“It can’t be!” Marcus’s eyes were filled with disbelief. If Evergrant had discovered evidence of a “magical swordsman,” he could’ve accepted it—but Jerath dick Orbis was a different matter entirely. He was the whole reason why the Magic Tower had been studying magic swordsmen for decades; his disappearance was a prime opportunity to study the battle mage.
If he had really returned, there was no time for games.
“Jerath dick Orbis! It’s been twenty years since he vanished! If he were still alive… he would’ve shown up1 when his kid died—but he didn’t, did he!”
“I share your sentiments, my lord,” Elisha said. “He was the only human on the continent who could enter the Elven Forest, with the exception of the battle mage. There was not a single person who did not lust after his power, even in the halls of the mighty. Any traces of him would be of enormous worth—and we’re to believe that Evergrant found them? I cannot believe it.”
“As you said, Elisha, any knowledge about Jerath is enormously valuable in and of itself,” Ian said. “So let me ask you: an enemy strikes a bargain with the Magic Tower in exchange for the aforementioned information; should I, as the Master of the Tower, have refused the deal?”
“If…” Elisha bit her lip—the answer was obvious. Any information on the Elven Forest was valuable, even for the Tower; there were numerous rare magical ingredients which only grew in those lands. The elves themselves had such excellence in magic and spirits that any wizard would drool over their research.
What’s more, acquiring Orbis’s research data on the battle mage meant battling A-Class Knights.
Right. It’s not untrustworthy in any way; no one can resist when they learn of the tie between Evergrant and Jerath.
“Theta’s mission and this transaction—I simply made the most logical choice, as the current leader of the Tower. I put a great deal of thought into this and concluded it was an essential need.”
“Can I ask something?”
Ian gave Marcus a small nod.
“This bargain… Are you certain it will benefit our Tower? Please, no honeyed words—tell us the truth.”
“...Evergrant’s request seemed fair… and I am Ian teon Murray, reigning Master of the Magic Tower and a Grand Mage.” Ian’s eyes gleamed. “There’s no way I would lead the Tower astray, right?”
The gathered wizards were silent.
There was a black figure in front of him.
He could hear his instincts.
Magic, among other things, slept inside its body—an abyssal energy with unmatched destructive power.
I’ll force that death knight to his knees with this power. He’d force the death knight to its knees with an exponentially more powerful magic than what resided inside its body—nothing else would do.
The death knight trembled in the vice of the black magic and finally lifted his blade. It gleamed with a black light and hummed malevolently.
Death Blade—the pinnacle of the Aura Blade, the unique distinction of an A-Class Knight.
The death knight vanished from sight and instantly reappeared right before Joshua’s nose. Joshua gently extended Lugia to meet him.
The clash of their magic meeting filled the chamber with the sound of shattering crystal. The death knight was knocked back five paces and stopped to examine Joshua’s body.
The magic leaking off his body gave him a distinctive appearance; his deep blue eyes had been stained black as night; his unblemished white cheeks had been marred with black veins like he’d been struck by lightning.
“If you’re not going to attack, I will.”
Joshua seemed to be entirely unbothered. This was the first A-Class Knight he’d encountered since his return; an untiring death knight, no less. On top of their unwearying body, the death knight had all of the swordsmanship they had accrued in their living form—a death knight was no easy foe.
But that mostly applied to regular people
This was Joshua Sanders.
Joshua’s muscles wound up; he dropped his stance and raised his spear, concentrating his aura blade into a dense point on the tip.
The first form, the most succinct and basic of the magic spear’s techniques, yet the quickest and most effective: Thunder.
This was not the typical, ethereal color of normal thunder—instead, Lugia launched a beam of black light at supersonic speeds.
The death knight reluctantly lifted his blade.
There was a deafening roar. The chamber trembled unnervingly like it was ready to collapse, showing its occupants with dust.
Joshua was suddenly on the other side of the room, lightly holding Lugia. A dark afterimage traced his dance across the room.
The death knight, unable to fully repel the onslaught, convulsed. Dense smoke seeped from the gaping hole in his right shoulder.
Joshua watched intently as the smoke dispersed.
The death knight’s shoulder was instantly repaired—but it was out of magic now. That meant that Joshua was far stronger than the death knight.
Joshua’s eyes lit up.
“Mine,” greed whispered. “Take it. Don’t let anyone steal it from you.”
Incomprehensible want clawed at Joshua’s sanity.
“Hooo…” Joshua took a long breath and managed to push it away.
In the meantime, the death knight demanded his attention. The reanimated knight was gathering all of his power for his ace-in-the-hole. The hazy cloud of smoke was gathering into a single spot: his sword. Its Death Blade began to change from an ordinary longsword into something else.
Death knights had a special power: Sword Transformation. It allowed them to transform their blade into a shape similar to the weapons they used when they were alive.
This death knight’s blade became larger and longer; where it was an ordinary long sword, now it had become a broad two-handed blade.
But the transformation didn’t stop there.
The blade began to develop a saw-toothed edge, creating what was known as a “Neptune’s Sawtooth” for its shark-like appearance.
Joshua only knew of one person who would wield a deformed blade like that.
“That doesn’t make sense, he—” Joshua took a deep breath and stared at his opponent.
His enemy remained in place. It had taken an unusual stance where the sword was held in both hands but the tip rested on the ground.
Joshua’s doubts became certainty.
“Are people headed for the Master Battle headed here instead? And then dying and becoming death knights?”
He didn’t have any more time to wonder—the death knight’s sword struck the ground, shaking the earth like it was splitting in two and creating a shower of sparks as the serrations scraped against the stone. The massive shockwave it created slammed into Joshua; the flying dust cut at his skin as if it was trying to tear him apart, and some kind of numbing force bit into his skin.
There was only one place in the continent that used such esoteric swordsmanship: the distant reaches of the northern Swallow Empire.
Even between the three great powers, you could count the truly powerful on one hand. This man, even having lost to Prince Ulabis with an army of two hundred thousand, could proudly claim the position of “Master.” A savage ruler who didn’t share his secrets…
“Nanga Sword… the howl of the wolves.”
Joshua finally swung Lugia in a wide arc, shaking the castle to its foundations once more.
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