Chapter 76

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The so-called ‘trained’ agents, through subtle actions, embody various intentions. For example, Pavel intentionally summoned Ivan beneath the statue to provoke his anger.

It’s unacceptable to stand in front of the Great King’s statue, boldly gaze down from the dais, and disregard his years in the Royal Guard as insignificant.

But this also applies to Ivan, who is also a trained agent.

Ultimately, Ivan needed to keep his opponent focused on him, managing variables. Because when unaware of the opponent’s motives or tactics, minimizing variables leads to maximum results.

And that is:

“There is an accomplice.”

Persuading Ivan or fueling his anger signals an intention to halt him here. Confronting Ivan directly implies the presence of an accomplice. Pavel must realize that facing Ivan and executing terrorism simultaneously is impossible.

“…”

Ivan surveyed the surroundings with a fixed gaze. Festival-goers, alienation standing out amid the crowd around him. To be precise…

‘Gaze.’

This isn’t a particularly refined sense; it’s a sensation most people share – a fundamental sense inherited by various predators or social animals.

And humans excel at technologically enhancing the senses bestowed by nature.

“Three.”

However, merely sensing the gaze doesn’t allow deducing the opponent’s position and direction.

However, humans are not statues. Even when perceived as standing still, they subtly move with every breath, emotion, and the surrounding situation.

With sufficient training, one can even technologically enhance such characteristics.

Naturally flowing through the slightly changing field of vision, the technique is to analyze the background based on the fixed gaze that seems to be pinned to the opponent, relying solely on peripheral vision.

The individuals on the suspicious line, a total of three.

Now, there is only one way to be sure of their identity.

-Clack.

The hand turned backward grips the pistol’s handle. Along with the cold sound of metal rubbing,

As if sensing the sound, Pavel lowers his posture, tracking the movement with his eyes.

0.1 seconds. Below the comma, the reactions in superhuman combat begin with each other’s eyes and responses.

-Bang!

As soon as Pavel confirms that a pistol has been drawn from Ivan’s sleeve, a perplexed expression crosses his face.

You can’t harm a superhuman with a pistol. Moreover, pointing the muzzle towards the sky—

“Sky…?”

Pavel’s expression stiffens. Almost simultaneously with the pistol held in Ivan’s hand spewing flames, he leaps.

The belt around Pavel’s waist loosens.

-Clank, clank, clank.

With the sound of chains winding, Pavel’s grip on the belt transformed into an elongated shape and solidified. It’s a product of magical engineering.

[Draconic Lance, Olrov’s Needle]

As Pavel rushed towards Ivan, a complete lance was already gripped in his hand.

-Whooosh—

Before the surrounding crowd could react, time slowed down. The sleeves of pedestrians fluttered, clearly visible in the frozen moment.

The blade of the lance soared. Before the sound, Ivan’s pupils flowed along the majestic movement from start to finish.

A pitch-black dagger, a mundane military knife, firmly entwined in his grip.

-Bang bang bang!!

The clash of superhumans had begun.

In the intervals between time and time. In the gap where the moment stopped and the transient paused.

As gaze, magic power, senses, and anger.

***

The battles of superhumans are not mythical. It’s not a fight in a fantastic illusion entangled with majestic maneuvers and strange auras.

Rather, their true faces are more ruthless. Agony, moments, fragments of time. It’s the struggle within these, trying to touch each other’s bodies even once.

It’s due to relative time. Even though they are categorized as superhumans, the individual skills inevitably differ.

There is a clear limit to neural acceleration through magic power. The time that can be manipulated cannot surpass physical constraints.

However, even if they are superhumans, shortening records of 0.1 seconds, 0.01 seconds with the human physique is an ongoing process of pushing one’s limits at every moment.

Therefore, there is an advantage in the clash of superhumans. It’s impossible for everyone to live in the same time. Someone can be faster, more precise, and move more delicately than others.

-Bang!!

The lance flew like a shower aiming for Ivan’s neck.

Ivan drew his dagger, twisting and deflecting the lance, shifting his gaze.

Pavel’s eyes showed confusion and anger. If roughly interpreted, it meant:
‘Why on earth? And how dare?’

Different emotions, but the cause was the same. Ivan was infuriated by wasting the initiative in the superhuman battle.

In the context of superhuman combat, seizing the initiative holds a different meaning. It’s a kind of strategic assault that occurs before the organization of time fusion.

Just by observing Ivan solely focusing on defense after missing the initial move, it was clear. For a significant duration of their clash, Ivan couldn’t easily break free from a defensive stance.

-Bang!

Engaging a lance with a dagger itself is a feat. Pavel had to admit it. Ivan’s skill far surpassed the novice level from his distant memories of that young age.

That’s why he was angry.

Daring to concede the initiative to the Captain of the Royal Guard. Firing towards the sky? Even if what can be accomplished with just a pistol is not particularly impressive, still.

Arrogant. And now, Ivan was enduring the consequences.

-Bang! Clang! Thud!

Swinging, slashing, thrusting – the lance attacks almost simultaneously targeting the neck, both shoulders, heart, ribs, abdomen, and both thighs.

The pinnacle of skill a person can master with a single weapon. It’s the essence of the technique reaching the limit.

However, simultaneously, Ivan’s eyes tracked the path of every strike with precision.

-Squelch! Keening!

Pavel admitted it. The enhancement value of neural magic power was superior to his.

Occasionally, even as someone handling the lance, he fully responded to each attack, which even his proprioception couldn’t entirely follow. Almost like monstrous nerve connections.

But the prepared gap in armament neutralizes all of that. Holding the lance in a situation where he took the initiative, while the opponent’s armament amounted to just a single dagger.

Even if the opponent were the renowned hero Maximilian, victory could be debated…!

-Bang!!

The dagger that deflected the lance blade shook greatly.

It’s not an issue of the difference in reach; it’s a matter of strength.

The reason a polearm can exert more force is not that the wielder’s physical strength is superior. It’s because, in the process of concentrating strength to the tip, the polearm can fully utilize centripetal and centrifugal forces. Once a certain level of technique is achieved, the potential that a dagger can unleash is considerable enough to be considered ‘such.’

The fact that Ivan is currently parrying the lance blade with just a dagger is a kind of miracle in itself in the context of superhuman combat.

-Clang, thunk.

With a cold sound, the blade of the dagger falls to the ground, tracing a sluggish trajectory away from the realm of superhuman time, hitting the floor.

“It’s over, Ivan…!”

Unlike the ceremonial dagger, the Draconic Lance surpasses Olrov’s family craftsmanship. The quality of its construction is different. In other words, Ivan’s defeat was practically predetermined from the beginning of the battle.

-Clack.

At the flying tip of the lance, the pistol’s muzzle lightly rose.

“Now I’ve seen it all, Pavel.”

Ivan shifted his gaze away from the lance blade, staring directly into Pavel’s eyes.

Seen it all? What?

Pavel’s eyes shook. Certainly, from the start of the battle, Ivan’s gaze had always been fixed on the lance blade, which was undoubtedly an impressive proprioception. However…

-Bang!!

Sparks fly from the muzzle atop the lance blade.

The shaking trajectory of the blade, struck by the bullet, twists and turns.

It grazes near Ivan’s cheek, hitting the empty air before finally coming to a stop.

In the meantime, Ivan stood still, looking at Pavel as if he knew that the strike would inevitably miss, even though he was within the ‘range’ where a slight turn of the wrist could have blown off the entire head.

With icy blue eyes, he silently stared at Pavel.

“According to the laws of the Royal Guard, I, Ivan Petrovich, hereby demand that Pavel Sergeyevich Orlov, former Captain of the Royal Guard, pays for his treachery.”

Clack, with the sound of metal rubbing, Ivan firmly gripped the pistol and aimed it at Pavel.

“I relieve Commander Pavel Sergeyevich Olobov of his position.”

-Bang!!

***

Enrique often explained the hero party of those days to his disciple Lucia.

The one walking at the forefront, Maximilian.
The one standing the straightest, Jill Ber.
The most ferocious one, Einar.
The most useless guy, Veolgrin.
The somewhat mysterious woman, Patricia.
The most beautiful assassin in the world, Enrique (self-proclaimed).

And,

“The one with the sharpest eyes.”

“Sharp eyes?”

“Yes. That guy has had them since he was inexperienced. Usually, human instincts tend to close their eyes when faced with danger.”

So, he tended to train reflexes to dull sensitivity to blades or fists from the basic stage, so that one couldn’t turn away their eyes from a blade rushing at them.

Ivan, however, was someone who didn’t need that from the beginning.

“Even when all other skills were nothing special, he was naturally gifted in seeing.”

Being good at seeing also meant learning fast. Whether it was survival skills or combat techniques, there was no need to demonstrate them twice in front of him.

Other talents weren’t particularly outstanding, neither exceptionally robust nor agile.

But ‘vision’ alone was truly transcendent.

“So we all agreed that he was part of the party.”

A hero party consists of seven members, including the scout Ivan. It was due to that perception.

There were several instances when the absence of the scout caused panic upon reaching the Demon Lord’s castle.

Now, those were just memories.

“But, Master, what’s special about his vision?”

“Once he lays eyes on it, he comprehends and can adeptly grasp it.”

It’s not about complete mastery or replication. If he had such a talent, he would have emerged as a hero.

Thus, Ivan’s skill lies more in never forgetting what he perceives. Once he fully comprehends something, he never falls prey to the same attack or trick again.

While he occasionally uses terms like ‘pattern recognition,’ but in any case…

“I might not grasp his jargon, but he’s a skilled agent who never falls for the same trick twice. That’s the kind of person he is!”

Contemplating which agent possesses such abilities, Enrique chuckled.

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