
I thought about it for a moment but ultimately rejected the idea.
Its kids were still present, and the wounds it had endured weren’t light enough for it to survive if it did.
Since it was smart enough to have laid this trap, I weirdly felt that I could trust it to follow my expectations.
In any case, it was flopping around like it was atop a fire, making it difficult for me to run along its back. But it also made the young snakes chasing after me fall off.
Although it was a little weird to be thankful for such a thing, I was able to remain on the snake’s back by moving a little slower.
But suddenly, the gem beast’s movement stopped.
I freaked out as I heard the sound of air being sucked up.
Calzark had mentioned this phenomenon.
The moment I heard Calzark’s shout from somewhere below me...
Coldness spread out from the gem beast’s entire body.
Usually, breath attacks originate from the mouth.
But it’s said that snakes and amphibians such as frogs can breathe through their skin too.
So was this snake able to use its breath attack through its skin to exude cold ki as well?
Arzan nearly lost consciousness from the raging snowstorm. It had been chilly enough before, but now, she thought she might actually freeze to death.
...That would probably be the case if she fell unconscious.
Arzan let out a warm breath.
She needed to use mana. Pump the heart and make the body circulate the blood that had slowed down.
But it didn’t go as she wanted. The cold ki had already invaded deep into her body. It was... too cold...
...I can’t move. This is much colder than what I heard from Master beforehand.
The snake should’ve been in a weakened state after birth, so how was its cold ki so strong?
Arzan looked around the cave and quickly realized the reason.
It wasn’t just the gem beast that was using its breath; its children had also understood their mother’s intent and were using their breath as well.
Arzan gripped her dagger.
She honestly couldn’t tell if her grip was tight or loose. She’d lost feeling in her entire body from the cold.
This was everything Arzan could do right now.
Although she was the farthest from the gem beast, she’d still been left in this state.
Calzark, who had been swinging his sword near the snake, and Luan, who had been running up the gem beast’s back, would already have frozen to death.
Arzan could feel her consciousness starting to slip as well.
Yet, in this situation, where she couldn’t even draw blood from her lips by biting down...
Arzan felt like she saw something unbelievable.
In this area that was dense with cold ki, on the back of the gem beast that looked like it was carved from ice, she saw a rising pillar of fire.
I’d nearly died.
That wasn’t a joke. Spirit Mountain had just flashed before my eyes.
I would’ve instantly turned into an ice sculpture if I’d realized just a second later that it was emitting cold ki.
Of course, I was fine right now. I wasn’t frozen solid, or even feeling the cold.
And that wasn’t all.
I was still running.
From the moment the gem beast had started emitting its cold ki, I hadn’t stopped running.
This was the reason I was still alive.
I’d used the sun shadow steps to cover my entire body—especially the soles of my feet—with fire ki.
I didn’t need to control my firepower like when I’d fought against the assassin because I didn’t need to try and confuse my target’s perceptions.
As a result, every time I stepped down, a burning footstep was left on the snake’s back...
Despite being in such a critical situation, I habitually decided to name this technique...
Sun Shadow Step, Flame Dash
It surely burned a lot.
I was putting all of my internal energy into each step.
For the weakened gem beast, each flaming step had to be unbelievably painful. Because my steps were holding my entire weight, maybe it felt like small meteors repeatedly falling on its back.
In any case, the breath attack might have been its final act because it didn’t even seem to have the strength to struggle like before.
Thanks to that, I was running quite fast without any impediment.
But when I was about halfway up the gem beast’s back, its kids, which had fallen off before, started to catch up to me again.
Quite the filial children, caring for their mother like so. Snakes were usually seen as cold-blooded, y’know?
But it looks like they at least care about each other.
Then what should I do now?
I couldn’t stop running, first of all. It would be the end of me if I became surrounded at this point.
And running to the end wasn’t going to work out either.
Although the snake was unbelievably long, it naturally had an end. I would have no choice but to jump down after reaching its head, and I would be instantly surrounded when I landed on the ground.
...Even while thinking, my internal energy was being drained at a rapid pace as I continued to flame dash.
Right on time, I reached the snake’s head, and I looked behind me while I caught my breath.
The swarm of baby snakes were approaching me quickly. At that moment, when I needed to make a decision...
I poured my internal energy into my fist.
White Sun Form, Sixth Technique.
My first, coated with a red flame, struck down on the gem beast’s head.
The gem beast’s scales cracked, and I felt its skull get crushed beneath my fist.
Although half my internal energy was spent on this one attack, it was fine.
With this, I was sure that the gem beast—that the Sapphire Snake was completely dead.
The gem beast’s huge body fell to the ground, and I saw the gem beast’s kids that were chasing after me fall off of it.
Although they fell from pretty high up, I didn’t expect any of them would be hurt by the fall.
It would be a miracle for me if a few of them crushed each other or even got tangled up.
In any case, while their pursuit of me was delayed for a second, I successfully landed on the ground.
I saw the Sapphire Snake dead with its mouth wide open. I saw blood flowing from its eyes, mouth, and where Arzan had cut off its tongue.
I stepped right into the Sapphire Snake’s mouth.
A moment later, the baby snakes all charged toward me. Perhaps they realized that their mother was dead, because they all looked pretty enraged.
I looked at my enemies and let out a breath.
The snake’s mouth. This was the battlefield I’d chosen.
It was a damp and unpleasant place, but in this place, I only needed to focus on what was in front of me.
At the very least, I wouldn’t be surrounded here.
Though that means I don’t have anywhere to run either.
I let out a self-deprecating laugh. Since I’d come here, I no longer had any thought of running away.
There were only two possible outcomes: either I killed all these snake bastards, or I would be killed.
Of course, I wasn’t going to die in a smelly place like this.
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