Chapter 31 – The Hunted Became The Hunter

  • by lemuel moo

At City Plaza, a tensed atmosphere filled the air as the assassins and Gale faced off each other. Bystanders saw how forty-eight individuals surrounded a single man, and they tried to take a photo and send it through social media.

However, for some reason, the cellular network didn’t work, and nothing could be sent. Phone calls were jammed too, so no one could report anything unless they moved out of the City Plaza. The men-in-black quickly rounded up bystanders and escorted them away.

Traffic lights around City Plaza stopped working, and a massive jam accumulated. The police were deployed to direct traffic away from the battle. Even the trains refused to disembark at City Plaza.

It was as though everyone in Aelfsige City was against Gale.

Gale noticed that the assassins were waiting for the bystanders to leave before fighting. Thus, he took the opportunity in preparation to remove two silver needles as each needle embedded in each of his forearms.

Gale had eighteen silver needles within his body, and they were used as training devices to suppress and compress his [qi]. Each needle restricted the movement of [qi] in his energy channels, and by removing even one of them, Gale’s power would increase by several folds. At his present state, Gale’s only fighting with less than one percent of his current strength. If he removed the needles from both of his arms, Gale would be at least five percent.

The needles could be removed in two ways, subconsciously or consciously. Consciously, Gale could use his breathing technique to push out the silver needles. Subconsciously, if Gale’s [qi] had supersaturated in one of his vital energy channels, the silver needle restricting the particular energy channel would be forced out against his will.

Gale tried various methods to keep the silver needles in his body after he completed the [Silver Needles Training]. He had supersaturated his energy channels once, but with special medicine and pills, Gale forced the needles back, and his [qi] grew exponentially in density and power.

However, Gale could ill-afford to keep the silver needles in as he faced numerous foes in City Plaza. The silver needles within his forearms started loosening as Gale channeled his [qi] to push them out.

Serban had no idea what Gale was up to, as he assumed Gale was acting cautiously because the assassins were surrounding Gale.

“Why not take the easy way out and tell us where Lucy is? Without your [Five Elemental Wooden Sword], you are helpless against us!” Serban said.

Gale replied. “Lucy’s at Mount Fiboa.” Gale didn’t know, but he randomly chose a mountain near the countryside in his mind.

“Mount Fiboa? Are you sure?”

“Why not? Would you let me go now?”

Serban snickered. “How would I know if you’re lying? You have to come with us to find that out.”

“You’re just going to imprison and torture me for fun. Why should I believe you too?”

Serban readied his spears, and said, “the reason you should believe me, is because you’ll die if you don’t.”

“And if I go with you, I’ll die too. What’s the difference?” Gale replied.

The bystanders were mostly gone, and Serban decided to start fighting. With each serpent spear in his arm, he walked towards Gale menacingly.

“The difference is, it’s going to be more brutal to die here than being tortured by us!”

Gale amplified his killing aura and laughed. “Let’s see who will die first.”

Serban rushed forward and thrust his right spear towards Gale. Knowing that the spearheads were dipped in poison, Gale hardened his palms with [qi] to prevent himself from getting cut by the spear and deflected the thrust away with his left palm by lunging forward and slapping the spear’s body away.

However, Gale raised his right palm right at Serban’s face. Serban didn’t understand why did Gale do that since he was out of reach from Gale’s palm, but Gale forcibly shot a silver needle out of his palm and blinded Serban’s right eye!

Serban immediately stepped back and bellowed in pain. “ARGGH! Damn you, Gale! How dare you use hidden devices in battle?!”

“You talk as if you’re fighting fair in the first place. It’s forty-eight versus one.”

Immediately, Gale’s right arm was relieved from the restriction of the silver needle, and he could channel five times more power through it. He rushed forward to follow up with another punch at Serban, and the latter blocked with both of his spears. Under the weight of Gale’s [Fire Cloud Fist], the force of Gale’s punch instantly broke the spears and his right fist sunk into Serban’s body! Serban coughed blood and was sent crashing into another assassin behind him!

The other assassins were alarmed at Gale’s power. They saw how Serban took a massive hit, so they decided to attack Gale from all directions at once to overwhelm him completely.

However, as the assassins rushed toward Gale, Gale released a dark cloud using his energy and shrouded himself. The assassins became wary and didn’t attack indiscriminately as they couldn’t see where Gale was. The dark cloud was a manifestation of Gale’s aura, and it enveloped the place in a half-mile radius.

Serban saw how Gale shrouded himself and bellowed to his fellow assassins. “Gale is using ‘silent killing’ techniques! Everyone, be on guard!”

As Gale used his killing aura like a radar, he could feel each assassin’s presence. The assassins felt as though they were fighting in water because of the dense killing aura, and the majority of them became sluggish in their movements. Using his keen sense of hearing, Gale picked out the weakest assassins and started snapping their necks in the midst of the shroud.

In less than a minute, twelve assassins met their demise, and the total number of assassins dwindled to thirty-six, with Serban and one of them heavily injured.

Serban realized the hunted became the hunter and quickly recovered his composure. He was adept in using silent killing techniques too, and with his keen sense of smell and hearing, Serban tracked Gale down in the midst of the shroud.

Serban eventually found Gale and unleashed his [Viper’s Smite] at Gale’s back. The [Viper’s Smite] mimicked how a viper would lash at a foe when threatened, and its strength lies in quickness and ferocity in its punch.

Gale had already noticed Serban with his killing aura. Hence he met Serban’s [Viper’s Smite] with his [Fire Cloud Fist]. Both fists were equal in strength, and the impact pushed both fighters back.

Serban marveled at Gale’s strength and remarked. “You could’ve been one of the deadliest assassins in the world, Gale! Why did you choose to be a bodyguard?”

“Beats me. I don’t have a preference actually,” Gale nonchalantly replied.

Gale attempted to shoot the silver needle in his left forearm and aimed it at Serban’s left eye, but the latter wasn’t going to be bitten twice and dodged as the silver needle flew passed. Even though Serban’s vision was impaired on one eye, he was fighting well because of his wealth of experience and sharp battle senses.

Serban counterattacked with his [Viper’s Fury], which was a barrage of claw attacks aimed at catching an opponent’s fist or limbs and crushing its bones with raw strength. Serban thrust himself forward and attacked ferociously at Gale.

Gale saw how Serban switched from fist to claw techniques, and he decided to use another set of techniques, called the [Soul-breaker Snow Palm][1]. Its strikes were not as strong as Gale’s [Fire Cloud Fist], but upon contact with his palms, Gale could channel freezing energy into the pores of the opponent and the latter’s muscles would freeze.

As silver needles no longer inhibited Gale’s forearms, Gale cloaked his palms with a freezing aura, and he started parrying Serban’s claws away from his body. Serban’s attacks were initially quick at first, but his hands became numb and his attacked slowed due to the freezing effect. After a while, Serban realized he was suffering from frostbite!

Undaunted, Serban used his legs instead and unleashed a series of lightning-fast kicks in succession. Gale was about to freeze Serban’s legs, but he sensed a presence behind him, so he ducked quickly. Another assassin crept up behind Gale and tried to slash him with a sword.

Gale realized that his position was given away as Serban persisted in his attacks to draw the other assassins to him.

Suddenly, the dark shroud began to flow away from Gale and converge in another place. Gale realized that there was an assassin who was inhaling and absorbing the shroud into his body with his nostrils. Not wanting to lose his cover, Gale rushed forward to attack the assassin who was undoing his shroud.

Two assassins blocked Gale in his path, but Gale was much quicker than them, so he pushed their faces down with his [Soul-breaker Snow Palm] and smashed their heads onto the ground. Both assassins suffered severe frostbites on their faces with broken skulls, and one of their noses almost fell off from their face!

Gale then sunk his palms into the body of the assassin who was absorbing his black cloud aura. However, the belly of the assassin absorbed the impact from Gale’s attack! Gale tried to pull away, but the assassin kept Gale’s palms into his body with his belly’s muscles.

Using Gale’s force and his belly’s elasticity like a spring, the assassin repelled Gale away with double the strength, and Gale crashed into one of the buildings that were behind him!

The assassin didn’t escape unscathed as his belly, and his internal organs froze. He couldn’t continue absorbing the dark shroud, and he passed out before spewing blood. As a result, there were thirty-three assassins left in City Plaza.

The assassins began muttering among themselves. “This Gale is a monster! I’m not sure if we are paid enough to lose our lives here!”

“Yeah! Even Serban, who is a double ‘A’ ranked fighter, could have lost to Gale if we didn’t help him out!”

As the assassins began to grumble, Serban prostrated himself and yelled. “There will be reinforcements coming! A total of one hundred and eight assassins will join us shortly! Stop your whining, get to your feet and fight!”

Gale found himself in a boutique under piles of debris and suffered from bruises from the impact. He picked himself up and walked back to the battlefield with strength and poise. Gale’s unfaltering killing aura continued to weigh heavily upon the assassins, and it caused shivers down the spine!

“Those who want to die first, come forward now.”

Gale’s eyes were red with killing aura, and even though he was bleeding from his mouth from the impact and the silver needles, his spirit was as indomitable as ever. His chilling voice sent goosebumps as he defied the assassins who stood before him!

As the assassins observed Gale’s murderous stance, they noticed Gale’s glowing arms in different colors. Gale’s right hand was clenched into a fiery red fist, while a blue freezing aura cloaked his left palm. Gale decided to unleash one of his greatest techniques which he had created for himself.

For a long while, none of the assassins dared to move. Moments flew by as both Gale, and the assassins reached an impasse between each other.

———-

Dinah was walking around impatiently in her apartment as she mulled to herself on what she should do. She learned from Mr. Raul that he was giving information about Gale’s whereabouts to the lynchpins who were interested in bringing Lucy and the Black Diamond Syndicate down.

Earlier in the day, Dinah took a peek at Mr. Raul’s phone while the latter was in the restroom. She saw Dylan’s message to Mr. Raul that Dylan had found Gale in City Plaza, and Dylan would instigate the lynchpins to act immediately against Gale.

Things went out of control very quickly when Mr. Raul quickly phoned a politician and asked him to stop SPAW operatives from deploying in City Plaza in exchange for money. Upon hearing Mr. Raul’s proposal, the politician promptly agreed, and Mr. Raul bragged his accomplishments to Dinah afterward.

“Do you know Gale would meet his end today? This man certainly knows Lucy’s whereabouts, and if he’s captured, we’ll force him to cough up Lucy’s location.

If Gale refuses to cooperate, he will die, and Dylan will stop being obsessed over him! Aren’t you happy that one of the thorns of my flesh is going to be removed today?”

Dinah pretended to be disinterested and asked coldly. “Are you sure? That man defeated your so-called [Four Abominations] and disgraced my brother easily.”

Mr. Raul handed a drink to Dinah and offered a toast. “I’m positive! In addition to Serban and his men, the Hundred-And-Eight Crusaders and the lynchpins are going to release their best talents against Gale if all else fails!”

Dinah was immensely worried for Gale as she saw him as Zeel’s best friend, but she suppressed her feelings to dig up more information.

“Wow, that sounds like a whole army against one person. Who has that kind of money and power to gather an assassin army like this anyway?”

Mr. Raul sipped his drink in glee and answered, “Ah Dinah, I forgot you don’t understand the underworld well. Let me explain some details to you.

The syndicate that wants Lucy dead the most is the Twin Stars Syndicate. Usually, syndicates don’t like to get their own hands dirty, so they hire mercenaries to do their work. Serban from the Twelve Animal Zodiacs and the Hundred-And-Eight Crusaders are mercenaries that the Twin Stars Syndicate hired to capture Gale.

Also, there’s a lustful old fogey who’s putting his money to capture Lucy to be his plaything. He’s Ramada Strider, the lynchpin of the Devonians. He’s the one who is going to sponsor the money to prevent SPAW operatives from appearing at City Plaza.

Lastly, a young lynchpin who leads a syndicate called ‘Squad Thirteen’ is going to stop all reinforcements from helping Gale. This young gun is called Charlie Spitfire. He’s been wanting to prove his strength among the other lynchpins, so he’s putting his lieutenants into the battlefield to prove their mettle.

These young guns are stirring trouble for themselves because if the SPAW operatives catch up on them once our agreement is over, they will lose significant power. That’s why we usually use the money for mercenaries, and until we have no choice, we will use our own strength.

Charlie Spitfire is also infatuated with Lucy and hopes to make her his wife.

All three lynchpins have the same goal of bringing down the Black Diamond Syndicate with different visions in mind. I’m just the middleman who facilitates everything for them and helps them to get what they want, and the first to get Lucy’s location will get the prize.

The only problem we have right now is Agatha Sigrun. We may be able to bribe our way and stop the SPAW operatives from deploying for a while, but Agatha has connections to politicians who are more potent than the one we bribed. We can only slow her down before she gets to the right person who will overwrite us and force a deploy from the SPAW operatives.”

Dinah didn’t know who Agatha Sigrun is, so she asked. “Why is Agatha Sigrun so powerful? Is she a well-known politician?”

Mr. Raul sighed. “Agatha Sigrun isn’t a politician, but she is powerful nevertheless. The World Alliance depends on her for intel and information, and sometimes assign her unfavorable missions that they are unwilling to do themselves. Agatha gathers and grooms elite teams to infiltrate bases and to destroy syndicates at her own will.

Because the World Alliance depends on Agatha Sigrun, they have a give-and-take relationship where she’s given autonomy so long as she doesn’t interfere with their long-term interests. Many lynchpins in the past tried to destroy her and her organization, but they crumbled because the World Alliance would step in and help them.

We’re taking a significant risk too because Gale Gainsborough is her favorite guy. I’ve heard Agatha Sigrun would do whatever it takes to save the lad, so our battle is ultimately decided with her, and not with Gale.”

Dinah realized that there was a glimmer of hope for Gale if she was able to inform Agatha, and she pondered hard to see what other questions she could ask Mr. Raul. Mr. Raul was happy that Dinah was interested in his business, and so he wrapped his arms around her shoulders.

“One day, I want you to rule the ‘Last Legions’ with me, Dinah. I’ve been thinking to myself about an heir. I like your brother because he is your kin, but ultimately I want an heir out of my loins — ”

Dinah then shook Mr. Raul’s arms off her shoulders and retorted. “Are you going to throw my brother like a waste bag after you’re done using him?!”

“No no no! I don’t mean it that way! As long as you’re happy, Dylan will always be in my service.

I just think… you know… Dylan’s too immature at times. He wants his way without thinking about the big picture, and he’s even disrespectful towards you, which infuriates me.

I believe you’ll make a good mother, and you’ll teach our kids well — ”

Dinah interrupted sharply. “And for you to teach children how to waste an entire army on a single soul?! Even if you are just a middleman, I think it’s crazy to spend so many resources on one single person.”

Mr. Raul was impressed that Dinah was thinking like a strategist, but Dinah was trying to find out why would Mr. Raul, a shrewd man, invest that much to get rid of Gale.

“That’s excellent insight from you, Dinah. However, I personally think there’s too much mystery over this young man. I can’t get over the fact that Gale is fighting like an elite veteran when he’s only fifteen years old!

There are strong people in this world where numbers don’t matter against them. Lucy is one of them, and I have a nagging suspicion that Gale is one of them too.

This is, in fact, a personal experimentation that I’m undertaking. Perhaps Gale wins and defeats all our assassins. If that is the case, then it proves that Gale is indeed someone close to the strongest fighter in the world, who disappeared for fifteen years after the ‘Hidden War’.”

Dinah scratched her head and asked, “I don’t see how it matters if Gale was someone close to the strongest fighter in the world.”

Mr. Raul burst out laughing at Dinah’s ignorance. “There’s too much to teach you, Dinah! I can’t begin to tell you how history matters and how being linked to the strongest fighter in the world is such a big deal!”

Dinah was immensely offended by Mr. Raul’s laughter at her ignorance. “So are you going to stand there and laugh without explaining?!”

Mr. Raul wiped his tears away from the corner of his eyes. “I apologize, my dear Dinah. Of course, this is new to you since you’re only starting to learn my business. In times past as a single woman, there isn’t a need to know these details.

Now that you’re somewhat interested in what I’m doing, I’ll slowly teach you what I know. However, I need to make sure this operation goes successfully as I’m meeting the other lynchpins for a discussion in a while.

I promise I will not laugh at you and teach you everything when I’m back!”

Dinah thought she knew enough to help Gale and Zeel out anyway, so she didn’t probe further. “That’s if my interest is still there. For now, I need to do my housework.”

Shortly after, Mr. Raul left her apartment, and Dinah began prancing around in her apartment.

“How should I inform Zeel, or perhaps get in touch with this ‘Agatha Sigrun’? The only way to get information out is to rely on Nancy, the nurse who attended to me while I was hospitalized.

But if I do that, it might put Nacy in grave danger. Should I still do it?”

After a long while, Dinah made up her mind.

“I’ll need to risk it! I don’t know how important is Agatha Sigrun, but I know Gale Gainsborough, and how he risked his life for Zeel and Sunny. If Zeel is robbed of Gale’s support, it will be a devastating blow to our reunion in the future!”

Dinah quickly took a piece of paper and scribbled the information that she knew. She then texted Nancy and wrote, “I’m bored. Let’s hang out for a movie. Are you free soon? It will be great if you’re free around this time.”

Nancy replied, “Such a coincidence! I’m happy to hang out for a movie if you’re free!”

“Good! Meet me at Harvest International in ten minutes.”

Dinah didn’t dare to put in sensitive information since Mr. Raul, and Dylan monitored her phone. She thought of leaving her mobile phone behind because it contained a location tracker, but decided against it since it would be suspicious if the phone is at home while she was physically at a cinema.

Without much preparation, Dinah rushed down to the nearest cinema that she could think of. Dinah reached early, but she was surprised to see Nancy running towards her!

“Wow, girl. I said ten minutes.”

Nancy panted and wheezed as she said, “you’re early too!”

Both of them quickly bought a couple of movie tickets and went straight in. As they settled down in the room, Dinah showed Nancy her phone to indicate that both of them cannot speak about anything sensitive. Dinah then passed her piece of paper to Nancy, and after Nancy read it, tears flowed from the latter’s eyes!

Dinah was shocked! “What happened girl?! Why are you crying?”

Rubbing her eyes, Nancy replied. “My boyfriend went against my wish to help his friend, but it was dangerous, so I told him not to go. He said if he didn’t go, he’d regret it for life.”

From Nancy’s statement, Dinah deduced that Zeel got his biker gang to City Plaza to help Gale, and Nancy had a boyfriend who was part of Zeel’s group. Dinah patted Nancy on her back to console her.

Nancy continued. “I-I really didn’t know what to do! But I now know what to do because you’ve given me the courage to face my challenges! Thank you, Dinah!”

“Nancy, you helped me to recover in the hospital so if you’ve any boy problems, always feel free to reach out to me!”

Nancy hugged Dinah, and then promptly said. “I’ve got to go! I need to tell my boyfriend how I really feel about his decision!”

Dinah nodded in reply. “Go! And send my regards to your boyfriend!”

Nancy got up and left, leaving Dinah in the cinema by herself. The show began to screen, and she pondered to herself what she should do next.

In her heart, she prayed. “Please be safe, my dear Zeel. And Gale, my man’s best friend.”

———-

[1][Soul-breaker Snow Palm] is derived from [雪山破魂掌], or [xuě shān pò hún zhǎng].

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