TL: 2 more chapters.
Chapter 73 – King of the Underworld (24)
The second round commenced with Torbus leading the attack and Brendel immediately shied away. The position he was in did not allow him to fight against four opponents.
His target was Tirste yet again, and he unleashed the full extent of his military swordsmanship against him. The tip of his blade wavered at different vital points, making it difficult for Tirste to know where the blade was going to go next.
Brendel’s sword went for Tirste’s fingers, and the latter was barely able to deflect the attack in time. But the youth’s deflected sword seemed to correct itself into another path of attack and succeeded in wounding Tirste’s left leg.
The androgynous man staggered backward, but Brendel did not follow up and retreated instead, as Torbus had come in with a straightforward slash from the sides.
Rushed footsteps shuffled across the floor as three blades tried to cut the youth in three different directions, and he soon suffered another wound.
Metal clashed desperately with each other as Brendel tried his best to whittle his opponents one at a time, while completely avoiding a match with his grandfather. However, his three other opponents seemed to pick up on what he was doing and were content to let Torbus take the charge and lead them.
Brendel seemed to look like he was doing fine to most of his spectators, but the truth could not be further away.
His grandfather did not show that earlier attack, and fought with incredibly simple strikes and thrusts. That was when Brendel knew that he was not entering into a match of skill, but one of attrition.
His grandfather was spending a minuscule of stamina to exchange for Brendel’s desperate defense, forcing the latter to exert a considerable amount of energy, and this plan was working because of the two to three different points of attack from his other opponents which he needed to defend against.
And it was getting only harder.
The coordination of the three swordsmen was getting better and better. He knew that the illusionary equilibrium between them would be shattered once he made a mistake.
[It’s fortunate that I got an increase in my military swordsmanship against Kodan earlier, otherwise, I would have been cut down several times……]
In the previous fight against Kodan, Brendel had forcefully incorporated his knowledge of Kirrlutz’s swordsmanship from the game into his core Aouine’s military swordsmanship from the system.
Kodan’s usage of Aouine’s military swordsmanship was powerful strikes that linked from one point to another, allowing for endless variations to keep on attacking.
But Brendel’s usage of Aouine’s military swordsmanship was based on the gamers, where attacking was based on feints and counters that could be repeated again and again with incredible efficiency. In addition to this style, he added in Kirrlutz’s Flash Strikes which were aggressive and lightning fast.
This pattern had caused Kodan to hesitate in his attacks, and he was now using it once more against his opponents.
But it was primarily because of Brendel’s incredibly extensive knowledge of the different types of swordsmanship that saved him.
His eyes were concentrating so hard on his opponents that he picked up even the slightest movements of their muscles, and his body responded to the amount of information that was fed to his mind.
Each move from his opponents could be identified and dealt with accordingly, and the exchange of defense and offense continued.
Seconds turned to minutes.
Despite his utmost efforts, the wounds that Brendel suffered were starting to pile up. The noose was tightening around Brendel’s neck as he was forced closer and closer to the barrier’s edge.
Brendel’s body and mind were screaming with pain. His breath became shallow and the corners of his eyes were darkening. His thoughts became sluggish, but his counters against his opponents still happened.
Each time Buga, Tirste, and Ebdon attacked, he was able to send back a flurry of attack and feints instead of purely guarding against them.
The unification of the gamers’ use of Aouine and Kirrlutz’s swordsmanship was happening right before his eyes, turning the efforts of the gamers’ research into reality.
[No, it has exceeded the previous world because there are elements of the military swordsmanship from this system that I’m using as well—]
Brendel’s mind suddenly sharpened when he realized he was undergoing a metamorphosis.
He took a step back as he deflected Tirste thrust to send it to Ebdon’s incoming sword, then parried Buga’s greatsword with Power Break to force the gigantic weapon down so that his grandfather’s attack faltered slightly, then borrowed the strength of his grandfather’s affected slash to take another step back.
The White Raven Sword Arte struck against the floor and sent dust flying into Ebdon’s helmet and Tirste’s eyes, momentarily blinding them. The inferior Flash Strikes technique that he emulated was swift enough to pierce through Buga’s defenses and caused him to bleed.
[While the system doesn’t recognize my efforts officially, it seems that I’m capable of executing the techniques to a certain extent with my stats and Military Swordsmanship rank.]
He was not the only person who noticed his change.
Kodan was able to perceive it as well, and he could not help but be jealous of Brendel’s talent that seemed to increase to no end in sight. If he was the one fighting on the stage, he thought that he would not be able to last more than three rounds of attacks from the four opponents.
The way how Brendel managed to defend against their attacks appeared as though he had fought against them hundreds or even thousands of times before.
It made no sense to Kodan, but he could only attribute it to Brendel’s talent. And the fact that he merged Kirrlutz and Aouine’s swordsmanship made it truly unbelievable.
[This isn’t any of the sword styles taught by the Guardian Spirits…… This boy, is it true that he doesn’t know what that term means? How can this be!]
Kodan’s questions continued to pop out one after another. The legacy item of Torbus was in Brendel’s hands, Yet it seemed like he had no idea what it was.
And even without the aid of the Guardian Spirit, he still managed to become a Gold-ranked swordsman.
[Is this the meaning of talent?]
Brendel went all out against his opponents.
In a moment of folly, Tirste had made a mistake and allowed Brendel to disarm and kick him away. Buga received a punch to his throat and allowed Brendel to get him off-balance. He was then flung to the other side of the stage.
His grandfather directed his blade to him in an overhead chop, but Brendel managed to defend against it by taking out another sword with his left hand, and intercepted it with the aid of Power Break, while his right hand struck out the White Sword Raven Arte against Ebdon, forcing him to retreat to the side as far as he possibly could to avoid the wind slash.
[Time to duel!]
Brendel roared in his mind.
There was no doubt he had to take down his grandfather first. Every time he launched a fatal attack on the other three opponents, his grandfather would obstruct it and nearly caused him to receive a fatal attack instead.
The youth discarded his left hand’s sword and went back to a single weapon. Time seemed to slow down as he unleashed the full extent of his techniques against his current opponent.
And he discovered that his grandfather’s swordsmanship changed.
The simplistic thrusts, slashes, strikes, and chops suddenly took on an additional trait.
An endless array of defensive lines. A perfect sphere where no attacks could penetrate through his grandfather’s defenses. If Brendel was able to activate his Analyze skill, he was certain that he would see how exquisitely precise his grandfather’s use of Aouine’s military swordsmanship was. Each feint that Brendel made was useless because his grandfather’s blade seemingly mirrored his own, always ready, always there to impede whatever attacks that he had planned in mind.
Kirrlutz’s swordsmanship was almost laughable. It was utterly useless. Even though the tempest-like attacks from Brendel seemed like he was forcing his grandfather back, he knew that the latter was purposely retreating in order to conserve stamina. A single step and a shift in body posture to let an immature thrust go past effortlessly.
Each time Brendel took a step forward made him feel like he was getting caught in a trap. The techniques of the gamers were somehow getting analyzed in full by his grandfather, and each time their blades met, he could not help but feel that a counterattack would come.
Cold perspiration had already drenched all over his body from the intense pressure.
He had no choice.
He admitted that his grandfather’s knowledge of Aouine’s military swordsmanship exceeded the collective research of the gamers in the past world.
The exchange between them continued till Brendel went past half the stage. His grandfather finally made his counterattack as though he was satisfied that the youth’s swordsmanship could no longer present a threat to him.
An explosive clash of metals echoed throughout the Coliseum.
[Again….. It’s my loss.]
Brendel nearly dropped his sword from the impact and staggered backward, while his grandfather stood at where he was. He had put in everything to make a contest of power. The result was having his fingers feeling nothing.
He stared wordlessly at Torbus. He still had not given up.
[Would deception work? Should I try and create an opening to let my grandfather make a mistake?]
There was a chance since he had the ability, Unyielding Will. A bait that might entice even the latter. But Brendel’s instincts told him that it was highly unrealistic.
At this moment, Kodan shouted out to him.
Brendel’s exhaustion was at its peak. He could barely recognize that it was someone from the outside calling out to him, but he did not understand why the old man would want to distract him, and was a little annoyed.
[Are you trying to get rid of me at this time by distracting me?]
“Where’s your Guardian Spirit?” Kodan yelled.
“This again?” Brendel muttered to himself.
Kodan realized that Brendel truly had no idea what he was talking about, and corrected his words.
“Your ring, use your ring!”
[Ring of the Wind Empress? But skills and items unrelated to sword techniques are sealed.]
The youth did not bother to reply.
The old man was taken aback when he saw Brendel’s displeasure. He suddenly understood the problem.
“Boy! Wait, I’m not asking you to use it. Express your desire to the ring and wish on it with all your heart! That ring contains a secret! Your grandfather has used it in the past in the same way!”
Brendel finally looked back at Kodan with surprise.
Kodan jumped a little when he saw Torbus moving. “Watch out!”
Brendel suddenly felt death creeping up to him. The sudden distraction had momentarily caused him to lose his concentration—