Chapter 759: Disappointment

After the anti-climactic fight between Vahn and the Rose Quintet came to an almost immediate conclusion, another one of the waiting contenders jumped down. It was a man with auburn-red hair, done up in a loose ponytail with long bangs framing a relatively handsome face. He seemed to be in his early twenties, wielding a large three-pronged spear with ornamental armor suited for a warrior from the Far East. Unlike the various groups awaiting their chance, he had jumped in alone and, after taking a low stand with his spear held at the ready, smiled as he said, “Yang Feilong greets the Sage Aldrnari, Vahn Mason. Please, give me your guidance…”

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With a curt nod, Vahn surprised the crowd by producing a spear of his own, significantly less flashy than the three-pronged spear of Yang Feilong, but strangely more awe-inspiring. This was his [Longinus] and, though it looked relatively simple in structure, it would likely sell on the market for several billion Valis just based on the materials used in its construction alone. Vahn brought it to his shoulder, as he didn’t really have a stance for fighting with a spear, and just squatted down slightly. Seeing this, Yang Feilong raised his brows slightly before saying, “Here I come…” before dashing forward with a fierce momentum.

The moment Yang Feilong began to move, Vahn knew he was someone that relied on speed and technique over raw power. Though he was only around the strength of a weaker Level 5, his speed would put him on part with some Level 6’s and, based on how well he kept his center of balance while wielding a 340cm long spear, Vahn knew he was a capable fighter. Thus, as Yang Feilong used a strange sweeping footwork and thrust forward, Vahn didn’t underestimate him and traced the trajectory of the strike before intercepting it with his [Longinus]. When he saw the pronged blade of the spear ‘bend’ in a strange manner, Vahn was a little surprised but managed to side-step the attack that moved beneath the angle of his own strike.

Now at Vahn’s flank, Yang Feilong flicked his wrist, causing the spear in his hands to retract until his right hand was near the spearhead. Using his left hand, he grabbed the shaft of the spear, keeping the angle concealed by his body as he snaked forward and thrust the spear in a tricky angle where only the three-pronged point could be seen. Vahn lifted his right foot without even thinking about his attack, diverting the thrust upwards as it cut through his shoulder instead of his torso. He was surprised by his own reaction, though not nearly as much as Yang Feilong, who then twisted his wrist to make the tri-pronged blade turn sideways as he pulled it back. The blades on the end were double-sided and he was attempting to get a second blow in while creating distance between them.

Vahn, holding his own spear with both hands, lowered his body while simultaneously raised the bar of the spear up. The two poles collided against each other, sending Yang Feilong’s upward, causing the latter to press down on the top of his weapon and try to correct the angle. Unfortunately, the difference in their Power made this a mistake, as Vahn’s raised [Longinus] was simply immovable with both of his feet firmly planted on the ground. At the moment when Yang Feilong was going to cease his attempt and back away, Vahn spun his [Longinus] in a clockwise motion and reversed the position of their spears before ‘locking’ Yang Feilong’s in place.

Instead of giving up on his weapon, Yang Feilong used the leverage of Vahn’s strength to kick forward, pointing his toe as he aimed for Vahn’s trachea. Though he lacked weapons-based skills, Vahn’s close-quarters combat proficiency and experience we very high. The moment Yang Feilong’s kick aimed towards his throat, he had already ducked under the blow and found himself underneath Yang Feilong’s leg, with his body wide open. Because he had used the positions of their spears as leverage, Yang Feilong had completely exposed himself so, without any hesitation, Vahn slid his spear across the former’s and slammed the quickly swiped his blade in a shallow arc, severing the flesh of Yang Feilong’s thigh.

The tanned trousers worn by Yang Feilong began to show a dark red stain that quickly spread down the length of his leg as he leaped back. In one quick motion, Yang Feilong reached into a pouch at his back, producing a red potion, uncorking it, and spreading it across his wound. By the time he landed, still using one foot to support himself, the wound had already started to close. It was unfortunate, however, that Vahn had been in close pursuit when he had tried to create some distance between them. Currently limited in his movements, Yang Feilong parried Vahn’s relatively amateurish strikes but was quickly falling into a disadvantage as his hands become numb from resisting the powerful blows.

As Vahn twisted his body, swinging his spear in a downward motion against Yang Feilong’s, the latter winced in pain as the wound on his leg opened back up. Drawing in a sharp breath, he said, “It seems I’ll have to forfeit this match…it was an honor fighting against you, Vahn Mason…” Vahn gave a small nod, brandishing his spear one last time before throwing it into his Inventory. Yang Feilong rose to his feet, producing a second potion before a gentle white light enveloped his body. In response to the man’s confusion, Vahn explained, “You fought well. Your skills with a spear are vastly superior to my own. If not for the difference in our parameters, you would have been able to last much longer…

Yang Feilong remained silence for a few seconds before releasing a light-hearted laugh and saying, “But I still wouldn’t have been able to win…would I…?” As he spoke, Yang Feilong looked at where he had wounded Vahn previously, seeing nothing but healthy and unblemished skin where the blade of his spear had previously left an unsightly gash. There weren’t even any bloodstains on Vahn’s clothing and, considering how easily he had just healed his own wound, Yang Feilong knew that Vahn’s capabilities as a healer far exceeded his potential as a spearman. Yang Feilong suspected that, unless someone could land a heavy blow against Vahn, they wouldn’t be able to defeat him. After all, it was obvious that Vahn had a large number of weapons and items safely stowed away with his ‘storage magic’…it was one of the things he was famous for on Expeditions.

To answer Yang Feilong’s question, Vahn just smiled with a knowing expression on his face before saying, “You don’t seem to be from the city, based on your appearance. If a spearman of your skill had-” Mid-sentence, Vahn felt a high-speed object making its way towards him, putting a stop to his words as he spun around, grabbing the blade of his attacker with his scaled hand. The attacker was a young Pallum, though it was hard to really determine his age. Though the Pallum was surprised that Vahn had grabbed his blade with his bare hands, it didn’t stop him from immediately tossing a small brown bag towards Vahn’s face.

Using his free hand, Vahn reached up with his other scaled hand, grabbing the bag and, as it tried to release an explosion, completely absorbed the majority of the energy into the scaled covering his arms. This time, the shock on the Pallum’s face turned into sheer disbelief as he gave up on his sword and pulled out a small crossbow, firing a red-colored bolt towards Vahn’s chest this time. All Vahn did to stop the penetrative bolt was turn his forearm slightly, blocking it directly with his black scales, now suffused with glowing green runes. Still, this hadn’t been enough to deter the Pallum who, seeing yet another one of his attacks fail, threw two handfuls of explosive balls to cover his retreat.

Before the balls could explode, Vahn used the stored energy within his scales to send a shockwave forward, diverting the explosive projectiles upwards before erecting a small hemispherical barrier to protect against possible shrapnel. As expected, small purple barbs shot out of the explosive balls, impacting harmlessly against the barrier. Vahn turned his attention away from the poisoned barbs, watching the Pallum run towards the exit, reaching it in less than a second. Though it wouldn’t be that difficult to deal with him, the rules prevented him from doing so right now. Thus, having missed his opportunity, Vahn threw the Pallum’s shortsword into his Inventory before turning to Yang Feilong and saying, “Now isn’t really the best time to talk. I’m sure I’ll see you in the future, Yang Feilong.”

Seeing how easily Vahn dealt with the sudden sneak attack, Yang Feilong couldn’t help but nod in approval of Vahn’s capabilities, remarking, “I hope you are able to make it to the end of this challenge. I’ll see you around, Vahn Mason…” Then, brandishing his spear and hoisting it to his shoulder, similar to how Vahn had done, Yang Feilong made his way towards the nearest exit. Vahn watched him go before returning to his spot at the center of the arena. This time, instead of pulling out his [Laevateinn], Vahn did a full transformation into his Xuánwǔ form and stood stable, like a mountain.

This time, it took a little more than eight minutes for the next group to enter the arena, comprised of seven members, each around the peak of Level 3 while two of them were on the lower end of Level 4. The moment they jumped down, the entire group began to shoot towards him with crossbows while spreading out to avoid getting taken out together. At the projectiles approached him, Vahn stayed calm and just lightly exhaled, causing a watery blue spherical barrier to form around his body. Covering its surface, there was a similar pattern as the tattoo covering his body, creating the visage of a turtle and snake. When the bolts struck against the barrier, it was as if they had their momentum completely, causing small ripples on the barrier before falling to the ground.

After the initial volley, the seven attackers stopped firing and appeared as though they were waiting for the barrier to wear down. Most barriers took a lot of mana to power so it wasn’t a bad idea to just wait for Vahn to exhaust his mana, assuming he was like most mages. Unfortunately for them, this barrier was something he was capable of producing as a result of his Xuánwǔ form. Though it did take some source energy to form, it didn’t drain his reserves nearly as quickly as he replenished them. Unless they used large-scale attacks, he would be able to stay within the barrier indefinitely which, for his enemies, would become a very big problem. After all, though they weren’t aware of it, this particular barrier got progressively stronger as time passed, not weaker…

For ten minutes, the group waited for the barrier to diminish but, seeing that Vahn just stood complacently on the inside, they began to suspect there was more to the situation than they had originally inferred. Since it wasn’t impossible to have equipment, or magic items, that could create barriers, they assumed that Vahn wasn’t using his own energy to create the barrier, but an item. Considering he could dish out 1BV for a simple competition, it wouldn’t be surprising if he had several such items within his ‘storage magic’…

Cursing Vahn’s wealth, the group began using their crossbows to pelt the shield while one of them, a man with peculiar white hair, began to chant a magic spell that made a grey magic circle appear under his feet. Vahn was a little surprised that they had a mage in their midst but, seeing the density and composition of the man’s mana, he wasn’t too worried. The man had an affinity with earth and water, neither of which had been developed very far. Thus, when his chant was completed, causing several stone projectiles to fly towards the barrier, Vahn just remained standing. When the earthen projectiles struck the barrier, they caused large ripples that made the barrier fluctuate slightly before, just like the bolts, the stones fell powerlessly to the ground. In fact, as a result of their size, the presence of the stones actually gave Vahn more cover, eliciting a few curses from the other six members.

Deciding to egg on, not just the seven attackers, but the other people waiting for their chance, Vahn sat down within the sphere and began to meditate. Though it wasn’t an immediate reaction, several other groups of people jumped down and began assaulting the barrier. As for the spectators, they began to get a little riled up, talking amongst themselves about how things were progressing. It wasn’t really interesting seeing Vahn just ‘sitting’ in the middle of the arena, but they couldn’t help speculate when the barrier would break. As the intensity of the attacks continued, their tensions slowly started to increase and several people even began berating those that were trying, and failing, to break through the barrier.

Ignoring the shouts of the crowd, Vahn continued to sit, eyes closed, simultaneously meditating while also sweeping his perception over the crowd. There were a couple of people he thought would make decent opponents but, thus far, they hadn’t made any moves. Though there weren’t any more anomalies, like the creepy user of Death energy, Vahn figured they would at least pose a challenge if they call came at him together. Hopefully, they would just let him sit here for the next six hours as, even though it wouldn’t be that long, Vahn had been looking forward to fighting. Even since he first started delving into the Dungeon, Vahn had developed a bit of a battle-junky mentality. Sitting still like this, as nobody was able to break through his barrier, he was beginning to get a little bored…

For nearly an hour, various attacks continued to pelt his barrier, almost like raindrops against the surface of a lake. Vahn was in a deep meditative state at this point, wondering if the passive strengthening of his barrier had been too much for normal people to overcome. He was starting to realize that his metric for determining strength had become skewed, especially after training with the girls for so long. It didn’t help that most of the powerful enemies he faced were exceedingly abnormal, unlike the people gathered around him right now. This was a result of many Adventurers simply increasing their Level when they met the initial requirements, instead of working hard to max out their Parameters. It was…more than a little disappointing…

Since it didn’t seem like they would be able to break it on their own, Vahn slowly rose to his feet, making eye contact with a rather large man who was beating against the barrier with a massive battleax. He was more than 200cm tall, had broad and muscular shoulders, and a sculpted body that seemed to have been carved from marble. However, he was only Level 4 and, though his Power was impressive, the only other Parameter he had likely developed was his Endurance. Vahn shook his head slightly, raising both of his hands as he said, “Reflection Pulse.”

There blue sphere around his body, which had seemed almost inviolable all this time, suddenly expanded at a speed faster than most of the contenders could react to. It was like an explosion and, as it carried the force of the attacks he had absorbed, this wasn’t an incorrect way to look at it. Fortunately for them, Vahn still contained the force within the sphere itself, instead of allowing it to explode outwards and tear them apart. This resulted in people getting ‘lightly’ squashed against the barrier surrounding the arena, leaving the center completely barren. Even the rocks that had surrounded him were repelled outwards, leaving the arena floor almost perfectly even in its wake.

After letting the sphere disperse, Vahn stated in a plain tone that resonated through the now silent Coliseum, “I made this challenge for several purposes…one was to offer people the opportunity to prove themselves and, by doing so, they could earn mine, and the Alliance’s favor. If they managed to defeat me, using rules that I left vague for their benefit, they would also walk away with a hefty prize…as for my second purpose, it was to push myself to the limits…to see how I measured up against the strongest people this glorious city of Orario had to offer…I had expected a challenge, something that could push me to the extremes…not this…”

Releasing a sigh, Vahn shook his head in disappointment and said, “If you want to enter the arena, feel free to do so. However, make sure you have the correct resolve…” This time, without erecting a barrier, Vahn sat back down in the center of the arena and began meditating. Though his action could be considered ‘very’ rude, it didn’t matter that much since the opinion of the masses was transient and ever-changing. If he wanted to, it wouldn’t even take that much effort to win people over again and, even though his children watching at home might think lesser of him for his current behavior, Vahn believed the girls would be able to make up a proper excuse to justify his actions.

This time, nobody entered the arena for nearly twenty minutes and the crowd began to grow restless as the spectators began taunting the contenders waiting at the periphery. Though they had been offended by Vahn’s words previously, seeing nobody challenge him after the fact started to make them ‘understand’ why he said them. He was clearly disappointed in how things had turned out and, seeing how most of the challengers lacked ‘backbone’, the crowd started to get disappointed as well. There were still hundreds of people lining the walls yet, as the time continued counting down, none of them had the ‘courage’ to step forward and face the calmly sitting boy at the center of the arena…

For several minutes after the momentum in the crowd had started to shift, the contenders on the wall just continued waiting for their moment. Though the jeers and jabs of the crowd were beginning to grate at them, especially those hotheaded and prideful individuals, they weren’t ‘foolish’ enough to be the first ones down. They didn’t get to their Level by being brash and, though it was starting to become ‘very’ annoying, they continued to be patient. That is, until an unexpected arrival appeared, walking out from one of the entrances where monsters would be escorted in to fight against tamers. When they saw this figure, not just the crowd, but they themselves began to cheer loudly while a few of them immediately jumped into the arena to ‘help’ defeat the arrogant boy sitting within the center…

Unfortunately for them, the moment they jumped into the arena was one they would regret for the rest of their lives. In an instant, a formless blade of energy had swept low across the ground, spreading through the entire arena in an instant. Those that had jumped down suddenly found themselves falling much further than they had expected, colliding with the ground face first as a searing pain shot up from the stumps where their legs had been. As for Vahn, he had immediately jumped to evade the attack as a resolute look replaced his previously calm and placid expression. Then, as his feet touched the ground, amidst the scream of the fallen Adventurers, Vahn smiled and said, “You know, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while…Ottar, The King…”

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Pulling back the onyx-black blade he had used to attack the ‘distractions’, Ottar gave a curt nod and said, “You are strong, Vahn…show me your limits…” Then, without any further discussion, Ottar swung his blade in a horizontal motion that sent another ‘blade’ of energy through the air, this time aimed directly for Vahn. Seeing this, Vahn felt the hair on his neck stand and knew that even his Xuánwǔ form wouldn’t be able to block this attack. Instead, he jumped forward, twisting his body to evade the blade of energy, as he pulled out his own sword and prepared to face against Ottar for the first time. The moment their blades collided, Vahn felt like he had just impacted an indestructible mountain and, as the recoil of energy made his own bones creak, Vahn felt his blood begin to boil in anticipation…

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