It took 5 days to reach the elven village of Forni. On my back was flamberge and in my light armor were some throwing daggers. The disciple of Dumbre Dadee David was following me from behind.
“I-It’s around here,” he said in a fearful voice.
If you’re wondering why I’m here, that’s because a letter from David came.
—I would like to make use of your promise.
That was the only thing Fei read, and I immediately left the Fortress of the Abyss to the knight class, Gi Ga Rax, and set off for Forni.
“Are you really going when you’re so busy?” Fei asked.
“Time is a finite resource, which is exactly why I must fulfill the promises I have made. That is what you call fidelity,” I said.
All living things will eventually die. If I don’t fulfill the promises I’ve made when I can, I might lose the opportunity to do so altogether.
“…Are you sure it’s not because the throne is uncomfortable?” Fei asked.
“You jest,” I retorted.
Though it’s true it’s not an easy job.
“I suppose once in a while should be fine,” Fei said.
With those parting words, I took flamberge and headed for Forni.
“Wow, you really came,” David said in surprise, laughing as he did. “My request is about my disciple.”
Beside David was a young timid koro dwarf. He had a beard as well, but it was still thin compared to David’s.
“He’s skilled, but he’s too cowardly. I’d like for you to accompany him,” David said.
“My promise was—” I tried to explain, but he interjected.
“To swing your sword once for me, right? I would like you to use that sword of yours to protect my disciple,” David said.
Well, I suppose it’s fine.
“What is your disciple looking for?” I asked.
“Hey, kid! You tell him!” David implored his disciple.
The timid koro dwarf hit David on the back as he fearfully spoke. “I-I’m going to look for the shiny black stone known as Vasheyn. It’s a wind spirit stone,” he said.
Wouldn’t you normally use black iron to forge a sword?
When David saw me puzzled at the unfamiliar name he laughed.
“Vasheyn is a fragile ore that normally can’t be used, but this kid here wants to try no matter what, so I told him to get it himself,” David explained.
He must trust him a great deal. David is plenty stubborn when it comes to smithing, so the fact that he’s w
illing to let him try speaks volumes of his ability… It would be a pity to lose a talent like him.
“Very well. I shall fulfill my promise,” I said.
“Thanks, Goblin King,” David folded his arms and laughed with satisfaction.
We walked for 5 days from Forni toward the north. It’s good to move without an escort from time to time. It lets me hone my dulling senses.
I smiled as a horn fox appeared before me. It wasn’t very big, but it was able to control fire. It’s a kind of monster I’ve never met before.
As it cried a high-pitched voice, a flame was lit at the end of its lone horn. That flame condensed into a bullet, which then shot forth toward me.
It took 4 seconds all-in-all for it to load and shoot.
I lifted the screaming koro dwarf with one hand and jumped out of the way of the bullet.
As I watched the fire bullet shoot past me by my side, I thought of how troublesome it would be to deal with a skulk of horn foxes.
There’s only one right now, so it’s not too troublesome, but a skulk would really give me a run for my money.
I threw David’s disciple into the bushes, then I bolted off with ether in my legs for the horn fox. In the blink of an eye, flames clad flamberge, and blood spurted in the air.
“Hmm…” I muttered as I pondered to myself.
“U-Umm… Goblin King, your majesty?” David’s disciple called out to me.
I wonder if Gi Gi could make use of these guys.
“I found it!” David’s disciple pointed to a rocky mountain beyond the trees.
So that’s where we’re going.
It’s still morning, but the earlier we finish this, the better.
“Let’s go then,” I said.
I took my spoils with me and headed for the rocky mountain with David’s disciple.
I noted a big scar on a tree as I noticed a flayed tree bark.
There was probably a large monster in the area, but we still continued our way.
The area surrounding the rocky mountain was as quiet as could be.
When we approached the base of the rocky mountain, a hole leading underground came to view.
“I-It’s here!” David’s disciple said as he – in a rare moment – showed some foolhardy courage and attempted to run off.
Of course, I grabbed him by the shoulders to stop him.
He looked at me not understanding, but I had already reached for my blade.
It seems doing nothing but paperwork everyday really did take a toll on me.
The thick aura of blood lust coming out from the hole made me inadvertently grip my sword tight.
I can’t believe I failed to notice such a powerful monster despite being this close!
“GURUUuuUuUUuuU…” As I bellowed out a howl, the monster showed himself.
It was a bear two times taller than my own height.
“A fire-speckled big bear! A red bear!” David’s disciple exclaimed in a daze.
“Get away!” I told him.
I could feel the pressure bearing down on me just standing in front of it.
The red fur of the bear shone in the light like a hard stretch of armor, and those claws on its paws looked so sharp they seemed like they could easily break my neck given the opportunity.
I looked down on monsters because I always believed I couldn’t lose to them, but it seems I might’ve been too arrogant.
That tree awhile ago was probably meant to show that this was its territory.
The reason it’s so quiet around here is also because of this monster.
Standing on its hind-legs, the red bear let out a powerful howl, one strong enough to make me quiver.
In fact, even the very air shook as its howl resounded throughout the whole forest.
That howl woke me up.
I checked to see if my legs were still firmly planted on the ground.
I haven’t gotten weaker physically, but it seems the hate within has grown weaker.
I must challenge this powerful enemy.
That is all that matters now.
Right now, not even my throne can make me turn around.
Heat literally left through my lips as it turned into a white cloud that flowed behind me.
In this moment, just like when I fought the orcs, just like when I fought the giant spider, just like when I fought the gray wolf, my instincts as a warrior awoke.
I bellowed out my own howl in response to the red bear’s pressure, invoking Defiant Soul and World-Devouring Howl in the same breath.
—Mental pressure has been alleviated (HIGH)
—Defensive strength and offensive strength are increased when fighting a monster of a higher class.
Using Defiant Soul, I turned myself from a king to a mere warrior. In my hands, ether flowed into flamberge.
“Turn me into a blade!! (Enchant)”
The black flames I stole from Verid wrapped themselves around flamberge.
David forged it from alloy, so the flames were able to penetrate it smoothly, and the resulting sharpness was like the raging flames themselves.
The red bear lifted up its burly arms and swung them.
I slashed with flamberge in response.
That might’ve been a foolish decision. After all, if I could, it would’ve been better to dodge.
A wave of paralysis rushed through my arms as my blade met with the red bear’s claws.
—Those claws are too dangerous!
Flamberge failed to penetrate it despite being enchanted. What power!
I rooted myself to the ground as hard as I could as I sought to endure the red bear’s strength.
I even invoked the Soul of the Berserk King to increase my strength at the cost of my sanity.
—Rejoice, my soul! Before us is a battle! A battle that is pure combat! There is no need to think. Not the future, not the past, not anything! Right now, in this moment, all that matters is this duel between two monsters!
—The numbness of my arms left, and a power greater than I’ve ever felt bore into my sword and the land on which I stood.
—K-Kil, kill, kill the enemy!
My sword clashed with the red bear’s claws once more.
I lost out in power, but I neither felt fearful nor saddened. Instead, joy filled my cheeks as a smile appeared on my lips.
Was that because I was going insane, or was that simply because I could finally fight a worthy foe? I don’t know, but either way, joy filled me!
I invoked Defiant Soul again to bring reason back to my sword, then I used Sword Mastery A- to bring it up a notch.
As my sword clashed with the red bear’s claws, we simultaneously bellowed out a howl.
The red bear’s claws birthed great winds as it swung through the air, but my flamberge managed to repel them with a change in angle.
One hit, two hits, three, four…
The clash of raw power turned my thoughts into a lake of fire, the red bear the same. The only thing on our minds was to destroy each other.
Due to the twin-headed snake’s blessing, I was able to easily control my ether, allowing me to easily instantly concentrate it into various parts of my body at will.
“GAaAA AaA A!”
We were at a standstill, neither edging out over the other.
That seemed to enrage the red bear, as it bellowed out a howl louder than before and swung its claws.
—It got stronger!?
We have been equal for a while now, but suddenly, though only a little, the red bear was winning.
In this battle where one step wrong meant death, the sudden change in the enemy’s strength caused my sword to lag for a moment.
This is bad, I thought. And as soon as I did, the red bear swung its claws and sent me flying. It left a wound extending from my chest to my stomach that caused blood to spurt.
I dropped flamberge as I tumbled on the ground.
Just as I was planning on using ether to treat my wounds, the red bear bellowed out another howl. When I turned to it, it was about to ram me.
Helpless, I was sent flying once more.
As I crashed into a tree, my eyes grew hazy and blood puked out of my mouth.
Immediately after I took a throwing knife from my armor and threw it at the red bear.
Though it only barely grazed it, it still managed to slow the red bear a little.
Using that opening, I took flamberge back.
My sides creaked.
I’ve taken plenty of damage, but there was no stopping now.
Using flamberge as a cane, I forced myself up.
—Don’t show weakness! If you show even a hint of it, everything will end!
I rebuked myself as I moved ether into my legs.
“My life is like a cloud of dust! (Accel)”
The red bear watched me closely as it stood back up again.
A contest of power began once more.
But try as I might, I still ended up losing out to the red bear.
I didn’t have time to stop my wounds from bleeding, so I had to gather my ether into various parts of my body, such as my legs, my back, my arms… If not for that, I would have lost a long time ago. My ether wouldn’t have held up if I just tried to heal myself normally.
Blood flowed from my chest down, but I never stopped swinging flamberge.
“GURUuUaAA aA A!”
Gradually, my control over my ether started to let up, and I started making mistakes.
The flow of ether that ran from my ankle to my hips broke. When I realized that, I jumped away from the red bear.
I immediately focused ether into my legs, but it broke off again.
I recalled that moment when I first messed up using ether directly on my own body, but instead of seeing an image of the worst case scenario flashing through my mind, I saw myself separated from my own body, looking down on it.
The red bear didn’t follow, and instead watched me.
What is it doing? Is it being cautious?
—What did I do just now?
I ignored the red bear for a moment and traced back to what I did.
I focused my ether onto my hips from my legs…. I moved the ether like water flowing…
—I moved it like water… is that it?
Until now, I’ve been gathering ether into whichever body part needed it. I would push ether into my legs, then into my hips to swing my sword, then my back, and then lastly, my arms.
But what if I moved ether like it was flowing, moving like water from one area to another?
The red bear bellowed out a howl.
Let’s try it!
I didn’t have any other choice anyhow.
I jumped into the fray once more as I sought to control my ether again.
I caused ether to flow from my legs to my hips, then to my back, and then my arms. For the first time, I was consciously controlling it instead of relying on instinct.
Ether flowed like water as I swung flamberge, and suddenly, the battle I had been losing all this time, turned to my favor.
The red bear was shocked, but so was I.
Sparks flashed as flamberge clashed with the red bear’s claws.
Gradually, the red bear started to fight defensively.
Though shocked, I calmly accepted the situation and sought to finish the duel.
“GAaAA AaA A!”
—Of course, if I force him back, it’s only a given, he’ll come back fiercer!
But I slid through the flurry of swipes, to align my sword to take the kill.
“Turn me into a blade! (Enchant)”
At the same time, I invoked the King’s Dance at the Edge of Death and controlled ether in a flowing fashion, moving it from my legs to my hips, then to my back, my arms, and into flamberge! Then I invoked the Third Chant and unleashed my blade!
In the next instant, a fatal strike descended on the red bear, tearing it apart as flamberge tore through its armor-like fur from neck to chest.
The black flames raged as flamberge penetrated the red bear, leaving a scorching mark on the rocky mountain itself.
Looking down on the fallen red bear, I exhaled and began to heal myself.
—89 days until the war with the humans.
Level has risen.
72 => 92
‘Magic Manipulation’ has changed to ‘Flowing Magic Control’