Chapter 71

‘They could be working together.’

Judging by the current situation, Zich could not erase that possibility. No, it seemed very likely that they were collaborating together.

‘Since the assassin group’s focus is to make Demon People, Fest could be one of their creations.’

This was good for Zich either way. The reason why Zich had come to this village while thinking it might be a trap was because he wanted to meet the assassin group again.

‘Just finding out that Fest and the organization are working together is already a good harvest for me.’

Of course, Zich was not satisfied with just finding out this information. If he could, he wanted to get as much information as possible. However, it would be very difficult for Zich to find any more information about them considering that they were so inclined to self-destruct. But Zich was not fazed.

‘I have to be patient when dealing with guys like this. I need to slowly gather information bit by bit and find the perfect timing.’

That was the extent of Zich’s thoughts. He didn’t need to think any further; moreover, Clovey’s attacks put a stop to Zich’s thoughts.

Crash! Crash!

As expected of a knight, Clovey’s movements were fast, and his attacks had great power. From what Zich knew, Clovey was the strongest among Joachim’s subordinates—no, he was one of the strongest knights in the whole Dracul estate. Compared to Zich’s younger brother, Greig, or a beginner knight like Byner, Clovey was an experienced and powerful knight. 

“Hyaaat!”

Zich bounced off Clovey’s cleverly placed sword attacks. Since Clovey’s sword was fast and strong, Zich’s hands were becoming a bit sore. However, it was not only Clovey that Zich had to pay attention to.

Slide!

As if it appeared from the ground, a dagger suddenly jumped towards Zich’s side. With his elbows, Zich pushed the dagger away by hitting its hilt. Just when it seemed as if Zich had avoided one dagger, another came flying towards his side. Zich pushed that one away too, and while he was occupied with the dagger, Clovey made a giant swing.

Whish!

Just the sound of his swing shook the air. Zich expressionlessly watched Clovey’s sword move in front of him. Since the magnitude of Clovey’s attack was large, the assassins had to take a moment to escape from his attack. Thus, when Zich evaded Clovey’s attack, the battle came to a stop.

But this only lasted for a moment, and very soon, numerous opponents came running towards Zich again.

‘The flow of their movements is very good.’

Even Zich was amazed by Clovey and the assassins’ abilities to coordinate their attacks. It was even more amazing because the assassins probably received no professional training in connecting their attacks with Clovey.

‘The assassins look as if they were trained to coordinate their attacks, but I’m sure that they didn’t train with Clovey.’

There were definitely areas where Clovey and the assassin’s attacks did not flow well together. The problem was that those areas were extremely small, and it was very difficult to fight them. However, their opponent was Zich.

‘Even though it’s their first time working together, it’s amazing that they can work together so well. But it’s not perfect.’

There were very small gaps between their attacks, but it was still a gap. Zich pierced his sword in between the openings. Clovey and the assassins tried to respond, but they ended up flinching for a second. The area that Zich pierced was the minuscule gap between their unified attack flow. After a moment of hesitation, the assassins slowed down to let Clovey block Zich’s attacks. An ordinary person would never be able to notice this slight hesitation, but this opening was enough for Zich. 

Clash!

“Ugh!” Clovey let out a cry of pain. Since he changed his movement so drastically, he lost a bit of his balance, and Zich used that to his advantage and attacked Clovey. However, Zich’s goal was not to attack Clovey. At that moment when the assassin slowed down and Clovey drew back, Zich squished his body between them and met the assassin’s wide eyes.

Whish!

Zich swung his sword. The assassin who just slowed down tried to accelerate again, but in the process of gaining speed, the assassin ended up jumping towards Zich’s sword. This was the shining result of Zich’s battle sense honed from countless battles and life experiences.

However, the assassin didn’t easily back down. He had also prepared something as well.

“Ack!”

The assassin reached out his hand and grabbed someone near him; at the sudden pull, the person screamed. However, the assassin paid no attention to the person’s screams and pulled his hand back. The person who the assassin grabbed was a villager. 

The villagers were blackmailed by the assassins and forced to lie down in the temple, but they awkwardly stayed near the battle. They were paralyzed by the intense battle in front of them, but they also didn’t have the strength or abilities to intervene. But the assassins had a way to utilize these harmless villagers by using them as shields. For any sane person, if they saw an ordinary villager in front of them, they would hesitate for at least a moment. No matter how much they hardened their hearts, it was normal for the end of their swords to waver a bit. 

But the problem was that Zich was not ‘normal,’ and he was not completely sane either. Zich slowed down his sword. Since he decided to live a kind life, he couldn’t just kill an ordinary villager. If his life was at stake, he might cut a villager without hesitation, but this was not the case. But Zich did not want to helplessly evade all the attacks directed towards him just because a villager was being used as a shield. He didn’t want to go that far, and his evasions did not help end the situation.

‘Also, that bastard’s face is annoying.’

Zich wanted to destroy the assassin’s arrogant expression which seemed to say, ‘So what are you gonna do now, huh?’

“Agh!”

With a menacing sound, a villager’s scream echoed out. The villager quickly lost his sense of balance and fell down. The villager’s right shin was bent as if it was another joint. Zich’s kick had broken his bone. However, Zich’s attacks towards the villager were far from over.

Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!

Zich kicked him exactly three more times, and the villager’s limbs looked as if they all gained a few more joints.

“Ah! Ahhhhh!” All of the villager’s bones broke at once, and he shrieked in pain. The villager wanted to grab onto his wounds, but because the bones in his arms were also broken, he couldn’t do anything else other than scream. Without a care for his struggle, Zich lifted the villager and threw him far away.

Drop. 

“Ahhhhh!”

Zich heard shrieks again. Blood poured out of the man’s body like rainfall as the man’s broken bones protruded outside his skin, but Zich didn’t care. The best course of action he could take right now was to immobilize the moving meat shields and scare them away from the battlefield. It didn’t matter if the meat shields suffered injuries in the process.

Should I make the rest of them like this as well?” Zich purposefully said this loudlyThen he saw some of the villagers near him quickly run away after seeing the gruesome state of the villager used as a shield. Yet, Zich wasn’t considerate enough to care for their ‘trivial’ worries.

Clovey and the assassins attacked Zich again. However, Zich didn’t counterattack. He stealthily avoided their attacks and headed towards the villagers. Clovey screamed at the villagers to fight Zich, but it was impossible. They were too demoralized from seeing what Zich was capable of doing; his cruel attacks and the screams that followed had shaken them too much. The villagers screamed and scattered like a herd of rabbits in front of a tiger.

‘It will be more bothersome if they get out of my sight.’

Zich calmly broke another villager’s limbs and threw them far away.

“Hey!” Zich shouted. Hans and Snoc immediately realized that Zich was calling for them and turned around.

“Take care of the meat shields like this!” Zich showed how he broke a villager’s limbs and threw them far away. Like Zich, Hans and Snoc were also suffering from having to deal with the villagers. They also realized that their opponents were ordinary people who had been blackmailed. However, unlike Zich, they were struggling to harm the villagers while knowing that they were dealing with ordinary people. That was why Zich had decided to set a—not so mild— example for them to follow.

‘W-We have to do that?’ Snoc was stunned by Zich’s cruel actions, but Hans was different. Of course, Hans wasn’t happy about following Zich’s orders, as his slightly raised eyebrows indicated. However, he swung his sword without hesitation.

Slice!

“Ahhhh!”

A sword skimmed a person’s shin. Blood spilled out and cries of pain rang throughout the room. Someone who had no experience in battle couldn’t keep their composure after being sliced by a sword. The villager bent over without caring if he was in the middle of a battle or not. Hans took that moment to swing his scabbard and crush the man’s limbs. Then, he kicked the villager a distance away.

Unlike Zich, Hans had always seemed like a sensible person; but seeing him like this, Snoc became speechless.

Punch!

The ground rose below Snoc and struck the assassins’ stomachs. Snoc had been distracted, but now he was startled.

Koo!

Nowem cried out loudly on Snoc’s shoulders; he was giving a warning.

“Sorry! Thank you, Nowem!”

‘Yeah, that’s right. I can’t just keep going back and forth. It’s better than killing them.’

Following Hans and Zich, Snoc also focused on immobilizing the villagers. However, even while doing that, Snoc stole furtive glances at Hans. He shook his head when he saw Hans recklessly crushing the villagers’ limbs with his sword and scabbard.

‘Even my senior is becoming more like Sir Zich.’

At that moment, Snoc almost became certain that he would also become like that. As Zich, Hans, and Snoc ignored the assassins and Clovey to focus their attention on the villagers, the number of mobile villagers decreased quickly. Of course, Zich continued to also slice some of the assassins while everything was going on. There were even some guys who shot out artifacts from time to time, but Zich evaded or intercepted their attacks.

“As expected, you have some skills,” Clovey muttered while glaring at Zich.

“My skills are definitely superior to yours. It seems like you brought those guys to make up for that, but it doesn’t look like they're helping much,” Zich retorted.

The assassins didn’t move even while Zich ridiculed them. They just stayed in their position and looked for Zich’s blindspots. 

Thus, Zich spat out some more words. “It’s at a level where it’s hard to believe you guys are here to create demons out of people, including Joachim, all over the world.”

“What are you saying?” Clovey scowled, but the assassins responded differently. It was fleeting, but Zich noticed a slight disturbance. Even the assassins who had trained to suppress their emotional expressions couldn’t help but respond a little bit after having their goal completely seen through.

‘I’m right!’

This made Zich more certain. These people were trying to make Demon People all over the world. The assassins all moved at once. Their skills didn’t improve, nor did their attacks become more dangerous, but Zich could sense that their mindset had changed; in their eyes, Zich had changed from ‘a guy they had to kill’ to ‘a guy they couldn’t fail to kill.’ However, they couldn’t kill Zich just by changing their mindset.

Slice!

“Argh!”

Crack!

“Argh!”

At Zich’s sword, the assassins lost their lives one by one. It was the same for the assassins who Hans and Snoc fought.

Pop!

The assassins avoided the stalagmites shooting up from the ground, but they were traps. Hans expected them to avoid the attacks, so he swung his sword at them.

“Urgh!” An assassin groaned as the sword opened up his chest. He was among the many who fell victim to these types of attacks. Some lost their heads. Although the assassin group had laid down a trap, it wasn’t very effective because Zich found it out in the middle. Their large numbers also became useless as the villagers used as meat shields were immobilized.

“…Damn it!” Realizing the situation he was in, Clovey gritted his teeth. ‘I really didn’t want to use this…’

Clovey shuffled through his belongings. He hesitated for a moment, but when he saw another assassin lose his life, Clovey made his final decision. He took out a small bottle and drank the whole thing down in one gulp.

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