Chapter 26 – The Start Of The Duels
by lemuel moo
For the next few days, Reynard, Hideki, and Clere were training hard.
Hideki’s power level jumped from ‘D’ grade to ‘A’ grade in a mere three days. After every dose of a different serum, he would train with robots within MAPR to get the hang of his newfound power.
While Hideki was in the midst of training with the robots at MAPR’s training facility, Emma walked to him and passed him a katana. “Try fighting these robots with a sword now. We’re done analyzing your power, so take this opportunity to practice your swordsmanship instead.”
As soon as Hideki took the katana from Emma’s hands, ten doors opened in front of him, and ten robots walked out of those doors.
“These robots are configured to different difficulty levels, starting from ‘C’ ranked and all the way to ‘AAA’ ranked. They are used to train our SPAW operatives, and they are configured to mimic the fighting styles of imprisoned assassins. It will be helpful for you to prepare against them before fighting Dylan.”
Hideki was elated that such as training method was possible, and the first ‘C’ ranked robot walked forward to fight him. Instead of gloves, claws shot out from the robot’s arms and took a combat stance.
Hideki noticed a familiar presence from the robot and quickly asked Emma. “W-Wait a minute! This robot’s fighting style looks — “
Emma walked away while she replied. “Yes, we captured the assassin who attacked Clere and you at Yildirim Woods sometime back and then collected her battle data. If you defeat it, your next opponent will be ‘B’ ranked Zeel Zackloft. We aren’t able to compile a complete simulation of him, but this will be as good as it gets.”
Hideki was dumbfounded with the technologies involved to make such a phenomenon happen. He was excited to fight against an old foe who defeated him and unsheathed his katana with glee.
Reynard’s power level was also raised significantly because Gale gave him special power-boosting pills in addition to his training regime after school. Those power-boosting pills strengthen Reynard’s ‘ki’, causing his energy to balloon multiple folds. Reynard had no idea how much he had grown, but Gale was confident that Reynard would be able to put on a show for Dylan and Aelfsige Academy.
Next, Clere met with Gale daily at four in the morning to train. Gale didn’t understand Clere’s zeal, so he asked, “I’m happy that you’re taking your training seriously, but I don’t think Dylan challenged you for a duel. Why are you so pumped for training?”
Gale didn’t know what transpired during Clere’s family meeting, and Clere didn’t want Gale to see that she knew about Lucy.
“Nothing. Just making sure I’m doing my part in case some girl attacks you.”
Zeel was almost in perfect shape after receiving several wounds and a broken arm from the Babel Square Tournament, but Sunny didn’t allow him to train until he was fully healed. That didn’t stop the siblings from coming up with ways to improve their collective strength with their unique abilities since Sunny was able to manipulate magnetic fields using her [Steel Maiden Technique], while Zeel could cloak his body with electricity at will.
In the evenings, Zeel and Sunny would discuss how they could complement each other in a fight.
“How should I name my technique, Sunny? Should I call it ‘Mega Electric Shock’ for when I throw my electrified chains at my opponents?”
Sunny frowned at the disgusting name which Zeel came up with. “…Why are you fretting over names in your techniques?”
“You and Gale have awesome names to your techniques! ‘Sudden Stone Strike’, and ‘Steel Maiden Technique’; I want my own too!
Also, should we call ourselves, ‘Electrical Magnetic Siblings’?”
Sunny had goosebumps on her skin and walked away promptly. “…That’s just repulsive. I don’t want to be associated with your names! Besides, I’m sure you know my powers aren’t all about being magnetic.”
Lastly, Jacinta was loafing around and doing random things. She accompanied Reynard during his training in the afternoons, but she would call Hideki at night to find out about him. At times, Jacinta would meet Hideki for dinner in the city after his training at the MAPR training facility.
However, Hideki was privy about his training and growth. He wanted to surprise everyone at the duel, so Jacinta didn’t find out anything. Jacinta would often think to herself and wonder, “What should I do next?”
The day arrived where Aelfsige Academy was buzzing with excitement. News of Dylan’s challenge to various people have circulated throughout the entire school, and the school made a special arrangement to hold Dylan’s trial at the school’s battle arena.
The battle arena was a place where combat competitions were held. The fighting floor was one mile by one mile, with overhead cameras pointing at the battleground at all angles. At the sides of the arena, an energy barrier would be erected to prevent the spectators from getting caught by a ricochet.
Besides, multiple monitors are deployed across the seating area so that the viewers would have a good view of the action on the floor.
Kasumi was tasked to serve the participants who were about to fight with Dylan. Principal Stella wanted Kasumi to root for her brother, so she could stand next to the fighting floor to cheer for him.
Victor Spectre saw Kasumi attending to the participants and walked up to her. “Feeling nervous, Kasumi? Your brother is going to duel Dylan!”
“Yep! Are you ready for the match as a referee, Victor?”
“Of course! I’ll make sure all our students are going to engage in a healthy level of competition, so no substantial harm is going to happen to your brother!”
“I’ll take your word for that!”
Hideki and Reynard weren’t the only ones invited to the duel. Shun, a year two student from the Student Council, and Vesper the Trickster, a year three student from the Occult Research Group were also invited. All four of them were in the waiting room, and Vesper initiated a conversation with Shun.
“I can’t believe a new student like Dylan dared to challenge the seniors for a duel. We should take this chance to teach him a lesson.”
Shun was a quiet man with a white forehead band and held his sword on his shoulder. He had long hair, and he dressed in a light blue ninja suit for the duel.
“Be careful that you don’t underestimate them. Our student council president did a background check on Dylan, and found out that he has some serious backing in the underworld.”
Vesper had a mask in his hand with a red cape. He was an enigmatic person, full of surprises and very colorful in his presentation.
He shrugged at Shun’s remark, and then wistfully replied.
“How I wish this were the actual school competition! We would’ve been rivals again, and it would be an exciting match.
Just crushing year one students aren’t going to be satisfying.”
Hideki raised his head and saw Vesper looking at him. His pride was provoked, but he remained focused on Dylan.
Reynard then asked a question to the group. “Do you know how this duel is going to happen?”
Vesper replied. “Dylan didn’t want a round-robin tournament. He says it would take too long and several days to complete the challenge. He just wants to fight against the best students in Aelfsige Academy and approached the student council and the occult research group for representatives, since both groups represented Aelfsige Academy in the inter-school tournament last year.
My president had us draw lots, and I was the loser, while Shun was free among the rest of the student council.”
Vesper stopped short when Kasumi walked up to the participants to give them instructions.
“We’re going to the battleground now. Dylan left it to you guys to figure out who should go first.”
Vesper immediately raised his hand.
“I’ll end this for all of us. Do you mind that, Shun?”
Shun shook his head and opted to go second. Hideki saw how Reynard was afraid and shivering, so he took the third spot.
Kasumi noted all of these down and then said. “Alright, so that will be the order which you’re going to fight in. The entire challenge will end if one of you defeat Dylan one-on-one. If Dylan defeats his opponent, the next contestant will fight him.
Initially, Dylan wanted all of you to go at him at once, but our principal disapproved it. So show him what you are all made of and put him in his place!”
Vesper scowled, Shun clicked his tongue and Hideki gripped his katana tightly at Dylan’s arrogance. Reynard didn’t say a word as he was too nervous.
Kasumi then took Hideki’s katana from his hand to check his blade.
“This is an unsharpened sword, correct?”
“Yes. We aren’t supposed to use anything sharp.”
“Good. Mr. Victor has checked the rest of you for illegal items. I won’t go through with it again.
Reynard, I heard that your sword is with Gale. Are you using a wooden sword? I saw Gale carrying one right now.”
Reynard stuttered. “…M-My sword attracts too much attention, so Gale’s going to give it to me right before my match.”
Kasumi scratched her head. Gale was permitted by Principal Stella to stand at the side of the battleground for Reynard’s sake, and Kasumi saw Gale holding a wooden sword. There weren’t any other swords that Gale brought along with him.
“Okay, let’s head out to the battleground now.”
The five of them arrived before the spectators, and the audience cheered wildly! Both the middle and high school students were invited to witness the matches, and it filled every seat in the arena.
Dylan stood in the middle of the battleground with a grin.
“Welcome to your defeat, my fellow schoolmates! I’m Dylan who needs no introduction, and today everyone will recognize my strength.”
The crowd booed at Dylan’s introduction, and Dylan soaked in the jeers as compliments.
“What can I say? I’m famous.
Why isn’t the head of the Student Council and the Occult Research Group at the side of the battleground?”
Shun replied coldly. “They are disgusted with you, so they are watching from the stands.”
Dylan shrugged. “That’s a pity that the beautiful ladies wouldn’t be near us since both Vesper and you represent the best two teams from Aelfsige Academy.
I’ve heard that Hideki represents the future of Aelfsige Academy, and Reynard is a dark horse and a monster by the kendo club. With everyone here, I hope to establish a new beginning for myself in this school.
You’re free to flee if you’re afraid.”
Even though Reynard was nervous, he was inwardly enraged by Dylan’s arrogance, and he glared back at him. Gale caught Reynard’s attention from a distance and gave him a thumbs up to encourage him.
Victor Spectre walked into the midst of the battleground with a mic and addressed the crowd.
“We’re going to have Vesper, Shun, Hideki, and Reynard fighting against Dylan in that order. Vesper and Shun need no introduction since they represented Aelfsige Academy for the inter-school competitions last year.
Vesper is a year three student from the Occult Research group. Part of the top 2 teams who won the annual school competition, he is an unpredictable fighter who surprised everyone with his unique abilities.
Shun is the crowd favorite for this lineup. He’s considered one of the top 5 strongest students in Aelfsige Academy, and his contribution helped the Student Council team earn the 7th place among the inter-school competitions.
Hideki and Reynard are from Class 1-D in high school, and both of them come from the kendo club. Our school newspaper touted Hideki as the strongest among the first-years, and we will see an exciting matchup if both Dylan and Hideki fights.
With further ado, let’s begin with our first contestant against Dylan.”
As the rest of the participants leave the fighting floor, Dylan snickered to himself and said out loud.
“7th place?! That’s embarrassing. It’s not worth mentioning unless you’re top two in the inter-school competition or something.”
Vesper mocked Dylan with a laugh and replied. “You’re right! It sure beats some punk who organized a mini-tournament with only four participants so that he can show off.”
Undaunted, Dylan shot back. “I will organize my team and compete in the school tournament. But for now, you will be embarrassed by me here with your mediocre abilities.”
Dylan exhibited his energy, and as a result, his body emitted a dark aura which shaped like a cylinder, and the aura reached the ceiling. Everyone in the arena could feel Dylan’s power as it radiates heat and static electricity. Victor was vividly surprised that a year one student could emit that much energy and he readied himself to intervene if the battle threatens to be dangerous for the spectators.
Reynard and Kasumi walked to Gale and Reynard asked him a question. “Who do you think will win, Gale?”
Gale looked at Reynard and laughed.
“They haven’t even exchanged blows yet! How would anyone know? I think you’re too nervous or something.”
“S-Stop laughing at me! Grr…” Reynard pouted because Gale liked to tease him a lot. Then Gale continued.
“I do know that Dylan came prepared. He wasn’t fooling around when he wanted to fight against all four participants at once, and this display of power proves that.”
Vesper wasn’t fazed by what he saw though. Instead, he was smiling broadly, and he placed a painted wooden mask on his face. There were carvings on the mask, and the carvings glowed as power flowed through the carvings.
Suddenly Vesper was cloaked with a yellow aura.
Gale noticed the carvings on the mask and remarked. “…Those carvings are magic sequences, aren’t they?”
Kasumi replied. “Yeah. The students from the Occult Research group are adept with magic.
Vesper is officially ranked ‘C’, but his combat abilities are definitely greater than that.”
Dylan’s confidence was showing on his face. Using his fingers like claws, he lifted his right hand and pointed upwards, while concentrating his energy unto the tips of his fingers.
Gale recognized the skill, and he exclaimed, “That’s the [King Of Hades Claws]!”
Kasumi and Reynard looked at Gale, and Gale realized he needed to explain what that was.
“There is a set of skills from the [King Of Hades Scriptures]. It originated from a cult that worships the “King Of Hades”, and its leader created these scriptures many centuries ago. It dominated the world at that time because one of its breathing techniques, [King Of Hades Protection], granted temporary invulnerability to the user when used.
However, it runs at a significant risk because it consumes a vast amount of the user’s blood and energy at the same time. As martial arts practitioners, we know instinctively how much power we have left, but it’s impossible to know how much blood we have. Many of their leaders died prematurely because they overused the skill during their fights.
The [King Of Hades Claws] is another set of techniques within the [King Of Hades Scriptures]. The user can produce poison on its claws with the toxins from his own body. The poison wears the opponent down and drains its energy significantly, and it can be lethal in large doses.”
Kasumi wanted to stop the match immediately, but Principal Stella immediately stood in front of Kasumi and held her back.
“We’ve verified that Dylan’s version doesn’t use poison, and he will be instantly disqualified if he melds poison with his techniques. Victor is officiating the match so leave it to him.”
Kasumi was shell-shocked that Principal Stella appeared in front of her out of nowhere. “Principal?! How’re you here?!”
“I was standing at the entrance of the arena, and I heard you both talking.”
Gale noticed that Principal Stella had used two skills, the [Thousand Miles Ear] and the [Wild Wind Steps]. The [Thousand Miles Ear] allows the user to hear from a great distance, while the [Wild Wind Steps] will enable the user to sprint in superhuman speeds. Reynard looked incredibly impressed, but Gale didn’t seem so, and the Principal was intrigued by Gale’s response.
“…It seems like you’re familiar with my skills.”
“You mean the [Thousand Miles Ear] and the [Wild Wind Steps]? Yeah, I can use them.”
Kasumi and Reynard looked at Gale, who didn’t turn his focus from the match. Principal Stella then asked another question.
“With this impressive display of energy, how strong do you think Dylan is?”
Gale took a side glance at the principal and then back at the match.
“That display of power showed how weak Dylan really is. He’s an amateur.”
Reynard then exclaimed. “What?! That can’t be true!”
“Well, no one doubts Dylan has a lot of power. However, what’s the point of emitting that much energy? To show off? Intimidate? It wastes so much energy to power himself up.
Either he is weak, and he can only waste energy to power himself up, or he is stupid to waste energy. In both cases, it just showed how weak he is.”
Stella was impressed by Gale’s answer, and the group focused their attention on the match.
After powering up with his mask, Vesper jumped and instantaneously threw three fireballs towards Dylan, and the latter dodged. The fireballs hit the ground but the ground was not burned nor was there any impact.
The crowd cheered wildly, and Reynard didn’t understand what he was seeing. “What happened?”
Kasumi read Vesper’s battle records and answered. “Vesper has a knack in illusions. With his mask, he can conjure magic, and confuse his opponent by mixing illusions with real attacks.”
Dylan turned back and saw that the ground wasn’t burned, and he immediately realized that Vesper could use illusions. Vesper immediately used [Stone Clap], a ninja technique, by quickly doing a hand sign and placing his right palm on the ground. The concrete ground from the left and right of Dylan suddenly arose and tried to squash him in the middle.
Dylan raised both his hands to destroy the stone walls, but as the walls came crashing in, his hands went through the stone walls! With Dylan’s hands stretched on both sides, Vesper rushed forward and sunk both his fists on Dylan’s chest!
The impact almost broke Dylan’s ribs, and Dylan coughed out blood, but he held his ground and using his chest muscles, he repelled Vesper with his energy, and it threw the latter back. Vesper did his [Stone Clap] again, and this time Dylan ignored the stone walls that came from his left and right, but the walls crashed onto him, causing him much pain.
Principal Stella smiled and remarked, “Vesper copies other people techniques and loves to fight with trickery. That ninjutsu was Shun’s.”
Vesper didn’t want to give Dylan time to breathe, so he bit his finger and drew a set of runic language on his left arm with his blood. Vesper then raised his left arm and chanted, “Fireball!”
The magic sequence on his left arm glowed, and a big fireball shot out. Just before the fireball came in contact with Dylan, Dylan used his [King Of Hades Protection] and avoided the damage.
The ground shook, and a pillar of black aura enshrined Dylan. The fireball crashed into the pillar and exploded away from Dylan’s body.
“Fufufu… you even forced me to use the [King Of Hades Protection]. I guess the seniors aren’t all talk.”
Vesper mocked Dylan in reply. “You’re tougher than a tank. I’m surprised you didn’t join the army.”
Hideki was sitting on a bench by himself, and when he saw Dylan’s power, his mouth was wide opened, and he started to have doubts about himself. He knew he had grown significant strength with the serums, but he didn’t expect himself to be weaker than Dylan in power.
“Playtime is over, Vesper!”
Dylan gathered a mass of energy with his fingers. The mass of energy became a ball of power, and then Dylan smashed the power into the ground. Immediately, a black fog was created and began spreading from the explosion.
Gale noticed something was awry and shouted to everyone at the side of the battleground.
“Stay away from the fog! It’s corrosive!”
At once, everybody at the side started to back away from the battleground and Victor was forced to retreat. Victor shouted at Dylan, “How dare you use poison? You’re — ”
“This is my energy and not poison. My [Fog From Hell] is a pure energy attack!”
Vesper raised his defenses by cloaking himself with his yellow aura. He was caught in the midst of the fog, and the mist corroded his protective aura rapidly. As Vesper was forced into a defensive position, and he had limited sight because of the fog, Dylan appeared from behind and clawed the Vesper with his fingers.
Blood splattered everywhere, and Vesper quickly jumped away, but Dylan hid in the fog and aimed at Vesper’s blind spot from the left side. Suddenly, Vesper started to howl like a wolf, and a gust of wind began to encircle Vesper.
Principal Stella explained, “That is the [Wolf Fang Whirlwind]. From what I was told, this ability originated from lycanthropes.”
The wind kept the fog from touching Vesper, and he started to use his fingers like claws. Vesper cloaked his fingers with a massive amount of aura, and he clawed the air. Subsequently, the gust of wind became stronger and stronger, and it dissipated the black fog.
Dylan was surprised that Vesper was able to get rid of the fog and he wondered what technique the latter used. Dylan then focused his energy on his fingertips again to begin his next attack.
At that moment, a light flashed from the audience, and Vesper and Gale noticed it immediately. Vesper turned his attention back at Dylan, and Dylan fired a black ball of energy towards Vesper.
“Eat this! [King Of Hades’ Cannon]!”
Dylan was too close to Vesper, and the latter had nowhere to run. Using his arms to shield his face from impact, Vesper took the brunt of the force directly, and the ball of energy exploded. As a result, Vesper crashed into the wall which was out of bounds, and he lost the match immediately. The explosion was so powerful that a crater was formed on the battleground.
Dylan started laughing, and the audience was shocked that Dylan won! Reynard panicked, and he wondered if he should forfeit, so he looked at Gale for a confirmation.
Gale took a peek at Reynard’s face and smiled.
“Dylan isn’t as strong as he looks. Moreover, Vesper lost on purpose.”
Kasumi stared blankly at Gale, and the latter nodded in reply.
“Someone signaled Vesper from the audience, and he braced himself for impact instead of dodging or counterattacking. If Vesper could use the [Wolf Fang Whirlwind], I’m sure he could do something better than taking a hit from the [King Of Hades’ Cannon].”
Principal Stella smiled to herself and began to walk away from the battleground. “You’re such a tease, Gale. Why don’t you come out of hiding and show me how strong you really are?”
Gale didn’t turn his head and replied coldly. “You’re hiding your strength as well, Principal.”
The medics assessed Vesper’s injuries, and it was severe. Immediately, Vesper was stretchered off to the hospital. Gale looked at the direction of the light he saw, and his eyes met with a beautiful red-haired lady. The lady saw that Gale was looking at her, and she smiled back before turning away to leave the arena. There was another beauty with long black hair who went as well.
Kasumi traced Gale’s line of sight and realized who he was looking at.
“Those two are the President and Vice-President of the Occult Research Group. Do you know them?”
“…No, but I suspect one of them signaled to Vesper during the match.”
Dylan taunted the crowd, and the crowd jeered him loudly.
“How about that? Vesper the Trickster can’t hold a candle to me.
Shun, you’re next!”
Shun looked at Dylan for a moment, and then addressed the referee and the audience. “I would like to forfeit.”
Everyone in the audience, including Dylan, was shocked! Dylan then mocked Shun mercilessly. “Hey, you’re chickening out right now?”
Shun shrugged and replied coldly, “I lost. I can’t measure up to your strength.” He turned away and headed out of the arena without looking back.
Dylan began laughing boastfully and addressed the crowd.
“Haha! If you guys don’t know, I made a bet with the Student Council President and the Occult Research President that if I win their representatives, I will go on a date with each of them! Those two are two of the top ten beauties in Aelfsige Academy. Looks like it’s going to be fun!
You’re next, Hideki! Too bad Ms. Kasumi is a combat instructor, or else I will have another date!”
Hideki was displeased that Dylan had impure thoughts against his sister, and he made his way on the platform while clenching his katana tightly.
“Leave my sister out of this, Dylan!”
Hideki started looking around, and he found Satori and Clere in the midst of the audience.
“How about this, if I win, I get to go out with either Satori or Clere? I heard rumors that they have the hots for you, Hideki!”
Hideki was getting angrier and angrier, and he unsheathed his katana to fight.
“Leave the ladies out! I will defeat you here.”
“Hahaha! You’re fun to tease, Hideki! I’m expecting a good match from you unlike the Shun the coward.”
Hideki held his katana and assumed his battle position.
“I’ll beat you down if that’s what you want!”
[King Of Hades Claws] was translated from [阎王神爪], or [yán wáng shén zhǎo].
[King Of Hades Protection] was translated from [阎王护体], or [yán wáng hù tǐ].
[Thousand Miles Ear] was translated from [千里耳], or [qiān lǐ ěr]
[Wild Wind Steps] was translated from [狂風步法], or [kuáng fēng bù fǎ].
[Fog From Hell] was translated from [地獄之霧], or [dì yù zhī wù].
[King Of Hades’ Cannon] was translated from [閻王炮], or [yán wáng páo].
[Wolf Fang Whirlwind] was translated from [狼牙旋風], or [láng yá xuán fēng].