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79 Spar

    Derrick took out his communication trinket and contacted Brigand. He was also one of the parties that had to be warned about what had happened today. The Official would surely interrogate him if Alma came back unscathed while all his spies disappeared.

    "Brigand?"

    "..."

    "Brigand?"

    "..."

    "OLD MAN!"

    "AHHHHHHHHH WHO'S TALKING?!"

    "I swear you must be senile... It's Derrick"

    After a few seconds, the burly man's laugh suddenly came through the device.

    "If you're contacting me, it means that Alma has arrived safely?"

    "Yes, she has. However..."

    Derrick's tone caused Brigand to put aside any pleasantries, and he straightened himself in his chair. Derrick didn't let the suspense build up, and he promptly told the merchant.

    "She was tailed by Official Spies"

    The revelation made Brigand grimace and his heart skipped a beat. This couldn't be happening...

    "Don't be too alarmed, they've been dealt with. However, I don't know if sending back Alma right away is the correct decision. Her return would surely raise suspicions, and you would be under even more scrutiny"

    The sudden mention of her being stuck in Akata caused Alma to want to protest, but after thinking further, she decided against it. If her Master was in danger because of her... She shook her head, trying to chase away the horrible scenarios that had almost crossed her mind.

    Brigand was mute for an instant, before agreeing with Derrick's reasoning. It was indeed really tricky.

    "Alma will return once I go back to Terra, as I'll be able to sneak her back in without their knowledge. Suspicions will be increased as a result, but it'll also be deflected towards me. From what I know, the only person that can overpower me is the Official, so I should be fine"

    "Very well. Did you have anything else to discuss?"

    "Actually, yes. We forgot to appoint someone to manage the Market"

    Brigand, still sitting at his desk, sighed. It had indeed been an oversight. Most of his fortune was now invested in Akata, and he had been carried away by the amazing opportunity that had presented itself. Forgetting something like that wasn't like him at all. Suddenly, he thought of something.

    "If Alma is stuck in Akata, she can be the one managing it, right?"

    Brigand's idea was immediately approved by Derrick, and Alma didn't protest at all. Even though she was mainly used as a bodyguard, her constant interaction with Brigand had allowed her to learn how to count and write, and conducting business could be said to be her second nature.

    "Now that this issue is settled, everything is concluded. Take care of yourself, Brigand"

    "Farewell"

    Derrick stored the trinket back in his pouch, before turning towards Lacha, who had remained silent through the conversation.

    "As you've heard, Alma will be manning the market, and you'll be collecting the taxes at the end. I'll let you two get to it. I'd like the market to open tomorrow, if possible"

    Lacha gently bowed and took away Alma, who had taken all the merchandise with her.

    Finally alone, Derrick relaxed. The fact that Terra's leadership had already taken an interest this big was an issue, and he knew for a fact that they wouldn't let this matter rest.

    "What to do, what to do..."

    He thought about his entire journey so far, and how it had fundamentally changed him. He barely remembered his old, loner self that simply farmed and took care of his land. Blood now stained his hands and his personality was merciless, probably due to his time passed in the cave. His responsibilities had become heavy, to the point where he knew he couldn't take everything on himself. It was too late to back out, and the only thing he could do was move further.

    With that in mind, he donned his cloak and left the town hall before grabbing Thomas, who was lazying around the barracks. His sudden arrival had sent the establishment in a frenzy, with every soldier trying to look busy and saluting him when he passed next to them. Some even threw envious looks at Thomas, who could only awkwardly smile in response.

    After exiting the city's limits and nearing the forest, Thomas finally spoke up.

    "My Lord, where are we going?"

    "I heard you 'evolved'?"

    Thomas was surprised at first, but figured Derrick would know. After all, his battle had been witnessed by many.

    "Yes, that's correct. I don't know how it happened, but I know that it's a new power that'll come out only when I'm in danger"

    Derrick nodded.

    "I want to spar against you"

    After his battle against the spy, Derrick learned that he was way too inadequate. If he wanted to have a chance in conquering Terra, he needed to be much, much stronger. Also, the fact that Trevor kept saying he was nowhere near the Official's strength pissed him off.

    The sudden request stunned Thomas, who didn't immediately agree. He remembered their training regimen, and shivers ran down his spine. It had been the most horrible time of his life.

    "My Lord, I don't know if I'll be able to use the ability I've gained..."

    "Don't worry, I'll make sure you do..."

    The confidence in Derrick's voice gave Thomas violent goosebumps, and he finally reluctantly agreed.

    They walked for two hours, figuring out they were far enough to not cause a commotion. Derrick distanced himself from Thomas and when they were about 50 meters apart, he turned around to face the soldier.

    "Like I said, I don't want you to hold back either. I need to train harder and improve, and you're the only opponent that can truly match me. I want to see if that new skill of yours can beat me"

    Thomas finally realized the man in front of him was serious about this spar. It didn't look like a whim that had simply seized him.

    "If that's your wish, my Lord"

    Thomas removed his clothes and only kept his underpants.

    "Drakos, Cernunnos, come out. After your last performance, you probably need as much training as I do"

    The two gigantic beasts came out of his shadow and faced Thomas, who assumed a fighting stance.

    "Human, we've already beaten that worm. Even if he gained a new skill, I don't think it'll be much of a fight..."

    "The lizard's right... That person isn't your or our opponent..."

    Derrick sighed when he heard the immediate dismissal of Thomas... His beasts truly were overconfident.

    "Weren't you the ones that begged me to stop him the last time we fought?"

    Derrick's jab made the beasts grunt in displeasure, but their demeanor grew more serious. It appeared that they still had a recollection of the past events.

    "You better look Human. We'll show you what happens when we're serious���"

    Derrick took out the sword from his back and also assumed a fighting stance, ready.

    "Let's begin"

    Both parties released their auras, which violently clashed. Thomas's body began morphing and his Berserker physique came out, still looking as monstrous as before.

    Derrick could feel something different, and he used Appraisal to pinpoint it.

    [Thomas - Berserker State]

    [Strength : 28]

    [Agility : 17]

    [Endurance : 17]

    [Vitality : 7]

    [Magic Power : 1]

    [Skills : ???]

    [Weakness : Cannot strategize]

    Derrick once again cursed the System... First was one of his traits being uncategorized, and now it was someone else's? What was he supposed to do with this?

    At least, he hoped that forcing Thomas to use it would give the system more data to determine it.
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