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24 Hearts - Chapter 35

Published at 20th of June 2021 09:07:22 AM


Chapter 35: Chapter 35

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35====================




The twenty-fourth fragment, Carpe Diem

Korkan was definitely a leader among wolves, a true alpha. Not only were his attack patterns different, but his Strength and Agility were much higher than the average stats of ordinary wolves. However, due to the stat points I had spent before coming to the plain, I was fast enough to move in a blur and strong enough to meet Korkan’s attacks head-on.

In fact, I was feeling a little dominant in the duel.

The one problem was that the durability of the longsword I was wielding had a limit. When I had met Korkan’s rush full-on with my blade earlier, a red notification had suddenly appeared in the corner of my field-of-view.

When there was a gap in the wolf’s attacks, I checked it and saw that it was a message warning me that my longsword only had 2/10 durability. Since I had cut down nearly a hundred black wolves in just four days, the sword’s durability had reached its limit.

‘Grarrng!’

Korkan was giving me no time to rest. He dug his hind legs into the dirt and jumped at me. I tracked his movement and hurriedly swung my sword to the right.

‘Schlaap!’ blood splattered from both our bodies at the same time. My sword cut into Korkan’s right shoulder while his claws dug into my thigh. The leather clothes I was wearing were torn apart along with my flesh; the leather had not provided a lot of defense.

“Argh,” I gave a slight groan as I stepped back. The cuts didn’t seem that deep, but the pain sure was annoying. Blood flowed through the sliced and torn leather.

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The feeling of dripping blood felt dirty as if I had pissed my pants.

The wolves all around me were sniffing the air, seemingly stimulated by the smell of fresh blood.

‘Greung, Grooh!’ the same counted for Korkan. Even though he was hurt, it was a relatively minor wound. That’s why he chuckled as he bared his gums and fangs as if he had been seized by the blood-scent. There remained plenty of room for movement by both of us.

His wound was minor, but it was still a decent cut. Whether he felt a lot of pain or not, he still attacked me again in a fluid motion.

It was difficult to beat him back.

Korkan repeatedly attacked me, focusing solely on my wounded thigh.

‘Damn it, he’s a smart guy! God damn!’

It was a difficult situation, but it could’ve been worse.

The moment I had beaten Korkan back, I activated the technique I had kept in reserve.

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[—]

-Shadow Swordsmanship


└Form 2 – True

[—]

My blade, which had reached the limit of its durability, keened as I lowered it. It became covered in darkness. I sliced it through the air, and the energy seemed as if it could cut through anything. I could see a black trail of shadows drawn in the moonlight where I had slashed my blade.

At that moment, Korkan’s eyes sparkled, and he swung a forepaw toward the dark layer of magic that had been created across my blade. Red energy raged from Korkan’s claws.

“That’s crazy!” I exclaimed before claw and sword collided.

The moment that the wolf’s paw touched the shadow blade, there came a ‘Claang!’ and sparks scattered into the air along with that harsh reverberation. Both of us could not withstand the magical force and we were thrown back.

Korkan momentarily retreated as he regained his balance by hopping back with his hind legs and tail. He stared at me, and I was still disorganized.

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I held back the activation of another skill, and the next thing I felt was Korkan’s head slamming into my abdomen. It felt as if he was shaking me around, and I was struck by an intense shock.

Before I could order my mind, I felt my body soar through the air. I thudded to the ground and followed the reflexes that had been trained into me as I managed to gain my footing by moving along with the roll.

One of my eyes itched like hell after getting some grit into it.

I blinked a few times, and although tears flowed from my eyes, my vision remained blurry.

I focused on using my remaining good eye as I kept Korkan in sight. He was chuckling as if he found my struggles to be a pretty sight.

‘You mean this leader can so easily counter my magic? What about the boss wolf then!?’

I was annoyed enough that I felt like swearing, but in all honesty, it was amazing.

With his fangs bared, Korkan rushed in at me again. I knew that if I was crushed under his heavy weight, then it was all over.

Once more, I blocked the attack by planting my forefoot firmly to the ground and readying my longsword, but at that moment, my sword’s durability failed.

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‘Klakauung!’ the blunt blade broke in half, and the sundered piece flew away like a boomerang, sticking into the ground not far off. The situation was now one of great concern.

I urgently blocked the follow-up attack with my left arm, which proved to be a bad judgment.

I should rather have dodged, or I could even have tried to draw a dagger and block it.

Korkan’s claws pierced into my forearm, and as he drew his paw back, he tore off a handful of my flesh. Fortunately, nothing broke or shattered, but I could see that the bleeding was serious.


If this had been my original reality, I would have fainted under the extreme pain. Things worked differently here, and thanks to my remarkably elevated physical abilities, I could tolerate the pain. The rate of blood loss also stabilized due to my relatively high regenerative power.

If I left the wound like this, it would certainly be a serious problem, but it was not enough to make me sit down and admit defeat.

“Hawoor,” Korkan gave a soft howl as if he was convinced that he had already won.

Many thoughts flashed through my mind, but chief among them was my annoyance at being laughed at by the wolf.

I had frowned during the battle, but now my eyes were wide open. From Korkan’s point of view, I was standing there with a wounded arm and leg whilst holding a broken sword. It was natural for him to think that I had become easy prey.

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I breathlessly fended of his repeated attacks with the broken blade. In the cold night air, a warm mist appeared and disappeared from my mouth as I breathed in and out.

Even if this doesn’t work, I’ll make sure to come back again and kill this wolf!

I had poison in my eyes as I stared at Korkan. I placed both hands on the hilt and sliced out before me, and Korkan dodged back at my sudden action. He quickly realized I would not have reached him with my blade, so he bared his teeth, ashamed at having faltered, and roared as he leaped at me.

[—]

Shadow Justice

└Form 4 – Lower Black Arms Manifestation

[—]

Black smoke erupted from my body, and a dark human figure of my exact shape appeared. At the same time, I dodged away from Korkan. The phantom exactly stood where I had been moments ago, and he replicated what I had done. He also slashed out with his blade. However, instead of slicing through the air, as I had, the slash was true and neatly aimed at Korkan.

‘Kryaha!’ as if he thought it to be a true threat, Korkan struck at the sword swinging toward him with his forepaws, also biting toward the phantom’s neck.

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After that single attack, the illusion lost its shape and scattered into nothingness like fog.

The skill didn’t have much power, but it wasn’t meant as an attack in the first place.

It was a skill for evading the enemy so that a counterattack could be launched.

Later, once I become a {Sword Wielder}, such a shadowy illusion could look exactly like me and even mimic my exact actions, confusing the foe and easing an escape or counterattack. For now, this was the skill’s limit, yet the illusion alone had proved its worth.

“Look again, motherfucker! Hey! Fuck you!”

I charged toward Korkan just as he finished his attack and landed on the ground. I neared him as I wielded my broken sword.


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[—]

─Shadow swordsmanship

└Shadow Swordsmanship Form 3 – 1 point

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[—]

A black lance was created in the air and pierced at Korkan’s surprised head.

However, it cut through his ears instead of piercing into his skull, so swiftly had had he ducked the magical lance. Two lupine ears scattered into the air in a shower of fur.

With a painful growl of ‘Grawooo,’ Korkan tripped up and fell forwards, at my feet.

‘Don’t miss this chance.’

I threw my broken sword to the side and drew a dagger from my waist into a reverse grip, thrusting it down with force.

At that moment, a dagger would work better than a broken blade.

‘Schluck!’ the dagger stabbed into Korkan’s crown, breaking through his skull and piercing into his brain. Korkan wriggled and spasmed in a mortal seizure, then grew still.

‘It’s dead.’

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I enjoyed the feeling of victory for only a while, for the wolves surrounding me all stood up at once.

“!” Tia had watched me fight breathlessly, without a word. She now also stood, wary of the wolves around her. It was then that I felt heavy energy suddenly flare up.

Requiem, the king of the black wolves, had been lying prostrate on the huge rock all this time. He now arose, like a megalithic symbol of some ancient faith.

Requiem’s gaze came to rest on Korkan’s remains. At that very instant, Korkan’s carcass turned into an ashen powder and was blown away on the breeze.

His body disappeared?

While I was trying to figure out the reason for it, messages popped into my mind.

[—]Your level has risen[—]

[—]You have successfully completed the random quest[—]


[—]Black wolves will not attack you while you traverse the Black Forest to return to Serenia. But if you do attack them, well: They cannot be guaranteed to just stand still and watch[—]

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[—]Reward:b Battle Ticket} for Wolf Boss {Requiem}, and your highest stat, excluding special stats, is increased by 1[—]

[—]Requiem, the king of the black wolves, will remember you. You have been recognized as an excellent warrior by the Black Wolves. Agility increased by 1[—]

The reward was fine. However, I didn’t pay much attention to it, as Requiem was still looking down at me, and countless wolves had surrounded me. It was clearly stated on the quest screen that the wolves wouldn’t attack, but the atmosphere… It still didn’t feel safe.

* * *

──────────────────────

「Status Window」

[Name: Judah Arche]

[Title: None]

[Level: 16]

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[Occupation: Black Claw _ Shadow Magic Swordsman (Hidden_A)]

[Number of resurrections: 1]

[Strength: 40(C) / Potential A]

[Health: 38(D) / Potential S]

[Agility: 41(C) / Potential SS]

[Magic: 41(C) / Potential B]

[Magical Resistance: 52(C) / Potential S]

[Knowledge: 17(F) / Potential B] ◀ Special

[Luck: 84(A) / Potential S] ◀ Special

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[Remaining points: 1]

──────────────────────



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