Chapter 102 - The Sword that Split the Heavens (5)
Jeffers was a powerful Dragon Arts practitioner, and he was holding a Dragon Demon weapon in his hand. Therefore, he shouldn't be fighting a normal sword fight with Azell. Every swing should be flattening the surrounding as if a typhoon had descended upon the land.
However, he wasn't able to do so. Since Kieren was a magician, he couldn't see through the problem, but he could tell something was wrong by looking at Jeffers' expression.
Azell was perfectly controlling Jeffers' movements.
Jerffers was somehow able to match each sword strike, but he was being overwhelmed in all other aspect. He tried to raise his Dragon Demon Qi, and it was as if Azell had been waiting for it. Jeffers' Energy Pulse was cut off. If he tried to use the power of the Dragon Demon weapon, it was interfered with. Jeffers was adept at using the flow of power. Most of his moves required amplification. It was needed to create burst damage, yet it was being sealed. This situation was a nightmare for Jeffers.
'Hmm. Who the hell is this bastard?'
Jeffers was a mystery he couldn't solve, so Azell furrowed his brows.
Azell was trying to confirm something in this sword battle. Instead of focusing on killing his enemy, Azell was obsessing over the question he had. It was very foolish thing to do, yet Azell couldn't help himself. He decided he had to figure out if there was some secret design being carried out by the Dragon Demon king worshippers.
However... Azell wouldn't be able to find the answer by fighting him. Jeffers Almarick's existence was a puzzle that couldn't be solved by Azell.
Kairen sent a Whispering towards Azell.
-How long are you going to play with him? It isn't the time to play around right now.
Kairen was protecting Yuren as he fought against the Dragon Demon king worshippers. Azell had blown away most of the enemy's forces, so it wasn't difficult for Kairen to face the remaining troops. However, Laura gave intermittent assistance to the troops, so Kairen was at a disadvantage.
Azell sighed at those words.
"Yes. In the end, I can't solve this problem right now."
"What are you talking about about?"
While Jeffers furrowed his brows, Azell took a big leap backwards.
The summon of the Dragon Maken had reached its limit. At the very least, he wouldn't be able to summon it again in this battle. It would be impossible for him to kill all of them with overwhelming force. He had to incrementally cause confusion, and this would cause his opponents to reveal their weak points....
At that moment, a being ran past Azell to attack Jeffers. It was Leticia.
"I'll take this guy. This bastard... No, I have a debt to settle with this bastard's bloodline."
"Anyways, it seems you have your own opponent you will have to deal with."
As if she didn't have any more words for him, Leticia turned her head away. While Azell was taken aback by her actions, someone rushed towards Azell as he brought down a black sword.
The white Dragon Sword and the Black Sword, which was a nexus of Darkness Magic, clashed against each other. A clear sound rang out. Azell looked at the Black Swordsman Duran, who was letting out a fearsome killing intent.
"Ah. I guess I have to settle my debt against you."
In the previous battle with Niberis, Azell had suffered under the hands of Duran. It was an unforgettable memory. Azell's fighting spirit burned as he assessed Duran's battle capability. After the first clash, the two of them exchanged five moves in a flash. When they disengaged from each other, Zell had a decent idea about the other man's power level.
'He's a Septuple Master. He is the strongest Spirit Order practitioner I've met in this era.'
According to Kairen, the Rulain Kingdom also possessed a high rank Spirit Order practitioner. Viscount Haven was the kingdom's greatest swordsman, and his skills were even acknowledged by Kairen.
However, Azell hadn't had the opportunity to meet him. While he was staying at the Dukedom of Tarantos, the most accomplished Spirit Order practitioner he met was a Sextuple master. Moreover, every time one added a ring the difficulty of progressing to the next ring increased. Duran was at a level where Azell considered him to be the top Spirit Order practitioner he had personally met in this era.
On the other hand, Duran was shaken to the core when he looked at Azell.
'What did this runt do? Even if he did go through the Dragon Slayer's Ritual, how could he have gone through such a rapid growth?'
Duran had never gone through the Dragon's Slayer Ritual before. However, as an officer living inside the Plain of Darkness, he was allowed access to the knowledge about the Dragon Slayer's Ritual. Even if one did had experienced a successful Dragon Slayer's Ritual, Azell's growth rate couldn't be explained.
'He can now rival my power... No, could it be higher than mine?'
Duran wasn't able to get a measure of Azell's fighting power. Since he assumed Azell wasn't able to see assess him either, Duran didn't consider this occurrence to be strange. It was something that happened quite often amongst Spirit Order practitioners of similar level.
Duran shook off his confusion, and he yelled out in anger.
"How dare a sinner harm the Miss' precious body! I'll send you to hell!"
"You have such a great slave mentality that I'm in awe."
"You are a fool that doesn't know the truth. I won't forgive your transgression!"
"...actually, I have a question I want to ask you."
Azell asked his question as he blocked Duran's violent attacks. Azell wasn't being pressed into a corner. Azell didn't show any urgency, and his attitude made Duran's eyebrows twitch.
"Were you perhaps a talent grown from within the ranks of the Dragon Demon king worshippers?"
Azell still couldn't understand why humans of this era chose to become Dragon Demon king worshippers. However, if the person grew up from within the organization of the Dragon Demon king worshippers, he could somewhat understand how it could happen.
Duran snorted at Azell's conjecture.
"I was saved by a benefactor, and he blessed me with the knowledge, which allowed me to find the correct path."
"Hmm. So you weren't originally a Dragon Demon king worshipper? You chose to become one? Why? The Dragon Demon war ended a long time ago, and it is the era where humans reign. So why do you worship a phantom from the past?"
"His teaching is the real truth. Our god may be considered to be history after his death, but our worship for him hasn't ended yet. We have to fight in the darkness until our savior returns. This is the tribulation the believers have to bear."
"How is his teaching the correct one? Do you really relish the idea where the Dragon Demons rule over the humans?"
"Don't make me laugh. The evil that has to be fixed in the world is the human's domination of this world."
"One's ability doesn't matter to humans. Good and evil doesn't matter either. The only thing that matter is bloodlines. Just because one is born from better parents... These irredeemable trashes look down and steps on the other humans based on their bloodlines. How is that just? We aren't talking about beings born from another race. Humans use other humans to build up their destiny. They do this by controlling, dominating and exploiting those of the same race. How can you say this world order is just!"
While Azell listened to Duran's words, he knew that he would never be able to bridge the emotional distance he felt with Duran. Duran's voice was filled with hate and sadness that won't be erased in his lifetime.
Azell didn't know what kind of life Duran had led. However, Spirit Order practitioners dealt with the mind. Even amongst high level Spirit Order practitioners, one could get a glimpse of the underlying truth of the other using one's will.
'Is it because he is a religious fanatic?'
Azell had seen countless variation of shortcomings expressed by humans. He saw humans betray each other in order to live. In front of reality that was unbearable, he saw the minds of humans break as they searched for refuge.
'No, he is different. This man...'
Azell had seen people like Duran before.
During the Dragon Demon war, the environment made it easy for humans to hate on other humans. It wouldn't be too hard to become inflamed by the action of humans. It was easy to see why one could hate, scorn and give up on the humans. In extreme situations, humans had the capacity to become feeble-minded and unsightly.
Azell also had despised many humans, and he had given up on them. However, he was also able to find humans he was able to love. How miraculous was that?
A human, who didn't love the world made by humans, was standing in front of him. It wasn't strange to see such an occurrence.
During the Dragon Demon War, Azell had despised the system he was affiliated with. He had raged as he looked at the stupid and self-centered humans above him. In such an unreasonable situation, he had struggled for a solution to do away with the difficulty he faced.
However, what if the difficulty and unreasonableness had been so huge that Azell hadn't been able to overcome it?
What if Azell didn't have the power, talent or luck to cause change? He would basically be trampled by his own fate...
What would he have been like in such a situation?
Azell finally received an answer to his question.
During the Dragon Demon war, there were Dragon Demons, who had loved humans. They hadn't agreed with the will of the Dragon Demon King. They betrayed their own race to stand with the humans.
Then there were the opposite case. There were humans, who were filled with so much hate, that they agreed with the will of the Dragon Demon king. These humans joined the Dragon Demon army.
The Dragon Demon King was dead, and it had been 200 years since the end of the Dragon Demon war. However, the social composition hadn't changed. It was still too easy for the humans to hate other humans. When one faced an unreasonable amount of adversity in this world, it wasn't strange to see some people consider the worship of the Dragon Demon King as a solution.
"Didn't you say your name was Duran? It has been a long time I've seen someone like you."
"A long time... This is the first time I've seen someone like you, you sinner of a runt!"
"I didn't mean it that way. It's just... It is a bit sad. Although, the whole situation is ridiculous."
"What are you talking about? "
"If you want to understand, we'll need to have a long conversation. However, I'm sure that will never happen. I wanted to create a world where people no longer despaired. I fought hard for for the change, and the calamity in front of humanity was averted... However, human nature remained the same."
Azell put on a bitter smile, and he became unyielding. Azell had barely moved, while blocking all of Duran's attack. However, his iron defense was slowly transitioning into offense.
At a certain point, the white blade and the black blade was entwined with each other....
Duran's shoulder guard was sent flying.
'Who is this runt?'
Duran was taken aback. He hadn't been able to see Azell's previous sword strike. By looking at the trajectory of the strike, their swords should have clashed against each other. However, Duran's sword strike hit empty air. In the next moment, it was as if time had skipped. The intermediate step was omitted, and Azell's sword was seeking out his neck.
If he only relied on his reflex, his head would have been severed. However, he used a secret technique, which had been passed down to him from the Plain of Darkness. If his consciousness was messed with by an enemy, a defensive mechanism drilled into his body would activate to save his his life.
Basically, while Azell was participating in a high speed battle, he had attacked Duran's mind. Duran's consciousness was altered. Duran had thought he had a perfect defense against such an attack, yet Azell's technique was too intricate.
Sparks flew as the tide of the battle changed.
When Azell had been on defense, his speed had been slower than Duran. However, his incredible Insight had allowed Azell to cut off the secret techniques of the Spirit Order being attempted to be used by Duran. Moreover, Azell was able to predict the destination of each sword strike, so he used the minimal amount of movement to deflect the sword strikes.
However, Azell's movements were incrementally getting faster. In all facets of the battle, Azell was overtaking Duran, and he was slowly taking away Duran's options.
'No, I was mistaken! This is......!'
Duran soon realized he was under a misperception. Azell wasn't moving faster. Duran was moving slower.