Chapter 14: Asda Sakern
Even in Asda Sakern's very long life, his first impression of the boy was very interesting and ridiculous.
The black-haired boy seemed to be in a sorry situation under the dim candlelight. Blood dripped from his forehead, his young face was covered in patches of blue and purple, his neck was red with strangulation marks. The boy trembled slightly. He wore tattered clothes made from hemp and a dagger was rigidly tied to the legs.
After hearing Asda's identity, the boy seemed to be at a loss. The boy's hand was on his chest and he was slightly nervous. He seemed to vaguely understand the meaning of the word 'Mystic'. The pressure in different parts of his body changed suddenly, such that even his breath was mistier.
'However, his eyes are out of the ordinary. Yes. His queer eyes are not filled with panic and vigilance. Instead, they seem to be filled with… curiosity and excitement?'
What Thales thought in his mind at the time surprised even himself.
After being surprised upon hearing that the man was a Mystic, he suddenly felt the impulse to ask what was a Mystic.
'Do I have an occupational disease?'
It was at this moment when Thales saw something at the corner of his eyes. At a dark corner were three odd spheres placed on the ground. Each sphere was as large as a person, but when Thales faintly made out the hands and feet on the sphere, he suddenly turned pale.
"I believe you have already met Talon and Moria of the Brotherhood." The Mystic Asda noticed his gaze and answered with a grin, "They were very ambitious. They went straight to the Red Street Market from the start.
"Apologies, I am not accustomed to the choking or crushing style like Morris; I prefer simpler methods."
'Molding a person into a spherical shape is simpler?' Thales heart sank as he silently criticized.
"Come, child," Asda said with a laugh. His voice was pleasant, graceful and courteous even. "Come here and look at my chessboard."
Thales gulped a mouthful of saliva and turned around. Chasing the image of the human flesh-spheres out of his head, he then quickly analyzed his situation. After that, Thales saw that Asda's left hand had a blue energy sphere that looked like it was a 3D projection. (He knew it was not.) He decisively eliminated the idea of putting a dagger through the man's neck.
Thales calmly took three breaths—according to the method used in his past life for viva examinations—before walking up slowly.
'If it is a blessing, it is not a curse. If it is a curse, it is unavoidable.'
Asda gave a ghost of a smile towards the boy, whose movements were like an adult, as he waited for the boy to get nearer to the chessboard. Just as he was about to open his mouth he was surprised to see the boy pull out a chair and take a seat. He then frowned, seemingly dissatisfied with the view. He finally got down from the chair and pushed it closer towards Asda before climbing back up to sit.
"Urgh, my legs are sore." Thales laughed awkwardly at Asda. He accidentally tore open the wound on his forehead and gave a harsh cry from the pain.
"That is my oversight."
Asda turned around with great interest and tapped his right hand lightly. Something seemingly pressed down on the wound on Thales' forehead and the blood stopped flowing out.
"This is… Did you raise and regulate the air pressure?" Thales touched his forehead in surprise and found an invisible film isolating his hand from the wound.
Asda stopped smiling and nodded quietly.
"That's right. Did your teacher teach you Physics?"
"Err… No." Thales let go of his hands embarrassingly. It seemed Asda had regarded him as a noble or a boy from a rich family.
Asda nodded and then turned to the chessboard on the table. "Can you recognize this?"
Thales looked carefully at the map on the table. "A board game with the Red Street Market as the map… No, this is the map of the current battle outside! The red pieces are the Blood Bottle Gang, the black pieces are the Brotherhood!" Thales answered suddenly.
"Of course." Asda expressionlessly stretched out his right hand. Two black pieces and a crystal piece flew from afar and he caught them with his hand.
"This should have been a perfect trap. In a short while, I would have Morris and Cenza die here. However, things always have a way of fouling up, don't they?"
The three chess pieces flew around Thales' head like birds.
'Just treat it like a magic trick.' Thales forced himself to stay calm as he watched Asda's performance.
"Firstly, the men in my team are all useless. Obviously, they should have attacked Morris and Cenza at the first instance and kill them at all costs. Instead, they timidly went around the enemy and used guerrilla tactics to whittle them down. It's a typical case of bullying the weak and avoiding the strong.
"Secondly, I am not sure if it was reinforcements from the Brotherhood, but in short, the entrance of an unexpected piece had disrupted my deployment."
As Asda narrated emotionlessly, one of the pieces above Thales' head fell onto the board.
"This is the one that followed you. Your comrade that came from the Lower City District had frightening speed and defeated Dorno and Sven in one face-off. Ralf is still chasing behind her right now. Even Rumeno, the Psionic with tracking abilities, could not find a trace of him in the dust. I can only say that it is gratifying for the Brotherhood to have such a master among the younger generation."
The black swordsman piece landed on the map, standing together with a red swordsman, one in the front and one at the back. Further away was a red prime minister.
Thales knew he was talking about Jala and felt uneasy. But he hoped from the bottom of his heart that she was safe, especially when there was still a red prime minister in the distance.
"The breach is fatal and there were a lot of pieces that escaped. All of them were just underlings, but..." Asda sighed. "Through them, the Black Street Brotherhood's headquarters found out about the situation here an hour earlier than I expected. I can feel that Lance and his subordinates have already taken control of the entrance.
"The rat trap is broken."
He lowered his head, looking regretful and sorrowful. At that moment, Thales almost thought that the person in front of him was a compassionate temple priest.
But, Asda immediately raised his head. The sad expression on his face vanished without a trace. He gently waved his fingers and two other pieces that were suspended in the air began to spin around again.
"This one came from the other direction. It is not known which side he is on. He killed the Leighton siblings faster than it would take to slaughter two pigs. This guy cannot be stopped by anyone nearby. I could only send out Groudon who had been by my side. Now, I do not have anyone here that I can speak to."
Asda seemed dissatisfied and dropped the crystal knight from the air, placing it together with a red guard.
"This piece is probably from a different faction. If it does not belong to a noble, it would be from the government. This was also unforeseen."
Thales swallowed his saliva again.
"The last one would be you. As nobody was available, I had to personally invite you." Asda turned his head, his eyes sharpened.
The last, small, black piece fell from the sky and landed in the center of the map, beside a red King. Thales became extremely nervous.
"Tell me. Where are you from?" Asda leaned back. His expression was difficult to discern. "Why did the people of the Brotherhood send you to the center of Red Street Market? Are you a frightening weapon sent here to assassinate me? Perhaps you have important information or a parcel to exchange with another chess piece?
"I hope you can give me a friendly reply voluntarily instead of shouting 'Go to hell, Mystic' and then rushing forward. To be honest, that is just suicide."
Asda quietly looked at him, his eyes sincere. His eyes were unlike Rick's which were full of ulterior motives. The sincerity in Asda's eyes was emotionless as though he did not care about the answer to his question.
At that moment, Thales thought that the man in front of him was not human.
'Stay calm, Thales, stay calm.'
The boy reminded himself, trying to recall his viva presentation and seminar speeches—how to introduce the audience to an unknown domain based on their current understanding.
'I'm supposed to be good at this right?'
Thales took a deep breath. "Mister Asda Sakern, are you saying that by sitting here, you would be able to know what is going on in the entire Red Street Market?" Thales first needed to gather intelligence.
"Not exactly," Asda replied indifferently. "I will know even the slightest change of the air in the whole street. From the change in air pressure in the body to the flow of air outside the body. In other words, anything that breathes in the Red Street Market is being monitored by me."
'This is his ability. Is it a Psionic skill? Is this why he was called the Air Mystic?' Thales secretly thought to himself, 'No wonder the Brotherhood was so badly beaten.'
"Then you should know…" Thales began to comb through his own words and logic to look for a life-preserving opportunity in the exchange of words. "Along the way, my companion and I cautiously tried to avoid confrontation. We only fought when there was no choice, regardless of whether they were from the Blood Bottle Gang or the Brotherhood. I believe this can prove that we are not from the Brotherhood. At the very least, we did not come here for the Brotherhood but had entered the battlefield inadvertently. We have no intention of opposing you."
"It makes sense." Asda nodded, still devoid of emotion. However, his tone did not soften. "But you still took my pawns. I don't care about their lives, but I care that my plans and objectives are being interrupted—it does not matter whether it was intentional or not. Even the most corrupt judge would not turn a blind eye to manslaughter, would he? And you have not answered my question: Who are you and why are you so important?"
Hearing this Thales quickly revised his message. "I am an enemy of the Brotherhood!"
These words made Asda raised his head slightly.
Thales had realized the raison d'etre and decided to reveal part of the truth, "I am just an ordinary beggar who fled after offending a high-ranking person of the Brotherhood. Because the Brotherhood's eyes and ears are all over the Lower City District, my only chance was the adjacent Red Street Market belonging to the Blood Bottle Gang. However, my companion and I did not expect the gang war to take place tonight and so, inadvertently…
"I apologize for our recklessness. I can issue… I mean, I can provide you compensation once I am able to. I believe my future value will definitely be worth your while in giving me a chance.
"I am already destined to become an enemy of the Brotherhood. Even if I am small and weak, the enemy of an enemy is a friend. I believe the Blood Bottle Gang does not need to help the Brotherhood eliminate a potential enemy, do they?"
Asda narrowed his eyes. 'Truly an eloquent child.'
"That is all?"
"That is all."
Asda remained silent for a long time. There was an unexpected, indistinct smile on his face.
"There is no huge change of air pressure in the body. Although the breathing feels nervous, it was also smooth. Sigh. Although you did not say everything, you also did not lie."
The Mystic gave a wry smile and shook his head. He then sincerely said, "So, your presence and the disruption of the chess game—it is all just a coincidence. In fact, I do not care about those pieces you took. After all, those are just small pieces. The so-called Strongest Twelve, thirteen Generals, Psionic Warriors, six Powerhouses. Apart from Cenza, these people are all merely ordinary class and supra class.
"Even the Blood Bottle Gang is nothing but a relatively large chess piece. Even when you disrupted my plan and dismantled my trap, I didn't care too much about it." Asda wore a wry smile and looked at Thales.
"But unexpectedly, my plan was destroyed by accidents and coincidences. This frustrates me. Accidents, accidents. Haha. I am starting to understand Empress Hellen's source of strength."
'What a strange and abnormal person.' Thales' nervousness lessened as he observed the Air Mystic.
"The world is truly marvelous." Asda suddenly burst into laughter. "Child. Did you know that Mystics are born from accidents?"
Thales' heart began to beat faster. He felt an inexplicable danger from the Mystic who had a strange expression.
"A long time ago, there was only magic and no mystic energy." Asda showed a complicated, yearnful expression. "Wizards pursued the truths of the world. They used all kinds of ingenious methods and wisdom to take advantage of the natural resources and energies in the world, to create an even more beautiful world.
"That was until one day, a low-ranked wizard apprentice accidentally discovered that his magic was not stable. It was as though the magic had a life of its own and rebelled against its master."
The next moment, Thales' whole body quivered. He felt a huge and strong force surge from below into his body.
The boy was shocked to find himself floating up. The flustered boy reached for the table edge in panic, but he found himself floating higher and higher. His arm could no longer reach the table.
He quickly looked towards Asda and realized in horror that the Mystic had an expression filled with agony and mania.
"Yes. Everything began like this! A wizard apprentice accidentally lost control!" Asda nervously said to himself as he gently picked up the black piece that had just fallen on the map.
Thales watched the pawn get taken away and his heart sank. He already knew what the Mystic wanted to do.
"From instability to complete loss of control, and thence until domination. The world you are familiar with begins to collapse, fear and panic strike. Nobody can save you except yourself."
Thales painfully discovered that the flow of air around his body started to accelerate; the atmospheric pressure began to change.
"Nobody knew what he discovered. But when he came back to the world, people found out that he was no longer a wizard, he was no longer human, he was no longer an ordinary man."
As the atmospheric pressure and the temperature rose, the terrified Thales felt the air become stuffy and he began to sweat profusely.
"It was just a one-time loss of control. He unintentionally killed the two Gods. It was just like how one trampled on two ants accidentally."
Asda's words were extremely grim. He slowly turned and his lips curved upwards.
'This crazy man!' Thales stopped clenching his teeth and wanted to speak but found that his voice would not pass his throat.
"That was the first Mystic. He was also the most powerful Mystic throughout history. The wizards were horrified to find that their incantations, spells, and research were like a child's trickery! The Gods were bewildered to find that even those with supernatural powers and divinity collapsed on the first blow. How ridiculous!
"The colorful era of the naïve and ignorant wizards has ended. The nascent Mystic, with a foothold beyond space, surpassed all the Gods, and prevailed over all living things."
In the heat, Thales began to feel himself getting crushed from all directions. He felt his limbs pressed into his body. His body slowly shrunk into a ball as he floated in the air. It was truly horrifying. It was like being squeezed into a washing machine in his previous life!
"Fear. Humans definitely have fear! Unfettered power that only a small number of people can enjoy. How could they not fear it?"
In the air, Thales felt his whole body begin to lose his strength. He also could not help but notice that Asda had placed himself outside of mankind.
"And so, the war began." Asda gently stood up, the energy sphere in his left hand continued to spin, "Perhaps it was a because of chance…
"...that we lost."
"I could only hide in this lawless place, running the stupid Blood Bottle Gang, waiting for that remote and slim hope. Each step and each breath must be taken with the utmost care."
Asda lowered his head in desolation. Without looking, he raised his right hand at Thales who still hung in midair. He then grasped firmly.
The joints in Thales' body began to make loud, popping noises. His eardrums felt like they were being crushed. The blood in his body surged.
'Is this what it means to "kill someone while chatting with him"?' Thales thought hopelessly. His brain was no longer clear.
'Is it like pinching an ant to death?'
The forehead-wound that had been healed by Asda gushed once more with red blood…
'Is this a Mystic? It feels no different from psionic abilities.'
As Thales neared Death's door, he caught Asda's left hand in the corner of his eye. A blue ball of light constantly whirled between the man's fingers. It was as though it was churning an infinite storm.
Thales' chest, scalded by the silver coin, suddenly started to burn with pain. The muscles all over his body were burning up.
It was getting hotter, burning more and more.
"So, the Mystics who still possessed mystic energy had to stay in hiding, to struggle like rats in the sewers." Asda could not help but frown as he said the last sentence. His last words should have been accompanied by the death of the subject.
'Did my control decline?' The Mystic did not think much about it. He was indifferent as he tightened his grip again.
However, at that moment, in the midst of the burning illusion, Thales felt a little happy. The pain from being crushed by the atmospheric pressure seemed to have decreased. He found himself able to speak again. With effort, he opened his mouth and looked at the energy sphere in Asda's hand.
'I hate people who hold a ball and pretend to be all bad*ss.'
"Damn you, Mystic energy!" Thales heard himself say, and then heat radiated from his body.
Asda looked surprised. The dark chess room was suddenly basked in a red light from an unknown source. Asda looked around in shock and immediately found the source of the red light. He looked down at his left hand and saw a trace of radiant red light appear inside his blue energy sphere.
The red light spread out slowly until it corroded the entire energy sphere.
"No! This is… This is…" Asda muttered as though he had just seen an inconceivably beautiful scenery.
The translucent blue energy sphere in Asda's hand suddenly stopped spinning. The energy sphere then turned red and then disappeared from his left hand. The Air Mystic suddenly raised his head to look at Thales who was in the air.
In Thales' right hand was a red energy sphere that floated quietly. Asda's eyes then looked excited. "You are—"
Before the Mystic could finish speaking to Thales, the world seemed to shatter.
The energy sphere suddenly exploded! An invisible energy flashed from inside and transformed into a tremendous and magnificent power.
If the cellar of the chess room was like a balloon, then the balloon had just been blasted into pieces! Doors and windows, glass, chessboards, candles and everything… blown away and smashed up.
The beams and pillars of the house suddenly exploded.
Asda was hit by a huge force that was like a heavy hammer. He flew back and crashed into the wall.
Thales was also knocked back by the force, causing him to crash heavily into the ceiling. But the ceiling and the walls also exploded. The shackle that seemed to curb his strength had vanished, along with his consciousness.
On the streets.
Morris had just dropped two Blood Bottle Gang men who were suffocated by his psionic power. He was surprised to hear the explosion.
'The extent of this explosion… it is at least a battle of 'supreme class.' Is it Cenza? Did Cenza meet the Air Mystic?
'No… No! Then Cenza must be dead.' Morris thought bitterly. The elites around Morris were also surprised.
"Boss!" The Assassin Layork was covered in blood. He quickly rushed over from afar. His expression showed mixed feelings. He was out of breath as he spoke.
"The air wall… The air wall has disappeared!"