“Didn’t know you’re proficient with the sword. Why don’t you show me some tricks?” → Ashura
Ashura smiled mockingly then took a martial-arts stance, being ready for battle.
[…Fine by me.] → Khalid
Khalid already understood that something wasn’t right with Ashura as he prepared to strike with everything he had. The aura Ashura emanated at the moment was anything he was familiar with, while the pressure from his [Solar Pressure] widened to more than 120 meters around, making for even Khalid to feel burdened in his movements.
Khalid then instantly slashed in front, creating a wide and sharp wind-blade. Seeing the strike Ashura instantly disappeared and reappeared to the side right at the next moment.
“Such dull moves won’t reach me, kid.” → Ashura
[To be called kid by a kid… I lived to hear that.] → Khalid
Ashura then disappeared once again and reappeared right in front of Khalid. A palm filled with chi struck out and another humongous beam shot out while obliterating the surroundings. Khalid dodged just as quick then his bluish glow turned red as he swung his sword that now also shone with a yellow light, down toward the ground with a herculean force.
Ashura jumped and dodged the sword, letting the shockwave created, to destroy the entire terrain behind him. He then struck downwards toward Khalid with a [Nova Fist] but Khalid hastily stepped behind in a hurry. Just as Ashura wanted to follow, Khalid took out two long pistols from the back of his hands and shot in succession, making Ashura jump and dodge while at the same time blocking with his one gauntlet. As Khalid had to reload, Ashura shot right after him with his fist ready.
“I won’t let you.” → Ashura
[Don’t worry. I won’t] → Khalid
Faking a reloading posture, Khalid threw the two guns at Ashura as he retreated in a hurry.
After throwing the guns toward Ashura, Khalid instantly flicked his fingers and the guns exploded with an incandescent fire burning everything around. After only a few seconds, Ashura shot out from through the flames with quite the burns on his body, but with nothing too life-threatening to say that he could have killed him from that trick.
“You’re quite annoying.” → Ashura
Ashura wildly smiled and grabbed in front.
[What is this!?] → Khalid
Khalid suddenly felt himself being pulled toward Ashura with incredible speed, then a monstrous amount of energy was focused on Ashura’s fist, ready to obliterate him entirely.
This brat doesn’t know of moderation… → Khalid
Khalid felt like sighing then instantly released a strong enough aura to resist the one that was pulling him in.
The confrontation from the two monstrous auras made the earth to break and sink as Khalid united the aura of three Monster Cores of S+ rank, releasing himself and pointing his sword toward Ashura. Four more tubes that connected themselves to his belt appeared and connected them all on the sword’s hilt, making the sword to shine in five different colors: blue, yellow, gray, red, and frosty-blue.
“Hah! I see you’re a man after all! Taking strikes head-on! Not bad!” → Ashura
Ashura’s wild smile became even more terrifying as veins bulged all over his body while his eyes turned completely red, together with his whites. His half red half white hair was now completely red, while his aura swirled like a hurricane inside a wild storm.
[Damn crazy idiot, has a devil entered you as well? We might really kill ourselves if this goes on… Not like I mind it.] → Khalid
A rare smile appeared on Khalid’s covered face as he infused even more energy inside the sword on his hands. Because of the ridiculous aura that was emanating from the fusion of the five elements even the sky started to twist while the ground to shake.
“I-I think we should stop them. Any more than this and one of them might really end up injured. And I expect the injured one to be Khalid at this point.” → Bonny
Bonny worryingly held onto her staff, ready to take action in case of need, while Ryu was also looking with a rather firm expression on his face. Everyone was just as restless while nervously staring at the two who already had their killer moves charged, only waiting for the best opportunity to release them at the right time. One mistake and the last to strike will die without a whole body.
[Shen. Shall we stop them?] → Ryu
A glint of expectation flashed into my eyes and asked amused.
“Well, what do you say? If we were to have our strongest spells already charged up and ready to strike, would you like to suddenly be stopped by someone?” → Shen
[Surely not.] → Ryu
“Then let them play for as much as they need. If they both release that ridiculous amount of energy at the same time then, maybe, nothing too bad would happen as the shockwaves would somewhat cancel each other. But if one is with even a quarter of a second too late, then the graveyard is going to have another member.” → Shen
[Master! Please don’t say that!] → Bonny
[Isn’t that quite the stupid logic?] → Ryu
Bonny quickly rebuked me through the memory crystal while Ryu laughed weakly at such remarks. I simply shrugged my shoulders as I stared at the swirling sky.
“Well, no matter what we may say now, it’s already too late. Look.” → Shen
Just as I pointed toward the battlefield, a lightning bolt struck the ground that separated the two monsters, such giving out the signal to strike.
“See you in Hell!” → Ashura
[See you in Hell] → Khalid
Both of them said at the same time as they both released their own skills at the same time. A blinding light flashed as many people had to cover their eyes in a hurry to not be blinded by it while a strong shockwave struck the barrier and, albeit soft, the barrier still vibrated from the ridiculous released power. The two of them were each sent flying in their respective directions as the ground was completely obliterated once again, deepening the already sunk valley for another dozen of meters. A pillar of smoke with light was still raising in the air, making for the accumulated energy to take a while until it completely dissipated. However, the two of them didn’t wait until the smoke diminished. Ashura shot up in the air with his top completely revealed while one ugly cut was present on his chest that slowly recovered now. He liked the blood flowing down his lips with a grin and with an unfamiliar and deep voice he commented.
“Although deep, still not enough to kill a mortal Semi-God, kid!” → Ashura
Then a strong shockwave made the smoke to dissipate in a violent pale of wind from the other side of the arena, right where Khalid has crashed. A good part of his mask broke, showing one of his eye and ear, both bleeding at the moment, while around his right arm the gauntlet was no longer present. His sword was also destroyed as the armor itself acquired quite a few cracks here and there. Khalid looked upwards at Ashura who used his own aura to levitate in the air and felt like sighing once again.
[Right… You’re not a normal Semi-God. Perhaps that last strike might have at least heavily injured a Semi-God to be able to call a tie.] → Khalid
“Do I hear an I give up from you?!” → Ashura
[Hell no. Bring it, you regenerating lizard.] → Khalid
Another magic-circle shone and another gauntlet appeared, Khalid instantly equipping it. Then, from below his shoulder blades, three other magic-circles shone as three containers filled with tubes appeared, holding inside them each one core of different color: one red, one blue, and one green. Ashura saw the three orbs behind Khalid and smiled amused.
“Are those the cores from where you’re taking your power? Why would you take them out now?” → Ashura
[… Well, I never truly expected for this prototype to keep holding after that one strike, so I might as well go until the end with it.] → Khalid
Afterward, a carcass opened on the armor’s chest, showing three empty sockets. Khalid hastily broke the containers and took out the three orbs, inserting them inside the chest then closing the flap. The three different auras swirled around Khalid as three shadows of bestial monsters appeared behind him: one of a blue Lightning Demonic Leopard, one of a green Mountain Turtle, and one of a red Burning Horned Bear. The armor shone in all three colors but the cracks only deepened as the power output was still too much for a broken armor. Khalid started to levitate as well from the monstrous power and then his two mini-guns appeared once again.
“Those things won’t work on me a second time-“ → Ashura
Just before he could finish his words, a bullet struck his shoulder and remained stuck in his hardened skin, blood flowing down his wound.
“These bullets… are different!” → Ashura
He quickly took it out and threw it away, only to have it explode the next moment. Sweat fell down his forehead as a nervous smile appeared on his face. He then looked again at Khalid and saw him pointing his mini-gun at him, smoke flowing from one of the barrels that just shot out the respective bullet.
[My time is limited. Now no more talking.] → Khalid
Then around his legs, lightning circulated faster and stronger than any other element, and Khalid shot out like a bullet forward through the cloud of dust.
“Alright then. Let’s play!” → Ashura
Ashura also shot out and hid inside the cloud. The dust then instantly dissipated as the two struck fists then separated. Khalid shot out his bullets while sliding on the earth bypassing the speed of sound, while Ashura also shot out in a hurry and tried to chase Khalid while dodging the explosive bullets. Clouds of dust rose whenever they passed while the ground became more and more filled with holes and cracks.
“[Rising Sun]!” → Ashura
Ashura then got closer and kicked Khalid in the air. He shot up toward him but Khalid immediately kicked towards him, releasing form the magic-circles more little bombs that exploded right in front of Ashura. Taking the opportunity of letting Ashura with no vision, Khalid hastily pointed his two mini-guns downwards at the little cloud of dust and shot out more than a few hundred bullets in an instant, using the recoil to stand in the air for a prolonged period of time. However, just as he thought that Ashura either got hit, either dodged somewhere into a different direction, a humongous wave of energy struck him from below, destroying his two mini-guns and making for the rest of the bullets to explode right beside him.
[Damn it!] → Khalid
The strong shockwave was felt in full by Khalid as his armor was already cracked and left for some impact to penetrate through. He spat out some blood then he looked downwards in surprise, seeing Ashura quickly reaching him in the air with his palm ready to strike. His red eyes spelled death for Khalid as he understood that once struck by his palm, not one of his organs would be able to handle the pressure. With a frown Khalid then threw the broken mini-guns and got in his hands one of the anti-tank snipers, locking onto Ashura and prepared for the impact.
“This is the end, brat! [Yang Palm]!” → Ashura
“I made sure to tell you that you are the brat. Now wake up!” → Khalid
Because his armor was already on the breaking point, not even his voice-amplifier from inside his mask was working now. He then pointed the sniper to his head and shot when Ashura struck out his chi-palm from a distance.
Completely engulfed by the chi-palm, Khalid’s armor cracked and exploded as the energies went out of control and detonated themselves. Even Ashura had a hard time as a bullet penetrated through his brain at the last moment while the shockwave from the explosion sent him like an asteroid toward the ground. Losing consciousness for a second then waking up the next moment, a dumbfounded expression was etched on his face as he looked toward the dusty sky, unable to understand what just happened.
“What have I… huh?” → Ashura
He then looked up at the smoke created by the strong explosion, his face paling the next moment.
D-did I just kill an ally…? What? → Ashura
Despair washed over him for a moment then Ryu’s voice resounded from behind.
“Mister Ashura. We’d like to talk. Meanwhile, Bonny. I’ll ask of you to take Sir Khalid to the temple for urgent treatment and recuperation.” → Ryu
“Eh?” → Ashura
Ashura stared in confusion at Ryu then back at the cloud of mist which now dissipated, leaving behind a passed out Khalid, filled with wounds but still breathing, completely enveloped in a golden light.
A barrier? Ah, thank heavens… → Ashura
Ashura breathed out relieved but then he felt a chill down his spine as he searched around for Tara with his gaze, only to see her by Bonny’s side as both of them flew towards Khalid.
“Yes, understood.” → Bonny
Bonny nodded her head and transported Khalid in a bubble of healing light while Tara followed right after without even glancing at Ashura. Ashura, on the other hand, felt like a block of ice was pressing on his chest as he wanted to call out her name.
“T-Tara… I-I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to-“ → Ashura
“Brother…” → Tara
Then Tara interrupted him without turning around. Ashura froze in place as he waited for the words of blame, only to hear something else entirely.
“Brother, are you injured?” → Tara
“Eh…? N-no. I mean, I was. But everything is fine now. I got healed completely!” → Ashura
“I see… I’m glad… I’m sorry, brother…” → Tara
As she levitated together with Bonny toward the temple, her fists whitened from being so clenched as her shoulders trembled.
“Tara…” → Ashura
Ashura observed the minute details and felt his chest burst from the sorrow of making his own sister feel such pain.
I bet she hates me now… → Ashura
“Mister Ashura.” → Ryu
“Yes… I’m coming.” → Ashura
Ryu called out for him once again and Ashura followed right after, his head lowered as guilt washed over him.
They both entered the middle tower inside Ryu’s office and on the table, a memory crystal was now placed. The holographic screen was on as Sylvia and I appeared together.
“Shen? Sylvia?” → Ashura
Ashura looked somewhat confused at both of us while I looked back with a conflicted gaze.
[Ashura. Just what kind of demon contacted you? To lose control like that… Was it a devil?] → Shen
“What? Enter into contact…?” → Ashura
Ashura looked somewhat confused then Ryu explained to him into more details.
“Ashura. Your ring is not that simple.” → Ryu
“My ring?” → Ashura
[Yeah… I didn’t think of it that much after I gave it to you. My bad here.] → Shen
I scratched my head in embarrassment while Ryu sighed tired, having Ashura look confused at both of us, then at his own ring. We both then explained about the ring and told him its properties that only players are able to see:
[The Ring of the Demon God Lucian.]
(After a devastating confrontation against the God of Justice which engulfed the fourth continent of Sario, the mighty Blacksmith dwarf Aaron was able to acquire the Demon God’s strings of hair which seemed to be harder than any metal found on Sario. With the help of the Great Dragon of Order, Ignatius, Aaron was able to melt and purify the metallic hairs and mold them into a ring.)
— Skill: Berserk Mode (Gain double the stats for a short period of time. Cooldown 1 hour.)
— The sensibility over the demonic world will grow. There will be chances of entering in contact with a demon when the skill Berserk Mode is used.]
After hearing the explanation, Ashura remained baffled for a moment. He looked at the ring and immediately took it off.
“I-I think I should put this away from now…” → Ashura
“I agree. At first, I thought this ring is only a Legendary-class item… It turns out to be a Godly item. And such things are the hardest to control.” → Ryu
Just as Ryu wanted to take the ring and put it away, I interjected with an interesting glint in my eyes.
[But why should he take it off? Can’t he just master it?] → Ashura
Ryu asked as if he expected this while Ashura was completely baffled.
“Shen, if I’ll end up with another individual that has problems with his own devils-“ → Ryu
[No, no. Listen for a moment.] → Shen
I waved my hand amused at their reactions then asked Ashura more questions:
[I observed that you turned red almost entirely at one point. I can tell that it was from a ridiculously high blood-rush, but just what happened at that point for you to experience it like that? Did you feel something abnormal? Or did you hear something?] → Shen
“Eh? Er… Now that I think about it… I started to feel the ring burning while my powers suddenly grew… And at the same time, a weird voice resounded in my head, telling me something like: I’ll show you how it’s done. Not even friends shall be spared if they stay in a Shura’s way.” → Ashura
Ashura’s face paled as he finally started to remember more and more clearly of the events that happened.
[What were your thoughts before the ring started to burn?] → Sylvia
Sylvia asked as a glint of understanding appeared in her eyes.
“Uhm… I… felt incredibly embarrassed for being pushed to a corner by an Adept power-rank…” → Ashura
He scratched his head as he finally understood what happened, embarrassed for falling into such a trap. After hearing his answer Sylvia nodded while I sighed in understanding, finally aware of how things happened.
[The ring will put you in contact with demonic essences, Ashura. Once you lose yourself to your own emotions, the connection will amplify and no matter of their power, any kind of demon would be able to twist your judgment to their own licking.] → Sylvia
“U-understood…” → Ashura
Ashura’s face paled as he felt more frightened by whatever would have happened if not for Bonny’s intervention. However, Shen’s next words made his face pale even more while even Ryu felt like things were going too far.
[And that’s why mister Ashura. You must take the ring once again and control it. Not many have the chance to acquire a Godly item. And even less actually have the strength to control it.] → Shen
“Come on, Shen. Don’t forget he’s only 16 years-“ → Ryu
[And also an individual with ridiculous powers. The fact that he’s young has been thrown out of the window the moment he was kidnaped by those psychopaths inside the laboratories.] → Shen
“B-but I just lost myself because of it-!” → Ashura
[And that’s exactly why you need to master it.] → Shen
I interrupted him as I left no room for either Ryu or Ashura to reject the offer. My eyes serious while I stared at him sharply.
[You need to understand that what you’re lacking is self-control. You might be only 16 years old now, but you have been gifted… or better said, cursed, with ridiculous power in this life. And let me tell you this right now, Ashura. You have two options: Either you stop fighting completely and focus on your mental training, start meditating and concentrate on your own outbursts of emotions. Or you restart training on martial arts to understand your own powers and discipline your own heart. By how you fought today I can tell you neglected your training. Now get back to work. The less you’ll lose yourself to some little demons… Like I did.] → Shen
“Y-yes, sir…” → Ashura
Ashura lowered his head as he felt my tone much more severe than normal. Seeing him this submissive I sighed out then got up to leave, uttering the last words with a self-mocking smile, aware that I didn’t really have any right to speak such. Even so, the last thing I wanted was for the Antara’s people to experience the same as me.