Chapter 523: Control

The fact that Bete had tried to actually attack him after Vahn had gone out of his way to show the difference between them caused him to lose his cool. He didn’t consider himself a bully, but if Bete was going out of his way to continue acting abrasively, even to the point they would come to actual blows, Vahn wasn’t going to keep backpedaling for him. Other than perhaps his Agility, Vahn outclassed Bete by a fair amount is almost every other category. It was simply ‘foolish’ to actually try and start a brawl like this, and it was time for Bete to learn the only way his brain seemed capable of retaining information, the hard way.

After grabbing Bete’s ankle, Vahn used his own spinning momentum against him by pivoting on his feet and spinning Bete in a circle. He yanked Bete’s leg almost like he was trying to remove dust from a cloth before immediately jerking him back in the opposite direction and slamming him into the cobblestone road. When Bete tried to kick off of the ground and recover, a golden light shone from Vahn’s hand as a link of [Enkidu] coiled around Bete’s leg like a snake. Vahn jumped back to avoid the approaching kick before once again jerking Bete off the ground and slamming him into the hard cobblestone using the chain to control his movements.

Being tossed around like a ragdoll made Bete feel like his anger was going to explode yet, no matter how much he tried to remove the chain around his ankle, he was unable to move it at all. He couldn’t even put in strength into his leg so he was already down a limb as Vahn used [Shundo] to reposition and jerk him around by his leg over and over. Bete felt like his hip joint was going to give out and, if not for his flexibility and instincts helping him react the motions, his leg might have even been dislocated at this point.

Vahn had extended the link of [Enkidu] by 30m at this point but could still muster up enough strength to yank Bete around freely since the loss of one of his legs had been a great handicap. However, he could still see the fighting spirit in Bete’s eyes and it scorn contained in his expression which made his anger continue to rise. Vahn whipped the chain up and down like a wave to destabilize Bete’s footing before creating another link of [Enkidu] anchored in the sky more than 100m above the streets. Once it was created, he whipped the chain once again to increase its length even further until he had nearly 120m of chain to work with before jumping up to the anchor and falling to the opposite side, using his weight to pull Bete off the ground and string him up in the air.

Bete screamed, “You m***********! Let me down from here you little s***!” before trying to strike against the chain to get enough leverage to get over the anchor in the sky. Unfortunately, not only did his attack have no effect on the chain, but it was almost like it absorbed the impact of his strike completely making him unable to push himself over. He tried to bend at his waist to yank on the chain, but the moment his hands grabbed onto it he lost his strength and slipped away, forced to dangle upside down by the hateful boy below. As for Vahn, he had been watching Bete’s attempts in silence while ignoring the peanut gallery cheering from the side. He was simultaneously sweeping around the area and looking for any signs of the earth mage, as this would be a good opportunity for an ambush.

After Bete failed to free himself for the tenth time, Vahn said in a ‘calm’ voice that was somewhat cold to the onlookers, “I have no animosity toward you, Bete, except for the ones you have created. This will be the last time I show you leniency, so think about the matter seriously. The next time you say something disrespectful to me or my friends, I won’t let it slide. We’re allies, so it’s about time you start treating us with the respect we deserve. You’re not doing anyone any favors by acting so abrasively all the time!” In response to Vahn’s words, Bete scowled before raising his middle finger and saying, “F*** you, Vahn! Without this stupid chain, I would have kicked your ass!”

Vahn released a sigh that dispersed a large cloud of condensation as his body transitioned into his Xuánwǔ form. Though it might have been a bit ‘cheaty’, Vahn also ingested a small blue gem that could help replenish his source energy before dispersing [Enkidu]. Bete fell from the sky and quickly righted himself before landing on the ground, still pissed off but seemingly unwilling to continue the fight. Vahn, however, just said that he wouldn’t let Bete continue to disrespect him so things were far from settled. If Bete thought [Enkidu] was the reason for his victory, he didn’t mind ‘correcting’ the misunderstanding. As he took a step forward, Vahn said, “We’ll see how many different excuses you give before you finally concede…”

Bete’s eyes opened wide and he prepared to defend himself against Vahn’s impending strike. He was very annoyed, while simultaneously envious, of the ridiculous speed Vahn could use with [Shundo] since he couldn’t track him with his eyes at all. It wasn’t until Vahn reappeared that he was able to sense the movement and by then it was already a huge disadvantage to overcome. This time, however, he had another previously unknown factor to contend with as he tried to block the punch to his shoulder. Just as he turned to intercept the attack with his guard, a ‘wave’ of water slammed into his face and caused him to choke after accidentally inhaling a bit of it.

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Though he felt a little bad for the ‘accident’, Vahn wasn’t going to stop until Bete backed down and admitted defeat. He had started to pull water elemental energy from the atmosphere and there were currently several small orbs orbiting around him as he struck forward with a barrage of strikes. Bete was still fast enough to react to most of his hits, but there was nothing he could do to prevent water from soaking into him at it condensed directly on his body from the atmosphere. Even jumping to create distance wasn’t good enough because Vahn could track him through his domain easily. It wasn’t like in the past, where faster opponents like Tsubaki could overwhelm his senses a bit, Vahn could clearly read Bete’s movements and didn’t show him any leniency.

Bete shook his head to disperse some water that had been building up, but a layer continued to stick to his skin and even started to pool. If he couldn’t escape Vahn’s domain, he would eventually be completely covered in water and potentially even drown if he stood in one area too long. Other than fire, Bete had never seen Vahn make use of other elements like this and he hadn’t mentally prepared himself at all. Though he could disperse the water with his movements, it quickly just came back to him, almost like his body had been magnetized. As Vahn was using his aura as the ‘center’ for condensing his water, Bete really had become something of a magnet that was solely focused on consolidating water elemental energy from the air. It was similar to how he could infuse fire elemental energy into his enemies, except now he was doing the same thing with water.

Though the fight had only been going on for around five minutes, as Vahn wasn’t actually trying to kill him, Bete had already started to struggle because the largest volume of water concentrated around his face. It was hard to take in breaths unless he destroyed the persistent liquid and it was obscuring his vision greatly while simultaneously making it harder to move. He wasn’t affected too much, but it was also still chilly outside so his damp skin had started to make his fingers go numb. So focused on defense and ‘escaping’ the water, Bete was entirely unaware that it wasn’t just water elements that Vahn was using now. Since Bete was already soaked through, Vahn was slowly beginning to freeze him at the same time…

The crowd had been watching the fight with a great deal of excitement, including the guards and patrols that had shown up. As they were all part of the Alliance, they could easily recognize Vahn and the person he was fighting against. They didn’t know the whole story, but they were currently in the territory of the Alliance and there was nothing preventing Vahn from fighting within it at all. This was a good opportunity for them to watch a battle between two high-level Adventurers, though it was somewhat hard to tell that was the case with how one-sided things had been. It had to be known that the Level 5 Bete was a First-Class Adventurer while Vahn was only a Second-Class Adventurer at Level 4. However, their fight seemed to state otherwise as every time Bete struck Vahn he didn’t show any signs of taking damage while the rest of the fight had him running away.

Bete was in a bit of a panic as he spun away and twisted his body to disperse the cloud of water and broke through the encirclement of orbs, shouting, “This water is b*******! Don’t you have any abilities that aren’t cheap and unfair!?” Vahn moved his right hand in a snaking motion as he slid his foot forward and caused a ‘shift’ in the water that had pooled at the ground. It normally wouldn’t have any effect at all, but Vahn froze the flow at the same time just as Bete’s feet had landed on the ground. He slipped onto his butt before trying to right his footing only to slide against the ice before trying to smash it with his fist.

Vahn made a claw shape with his left hand before sweeping his leg around and twisting his wrist in an upward angle to create a sphere of water completely surrounding Bete’s body. He had stopped his movement to try and shatter the ice only to find that he was submerged in a ball of water more than 9m in diameter. Just as he had done for the sturgeon in the river, Vahn turned the sphere of water into a vortex that spun around Bete as he tried to swim and break free. Though he normally would have been able to reach the edge quickly, Vahn moved the orb with his movements so Bete was swimming in an orb above the streets as he futilely tried to escape. Being in the water, he couldn’t get enough momentum to strike against the ground to break free because the vortex wouldn’t allow him to get his footing for even a short moment.

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Bete tried to use his [Hati] to absorb the magic power from the sphere, but he found that he couldn’t do anything against it at all. Elemental energy under the influence of source energy wasn’t something his weak magic could influence at all, not mentioning the fact that [Hati] was a fire elemental magic while Vahn’s water elemental control was a natural counter. Though he was able to persist for a while, Bete eventually started to suffocate after nearly fourteen minutes of struggling. He could have easily held his breath for an hour in a normal situation, but being spun around like a minnow caught in a looping current was very taxing and his stamina drained very quickly since the water was actually well below freezing. The only thing that kept it from turning into ice was the fast moving vortex, but this offered no ‘mercy’ to the entrapped Werewolf who could do nothing but slowly freeze as his air ran out.

Vahn could see the state of Bete’s body very well with his [Eyes of Truth] so he knew what Bete’s limits were. When his movements began to slow down, Bete finally released the breath he had been containing for so long as Vahn slammed his hand downward and collapsed the massive sphere of water. It spread through the street and even reached the crowd on the periphery before it began to turn into a thin layer of ice from the energy contained within. Bete was laying in the center covered in a light layer of frost as his body shook and he gasped for air. Vahn stepped forward with [Shundo] and appeared right in front of him, looking down from above with a ‘tired’ expression.

Bete looked up into Vahn’s face and, even though there was no real sign of contempt or mockery, he couldn’t help but feel that the young boy was looking down on him. However, Vahn didn’t seem to care about the thoughts plaguing his heart as he reached his hand down and said, “I’m tired of fighting against someone that is supposed to be my ally…” As he spoke, Vahn dispersed the cold energy as he used his [Heart of the Eternal Flame] to spread warmth through the street. From the perspective of the observers, Vahn was extending a hand to Bete to set aside their differences but Bete felt nothing but frustration as he swatted away the offered hand and rose to his feet, body still shivering from the cold. He didn’t say anything, realizing that his words had a ‘price’ now, and just walked away toward the Twilight Manor with his tail drooping pathetically.

Vahn shook his head and released a sigh before saying, “I really wish we could be friends…we both have people we care about. We both want to get stronger to protect our loved ones…I don’t understand why we can’t see eye-to-eye…” Bete paused for a brief moment but didn’t say anything in response to Vahn’s words as he continued along his lonely path. He was very aware of the warmth that continued to persist around him, drying up the water and thawing his cold body, but he didn’t thank Vahn for his concerns. However, there was a small amount of respect that had taken root inside his heart that had almost caused Bete to answer Vahn’s question directly.

The truth of the matter is, Bete didn’t actually have anything against Vahn either, other than a moderate amount of envy. The reason why he couldn’t easily open up to other people is that he hated his own weakness, the failures he had suffered in the past in pursuit of vengeance. If he could have been as strong as Vahn, Bete believed he could have lived a much happier life. His village wouldn’t have been wiped out, he wouldn’t have lost his lover and his companions, and he would have been able to protect all the things he cared about. Unfortunately, his strength was hard-gotten and only after he experienced suffering. Thus, Bete carried with him a powerful resentment, not for other, but for himself and his own failure. The stronger he became, the greater his disdain for himself and the more he lashed out at others, seeing their own weakness as a reflection of his past self…he just wanted to be happy, but that was a path that had been lost to him long ago…

After rounding a corner, Bete put his hands into his pockets before coming to a stop when he saw a small bundle of items on the ground in front of him. Contained within a satchel, there were several vials of ink, a large book, and a scroll rolled up in a protected case. Bete stared at the satchel for nearly an entire minute before clicking his tongue and walking past it. However, he only took a few steps before looking back at the satchel and releasing a frustrated sigh. As a First-Class Adventurer, he knew very well how expensive the items in the satchel were and leaving them outside was ‘dumb’. Even if he never intended to use them, keeping them wouldn’t do him any harm…

Vahn sensed that Bete had picked up the satchel and it brought a small smile to his face as he turned away and headed toward the Clubhouse once again. He had seen Bete’s aura waver greatly toward the end and also saw the deep melancholy contained within his eyes. Surprisingly, according to the system, Bete’s affection for him was actually 73, even though the bracket parameter was (Envy). Since 50 was the basis, this showed that Bete wasn’t actually that hostile toward him, but merely putting on a strong front because of his trauma. Vahn would still take a stand if Bete tried to cause problems for him, but he couldn’t bring himself to hate someone just because they had suffered in the past. It might not be any time soon, but Vahn believed Bete would eventually open up to other people, perhaps after he sealed the deal and got married to Lena. When he came into conflict with the Amazon country in the future, Vahn figured he would be able to make amends with Bete since it would be something that concerned both his and Lena’s future happiness…

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