Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The setting sun cast an amber light from the far west, while the sky above Dragon Clouds City had begun to dim.
Somewhere in a narrow alleyway however, the sounds of clashing metal could be heard. Flickering sparks from swords illuminated the two rivals in a bitter sword fight!
Kohen clenched his teeth. He was hunched down as he raised his saber over his head out of instinct, fending off the slash from his opponent.
‘It’s impossible to tell which direction my rival is going to strike.
‘Sooner or later, I’ll lose the fight.’
Kohen breathed in deeply and took a couple of steps back, distancing himself from his opponent.
Up to this point, their weapons had clashed a total of six times. Kohen stared at his enemy’s hand-and-a-half sword, pondering over the effects of his Power of Eradication. It was capable of masking the directions of his attacks.
Nonetheless, that was not what worried him the most.
The police officer’s right hand was trembling uncontrollably. Glory of the Stars flashed silver glimmers of light all over his skin, diffusing the violent Power of Eradication of his opponent, which targeted and numbed his arm.
‘This is bad.’
Like his last encounter with another Disaster Sword, this vile power could be transmitted through swords into human bodies. It infiltrated, affected and destroyed any tissue component that could channel the Power of Eradication.
The muscles in Kohen’s right arm began to tighten and his face was grim.
“Good saber. Too bad it’s not very useful in narrow spaces like this.” The young man gazed at Kohen’s black-handled silver saber, smiling away. “Does it have a name?”
The young man was certain of his victory: the alley limited the movement of his opponent’s weapon, whereas his hand-and-a-half sword could move with ease. Coupled with his formidable Power of Eradication… Well, he gritted his teeth smugly.
He had all the advantages in this fight in terms of physical environment, strategy, strength, and skill.
‘This is the man sent by the Tower of Eradication to hunt us down?’
The young man stared at his opponent, smiling to himself and shaking his head.
“Kohen Karabeyan,” Kohen answered coldly.
Just like Groudon, whom he met at Red Street Market, the young man’s power was ruthlessly aggressive. Kohen’s arm felt a tingle of pain during their last exchange, which acutely affected his movement.
‘In other words, chaos and ferocity are complementing qualities. The abilities to cause numbing, painful sensations and mess with his opponent’s sense of direction are the characteristics of his Power of Eradication?
‘In that case…’ Kohen sighed, clutching his fist.
“Oh, I wasn’t asking for your name.” The young man narrowed his eyes, pointing his sword between Kohen’s eyes. “I was asking for the name of your sword.”
‘My soon-to-be prize.’
He watched as Kohen exhaled and switched hands to hold the blade. Kohen then said. “You mean this saber? Oh, this is a family heirloom. As for its name…”
Kohen’s expression darkened.
“It’ll tell you itself!”
The silver saber was inches from the young man in a split second.
After maintaining a defensive position for the last two exchanges, Kohen went on the offensive for the first time with a merciless stab.
Without a sliver of doubt, his young opponent swung his arm confidently. He felt his Power of Eradication, accompanied by the energy of prickling ferocity surging up within him. Elated by the aching sensation, he made a lunge at Kohen with his hand-and-a-half sword in hand.
A smile crept across his face.
The young man knew that his power had far exceeded those of the obsolescent Swordsmen of Eradication—regardless of whether they were trainees or skilled swordsmen, who had long been in the field.
The young man felt a ping of pain as the power flowed in his veins. It was strong and destructive way beyond anyone could ever imagined—especially the way it infiltrated into his enemies’ bodies and unleashed its wrath on them like a fiendish beast.
The fight would then end with a clear winner, or so he thought.
The young man was suddenly surprised.
He realized that there was something different about his opponent this time!
Kohen’s saber had a brief contact with his hand-and-a-half sword, but it was without any intention to spar or block its attack. The two blades bounced off each other after the light impact!
The young man frowned slightly, while Kohen struck again.
He attempted another stab!
The young man warded off the blade, which was aimed at his abdomen. He watched in disbelief as Kohen parried his sword with another light touch, avoiding direct contact at all cost.
‘This fellow…’ Astonished, the young man gritted his teeth. ‘What’s going on?
“Come on!” the young man shouted. Having his movement considerably restrained, the vile energy inside him was amplified. Again, Kohen immediately felt the tingle on his skin. “Are you afraid of a direct confrontation?”
In response, the latter showed no sign of apprehension or agitation.
Instead, he kept on charging at his enemy… one stab after another!
“Do you still think you can confuse your opponent with your elusive power?” Kohen said coldly as he attempted another attack!
Alarmed and enraged, the young man spun his sword, trying to shackle Kohen’s saber with one of the sword styles of eradication—the ‘Blade Lock’.
Nevertheless, Kohen promptly withdrew his sword after the momentary clash, refusing to linger even for a second. He left his opponent no chance for a counterattack!
“Relying on your Power of Eradication— that’s your tactic?” Kohen said in a calm manner, hoping to upset his opponent as he briskly advanced. “Like I said, you’re not the first Disaster Sword I’ve encountered!
“When I was recovering from my injuries, I thought of a strategy and practiced hundreds if not thousands of times in order to deal with Disasters Swords as well as their violent power!
“The effects of your power can only be observed when there’s enough time for it to be transmitted through tangible contact, isn’t it?” Kohen stated grimly. “For instance, during sword fights?”
The young man glared at Kohen in stupefaction.
Meanwhile, the latter withdrew his sword and stepped forward. His expression then turned dark!
“Compared to your senior, Groudon who has fought on the battlefield, and been to the hell and back…
“You are far beneath his standard!” Kohen roared and followed up with another attack.
Facing an inescapable threat, the young man merely took a step back before bounding towards his opponent and blocking the attack with his sword.
A brief, soft rasping sound resonated and faded as the two blades brushed against each other!
The young man deflected Kohen’s blow and watched frantically as his saber successfully evaded another direct confrontation and fleeted past him—being only inches away from his left ear. With a sharp, smug swoosh like a soaring falcon, Kohen prepared to launch another attack!
“Trying to limit the movements of my long saber with confined space?” To the young man, Kohen’s voice sounded terribly loathsome. “Such an amateur tactic.
“I can deal with it with a mere stab.
“Simple, straightforward, effective.”
The narrow alley may have restricted Kohen’s saber and the range of sword styles he could have employed, but this factor also suppressed the young man’s agility. When facing an otherwise easily avoidable frontal stab, he was forced to retreat while trying to block the attack in desperation.
The young man had briefly thought of going on the offensive rather than remaining in the defensive position. He was thinking of forcing Kohen into a full-scale sword fight—the only problem was, his hand-and-a-half sword was shorter than the opponent’s saber by a considerable length!
If he insisted on doing so, he would probably be speared in the chest by Kohen.
The hand-and-a-half-sword, which was supposedly useful in a narrow alley like this, became his disadvantage.
The young man peered at his opponent’s charging blade with resentment. ‘I… have become the passive, defending party, who’s at a disadvantage?’
In the meantime, Kohen turned sideways, without wasting a second. His stepped forward with his right foot and quickly advanced. He rotated his wrist and proceeded with another wave of attacks.
There was another stab!
Overwhelmed, the mortified young man retreated further.
‘Lucky me.’ Kohen chuckled to himself. “In an alley like this, when hacks and slashes are useless… it’s a good thing I haven’t forgotten your sword style, Teacher Klaudier.”
‘Thrust-and-Stab’ was the sword style that Steinker Klaudier specialized in. He was one of the Eight Scions of the Tower of Eradication, who was from the Alumbia Kingdom in Thornland.
It originated from the era of the Final Empire, during which swordsmen in the south often engaged in graceful sparring with light blades. Despite being ridiculed and referred to as a “lassie’s” style by many army commanders and knights, this sword skill was once popular among the southern community. It relied on intrusive, assertive footwork and it was a one-strike wonder.
Cut to the present, instead of the sword styles he normally practiced, Kohen resolved to using the Thrust-and-Stab. It turned the weakness of his long weapon into a strength, avoiding direct confrontation while at the same time preventing the enemy from bringing his Power of Eradication into full play.
Up against another attack, the young man leaped out of its way and ducked behind a wide-opened window, again successfully dodging Kohen’s stab.
“Each Power of Eradication is unique.” Kohen withdrew his weapon, walking past the clearly-remodeled and lengthened window. His eyes were fixed on the enemy. “Which is to say, all the powers are different due to their possessors. It could even be just a slight difference…”
The young man looked at the long, narrow alleyway as well as the walls on his left and right, gazing at the faraway exit. His anxiety grew.
“I don’t know the exact effects of your Power of Eradication. It managed to mess with my senses and mask the directions of your attacks,” the police officer hummed. “But you’ve probably heard of my power…”
He grinned, displaying what he assumed was a charming smile. “Glory of the Stars!”
The young man turned white. ‘Glory of the Stars.
‘One of the four ancient forces… No, Power of Eradication?’
At the next second, Kohen lunged forward with a roar. Spots of light blue glimmered across his arm.
Without pausing, the saber in his hand was thrusted forward repeatedly!
The young man clenched his teeth. He twisted his wrists drastically as he mimicked the movement of a fan with his sword to ward off the persistent attacks!
‘Damn it!’ he thought.
‘This man must be a member of the Eight Seeds. He has to be from a certain cohort, who carries the Tower of Eradication’s future—the embodiment of youth and hope!’
Each movement and short-lived strike was followed by one after another without break. It sounded like raindrops.
“Residing within me, Glory of the Stars dictates the tempo and rhythm of my movements.” Followed by his relentless attacks, Kohen pushed forward. Oddly enough, despite his rapid advances, he managed to speak with ease and fluency. He did not appear to be short of breath. “It sparkles like the bright stars in the night sky, unwavering and unceasing!”
The sharp blade flashed as it moved back and forth with graceful fluidity.
The young man scowled and continued to retreat, the sword in his hand shaking slightly.
“Such a power may seem spontaneous and elusive…” Kohen advanced at a threatening pace. His words rang in his opponent’s ears like the deadly bell of Hell’s River. “But it’s in fact, unending and unfaltering!”
He warded off the young man’s sword with a light touch, and as the latter was thrown off balance, he proceeded with another wave of attacks!
The young man screamed in anger as blood oozed from his punctured left shoulder.
Losing his footing, he received a jab in the right side of his ribcage. This was followed by multiple stabs in his left leg, right elbow, and the side of his neck!
Overwhelmed by Kohen’s ceaseless attacks, the young man, who was now bathed in blood stumbled backwards. He desperately widened the distance between them.
Covered with wounds, the young man was panting heavily, his eyes wide with disbelief. He glared at Kohen, who was walking towards him.
“And that, has been my Power of Eradication. Compared to your vile, violent, and senselessly destructive power… Glory of the Stars is like a phantom sword of mine. It lies within me. It’s part of every single move I make. It is restless.” Kohen sighed. “And it will emit the most spectacular burst of energy the world has ever seen at any time.”
The young man propped himself up with his sword. He watched in despair as Kohen came closer and closer by the second.
“You ended Kroesch, killing the career of a Seed as a swordsman in the process,” Kohen said blankly. “It’s time to pay the price.”
With a blank expression, he lifted his saber and pointed it at the enemy.
“But there is another option for you,” Kohen beamed as he spoke slowly. “Would you rather tell me why you intend to assassinate the Prince of Constellation?
“And… which Archdukes of Eckstedt, or their subordinates did you work for?”
The young man, who was covered in blood gave a laugh.
‘What a joke… we never work for anyone.’ He cackled as blood streamed down his severely-wounded left shoulder and colored the snowy ground red. “Even if it’s a temporary alliance, we only act upon our own decision…”
‘Why would they ally themselves with the archdukes of a nation?
‘For power? Wealth? Status? Survival? Or a shared goal?
‘Or, is it for some other purpose?’
“As for you—you think you’ve won? A bunch of donnish, old-fashioned dummies…” The young man gave him a twisted grin. “In the meantime, my teacher has already—”
“You’re just stalling for time. I know that very well!” Kohen calmly interrupted him. “After all, you’re merely a supra-class newbie!”
The young man was dumbfounded.
“So that your friend… the older, stronger guy can finish off the weaker enemy and come to your rescue, isn’t it?” The police officer sighed in a patronizing manner of a battle-seasoned soldier. “But what makes you think that the girl is weaker?”
The young man watched with an alarmed expression as Kohen chuckled and shook his head. “That girl, of all the members in my cohort, has passed the Final Appraisal of the Tower of Eradication and become…
“The head of the Eight Seeds!”
When Thales finally saw Putray and the rest in the guest room of Heroic Spirit Palace, a feeling of relief washed over the prince as well as his entourage.
“So, what you’re saying is, you refused to cooperate with King Nuven’s plan right on their turf and you intend to catch the killer on your own terms?” Putray frowned. He was standing by the window, staring at the snowy landscape outside. His mind was crowded with many thoughts.
‘Is he being venturesome or simply reckless and dumb?’
In the absence of strangers, Putray’s attitude towards Thales was hardly respectful. He did not even address him as ‘Your Highness’. Nevertheless, the instances of his disregard for etiquette had lessened significantly after leaving Broken Dragon Fortress—particularly the sarcastic form of address he would use, ‘Little Prince’.
“Yeah, more or less.” Exhausted, Thales lolled in his chair in an ungainly manner. “Based on what I’ve been through back in that hall, the old fox can’t possibly have any well-intended plan—like serving me to the five archdukes on a chopping block and seeing who secretly wants me dead…”
“Anyway, I have witnessed as well as experienced the incivility and bluntness of the Northlanders.” Thales sighed. “Trying to find the killer by observing the archdukes’ reaction towards the suggestion of my evisceration… That was one hell of a method he came up with!”
“Now that the task is yours, what do you plan to do?” Putray turned around and ambled past Ralf. He was adjusting the splint for his fractured arm and adding a small, spare blade to his arm gear.
“We are talking about five experienced, influential, and cunning archdukes, who are more powerful than the Six Great Clans of Constellation. They are eligible candidates for the King Selection…” Putray mumbled. “You want to identify the person behind Moriah’s murder and your attempted assassination among them?”
“That’s a good question.” Thales flashed a friendly and genuine smile. “I do not have the answer.”