Book 6, Chapter 57

Prideful End

Muzha was growing increasingly agitated by the lightning bolts. These attacks only left a small black spot on him at first, but recently they were starting to scorch the entire area they landed on. He looked up into the sky, but what he saw there left his mouth hanging open; what was ones maybe a few metres across now covered half the arena and had several sparks flying within it from time to time.

“IMPOSSIBLE!” He screamed just as another bolt crashed down, “I’LL KILL YOU!”

He jumped right towards the cloud, full of anger, but before he was even halfway there a sharp pain raced across his back. He immediately swung around, but his axe hit nothing. Richard had already escaped his range.

He felt a sudden wing blow through what felt like his insides, and touching his back all he could feel was blood. He knew that it was likely spurting out from behind him right now, but couldn’t understand how. That attack was as light as a feather!

Before the barbarian could even understand what was happening, another bolt of lightning fell from the sky. They were now as thick as a fist, and this one struck right at the opened wound. As Muzha screamed in pain, Richard flashed over like a ghost and nicked him on the lap before jumping away.

This time, Muzha finally saw that Richard’s sword had left a deep cut on his skin despite only barely crossing his leather pants. The wound had opened up on its own, blood squirting a few metres away. Shocked and angry, he flexed hard to stem the blood flow and stared hard at Richard, his rage-clouded eyes finally gaining some clarity to them. Richard himself remained focused as ever; his attacks had only used the power of Carnage itself; Lifesbane could kill Muzha in two blows with minimal energy, but even that amount of energy was forbidding right now.

The two were stuck in a stalemate for a moment, but a bolt of lightning fell once more and Richard took a chance to wound the barbarian’s other leg. Although Muzha closed this wound off as well, the compounding injuries only made it less and less likely for him to counterattack.

The battle wasn’t over yet, but almost everyone knew just how it would end. This was unthinkable at the start.

“Your sword! Something’s wrong with it!” Muzha suddenly pointed at Richard, “You’re cheating!” In the face of death, his will had finally collapsed.

The barbarian suddenly looked into the sky once more, finding another bolt of lightning falling down. He rushed his internal energy to offset the power, but suddenly he felt like something was wrong with his waist. Looking down once more, he found Richard standing right next to him almost breathing at his neck!

But where was his blade? Muzha’s head turned lightning-quick as he looked down at Richard’s arm, but he saw that Carnage had fallen completely into his body. This blade was so sharp that one didn’t even feel it piercing in.

Richard stared at the barbarian’s shocked face and whispered, “Get the fuck out, don’t be a disgrace.”

He then fell more than ten metres away, standing quietly like a ghost. A fountain of blood immediately squirted out from Muzha’s waist, and even so it took a few moments for the barbarian to feel the pain. He screamed in agony, but instead of giving up he pulled his axe over his head and threw it out with full force.

This attack was too sudden, the axe much faster than expected. Richard barely had time to think as he instinctively dropped to the ground, the flying axe whistling right past his back. Just the aftershocks from the weapon crushed him into the ground, sending him sliding a few metres away with blood spurting out of his body. This was the first time during this entire trip to Klandor that he had been injured so badly.

The axe continued to fly into the audience, cutting through two barbarians before burying itself completely into a stone wall. The unfortunate two just stared blankly at the enormous holes in their bodies before they burst into a bloody fog. A low rumble sounded out right after, the wall exploding from within to injure more than ten youths nearby. It was only then that all of the power dissipated.

On stage, Muzha burst into a mist of blood, his body crumbling apart before everyone’s eyes. His legs and arms were turned to mush, with flesh and blood scattered everywhere.

Richard slowly got to his feet, watching the flesh and blood on the field with a sigh. He had planned to leave this enemy with a shred of his life, but that final blow had drawn so much power that the barbarian had killed himself without a corpse. This was a detestable end for the barbarians who valued the body during funerals, but Muzha hadn’t hesitated at all. If nothing else, he was still a warrior to the end.

Outside of the section of the audience that had suffered from the attack, everyone was absolutely silent. The only sound one could hear was the thunder rumbling up above, but this time the referee snapped back to his senses faster and announced Richard’s entry to the quarterfinals with a dry voice. Richard silently returned to his nearby seat, stroking Carnage in his hand as he tried to calm his breathing and wait for the next battle.

However, only a few seconds after he sat down he coughed up a mouthful of blood. With everyone’s attention focused on him, the smarter amongst the barbarians quickly noticed the blue in the blood and realised that something was wrong. A flurry of discussions erupted about Richard being poisoned.

In their stands, the elders were completely shocked and furious. Hendrick had not mentioned that there would be any signs when giving them the poison, and it was clearly intentional. The more of their reputation they lost with this whole fiasco, the more they would have to get Heaven’s Armour to make up for the losses!

Richard gently wiped the blood from his mouth with a white handkerchief before throwing it away, so calm that it almost felt like he had spit out mere water instead. He sat there waiting for the next battle.

The thunderclouds in the sky were now nearly a hundred metres across. They weren’t growing any further, but the thunder booming within made it obvious that the next bolts were going to be extremely powerful. How could someone fight Richard when level 8 spells were falling down on them every few seconds?

The referee frowned, wanting to say something, but Richard just snapped and sent a small stream of mana to the cloud, making it dissipate entirely. Another round of hushed whispers rang through the stands, this time out of respect. Such things rarely happened with Norlanders; even obviously poisoned, Richard wouldn’t take advantage of his opponents!

Even with no sign of blood on the sword, Richard continued to wipe Carnage down. There would be one more fight today, and it would likely be his last. This blade would sunder that opponent until there were no remains.

Looking at Richard’s condition, the referee hesitated to begin the next battle. Although the battles were still simultaneous, this was certainly the one where the victor was most injured. Thankfully, he didn’t have to call the next match; as he looked towards the elders, the Grand Elder stood up and announced, “Richard has won two games in a row. His battles will end here for today, the next round will be the day after tomorrow.”

The warrior sighed in relief. He didn’t have the authority to change the schedule significantly, but the Grand Elder certainly did. He immediately announced once more that the day would end when the last of the second round matches drew to a close.

Richard was surprised by the Grand Elder’s decision, but he remained indifferent to it. It made no difference whether his last sword would be used today or tomorrow; there wasn’t nearly enough time to curb the poison either way. This final blade wouldn’t rely on magic anyway.

… 

“These useless dogs, may the Lord burn you all in His flames!” In the distant room, Hendrick’s face warped with rage as he stomped away. Uriel looked at Richard with a complicated expression before following the Archbishop.

……

Perhaps because of the ferocity of Richard’s battles, all of the fights this day were extremely violent. Four of the losers were dead and three more maimed, but that had brought the sixteen original fighters in the lower bracket of the tournament down to four. As was tradition, the Azuresnow Shrine’s eight slots had been split into four in the top thirty-two and four more in the top eight. Uriel was supposed to fight closer to the end of the day, but with the change of schedule that had been postponed to the next.

Early in the night, the Grand Elder of the Auzuresnow Shrine convened a meeting with the Council of Elders, passing down the decision to give Richard a fair chance in the future fights. He also granted Zawu and Kunzhi’s wishes of fighting in the ceremony, even if they were to face the Sixth Prince. This agitated the warriors who had originally been chosen to go through to the top four, but a secret set of bouts switched out contestants internally.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo