The doors to the inner courtyard exploded inwards. The thick wooden buttress snapped like a toothpick, the wooden doors where ripped out of their hinges to sail into the air before crashing to the ground, raising a thick cloud of dust and debris that momentarily obscured the entrance.
The loud noise froze everyone in the courtyard, as they turned their gaze to the source of the noise.
The reporter for Sun Television, Me-Ling, had been following Kiro ever since his assault on the wall. Seeing that he was about to begin his assault, she sent a message to the person outside her capsule to restart the video link. This was to ensure that the viewers would see what she is seeing just now in (almost) real time.
This is it, Kiro thought. The final fight, and the most important one. Because just killing them wasn’t enough. He needed to scare them, terrify them so much they never even considered doing something like this again.
He was taught many things from the old man in the Master Training Center. But the one that was the most useful for him right now was the use of appearances. It was a weapon as effective as a sword, a weapon that could make an opponent give up before the fight even begins. It would serve him well today.
He wasn’t going to just fight them. He intended to dominate the fight from beginning to end.
For that purpose, he stayed still.
Even though every instinct he possessed screamed at him to rush out, to make use of the cloud of dust to take them by surprise, jump into the thick of the enemies to make it more difficult for mages to target him, he stayed still.
He had already activated Celestial Turtle Shell Aura. Now he was going to gamble on its strength.
As the dust cleared, his enemies became visible. 2500 people crammed into a courtyard.
It was show time.
Kiro started walking. Not too fast, as that would indicate nervousness, but without hesitation. He forced himself to move as if he was strolling, but with decisiveness. He schooled his face into an impassive expression.
Decidedness, confidence, surety, purpose, impassivity, implacability, arrogance. Those were what he strove to project.
The members of DrakeXScales stood transfixed, their eyes on the entrance to the courtyard.
Who could blame them? In front of them was their enemy, a single player that had single-handedly forced them to retreat into this courtyard, in the span of a day.
He was surrounded by a sphere composed of golden hexagons, which gave the impression he was cut off from the world. From them.
He was in front of them, and all they could do was stare.
It was the way he walked. It was in his erect posture, in his eyes that looked directly ahead. It was in the casual indifference of his expression.
He walked with surety, as if he knew where he was going and was confident that nothing would prevent him from getting there.
He walked as if alone in the world, as if they weren’t there. As if 2500 high-level users weren’t even worth his consideration, let alone his alarm. To him, they didn’t even register.
He walked with confidence and arrogance: as if he owned the very cobbles under his feet. A king taking a stroll in his courtyard.
But most of all he walked without haste, without hurry. To the players of DrakeXScales, whose frayed nerves were at their limit, time felt stretched out. Every step he took seemed to last an eternity, stroking the tension in their bodies to a painful intensity.
Forced into immobility by the surrealism of the scene, they could only watch as he walked towards them
From the video feed the only thing that was visible was a black sphere. But it didn’t matter.
Everyone, whether it was at the studio or at home, or if they were participating in the online forums, all of them were silent, watching the progression of the sphere as it slowly, ever so slowly made its way towards the DrakeXScales players.
No one needed to see the player underneath that sphere to understand the intensity of the scene or be captured by it, eyes glued to the television.
As the sphere of darkness slowly, inexorably, made its way forward.
Drake looked at Kiro as he walked towards them. It was scary, so damn scary. He was coming for them, coming to kill them, Drake was sure of it.
Feeling an irrational terror, he yelled: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU FOOLS? BLAST HIM WITH RANGE!!!!”
Hearing the voice of their leader snapped the members of DrakeXScales out of their immobility.
There were close to 500 hundred mages and about as many archers left. As one, they lifted their bows, brandished their staffs, and chanted their spells in an all-out offensive to wipe out the object of their hatred and fear.
Hundreds of spells and thousands of arrows were hurled into the air, before colliding with Kiro in a maelstrom of power… which did nothing.
Unperturbed, undaunted, Kiro kept walking without so much as missing a step, making a frown or turning his head even after waves and waves of attacks beat against his Celestial Turtle’s Shell Aura.
They simply weren’t enough to destroy it.
Waves and waves of magical power, volley after volley of arrows, yet Kiro kept walking in the same deliberate manner as before.
The mages chanted and casted. Spells of incredible destructive power, curses so vile they turned the air black, magic so potent one could not look at it directly.
The members of DrakeXScales watches this magic take form. Yet, under their terrified gaze, this same magic failed to penetrate Kiro’s defenses.
To their eyes, it was as if they were raindrops, which their impassive enemy ignored even as they collided with his umbrella.
To the people seeing this on video, the visual effect was different, yet just as awe-inducing.
They watched as wave after wave of colorful magic flew towards the sphere, only to be swallowed in its darkness. As if the sphere was a black hole, absorbing everything that gets to close.
But, such a full on assault couldn’t last. First one, then two, then several more people ceased attacking: their mana pools depleted, their quivers empty. Soon only a few were left, before they too ceased attacking, spent.
And Kiro… just kept walking. Just like he had during the downpour of magical and physical projectiles, and just like he had since the beginning.
This continuum, more than anything else, chilled the DrakeXScales members to the bone.
They had just literally thrown everything they could at him, without any visible results.
At that point most of them gave up. They let their arms fall down and bowed their heads, as they awaited defeat and death.
Kiro continued walking, unperturbed, regal. And as he did so, the players in front of him made way, as if an invisible wave carried him out of his path.
As a result they formed a kind of half circle, with him as the center.
Finally, he stopped walking, just as his feet carried him to the middle of the courtyard.
He maintained his poker face, but allowed his Celestial Turtle’s Shell Aura to fade away.
The silence was deafening. The tension was so thick it could be sliced with a knife.
Everywhere, everyone watching, be they in the game or not, held their breaths.
Slowly, ever so torturously slowly, Kiro lifted the two daggers he was still holding.
A soft, crimson and golden glow started emanating from his body, even as the image of a gorgeous crimson dragon took shape behind him, half obscured by misty clouds.
Everything was still. No one, spectators or players did a single movements.
Until now Kiro hadn’t harmed a single one of them. Perhaps they held the naïve impression that such a state of affair would endure. That he wouldn’t really attack all 2500 of them at once.
If they did, their hopes were immediately crushed.
Like a dragon on cattle, he pounced, daggers raised high, into the thick of his enemies.
The first thing he did was activate Elemental Rage. What it did was send out miniature versions of Elemental Wave whenever he moved. It was the perfect skill to make sure no enemy could get close to him.
Then he started killing.
He killed a dozen players or so before the DrakeXScales members got out of their shocked state enough to put in a token resistance.
A warrior tried swinging his sword horizontally at Kiro’s head but it was so slow Kiro barely even noticed it. He just stepped to the side, ducked his head and stabbed the player through his exposed armpit, directly into the heart.
Two warriors tried flanking him, only to be rebuffed by waves of fire. Capitalising on this opportunity, Kiro turned towards the first one, stabbed him in both thighs with his dagger and gave a solid back kick to the other one as he tried to attack him again.
The player literally flew in the air, colliding with the ground some twenty meters away, already dead.
Kiro rushed towards another group of warriors. The one in front had a huge tower shield which he held in front of him to try and stop Kiro. But Kiro just took a step to the side, kicked his legs out from under him and stabbed him in the back of the head with his dagger.
A warrior with a long pole tried to stab him. Kiro jumped, kicked himself off the pole and kicked the man in the head, which did its best to imitate a soccer ball… enough said.
Kiro went on to slaughter the rest of the group. Before attacking another one, then another.
At some point he started using Celestial Eagle’s Lightning Charge which made the pathetic illusion of resistance the DrakeXScales guild was showing crumble into nothing.
They abandoned their pride, running away whenever he came close. But he simply chased them down.
The priests and clerics were having breakdowns because whatever buffs, healing spells or blessings they tried to use on their guild mates proved useless as Kiro easily and methodically mowed them down.
An hour or two into the fight, some of the DrakeXScales mages got smart. They gathered in a bunch and started throwing spells at him. They went about it systematically, throwing spells with first fire, then water, air, earth and other elements to try and find a weakness.
As for Kiro, he was still at full mana and stamina. Both his Battle Regeneration and his Berserker’s Soul were at a high enough level, and the rate at which he killed his enemies as well, to allow him to recover from the drain of using Celestial Dragon’s Aura, Celestial Eagle’s Lightning Pace and Elemental Rage. He could have easily activated Celestial Turtle’s Shell Aura but he was bored. The fight was boring because his enemies didn’t provide enough of a challenge.
So instead of protecting himself from the spells, he started dodging them. He ran around, going from group of enemies to group of enemies as the spells of the mages rained down around him, nuking their own guys.
Then, the mages ran out of mana again. In the blink of an eye he was amongst them, and slaughtered them.
The fight, or rather, the public execution, raged on. Kiro killed, killed and killed. The enemies went from 2500 to 2300, 2000, 1500… until there were only 200 of them left.
In the studio the panellists on the set watched in awed silence. Every once and a while one of them looked like he was about to say something, before changing his mind.
A little after the beginning of the fight they realized it would last a while, so the technician made it run at 5x its normal speed. Seeing a black sphere swallow up enemy after enemy at that speed was enough to give shivers to anyone.
In the Tearan household everyone was in the living room, watching the show. Anamai’s grandfather had her and Jinan by the shoulder, as he swayed while singing “Caann you feel… the love tonight?” for some unexplainable reason.
Mina was watching the screen with rapt attention.
Allise looked at her and Jinan, before speaking: “You show go log in.”
They twisted around to face her.
“Your big brother is going through all this trouble to meet you. The least you could do is go and greet him.”
They exchanged sheepish smiles before dashing downstairs, to their VR Pods.
On the forums, the users were going crazy.
-SurferDude says: OH. MY. GOD.
-TheWalkingDude says: beast :)
-ThatRandomGuy says: I know right.
-643Regy says: I could do that too.
-Anama231 says: dream on
-SlickDavid7 says: DrakeXScales is being OWNED!!!!
-CrazyWarmonger says: Hey guys, who do you think is stronger, Kiro or Grandis?
-Anama231 says: Kiro
-TheGhostOfPastPosts says: Grandis
-ThatRandomGuy says: Grandis
-TheWalkingDude says: No way. Grandis couldn’t handle a rabbit without a hundred guys as backup. Kiro is massacring an entire guild alone. There is no contest.
-TheMassacreGuy says: Massacre! Massacre!
-SlickDavid7 says: Massacre! Massacre!
-Anama231 says: Massacre! Massacre!
-643Regy says: Massacre! Massacre!
There were 200 enemies left. They were all bunched together against the wall of the keep, so tightly jammed together that you couldn’t fit a pin between any two of them.
Looking at their gear, they were most likely the core of the guild, the elite with the highest levels.
The leader of the guild had probably kept them in reserve, hopping that the rest of the guild would be enough to tire Kiro, at which point they would jump in for the kill.
Unfortunately for them, Kiro was used to long fights.
They all had stunned and/or scared expressions as they realized that they were the only ones left. Kiro could see that the ones in front were bracing themselves as they waited for him to attack.
But Kiro felt he had wasted enough time. He deactivated everything but Celestial Dragon’s Aura. He concentrated, trying to gather all the energy he could in the blade of his daggers. They started to glow, stronger and stronger, in hues of golden and crimson.
He swung them in an arc towards the last DrakeXScales members. A gigantic crimson dragon seemed to stretch out from his blades. Luminous, glowing, it seemed too real to be an illusion. It flew in the air, undulating towards its prey.
Celestial Dragon’s Aura Blast.
The last thing the members of the DrakeXScales guild saw was the huge maw of the dragon, and then darkness.
They woke up in their pods, shivering.
The entire screen of the studio had gone black, as when a player used the privacy option, others couldn’t even see his skills.
When the darkness finally shrunk back into the usual sphere, the audience was meet with the sight of the 200 now dead players.
Well, except for one.
Ana Satila, as stunned as the rest of the people watching, couldn’t hold back her bewilderment as she screamed at the technician to play it again at normal speed.
By pure chance, Drake had survived the blast of Kiro’s skill. He had been standing close to the door and perhaps Kiro’s reluctance at damaging the building, as well as the bodies of the rest of his guild mates, had shielded him.
He lay very still, trying to appear dead like the rest.
If the monster would just go away, maybe, just maybe, Drake could escape out of this alive. As long as he survived, his guild would to. If the monster would just go away…
He was coming closer.
Drake had no way to know that his act was being seen through by Kiro’s Celestial Qilin’s Sense. Yet, as he saw Kiro approaching, he somehow knew his ruse was being seen through.
Trying to force himself to lay still, he tried to convince himself that there was no way Kiro could know where he was.
That is, until Kiro moved even closer, walking at an unhurried pace.
Drake’s nerves snapped, and he jumped to his feet, squealing in an undignified manner.
He tried to run away, only to feel a sudden breeze at neck level.
Then he woke up in his VR Pod.
In the studio they were now watching the video in real time. Kiro had just now executed the leader.
Disbelief, awe, respect, fear. Emotions were rampant.
With a slight smile, Ana turned towards Mr. Yessard. “Care to revise your previous statement?” She asked.
He just looked at the screen, still in shock.
On it, one could still see Kiro, or at least the black outline at his location.
“What is he doing?” asked Ana out loud, forgetting for a moment that there was no way for the reporter in game to hear
But soon enough Kiro moved, starting towards the entrance of the courtyard.
Leaving, in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by the bodies of an entire guild’s worth of people, a carving.
Three letters, carved into the very stones of the courtyard.
(*Note: Sorry for the delay, lots of RL stuff got in the way. Also, sorry for the chapter being a little short, but after thinking about it for a while I decided it felt better to end this chapter where I did. I will deal with the aftermath in the next chapter. )