Chapter 193

Winds of Fortune – Chapter 10

D-150 

There was a place where the desert and jungle met. The huge mountain range that stretched out like a wall was the reason both land types existed so close to one another.

As moist air was contained on one side of the mountain range, rainfall constantly fell upon one side of the mountain range, creating a tropical jungle. Furthermore, the arid dry air on the other side of the mountain range had nowhere else to go, so a desert formed on that side of the mountain range. 

The western part of the Gijan estate was a desert area. If one crossed the mountain range, which had an average elevation of more than 3,000 meters, the largest jungle on the continent would appear on the other side.

An eclectic variety of vegetation had formed in these jungles, which had largely been protected from human influence through the physical boundaries of the mountain ranges. 

The northern part of the Gijan estate was a steppe while the southern part exhibited more of a savanna climate. Sand dunes were formed in the deep west, giving it the feeling of a true desert. However, the desert areas were not just places with sand.

The hot, dry air blew. The dust and sand particles were picked up by the whirling wind, scattering particles across the desert and into the other surrounding regions.

San looked at his watch. 10 AM. The watch was a mechanical watch that he requested and obtained from the Outsiders.

The watches' time was set to the capital’s time, using Prigojin as the prime meridian. San and Biyeon had obtained a few of these watches and distributed them to others in the estate.

Though San and Biyeon no longer needed timepieces, as they had devised internal biological clocks to keep time, the watches were essential to coordinate operations with others in their estate.

“Are you roughly finished with the installations?”

“We ended up installing in eight places.” 

“That should be enough on that front… by the way, why are those friends here?”

“They came to watch.”

“You don’t seem to want to help, right?” 

“They wouldn’t be much help anyway…”

San was deep in thought with his arms crossed and his fingers tapping against his forearms… Biyeon was tapping the ground with the point of her feet.

They were non-verbally communicating with each other through Continuous Wave (CW), a primitive communication method that was used in their respective special forces. Although they communicated through exchanging abbreviations, it would be difficult for their observers to figure out the meaning of their compressed messages. In other words, they were using an abbreviated version of the modern Morse Code.

Furthermore, what they said wasn’t all they thought, and what they thought wasn’t all settled and decided, so their eavesdroppers were probably feeling a sense of torment.

No one knew what the truth was regarding these two. Just like the Korean language, where the verb and tense came last, one would only find out the true meaning of something when it finally happened.

“Let’s charge them a viewing fee later on.”

“If we survive.”

“Is there a chance we die? Will they be able to contain us this first time around? I think not.”

“No one knows for sure. How long do you think it’ll take?”

“The shorter the better. By the way…”

“Yes?”

“We were told that its two combat sages at the 6th Stage of Acceleration who can wield four different skills?”

“That’s what we were told.”

“Can the gods lie?”

“As far as we know, they can’t. However, they may convey things in a roundabout way with nooks and crannies, or in a general way that can take on multiple meanings.”

“Hmm.”

San narrowed his eyes and looked up at the sky. It was as if he was trying to glare at the gods.

“How many sages are there again?”

“They stated that they numbered around 2,000 sages in total. Among them, about thirty were combat sages.”

“That’s quite a threatening number.”

“Currently, it’s said that there are four human Awakeners who are able to use five skills in the entire world, and there are about ten to twenty humans who are known to wield at least four skills, so on the surface, it seems like a balance could be achieved between the sages and humans. The question probably lies in the quality of each skill. The combat power of a four-skill wielder who simply increased one’s acceleration is probably not all that great. If an Awakener who has two skills but is experienced in combat was to go up against a four skill Awakeners who only focused on increasing Acceleration, the latter would probably lose.”

“Last time, when we went up against Sil in Porato City… he wielded three skills, right?”

“Yes, he was roughly a three-skilled Awakener.”

“At that time, our Hollywood action feints worked, but it’ll probably be difficult to use those feints effectively now, right?”

“Yes. We’ll have to face them directly this time around.”

“The sages will probably share information on skills, right?”

“If they’re at the same level of acceleration, I’m fairly certain they freely share their skill information.”

“So, we’ll have to directly confront them to understand what skills they use if they’re four or five skilled wielders…”

“If they start copying ours, it’ll really become fun.”

“Hmm.”

San smiled before continuing, “Today…it may take some time.” 

“Possibly the whole day?”

“Well, we’ll have to see what they show us…”

San glanced up at the sky once more.

“Do you understand?”

There was no reaction coming from the sky.

“Or not…” Biyeon said as she too looked up at the sky and smiled.

Her smile seemed bittersweet.

San wiped the sweat from his forehead. For the first time in a while, he wore his hat tight and had on a gray combat uniform made of Archon leather. Pistols, bayonets, and other things and contraptions of unknown purpose hung from his utility belt.

Biyeon tied her hair back. She wore comfortable combat boots with a sleek combat uniform like San’s. They seemed to be wearing matching couple’s attire. She also had gloves on, but her hands weren’t restricted.

Her sword was tied with a leather leash around her back so that it could be pulled out at any time.

Biyeon meticulously checked and reorganized San’s attire. Silently, she did so as if she was taking care of her husband before he left the home for work. Her expression was bright and relaxed.

The terrain they stood on was a typical wasteland mixed with broken rocks, sand, and short tufts of grass here and there. There were crevices here and there, but no water to be found.

In the distance, a rocky mountain, over 3,000 meters above sea level, surrounded this wasteland like a folding screen, and behind them, one can see the white snowy peaks of the mountains that comprised the mountain range. No one would believe that a tropical jungle was on the other side of the snow-capped mountains.

A great arid wind blew upon the earth. Small whirling tornadoes that picked up sand and dust soared up everywhere. The combat sages were coming.

Everything on the ground started vibrating and moving about.

***

“Are they crazy?”

“Two combat sages are coming, but they’re as relaxed as if they’re on a spring picnic. What makes them so confident?”

“Hmm, maybe, maybe they don’t know how powerful the combat sages are… Did you tell them about the combat sages?”

“No.”

“What? Why not?”

“It’s fun, no? When will we ever be able to watch something like this again? It’s been two hundred years since the last time I saw someone clash with combat sages.”

“Crazy bastard…”

At the top of a mountain, about three kilometers away from where the battle was scheduled, the four members of the Outsiders were drinking something and looking down onto the battlefield.

“They mentioned that today would be a physical test. They wouldn’t kill San and Biyeon, right? It’s not like they have a lot of time to live, what with the termination clause and the other stuff…” Namjoon, wearing a reddish T-shirt like a street performance artist, said as he took a sip of his drink.

“We needed to check the skills of those two anyway, so that'll be a good opportunity. If what they say is true, they’ll be able to acquire a big fan…” Miri, who possessed the power of modeling and computation, said. As the Outsiders' actual brain, Miri’s simple mountaineering clothes were exceptionally red.

“Why do I keep wanting to go to the bathroom? I must be nervous,” Ogi, the 40-year-old man, grumbled as he slicked back his flowing hair. 

Lee-Kang, who was next to Ogi, giggled as his white hair fluttered in the wind.

Each member’s powers were an extreme evolution of their original talent.

Having gone through the process of Awakening after arriving in this world, their talents became their powers. Their Awakening was done in their own unique paths, unlike the martial arts path that was taken by San and Biyeon.

However, when they applied their powers and used them as weapons in battle, they could also exert great power beyond imagination.

In fact, even the past legends and masters of the Han-Sung Clan, who were able to wield five skills, had difficulty contending against the individual Outsiders members. The difficulty arose because the principle of combat was fundamentally different.

They called this power human charisma, or the Creator’s Grace.

It was conjectured that the Creator had imbued humans with this potential to counterbalance the sages, who may not be able to regulate the world properly or fall prey to other objectives counter to the Creator’s will.

Thus, these human Awakeners were like sages but also different in many ways.

Sages could not intervene excessively in the human world. While sages possessed the powers of ‘maintenance’ and ‘defense’, humans possessed the power of ‘creation’ and ‘control’.

“Alright everyone, calm down… It looks like the game is about to start,” Namjoon said aloud to the other members. 

***

Boom!

The first clash.

White dust rose like a mushroom cloud around the collision area. From a distance away from the collision area, San shook his head from side to side as he brushed his clothes with his hands.

Dam was clenching her large fists. Dam and San looked into each other’s eyes silently.

Like veteran combatants, the first clash was to assess the pure physical ability of the opponent. Now, they were gathering and releasing their full energy. Both had very reserved expressions.

Both were experienced combatants. Both sides realized the meaning of this match the moment they first encountered their opponents’ aura.

It wasn’t a friendly match. The combat power of their opponent had already exceeded the limits that could be properly measured in real-time. In other words, both sides were now using deadly force rather than just an output of pure power.

The battle would now proceed to a more deadly phase.

Every clash would possibly become the last. Everyone in the battlefield started feeling goosebumps.

Combat sage Tuk looked at Biyeon. Tuk was a female sage. With an expressionless face, Biyeon stared at the battle between San and Dam.

Tuk was standing a little farther away with crossed arms as her hands fiddled with the little bottle. Her fingers were tapping on the bottle’s outer surface. In Tuk’s mind, the request of her mother, Siluone, constantly repeated.

‘The woman will not dare to intervene. If she truly wants to save her man, she will not intervene…’

Tuk shifted her gaze towards San and Dam’s battle. She thought it wouldn’t be long until her turn to battle came anyway… 

Bang!

This time, Dam made the first move. A sonic boom seemed to rip the surrounding air apart.

Speed! Dam’s huge body, with a height of 250 centimeters, covered twenty meters in an instant and popped out like an explosion in front of San. Although Dam was bare-handed, the power output of a sage who specialized in physical attacks was enormous.

Dam’s attack was strong enough to vaporize a granite rock the size of a human body. If Dam’s strike was to rub against one’s skin, one would be instantly crushed.

San lightly twisted his feet. His body swayed to the left. Dam’s fist passed with a hissing sound beside him.

Even a piece of paper wouldn’t fit between the gap of Dam’s fist and San’s body. While swaying to his left, San twisted his waist and shot out his hand with his palm facing outward.

Dam’s other fist was wrapped around San’s palms and lightly pushed outward.

During all of this, San’s expression did not change. San tilted his chin slightly backward. Dam’s knee, which Dam had shot upward towards San’s face, passed San’s face without connecting.

San lifted his left foot and then shot his foot towards Dam’s planted foot, which had sunk into the ground to stabilize his knee strike.

Dam, who avoided San’s strike, had a grim expression.

Soon, San swung around his right foot. San’s instep region slammed into Dam’s joint region, the area below Dam’s huge thighs. Dam slightly bent his knees to absorb the shock.

San used the recoil to turn his body for another attack, this time, a roundhouse kick with his left foot. Turning his body upside down in mid-air, he tapped Dam’s throat with his left foot. At the same time, San clasped his hands together and gently received Dam’s incoming fist strike.

Dam quickly retrieved his fist and prepared for the next attack. Even when fighting, their gazes were always fixed on the other’s eyes.

San smiled. There was a faint smile on Dam’s face as well. They were both satisfied in finding such a suitable opponent.

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