He actually let me recover... Is that brat overconfident or crazy? Haden wondered, frowning.
He had quite the ego, but he wasn't a fool. The short exchange was enough for him to gauge the strength of his opponent and the kid was a serious threat.
"You are not half bad for your age," he commented, making sure to sound like a senior talking to a junior, "You're not my match, however. You will pay for your recklessness."
Leguna glanced at Haden with an amused smile before dashing at him again.
Haden narrowed his eyes. He didn't think the brat's speed could increase even more. It was even difficult to keep up.
Had he been holding back until now? If that were true, who knew how strong the brat actually was?
"Gaargh!" Haden roared furiously, shoving the brat back.
It was time to start thinking about leaving.
He was an information gatherer and analyst, not a killer. He only took action once he was certain of victory, and withdraw if he was faced with uncertainty. He treasured his life. He'd worked very hard to get where he was after all, it was not a simple thing to throw away in a moment of emotion.
Leguna was onto him, however. He lunged forward and stuck to the man like stink to dung.
Damnit! He should have had a guard on standby outside! He hated being interrupted when he was busy so he chased all the guards away. Nowadays his men stayed away of their own volition. They did not come to him unless called or bearing important news. Hence why nobody had shown up despite Xeno's incessant cries, and the few who were nearby had all been dealt with by the poor boy.
Haden never imagined his habits would set him up for assassination.
Leguna jumped backwards avoided one of Haden's attacks. The brat fought intelligently, Haden had to give him that. He knew his impetus could not match his opponents, so he did not face the strikes head on. A single strike was enough to end Leguna, after all.
He moved from dodges to attacks fluidly, like water running over pebbles.
"Looks like you still haven't used your full strength," Haden snickered.
"You're Stok's head rat. I'm sure this isn't your best either," Leguna retorted.
"So you can speak! Not that it really matters. You have to pay for making me angry!"
Haden streaked at Leguna as his words left his mouth. Leguna instinctively moved to parry the strike, but Haden just kept coming. His left hand came up, fingers curved like cat's claws, and darted for Leguna's eyes.
The attack looked like a simple punch, but Leguna's nerves screamed at him that he was in danger. He jerked his head out of the way at the last moment. Haden's fist grabbed nothing but hair.
Leguna immediately flipped out of the way. A thin red line slowly oozed onto the boy's face, cleaving his face from his eyebrow to his ear. The line bulged and quickly ran down his face to his chin where it dripped towards the floor. Leguna licked the blood and his body shuddered. He might have been in real danger if he hadn't listened to Alissanda carefully.
Spatial Cut was one of Haden's unique self-created skills. It was nearly impossible for someone else to learn because it incorporate his unique impetus aspect. The man wasn't gifted, but he possessed a unique aspect that was none of the six main ones.
It wasn't hot like the fire aspect, it wasn't heavy like earth, nor swift like wind. It was neither vibrant like light nor corrosive like shadow. Instead, he could rip space itself. Every time he channeled his impetus, space itself distorted. If he used his full strength, he could twist it into knots and even tear it.
His impetus was aspectless, but it was the sharpest of all impetii in the world.
Other strikes were like paint on a canvas, while Haden's tore the canvas itself. No defense, no matter how strong, that was painted onto the canvas, could stop the canvas from tearing, nor could it avoid tearing along with it. There was no parrying his strikes, there was only dodging… and death.
Haden had his limits, however. While his impetus was, technically, invincible, his cultivation level limited its use. He had only 17 strata, so he could only use it to a certain extent. And stronger opponents could suppress his impetus with their own. The last bit was why Gahrona had told him to raise his strata to sixteen before facing the man. It was just barely high enough to begin interfering with the man's impetus, though it couldn't suppress it.
Leguna took a deep breath and increased Host of Darkness. His strata cracked through to 16.
Haden watched as his enemy's strength rose again and finally understood who he was.
"You're that shadow dancer!" he barked.
He had heard Saron mention a shadow dancer that had popped up in Hocke out of nowhere. The brat could teleport and increase his strength in moments. This brat fit that brat's description perfectly.
Leguna didn't gift Haden a response.
He crouched like a leopard. Since Haden had guessed his true identity, there was no use in holding back. He had to end the battle as quickly as possible, five minutes at the most. He activated Speed Eruption and Lightness. The two, combined, pushed him to his limit in speed.
A blur flashed at Haden and the brat's face materialised in front of him. He blocked instinctively and barely parried the strike.
The face disappeared again. A chill ran down Haden's back. He quickly activated his enchanted armor.
Oh? He actually had something good! The loot was going to be good. Leguna's maximum speed could keep up with his teacher's now. At least, it could when Wayerliss wasn't using any enchantments or skills. Haden couldn't match him. He had spent his entire life focusing on training his mind and had neglected his body. The body was indeed not important if the mind could grasp the situation and put the enemy at a loss before the fight had even began, but when that failed… Haden only now realised his vulnerable he'd actually always been.
His lesson came a few months too late. He used every trick in the book, but the brat would show up and ruin it at the last moment every time. He withered slowly and was eventually defeated.
It wasn't a walk in the park for Leguna, however. His energy was all used up and several gashed criss-crossed his body. His left leg was almost useless due a particularly bad one and blood wouldn't stop pouring out of it. That was the worst Haden could do in his final moments, however. Lighteater stuck through his chest, though his hard and out his back.
The old man half-coughed half-chortled.
"What are you laughing at?"
"I'm laughing at Alissanda and I!" the old man coughed.
"We wasted so much time plotting, exploiting each other's weaknesses. And now we die. How stupid." said Haden as he continued to cough up blood.
"What?" Leguna muttered nonchalantly.
He didn't care whether the prince survived or not. His mission was complete, that was all that mattered. If the prince died carrying out his own plan, no one could blame anyone but the prince himself. Not that Leguna thought for a moment the prince would actually die.
"Alissanda's not the only one. I know your true intentions. You split yourself into three units, two to draw fire and the other to attack Pato, right? Hehehe, how could his little scheme slip by me? The only thing I didn't take care of was you! I didn't think Hocke had such a powerful assassin! Hahahaha, this must be the cost of my carelessness! Hahaha!"
Leguna froze at the man's words.
"What do you mean Alissanda's not the only one?"
It was fine if Alissanda died, but if he were not the only one… There were others involved in the mission that Leguna could not let die.
"I already said I know your plan," Haden smiled, blood bubbling out of his mouth.
He was about to die and Alissanda would join him. Nothing could be done to change his plan now, so if he could cause anguish to his killer, great.
"If everything has worked out, which they will have, all three units will now be in Pato. I have something waiting for them. I'm sure you can guess who."
Fear exploded in Leguna's head. He saw a red-outlined silhouette.
"Yes. As long as he's there, even Alissanda can't get away! Hahahahaha! He and everyone with him will die today!"
"Isn't Saron injured?!"
"You really think that impedes him at all? You underestimate him... too much..." Haden's voice slowly faded and his eyes grew dull.
Leguna wanted to continue arguing, but the man was turning into a corpse, quickly. Lighteater flashed and the corpse withered.
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