Valan and Sraka's duel was intense. It was completely different from last time, where they engaged in a capturing race and then ended everything in an instant.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Valan's steel sword and Sraka's greatsword repeatedly clashed.
This was a duel between Grandmasters!
The resulting shockwaves upturned the earth or caused the air to cry out.
There were obviously no spectators nearby. No matter how much you wanted to watch them duke it out, the price was too high; you'd have to die to get close enough to see their fight!
Anyhow, their fight was dead even.
In terms of pure skill, Valan had a slight edge. However, he was also hampered by the loss of an arm.
For a swordsman of his caliber, losing an arm wouldn't prove to be a huge detriment, but it would certainly be a handicap against a fellow Grandmaster like Sraka.
Plus, Sraka was an Evil God Worshipper, so he could unleash the Evil God's wicked energy at will.
Thus, it wasn't easy to tell who'd win their duel.
However, there was someone who dared to interrupt their duel before the victor was decided.
All of a sudden, a portal appeared, and Amak walked right out of it.
At the same time, Amak and Sraka were surrounded by fist-sized mirrors. It was as if they were being surrounded by a barrier. Valan's appearance was reflected in the mirrors.
Valan had a bad feeling about the mirrors, so he couldn't afford to recklessly attack them.
"We're retreating, Lord Sraka," Amak said respectfully.
Although he was the current High Priest, Sraka was the only one who'd transcended time. Thus, he was the only man worthy of being Jaila's Sword. His authority was on the same level as Amak's.
"Retreat!?" the bronze masked Sraka said.
"The situation's not in our favor. The disciples have lost, and their Masters will soon be here," Amak said.
"Mm." Sraka fiddled with his greatsword. He was eager to pay Valan back for his loss. Plus, he needed to reclaim Jaila's final sacred treasure.
"What about Lord Jaila's sacred treasure?"
"I planted a seed. When that seed's fully grown, the sacred treasure will be returned to us."
Amak had planted this seed within Mahakan's disciple, Nazaran. This seed would grow by feeding on the host's ambition!
"Fine." Sraka ultimately accepted.
A portal appeared beneath their feet, and the two were sucked into it.
Once Amak disappeared, the mirrors transformed into glittering powder and dispersed.
"Hmm." Valan stared at the place where they'd left, and then turned around.
Although there were several demons left, he didn't see any Evil God Worshippers or sense the dreary energy they emitted.
'They've all escaped already.'
Burkan and Mahakan approached him.
"I lost them," Valan said curtly.
"Ahem, me too." Burkan scratched his head.
"They wouldn't give up on the sacred treasures so easily... Something's strange," Mahakan said.
"Yeah, something's up." Valan nodded his head.
"I'll increase security around the temple. And I'll ask the other churches to be ready to assist us at a moment's notice," Mahakan said stiffly.
"Yeah. There's nothing wrong with being prepared. Have our trackers moved yet?" Valan asked.
In order to find out where the Evil God Worshippers' main base was, a group of skilled trackers was formed.
They had one mission and one mission only: follow the Evil God Worshippers and find out where their home base was!
"Yes. The squad leader, Krasler, has sent word that they are in the middle of pursuit."
Krasler was a Hunter, and was better known as the Tracking Master.
"I hope we find where they're hiding this time," Burkan said.
"Mm." Valan nodded his head.
Saru and the Rakan devotees finished off the last remaining demon.
"We won!" the Small Sun, Saru, yelled. The two paladins nearby raised him over their shoulders.
They cheered, spreading Rakan and Saru's name far and wide. However, not a single soul was cheering for Nazaran.
Nazaran stared at Saru and gritted his teeth.
'I killed more demons than you, so why!? Why are they calling your name, not mine!?' He clenched his fists so hard that it seemed like they'd burst.
All of a sudden, a voice whispered into his ear. "Aah, poor Nazaran."
"What!?" Shocked, Nazaran took a look around. However, there was no one nearby. He didn't hear the whispers again.
"Was it just me?" Nazaran tilted his head and stared at Saru once more; rage rose from the deep recesses of his heart.
'Saru! Saru! Saru!'
* * *
After repelling the Evil God Worshippers, Kang Oh, Burkan, and Valan returned to the Holiseum.
"Good work." Burkan patted him on the shoulder.
"Good work, my ass. He just did what was required of him as Guardian of the Continent. Isn't that right?" Valan said, ruining the mood.
"That's true." Kang Oh agreed half-heartedly.
A system message popped up.
[You have completed the Guardian of the Continent Quest, Stop the Evil God Worshippers.]
[There is no reward.]
"Phew." Kang Oh softly sighed.
There really wasn't a single reward.
'I really don't want to do these Guardian of the Continent Quests.'
Kang Oh felt like he was being suffocated.
He was worth so much nowadays. If he captured a soul dungeon and sold it, then he'd make thousands of gold, and if he went on a program, then he'd make millions of won (thousands of dollars) just from showing up.
But from now on, he'd have to do these quests that'd give him nothing in return. It gave him heartburn just thinking about it.
"Excuse me." Kang Oh stared at Valan.
"How many times a month do you do the Guardian of the Continent's missions?"
"It varies. If nothing threatens the continent, then you won't get any missions. But during times of great chaos like when the Evil God Worshippers are on the move, you'll be really busy," Valan said.
"Master Valan, could you please extend the time limit you gave me? As you said, I'll be busier than usual," Kang Oh said carefully.
'100 days is way too short! So please give me some more time!'
"No." Valan attempted to cross his arms, but when he realized he was one short, he dropped his lone arm.
"Does it really have to be 100 days?" Kang Oh said desperately.
'Why does it have to be 100 days? It could be 200 or even 300!'
"Should I reduce it to 50 days?" Valan growled.
"..." Kang Oh shut up. Valan was the type to follow through with his threats.
"You have 85 days left," Valan said. 15 days had already gone by.
"If you're anything like me, then you'll spend every waking moment killing monsters. Well, it's not like killing monsters will make you a Master... Ahem, ahem. Anyhow, get going." Valan changed topics and waved his remaining hand.
However, Kang Oh was smart enough to figure out what Valan had been trying to say.
"What do you mean by that? You can't become a Master by just killing monsters."
"Little Brother, you have to cross the wall to become a Master."
"Not anyone can become a Master," Valan said.
"How do you cross that wall?" Kang Oh asked.
"It varies from person to person. For me..."
"Enough." Valan cut him off.
Kang Oh stared at him hatefully. 'Oh, c'mon!'
"When something's easy, it's not worth doing. Do it the hard way," Valan said, and Burkan nodded his head.
"I understand what you're trying to tell me."
'A wall, huh... That means that at some point, my proficiency won't rise anymore. And crossing the wall likely means...'
Kang Oh had heard this from Hoffman before; that he had to create a masterpiece in order to become a Master Blacksmith.
Which meant that pounding on iron all day wouldn't turn you into a Master Blacksmith.
Becoming a Master Demonic Swordsman must have the same limitations. A Master Blacksmith had to create a masterpiece, so a Master Demonic Swordsman would likewise have to perform some great feat.
"Then, if you'll excuse me." Kang Oh left like the wind.
"It looks like he's realized how to become a Master," Burkan said.
Valan nodded his head.
"I'm excited to see what he'll do."
A great feat!
Burkan's feat was winning 1,000 gladiatorial matches without a single defeat. Thus, he was bestowed the honorable title, Invincible Gladiator, and was promoted to Master.
What kind of feat would Kang Oh perform in the future?
"Don't care," Valan retorted. Contrary to his language, however, his eyes were filled with a small sense of anticipation.
* * *
Kang Oh took the intercity transfer gate to the small, quiet city of Icerin. Once he was there, he immediately headed for the Witch's Forest.
He knocked on the door, and an unfamiliar girl peeked her head out.
"Who is... Oh, Mr. Kang Oh."
"Hello, I came here to see Asu."
"Unni? Ok, please wait right here."
She disappeared, and a short while later, a blonde haired beauty with a beautiful smile greeted him.
"Oppa!" She clasped his hands.
The Phoenix Chick, Rudy, popped out of her chest. As always, it looked like a chick. It flew over and rubbed its body against Kang Oh's cheek.
"Have you been doing good too?" Kang Oh carefully propped him up and said.
Rudy's chirps were automatically translated as 'I missed you.'.
'Kuu, is this the joy of raising a pet?'
"Rudy must've missed you a lot. Come back to mama's arms now." Asu carefully took Rudy back and pulled it into her chest.
"What brings you here? I heard you were really busy lately," Asu asked.
"I am busy. But I have enough time to see you."
It was strange. Dating made him say such cringy stuff that you'd never hear him say otherwise.
"Good to hear. Want to come in for a bit?" Asu pointed at the guild.
Kang Oh shook his head. "No, let's go out for a walk instead."
Kang Oh and Asu held hands as they strolled through the city.
Icerin was filled with small, cute buildings, so it wasn't a bad sight. Plus, there weren't a lot of people here, so the quiet atmosphere was the best.
"It feels like I haven't seen you in 2 weeks," Asu said resentfully. She had finished promoting her album and was currently on break.
But for some reason, it was harder to see Kang Oh now than when she was busy promoting her album.
It was because Kang Oh was putting all his efforts into completing Valan's quest.
"If you stop contacting me, then we're going to break up," she puffed her cheeks and said. Of course, she was just kidding.
"No thanks. I ain't letting you go," Kang Oh said firmly.
She must like that kind of talk, as her lips twitched.
"Then treat me better!"
"I will. But as I told you before, I'm busy with Valan's quest."
"For how long?"
"At most, 85 days."
"Call me often and send me a message every day. And come and see me occasionally. They say that love even blossoms in war. So you being busy is no excuse!" Asu said.
"I want to have a date in real life too, but I'll be patient on that front."
"Thank you, Madam."
"In exchange, you have to take me wherever I want after you're done with Valan's quest."
"Where do you want to go?"
"I don't know yet."
"I'm ok with wherever as long as I'm with you."
"Yeah, I promise."
Kang Oh and Asu pinky promised.
After that, they walked for quite a long time, and then parted ways.
Asu returned to her guild headquarters, while Kang Oh headed for the intercity transfer gate.
Valan had given him three tasks: become a Master Demonic Swordsman, seal a demon with Demon Sword Akanhoff, and learn a Demonic Swordsman secret move! He only had 85 days to do all three of those tasks.
'I'll do it, alright!' Kang Oh firmly clenched his fist.Previous Chapter Next Chapter