Vol 6. Chapter 19: The Silver Glow of a Champion
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Near the Center of the Deadlands: 936, December 31st, Monday, 3:30 AM.

Thrown away by a powerful attack from his opponent, Ninigi ripped a massive trail on the ground across the region with his back—kicking up an enormous cloud of dust in his path. Following closely behind was the black-haired daemon he encountered in his way towards the ruined castle of the Deadlands, whose wild fighting style and inexhaustible amount of energy proved difficult for even the champion to handle.

Breaking out from the pain, Ninigi quickly planted both hands on the dirt while pressing his legs closely together—proceeding to aim up towards the crimson sky with his feet. Though his body still slid away across the barren lands, the resistance created by his hands pressed against the ground slowed him down just enough for the daemon to catch up to him.

The corrupted knight came across Ninigi’s lifted legs and proceeded to grab one of them by the ankle, falling for the gladean knight’s scheme to get the upper hand. He lifted Ninigi from the ground with a single pull that raised the champion above his head, but what should’ve been an opportunity for him strike, became the opening that his foe had expected from the start.

“Hup!”

Making use of his free leg, Ninigi smacked the side of the daemon’s head with the sole of his foot he could slam him back on the dirt—forcing his opponent to stumble on his steps. Though part of his plan did not go as expected—as the corrupted knight refused to let go of his ankle even when stunned, the champion relaxed his body to let it flop down head first, allowing him to take a hold of his adversary’s feet. With a tight grip around the nameless knight’s ankles, he quickly pulled them back with both hands and forced him to fall forward on his face—finally breaking free from his clutches.

“Gr!” grunted the daemon as his face hit the dirt, jumping back on his feet unscathed quickly after.

The expressionless fighter turned around with a sharp motion to face the last known location of his opponent, met by the silent shadows and crimson fog of the Deadlands instead as he moved his head from side to side. A sudden strike on his already injured ribs would snap him back into the battle with a zap, feeling the cold steel of an arrow tear through his hardy flesh from one side, and fly out from the other.

What afflicted the daemon in reality however, was a small amount energy from the champion’s pathway concentrated into tiny projectiles. The beasts’ eyes slid towards the arrows’ direction, spotting the brown-haired knight discharging small beams of azure from a distance—releasing them at speeds that rivaled the fire rate of a mounted machine gun.

Each blast that connected with the daemon’s body felt like a bomb that erupted inside his body, as the corrupted energy of his artery network rejected the champion’s pure azure—though despite the pain, he had yet to be left without options. In an attempt to escape from the shower of energy beams discharged against him, the corrupted knight crossed both arms in front of his face while shrinking his body in the process—gathering as much strength as he could at the core of his shaking body.

“Gr!” with a quiet grunt, the daemon separated his arms and extended them both with a strong push to each side, creating a powerful ignition in the air that deflected the azure projectiles of his opponent.

The entire area around the wild fighter exploded into a pile of sharp rocks, flinging them away at the gladean knight like weapons. Taken off guard, Ninigi gasped in surprise at the sudden burst that flung a cluster piercing projectile towards him. The rocks that flew directly at him with tremendous velocity looked like peaceful fishes floating in the water, as his greatly honed abilities as a knight aided him in perceiving his surroundings in great detail. The champion narrowed his eyes, and skillfully evaded each flying rock flung at him with a gentle dance around the battlefield.

“…!” Another gasp would escape him while avoiding the group of projectiles however, as the slow fishes parted to make way for the fast predator that approached at sound breaking speeds. “Tsk!”

His speed, challenging even the champion’s trained senses, managed to catch Ninigi off guard as the daemon appeared in front of him in the blink of an eye. The champion watched the corrupted knight reeling his arm back before propelling it forward in a thrusting punch, forcing him to protect his face with one arm.

“Grah!” the wild fighter roared as his punch was blocked by his foe.

“Oomph!”

The absurd force behind the daemon’s attack erupted a second burst of air around the area, ripping a large crater under him and Ninigi before sending the latter away into the distance. Now back in the offensive, the corrupted knight quickly chased after the flying knight while charging a second punch with the other hand—breaking the ground with every step forward he took. The veins on his fist surfaced as he clenched it tightly, throwing a powerful punch against his stunned opponent.

“Ough!” Ninigi cried in pain as the knuckles of the nameless knight tore the flesh on his lips and broke his nose, forcing his head to fling backwards with a violent motion.

Such enormous collision added to the champion’s uncontrollable flying speed, which moved him away from the center of the Deadlands and back towards the south. Eventually hitting the ground hard with his back, Ninigi bounced off the dirt like a ball in a basketball court before coming to a full stop, breaking the dry ground with his body during his last fall.

“Kh…” he lied flat with his face on the ground, streams of blood flowing into it from his broken nose and lips.

Refusing to stay down however, the experienced knight lifted his body into a plank with shaky hands, pulling himself back on his feet with extreme effort. He exhaled through pursed lips with lowered brows, feeling his body fall apart with every injury, both old and new. Through his foggy vision, Ninigi spotted the intimidating daemon emerge from within the crimson fog with a confident stride—stopping his advance at a fair distance away, as if prompting the gladean knight to make the next move.

“Haah…” Ninigi dropped his head with a sigh, mentally and physically fatigued.

In his mind, nothing could be worse than a drawn-out battle so early in the morning. Having been fighting for a long time became extremely tasking to his mind, even after the many experiences he’s put himself through over centuries of training. That reluctance to end an opponent became the very culprit of the knight’s afflictions, as his unwillingness to finish a fight only caused them to extend beyond what he was willing to endure.

For the first time in a long time however, he found himself in the dire need to stop holding himself back. The powerful daemon refused to fall despite having his bones broken, his artery network shattered, and his mind completely lost. Only one option remained on the table for the one chosen by the goddess, a gift granted to him at birth, and that served him once to save the world from its greatest threat. However, the single use of such gift was enough to almost force him out of the conflict.

The silver light of the goddess that he carried within could bring even the toughest opponent to their knees in a second, as not even the god himself was able to resist its power once allowed to break free. Despite the clear consequences it would bring to his body, the destruction that the daemon might cause if allowed to roam free was more than enough for Ninigi to make his decision—now determined to put an end to his rematch against the corrupted knight.

“So be it…” he whispered, puffing his chest up while inhaling deeply from his nose. The champion pressed his fingers gently into fists, and cleared his mind from any remaining thoughts while closing his eyes.

“…” the daemon watched in silence, either by lack of ability, shock at the knight’s strange power, or both.

The crimson fog around Ninigi cleared the deeper he inhaled, like animals trying to escape from the hunter that had just awakened in the wild. The cuts and bruises in his body became engulfed in a bright azure light, eventually losing its color to become a sparkly and elegant silver that removed every injury afflicting the champion—rejuvenating his body back into perfect shape.

Reinvigorated and no longer hesitant, Ninigi opened his eyes to reveal the silver glow of Gladea in his transformed irises. His calm expression reflected the confidence behind his strength, yet a hint of displeasure could still be seen behind it. He raised his chin and slightly turned his body sideways, ready to confront the corrupted knight for a third time.

“Let’s see how you deal with me now…”

END OF CHAPTER

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