Chapter 10: Jala’s Blade (Two)
Twelve years ago, when the kingdom was in chaos and blood covered the lands, that terrifying swordsman, wielding his blade without emotions or principles, sliced out his own territory in Bgenelack Street. The newly born Black Street Brotherhood and the capital's well-established Blood Bottle Gang were like two evil dragons that would not rest until they died. For the hegemony of Eternal Star City and Constellation's underworld, they started fighting in a battle to the death.
As time passed, Black Street Brotherhood grew up gradually from an infant dragon into a fierce, gigantic one that had sharp fangs and claws, especially during the recent years. They were on equal footing with the Blood Bottle Gang, who originally had the upper hand.
From thence, during the fight that lasted ten years, the two gangs had gathered together a group of terrifying people outside of the kingdom's gaze and stirred up a great surge formed by blood in the underworld.
During this battle, a dozen or so powerful fighters from the Black Street Brotherhood and another dozen skilled fighters from the Blood Bottle Gang became the people standing at the frontlines of the battle, representing the group of young men that possessed the greatest hope for their future and the younger generation that possessed the greatest promise.
Compared to their seniors—the three mysterious legendary Assassins along with the six Powerhouses, who rarely attacked from the Brotherhood, the two terrifying Mystics, together with the eight strange Psionic Warriors in the Blood Bottle Gang, the names of these powerful youngsters were much greater, even the child beggars were familiar with them.
The bald Sven was the most mysterious of the Strongest Twelve in Blood Bottle Gang, a name given to them by gossipers to name the twelve young aces since there was only twelve among the new generation now. He was in charge of collecting the illegal accounts in Blood Bottle Gang. He rarely showed his face during large-scale fights, that was why no one talked about how great his fighting prowess and skills were. However, he had not stumbled in the five years of harsh and bloody fights between the gangs. Simultaneously, most of those who had been his enemy are now skeletons, and they were all once elite fighters of outstanding abilities in the Brotherhood.
Jala did not say anything, she merely exercised her wrist slightly.
"Dorno is an idiot. His idea of using corpses to lay an ambush is also despicable, but I still have to be grateful for his death, or else I wouldn't have known that we would have an important guest who came here quietly, and uninvited."
Sven gave an ugly smile, brought down that terrifying spiked penta-mace from his shoulders, then started swinging it back and forth with his hands while looking as if he was not exerting any effort in doing so.
Jala suddenly disappeared from her spot.
The bald Sven smiled without a care, then turned around and swung his arm fiercely!
The spiked penta-mace, twice the size of a normal person's arm, crashed into two Wolf Limb Blades causing Jala, who had suddenly laid an ambush by rushing to his lower left side, to lose her balance before she was sent flying backward!
Thales' heart clenched!
Fortunately, Jala gained her balance mid-air and performed a beautiful backflip before she landed on the ground.
The bald Sven gritted his teeth and swung his weapon as if he was swinging a baseball bat from Thales' previous world.
'What terrifying strength.' Thales was suddenly slightly curious. If he just had enormous strength, then why was it that Sven was rumored to be so mysterious?
"What fearsome speed, but if I knew about your existence, I can just rely on my instincts in battle, and blocking you isn't really that difficult."
Sven's hideous nose looked terrifying as it trembled due to his laughter.
Jala did not speak. She only disappeared from her spot again. In the next moment, she appeared before Sven's left leg with her body bent.
Both blades were brought out.
But Sven only made a light tap with his foot and moved his body sideways before he acted on habit and brought his mace crashing down again!
The spiked mace crashed into the stone pavement and debris flew in all directions!
Jala rolled out of the dangerous spot and avoided that fatal strike.
"So there is a blade that's created in such a curved manner? It's an uncommon weapon, that's for sure. Come, lassy. It doesn't matter whether you are a killer or an assassin, that ambush you are so proud of is useless against an enemy who is prepared."
Jala crouched down on the ground as if she was thinking of a strategy.
"What would you do? You wouldn't be thinking of charging forward, right?
"After all, this is the only way for you to enter Red Street Market."
Sven continued using words to interrupt Jala's thoughts.
Thales grew even more nervous in his heart. He knew that Jala was currently his only hope in getting through Red Street Market and escaping from the Brotherhood, but he was even more concerned about Jala's safety.
He was also worried about Sven's mysterious reputation.
Jala's expression was hidden behind her protective goggles, but she seemed to have come to some sort of conclusion as she stood up slowly from the ground.
'It has been many years.' Jala laughed bitterly at the bottom of her heart. 'Do I still have to use this skill?'
Thales swallowed nervously. He had borne witness to Jala's agile, phantom-like movements and her terrifying speed, but would her Wolf Limb Blade be effective against the bald Sven, who had clearly had grown perceptibly in terms of physical strength.
Within the next moment, Jala flipped the Wolf Limb Blades in her hands at the same time and made it so that she was holding the blades in a forehand grip.
Jala no longer disappeared.
She charged straight towards Sven.
Thales almost cried out.
One of the blades was positioned in front and the other right behind. The one in front went straight for Sven's throat, and the blade at the back seemed directed to the spiked mace.
"Frontal assault? You're just asking for death!" Sven shouted in excitement and swung the mace towards Jala!
The spiked mace carried the sound of wind and went charging towards Jala's waist as she continued dashing forward!
'Later, I'm going to enjoy myself with this pretty wench… Hmm?'
Sven noticed to his surprise that this time, Jala did not block nor did she retreat!
At the moment the mace arrived right before her body, she stretched out her flexible body at an impossible angle!
While facing the spiked mace before her, Jala did a forward somersault that made Thales so shocked that his jaw fell slack and marginally avoided that incoming spiked mace!
Even Sven was shocked.
'This movement… How did she do it?'
Her attack had not ended.
The female bartender pressed the blade positioned behind the other on the spiked mace and, using Sven's huge strength, jumped onto the bald man's left shoulder!
Then, she swung the blade positioned in front downwards swiftly!
The modified curved edge of the blade allowed the Wolf Limb Blade to cut towards the left side of Sven's neck with faster, stronger, and even fatally than a normal blade.
Sven roared as he retreated. During that critical moment, he managed to avoid getting a mortal blow. However, blood still gushed out from his left shoulder.
'This woman… has she completely given up on defense and is using risky evasions for frontal assaults?
'Doesn't she know that if she makes even a single mistake, she'll die?'
But Jala did not relent in her attacks. With a single tap of her foot, she continued her assault!
Right before their eyes, she turned her body in the air and dodged the tip of Sven's mace with just a few millimeters between them.
The Wolf Limb Blades in her hands followed their master and sliced towards Sven as they spun.
Blood light shone in the air once again, and this time, Jala had cut open the right side of the bald man's ribs!
Then she struck again!
When she attacked head-on, she perfectly displayed her agility and flexibility. As she faced Sven's terrifying attacks, she would move and dodge every single time the mace almost struck her. There were several times where Thales even saw the tip of her nose almost grazing the rusted spikes on the mace.
At the same time, the rhythm to Jala's attack and her speed did not slow down even a single bit. In fact, she was even deadlier than when she was trying to ambush Sven.
On the other hand, while Sven roared furiously with an intimidating presence, she continued attacking tirelessly and exposing herself to extreme danger. Even Thales could tell that Sven was continuously injured, and blood continued pouring out of his wounds. He was already having trouble coping with the situation and was struggling.
'I can't continue like this!' Sven thought in panic. 'How could she not make a mistake while dodging minimally?'
Sven roared and used all his strength to block the attack. With a disheveled side roll, he dodged it and rapidly widened the distance between them. Now, imagine a big man built like a bear being forced to roll on the ground by a slender girl only two thirds his size.
"This… This is Swift Killing Blade!"
This sentence was like a stone that struck the surface of the water and interrupted Jala's continuous onslaught, causing her to stop moving.
"The skills you used to kill Dorno previously should be the Assassination Blade and the Instant Kill Blade!"
Sven panted harshly with fear rife on his face as he shouted in disbelief, "I've only ever seen the Blood Chant Lordan Charleton use this Swift Killing Blade before! You… You are a member of the Charleton Family, who are known as the Assassin's Flower!"
Jala was kneeling on one knee, not saying a single word. This seemed to be the posture she favored to gain leverage. At that moment, she was only looking at that big man coldly.
"This is impossible!" Sven seemed to have experienced some sort of blow. His face was pale and his lips were quivering. "The members of the Charleton Family have already fled Constellation and disappeared into another country when Kessel the Fifth inherited the throne! Why would one of them appear here and side with the Brotherhood?!"
In his disbelief, he continued, "The order of arrest and rewards have spread throughout the entire western continent! With the crime of killing a member of the royal family on your backs, how dare you still come to Eternal Star City?! Aren't you afraid of being surrounded by the army and the Royal Guards?!
"It doesn't matter how strong the Charleton Family or Black Street Brotherhood are. Did you think they would be able to bear the wrath of 'Iron Fist King' and all of Constellation?"
However, the bald Sven's angry words immediately turned gentle within the next second.
"If I die here, your identity will definitely be exposed! The Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department will receive news about the return of the family that killed our king to Constellation tomorrow morning!
"Kessel the Fifth will definitely not let you go! He will get rid of every single descendant and blood kin of the Charleton Family!
"You can let me go," he whispered softly, and his voice had gained a pleading edge. "I don't care about the Blood Bottle Gang's mission any more. Just go, as long as you spare me, I promise you that tomorrow… No, I will leave Constellation tonight itself!
"I won't tell anyone your secret either! I know about your capabilities!
"I don't want to provoke the Charleton Family!"
But in the next instant, Jala once again pressed forward and arrived before him!
This time, Sven blocked the first strike, but that sword seemed to possess life and changed its direction in a bizarre fashion. Once it struck his mace, it moved around it without using even a single ounce of strength!
Jala's head and chest also spun and changed directions, just like a lithe ribbon, and she moved around the spiked mace before her.
'Like a human body driven by the current,' Thales thought in his heart.
'What's going on?' Sven thought in shock. 'Why can't I block this blade's trajectory?'
The blade in the female bartender's right hand did not stop. Once it changed direction, it returned to its original trajectory once again and headed for Sven's throat with even more lethality!
Until it cut into his throat.
Blood poured onto the ground.
Sven watched Jala wiping off the blood on her blades on his clothes while completely uninjured herself before she quietly tucked away her blades.
The spiked mace from the bald Sven's hand fell gently on the ground.
"What is this… sword technique..?"
Sven struggled, wanting to finish that sentence before his body fell to the ground.
But Sven had no energy to finish the sentence.
During that instant, Thales seemed to have returned to four years ago. The unconcerned woman before him in the garbage dumps behind Sunset Pub had been swinging the blades in her hands and asking him a question while he stared in shock.
"Using Ceaseless Killing Blade to slaughter a dog is a waste. Hey, brat, do you want to eat dog meat? If you call me big sister, I'll let you eat dog meat!"
Ceaseless Killing Blade. Thales knew that this was Ceaseless Killing Blade.
The last being to have suffered this sword technique had been a huge Angry Wolfhound that had run into some conflict with Thales ("We were just having an intense debate of whether humans should be added to the Angry Wolfhounds' list of consumable things. I'm very grateful for you supporting my opinion, big sister. So, dog meat?"–Thales).
Jala's skills shocked him once again.
However, what sent Thales into an even greater state of shock was the truth about the Assasin's Flower, the Charleton Family, which the bald Sven had spoken about.
They killed a member of the royal family?
The family that killed… killed the king?
"He talks too much."
Jala stated coldly as looked at Sven's corpse.
"So much for the so-called Strongest Twelve."
Once she finished speaking, she called out to Thales, who was hiding in the dark.
"Let's go, brat."
Thales moved past the bald Sven's corpse and looked at his eyes, which were left open in his death. Even up to now, he still did not understand how Sven, who was only physically strong, big, and was missing a nose, could be the most mysterious existence in the Strongest Twelve.
Was it because Jala was too strong?
He shook his head and walked towards Jala.
The two of them continued towards the battlefield between the Blood Bottle Gang and the Brotherhood.
He sneaked a glance at the side of the female bartender's face, and Thales decided very intelligently not to ask her about the Charleton Family.
'Well, I also have my secrets,' The boy thought.
'And my secret is bigger than yours.'
At the same time, in Sunset Temple's inner altar.
A middle-aged noble with grayish white hair was waiting while he sat on a stone chair in the lower section of the inner altar. He seemed calm, but was in truth, scared in his heart.
His gaze never left a small offering lamp that was burning continuously on the altar.
It was as if he was afraid that there would be a sudden change to the flames in the lamp.
There was an elderly priest completely devoted to prayer beside him. He was quiet and pious.
This made the middle-aged noble remember Yodel. He was a terrifying man who was as quiet as this priest was. In fact, he was overly quiet.
Even His Majesty was confident of Yodel and believed that he would never hesitate when he made a move.
However, that man, who always hid behind that Purple Drop Crystal mask, had worked with him once when he was younger, and it was not a happy memory.
He should have long since found his target with his efficiency.
That man was someone who had his own creed.
After all, while he had served under His Majesty's will, that Yodel Cato, that mysterious man, was only serving under His Majesty for the benefit of the king.
It was the difference between the sky and the earth.
Yodel… did he really know or understand when His Majesty hoped he would attack?
The bald Sven's corpse suddenly twitched.
Then, the area around his neck, as well as the wounds around it, started rapidly recovering.
It continued until the man got up on his feet with much difficulty.
Sven cursed and touched his spiked mace.
"A member of the Charleton Family has appeared in Eternal Star City. This news alone can get me ten gold coins from the Town Hall, but…"
Sven touched the wound on his neck that just healed.
His life was more important.
Fortunately, that woman was in a hurry and did not bother to turn back and check.
There was naturally no need to go into detail about his battle prowess and skills, it was one of the reasons why Sven was one of the Strongest Twelve in Blood Bottle Gang, but more importantly, he had a self-healing ability that no one knew about. It usually helped him turn the tables against his enemy at the instant they relaxed their guard and allowed him to win.
"As long as your head… well, more accurately speaking, as long as your brain isn't damaged, then you can return from the dead." These were the words spoken to Sven by the true Powerhouse within the Blood Bottle Gang—the Blood Mystic.
"Congratulations, Undead Sven."
'There's that boy, too,' The Undead Sven thought. When he was in that state of fake death, he saw a thin and frail boy appear from the corner of the street and walk away with that woman from the Charleton Family.
This was also something strange. A child that could follow a woman from the Charleton Family was definitely not an ordinary child.
Was he some sort of genius? Did he have an ability that could turn the tides of battle?
Was he some sort of biological weapon? Could he attack and kill in large areas?
Was he some sort of immortal non-human specimen? The boy looked young, but could he actually already be hundreds of years old, and maybe near a thousand years old?
Sven hefted the spiked mace onto his shoulders and frowned.
'Once I send the news to the Air Mystic, I'll…'
But his thoughts were interrupted.
By a strange person in a strange mask who suddenly appeared before him.
His apparition before Sven was unexpected.
"You saw that boy," The strange masked person said. His hoarse voice made it difficult to discern who he was, and the words he said was not a question, but a statement.
'Who is he?'
He did not even notice.
He hid his tracks, could he also be from the Charleton Family?
That strange mask seemed to be made from a dark purplish hard metal. The edges were clear and there were two holes drilled into the spot where the eyes should be. It was covered by a circular lens made from crystal drops, and there also seemed to be a yellow-bronze machine set up behind the lens.
The reason why Sven could think so much was simply because he had nothing else to do.
That person with the dark purple mask was holding onto a short sword where the part connecting to the hilt was crafted in a criss-cross manner.
Under its master's control, this short sword reopened the wound that had just healed on Sven's neck.
The instinct to dodge did not even register in Sven's head before his throat was slit open.
Sven fell down once again with his spiked mace.
'How unfortunate.' Sven thought, fully prepared to welcome his next death and subsequent resurrection.
However, in his state of pseudo-death, Sven discovered to his shock that the masked person did not leave.
That strange masked person had a barely noticeable crease between his brows behind the mask.
He slowly crouched down and stared at Sven's wound intently.
After a moment, the strange masked person nodded, as he had understood something.
In Sven's perceptions, he discovered to his despair that the masked man was brandishing the sword short in his right hand lightly to make a beautiful sword stroke.
Sven roared fearfully in his heart!
Then, Sven "watched" the strange person plunge that short sword lithely through his temple and straight into his brain with one fatal strike.
He pulled the sword out.
There was not even a drop of blood on the smooth surface of the blade.
"Only the head… More accurately speaking, as long as the brain isn't damaged, you can return from death…"
In his daze, Sven seemed to hear the Blood Mystic's words again.
From then on, the bald Sven, one of the Strongest Twelve in Blood Bottle Gang, the man who was known as the Undead Sven among the inner circle of the Blood Bottle Gang, did not wake again.
The strange masked person crouched down and swept his right hand through a sword mark on the ground.
It was a mark left behind by Wolf Limb Blade when it stabbed the ground.
He stood up.
And then he vanished.
Just like a ghost.