Book 7, Chapter 138

Prisoner Of War

“Something doesn’t make sense?”

“Eh? Oh, yeah,” Richard nodded at Nasia who had appeared at some point in time, leaning against the door, “The Dragon Plane is far stronger than I estimated. I had thought that a plane where Tiamat is a deity of sorts can’t be all that powerful, but it looks like I was wrong.”

“That isn’t because she is too weak, Sharon is just too strong. You wouldn’t be able to escape from Tiamat even with her being suppressed by the laws of Norland.”

“Hehe… Yeah, I’d forgotten,” he smiled mockingly.

“It’s really interesting, though. You always underestimate Sharon subconsciously and very rarely do the same for others. Sometimes your insight is surprisingly accurate, but with her… Such is love, I guess.”

“W-What?” Richard suddenly blushed, “I don’t!”

“I mean, it’s just some bitterness over your current power dynamic, isn’t it? You’re always suppressing your opinion of her just to think you have a chance of an equal relationship.”

“You…” Richard grunted in shame, glaring at the knight, “How do you know?”

“Books!” she smiled, “I’ve been reading a lot of fiction recently. Even the driest, most boring book can teach you a lot of things!”

Hearing this answer, he could only shake his head. Nasia ignored him and continued, “A primary plane can’t be conquered so easily. In fact, few planes can. Every new plane normally takes a few large organisations working together to attack, just look at the problem the dragons are facing now. You can harass them through the portal endlessly, and they have to just bear it if they hope to invade. Building a base and stable passage isn’t easy.

“But you lot wouldn’t know that, would you. You have the old dragon taking care of all that stuff for the right price, now and in the future. You Norlanders have forgotten how to work together to conquer planes, or for anything at all really.”

Hearing this lecture, Richard suddenly trembled with enlightenment as the seeds of an idea took root in his mind. As she walked outside, Nasia made herself even clearer, “Since you can’t conquer it alone, why try? Isn’t your biggest problem time?”

This simple advice immediately undid all of the knots in his mind. Just as he hurried behind her to thank her, he saw a trace of something unimaginable in her silhouette. All three of his hearts stopped beating altogether, time itself coming to a stop.

“Nasia!” It was only when she was on the verge of leaving his sight that he finally unfroze.

“What’s wrong?” she asked without turning back.

“Can I take a look at your face?”

“The mask is my face.”

“What’s underneath?”

“Nothing.”

“Then you won’t mind me taking a look.”

“Sure,” she turned, a smile appearing on the mask, “But it’ll have to wait until you can beat me.”

Richard froze once more, “I… can’t?”

Nasia was currently at level 16, while he was level 20 with two divine weapons and a saint rune. He could already defeat normal legends and even kill the weaker ones; there should have been no way for her to make this claim. While the Faceless Knight was a powerful and mysterious person, he himself was equally talented. No matter what secrets she possessed, it should have been impossible for her to bring them all to bear; after all, one needed energy to move energy.

“Want to give it a shot?” she beckoned with her finger.

Richard didn’t say another word, activating Mana Armament, Lifesbane, and Kingsteel one by one. With both the Judge and Moonlight in his hands, he buffed himself with every spell he could think of before flashing towards her. He even activated Judge of Destiny immediately, treating her like the most powerful of opponents.

However, Nasia just chuckled. Calmly drawing her two blades of differing sizes, she allowed the red aura to cover her as she looked him in an eye. Richard watched in shock as the light faded as quickly as it had come, a layer of grey covering his own body to quickly drop his mana levels. He quickly cast a cleansing spell, but before he could even check whether it was effective she had pounced towards him with her blades trailed on his neck.

*Clang!* A hundred blows only produced one drawn-out noise, each exchange differing from the last ever so slightly. Richard had been confident in his own swordplay at first, but that soon changed to surprise as another grey light flashed across him and dropped him by a level. The sudden loss of strength felt extremely strange and messed up all of his timings; before he even knew it, both of his swords had flown away while Nasia’s were resting on his neck!

Nasia’s smile turned to a laugh as her shorter blade tapped his nose, “Practice hard, handsome! Come look for me when you’re done.”

Richard’s mouth fell open from the shock, the two divine weapons on the floor buzzing in humiliation.

“Alright, I still need you to get me some offerings. I won’t bully you anymore, take a look at this and you’ll know why you lost,” she said as she sheathed her blades, sending some information through their soul link. This was another ability she hadn’t told him about: Prisoner of War. Prisoner of War was the absolute opposite of War Fanatic, reducing the strength of its target. It could cause the opponent to drop in a level, which would immediately mess with their movements and coordination. Even a master duelist would be put off for a few moments, which was more than enough time to sway battles.

However, none of this was the most formidable part of it all. It was the last section of the explanation that left him without a suitable response: the spell could be stacked! Although they had only fought for a moment, Nasia had stacked a number of the spells on him and brought him down to level 16, where she used her superior experience to win. The Judge of Destiny had failed for the same reason.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all haunting news. His cleansing spell had managed to remove the effect at first, but it could only remove a layer at a time. Still, that she had brought him to level 16 did not mean this was her limit. One couldn’t tell just how many of these Nasia could cast in one go. Even if he filled his Book of Holding with cleansing spells, would that be enough?

“How can this ridiculous ability exist?!” he grumbled as she walked away once more.

“There’s a lot of things you don’t know about, just get to work and stop thinking about the useless stuff,” Nasia waved her hands and left.

For a long time after, Richard kept pondering about the details of the battle. He hadn’t been able to use his abilities to the fullest, but that had been true in many other situations in the past. But Nasia had also straight-up beaten him in swordplay; in a scenario where they truly were of equal strength, he would have no way to retaliate against her at all. Ever since he had practised the Church’s martial arts to a grandmaster level, this was the first time he had met an opponent where he was at a disadvantage. He had already surpassed even Beye, while even Sharon only used brute strength. Perhaps only Apeiron was equivalent.

Shaking his head with a sigh, he had to accept that he just couldn’t match up. Be it War Fanatic or Prisoner of War, both abilities were far beyond reasonable. It only made sense to lose to an opponent like that. He just had to take it on the chin and add some renewed focus towards martial arts.

Eventually, the gloominess was replaced with hope, and his thoughts grew lively once more. Bursting into laughter, he resheathed Moonlight and the Judge before walking away.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA