Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
King Nuven lay quietly on the ground.
He was still holding the shoulder of the greataxe handle tightly, as if it was his lover. The spike between the two axe blades was deep inside his chest.
Everyone in the Hall of Heroes stared helplessly at the scene. Shock, bewilderment, sadness, grief… Countless emotions mingled with each other.
Archduke Poffret, the winner of the duel, was drenched in sweat. His hands slowly slid down from the handle of the greataxe.
As his body relaxed, he fell to his knees beside King Nuven and panted heavily. Poffret’s eyes were glassy, and his chest rose and fell. He looked as if he had just awoken from a nightmare.
Having witnessed the battle, Archduke Olsius’ eyes widened. His emotions were complicated. However, the instant he saw the motionless king, he felt an unspeakable sadness.
Archduke Roknee’s expression was sorrowful. Archduke Lyke’s looked as if there were numerous burdens bearing down on him.
On the other hand, Trentida shook his head, as if showing his disdain for the duel.
Thales lowered his head and stared at the ground in a trance. He did not know what sort of expressions Nicholas and Putray had on while they were behind him.
‘Damn it. Why?’ He clenched his fists slowly. ‘King Nuven died here… Who’s going to control Dragon Clouds City? Who CAN control Dragon Clouds City? Who KNOWS how to control Dragon Clouds City?’
His thoughts became a mess.
Having freed himself from the duel, Archduke Poffret kneeled before the king’s dead body in a trance.
‘Nuven. The Born King. Nuven Walton. The king who had ruled Eckstedt for nearly thirty years. He is…
The young archduke suddenly began laughing in a low voice.
He threw his head back. His laughter became louder, more bizarre, as if he was a raving maniac.
Laughing hysterically, the young archduke suddenly turned and looked at the duel’s witness—the high priestess, Holme, who represented the Bright Moon Goddess.
His body trembled continuously as he laughed.
The high priestess stared straight at Poffret. The beautiful pair of eyes above her veil  were tranquil.
Under her gaze, Poffret felt a surge of invisible pressure descending on him without a single sound.
His smile slowly faded. The high priestess was still calm as usual and expressed nothing.
Poffret stopped smiling; his face sank slowly and he frowned doubtfully.
In a trance, Thales was desperately thinking about his future. At this moment…
Behind Thales, Nicholas suddenly muttered in a low voice, “This explains it…”
Then, two massive sounds of collision rang throughout the hall.
It was followed by the sound of metal falling onto the ground.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
Thales quivered violently and was jolted from his thoughts. At the same time, many people in the Hall of Heroes cried out in disbelief. Thales immediately raised his head.
He then widened his eyes and furrowed his brows tightly…
And he saw the most unbelievable scene.
‘It can’t be.’
At that moment, Thales was so stunned that he even forgot to breath.
King Nuven, who was supposed to be lying dead on the ground, had struggled up at some point!
He turned and pressed Poffret face-down on the ground!
The greataxe that had pierced through the king’s chest fell by their feet and was still vibrating constantly!
Like the others, Thales fixated on the scene in front of him in surprise and bewilderment.
The old King of Eckstedt wore a fierce expression and was overbearing. He looped his left arm and held Poffret’s right forearm from the back. Using his right hand, he secured the latter’s right upper arm, and then pressed onto Poffret’s back with his left knee.
King Nuven had Poffret’s right arm in a deadlock, pressing him to the floor.
Thales widened his eyes in disbelief and subconsciously shook his head.
‘How is this possible? With that injury…’
Thales was not the only one who thought this. From archdukes and vassals to servants and guards, everyone in the hall watched the unbelievable and unfathomable turn of events in shock.
“No, you were obviously…” In the immense pain, panic, and terror, Archduke Poffret, whose right arm was deadlocked and face pressed hard on the ground, desperately struggled to free himself. At the same time, he cried out with a terrified expression, “No, impossible!”
He could not believe that the king, whose chest was pierced by the greataxe’s spike just a moment ago, stood up again in the blink of an eye, as though he was not hurt at all!
The front and back of his garment, at the chest area, were soaked in blood. It looked horrifying
But right now, the king’s movement was unaffected, as if that injury did not exist. It was as though King Nuven was only pierced by a needle.
Thales immediately turned his head back and impatiently asked the only supreme class elite at the scene. “Why—”
Nicholas cut him off in a hurried voice.
The Star Killer fixated on the scene, unwilling to miss a single detail. “Watch everything… it has not ended yet!”
On the other hand, Putray’s face was filled with surprise, as though he could not accept what was happening, too.
“Impossible?” The resurrected Nuven the Seventh’s face was red. The king pressed down Poffret’s right upper arm with his right hand and pulled Poffret’s right forearm with his left hand. Trembling, he slowly flexed his muscles. Using Poffret’s elbow joint as a pivot, he moved Poffret’s deadlocked forearm towards the opposite direction.
The old king gritted his teeth, his expression was sinister. “There is no such thing as ‘impossible’ on the battlefield!”
As King Nuven increased his force, Poffret’s deadlocked right arm started to become deformed!
His forearm moved forward in a terrifying fashion. The sound of muscles breaking sounded clearly.
“Ah! Aah!” Poffret’s face twisted from the pain. He let out a heart-wrenching scream!
The archduke desperately extended his left arm to the back, to the frenzied King Nuven. But it was futile, and he could only grapple at the air. There was no way he could free himself from such a tight grip.
“I killed you. Without a doubt, I killed you!” Poffret’s neck was pressed against the floor. Writhing continuously from the inhuman pain, he roared in agony. “You were dead!”
“Am I?” Tightly restraining his opponent, King Nuven revealed a fierce expression that carried hints of hatred and insanity. His tone was piercing cold. “Perhaps… I was not thoroughly dead enough?”
As he spoke, Nuven the Seventh continued to thoroughly and methodically exert force with his hands.
The tearing sound that came from Poffret’s forearm was terrifying and unending. It sent a chill down Thales’ spine.
The young archduke struggled frantically, he tried to reach his enemy with his left hand, but he could not, and he could only strike the ground with it.
However, Poffret’s struggles were futile under King Nuven’s experienced and brutal deadlocking. He could not utilize the strength of his youthful physique at all. He could only frantically move the remaining parts of his body. Like a fish waiting to be butchered on the chopping board.
A rattling sound came from Poffret’s arm!
Poffret tried to raise his head—which was pressed to the ground—as high as he could. His face was extremely contorted, and he could not help but tear up. He widened his mouth in pain and let out a sudden, frenzied howl. “Aaah!! No! No! No! Aah!!”
His right forearm was already bent backwards starting from his elbow joint!
Under the immense pain and tremors, Poffret resisted King Nuven’s strength, but he could only raise his chest an inch from the ground.
However, Poffret’s nightmare had not ended yet.
King Nuven suddenly raised his right hand that was pressing on his opponent’s right arm. He clenched his fist and dealt a heavy blow to the back of Poffret’s head!
Poffret’s head was pummeled to the ground again. His forehead hit the floor tiles with a deep, dull sound.
But King Nuven did not stop there. He let go of Poffret’s already disabled right arm and extended his right hand, grabbing his opponent’s left arm. He then deadlocked Poffret’s only remaining arm using the same technique. The only difference was the orientation, with his right hand securing Poffret’s forearm and his left hand pressing Poffret’s upper arm.
King Nuven sucked in a deep breath, then continued with the exertion. Poffret recovered from the short spell of dizziness. He immediately felt a surge of panic.
His right arm was in continuous pain and numbness, and with his intact left arm being tightly deadlocked, the young archduke realized something. He turned his head to look behind in despair.
“Why?” Tears of pain rolled down Poffret’s cheeks as he questioned his opponent indignantly. Staring at Poffret’s eyes, King Nuven sneered in satisfaction.
“On the battlefield, wounds that penetrate through the chest are usually fatal. Most people who get injured that way can only leave their lives to fate.” The king watched his opponent, like a hawk that watched a rabbit. “Especially if the wound penetrates through the rib cage.”
King Nuven continued exerting force with his arms as he spoke, emanating a chilly aura.
“Your lung will become a broken airbox, and breathing will become harder than raising your hand… Every time you inhale, you can even feel the tear as the air seeps out of your lung through the wound. You will start coughing with increasing intensity—more violent and painful. Your breaths will become weaker, harder to draw, and more painful.
“Your entire lung will slowly become soaked in blood. Blood will flow from your throat, mouth and nose as you breathe and cough. Within that intense pain and the chest pain, the pit of your stomach will feel extremely heavy, you will then feel even more numbed as you lose strength and consciousness.
“If you also have fractured ribs, congratulations, the tiny bone fragments will torture you horribly. They will penetrate deep inside your muscles, chafe your nervous system, and puncture your blood vessels. They will torture your mind and body with pain and agony until you surrender yourself to death and extend your hand towards hell.
“Even if the wound is closed in time, and the external bleeding is stopped, it would be useless. At first, you will cough out more blood, and then you will cough out lesser and lesser blood until you die… Those who are fortunate would die in a few minutes. The unlucky ones would wail late into the night, and die painfully with a terrifying fever, cold sweat, and hallucinations. I have seen too many tragedies like this on the battlefield.”
Poffret widened his eyes. His forehead was drenched in cold sweat from the pain. The king flashed a smile and changed the topic.
“But…” King Nuven leaned in beside Poffret’s ear and said with a hideous expression, “You know, the human ribcage only takes up a certain area… Not the whole chest…
“Sometimes, your rib cage is not hurt from the penetration, and the vital arteries are also avoided. Let’s say only the muscles between your right shoulder and your right chest is penetrated from the front to the back… perfectly grazing past your rib cage and bones…
“You can then use your Power of Eradication to expand the wounded muscles to stop the bleeding…”
“How is that… possible…” Poffret gritted his teeth, and the veins on his face protruded. He stared behind in despair at King Nuven.
“I told you, brat.” King Nuven’s Power of Eradication surged up his arms. He laughed in satisfaction. “There is no such thing as ‘impossible’ on the battlefield.”
Finally, another chilling rattle rang throughout the hall, along with Poffret’s miserable cries.
Poffret writhed on the ground in a frenzy and wailed miserably, showing his pain and despair right then and there.
His only remaining arm was also bent by King Nuven; the young archduke had lost both hands.
A few seconds later, Poffret’s struggling and roaring started to become weaker, and his whole body convulsed without end. He let out dreary moans.
The other archdukes watched the scene in disbelief.
“What does this mean?” Archduke Trentida tried his best to calm his breathing.
Unexpectedly, Archduke Roknee was the one who replied him. Having been silent for a long time, he said coldly, “It means the end.”
Thales watched in a daze as the king completed his counter-attack.
A quick, fierce, effective and permanent counter-attack. He could not even see how the king started turning the tables.
“His Majesty was pierced by the axe’s spike while lying on the ground.” Behind Thales, Nicholas sighed. “All of us and Poffret only knew that His Majesty’s chest was pierced through, but we could not clearly see where the spike came out from on the back… There was no way to determine if that was a fatal wound.
“And that was exactly what the king had planned.”
Thales focused on King Nuven’s chest, especially the blood-soaked area to the right.
Panting, King Nuven flung off his opponent’s no longer functional arm and stood up. At that moment, Thales found the king’s valiant figure extremely tall and large.
King Nuven’s gaze swept past everyone in the hall. He was met with all kinds of gazes ranging from excited ones to surprised ones to bewildered ones.
“Wine!” King Nuven roared suddenly, loud and furious. “Strong rye wine! The strongest kind!”
Thales froze immediately.
Some of the servants and guards looked hesitantly at the High Priestess of Bright Moon Temple and the other archdukes. However, High Priestess Holme remained still. On the other hand, the archdukes stared at the king with startled expressions.
Lying on the ground, Poffret stopped moaning. He raised his head and looked at his opponent with a devastated and numb expression.
“Enough!” King Nuven roared impatiently. “It’s not like I will suffocate him with the wine goblet!
“All of you thrice cursed bastards, give me the wine now! In the name of the king!”
The king’s administrator, Lord Mirk, sighed and waved his hand, fulfilling the king’s prerogative. A full wood barrel of rye wine was soon carried over.
King Nuven snatched the metal wine goblet that was sent over. He lifted the wooden cover open and scooped up a cupful of wine, then raised his head and gulped it down furiously.
Wine spilled from the corner of his lips and dribbled down the king’s beard that spanned from his chin to his neck.
The old king finished the strong wine from the goblet in one gulp and wiped his chin in satisfaction. He then scooped another cupful of wine.
This time, King Nuven violently tore off the part of his clothing that covered his right shoulder, revealing his muscles that were aged but firm.
The wounds that resulted from being pierced by the axe spike earlier was clearly revealed. There was one on the king’s chest and another on his back. However, the wounds were not near the middle of his chest, closer to the shoulder. The wounds were starting to fill up from the squeezing muscles.
King Nuven raised his wine goblet with clenched teeth, tilted it, and poured the wine on his wounds.
Drenched in strong wine, the muscles in his right shoulder trembled constantly, but King Nuven’s expression was ice cold as usual, as if his wounds were not actually immersed in hard liquor.
Everyone in the hall watched the scene in silence. No one interrupted him.
On the ground beside the king, Archduke Poffret, with both arms broken, roared in a deep voice. Once again, he wore an indignant and resentful gaze.
He propped up his upper body with his head and tried to stand with the help of his knees.
However, King Nuven mercilessly stepped on the archduke’s back and pressed him back onto the ground. At first Poffret moaned in pain, then he roared in indignation.
“No, how did you do it…” The young archduke’s expression was dark. He fixed his glare on King Nuven, as if he wanted to cut a piece of flesh off the king’s body.
“Why did you think that you could easily pierce through my chest with your axe spike?” King Nuven’s expression was like usual. He scooped up another goblet of wine and finished it in one gulp. “Brat, I lured you into it!
“I am inferior to you in terms of strength and stamina; I will lose sooner or later in an axe fight.” Stepping on Poffret’s back, King Nuven spat in disdain. “However, even though you are a supreme class elite, the moment you relax… You become totally useless.”
King Nuven’s eyes shone with bright light.
Poffret’s eyes widened. His face was pressed against the ground, and his lips trembled. He began letting out incoherent roars again. These roars were filled with misery and pain.
“Let me give you some advice. Don’t relax before you break your opponent’s neck.” Feeling drained and tired, King Nuven exhaled slowly. His tone was icy cold. “This is the most valuable teaching we obtained from the thousands of hellish years battling the orcs.”
King Nuven raised his head again and finished his third goblet of wine in one gulp.
Behind Thales, Putray asked plainly, “Is this the alleged battle instinct of warriors that soldiers often talk about?”
“Instinct?” Nicholas replied with a sneer. “This is a battle tactic. From beginning to end, the duel was within His Majesty’s estimation and control. It went according to the steps His Majesty had planned.”
Putray revealed a puzzled expression.
“From the beginning, His Majesty lured Poffret to stab him with the axe spike instead of killing him by chopping at him with its blade.” The Star Killer crossed his arms. There was a hint of a smile in his gaze. “His Majesty looked as if he was waving his axe and defending passively without the strength to fight back, backing away step by step.
“In reality, every time their axes clashed, the distance between them was reduced unknowingly. In the end, when His Majesty collapsed, both of them were already face-to-face, and Poffret could no longer use his axe blade to chop at His Majesty.”
Thales was struck by a thought. He looked at the distance between the two men and the positions of the two greataxes.
“Poffret was led by His Majesty to end the battle with the axe spike,” said the head of White Blade Guards flatly.
“Lying on the floor, His Majesty controlled Poffret’s axe with his hands so that it was pierced into the muscle between his rib cage and his shoulder blades. His Majesty inflicted that wound on himself. It was awfully painful, but definitely not fatal.”
Thales inhaled deeply and looked at King Nuven. “An efficient but unscrupulous hunter, huh?’
Putray added to Nicholas’ explanation in an emotional tone. “What’s left to be done was to wait for Poffret, whom was already frenzied by the king’s provocation, to think that he had won the duel. The king then seized the opportunity, utilizing a loophole that could totally negate Poffret’s advantage in terms of stamina and strength, to launch a decisive counter-attack.
“I hope that you will watch this rare scene carefully and benefit from it, Your Highness,” the vice diplomat said to his prince faintly.
Thales could only shake his head slowly.
“Poffret claimed that he had obtained understanding of His Majesty’s battle style from his grandfather, but he knew nothing at all.” Nicholas’s pale face shone in the firelight. “This is truly a ‘ferocious counter-attack that takes down the enemy with one blow’.”
“Memorable.” Beside them, the marquis from Camus Union sighed in praise and said, “This did not surprise you at all, did it?”
Nicholas nodded slowly. “Yes, Poffret’s every move was within His Majesty’s calculations.”
Putray sighed and said, “There is a saying in Constellation’s Western Frontlines: On the battlefield, even a dying veteran is ten thousand times stronger than a novice of great strength.”
The leader of the king’s team of personal guards snorted softly. “A veteran encountering a rookie. The outcome of this duel was… already preordained.”