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Chapter 265 – The Die is Cast (3)

    Chapter 265 - The Die is Cast (3)

    Kaaang!

    The three blades bounced off each other, causing sparks to fly. Even if Fermut was injured, he wasn't an easy opponent. As soon as the shock subsided, he raised his aura and pushed Randolph's body away.

    It was a dense aura which was disproportionate to his age. Despite having a difference of nearly 10 years, Fermut's swordsmanship didn't lag behind Randolph's.

    "Tch, this bastard trying a surprise attack...!" Randolph stepped back and naturally stood close to Orta.

    Randolph's purpose was to assist Orta and his men. It would've been good if the last blow had succeeded, but it was still good.

    "Hey. Heal yourself quickly while he can't move."

    "The first aid is done," Orta replied before Randolph could finish his words.

    Orta truly had a good ability as the captain of the intelligence unit. While Fermut had been briefly tied up by Randolph's sword, Orta had healed himself with a potion he carried. Unfortunately, he couldn't expect to be completely healed right away.

    "All trauma has been fixed, but the blood loss and magic power affected by aura can't be reversed. By the way, I didn't know you would come to help."

    "I was also surprised. My status is still unclear, but this is a critical mission. Meltor is a fairly flexible kingdom."

    "That― No, I'll talk about it later." Orta was about to explain but then stopped. He didn't want to let Fermut know about Theodore's survival.

    Besides, there was one thing that made Orta more astonished than Randolph's close timing. "...Honestly, I am more surprised about something else. You landed in such an ignorant manner without being hurt. Was the culprit Elder Shugel?"

    "Ahh, that old man made me very nervous. I would've died if a mistake was made."

    The remaining magicians who knew what the two masters were talking about were shocked. Surely 'that' method hadn't been used?

    It was a strategy Meltor had designed in the past to counter Andras.

    Rutben and the other major cities in Andras had devices which interfered with magicians protecting the surrounding area, including the sky. Teleportation would cause a catastrophe, so Veronica and the other magicians couldn't survive in the opponent's space where flying magic was ineffective.

    For this reason, air operations over a city had never been adopted in actual combat previously.

    ...Until today.

    "Indeed, the physical strength of a sword master and the protection of an artifact will allow you to withstand the impact of the fall."

    "Well, my hands are still trembling."

    A sword master's body strength was beyond the ordinary, but Randolph was still affected by the shock of the situation. Fermut had unintentionally helped him absorb his shock. "You dare, Clovis loser...!"

    There were a few visible signs of trauma, but the significant impact was accumulated inside Fermut's body from the first attack. Fermut wished he could've avoided it, but this arrogant prince didn't dare step back. His grip on his sword was tremendously strong. It would take Fermut 10 minutes to fully recover, and the two seasoned masters couldn't miss this gap.

    "Okay, I'll kill him here."

    "We should leave this place."

    "....Eh?"

    "...Hrmm?"

    As it happened, their opinions were split.

    "Even if you are in a bad shape, it is two against one. Why don't we retreat quickly after killing him?"

    "If this fails, we will both die. The risk is greater than the merits, so we shouldn't hesitate to retreat."

    It was a simple matter of arithmetic. Between Fermut's life or the two masters' lives, the latter was more important. Randolph still showed signs of resistance. So, Orta added another reason, "It would take at least 30 minutes to kill the prince, who hasn't given up yet."

    "And?"

    "We are in the enemy territory of Rutben, and it will become worse if we drag out the time. The empire has teleport scrolls. If another of the empire's Seven Swords arrive, this advantage will be easily reversed."

    "...Tch, I got it."

    Randolph was eventually convinced, and the two sword masters changed to the defensive. The center of gravity was lowered as they prepared to jump to the rear at any time. However, Fermut wouldn't let them go easily.

    His body wasn't fully recovered, but if he added the Shadow Knights, he could make up for his lack of power.

    "Rats, do you think you can escape?"

    Femut held a blazing sword. The red aura was like magma around the sword, representing the passionate owner's will. It was the full-fledged manifestation of Fermut's Aura Ability, 'Refraction.'

    Fermut Style, Refraction Sword.

    Stab to Death Attack.

    It meant simply for the opponent to be stabbed to death. In the past, a king was said to have killed more than 10,000 prisoners by skewering them in order to incite fear in the troops of other kings.

    This stab was inspired by this torture-like method and developed into a technique by Fermut, a cruel man. It was a single stab that penetrated eight vital points at the same time. This was physically impossible without the ability to bend space, as it was like how folding a paper allowed several holes to be pierced at once.

    "Die!"

    Confronted with Fermut's killing move, Randolph took action.

    Clovis Two Swords Style.

    Hidden Technique.

    Kill the Hydra.

    His two falchions changed into a flashy dance. Four times with the left sword, five times with the right sword... Nine slashes stretched out in the blink of an eye, blocking the eight stabs.

    "No?" Astonishment was clear in Fermut's eyes.

    Randolph's speed was fast enough to block Fermut's technique, but it wasn't possible with speed alone. However, Randolph's Aura Ability was 'Pursuing and Overtaking.'

    "You are too shallow!"

    Fermut was certainly talented. However, the strength of Pride, who he had fought with Theodore, was engraved in Randolph's mind. Fermut was much slower than the monster that could catch lightning with its bare body.

    Clovis Two Swords Style.

    Hidden Technique Combo.

    Kill the Arachne.

    From two to four, four to eight... Randolph's swords started to divide at a speed which couldn't be followed with the naked eyes. There was an afterimage that was like a spider web!

    If this attack couldn't be blocked, the target's body would end up in pieces like well-sliced vegetables. It wasn't a technique which Fermut could avoid without receiving serious injuries, so he was forced to use a technique.

    "Haaap!"

    A bloody aura emerged from the blade to create a barrier.

    Fermut Style, Refraction Sword.

    Tornado Wall.

    The principle of this technique was the same as the Fairy Dance's first hidden technique, Moon Breaking through the Clouds. The difference was the addition of Fermut's ability to distort space, which increased the defensive power.

    Fermut was convinced that he could even block 7th Circle great magic with this.

    'As soon as this attack is over, I will fight back. I will hit the neck of the traitor who joined Meltor...!'

    It might take longer than expected, but it wouldn't change the future in which Andras won the war. Rutben Citadel...

    More than 100 elites knights resided here, and there were plenty of experts in aura. It had been 10 minutes since the battle started, so reinforcements would arrive soon. However, his confident expression soon distorted.

    "―What?"

    Once the Tornado Wall was gone, there were no signs of Randolph or Orta. It was clear that they had run away from him. A few shadows tried to block them, but they weren't at a level to overcome Randolph. Their bodies were the traces of where the five people passed by.

    "T-These bastards...! You dare to leave?" The furious Fermut shouted angrily, but he didn't move.

    It was because he instinctively knew that it was too late. He knew it was impossible to trace a sword master and space magicians. Fermut coolly put away his sword and glared after the invaders.

    "Next time, I will kill you!"

    Fermut stepped on the head of one of the fallen magicians. Then the prince turned around, and the shadows followed him. This was the end of a long yet short night.

    *     *     *

    The capital of Meltor, Mana-vil.

    At the center, there were four towers symbolizing the kingdom. The towers, which had been painted in distinctive colors, stood tall in all directions. Among them was the blue tower. The blue tower was famous for its water and life magic, and its top floor was a space where unauthorized people were prohibited from entering.

    Knock knock. However, the Blue Tower Master, Blundell knocked lightly on the door like he was a visitor. It was an unusually timid move for the master of the blue tower. Who was in there that the owner of this tower needed to obtain permission to enter?

    "...Come in." A voice was heard through the door. It was the high and clear voice of a woman. There was only one person who met these conditions.

    Blundell opened the door softly and spoke to her, "Are you well, Sylvia?"

    "Yes, Grandfather."

    With flowing hair and shining blue eyes, it was Sylvia Adruncus.

    She was a genius magician who had been raised by Blundell since she was a child and had now become a Superior of the blue tower. This was the third month that she had borrowed the tower room as a training room, but a period of three months was too short to cross the wall of the 7th Circle.

    "My dear." Blundell's eyes were filled with an uncomfortable light despite Sylvia being his granddaughter. It was because he knew where her decisive will came from.

    He gave advice to his only granddaughter, "You can't cross the wall of the 7th Circle in this way. It is a field that requires effort, talent, and luck. I know that Theodore's disappearance was shocking but try to take care of your body..."

    "Grandfather," Sylvia interrupted in a much stronger tone than expected. "I'm aware of that. This is a distance that I can't shorten with my talent, and this effort might be meaningless."

    "Then?"

    "Even so, I can't stay still."

    Sylvia wasn't trying to be stubborn, neither was she being unreasonable. She just couldn't stop walking with one hand on the wall through the labyrinth, where a breakthrough wasn't visible. After all, she knew someone who had turned the impossible into the possible. Therefore, this obstacle wasn't impossible.

    "Even if I can't protect Theo, I don't want to be protected by him."

    It was enough to be a burden to him once. She wasn't a dreaming girl but a person wandering the path of a magician. There was no childishness in her face.

    "...Yes, you are all grown up." Blundell was forced to admit it.

    Sylvia Adruncus had chosen to be born again as a magician, not a girl.

    As a magician at the peak of this kingdom, he had to encourage her. Blundell was about to pat her head, but he chose to pat her shoulder instead. It was his own admission that he would no longer treat her as a child.

    On one hand, he was proud of her growth. On the other hand, he was ashamed that it was 'that person' who led her determination. He should talk to that boy when he returned.

    "Blue Tower Master! Are you in there?" A loud voice called out from outside the room.

    "It is noisy. What is going on?"

    "I have just received breaking news!" The voice of the clerk, who was gasping for air, rang through the top floor of the blue tower. Just what was so urgent?

    Blundell asked seriously for the report. Then the clerk started speaking, "Reporting from the coastal city, Ribenda! The safe return of Quattro's captain, Theodore Miller is confirmed!"

    "What?" Blundell looked over with surprise and saw Sylvia looking at him. He could understand the meaning in her eyes without needing any words. Sylvia struggled a few times and was finally about to open her mouth, only for Blundell to speak first.

    "Go to Ribenda."

    "...G-Grandfather."

    "Shugel is still in the white tower. He owes me a favor, so talk to him. In any case, Theodore should be received by someone he knows."

    The justification was sufficient. Sylvia paused briefly before gladly replying to Blundell, "I will go straight away!"

    "Yes, please take care of yourself."

    A door closed in the corridor, and the clerk was surprised to see Sylvia going straight out of the tower's window. It was much faster than going down the stairs. Blundell watched her energetic appearance and laughed while touching his beard. "Huhu, he has returned with excellent timing."

    The Northern War was just about to begin, and it would only be a few days before the two powers gathered all their forces. The hero who had disappeared had finally returned home.

    "If this world were a play, the role of the main character would belong to him."

    At the top of the blue tower, an elderly man who had been with Meltor for over a hundred years chuckled. The world was too wide, and there were many things which couldn't be predicted with the wisdom of an old person.

    A wise sage had once said, 'Life wasn't boring until it was over.'
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