5, Month Fall-Amberine, Year 2763 B.A.
08:38, Leogella Tribe - Town Square
“Isabel… You!” Aila shouted after looking at the blood that seeped from the wound. Her voice was full of concern and self-loathed. She couldn’t help but felt that she was holding Isabella down in this fight.
“Don’t worry. It isn’t deep as it looks.”
That wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the truth either.
The wound was indeed not that deep because Isabella’s body was much stronger than before. But that didn’t mean that it wasn’t a concern at all. Her body could regenerate this wound but it would require her mana and her concentration, which were both crucial in the upcoming fight.
With this, her fighting power would drop at least 10%, if not more.
Isabella looked coldly at the two persons, Yao and Brandon. She stood in front of Aila protectively to shield her from any more sneak attacks.
But it was then that Yao spoke up.
Yao gazed at Isabella. There was still some distance between them. But there was a fighting spirit in his eyes. Unlike when he was looking at others—which looked like he was looking at trash—there was some respect in his eyes.
The Umbra tribe was a tribe that respected the strong. Yao, too, wasn’t an exception. He respected this woman that came back even after she had lost once already.
And she even became stronger than before. She wasn't just strong in magic, but her mind as well.
He waved his hand once, signaling his underling to stand down.
“How about we end it here?”
“End it here?” Isabella asked back. Her voice was slightly higher than her usual tone.
“You didn’t want your princess to become my concubine, right? How about I call that off?” shrugging at the disbelief girl, Yao answered.
“You want to call it off?”
“Yes, she could be the empress instead. How would that sound?” he said.
“With that, our tribes would become one for real. You and I don’t have to fight anymore.” Yao continued his proposal. “With our strength combine, how could there be anyone that stands in our path anymore?”
Isabella didn’t respond. She looked at Aila with the corner of her eyes. Aila responded with a silent gaze that seemed to say, “You can do whatever you want.”
That was a lie, of course. Aila probably didn’t want to, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it.
So, Isabella shook her head slightly.
“That is… unfortunate.”
“It seems like, you and I, only one of us could continue to live now.”
“That seems to be the case.”
Yao also shook his head slightly before sighing once. “To be honest, I respect you. Without a strong will, how could one comprehend the law of the world? If you live, maybe in a decade or two, this world would have a new sage that no one has seen before in such a long time.”
“It is not if. It will be for sure. As for the end of today, you will die. And I will live.” Isabella said coldly. Her voice filled with determination.
Yao grinned at her answer before he continued. “Very good. How about we do that then?”
“A life and death duel.”
“No! You couldn’t do that.” Aila shouted immediately. While it was indeed very rude to cut into the conversation between these two, she couldn’t hold back anymore.
“You and me. The winner takes all, isn’t that great?” Yao ignored her. He continued as if nothing happened.
“No! We refute.” Aila yelled, before turning toward Isabella and whispered. “You cannot accept it. You train in an assassin type. One-on-one duel isn’t a strong suit of you.”
That was true.
An assassin may have many spells at their disposal but they were not that effective in straight forward battle. Most of the spells were trickery and movement spells, left with a few that were attack spells. But trick usually only worked when it caught the target by surprise. And movement spell contributed very little in a restricted environment of a duel.
This meant most of her spell would be ineffective in a duel.
Accepted it would push Isabella into a disadvantage situation indeed.
But did she have other choices? If she didn’t accept it, the same thing could happen again and again.
Aila realized that fact also, but she still vehemently tried to get Isabella to refute it. She didn’t want her friend to risk her life just for her. The princess hoped Isabella would choose to escape by herself. She knew that if Isabella truly wanted to escape, how could anyone stop her?
How could Isabella not know what Aila was thinking? The long years that the two had known each other established a special connection between them. They could understand each other without even talking.
Isabella also considered that fact. But not in the escape that Aila was thinking. She thought about how she could just take Aila and fled.
In the end, Isabella shook her head and turned toward Yao.
If she escaped now, she would only let everyone that had supported her until now down—sage Khun and his followers. Not only that, taking Aila and escaped would only result in Aila spent the rest of her life in shame as she failed to protect her own people.
Escape was not an option.
Losing was also not an option either.
There was only one result that could make everyone happy.
It was to win.
The winner took all.
Everyone stepped out from the stage. The only two who remained were Isabella and Yao Umbra. They stood at a distance of 100 meters between each other. Isabella gazed at the crying Aila and Zula—who was currently holding her back, and sighed. She wanted to comfort her, but she knew that doing so would just be an empty promise.
“Don’t worry. I won’t mistreat her.” Yao said.
Life and death duel sounded barbaric, but it was actually a very sacred thing to do. Only two mages that truly respected each other would go on with it. After all, why would they go through such a complicated procedure just to kill one another?
That was why both sides would try to accommodate each other’s wishes as much as possible. It was the same principle that sometimes a death-sentenced prisoner would get their wish granted.
“Thank…” Isabella accepted it gracefully. “But I don’t intend to die, you know?”
“Good.” Yao laughed and asked. “What is your name?”
This was because he truly didn’t know her name before. He had a habit of not wanting to remember a stranger’s name. Only the strong would have the right to be remembered by him.
“Isabella…” Yao nodded. “I assumed you already know mine?”
“Let’s begin the ritual then.”
Life and death duel wasn’t just all talking. It was actually a ritual that two mages created together. Both sides swore in front of the law of the world that they would duel each other to death. This meant that until one side was dead, the ritual would go on forever.
There was no other end to the ritual.
After it started, one side had to die.
“The great law of heaven and the rule of earth. Please witness the duel of these two souls.”
“The great law of heaven and the rule of earth. Please witness the duel of these two souls.”
Both Isabella and Yao chanted. They hadn’t practiced before, but their chants were perfectly in sync with each other.
“Us, Isabella and Yao Umbra, wanted you to witness our struggle of life and death together.”
“Us, Yao Umbra and Isabella, wanted you to witness our struggle of life and death together.”
Their voice rang throughout the town. It was soft but not a single person would miss it.
“O’ great sage Khun of all-knowing, I pray that you bless me with a victory.”
“O’ great sage Pamela of all-encompassing, I pray that you bless me with a victory.”
The morning sky suddenly became dark. Thunder and lightning flashed as if there was a storm coming. This phenomenon extended at least 100 kilometers around the two. An oppressive feeling gushed down from the sky and everyone under it couldn’t help but kneel submissively. They felt as if there were gazed at by the world itself.
This was the ritual of the world, the life and death duel!
“Sage Khun…? I haven’t heard that name before.” Yao asked curiously.
“Wasn’t you also pray for the demon lord that had already passed away? That is also pretty weird for a beastman, isn’t it?” Isabella didn’t answer but questioned back.
The last verse of the ritual usually ended with both sides prayed to the sage they respected for a blessing. Before this, Isabella wouldn’t know who to pray for at all. But now, there a name that flashed in her mind immediately. The name of someone who helped her when it was all hopeless.
The only bad thing was that she didn’t know his true title. That was why she honored him the title that she had in her mind.
“...Well. It seems like both sides have their own secret, isn’t it?”
Another lightning flashed by. And a white circle slowly formed around the two figures on the stage. It had a diameter of 500 meters. This was the arena that the two would duel until death. It seemed large but it wasn’t large at all for the perfect circle mage. As each step of them could be at least 50 meters already.
“It seems like the talk time is over now.”
“Come, Isabella! Let us fight till death.”
After his words ended, Isabella dashed madly toward Yao. The strength of an assassin, after all, lied in an attack. She had to seize the chance to be the one attacking.
There was no illusion or spell behind her movement. It was just pure speed. Her body flashed past the 100 meters distance as if she could teleport. Even before his sound faded, her body already appeared before Yao.
She wanted to press with the attack that succeeded before, so she readied her sword in a thrust motion, wanting to stab his—already been pierced once—heart again.
But that simple trick would only be effective against a lower-level opponent or those with a weak will. Yao wasn’t panicked at all even when he saw the attack that almost took his life once.
He never feared death.
He harrumphed coldly. And with just his left arm, he grabbed the upcoming sword and pushed it out of the way. Not only that, he also countered with his own strike. He swung down his ax at the girl in front.
With her weapon caught, Isabella couldn’t retreat. She retrieved the Smoke Orb out of her storage ring and threw it toward Yao’s face. While being caught meant that she couldn't evade, the opposite was also true. Her opponent couldn’t easily move either.
Yao couldn’t dodge the orb at all, and smoke clouded his vision.
He still tried to randomly slash toward the girl, even with his temporary blind vision. But how could a blind attack get to Isabella? She had trained under the condition that her eyes couldn’t see before. She didn’t need to see to dodge an attack.
That was why she dodged the blind attack with just a bit of twisting her body. Not only that, dodging wasn’t the only aim of that movement. The rotation force also made it easier for her to pull out the blade from Yao’s hand.
Blood splashed against the stage. The first exchange resulted in Isabella's slight victory.
She didn’t let it get to her head though. This level of damage was only negligible considering Yao’s undying body. She took advantage that his eyes were still blinded and circled behind him, wanting to end his life for good.
“The same trick won’t work on me anymore!”
This wasn’t the first time the two fought against each other. After he got stabbed in the back the first time 3 days ago, Yao was already prepared against it.
When he heard the slight footstep that tried to shift behind him, he knew exactly what was happening. Yao swung his ax backward. It seemed random, but it was all calculated.
His body was much larger than Isabella, and his ax was also huge—with the blade alone almost reached 1 meter. This meant that his attack range was very large. Just by swung horizontally, the chance of a person behind dodging was already slim.
But Isabella wasn’t just an average mage, she was an assassin. Maneuvering was her specialty.
With a simple jump, she took a flight into the air. Not only dodging the sweep attack but also opened her a possibility of counterattacking!
Isabella looked at the defenseless neck of the man in front of her coldly.
She swung her sword, cutting at his neck while she was flying past him.