Chapter 43

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Extending the enchantment, spreading seamlessly through every nerve’s corner.

Holding his breath, adjusting the magic’s sensation flowing through his veins.

Click.

Sensations unnoticed before now awaken. The rhythmic passage of time, the fingertip on the trigger pulling it, even the subtle friction as the gun’s internal spring twists, all sensed.

Right here is the battlefield of superhumans.

Bang!

Fired. Simultaneously, his eyes open.

The flames bursting from the muzzle momentarily illuminate the dark alley.

The reason for heightened senses is this: To prevent sudden light from blinding his adapted optic nerves.

Though the stimulated nerves make his eyes sting, it’s okay. It’s familiar.

The auras of three individuals are imprinted on Ivan’s retina like residual scars.

“Gun! Someone else is here!”
“Darn it, where were they hiding?!”

Leaning against the wall, Oscar is the figure. Slowly approaching from beyond the alley are two small beings—dwarves.

Confirming sparks near the dwarf’s head as the shot is fired.

Wearing standard dwarf infantry gear.

Ivan immediately adjusts the sight and charges forward.

“He’s coming! Get ready!”

The Dwarf in the lead yelled with a snap. Judging by the images still lingering on his retinas, he was armed with a two-handed axe.

Dwarf infantry standard gear covers the entire body like a golem, providing a thick and formidable armor that offers almost absolute defense against external attacks.

“Hence the sword.”

The reason he didn’t choose an axe is that it wouldn’t pierce through this armor. These folks survived even buried under the mountains during past wars.

There was a developed martial art to deal with such individuals.

Swing!

“Hah! Human! You don’t stand a chance!”

The blade scratches the surface of the plate armor, sparking. The resounding clash accompanies the rebounding sword.

Whooosh!

Detecting the direction and speed, Ivan stoops his waist. A massive axe blade passes above him, slicing through the air.

Lowering his stance, raising his left hand, and firing again.

Bang!

This time, towards another dwarf behind this one. Sparks fly from the muzzle, revealing the figure once more.

Posture, balance, weak points in the armor, the smirking expression of the defiant one, and the long ash-colored beard extending below the jaw.

Ivan held the sword straight and swiftly struck.

Clang!

“This guy!”

The dwarf’s exclamation echoed. A precise strike targeting the joints, executed with unbelievable precision in the darkness.

However, it’s not enough. The dwarf thinks so and swings the axe again.

Whoosh!

Evading again, clang. Strikes in the same spot. It’s a mechanical repetition of this process.

The weak points in the armor are the joints covered with chainmail and gambeson. While providing sufficient protection against conventional weapons, it’s not enough to withstand the supernatural sword strikes.

So, clang again!

“This technique… Were you on the battlefield ten years ago?”

“Is that all?” (Ivan)

Ivan smirked. It was because Kim Sunwoo in his inner self had screamed for twenty years.

Emotions set aside, both hands have a task.

Bang!

Firing again. Securing a momentary view and stepping back to avoid the approaching dwarf from behind, wielding the sword.

Clang, cutting through the chain.

The one who first devised this tactic was Lieutenant Ivan Petrovich. At that time, he was a captain.

The name of this technique is ‘Dwarf Armor Splitting.’

“This…!!”

Clang, clang!

Finally, the guy’s pauldron tore off. When the blade bounced off due to the impact, naturally letting go of the hilt, he reached for a dagger at his waist.

Taking out a short dagger from the hip holster, it took only a breath until it was jammed into the exposed shoulder of the guy.

Swoosh!

“Noooaaagh!!”

A shoulder injury is fatal for a warrior, akin to losing one arm. The movements of the guy wielding the two-handed axe noticeably slowed down.

But there are only two enemies. Finally, the approaching dwarf warrior swung his weapon.

“Stop!!”

Whoosh!

Avoiding the weapon again, he raised the left-hand pistol. This shot was aimed precisely, with controlled breathing.

Bang!

“Nooooaagh!!”

The dagger lodged in the shoulder, aiming exactly at the hilt. The dagger bounced off, disappearing into the darkness of the alley. The dwarf, with the forcibly torn shoulder, screamed and sat down in agony.

Now, he rotated his body to reposition. Putting down the pistol and pulling out the short dagger from the hip holster again.

Shring.

The sword, thrown into the void for the first time, now began its descent. Snatching the hilt precisely mid-air, Ivan swung it again.

Clang!

Once again, he thrust the ‘Armor Splitting’ technique towards the newly appeared dwarf. In this moment of controlling breath and time.

Swiftly, inserting the blade and twisting, peeling off layers of armor.

With the precision of a skilled surgeon performing surgery, exactly. One drop at a time.

In the deep darkness where nothing is visible, facing two dwarves with darkened vision. Maneuvering both hands simultaneously.

Disassembling their respective armors, thrusting daggers into exposed flesh, throwing the sword into the void, firing the pistol, and catching the falling sword to swing again.

***

“What is this…?” (Oscar)

Oscar stared wide-eyed, swallowing a groan.

He had just vowed to fight with all his might, to live up to the title of a knight, moments ago.

And now, in front of him, a giant was slaughtering unknown enemies.

“The sounds almost overlap.” (Oscar)

This is beyond common sense. The sound of sword swinging almost overlapped. In other words, the gaps between sword strikes were extremely dense.

How is such movement possible? Oscar chuckled in disbelief.

If that assailant is that guy, there’s no escape.

The battle ended in an instant. The mysterious figure who leaped in the moment the first shot was heard, returned with a strong scent of blood before two breaths could finish.

“Do you see anything by any chance?” (Oscar)

Humans don’t have dark vision. The races with such abilities are limited to dwarves and maybe demons. So, this question also implied whether he was human.

“It’s not necessary to see to fight.” (Ivan)

“Hah…” (Oscar)

“Is your leg injured?” (Ivan)

“Yes, embarrassingly, it broke when I got entangled in the rubble.” (Oscar)

“Do you have the bead?” (Ivan)

“Yes.” (Oscar)

“Then wait quietly here. Silently.” (Ivan)

The man turned away and left. Oscar hurriedly raised his head.

“Just a moment! Can I at least hear your name?” (Oscar)

“Ivan Petrovich.” (Ivan)

“Where are you going? If I can help, I will!” (Oscar)

“A student should be studying.” (Ivan)

The man’s laughter echoed in the darkness.

As he left, his footsteps returned, and he placed his hand on Oscar’s head.

“I never liked your father, but he seems to have succeeded in educating you, Oscar, son of Jill Ber. Your actions were excellent.” (Ivan)

“Do you know my father?”

“If that guy hasn’t forgotten me yet, we’re friends.”

The man turned away again. This time, without looking back, he left silently.

Towards somewhere beyond the alley, steadily, step by step. The rhythmic footsteps gradually faded away.

***

Isabelle sat silently in the darkness.

Fortunately, she had come down without major injuries, but she wasn’t foolish enough to move recklessly in a place where nothing seemed visible.

“The test will be canceled, right? I won’t fail just like this, will I?”

That was her only concern. It seemed like four hours had already passed, but it was impossible to gauge exactly how much time had elapsed.

Thud, thud.

Isabelle’s head snapped up. She heard footsteps.

Had the rescue team finally arrived? Isabelle stood up abruptly and shouted, hoping for an answer.

“Here! There’s someone!” (Isabelle)
“What’s your name?”
“Isabelle! No, that’s not important right now. Hurry, rescue me!”
“Found her! Secure the target! Call the captain!”
“Huh?”

Target? Captain?

Isabelle’s head spun for a moment, bewildered by the suddenly crumbling ground, the rushing soil, and the cave where nothing was visible.

In there, ‘target,’ ‘captain.’ Could it be…?

“For real! It’s getting annoying!”

Again! Again, terrorism in this forest, and this time, terrorism aimed at her.

How many fell victim to this terrorism? How many sacrificed amidst all this?

Isabelle ground her teeth in frustration.

Judging by the way they said they secured the target, and considering that they appeared only after she fell into the trap, this was undoubtedly not an incident involving just one or two people.

Soon, the heavy footsteps echoed throughout the entire cave.

Thud, thud, thud.

A group of individuals was approaching her. Silently, without a hint of noise.

Trained soldiers. And they had ‘dark vision’ or a similar spell. It would be necessary to move in groups in this dark cave.

Isabelle raised her sword straight. Her eyes were burning with anger.

No more sacrifices on behalf of others. Living with guilt for those sacrificed had become tiresome.

So, to release this boundless anger, she took a deep breath.

“I am Isabelle, daughter of Maximilian and Marie. A knight of Tylesse. State your names!”

“Impressive display of spirit.”

A deep voice was heard in the distance.

“Fifth Squadron, 3rd Battalion under the command of ‘Webmaker’ Combat Unit. I’m Senior Lieutenant Asturk. In your terms, I guess I’d be something like a Commander of a Thousand.”

Upon hearing this, Isabelle thought of Icarus, the white commander. The fight with him was a matter of life and death. If his rank was equivalent to a Commander of a Thousand in the logic of power, then…

‘He’s stronger than that guy back then.’

Isabelle tightly sealed her lips. Although being a Commander of a Thousand might not make him simply ten times stronger than a Commander, the difference in strength was clear.

And he wasn’t alone. A series of groups were approaching with him.

Moreover, the visibility was extremely limited. Not just limited, it was to the extent of seeing nothing at all.

“Am I really going to die like this…?

No fear. The moment she held the sword, death was something she always anticipated.

She thought of her father. Maximilian wouldn’t have shown fear even in such a situation.

So. At least in front of the demons, she shouldn’t show fear in the face of death.

She was a knight of Tylesse. And the daughter of a warrior. Among the numerous privileges she enjoyed, she had no right to feel fear.

Only duty. Duty to be unyielding even in the face of death.

“Come. I, Isabelle of Tyless, will stand and die today!”

“Comrade. How old is that guy we are dealing with?”

“Yes, Captain! The little one is turning twenty this year!”

“Adjust the plan. Make sure to kill. Leaving a hostage is not an option.”

Anyone near the level of a Commander of a Thousand demon would remember the Hero Party. Even if they hadn’t faced them directly, Heroes were a concept that embodied ‘death’ for the demons.

Encounter them, and you die. Get close, and you die. The moment the rumor spread, if you didn’t run away, you would die.

It was truly a natural disaster. Moreover, it belonged to the category of unpredictable disasters. The movement route of the warrior party was the top-secret information of the United Kingdom, so the Hero party always ‘ambushed’ enemy territories.

No matter how many tracking teams were dispatched, none returned. They thoroughly concealed their location.

The hero party, who had reigned over the demons with terror, finally assassinated the Demon King. And the war ended. Unfortunately for the demons, there was no chance to overcome the ‘hero trauma.’

She must be killed.

It was necessary to inform comrades in the homeland that even the ‘symbol of terror’ could not escape death….

“Yeah, try to kill me. A Tyless knight will never back down.”

Isabelle wanted to run, wanted to hesitate, she was just a girl, barely past twenty.

But she couldn’t.

Considering the numerous people sacrificed in the train terror that day and the motives of those caught up in the current terror.

She had no right to despair in the face of the approaching death.

‘That’s a bit regrettable.’

The lingering regret of not having a date with the old man was definitely there. Now, thinking about it, the emotions she felt when thinking about the old man were definitely more than just goodwill.

So, it’s a shame. She could have expressed a bit more.

*Chuk, chuk, chuk.*

“…?”

A rhythmic sound echoed from beyond the cave.

Chuk, chuk. A short noise of rubbing tongue and front teeth.

What is this sound? Asturk squinted, pondering in the tension and silence before the battle. The sound was somehow familiar.

‘Rhythmic sound of rubbing tongue…? Human, echolocation!’

As memories resurfaced, several assumptions followed in succession.

‘There is only one group of humans proficient enough to use echolocation in battle.’

‘That group was secretly cultivated during the time of the Krasilov monarchy.’

‘And this place is Krasilov….’

Asturk was astonished, raising his weapon sharply.

If the hero party embodied the terror of death,

‘That group’ embodied the ‘Night Terror,’ which made even the dark-sighted demons fear darkness.

Assassins Enrique trained with all her might.

If the warrior party was a presence that symbolized the fear of death,

‘That group’ were beings who embodied the ‘Fear of the Night,’ which even terrified demons with dark vision.

Asturk was startled and raised his weapon tightly.

If the warrior party had embodied the terror of death,

‘That group’ embodied the ‘Fear of the Night,’ which made even the dark-sighted demons afraid. They were beings who embodied the ‘Fear of the Night’ that even terrified the demons with dark vision.

‘When,’ ‘where,’ and ‘how’ questions were meaningless for them.

Literally, at ‘any time,’ ‘anywhere,’ and ‘anyhow,’ they fulfilled their objectives and disappeared like shadows of the night.

“Cleansup Unit!! Those cursed beings are still here?! Comrades, raise your weapons! Be on guard!”

-Chuk, chuk, chuk….

The rhythmic noise echoed through the cave and abruptly stopped.

Silence descended heavily. The dwarves, who seemed ready to charge at any moment, were now constructing fortifications in their positions, hunkering down firmly.

Isabelle swallowed hard, scanning her surroundings. Although nothing was visible, she could sense that something was off about the enemies.

‘Cleansup Unit…? What’s that…?’

It was a name she had never heard before. However, it seemed famous to the demons. The calm demeanor they had just shown, as if they were on a leisurely stroll through the town, froze instantly.

And then.

-Clang.

Along with the solid sound of metal rubbing.

-Boom!

There was light.

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