Chapter 171 - Claimhb Solais (2)
The decisive battle began, with the flames flickering like they were being blown by the wind. The atmosphere suddenly heated up, and it felt like the world was burning red. As the sand and gravel on the ground melted, Theodore looked around hurriedly.
'The completeness is somewhat lacking, but...!'
Any magician who heard this would be in disbelief. This 7th Circle magic was a strategic magic which burned at one point when the user placed it in focus, but it could also be spread widely.
Theodore had just reached the 7th Circle, so it was impossible for him to cast it so quickly. Therefore, it was necessary to have 'something' which made the impossible possible. It was Artificial Yin and Yang, the key to this unprecedented speed and the secret he'd obtained by passing Seimei's test.
[+? Artificial Yin and Yang (Imprint)]
[It is the result of 'Aquilo's Blood Mark' and the 'Ring of Muspelheim' circulating to form the shape of yin and yang. The two forces of fire and water embody the idea of amplifying each other's strength without opposing each other. The affinities of both attributes have risen to the limit, and the existing abilities are inherited. Additionally, the imprints have the ability to rotate and generate magic power independently of the user's circles.
* The rating of the imprint is 'Legend.'
* The abilities of 'Aquilo's Blood Mark' have been passed down.
* The abilities of 'Ring of Muspelheim' have been passed down.
* Understanding of water magic and fire magic has greatly increased, reducing the casting time of magic. Ignores attribute damage that is below the user's level, and halves it if it exceeds the user's level.]
This was a fraudulent combination of power! The Ring of Muspelheim and Aquilo's Blood Mark were undeniable abilities, but the result of the combination was more than that. In the past year, Theodore had completed the 7th Circle and maximized two attributes! This was how Theodore was able to complete Inferno in just seconds.
However, leaving that aside, Theodore's choice was right. If he couldn't figure out Hyde's hidden location, it was best to make use of this limited space. It was necessary for Hyde to defend from the flames of Inferno by using aura. Otherwise, he would be completed eradicated.
Therefore, the area where the fire storm was interrupted would expose the enemy's location. Theodore desperately concentrated all five of his senses on watching the flow. A result soon fell into his hands.
'Inferno's flow is disconnected in that place... It should be... Eh?'
...Three steps ahead of him?
"-Kuk!" Simultaneously, his sensory perception trembled.
Theodore hurriedly moved his head backward, while several strands of his bangs were cut by something sharp. It was a surprise attack which was no different from the swing of a reaper's scythe.
However, his sensory perception warned him of the successive attacks which occurred immediately after that. The blade that descended toward Theodore's head scratched the edge of his clavicle. Then it aimed at his heart. As it missed, the blade descended, heading for his calves. The slash aiming to behead him just sliced the air instead.
Theodore had unusually agile footwork for a magician. Alfred's senses and Lee Yoonsung's martial arts had saved Theodore's life.
'W-What the hell is going on?!' Theodore was full of questions, rather than fear, as the blade passed over his head.
Even if a sword master's defense was great, this situation was impossible. This was one of the best attack magic of the 7th Circle, so a fatal blow couldn't be avoided with the usual density of aura. However, what was this situation? Hyde was moving freely within the flames, like he wasn't affected by Inferno at all!
Gluttony read Theodore's mental state and answered naturally, -The reason is obvious.
-Claimhb Solais is a sword that symbolizes 'light' and 'fire,' so it is natural to give the user resistance to those attributes. The person might be unqualified, but it has joined as part of his body.
'...Hey! You should've told me that first!'
Theodore, who had just avoided the sword by raising his chin, was distracted by Gluttony. He wanted to yell at Gluttony for a few hours, but regrettably, he couldn't.
If this current situation continued, he would die without even touching Hyde. Inferno didn't have an effect, so that meant all fire and light magic were sealed. Theodore's power would've been sealed completely if he were a typical Red Tower magician.
However, he still had one more main attribute. This crisis was an opportunity for it. Theodore recalled a method and waited for the opponent to move one step closer.
「инейштормовой (Frost Storm)!」 He spoke in a language which couldn't be imitated with a human voice. These were words which allowed a dragon to rule over the laws of nature.
The fact that Theodore could already use Dragon Words was proof he hadn't been playing around during this one year. Aquilo's Blood Mark, amplified by the synergy effect of 'Artificial Yin and Yang', immediately changed the fire storm into a frost storm.
At the center of the storm was Hyde, who was right before Theodore!
"What, this is...?" Hyde's voice expressed his surprise and frustration. However, before he could say anything, the frost storm slammed into his body.
Jjejeok. Jjejejeok! Jjeok...!
The melted ground froze over, and the sight of frost on the lava-like ground was fantastic.
Theodore admired the power of the frost storm as he looked around at the all white battlefield. He could produce the same scene using 7th Circle Blizzard, but Dragon Words relied solely on nature instead of his magic power. The strength and efficiency simply couldn't be compared.
Even a sword master with a god-sword had to avoid being directly hit by this.
"...Truly, the empire was right to point you out as an enemy." The sword master Hyde was amazed and moved far away.
According to his research, the young man in front of him was still in his early 20's. If Theodore continued to grow like this, Meltor might soon have a third 8th Circle magician. It was a crisis which the Andras Empire had never experienced before.
Hyde thought so as he looked down at his left hand, which still hadn't vanished. The arm of silver which blocked all magic, it was the sword his master had given him. If it wasn't for Claimhb Solais, the frost storm would've frozen half his body and decreased his combat strength. Theodore's trump card was terrifying. Moreover, unlike Hyde's prediction that he would be overwhelming Theodore in close combat, Theodore had avoided all of Hyde's attacks without a single critical hit.
"Cough." Blood emerged from Hyde's mouth.
Despite the favorable factors, Hyde had failed to heat up properly. No matter how he circled his aura, there was no way to escape from the cold. His left arm was fine, but the mobility of his right side was two or three times lower than usual.
If this were an ordinary mission, Hyde would've retreated. However, it wasn't, so he gripped his sword with a determined expression. This was due to his loyalty to Fermut, his sense of duty as one of the empire's Seven Swords, and his intuition as a warrior.
"I have to kill you here," Hyde declared.
He realized that it would be impossible to kill Theodore later if he didn't do it now.
* * *
On the other hand, after calling up the frost storm, Theodore was worried about how to attack the opponent.
Theo had used Dragon Words, but the storm didn't deal any fatal blows to Hyde anywhere on his body. It had hit Hyde, but it wasn't at a level to interfere with the continuation of the battle.
Theodore frowned as he took off his torn robe. 'Damn, he isn't someone who will fall for the same technique twice.'
It was a serious issue that Hyde hadn't fallen down from Theodore's previous counterattack. Theo had thought that a crisis was a chance, but he would just be stupid if he tried to do the same thing twice. The tactic of using Dragon Words as a surprise attack was over.
However, it was difficult to find a strong magic to use when Hyde's left arm would just neutralize it, especially while the sword master was being more careful.
Let's compare the power Theo had left to what his opponent had.
Theodore only had two uses of Dragon Words remaining. His odds of winning in a close match was less than 1%. The duration of Frost Storm was around five minutes. He had plenty of magic power left, and his wounds were ordinary.
Meanwhile, Hyde had his left arm which neutralized magic and the Aura Ability.
"Tsk, in the end, that damn arm is the problem." Theodore thought of a few tactics and then clicked his tongue as he realized he was stuck because of Claimhb Solais. The left arm was a void since it could neutralize any magic. Wide area magic couldn't penetrate the opponent's defense, and single-point magic would be blocked. If long distance and short distance attacks weren't enough, then there was only one answer left.
"Would a hit and run attack while maintaining a medium range work?"
To be honest, it was crazy. Theodore could combine Battle Song and Lee Yoonsung's martial arts, but it wasn't enough to match the sword master in front of him. It was impossible for him to challenge Hyde unless he had Veronica's physical abilities.
Theodore planned to keep a ranged spell around his body so that he could know the opponent's position, as well as using magic to strengthen his body. His magician's brain was working overtime.
"Okay, I'm beginning."
However, this was only possible for Theodore. It was possible due to his natural calculation abilities, Gluttony's function, and his experience. Taking into account Umbra's abilities, he could avoid death a few times.
Theodore narrowed the scope of Frost Storm and wrapped it around his body, then he took a few steps forward.
"...Are you thinking something cheeky, Magician?" Hyde noticed Theodore's movements and raised his sword. He was waiting for Theodore to expose a gap that he could dive at. His eyes resembled those of reptiles who thought of humans as their prey.
Theodore just laughed when he saw Hyde's expression. "Let's see. Are you great enough to even say that?"
It might be a bit cruel to Hyde, but it was true. During Abe no Seimei's test, Theodore had faced stronger and more dangerous opponents than Hyde. Veronica had overwhelming strength, while Blundell used unimaginable magic. Orta had killed him without even moving a step, while Theo's acknowledged Aquilo's and Superbia's power.
In comparison, Hyde's only strong point was the god-sword. Theodore had high odds of winning if he was careful.
As Hyde noticed this truth, more blood dripped from Hyde's lips. However, this blood wasn't coughed up from the throat but blood which emerged as his teeth were broken. He growled out between tightly closed teeth, "-Kill."
"Let's try something new," Theodore said the words and took on a unique posture.
With one palm above and the other below, his two palms symbolizing the heaven and the earth framed Hyde between them. This was the Above and Below, Heaven and Earth stance. It was a stance to pull out as much harmony as possible.
What happened immediately afterward might be a coincidence or maybe even inevitable. Hyde raised his left arm and his sword, while Theodore gathered magic power in his both hands. The feet of the two people moved in perfect synchronization.
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