Chapter 932: One Strike to Kill

“Strike!” A man called out in a harsh tone, a large number of men and women standing in an even formation before him. At his words, all of them lifted the staves in their hands, performing an upwards swing. “Return!” After the second command, the staves were lowered back to their sides.

The human teacher could see the sweat covering the brows of the various students, who had been practicing their techniques while maintaining a constant ki flow for over an hour. He clicked his tongue in annoyance, shaking his head. Despite wanting to continue the training, it was almost time for everyone to go home.

“Okay, everyone wash up and get changed. Tomorrow, we will be continuing our work.” Ever since the appearance of martial wills, martial arts dojos across all worlds underwent a drastic change. There was a great influx of students, all wanting to master this power. For those students that had long since been attending, the ones who had unlocked their martial will were given teaching positions.

This man was one such example. After unlocking his staff will, he had been placed in charge of fifty new students with the express goal of helping them to similarly awaken their martial will. Unfortunately, this subject was too new. Even those that had the requisite level of mastery did not know the proper method to train a new recruit.

As he was letting out a sigh, he heard the door open. Turning his head, he saw a dark-skinned elf with a wide smile on his face. “Sorry, can I help you? We’re just wrapping up for today.” The teacher called out, walking over to approach the elven figure. While it was rare to see an elf with such dark skin, they weren’t entirely unknown. Typically, such people originated from Spica somewhere in their recent bloodline.

“This is the Seven Staff School, correct?” The man asked, his eyes scanning the group of departing students.

“That’s right. Are you looking to sign up?” Despite the man’s pleasant appearance, the teacher couldn’t help but feel that there was something wrong with him.

“No, that’s fine. I’m only here to test something.” After he said that, an invisible wind swept out from the elf’s body. Like a puppet with his strings cut, the teacher fell over. Less than a second later, the gathered students all suffered a similar fate.

When he saw that everyone had crumbled from this move, the man’s smile faded, pursing his lips. “Nobody here, either?” He asked in disappointment, the invisible wind sweeping back towards him.

He let out a long sigh, shaking his head and turning to leave. He saw multiple cameras observing him as he left the building, but even looked at it and smiled, as if he didn’t care about his presence in the area being noted. Rather, he was pleased with the knowledge that there was a witness to his deeds. “Next was… the Crystal Blade School.” He muttered to himself as he turned to walk down the street. There must be others. Let me properly feel the extent of this power. Let me get a worthy kill.

“Chief, we’ve got another one.” A female officer reported as she ran towards the local police chief, a folder under her arm. “The Black Death made another move.”

The chief, an ursa with a heavily muscular build, furrowed his brow. His hair was neatly combed back, but was starting to show signs of graying on the sides. “Who did he go after this time?” He asked, rubbing his face with his large hand.

“The Seven Staff School.” The woman reported, grabbing the folder and handing it to him.

“Seven Staff School?” The chief blinked, unfamiliar with that name. “Is that another dojo?”

“That’s right, sir.” The woman answered with a firm nod. “This school, as the name implies, revolves around staff techniques. They have been in operation for six years, and have three known wielders of will. In this attack, there were fifty-one casualties, being the class that was currently being held at the time.”

“What form did he take this time?” The chief sighed, flipping through the victim reports.

“An elf, sir. We haven’t found any matching resemblances so far. After following him via cameras for three blocks, he suddenly disappeared.”

The police chief stood up, starting to pace back and forth in his office. The Black Death, as the killer had taken to calling himself, was by no means a new threat. Rather, he had been active for over three years. Unfortunately, the fact that he kept his activity to a single city meant that it was harder to trace his travel patterns.

However, he had never gone after groups before. The Black Death was notorious, but it was as a hired assassin. It wasn’t until the appearance of martial wills that he suddenly began to go against his standard policy to indiscriminately attack other martial artists or dojos. “Have you notified the other local dojos, to warn them of an individual with pure black skin?”

Only allowed on

“I have, sir!” The woman nodded her head. “Unfortunately, the teach involved in today’s attack was a newly promoted member of the staff, so he was likely unaware of the threat.”

The chief clenched his fists at that, a deep popping sound echoing through the room. He couldn’t strictly ban martial arts dojos from operating. Nor could he offer any more details or public announcements that would cause a mass panic.. “Dispatch a group of officers with aura concealing cloaks. Place them overlooking the entrances of each remaining martial dojo.”

“If they see the Black Death, and believe they have an opportunity to capture him, they are permitted to do so. However, if they do not believe that they can get this job done, simply follow him back to his camp. We need to learn where he is staying between attacks, as it is likely to lead us to an important clue.”

“Understood, sir!” The woman nodded her head, walking away while gritting her teeth. She could already tell what was going to happen next. Of the officers that she selected, one of them would eventually come across the killer. With their police training, they would feel confident in apprehending a single target. 

Once they felt this confidence, they would make a move… and the police would lose a valuable officer. For this reason, she had to be direct and make them understand just how dangerous the enemy was. Before she let them depart, she would have to emphasize this matter to them.

“Be warned, the target is to be considered as a god-level threat. It is believed that he has not only awakened a martial will, but also an intent. From what we have gathered from the crime scenes, it is likely that his intent is simply ‘to kill’. Those hit by this attack will almost surely die without warning.”

Despite the target in question having never killed a god himself, this power estimation was given on the assumption that he had awakened a martial intent. According to the newly approved standard, those with martial intents are considered on the same level of power as a mediocre god.

Unfortunately, there were too few gods remaining in the ‘mortal worlds’ to station them in police departments. If they could request the aid of a god specializing in the gathering of information, there would be no need to be worried about locating such an assassin. This was why such assassins did not like to operate in the vicinity of a tracking-based god unless they had some way to prevent the divination.

My eyes were unfocused as I continued to execute the same punch, over and over. My mind was entirely devoted to comprehending every change in my energy, every facet of the punch that was being thrown out. After my ki had been depleted by these punches, I began to supplement with my Keeper energy reserves, which showed no signs of dropping any time soon.

The shadow of Tsubaki glaring at me while charging had long been wiped clean, buried under the tens of thousands of repeated actions. Now, there was no longer a target in my mind. I had become wholly consumed by focusing on how my body was responding to the punches.

Eventually, I felt something change. As if a shadow were beginning to overlap with my punches. On some level, I knew this to be a martial will, but that only confused me. After all, there wasn’t a period of enlightenment this time. Did that only happen for the first instance of awakening, or had my actions changed the end result?

Either way, my repetitive punches finally stopped, and I focused on releasing my new martial will, feeling it move in the same pattern. I could project that punch out as far from my body as I wished, causing me to smile.

“Finally finished it, have you?” Accalia’s voice entered my ear, causing me to look around in confusion. “We’re in the observation deck.”

There’s an observation deck? I thought internally, before turning and walking out of the training room. With the guidance of Hermes, I quickly found my way to where they were waiting. When I entered the room, I could see Accalia, Keliope, and Tsubaki all smiling at me. “How long was I?”

“Eight days.” Accalia said, shaking her head. “For eight days, you never broke your rhythm.”

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Keliope gave a small grin at that, nodding her head. “Now that you’ve ‘mastered’ that punch, it’s up to you how you train this in the future. You can either incorporate more attacks into your martial will, or you can pursue the extreme of this one punch.”

I couldn’t help but blink at that. “So, that’s why I didn’t have an awakening period? Because my martial will was just the single punch?”

“That’s right.” Accalia nodded in agreement. “Typically, a will is created by assimilating your entire attack style, and thus the ‘awakening’ is the martial will simulating those attacks. Since you only did the one punch, that meant that your ‘awakening’ also only took a single punch.”

My eyes twitched when I heard that, glancing at Tsubaki. She looked thoughtful, as if trying to decide what the best course of action would be. “In your situation, it may be fine to develop that single punch. If it were anyone else, I’d say it would be foolish. However, in your situation, you possess the power to use overwhelming force to overcome sophisticated technique.”

“If you develop your fist will in the direction of a ‘crushing’ intent, you should be able to withstand even other high-level intent wielders like myself. As for your gun will… that depends on what direction you want to take it.”

I gave a small nod to Tsubaki’s words. Honestly, I had already begun working towards a ‘homing’ intent for my guns without even really considering it. After all, my personal aim was fairly bad. Without something to help me correct the course of the bullets, I wasn’t confident in hitting my targets.

It was possible for me to change focus to another intent and train my accuracy, but that would be an inefficient use of my time. The most common intents for something like a gun should be homing, piercing, or killing. Each of them had their own uses, and it was hard to say that any was more effective than the other.

If I considered my gun intent as the solution for smaller problems, and leave my fist intent for bigger threats with the ‘crushing’ intent as Tsubaki said, I should be able to cover my bases. All that was left at this point, honestly, was trying to figure out the training plan to reach the ‘intent’ level.

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