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"Everyone, lord or servant, sinner or saint, bleeds if poked hard enough." ~ Gospel of St. Harken the Bloodletter. 2:1
Magrut backed down far too quickly. Before the rest could react, his figure vanished. He disappeared from the tent, leaving behind a tear in one of its walls. Lorist stared at the hole, his jaw on the floor. He didn't think a swordsaint would run away without even putting up a fight. He wanted to fight Magrut and enjoy himself. He had no opponents that could challenge him. His skills had stagnated as a result. He'd finally found an opponent against whom to train his domain, how could he just leave? It was like downloading an erotic film between a youth and a widow, only to realize it's a lolicon after getting into the position.
Nonsense. You think you can run?!
Lorist gave chase with a grunt. He was determined to keep the all-bark-no-bite swordsaint behind if it was the last thing he did. The tent was large, and the place Magrut escaped from was about ten meters away from Lorist, and it was right at the border of Lorist's Slaughter Domain. But when Lorist rushed over and was no more than three meters from the hole in the tent, he felt a sudden humongous pressure attacking him from the outside.
"No good..." Lorist's legs sank into the ground. His body had become heavy as a mountain as his legs fixed him to the ground as he got into a defensive stance.
The walls of the tent were slowly torn apart before Lorist's very own eyes, with its pieces flying all over the place before settling on the ground. That was the same with both the cloth of the tent and the stainless steel frame it was clad over; they were all turned into fine airborne debris. The tent's walls had already completely disappeared and Lorist found that the windstorm swordsaint was no more than six meters away from him.
A loud boom rang out from the depths of Lorist's mind. He coldly humphed as he took two steps back. The swordsaint before him shuddered, but he didn't retreat.
That was the result of two domains clashing. Lorist's domain was blood-red, a color that couldn't be seen but only felt from experiencing the endlessly cruel bloodl.u.s.t the bloodbath brought. Within the bloodbath, all that was living was a sacrificial offering. The windstorm swordsaint's domain on the other hand was greyish-black and it manifested in the form of the roar of a wild gust. The sharp sounds of the winds and the cold and desolate land made one feel like one was hanging by a cliff with one hand holding onto it while experiencing the a.s.sault of strong winds, going to fall at any moment.
The windstorm swordsaint had not tried to run, but instead escaped Lorist's domain and activated his own to deal with it. Darn it! Lorist cursed himself for not having taken the perfect chance and letting go of the windstorm swordsaint just like that. Within Slaughter Domain, Lorist was a G.o.d. However, he allowed the swordsaint to escape without being able to react. Otherwise, the windstorm swordsaint would've been eliminated without recourse.
The tent was already shaking flimsily, having been torn apart. In terms of range, the windstorm swordsaint's domain seemed to be double of Lorist's own. The ones embroiled within that domain looked as if they were being a.s.sailed by a tornado, rising and falling within the tent. Things flew around and spun before they were torn to small pieces.
The people within tried to back off from the range of those two domains. As they backed up against the throne, some drew their swords and leaped out of the tent like the windstorm swordsaint did. However, Auguslo and the n.o.bles still wore expressions of disbelief that they had made it out of the tent alive. Viscount Krilos had also completely lost his calm and elegant smile, having it replaced by a look of terror.
While the windstorm swordsaint's domain felt far wider than Lorist's, it didn't carry the dense feeling Slaughter Domain did. It was like a large plate that had a bowl on top of it. The bowl and plate was clashing against each other. The spectating n.o.bles found it really funny how Lorist and the windstorm swordsaint were fighting each other at the intersection point of their domains. The two of them were attacking and defending with the slowest of speeds.
Lorist had already sweat all over. What he never imagined was that the clash of the two domains exerted a mountainous pressure on his body. Not only did his whole body feel that stress, even the longsword in his hand felt heavy like a mountain to the point that he almost couldn't lift it up. The blood-red tornado formed a gigantic physical blade that pierced slowly from his side as Lorist slowly took a step forward and thrust his sword towards the swordsaint at a snail's pace.
The windstorm swordsaint was faring worse than Lorist. Even though he had the experience of fighting other swordsaints, which Lorist lacked, he didn't think Lorist's domain would give him the feeling of being submerged in a quagmire. It was far too odd, as if he had fallen into a pot of rice. His Windstorm Domain focused on swiftness and agility. But now that it had clashed against Slaughter Domain, he was no longer able to use it to its full potential. His limbs felt like they were moving through thick mud. The pressure was huge and his movements couldn't be linked together, so he had no choice but to block Lorist's strike incredibly slowly, being able to do nothing about it.
Without their domains, Lorist and Magrut's fight would be swift as lightning to the point that the naked eye wouldn't be able to make out what was going on. But the clash of the domains brought with it the effect akin to gravity being multiplied a number of times. The two of them engaged in combat in laughably slow movements. One slow stab was parried aside really slowly before it would be followed by a crawling counter strike.
Lorist was already starting to get anxious. He could only use Slaughter Domain for 15 minutes, but he had already been slow-dancing with the windstorm swordsaint for more than ten without either of them being able to gain an edge over the other. Should that continue, once his domain ran out while Magrut's was still active, it would no doubt end horribly for him.
Lorist had to find a way to heavily wound the windstorm swordsaint. He strived to approach the swordsaint, but the cunning old man retreated every time Lorist made such an attempt. The two of them were separated by a distance the length of a sword. Perhaps the experienced windstorm swordsaint already saw through the properties of Lorist's domain and knew that it wouldn't be able to last long, so he started to draw it out until the domain crumbles.
There's no other choice. A look of absolute determination flashed through his eyes as his sword was parried away. The windstorm swordsaint followed it up with a thrust, and Lorist made no attempt to avoid it. The cold tip of the sword pierced into his body and came out of his back ever so slowly, only serving to exacerbate the pain Lorist was feeling. But he grit his teeth and pressed on, arcing the parried longsword in his right hand back down diagonally...
Magrut was greatly shocked. He wouldn't dare dream that Lorist would fight so suicidally. His longsword was already pierced in Lorist's chest and there wasn't enough time for him to draw it out or slash horizontally to bring it out from Lorist's body. The arcing longsword in Lorist's right hand could take the windstorm swordsaint's head in the next moment.
The windstorm swordsaint didn't share Lorist's deathwish. He currently had two choices. He could retreat backwards, but he had to give up on the sword pierced in Lorist's chest. He might even be slashed on the chest by Lorist. The second was to get even closer to Lorist to avoid the edge of the sword. Even though he would get even closer, that would render Lorist's slash not as damaging. At the same time, he would have control over Lorist's life because he didn't have to abandon his sword. After avoiding that strike, he could tear Lorist into two halves by slashing horizontally with the sword he had stuck within Lorist's body.
Naturally, the windstorm swordsaint chose the second option. The way he saw it, Lorist was courting death. He sidestepped slightly and stuck close to Lorist from his flank. As long as the slash caught air, he could ram Lorist with his left shoulder and swing his longsword with his right and it would be done. Little did he expect, Lorist took one step to the side at that very moment. The two of them had switched places. Lorist's left hand struck the windstorm swordsaint's chest at that moment, using the full extent of his internal energy.
To the spectators, Lorist was already done with. Not only did the windstorm swordsaint's longsword find its way through Lorist's torso, the old man himself switched places at close range to evade Lorist's fatal diagonal slash. The slow palm strike by Lorist looked like a futile move by him to push Magrut away.
It was over. Auguslo and the other n.o.bles donned a renewed look of despair. The windstorm swordsaint had still defeated Lorist in the end; the situation didn't change one bit.
A soft rustling sound rang out, and the face of the old swordsaint who stuck close to Lorist turned red all of a sudden, before he opened his mouth and sprayed a mouthful of blood all over Lorist's face. Soon after, the other side of the spot Lorist struck bulged huge before the swordsaint was sent flying through the air. He tumbled down on the platform before the throne like a struggling old dog near its death, sputtering blood out incessantly.
The domain vanished all of a sudden; both the Windstorm Domain of the blood-vomiting swordsaint laying on the gold-laced carpet and the Slaughter Domain of Lorist, who was struggling to stand with a sword pierced through him, were without a trace. The chaotic area around the ruined tent finally calmed down.
None expected Lorist to turn the tables around so suddenly just as he was about to lose, neither did they know how Lorist managed to score a pyrrhic victory against the viscount. However, the fact that the windstorm swordsaint was no different than an old dying stray was undeniable. Auguslo and the kingdom n.o.bles shifted their gazes to Master Magrut as their faces shifted from despair to crazed fervor. They had already gripped their swords unconsciously. At that moment, the gaze they shot the windstorm swordsaint was one they would shoot a helpless beauty, especially one that was stark naked.
Viscount Krilos gulped audibly as he turned back to look at Auguslo with a forced smile. Auguslo still seemed excited and agonized at the same time; a paradoxical combination which fused into something ever so sinister. Krilos felt himself soften as if he wanted to sit down from holding his urine in for far too long.
"Y-y-y--your Majesty, we... we are envoys... Even if our negotiations fall apart, you should le-let us go... Only then can y-you uphold the reputation of the royal f-f-f-family..." stammered Krilos.
"Hehe, Lord Krilos, don't worry. We will definitely send you back. As for the windstorm swordsaint and your guards, hehehe..." Auguslo said as he waved his hand with a smile, "Kill them!"
Krilos fell seated to the ground and made a huge wet mess beneath him. He had been relying on the windstorm swordsaint, yet he didn't expect that the old man had turned into a helpless fish on sh.o.r.e. He had vomited out large volumes of blood and people knew that it was the end of him. One could only imagine how terrifyingly the grudge-holding Auguslo would treat the envoys of the Union...
The sounds of swords drawing filled the air. If the windstorm swordsaint hadn't been injured, those n.o.bles and blademasters would act like fearful turtles, helpless sheep waiting to be slaughtered. But now that the windstorm swordsaint and Lorist severely injured each other, as was obvious to the eyes of all present, they were all eager to finish the deed. Taking the kill on a swordsaint would no doubt let them pa.s.s their proud names down for centuries to come. Every one of them began to rush in for the kill.
The first one to get on the platform was Auguslo's blademaster bodyguard, Manst. As a rank 2 blademaster, he was really careful. Even though he was the first one who made it up there, he pierced his sword into the left arm of the windstorm swordsaint in an attempt to test whether the latter still had any arm strength left. The swordsaint made a pained cry as Manst's sword bore a hole through his hand, causing fresh blood to flow out. Surprised, Blademaster Manst stepped back twice, only to find that the swordsaint didn't retaliate. Instead, he sat up and no longer laid on the ground, having stopped puking out blood.
The second one to get up there was Reidy. However, he didn't care about the windstorm swordsaint one bit and instead rushed to Lorist, his master and teacher, with concern.
The third was the blademaster employed by Duke Fisablen, Blademaster Forund. He was an honorary viscount of the former Forund duchy and he had partic.i.p.ated in the banquet as the duke's personal bodyguard along with the other n.o.bles. Seeing the windstorm swordsaint heavily wounded by Lorist, he also couldn't resist his ambition's temptations. He believed that after he killed the windstorm swordsaint, not only would his name be spread far and wide, Auguslo might also surprise him by making him a proper landed n.o.ble of the kingdom.
As he followed closely behind Reidy to get to the platform, he was worried that Reidy would get the kill before he could. The moment he saw Reidy rush for Lorist, he couldn't be happier and he made his way across Blademaster Manst and sent his sword cutting towards the throat of the windstorm swordsaint, desperately wanting to score that kill.
Blademaster Manst cried out in terror, "Look out!"
"However, Rimad was blocking in front of him, so all he could do was sidestep and prepare himself to receive the blow. Rimad himself had heard Manst's warning, but he didn't take it seriously. He had wanted to block Manst intentionally so that his kill wouldn't be stolen. Look out? For what? It's not like the windstorm swordsaint is holding a sword. His chest bone is obviously shattered by Lorist and he's nothing but livestock waiting to be slaughtered. What's there to look out for? Aren't you jealous that I'm going to steal your achievement? Haha! Who asked you to probe so carefully? Couldn't you just have killed him in one strike?
Rimad's sword continued coursing for the throat of the windstorm swordsaint. The moment before it collided, he felt his vision darken as the winds blew ferociously once more, causing the sands and stones in the area to tussle around. Blademaster Rimad cried out in a panic, "Domain!"
The windstorm swordsaint's body had already disappeared from his sight, and that was followed by a searing pain at his hand that caused his longsword to be knocked flying. Rimad really wanted to beg for his life, but he could no longer speak at that moment. The swordsaint had already used the longsword he took from Rimad and pierced it through his spine from the back of his neck. Rimad seemed as if he was struck by lightning and he only struggled for a bit before he fell to the ground lifeless.
Blademaster Manst clutched his right wrist as he hurriedly retreated. The moment the windstorm swordsaint activated his domain and started the killing, he had cut off the blademaster's right hand. Had it not been for his alertness, he might've lost his life just then. All the other n.o.bles who haven't rushed up the platform hurriedly turned back to escape.
The figure on the platform flashed a couple of times before Windstorm Domain vanished once more, causing the windstorm swordsaint's standing form to be revealed with the corpse of Blademaster Rimad at his feet. Even though Magrut was still coughing out blood from time to time, and the injury on his left hand bled on without stopping, the n.o.bles of the kingdom were like scattered birds who flew all over the place, not a single one daring to get close.
"Counter him with the longbowmen!" shouted Duke Fisablen from afar when he was certain that the windstorm swordsaint wouldn't harm him from that distance.
"Hmph!" cried the old man with rage. Duke Fisablen's suggestion had hit his weak point. Now that he was heavily injured, he could only barely hold on. If the n.o.bles of the kingdom all charged at him, he'd only be able to kill three to four of them before being torn apart himself. He turned back and saw the silent Lorist who had a sword poking through him before tapping his longsword on the ground and leaping up in the air and landing outside the tent, spitting out another mouthful of blood. After that, he tapped the ground with his longsword once more and disappeared into the distant sky.
"Bluuargh!" The blood Lorist had been holding back so long had still been spat out. He crumbled to the ground like a soft noodle as he blacked out while amidst Reidy's panicked cries. Right before he fainted, he heard Auguslo call out angrily, "Give chase! We must definitely hunt down and kill that swordsaint!"