TL: Shoutout to Tue Nguyen, he donated a chunk of $100.
As a reminder, these four chapters are the highlights of the arc and I added them ahead of time so that you guys won’t get stuck in cliffhangers. I’ve indicated a -95/50 negative sponsorship to reflect the change in sponsorship.
Chapter 72 – King of the Underworld (23)
Brendel nearly allowed his sword his sword to clatter on the ground when he finally realized who the fourth person was.
It was his grandfather.
The former Brendel did not have fond memories of his grandfather when the latter trained him during his childhood.
A certain fragment floated before Brendel’s eyes.
The taciturn old man forced the boy to measure the distance with every single thrust and was not allowed to make a mistake. If the boy was off with his attack, then his grandfather would parry against his attack and wound him with welts that lasted for days.
Brendel closed his eyes to reflect on his state of mind when he felt certain sections on his skin crawl. When he opened them a second later, the sensation was gone.
[These are people who had defeated me in one way or another. Buga was the last person I fought who used his Element Power and forced my loss. Tirste nearly killed me with his thrust. Ebdon proved to be stronger against me when I fought against at my level. Finally, my grandfather whom the former Brendel had never won. But this is a challenge in skill where all our stats are equal…..]
Brendel sifted through the fragmented memories of his grandfather and his former self.
[An orthodox swordsmanship. Straightforward offense and defense. My grandfather doesn’t seem to be very impressive. In terms of swordsmanship, Ebdon probably has the best swordsmanship, since he retains his knowledge of his past life. Buga is troublesome because of his two-step attacks that are just filled with power and speed. Tirste’s swordsmanship is mostly based on fencing.]
Tirste, who had an oddly seductive appearance for a man, relied on his Gold-ranked stats to overwhelm the opponents with quick thrusts. The Duel of Ordeals limited him the most since his swordsmanship relied on stats to make it work.
Brendel glanced at each of his opponents while they slowly surrounded him in a circle. He decided to go after Tirste as it was annoying to deal with thrusts, but the situation was still unfavorable since he had to fight against numbers.
Once the Coliseum of Destiny accepted a challenge, there would be no possible way to stop it other than losing and surrendering.
Although the youths at the walls were not able to read what the rules were, they realized the difficulty of the challenge went up each time. It might be possible that the opponents were strong enough to resist Brendel’s strange power. Some of them clasped their hands tightly and hoped they were wrong.
Kodan stood there in momentary shock. Even if he went inside to substitute Brendel, he felt that he would not be able to do anything. Torbus’s skill in the sword would easily defeat him every single time.
[I’m not sure if he’s the real or it’s just an illusion. But if he’s real, I hope he goes easy on his grandson.]
“Watch out!” One of the youths yelled out.
Tirste made the first move. Even though his speed could not be seen as quick, the path of attack he had chosen was in Brendel’s blind spot.
The warning was well-timed.
Brendel’s head shifted slightly to allow his line of sight to reach Tirste’s position and swung his sword behind his back, causing the latter’s thrust to veer off its target.
[As expected, Tirste’s fencing swordsmanship isn’t impressive. Around the skill of a level 40.]
The initial exchange between their swords made Brendel feel that the latter’s threat was lower than he expected.
His other three opponents started moving once Tirste attacked. Brendel leaped back and knocked into Tirste as hard as he could while continuing to face them.
The viscount stumbled a few steps and Brendel elbowed his abdomen as hard as he could. The impact sent him sprawling onto the floor, but before he could give the finishing blow with his sword, Ebdon swooped into Brendel’s front with burning white flames in his eyes, while Buga approached squarely from his back.
[These bastards really know how to work together,]
Brendel cursed in his mind.
He dared not to engage them from the front and back as it would spell certain death. He hurriedly avoided Ebdon’s overhead slash, kicked off the ground, and rolled across it to distance himself away from the two incoming men.
The Pale Knight immediately followed up with a technique. Two slashes that came in the form of a vertical and horizontal direction were released to Brendel’s direction.
[It’s one of Madara’s Arte, Cross Strike!]
Brendel pushed himself off the ground and leaped into the air with a somersault, avoiding the well-known technique that was easily fatal to many in the early game. Madara’s military swordsmanship pursued close combat with speed and strength, but Cross Strike was one of the rare ranged attacked it had.
Ebdon’s technique sent a small storm of dust into the air, and Brendel narrowed his eyes a little when he landed on one knee. But before he was able to stand, Ebdon’s sword traveled a straight line to his neck.
Brendel gritted his teeth and received the attack with his blade. Steel clashed together, but Brendel managed to subtly angle his sword and push Ebdon back. But his counterattack was stopped short when a heavy greatsword appeared from the left in his eyes—
Buga’s greatsword made Brendel retreat yet again.
Ebdon did not miss the opportunity and once again went on the offensive. His two opponents tightened the space where Brendel could retreat in just a few moves. Since his blade could only parry another at any given time, it made most of the people feel that he was going to get cut down at any given time.
And that moment came. Ebdon and Buga’s attacks came together at the same time where Brendel had no space to evade. Screams leaked out of several people’s voices, but Brendel pulled one of the stolen guards’ swords and parried both incoming blades.
Unfortunately, the strength of his left hand was not the same as his right.
Buga’s greatsword changed direction, but before it did so, it managed to slice across Brendel’s face, and the latter sucked in the dusty air with a hiss. He immediately cursed in his mind.
[Fuck, why can’t you pick somewhere else instead of my face!]
The youth’s body quickly turned around with the aid of Buga’s attack. He first pried open Ebdon’s defenses with Frontal Assault with his left sword and unleashed Power Break on the other.
The Pale Knight was sent flying back; his sword was blown away and became embedded in the ground.
[Pity. I can’t chase him because Charge isn’t based on a sword technique. It’s dangerous to chase Ebdon without it.]
Brendel’s mind remained clear. An ordinary person might have chosen to rush out and try to strike Ebdon while it was down, but the first directive of Madara’s Military Swordsmanship was to exchange blow for blow if it was unavoidable. An undead was dead, after all, so why would they bother to defend themselves?
As expected, Ebdon immediately went for its sword, instead of fleeing to allow the others to cover for him. Brendel took one step towards the undead general before stopping.
This action made the latter believe the youth’s attack was coming, and it went further into a defenseless stance to allow rotational strength to be added to his blade.
Brendel took another step.
A powerful roundabout swing that hit nothing because Ebdon misjudged his opponent’s distance.
But Ebdon’s military swordsmanship hid a trap in its attack.
The opening that it showed to Brendel afters its wide swing was even bigger than before, If he took the bait, its blade would be swung once again. And with Brendel’s third step, it thought that it had the youth right where he wanted.
Brendel soared to the sky.
The swing of Ebdon’s blade cut nothing but empty air.
Tirste had gotten up a few moments ago and rushed to Ebdon’s side to help it, but Brendel flung his sword at him with Power Break in mid-air, and the projectile forced Tirste to guard against it. His advance was stalled and his fingers trembled after deflecting the sword away.
Ebdon’s counterattack had completely left itself open. Buga was on the other side and could no longer tie Brendel down.
Brendel sailed through the air in an elegant arc and thrust Kodan’s sword—
Time seemed to slow down when people realize that Brendel’s attack was going to pierce through his target.
Everyone watched with bated breaths. This battle was different from the past yet again. Unlike the duel against Varian, Brendel’s dazzling skill in the sword was seen for the very first time. Even though it was not as grand as the battle against the Type IV hunter Knights or the dragon, they still felt as though they were intoxicated.
The youths did not really understand the level of skill presented before them, but they could see that Brendel had completely overturned a supposedly impossible situation and gained the upper-hand once again. This was even crazier than the stories in the inns, where the protagonist in front of them would keep on winning against the odds—
But the script did not progress as they thought it would.
Brendel’s eyes saw his grandfather stay rooted in the very same spot since the beginning of the battle. He did not understand why the latter did not move, but there was no possible way that Ebdon could be saved now.
Reality betrayed his convictions.
A terrifying wail broke across the air like a whip and Brendel felt his hair standing up in terror. He could certainly pierce through Ebdon’s throat, but if he did so, the wind blade from his grandfather would cut him into half.
The youth immediately turned his body and launched his own White Raven Sword Arte. An explosive blast of wind immediately hurled him across the stage, and he crashed into the ground, rolling across it several times uncontrollably before stopping himself by digging his sword into the ground. His fingers were numb and throbbed painfully—
[I lost in technique?]
Brendel was shocked.
While it was true that he could not unleash the full potential of the White Raven Sword Arte in his position, he knew that he would lose even if he had his feet planted on the ground.
The youths uttered cries of pity when they saw Brendel knocked away in mid-air, not knowing his plight.
“Torbus’s skill is much weaker than before. What’s going on?” Kodan frowned deeply.
Brendel’s opponents slowly surrounded him again. But this time they were cautious enough to stop and observe for signs of a weakness first. The youth hurriedly arranged his thoughts.
[The Coliseum of Destiny created my opponents based on the skill what they had shown in the past. It’s not unlike that Golden Demonic Tree. Buga and Tirste did not use the full extent of their skill when I encountered them, so they definitely don’t reflect their counterpart in reality. But my grandfather—]
Brendel was momentarily confused.
He could not remember much about him, but the level of his grandfather’s skill exceeded even Kodan, who was the strongest swordsman he had seen so far. Did the Coliseum of Destiny dig into some subconscious memories that he did not know of?
The youth believed he would find out the truth once he crossed swords formally with his grandfather. But he was still disappointed that his efforts were fruitless at the very end of the attack and even lost part of his stamina.