The future is determined for an arrow at the very instant it leaves the string. Along that logic, the arrow will not have the effect it wants if the target is prepared ahead of time regardless of how powerful the arrow is. Even if it came from the greatest archer known as Der Freischutz of the Demonic Bullet.
White Shadow possessed more fame and renown than the other Seven Heroes before he received the name White Shadow.
In truth, they couldn’t even compare.
While the other Seven Heroes were earning bits of reputation within their hometowns, the name Der Freischutz was being spoken of throughout the continent. However, his great renown eventually caught up to him. He who was a famed archer came under the constant surveillance of an enemy agents who spread the information of every battle he planned to participate, allowing his enemies to prepare thoroughly for battle. The enemy general he was to kill employed shieldbearers with massive and sturdy shield along with a priest to imbue blessings onto the shield.
His bullet could not pierce through the multi-layered shields. And so the evaluation of Der Freischutz, who was once hailed as a hero who could change the flow of battle, dropped to that of an ordinary archer once his methodology became known.
Within the humiliation and shame, Der Freischutz sought a new path. Eventually, he was able to get his hands on a secret passed down through word of mouth. Legend Grade Soul Contract: Division. It was a prodigious ability that granted the owner the power to create an unlimited copies with the same mass as the original, as long as their will could endure.
Der Freischutz ,who had managed to get his hands on Division, contemplated on how to utilize this wondrous power effectively and eventually chose the path of an assassin.
It was a natural decision coming from the man who painstakingly witnessed how the most powerful arrow once called demonic bullet was denigrated to an ordinary arrow. He would no longer stand proud at the head of battle beneath a banner representing him, but rather, he would meld into the shadows and let his clones create unwieldy chaos before appearing discreetly to pierce at those unsuspecting hearts. More than anything, he guarded against the world coming to know of his existence. This was how the name Unrecorded Assassin, White Shadow was born.
He watched the crowd devolving into a frenzy with indifferent eyes. This disorder was personally manufactured by him.
It wasn’t difficult to sow discord. It was enough to kill someone precious and place the blame onto another. The difference in intelligence between man and primates on an individual level might be that of the difference between the heaven and the earth. But as a mob, they were not much different on average.
Now that he had sowed chaos, all he had to do was wait to see whether his prey would be ensnared by his web. If he failed, he would leave this place without regret as he had no desire to confront him in an open battle.
Instead, he would follow the target until a good place to sow chaos was found, then set up his web and have the target come onto the testing ground.
This was how the recordless assassin White Shadow fought.
The fight of the finest assassin was being meticulously observed by someone who wished to become like him.
‘Now, show me your abilities, White Shadow. So that even if you lose, someone with the same desire as you can follow.’
It was frustrating, but she currently didn’t have the strength nor the experience to even dream of standing against the future Calamity known as the Enemy of the World. Ahmuge clearly recalled the chilling cry of Oom Bruuk that had flown toward her. Not even the veil of darkness could hide her. The moment she tries to make a move against Sungchul, she would likely be annihilated instantly. Just like the others who challenged him.
However, White Shadow who was known as the history’s greatest assassin might be able to present her with proper inspiration. Looking at the current state of events, this appeared to be true. At least to the point of driving Sungchul to a vortex of chaos with a factitious scheme that would prevent him from knowing where White Shadow truly was. Sungchul was walking to the eye of the storm of his own volition.
“Kill all of those fucking villagers!”
“We have to kill them before they kill all of us!”
The enraged mobs were moving forward with torches in hand. Their destination was one and the same. It was the village that shunned. Deeply rooted conflict and tensions were set ablaze into an inferno with ease. Although they might be lacking in weapons and trained warriors, their hearts burned with fiery vengeance and resentment that could set the entire forest ablaze.
White Shadow observed his own creation with amusement from the shadows.
‘I got lucky. That such a backwater place could have everything needed to create a perfect stage.’
His copies created through his Legend grade Soul Contract: Division that shared his will surrounded Sungchul who was walking toward the crowd. Sungchul continued to follow behind the crowd whether he knew of this or not, and they soon confronted soldiers from another airship. The foreign soldiers obstinately blocked the enraged refugees, preventing them from progressing forward as it was obvious what disaster would occur if these people were to reach the village. However, mediation was also reaching its limits. The rear of the crowd holding torches bloated to such a point that the soldiers lost their courage and retreated. Not only that but complaints regarding their allies ultimately led them to give up their position.
“What are the Human Empire bastards doing?”
“What the hell are they doing with their huge headcount?”
The soldiers and officers relayed all fault to the Human Empire and opened the path to the crowd. Now, there was nothing between the Insvant and Toporo Village.
However, Sungchul did not act. He had not found White Shadow’s position yet. Instead, he mixed into the crowd and walked toward the entrance of the village. The situation at the bridge leading to the village was already reaching its limits. Heavily armed militia from the village was putting up a palisade before the bridge and aiming crossbows at approaching refugees. None of the Hermits from the Tower of Recluse could be found within this scene even though the tower was directly behind the village.
‘It looks like Kha’nes is absent.’
Sungchul recalled what Tangrit had said before, and the situation was unfolding as he predicted. As he had said, the Tower would not be able to act when it mattered most. The militia might have the advantage of terrain and better equipment, but they weren’t fighters by occupation and had the absolute disadvantage in numbers. If the Insvant endured a light bit of casualty and forced their way forward in a single assault, the defensive line of the villagers would crumble like a cookie. Even still, Sungchul did not act.
There was no particular obligation on him to protect the village. The villagers hadn’t shown him some outstanding degree of moral character and, if seen from a different perspective, the refugees and resentment were brought on by their closed-minded actions. Of course, if he had the luxury of time, he might have considered intervening in this situation, but that wasn’t the case here. Sungchul was preoccupied, using all his focus on finding White Shadow’s shadows who were pursuing him from the darkness.
‘Is this the eighteenth one?’
Illusions with true bodies were nasty pieces of work since even the Eye of Truth could not discern them. Fortunately, they weren’t without their flaws. Possessing a body meant they carried mass, which meant that they would also have a presence. They were starkly different from ordinary illusions that could only act as scarecrows. Furthermore, ultimately, they all possessed the same presence. It could be called the fate of all clones. White Shadow realized this and tried his best to hide his presence, but Sungchul had developed his senses to their utmost limits to deal with Ahmuge all this time. He wouldn’t miss a single footstep nor a single breath.
Clones had increased in number by one. Even as the sound of drums and shouts were rampant at the center of the chaos, Sungchul recognized that the clones of White Shadow were increasing one by one and surrounding him in a fan-shaped pattern.
Regardless of the fierce battle of number taking place between the assassin and his target, the battle between the refugees and the village had slowly boiled nearly to its zenith. A portion of the refugees headed toward the village and threw over pieces of iron injuring several villagers and the militia who saw this shot back with their own iron pieces toward the refugees. Two or so men fell to the ground with chilling screams. For a moment, a heavy silence fell over the site. Once their deaths were confirmed, the silence shattered and the cold night sky was dyed in an enraged roar that threatened to overturn the heavens. White Shadow, who was lurking in the shadows, formed a threadlike smile on his lips.
‘The climax is soon approaching.’
His body split once again to form another clone who was sent out to the front. Ahmuge, who was watching the whole spectacle from the airship above, also recognized that the moment had come and waited for its conclusion with bated breath. The climax that White Shadow was waiting for was finally completed with the appearance of a single man.
A single gryphon appeared on top of the bridge pushing aside the angry mob. On top of the gryphon who couldn’t fly due to its broken wing majestically sat the old knight, carrying the shield of the radiant Holy Kingdom of Ruteginea; a sight which once swept the continent of the past in terror. Sungchul’s eyes briefly shook.
The man seeking his death had revealed himself in the battlefield he had sorely desired. The villagers who had kept him at a distance now showed complex emotions filled with suspicion, admiration, and rue as they opened the path for him.
The gryphon knight stood tall on the bridge.
“No one will be able to pass through here without my permission.”
Baron stood on his two legs and let out a terrifying roar. The invigorated refugees were frightened by the sudden appearance of the knight and took a step back, but the initial shock didn’t last long. The moonlight hidden underneath the clouds illuminated Tangrit wholly revealing his imperfections to the refugees that were hidden in the darkness.
“Hey, look! Isn’t he that one bastard? That old man monk that pulled the cart!”
“That gryphon can’t even fly. Don’t be scared! Just get rid of him right now and let’s go kill all of the villager bastards!”
The vigor of the villagers, that was as if doused with cold water, was boiling again. They threw iron pieces toward Tangrit and moved to push in toward the village immediately.
“What should we do? That old man and Baron look like they’re in danger?”
Bertelgia lightly shook her body before speaking.
Sungchul knew this well, but he couldn’t act so freely as before. Even at this moment, the clones of White Shadow were increasing in number and aiming for him.
‘It’s quite a nasty situation.’
If he stepped forward now, he might be able to save Tangrit, but he would miss White Shadow. On the other hand, White Shadow was one of the Calamities that has to be removed. The life of his savior or the resolution of a Calamity. The two tugged on his heart, but his indecision didn’t last long. Sungchul felt quiet rage boiling over to the surface, but did not act. Tangrit was speaking to those who watched his back with a calm but regretful voice.
“Go to the Tower of Recluse while I fight and knock on their door. No matter how cold-hearted they may be, they will not be able to turn away someone in danger before their eyes. I will buy you that time.
When the village head who had persecuted him so tried to speak, Tangrit shook his head and interrupted him.
“I am just doing what I should have done 15 years ago. There is no need for thanks.”
He left leaving behind those words and shook his reins with all his might. Baron roared and rushed forward.
Sungchul watched Tangrit go through with his final charge with callous eyes, but he could not see the moment of impact. When Tangrit was about to collide with the refugees, clones of White Shadow that had surrounded Sungchul collectively moved toward Sungchul. Sungchul wasn’t shaken as it was as it was within his expectations. Rather, he waited for another of the clones… no… White Shadow’s true body to appear. Sungchul’s expectations were not amiss.
When the chaos reached its apex, Der Freischutz revealed himself. He faced Sungchul’s open back and aimed the blue gem embedded Demonic Crossbow Aege toward Sungchul’s heart in ambush. This weapon that was said to borrow the strength of Magic Crystal from the birth of the universe was remodeled over and over again until it finally became a weapon suited for White Shadow.
It could only be fired once a week, but it held an unprecedented amount of destructive power within a single bullet.White Shadow was confident that he would even be able to kill a god if his aim was true in the proper conditions. However, the moment he pulled the trigger, Sungchul’s figure disappeared from his sight.
A beam of blue light pierced through several meaningless people.
White Shadow’s eyes flared. The bullet missed.