Bloodhammer’s body had been towed away and the arena washed with water, but there was still a large crimson stain on the floor that almost looked like a carpet of flesh and blood for Richard to walk up.
The Council of Elders had given explicit instructions to Pangun not to give Richard any time to speak to the audience, charging over immediately and shouting to block his voice if necessary. Having been handpicked, he was also the strongest warrior outside of the Azuresnow Shrine’s own recommendations. The idea had been to kill Richard off immediately before he could reveal anything, but the brief fight had not gone according to expectations at all.
With the schedule having been changed already, the Council had no choice but to hope that Muzha could finish the job. The rather unremarkable warrior had thus been told the same thing; to provoke Richard completely at all costs. He thus lifted his heavy axe up high, yelling out loud, “A Norlander dares to dirty the Holy Shrine! Your blood will be used as an offering to appease the Beast God!”
By this point, Richard was feeling a little light-headed. Not even hearing Muzha’s words clearly, he looked the barbarian dead in the eye and mumbled, “Just another one who wants to rape Mountainsea.”
Muzha burst out laughing, “It’s my biggest dream to father the Beast God’s avatar!”
Richard continued to sway as he finally stepped on stage, but right after all of his tired movements disappeared as he lifted Carnage as well, “You bastard… You think she even knows who you are?”
“You… RICHARD!” Muzha roared loudly, charging forward like a big bear. One could visibly see the air rippling away wherever the axe passed; these were ripples of pure energy, he didn’t even need to hit an opponent directly to deal damage. Magic lit up the arena as Richard went through a range of buffs and curses before activating Mana Armament, avoiding the first strike. The two then engaged in battle.
Seeing the battle about to start, the elder who had just arrived found the Grand Elder at an inconspicuous location and whispered in his ear, “Elder, we need to stop this battle!”
“No,” the Grand Elder said expressionlessly, “Let them fight.”
“But… Richard’s condition. What happens when he loses? We couldn’t possibly stop Muzha from killing him…”
“You assume he will lose. Richard’s chances might be low, but he still has some hope. If he fights properly and looks for the right opportunity, he can win this battle. Ensure that he fights no more battles today; we need to give him a fair opportunity for the upcoming battles. I… have been far too soft in recent years, thinking I was looking at the big picture but only looking out for myself. It’s about time the Council learns to respect the Shrine once more.”
Without any response, the other elder just sighed and continued to watch the battle intensely.
This fight was different from the last one. Unable to instakill his opponent like the last time and by all counts far from any acceptable form, Richard was forced to rely on timing his magic to narrowly escape each of Muzha’s attacks. A number of little tricks and some bigger spells barely allowed him to keep up, avoiding a decent amount of damage. The plain barbarian was more of a threat than he had first expected. Although Muzha’s abilities weren’t spectacular, he had a certain hunter’s instinct that made dodging more difficult than Richard could wish for. He observed and adjusted for every trick Richard pulled out of the hat, forcing him to innovate constantly just to dodge.
Still, Manacycle was a huge boon for such a thing. A single tiny bolt of lightning aimed at the eyes was cast fast enough for it to be impossible to dodge, and despite not doing any damage it managed to blind Muzha long enough for Richard to escape. This was only the first of many such parlour tricks, from smoking fireballs to hollow orbs of ice that shattered upon impact to reflect the sunlight. Some of these spells were weaker than those of a fledgling mage, but the small distractions gave him just enough time to escape every blow.
At one point, he suddenly faced Muzha head-on and readied Carnage, killing intent flooding out from every inch of his body. Muzha thought that would be the final strike and moved to defence, but only to find that he had already pulled away once more.
If the last battle was a shell shock, this looked more like a comedy. Richard was extremely nimble, fooling Muzha time and time again despite severe weakness. A number of the younger barbarians were openly laughing within minutes, and their derision only grew with time. This made Muzha even angrier, and increased the number of mistakes he made even further. Even after a hundred strikes, it felt like he was no closer to hitting Richard than the first.
The only big spell he had used so far formed a dark cloud about twenty metres up in the sky. There were signs of lightning flashing within, but despite constantly feeding mana the cloud just continued to rumble on. It took minutes for even the first bolt, and even that was as thin as a finger and couldn’t hurt even a random beast. When it fell down, the crowd had burst into laughter. However, Muzha had been paralysed for the single moment it took Richard to escape another strike.
“What is Richard trying to do?” the elder asked in shock, “Does he think he’ll never falter?”
The Grand Elder turned to glance at him, “Look at Richard’s eyes.”
The elder looked attentively, and what he saw forced a soft gasp. Unlike the unruly crowd, Richard’s eyes were extremely clear and icy as they focused on every movement from Muzha. Be it casting spells or evading, his focus wasn’t broken even once, It was as though nothing could affect him.
However, the elder still frowned, “Even if he never makes a mistake, how will he win? He’s losing more energy than Muzha, he’ll tire himself out first.”
“Sigh. How did you enter the legendary realm without any idea of this? Your heart is not in the right place.
“Actually, even if Richard dies it isn’t too much of a loss. He will just be another victim of battle, and I will protect you all. In fact… I’m starting to feel like the Heaven’s Armour isn’t worth betraying ourselves either.”
The battle continued on. Five minutes went up to ten, ten minutes up to twenty… Nearly an hour had passed, but Richard was still fighting on without any semblance of giving up.
Watching from the distance, the Sixth Prince smiled bitterly at Archbishop Hendrick, “You were right… If we were at the same level of power, I would definitely not be a match for Richard.”
“Your abilities exceed his tenfold. Do not worry about such things, his journey ends here. Whether he wins or loses, you will not need to think about him tomorrow.”
“That… is good news.”
By this point, the laughter from the audience had died down. The true warriors were completely focused on every one of Richard’s actions, all clearly feeling the same way as the Sixth Prince. Richard’s wealth of adaptations in battle were unparalleled.
Lightning continued to strike regularly from the sky, and each bolt was slowly growing more powerful than the last. Muzha was now being hurt by them; if he didn’t defend properly, he could even be hurt to the point of crying out. It was still rather insignificant, but many people were now focused on the dark cloud without blinking.
The lightning cloud continued to grow bigger and darker, a crimson light flashing out from within on occasion to strengthen the attacks.
“Those clouds…” one elder muttered in shock.
Far away by the window, Hendrick had an expression of disbelief on his face. “That,” he said to the Sixth Prince, ”that is the power of law.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA