Episode 113 – The Last Attack
He had already been pushed almost to the edge of the arena.
Rhur’s delight grew with each passing second. “Tsk, tsk. Don’t faint yet. We are just getting started.”
He proceeded to kick him once again. Kiel closed his eyes, feeling his body hitting the ground again, knocking the air out of his lungs.
Then his body proceeded to roll, and then suddenly, his back hit something.
The sensation startled Kiel into opening his eyes.
He looked through the hair falling over his face only to see that he had hit Deora’s lying form.
He had been pushed back so much that he had reached the scene of his previous fight!
Before he could think of it any further, another lightning bolt fell on his body, zapping both him and Deora next to him.
This zapping brought Kiel considerable surprise, for just as it started, he had heard a peculiar noise. His eyes widened, and he stared at Deora dumbfounded. What…? The poison wasn’t fatal? Is it wearing off?
Apparently, there was nothing like a good electrocution to pull back someone from the death’s door, for the previously unresponsive Deora, let out a groan. His dark red eyelashes started fluttering, and his face scrunched up like a squeezed sponge.
Clearly, he wasn’t a morning person, but then again, with how “gently” he had been woken up, Kiel would be surprised if he was in a good mood.
As Kiel felt subtle changes in the aura wafting out of Deora’s body, a seemingly insane idea materialized inside his head.
He attempted to open his mouth with all his might, but only when Rhur slightly paused with the lightning did he finally manage to spew out a large mouthful of blood.
Before he could close his mouth, Rhur zapped him again.
When the next zap paused, Kiel managed to let out a weak groan: “Hey…”
Then the lightning hit again.
And then it paused.
If someone had told Kiel he would be putting his last hopes into something so ridiculous, Kiel would think the person to be making fun of him.
Yet, as if he had said a magic word, Deora’s eyelids snapped open revealing his bloodshot gaze.
His eyes were a bit glazed, there was a brief flash of remembrance inside of them, before it was replaced with fury.
At that moment, when Kiel looked into his crazed eyes, he had thought he could almost hear him bellowing “A firecracker?! &%$@!! I’ll give you a frigging firecracker…!”
A lightning zapped Kiel once again, followed by a kick from Rhur who had just reached them.
Only when Kiel was sent flying away from Deora by his kick, did Rhur have a clear view of Deora. However, by that time, he was already stepping over him, his gaze locked on Kiel’s miserable form, so he didn’t notice that his eyes were open.
Rhur was just about to zap Kiel again when, abruptly, Deora’s aura flared up, surprising Rhur into jumping back in shock.
The surprise made Rhur break out of his zap and pause routine, involuntarily making a larger pause between zaps.
Kiel seized that short window of opportunity to stuff a hand inside his pocket, grabbing Elaru’s magic egg and quickly twisting the middle ring.
No sooner had he heard the click of the middle ring, than the whole world turned white.
Kiel was sure that what followed would have been the loudest boom anyone had ever heard, however, either his barrier managed to block the sound, or he had gone deaf before his mind could register the sound.
Either way, the world went silent for the longest 20 seconds of Kiel’s life. The only sound he could hear was the buzzing inside his head that almost seemed synchronized with the shaking of the ground beneath his feet.
Kiel closed his eyes, trying to swallow down his nausea and return his labored breathing to normal. His stiff muscles slowly relaxed and his heartbeat started slowing down.
It took Kiel the longest time to finally recover from Rhur’s abuse and settle down his mind enough to process what was going on.
“Will explode if called ‘firecracker’.”
Kiel couldn’t help but recall the tip on dealing with Deora. Wait… that tip was actually not a figure of speech? He will literally explode?! He didn’t know what he was expecting when he chose to call Deora a firecracker, but surely it wasn’t this.
How short tempered would someone need to be to choose to self-destruct and obliterate the entire stadium?
When Kiel had initially read that tip, he had thought it to be a failed attempt at humor. Yet, now, out of all the things he had read, it turned to be the most useful tip of them all.
It was ironic, really, yet not as ironic as Rhur’s fate.
Kiel opened his eyes, only to be met with a giant crater enveloping the entire arena. The circular stadium looked as if someone took a large bite out of it, leaving only a small portion of the building that was the furthest from the center of the explosion.
Besides the two small islands that had been protected by Kiel’s and Zor’s barriers, nothing else remained inside the large crater. There was no sign of Rhur, Deora or any other participant. Not even blood stains remained.
Who could have predicted that Rhur’s hate for Kiel coupled with his sadistic nature would, in the end, cause him to lose the match?
Kiel felt like laughing, but his stomach muscles ached too much for him to laugh.
He regretted not being able to see Rhur’s facial expression as he was blown up to smithereens. It must have been a wonderful sight.
Kiel’s mouth twitched into an involuntary smirk that looked more like a grimace, then he spat out some more blood to the ground next to him.
His gaze wandered towards the hourglass which coincidentally happened to be in the part of the wall that avoided the catastrophe. There were still several minutes remaining in the exam.
Unlike the hourglass, the VIP lodge, where the examiners had been sitting, was blasted off the map. However, it seemed like the examiners had escaped with their lives, for when Kiel concentrated on his hearing he could hear them chatting in the distance.
“And there it is. Deora’s famous self-destruct.” A female chuckled. “Arcor, doesn’t this make you feel nostalgic?”
A second, deep voice responded with an angry: “Piss off!”
A third, amiable male voice added: “There was nothing better Deora could have done in the current situation. He was in no state to continue the battle. Might as well sacrifice himself to take out the enemies.”
“You think that git was thinking of strategy? He was clearly too angry to think. Since he wouldn’t die in the exam, he just decided to go out with a bang.” The female sneered.
Kiel rubbed his temples, hoping that a massage would help lessen his headache, and then he cast a Morph spell on himself again, trying to feel the state of his own body.
Yet, just as he was about to begin the inspection, his body jolted as he felt a spell envelop his surroundings.
A sound isolation barrier, few meters larger than his own protection barrier, had covered his little island. It was actually just a barrier that froze the movement of a thin veil of air, as to prevent the sound waves from passing to the other side of the barrier.
“What year is it?”
Kiel’s head snapped towards the source of the husky voice to see Zor, who was floating leisurely outside of Kiel’s barrier with a frown creasing his brows.
Like a phantom, he had appeared without any sound. Kiel didn’t feel him approach, he wasn’t even sure if he had teleported or flown here. His presence concealing was so flawless that if he weren’t clearly standing in front of him, Kiel would have sworn that he wasn’t there at all.
What year is it? It was a strange question, yet instead of being confused Kiel’s eyes narrowed in an as-I-thought look.
Zor had just confirmed what Kiel had suspected from the start – Zor Arite knew that he was only a Replica.
From the beginning, Kiel thought that it was highly likely that an Arite would know the secret behind the Replica dungeon and have a way to recognize whether they were the original or a Replica. However, when Zor had disinterestedly sat down, not showing any desire to participate in the battle, Kiel was almost sure that he knew.
If he had thought himself to be a participant of the exam, he would surely want to show his worth as to score the highest possible score. Yet, he didn’t care about it at all.
He was only a Replica. After this battle, he would disappear. Regardless if he won or lost, it would all be the same. What was the point of battling then?
Perhaps the only reason why he didn’t outright forfeit was his pride.
Or perhaps he was curious to find out what had happened in the years passed.
“It’s 1449 A.W.” Kiel replied calmly.
Zor stared at him for several seconds before opening his mouth again: “Do you know me?”
Does he want to know his own future? Kiel blinked several times before replying. “No. I know your name, but we’ve never met.”
Kiel didn’t know what he had said wrong, but after hearing his words, Zor frowned in displeasure. “I suppose you are telling the truth, for if you had met me, you certainly wouldn’t dare lie to me.”
Kiel’s eyebrow jumped. Is that a threat?
“Alright.” Zor mused lazily. “Tell me, what am I up to nowadays?”
Kiel’s expression turned awkward. How was he supposed to tell the guy that he was dead?
He carefully picked his words: “If you want to know information about your future achievements, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. Besides your name, I know nothing about you.”
Zor’s commanding voice turned icy. “You want me to believe that you know nothing about the head of the Purge and the head of the argel branch of the Arite family? While you are at it, you might as well claim that you aren’t a Rroda…”
Now it was Kiel’s turn to frown. “The head of the Purge and the head of the argel branch of the Arite family is not you. It’s Erdi Arite.”
Zor’s eyebrows shot upwards, almost reaching his red hairline. “What? Mother still hasn’t let me succeed her? I must have screwed something up quite badly.”
Zor’s sudden uncharacteristic outburst startled Kiel into forgetting the tact he was supposed to have: “I’d say.” Kiel couldn’t help blurting out. “You died.”
Zor Arite seemed to take it better than expected. He had no change of expression, staring at Kiel as if they were talking about the weather. “How did I die? What happened to Rine?”
Rine? Who is Rine? His soulmate? Kiel shook his head helplessly. “I don’t know the circumstances of your death. I was a newborn when you died.”
Several moments of awkward silence passed, before a powerful, oppressive aura assaulted Kiel’s senses. Zor’s mane started flying around him as if there was a breeze, and his golden eyes narrowed into a menacing stare.
Why is he angry? It’s not like I killed him! Kiel cast an Acceleration spell on himself, prepared to fly away in case Zor managed to teleport inside his barrier.
However, Zor didn’t teleport.
In fact, Zor didn’t even attack the barrier.
He just pointed his index finger, as if to touch the barrier.
And then, abruptly, the rings on Elaru’s magical egg jolted and speedily twirled themselves around the egg. The rings didn’t even stop spinning before Kiel’s barrier had completely vanished.
What did he do?! Kiel slid his hand into his pocket, simultaneously accelerating backward, his eyes wide in shock. He could feel the changes in the egg even though it had been in his pants.
He brought the artifact out, hoping he could activate it again, but the rotations of the rings had completely changed. He had no idea how to set them up again!
His plight didn’t escape Zor’s golden eyes, which grew colder and colder by the second.
He didn’t chase after Kiel, only watching him calmly.
However, that caused no relief to Kiel, for a moment later, he almost slammed his back into Zor Arite, who had, in a blink of an eye, teleported from his previous position to stand right in his path.
Kiel tried twisting his body around in midair, as to escape from the dangerous situation. However, Zor gave him no chance, his hand seized Kiel by the neck in a vice grip.