The battle began when Franz’s two-handed sword was blocked by Illich’s shield. Illich brandished his axe the moment he blocked the sword while Franz spun his wrist holding his blade like a windmill to deflect his opponent’s axe.
There was a loud sound of collision when the blade and the axe met, but lllich’s attacks did not end there. As the axe and the blade collided, he turned his body, trying to hit Franz with the shield. Franz blocked the shield by lowering the positions of his hand on the grip of the blade.
His body was pushed into the air upon blocking the attack. A distance was created between them and the men temporarily resumed watching each other for the next move.
Here Franz thought, “He really is amazing.”
Franz had learned to gauge the relative strength of his opponent by crossing blades at least once. And this man was strong.
When he compared the ways the weapon was used, its speed, his enemy’s movement, to that of the trolls he had fought against and against his battle with Master Hunter Kei, he realized that Illich’s might was very evenly matched to his despite the fact that he had the title of the ‘Chosen One’ which granted him a super buff.
‘If I didn’t have this title, I would have been the one at a disadvantage.’
While Franz was thinking all this,
Illich charged at him with his shield held in front. Franz was about to dodge to the side and strike at Illich, but at that moment, Illich spun around once and without even looking, he swung his axe. It countered the originally sidestepping motion and was not something that could be evaded. Franz swung his blade against it, trying his hardest to stay on target and land a shot.
Illich’s axe penetrated Franz’s shoulder armor and at the same moment, Franz’s blade nicked Illich’s thighs.
Each of the hunters took a step back, away from each other as if they had agreed beforehand. Both Franz and Illich’s cubes sounded out with the Operator’s voice:
[You have attacked your fellow Hunter. Entering ‘Troll’ state.]
[Hunters in ‘Troll’ state receive 10% penalty to Raid Rewards.]
[And in the event that the Troll is killed by other hunters,]
[It will not inflict the ‘Troll’ state on the attacker.]
Such was the irony for Franz who now became the troll he so despised. But Franz decided to think of it differently because Illich was evil. Whether Franz would become a troll to the system or not, he would still think that removing Illich was a necessary and a just deed.
Franz lifted up his blade up and shouted,
Electricity started flowing from his gloves and went into his blade.
Illich watched Franz charge up. Franz couldn’t give Illich the time to analyse and when he felt his blade was almost fully charged, he dove in towards Illich and swung his blade in a wide arc in the hopes that Illich would block with his shield.
But Illich dodged Franz’s attack instead of using his shield to block it. He must have instinctively felt that he shouldn’t block with his metallic shield. Franz bit his lips. Making calm, detached and detailed decisions were what Illich was best at. Franz tried to catch him, but Illich held out his hand and called out a spell to push him away,
“Push away my enemies! Gust!”
Franz moved his center of gravity using his blade and landed while spinning. But the moment he landed, his blades were discharged after having touched the snow on the ground, melting the area around him.
The only reasons why he was able to use electricity in his attacks was because of his gloves, ‘Electro’, and its inductive properties. Excluding them, none of his other equipment had inductive properties. He could even get electrocuted himself if he wasn’t careful. He lifted his blade but noticed that the power contained in his sword had significantly decreased, most likely dissipated into the snow and water. Franz looked at Illich.
‘Did he calculate this as well?’
At that moment, Illich looked at the blade and said,
“The power of Lightning, interesting. Then I shall prepare myself too.”
He held his axe and said,
His axe glowed with a mysterious and menacing blue aura.
‘What’s that?’ thought Franz, but Illich ran up to him immediately. Franz took a defensive stance to explore the capabilities of the modified axe. He blocked the flying axe with his blade.
It was a perfect block using the wide side of the blade, but the blue aura of the axe passed through. Franz didn’t think much of it because it didn’t look like much, but when it reached his fingers, he felt unspeakable pain and cried,
Franz jumped back, barely holding onto his sword. His fingers felt as if they were burning from the phantasmic blue aura.
Illich didn’t give Franz the time to think and continuously swung his axe, feeling that his attacks were going through. Every time he swung his axe, a similar blue blade aura flew out from it, cutting the air and audibly making it sound dangerous.
Like Illich had done earlier, Franz concentrated on dodging the blows rather than blocking them with his blades.
‘That’s a dangerous blade aura. Let’s dodge them for now until it gets extinguished.’
Each and every active skill has a time limit; Franz decided to drag the fight out till the end of its active time. They both had similar speeds anyways. Franz didn’t think it was difficult whilst retreating backwards. As he saw Illich make a big swing, he dodged by bending down, but when look looked back up, he saw that Illich had used the momentum of the swing to spin around and launch an attack on him using the shield in his left hand.
Franz, who had been concentrating on dodging the axe blows, took a proper hit from the shield and fell back.
Illich spared no time in taking advantage of the situation and jumped at Franz while holding his axe. Franz had no choice but to block the incoming attack.
He could see the blue edge passing through beyond the sound of colliding swords and could finally figure out what it was. He was able to realise it when he took in an immensely cold breath of air whilst fighting Illich.
‘This is… It’s similar to the attacks which the Ice Witch had used.’
The pain he felt on his fingers wasn’t the pain of burning, but of being frozen.
Illich pushed down on Franz, by adding on more strength into the axe. The cold blue edge started reaching down on Franz’s nose.
Sungjin looked around him.
The fourth dimension was empty, only having the corpse of the Ice Witch. There were no corpses of dead hunters or the sounds of fighting trolls. This meant that the trolls of the current dimension must be outside, somewhere in the frostplains. Sungjin’s face crunched up.
‘Darn it… I’ve come to an annoying dimension.’
There were only 40 minutes till the end of the raid and he had to go hunt trolls from another dimension using his last Trollseeker Marble. Sungjin climbed to the roof and saw that the hidden piece, the Star of Winter, was missing.
‘Ho… Well, would you look at this?’
The ‘Star of Winter’ didn’t really qualify as a ‘Hidden’ piece since it wasn’t exactly hidden and looked like an ordinary ornament of the palace, which Sungjin had luckily found (although he found it by melting the whole palace). But it must have been an incredibly hard to find item. To have found this, there must have been a capable hunter in the team.
‘Then I wonder where this fella might be…’
Sungjin looked beyond the shadows using Besgoro’s Ghost Vision. He could see the corpses of a Yeti and a Saber-Tooth Tiger behind the Palace.
‘It must be in that direction.’
He looked further beyond the area and found countless arms and legs which had been cut up along the bloodied frostplains.
‘…They killed the Hidden Boss?’
Sungjin jumped down, sliding down on the sides of the palace, then jumped again when he reached around half way. Although it was a little high, having equipped ‘Diora – Pants of Feather Fall,’ its passive was able to negate most of the damage from falling from the height. As soon as he landed, he used “Swift Paw!” and ran explosively along the frostplains.
‘If they could find the Hidden Piece.. and could kill the Hidden Boss as well. Surely this party is strong,’ Sungjin thought.
He heard the sounds of battle around where he found the corpse of the Hidden Boss.
‘I’m almost there.’
Sungjin took out Moon Specter and Artemio out of his four katanas as they were effective against multiple targets. When he moved past the corpse of the Hidden Boss, he was taken by surprise! It was because there was a familiar face in the crowd. Sungjin said his name aloud,
The man fighting against the troll was Baltren. He was the Black Policeman Sungjin had met in the first Chapter. But he was now bloodied, barely blocking the blows against the troll. Sungjin ran towards him without hesitation. Baltren was being harassed by the troll who was a Spearman, attacking him from a distance.
“Give it up, mate! You think you can drag this on for another 40 minutes?”
But it took no longer than 4 seconds to stop his attacks.
Sungjin brushed his spear aside,
Cut off his wrist,
And kicked his torso.
He couldn’t even shout properly on having his torso kicked squarely, and became stuck in the snow. Sungjin walked up to him and killed him on the spot.
Sungjin turned around to look at Baltren despite having two items drop from the troll. Baltren stared and blinked dumbly at the newly developed situation. He only recognised who the ‘Adjudicator’ was after the person took off his helmet.
“You’re… Master Hunter! Kei!”
Baltren came up to Sungjin despite losing blood and grasped his hands.
“It’s so good to see you again, Master Hunter Kei! Do you remember what I said when we parted ways last time? That we will meet again.”
Undoubtedly, seeing someone familiar from previous raids was a welcoming thing. Sungjin also felt happy, smiling he said
“It’s good that you’re still alive. Very good.”
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