Chapter 178: True Form
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
‘”The battle will be intense. It’s normal to feel nervous or scared, and feel stiffness in your limbs. That’s normal among new recruits.
‘”When the time comes, there’s only one thing you should do: recall what I am telling you repeatedly to stay focus.”‘
Black Sword hurtled through several obstacles as he headed towards the Blood Mystic in an incredible speed. The movement of his sword vaguely resembled the Northland Military Sword Style.
Thales was held close to the man’s chest in one arm. He looked up as the air current swooshed past his ears. Clasping the oddly-shaped Blade of Purification in his hand, Thales moved forward at the speed of the wind along with Black Sword.
‘”Although those two men are the very few supreme class warriors we can find, I have a feeling that they will lose the fight despite their powerful anti-mystic equipment.
‘”The Blood Mystic, who looks like a seemingly harmless girl is a frightening opponent. For the past twelve years, I’ve never met an enemy who made me feel fearful and anxious—until she appeared.”‘
Amid the whirring chilly wind, the prince could not open his eyes. Instead, he kept his mouth open wide, gasping for air to maintain his breathing rate.
He could not help but recall Black Sword’s words before they left for Giza.
‘”What makes her formidable is not her grotesque sorcery or limitless power, but the fact that she truly owns— what I would like to call— the heart of a strong fighter. As powerful as she is, she is also cautious and decisive. She refuses to let go of any opportunity, and never looks down on any opponent, always quick to respond and always prepared for a change of plan.
‘”Although some of her actions may seem close to insanity, they don’t affect her ability and her commitment to the battle.
‘”That monster has deep insight when it comes to combat. She apprehends every aspect of it and is highly experienced. I’ve met very few people who possess such tactical mastery.”‘
When Black Sword started to run with Thales in his arm, the prince’s mind went blank. It felt like the time when he was falling from the Cliff of the Sky, which was several hundred meters high.
The first tentacle from the hydra appeared before them, and Thales heard the hissing sound of human tissues brushing up against one another.
Black Sword held the prince’s hand and swung the Blade of Purification.
The tentacle fell apart and turned into ashes.
Thales regained his ability to breathe. His heart swelled with all sorts of emotions— anxiety, fear, agitation, and excitement.
‘”The first thing we need to acknowledge is that the Blood Mystic has never appeared before us in her true form.”‘
Thinking of this, Thales clenched his teeth slightly.
He reflected on what Black Sword had told him, slowly taking in the shock it delivered.
‘What we’re seeing is a body double created from the flesh of others.
‘This is what I learned from fighting her twice—it was information I exchanged with my blood as I walked the tightrope between life and death.’
‘”In other words, it’s false to assume that legendary anti-mystic equipment cannot seal that monster, just as you’ve said.
‘”The real reason is, the people who have tried to put a seal on her couldn’t identify her true form amid the ocean of flesh and blood.”‘
Thales frowned slightly, peering at the sweet-looking girl from far.
‘Not her true form?’
From the distance, ‘Giza’ looked up at them with a peculiar expression.
‘Does it mean that… this “Giza”, who just defeated two legendary anti-mystic equipment is a fake?
‘That’s why, even when Sonia crushed her with the Supreme Shield… she still managed to come out unscathed?’
A swishing sound was heard as something shot through the wind.
Two medium-sized tentacles flew towards them; one from above and another below.
‘”When we are up against her, we shall explore every possibility, look for every opportunity to gain the upper hand, and bet on every leverage we have—we will begin with finding her true form.”‘
Thales sensed a form of energy bubbling within Black Sword. The latter then took a stride and stomped on a rock lightly.
They rose a foot above the ground.
Black Sword pivoted in the air, gliding between the two tentacles.
‘”First of all, the timing—when those two men fail, and she begins to eliminate them, that’s the time we enter the battle zone.
‘”At that time, she’ll be hesitant, confused, or simply distracted. It will be our best chance. We can save a little energy and time on ‘storming’ to approach her body double.”‘
Suspended in the air, Thales faced skyward and watched a tentacle whizz past him.
He could also see Nicholas from a distance. The man’s struggling silhouette eventually sank into the swamp of flesh and blood.
There was a piece of tissue which resembled half a tongue embedded in the tentacle. It brushed past Thales’ nose and reeked of blood as well as rancid, rotten things.
Thales suppressed the discomfort in his throat and stomach, as well as the urge to shut his eyes—he wanted to have a clear look of his enemy.
He gritted his teeth, recalling every word Black Sword said earlier.
‘”The second important thing would be the way we present ourselves before the opponent—once the fight begins, it’s best to display the Mystic’s natural enemy—the anti-mystic weapon. Besides making us seem more menacing to her, the longer she stays astonished and confused, even for a second, the more weaknesses she exposes.
‘”It will also draw her attention to me.”‘
Black Sword grabbed Thales’ hand, in which the Blade of Purification was tightly held. He guided Thales’ sword-wielding hand and the blade sliced across two of the tentacles, leaving them with two nasty gashes.
The tentacles turned black as a burnt coal and disintegrated into ashes.
The distance between them and ‘Giza’ shortened to a mere thirty meters.
Noticing them from afar, the Blood Mystic hummed curiously.
‘Giza’ slowly inhaled as the blood red veins on her cheeks quivered.
‘There is another anti-mystic weapon… other than the Soul Slayer Pike and Severing Soul Blade.
‘This has been a night full of surprises.’
Speckles of ash fell upon Thales’ face, blending into the melted snow.
He felt a violent tremble wreck his body as Black Sword landed on both feet. Lightly pushing on the ground with his left hand, he instantly regained his balance.
He continued to advance at the same speed.
The glacial wind turned the water on Thales’ face into snow and ice flakes. The little prince had to move his cheeks by gnashing his teeth and grinning in order to get the ice off his nearly frozen face.
A giant tentacle was swinging their way. It split into countless smaller tentacles and came at Black Sword from every direction. They swore to take their prey down at all cost, leaving no room for the latter to escape.
Thales was prepared for this to happen: Black Sword would slash his way out, and clear the path with the Blade of Purification.
Instead, the man hunched his body and made a sharp turn away from the hundreds of tentacles, which were like the forked tongues of snakes.
Panic-stricken, Thales’ head began to spin.
‘”Our point of entry is something to consider as well—we need to find a path covered with ruins and obstacles. It will provide us the best view and hiding spots even if we are just partially sheltered and protected from the attack.”‘
Black Sword picked a lane full of rocks and mud, where the houses on both sides had fallen into ruin due to the fight between the two Mystics.
They ran into a collapsed hut, ducking behind a mud wall.
The flesh tentacles came at them from every direction. Some smaller ones around the mud wall stretched over it.
One tentacle in the middle struck the mud wall mercilessly and crushed it!
The debris flew towards Thales’ face, but some of them were slapped away by Black Sword.
The moment the mud wall was crushed and the tentacles slowed down, Black Sword was on the move again.
Fueled by a surge of strange energy, he increased his speed!
Black Sword lunged at the crushed mud wall, squeezing through a thin crack. Pieces of gravel fell off and grazed his skin, leaving wounds and scratches.
Thales squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the dust and bits of sand falling past his cheeks.
As pieces of mud and gravel rained upon them, Black Sword gripped Thales’ hand and swung the Blade of Purification, chopping off six small tentacles in front of the mud wall.
The burning stench of blood filled Thales’ nose. Ashes of human flesh were scattered around them.
Black Sword broke through the mud wall and advanced five more meters.
‘”Only when we cherish every opportunity during a fight—like how travelers in the desert cherish every drop of water—we can accumulate odds that are in our favor. Victory and survival depend largely on one’s focus on every small detail, especially when up against something like the Blood Mystic.”‘
With his rare and peculiar Power of Eradication, Black Sword managed to dodge several attacks from the hydra and broke through blockades with the Blade of Purification. Beneath the falling snow, dust rose from the ground under his feet. Their path ahead then became hazy.
Thales clenched his teeth, enduring the torment of coldness and extreme speeds.
He felt Black Sword’s right arm around his waist tighten, threatening to cut him into half.
The distance between them and ‘Giza: gradually shortened. She was now less than twenty meters away.
‘”As we break through the obstacles, you will enter her field of vision.”‘
‘Giza’ spotted the boy in Black Sword’s arm.
“I see. I was wondering why Kilika couldn’t find you anywhere…” the Mystic said softly with a velvety voice.
As Black Sword moved forward, dodged attacks, broke through blockades, and fought against enemies at the speed of a bullet, Thales, who was accompanying him could see the Blood Mystic’s horrid expression from far.
‘”My condition is far from well and it won’t allow me to stay in ‘storming mode’ for too long. Fortunately, we have the Blade of Purification, which will keep us unaffected by her power, or at least not fall into the claws of her flesh puppets.”‘
“Looks like you’ve found yourself a new bodyguard. What a smart child…”
‘Giza’ took a peek at the stone-faced Black Sword, watching as they came closer and closer to her.
“Don’t worry.” The veins on her cheeks split and grew further, making her smile appear eerily disturbing. “Everything will end soon.”
Thales felt a jolt in his chest.
‘”If her target is you—with such a short distance between us, chances are she will stay where she is as she is aiming for a weak prey and given the fact that she ‘cannot be sealed’. She will plan to finish me off within a short amount of time, and capture you.”‘
Giza lifted her arms!
Behind her, the Hydra Kilika roared. Six giant tentacles stretched out from its body.
Amid the quaking earth and noise, the giant tentacles charged at the duo. Some burst out of the ground, while some dove from the sky.
‘”That will be our chance.”‘
The giant tentacles lay across the street, blocking the duo’s path.
Black Sword tightened his grasp on Thales’ right hand.
He averted his cold gaze to another direction.
The tentacle split open, and countless black monsters emerged from the gaping hole on the tissue made of severed limbs and corpses. About the size of a human child, they each had long limbs and a torso like that of a spider.
The monsters landed, and with a violent shiver, bony thorns sprouted out from their skin.
“‘Her true form should be hiding in one of her disgusting flesh creations: she could be underground, inside those tentacles, inside that big monster, or anything made of blood and flesh—like a drop of water in the ocean, or a tree in the forest.
‘”We need to find her true form in this sea of blood and flesh.”‘
Like a nest of ravenous larvae, the monsters’ torsos cracked open to reveal mouth-like holes, from which chilling hisses were emitted.
At the next second, like desperate child beggars spotting a rich person on the street, the black monsters raised their ‘heads’ and swung their limbs. Some scurried or hopped away, while some rolled or crawled. There were even a few of them flapping their hideous wings in the air, swarming towards Thales and Black Sword!
Soon enough, they blocked their view of ‘Giza’.
Thales shuddered, gawking at the horrific situation before him and feeling his skin crawl.
‘”The Blood Mystic is good at learning from each battle, processing the information within a little amount of time and coming up with solutions for tactics employed by her previous opponents. Take me for example. Whenever we met after our previous battle, she would have a new strategy to deal with me.”‘
‘This basically means… The same courting tactic will surely never work on chronically single people—’
Thales shook off these unnecessary thoughts.
He was in the midst of the most dangerous battle he had ever seen.
He could not afford to lose focus.
Greeted by the cold wind that was blowing in his face, Thales kept his eyes half-shut. Moving forward at a high-speed, he could feel his heart threatening to burst out of his chest.
He bit his lips, trying to stay focus as he recalled what Black Sword had told him earlier.
‘”The first time we fought, I evaded the attacks of her tentacles with the help of ‘Tremblor’— a move I learned from a supreme class assassin, and which I made slight alterations to.
‘”However, the second time we ran into each other in the alleyway, when I used Tremblor again, she adopted a new strategy as well—the monsters transformed, each covered with sharp bony thorns to tackle my power.”‘
“You see that? The monsters with bony thorns.” Amid the whirring wind, Black Sword’s words reached Thales’ ears in fragments. “They are created solely to beat my power—Tremblor.”
Thales took a deep breath, peering at the coal-black monsters.
There was an overwhelming number of them, not to mention they looked heinous and hideous. This image gave Thales a chill.
They looked like a storm comprised of thousands and millions of black locusts, which were now coming for him.
Black Sword darted at the herd of monsters without hesitation. It was as though what awaited him ahead was not life-threatening danger, but a blissful illusion.
‘”The second time we clashed, she gained the upper hand in a matter of seconds. I was almost killed by those little monsters.”‘
This time, Black Sword did not hold back. He took no shortcuts, and spared no effort.
Thales only felt a shudder travel through Black Sword’s entire body while he was by his side. A pulsating feeling that felt as if it had substance surged up from the depths of his body.
He knew… this was the Sin of Hell’s River.
The Sin of Hell’s River, which belonged uniquely to Black Sword… Compared to Thales’ own, it was greater, more proficient, and several thousand times more effective.
The chill that originally just lingered around him surged into Thales’ heart as if it possessed substance, causing him to shiver.
Thales felt as if the man beside him had become different.
Black Sword’s expression turned solemn and somber.
His faintly discernible presence started to become more violent and brutal. His muscles also began to bulge vaguely.
Black Sword’s pupils, which were originally filled with determination and ferocity slowly started to expand, and more light entered his eyes.
During that instant, Black Sword was like a ferocious beast that slowly opened its eyes, revealing its claws as well as its fangs.
Eventually, the first black monster charged towards them from the sky, and at this point, it was only one foot away from Black Sword’s head.
The bone spurs on its body shivered slightly, like an indication that it had become sharper. Behind it were countless of its kind and they were equally fierce as well as terrifying. As they roared, their cries spread throughout the sky and earth. They were coming towards the duo like waves.
Compared to them, the length of the Blade of Purification seemed quite insignificant.
‘At that time, I was forced to activate “Instant Death” among those monsters, extinguish all signs of my life, and avoid her senses to save myself.
‘I believe that once we meet each other for the third time, she will immediately have a way to counter Instant Death.’
The spider-like monsters looked like a pitch-black wave, surging towards Black Sword. It appeared as though they were about to overturn this small, helpless ship that was Black Sword.
Thales inhaled a sharp breath, then held it, pinning his instinctively shuddering left arm tightly under his right armpit.
It did not matter who the man was, at that moment… he could only believe Black Sword.
He could only believe him.
‘But in that instant when she changed the tentacles and turned them all into numerous bone spur monsters, I sensed…’
The next moment, Black Sword let out a low roar in the face of the huge, boundless wave formed by the black monsters. He pinned Thales tightly atop his bosom with all his limbs, and Thales hugged the Blade of Purification tightly against his chest.
Before the first monster used its bone spur and stabbed Black Sword in the head…
Black Sword instantly bent over. His entire body tilted forward… in the direction of the monsters!
It was as if he was a small ship toppling over in a huge wave.
For an instant, Thales sensed as if everything around him was spinning around.
The countless black monsters belonging to the Blood Mystic before him also started to spin before his eyes.
They were getting closer.
And Thales was also getting dizzier.
His own fluctuations surged into his mind in the nick of time, and they caused the dizziness to subside.
‘I can sense her hiding among the flesh and blood underground. A vigorous fluctuation is coming from some unknown direction…’
Black Sword had long since folded himself into a ball and he rolled towards the aggressive black monsters that were flashing out their ferocious bone spurs.
They continued to roll forward.
‘According to my senses, those fluctuations are incomparably distinct. It’s practically impossible to hide them.’
Black Sword slammed his right elbow hard into the ground!
He pounded it against a low stone stool.
‘I believe… that this is her true form. I’m certain of it!’
At the next instant, Thales only sensed an extreme tremor coming from Black Sword’s right arm, which was wrapped around him.
Muffled sounds of something shattering rose from the ground.
It was like the crackling sound of a hotpot when the soup inside reached its boiling point.
Soon after, the stone stool shattered. A gigantic stone slab was sent flying from the ground in a bizarre manner!
The moment the stone slab flew into the air, Black Sword’s tumbling body came to an abrupt halt!
Thales felt nauseous. He saw stars and almost hurled.
Black Sword then planted his feet on the ground. Out of habit, he positioned his body in a manner that made him look like he was about to topple over. His body formed an acute angle to the ground, then he charged swiftly forward!
Black Sword used his bulging right arm to press against that gigantic stone slab. It was instantly positioned in front of him, and he pushed it forward during his charge.
This reduced Black Sword’s speed, but it also provided him defense.
‘This is our greatest ability… the ability to lock down on the monster’s true form!
‘But during that short instant where I managed to sense her, I could only obtain an approximate direction of where she’s located. If we rush forward recklessly, we’ll only make her notice beforehand. Then, she’ll be able to make preparations to avoid being discovered.
‘That’s why the next thing we need to do is persevere under her attacks against us… When we rush some distance forward… we can force that bizarre fluctuation of hers to appear the second time!
‘Then, the intersection point from the two different locations where the fluctuations appear will be where her true form is!’
In the next second, Black Sword rushed into the swarm of monsters as he supported the thick stone slab.
Everything around them darkened. The monsters that covered the sky and earth blotted out their entire vision.
Countless hisses filled Thales’ ears, making him incredibly agitated and nervous.
Would they succeed?
Charging right into their faces, the first monster sent one of its spurs into Black Sword’s face.
Black Sword lowered his head slightly, and buried his head behind the stone slab.
The monster’s bone spur stabbed the stone slab and set off bright sparks into the air, but it did not manage to damage a strand of hair on Black Sword’s head. It could only ‘see’ Black Sword rush past its side.
The second monster extended a bone spur filled with barbs and tried to cut Black Sword’s abdomen, where Thales was.
Thales stared at the approaching bone spur and listened to the buzzing sounds. His head was completely blank.
But with a slight move from Black Sword, the stone slab shifted and it was pressed against his abdomen to block the monster’s ambush.
With the stone slab’s defense, Black Sword continued to rush forward.
Countless black, spider-like monsters surged towards Black Sword and Thales’ sides like a swarm of locusts.
Amid the crashes, clashes, and chunks of the stone slab and bone spurs, Black Sword wrapped his arm around the pale and ashen Thales. He then lowered his head and pressed it against the stone slab while he charged forward in a mad manner.
There would occasionally be one or two monsters that would slip through. They would slip through the cracks on the stone slab, and slice at Black Sword’s abdomen, the side of his thighs, his shoulders, or other parts of his body, but they would either be reduced to ashes by the Blade of Purification that Thales held or be flung off with an extreme speed.
Thales kept his eyes open with all his effort. Within his field of vision were innumerable black bone spurs and limbs. They moved away from his line of sight like flowing water.
‘We will force her to “transform” the second time and force her to send out those fluctuations. The chance for her to reveal her true form will be…’
After a few seconds passed, the stone slab used for defense shattered inch by inch under the numerous attacks launched on it.
Shattered stones and blood fell from Black Sword’s body at the same time.
And at the same time, Black Sword shuddered.
The sharp thorn of a black monster grazed his shoulder and brought with it a trail of blood.
The second one pierced his left thigh.
‘She’s at the spot where I fought against her the second time and used Instant Death!’
But Black Sword did not seem to notice his wounds. His face was ashen, but besides pinning Thales tightly to his bosom, he did not have any sort of reaction to his increasing wounds.
It was as if he had lost his senses and he was charging forward without feeling.
‘It’s a skill that will allow him to extinguish all signs of vitality in his body for a short period of time, thereby allowing him to disappear from his enemy’s senses.’
In an instant, Thales sensed that the man’s muscles had started to stiffen.
He still moved forward, but it was as if the energy in his body had disappeared. His breathing stopped, and his skin became tough; his actions slowed down, and even his eyes lost their luster.
Thales even felt Black Sword’s body becoming blurry, though he had no idea if this was just a figment of his imagination.
But Thales knew that Black Sword had activated Instant Death.
With uneasiness in his heart, he glanced at the incoming black monsters rushing towards them with hissing sounds.
But soon, Thales did not need to be anxious any more.
In a frenzy, the countless black monsters dashed towards them ferociously. Then, like headless flies, they surged past them.
With terrifying hisses in the air, the monsters, which were originally rushing towards them like a tidal wave instantly descended into chaos. It was like having a stone thrown into a still lake.
Then, almost every single one of them stopped before they started trembling madly. Like helpless children, they started to ‘look’ around ceaselessly.
The monsters began to jump about and move around in a disorderly fashion, but they did not notice Black Sword at all, whose actions had already slowed down.
Like an old man crossing a river with languid steps, but also like a boat moving upstream, Black Sword moved past the densely packed black monsters slowly.
It made Thales’ skin crawl just by watching them.
Black Sword would occasionally trip over a monster or knock against one of them with his shoulder. He would even have new, bloody wounds appear on him, but he still held on to Thales and moved among the swarm of monsters safely.
He continued moving forward.
Only then did Thales breathe a sigh of relief. Black Sword’s presence and Thales’ own presence had disappeared from the monsters’ senses.
At the same time, he remembered Black Sword’s warning.
‘”She’s seen Instant Death before, and she must have already thought of new ways to counter me, whether it’s through transformation, going berserk, amplification, proliferation, or ordering the monsters to transform.”‘
In the distance, ‘Giza’ stopped moving for a moment, and the Blood Mystic’s lips moved slightly.
The next moment, Kilika the Hydra howled again behind her!
In that instant, all the black monsters next to Black Sword transformed.
Thales stared at the bone spurs on the monsters’ backs—numbering from one to three—as they emitted cracking sounds. It sounded as though they were about to be shattered before they turned into thin, soft limbs, which stood tall in the air…
The limbs became smaller, sharper, softer.
Just like… feelers?
Now with feelers, the monsters looked as though they were being exposed to light in the darkness. They were no longer shuddering and spinning around like headless flies. Instead, their feelers rose up and started to swivel them around slowly.
The monsters’ feelers began to quiver slowly as if they possessed life, and they started to sweep towards Black Sword as well as Thales.
Then, they slowly came to a stop as they had already sensed where Black Sword stood.
As if… they were just making the final confirmation.
‘This is bad.’
Thales felt fear creep into his heart.
‘As expected… even if they didn’t fight each other for more than a quarter of an hour in their previous fight, Giza would have long since prepared to counter Instant Death.
‘And… her counter-attack seems to be pretty effective.”
Then, Thales looked at Black Sword with nervousness in his heart. He was still holding on to him tightly while moving forward amid the swarm of monsters with great difficulty.
The latter only closed his eyes and moved forward slowly like a dried log.
Thales felt incredibly anxious.
‘Giza has already taken action. Either she transformed, or did something else…
‘So, Black Sword, shouldn’t you wake up now?’
‘I could sense her true form’s location for the second time… and lock down on her completely!’
Thales hugged the Blade of Purification in his chest, and stared at the small monsters that had their feelers pointed at Black Sword. His heart thumped loudly against his chest.
Eventually, with goosebumps all over his skin, he could not help but poke Black Sword’s chest with his finger.
But it felt as if he had just poked a beehive!
In the blink of an eye, all the black monsters suddenly started moving as if they had just woken up from sleep. With the slightly trembling feelers on their backs and bone spurs, which were as ferocious as ever, they let out frightening hisses again. They kicked the ground with their hind legs simultaneously to pounce at Black Sword and Thales.
In that instant, Thales felt his skin crawl!
Black Sword’s movements had been as rigid as an old man’s, but in that moment, he suddenly moved!
As if he was taking his first breath of air since he was born, Black Sword took a deep breath. Then, his entire body jolted like he had just woken up from a nightmare.
Black Sword’s eyes flew open!