Chapter 13: The Sound of Sabers and Knives (Two)
Thales had never seen Jala's knife attack a person with such wrath and momentum before. He could vaguely feel the suffocating force contained in the two Wolf Limb Blades.
Ralf gathered all his strength and used his two hidden blades to protect his stomach. He then retreated quickly.
The female bartender charged forwards even more fiercely in the blink of an eye, her twin blades slashing down like a thunderbolt.
The two moved in synchronicity as though they were dancing, but inelegantly. Images of Ralf's knives then appeared and instantly greeted both of Jala's blades.
The sounds of battle continued.
The hidden blades stopped Jala's twin blades countless times. Her twin blades also deflected Ralf's hidden blades countless times. Both of them moved extremely quickly. At the street side, the shops' signboards and shopfronts flashed by. Then, both of them seemed to stop as they concentrated on analyzing the movements of the other party.
Thales watched attentively and even forgot to breathe.
However, the offensive and defensive movements were very obvious. Jala was using her twin blades to attack the vital points while Ralf was only defending with his two hidden blades.
One attacked and one defended, it was a fight of skill and speed.
But in the next attack, the Wolf Limb Blade in Jala's left hand suddenly burst out with a thunderous sound, creating a sudden jolt and knocking away one of Ralf's hidden blades that was used in blocking.
Jala's unexpected trump card maneuver surprised Ralf greatly. He made one mistake and every step thereafter became another mistake. Failing to intercept this blade caused a delay in withdrawing his other knife, his vital stomach area became exposed to Jala's left blade.
The Wolf Limb Blade cut into his clothes and his chest.
At the moment of life and death, Ralf did not hesitate to use his Psionic skill.
The name 'Phantom Wind Follower' was not an undeserved reputation. The man tucked his lips and the tattoo on his face emitted a white light. With a sudden burst, a violent whirlwind appeared between the two, causing both Jala and himself to move towards different directions.
Ralf stomped his foot and, with unexpected deftness, used the force of the fierce gale to jump up into the air, leaving behind only bloodstained traces.
The female bartender was forced to stop her pace. She withdrew her arms and adjusted herself to adapt to the sudden wind. The thunderous roar of her twin blades had also been cut off.
From a distance, Thales could not feel the gust of wind, but this did not affect his judgment—both of them were simultaneously affected by the wind. Ralf was thrown back while Jala was stopped.
The wind did not stop. Instead, it continued to grow larger. Ralf was like a kite floating in midair. His shining tattoos became even more dazzling. The female bartender had no choice but to bend her knee to resist the increasing wind. At the same time, she took the opportunity to recover her body strength.
Ralf was no longer smiling mischievously. The pain in his chest terrified him. 'This little girl is a big problem and her strength is probably no lesser than the Thirteen Generals of the Brotherhood.'
Recalling the action of the twin blades, the Phantom Wind Follower decided that he cannot allow her any opportunity to use her twin blades and turn the tables. Fortunately for him, she had expended a lot of energy during that offensive.
The Phantom Wind Follower's face turned cold. He took out the hidden blades with both hands.
The wind rose.
Under the cover of the wind, Ralf demonstrated once more his phantom-like form. The next moment, Ralf had appeared above Jala's head.
Jala gritted her teeth and immediately swung her knife upwards.
However, Ralf retreated after a single blow. His figure was like the wind and had disappeared far away. It gave Jala no chance to counterattack, nor the opportunity to take the offensive.
Ralf's hidden blades emerged once again, this time from at Jala's lower left side. He attacked and missed, immediately retreating once more.
"As long as your sudden and continuous attacks are interrupted, the famous assassination style of the Charleton Family would no longer work." Ralf's voice came again from the wind.
Jala struggled to defend against her opponent's guerrilla tactics. Because of the wind assaulting her, she also had to use a lot of energy to maintain her movements. At the same time, she must predict where Ralf was going to attack next.
Thales watched nervously. 'What do I do?'
Ralf's gentle voice came from all directions again.
"Tell me. Why is the Charleton family hiding together with the Brotherhood? Maybe we can sit down and talk about it."
Jala's expression turned solemn. She unexpectedly closed her eyes and seemed to have made a decision.
Jala reversed her grip on the twin blades and fiercely inserted them into the earth at her feet. Ralf's hidden blades once again appeared over her head.
But this time, Jala spun around on the spot. The knives that were stuck to the ground suddenly turned, in tandem with her arms!
There was a thunderous sound. The rocks from the ground were sent flying several meters up. The flying rocks obstructed Ralf's line of vision. The blades flashed faintly among the rocks!
Ralf roared as he retreated. The tattoo on his face glowed even brighter. The wind in the sky suddenly sped up. It whirled with a terrifying force, scraping the earth and scattering it everywhere. In the fierce gale, the rocks flew everywhere.
At that moment, an entranced Thales exposed half his head from his hiding place as he watched the battle. He suddenly heard a hoarse voice that was hard to identify.
"Lower your head."
Thales instinctively lowered his head without any time to daydream.
A rock from the battle flew over Thales' head, a few of them crashing into the side entrance of a store behind Thales. The wooden door that was hit caved in.
Thales looked behind and patted his chest in cold sweat. 'If I had not lowered my head…'
Before he could react, a slim but valiant figure appeared beside his hiding place.
Thales was dumbfounded.
In front of him, Jala was not doing well. At that moment, the once valiant female bartender looked tired. She was gasping for breath and her left arm was trembling.
"He has found my weakness, and as I am unable to continuously attack him, I cannot defeat him." The female bartender placed her hand on Thales' shoulder and gave an embarrassed smile. "If things keep going this way you will be discovered eventually. I will lead him away. After that, you must leave alone.
"Go down the left alley. Cover your breath with the black cloth. If you hear any sound, turn around immediately and use a different route. The Brotherhood did not attack very far inside. As long as you cross the center of the Red Street Market, there should be fewer people.
"Brat, even though you're alone, you must survive!"
Thales stared dumbfoundedly at the female bartender who suddenly bid her farewell. That was until her figure darted back towards the center of the gale wind outside the streets.
Thales subconsciously stretched out his hand to grab her back.
The boy listened to the sound of fighting that once again echoed in the distance. He then remembered a scene. It was at night behind the Sunset Pub's kitchen, and there was dog meat in front of him.
"Eat a little slower, brat! This dog is something I caught. So what if I'm a bartender? I am Jala Cha… I am Jala. I am a well-trained bartender. You can't take this dog thigh! You won't be able to bite it."
'Goodbye, Sister Jala. Goodbye, JC.'
Thales resolutely turned around and proceeded towards the depths of the Red Street Market, 'I must live. I owe this to Jala.'
The sound of battle behind him traveled further and further away.
On a messy battlefield.
Kohen leaned against his sword. Holding onto the wall with his left hand, he knelt down and coughed harshly. The police officer's chest was bleeding.
His left chest had been skewered. His lungs were injured and his heart was almost affected. Besides that, his opponent's violent power of Eradication was still fluctuating in his wounds.
Even Kohen's prided power of Eradication, 'Glory of the Stars', could not withstand it.
But the enemy… Kohen raised his head to look at the stoic-looking, red-and-black swordsman.
The man's left pauldron was pierced by Kohen's 'blind' thrust. The shoulder was bleeding, there was a gash on both his left chin and his neck. However, his situation was far better compared to Kohen's.
At the moment their swords were about to pierce one another, the two men displayed completely different fighting achievements.
Kohen executed a part of the Glory of Stars and condensed that part of the power into a Star Shield to protect his heart. The shield deviated the attack that was aimed at his vitals, and then, Kohen thrust forward with all his might with the saber in hand.
As for the red-black swordsman, he ignored the silvery white saber aimed at his throat. Instead, when the saber was about to hit, he became calmer and his attacks became faster. His sword quickly reached Kohen and pierced his chest. He then took advantage of the moment when Kohen's saber trembled to lower his head and avoid the attack to his throat, leaving behind only gashes on his neck and chin. He further endured Kohen's strike at his pauldron to push his sword in deeper.
The relative superiority was evident.
"You are a great swordsman," The red-black swordsman said suddenly. "Confronting such a move, most people would attempt to dodge before fighting back, but you were determined to pierce through it. The army must have taught you how to condense and form that shield, right?"
Kohen ferociously coughed up blood and laughed. "A veteran of the army told me that on the battlefield, one must have a life-saving skill. That way, a person would live longer than his enemies and have fewer injuries than them."
The red-black swordsman was silent for a while before chuckling. "He has surely never been a suicide squad member."
Kohen gasped and his brow wrinkled. "At the Western battlefield, the Barren Bone and Orc assault team suicide squads, have you done that before?"
The red-black swordsman nodded. "Three times."
"Which squad?" Kohen licked the blood in his mouth and lifted his head.
"The Skull Guards. Seventeenth Suicide Squad."
"Fakenhaz's suicide squad, three times?" Kohen gave a knowing smile. "Looks like you have offended an important person."
"What about you, police officer?" The red-black swordsman quietly asked.
"Crow Guards. Second Shock Brigade."
"Thunderbolt Crow of the Second Shock Brigade?" The swordsman frowned. "Hmph. I had thought that 'Karabeyan' sounded familiar. Looks like it was a nobleman."
Kohen spat blood out and laughed bitterly. "In fact, I always wanted to ask—Was the Chaca wine given before charging delicious? My father never allowed me to drink it."
"It is difficult to get to drink it. Damned quartermaster even wanted to embezzle money from the wine of dead people," the swordsman coldly replied.
The conversation between the two suddenly stopped.
The red-black swordsman's ruthlessness and rage had died away. Kohen's helplessness and gasps had also diminished.
"Groudon Raymer of the Seventeenth Suicide Squad in the Skull Guards. Shield Saber troops." The red-black swordsman, Groudon, said in a cold voice, "That is my name. It is an honor to fight you, Your Excellency, police officer."
"Kohen Karabeyan of the Second Shock Brigade in the Crow Guards. Combat Captain." Kohen gave a sad smile. "The honor is mine. Err, Your Excellency, gang hooligan?"
Kohen stopped smiling in the next second. They both looked at each other seriously. On Kohen's saber, the Glory of the Stars flickered.
Violent energy surged through Groudon's right arm, such that the blood vessels seemed to stand out. The sword strike that determined life and death—that is the moment of the Swordsman of Eradication.
It was an honor, sacred and cannot be blasphemed. But at the next moment, both their expressions changed!
They suddenly heard the howling of a gale-force wind from next door. A slim and heroic figure wielding twin blades fell from the air and landed on the street.
'This distance should be enough.' The female bartender gasped for breath and saw the two figures, one standing, and one kneeling.
She then saw Kohen's apparel.
'I hope the brat can… Eh? The kingdom's police? This is a war between the underworld gangs. Why is this cop here?'
Kohen and Groudon also stared at her in surprise.
'Another gang member?' Kohen thought. 'I hope she is not from the Blood Bottle Gang.'
'This woman. I did not hear about her from His Excellency.' Groudon thought to himself. 'Is she a chess piece from outside?
"You cannot run anymore, bartender girl!" The wind howled, accompanied by a hoarse, effeminate voice. Ralf appeared at a corner and also saw the two swordsmen.
"Groudon? Shouldn't you be guarding by His Excellency's side?" Ralf looked at the swordsman and frowned. "Why are you here with this… cop?"
'Good.' Kohen thought. 'They are partners. So…'
The police turned towards the bartender. 'Since this woman is my opponent's enemy, she shouldn't be part of the Blood Bottle Gang.'
"Focus on cleaning up your rat," Groudon the red-black swordsman did not seem to want to talk to Ralf. "I will take care of my task."
After speaking, Groudon lifted his saber grimly at Kohen, the officer also stood up slowly. He gritted his teeth and held his silver saber horizontally at his chest.
Ralf curled his lips. The wind kept rumbling by his side.
Jala took a deep breath and knelt down to adjust her angle.
All four of them understood the situation. There were two from Blood Bottle Gang, one from the Brotherhood, and one a police officer.
The next moment, all four of them moved!
Groudon's saber flashed red and mercilessly pursued Kohen's heart!
Kohen's face turned white as he confronted Groudon. Drawing his saber he made a specialized defensive move.
Ralf's figure disappeared again but the wind charged towards Jala.
Jala's body rose suddenly, her twin blades seemed to slash the air as she advanced, but she unexpectedly charged towards...
Thales carefully covered his breath with the black cloth as he ran away. He had already bypassed the deathmatch between the two groups of elite thugs.
Among the crowd was a two-meters-tall figure that stood out. He possessed a powerful, striking force that sent the Blood Bottle Gang members in red bandanas flying wherever he went.
'This person must be a master from the Brotherhood. He is either one of the thirteen Generals or one of the six Powerhouses. Either way, he could not be one of the three legendary Assassins.'
Thales just quietly bypassed them. This was not his war. He wanted to run away, not just for himself, but also for Jala and the beggars of the Sixth House.
Thales turned a corner and crashed right into an invisible air barrier. At that time, he still did not know that this was a master's famous Air Wall.
In a bad mood, he hit the barrier once. 'Damned Mystic. Now I need to make another detour. I hope I don't meet anyone.'
Thales then remembered that a voice had told him to lower his head. At first, he had thought that the person was Jala. After all, she had immediately appeared in front of him then. But later, he realized that this voice could not belong to Jala. It was a hoarse voice that was difficult to differentiate. Jala, Ralf, and himself were not the only ones there; there was a fourth person.
Thales' scalp tightened. He suddenly thought, 'If the voice that suddenly appeared belonged to a fourth person, why did Jala and Ralf not notice it? Jala had obviously stood in front of me after that rock shot behind me.'
Thales had concluded without a doubt that this person's strength was more frightening than Jala and Ralf's.
'If he is not hostile, why did he not come out and help?'
*Bump!* Thales ran into another invisible barrier.
He patted his head in annoyance.
There are more and more of these tricks. Don't you need money to run these?
Thales turned towards another direction and ran.
There was another barrier. This time, Thales did not manage to stop himself and fell to the ground. The left side of his forehead knocked on the corner of a house.
Thales grimaced and rubbed his head. He lifted his bleeding head and looked ahead.
'Something is wrong.'
He was at the intersection. The surroundings were dark but according to his memory, he should be near the center of the Red Street Market. Even the sounds of slaughter were getting further away. Thales then turned towards the other three directions. He moved his foot forward lightly and stretched out his hands. He then felt the barriers at two nearby areas.
'Three roads were sealed?' Thales was startled. 'It's starting to become dark and mysterious, like a horror movie.'
Thales was silent for a moment. He then turned towards the only direction that did not have any barriers. He silently extended his hand and, sure enough, walked on continuously, unhindered for more than ten meters.
'It is like an exit that was deliberately left here.' Thales' heart sank more and more, 'Unexpectedly, I ended up coming here. Sigh... Fate is truly a bitch. '
Thales suddenly dropped his right hand that was covering his forehead, letting his blood drip continuously on the ground.
The boy resolutely walked another dozen steps along the open street until he was near a building. At the center of the building was an ajar, large wooden door.
Thales looked up at the huge sign on the door. The barely literate boy could just make out the words. It was something he learned when he went begging at the Black Gold Casino.
That word was 'Chess'.
Thales turned around and looked at the other three blocked roads. He then remembered the bleeding and pain in his head.
'Nowhere else to go'
"This invitation is really crude," Thales muttered.
However, he sighed and stopped hesitating. He pushed open the half-opened door and walked into the chess room in the center of the Red Street Market.
It was pitch dark inside. There was only a bit of light in the distance from something that resembled an old-fashioned candle.
'They really know how to set the atmosphere.'
"Welcome to my amusement park, my little friend."
While walking past the chess tables (and bumping into a lot of them), Thales heard a delighted and relaxed voice.
"My name is Asda Sakern. My colleagues are accustomed to calling me, the Air Mystic."
A very long time passed.
Thales exhausted two lives worth of strength to calm himself down.
There was only a single candle light flickering faintly in the darkness ahead. It was the entrance to the cellar of the chess room.
Thales inhaled deeply and descended into the cellar. He then held his breath and suppressed his heart that was beating wildly.
In front was a charming man with long, dark brown hair and blue clothes. The man was seated at a long table. He smiled and nodded at Thales.
"As for the issue of the invitation, I will pay more attention to it the next time."
At the inner altar of Sunset Temple.
A gray-haired, and middle-aged noble could not suppress the excitement in his heart. In front of him, the flame from the small Lamp carrying the future of the kingdom grew bigger and bigger. The red color of the flame became brighter and brighter.
He lifted the Lamp and strode out of the inner altar of the temple.
Behind him, an elder priest was alarmed. He stretched out his hand, wanting to obstruct the way, but suddenly thought of something and stopped his hand.
The priest breathed a sigh of relief. He watched the figure of the noble walk further away and slowly sat down.
After a long while, the elderly priest called out to the trainee Niah.
"Prepare yourself. From tomorrow onwards, open up the inner altar."