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“Han Byul! Stay behind me!”
As Han Byul was about to rush forward, Azrael yelled back at her to stay back. Shocked, she stopped and finally got a closer look at his face from up close. Azrael’s facial expression was ugly to behold; it almost looked animalistic in appearance.
Azrael’s instincts from when he trained in the Forest of Despair in his previous life began to surface. Just like then, he had to remain focused at all times since he never knew when a dangerous monster or mob would come at him. Thinking back on those moment, a devious smirk appeared on his face.
Knowing that the fire wall wouldn’t last much longer, Azrael formed a spear with ice magic. Even though he knew he was in a disadvantageous situation in a life or death battle, adrenaline rushed through his veins and the anticipation for the upcoming battle made him shiver in excitement.
As the wall lowered, multiple ice spears and rock bullets rushed toward him. Anticipating a long range magical attack, Azrael acted immediately as he summoned a fireball to meet the rush of ice spears. Without enough time to cast another spell, Azrael prepared to deflect the bullets but before they even reached him, a tempest appeared in front of him and threw the rock bullets off their projection.
As he was about to say thanks to Han Byul though, four shadows rushed forward through the fog created from when the water spears and fire ball collided. Afraid that she might get entangled if they fought where he was, Azrael rushed forward to meet them. As he ran, Azrael released a new spell that he had just created.
Around the head of one of the rushers, a dome of water appeared. Surprised, the man stopped in his track and tried to claw at the dome of water that blocked his flow of oxygen. Even though Azrael knew it wouldn’t be enough to kill the assassin, the spell performed its task to perfection as it at least incapacitated one of the enemy.
Aquatic Lock, an original water spell that Azrael created. By condensing all the water molecules in the nearby surrounding area into a dome shape around an enemy’s head, he would be able to block off any oxygen supply. It was a very effective spell that didn’t require much mana. Unfortunately, Azrael created it recently and could only use it on one person at the moment.
“Watch out! The boy is a dual elementalist!”
As one of the assassins said that, he broke off from the rest and rushed toward Han Byul. Surprised, Azrael tried to rush to her aid but was blocked off by the other two assassins. Han Byul, seeing the assassin come toward her, prepared a spell and released a flurry of wind blades at him.
“Hmph, as if such weak wind blades could stop me.”
Wind blades appeared from in front of the assassin and flew forward, intercepting the incoming wind blades and blowing them away. The wind blades then dissipated as they passed by Han Byul, missing her by inches. When he was only ten feet away from Han Byul, he drew out the dagger from its sheath on his waist and leapt toward her.
Han Byul attempted to cast her strongest spell, Wind Scythe, but as she saw the leaping figure fly toward her, she already knew it was too late. In a last ditch effort, she jumped to her left, but she was out of time as the assassin was already in striking range and in the motion of swinging the blade down.
Resigned to her own fate, Han Byul prepared for her own demise when a familiar figure jumped in front of her and deflected the incoming fatal strike. Surprised at the sudden addition of another opponent, the assassin leapt back and increased the distance between himself and his new foe.
“I wasn’t too late, was I?”
Han Byul couldn’t help but to shout in surprise at the sight of her childhood friend. He had appeared out of nowhere and saved her life, after all. At that moment, Azrael also retreated back toward the two. The shirt he wore was in tatters as it was filled with slash marks. A trail of blood also trickled down his right arm from the blade wound on his right arm.
“Az! Are you okay?!”
Azrael’s tattered figure caused Han Byul to panic. Hearing the panic in her voice, Azrael reassured her.
“I’m fine, Byul. The cuts are only flesh wounds. Anyways, perfect timing Zer. We would have been in real trouble if you hadn’t come when you did.”
“Well, the hero always come last, after all. Joking aside though, we need to figure out a way to get out of here. We’re outnumbered and outgunned. Got any plans Az?”
“It’s going to be tough. They’re faster than any of us so unless we can find a way to slow them down, we have no chance. I do have a plan though. When I say go, the two of you run back toward main streets.”
“What about you Az?”
“Don’t worry Byul, I’m going to be right behind you. Well then, you three ready? Ready…..GO!”
When Azrael said go, Han Byul and Zer immediately turned and ran toward their left. The six assassins, who had been waiting to see what they would do, immediately rushed after them. As they took their first steps though, their visions became dark as their surroundings were covered by darkness. If it had been just that, it wouldn’t have affected the assassins as they were trained to move in complete darkness, but at the same moment, the gravity in their immediate area increased tremendously, slowing their forward movement.
“Shit, that kid can use gravity magic already?! Just who the hell is he?!”
The leaders of the assassin couldn’t help but feel helpless. Ever since they sprung their ambush, nothing had gone right as one after the other, people came and foiled their attacks.
“Shade one and two- use the left wall and approach them. Shade three and five- you two use the right wall. The rest of you, follow me we’re going after them! Don’t let Princess Han Byul escape, we must kill her!”
As his subordinates replied, they immediately followed his orders and continued their pursuit. Even though Han Byul, Zer, and Azrael had a ten second head start on them, the assassins specialized in speed. They were confident in their ability to catch up to them.
The three children, on the other hand, ran like mad. Even though he succeeded in giving them a headstart, Azrael still wasn’t too confident that they would be able to escape and was constantly looking back to check where the enemies were. To his appall, the assassins were already gaining on them..
“Shit, Han Byul! Zer! You two keep going, I’ll hold them off as long as I can!”
“No! We’d be leaving you for dead Az!”
“If we don’t do something, all of us will die! Zer, protect Byul!”
“Not you too Zer!! We don’t got time for this! GO!”
Even though he was very reluctant, Zer nodded his head. He grabbed Han Byul’s hand and rushed forward, pulling her along, as she tried to stay behind. Even though Azrael knew that it was likely he would die, he had a large smile on his face as he knew Han Byul and Zer would at least survive.
The leader of the assassins, at the sight of the boy who had stopped and waited for them, couldn’t help but praise him inwardly. Even though the idea of self-sacrifice was very noble, it was a very difficult action to actually do, especially for someone so young. If he had met the child in any other setting, he would have actually tried to recruit and make him his direct disciple. Unfortunately, he would have to kill such a brave and talented child.
When the assassins were only twenty feet away, Azrael launched his magic. From the shadows created by the tall buildings, tens of black spikes rushed forward at the six enemies. Following that, he also casted a gravity spell once more to slow down their reaction even slightly so it would become more difficult for them to evade. The assassins, however, were prepared and one unleashed a light spell to brighten the area and remove any shadows.
Azrael gritted his teeth at the sight. He casted another spell to created tens of ice spears and launched them toward the enemy which was immediately followed by a wave of fireballs.
“Just who the hell is this child?! How does he have so much mana?!”
The assassins couldn’t believe the sight of the incoming projectiles. Just how much mana did it cost to make so many spears and fireballs? Not only that, Azrael had most likely expended most of his mana beforehand with all the spells he used. The assassins couldn’t just ignore the incoming spells, this time and slowed down to evade and counter the projectiles.
Even though he wasn’t able to kill any of the assassins, the wave did it’s job as it impeded the assassin’s forward progress and forced them to take evasive maneuvers. The only thing Azrael regretted was that he wasn’t able to cast more as those last spells depleted his mana.
The leader was furious. Even though the spells hadn’t harmed him at all, they had stalled him and his unit which gave the target even more time to flee. Reluctantly, he materialized his wind elemental.
From the group of assassins, a form immediately sped forward. As Azrael focused, he made out the form and saw that it was a silver eagle that rushed toward him. Azrael recognized immediately that it was one of the assassins elementals. With no mana, he had no hope of defending against it. All he could do was resign himself to fate and his impending death.
’Well, it looks like this is as far as I go. Samjoko, Chunyong, Bonghwa. I really regret that I wasn’t able to become a stronger master for you all and spend more time with you three. I really am grateful I was given such amazing elementals.’
Unbeknownst to him, Samjoko was about to forcefully materialize himself. Although it would be disadvantageous to his master in the tournament that would start tomorrow, what use would it be if his master died? Before anything else, he put his master’s wellbeing.
Before Samjoko began his materialization, however, a red blur jumped down and intercepted the eagle. Shocked by the sudden development, Azrael stared with wide eyes at the red tiger that had appeared out of nowhere and pinned the eagle on the ground with it’s mighty paw.
Beyond those two elementals, numerous other shadows jumped from the buildings and engaged the assassins. Screams echoed through the alleyway as the assassins were felled one by one.
From behind him, a familiar beautiful voice rang. When he turned around, he saw Han Byul and Zer rushing toward him with people surrounding them in a circular formation. At the sight of the two faces he thought he would never see again, the feeling of relief swelled in his stomach.
When she was only a few feet away, Han Byul threw herself at Azrael. With a beaming smile, he caught her in his embrace and tightly hugged her. For a moment, the two stayed like that with no regard to the fighting that was occurring behind them.
“*cough* I’m sorry to break such a lovely scene and all, but Princess, it is unbecoming for you to show such affectionate behavior in public.”
The sudden intrusion of an unknown female voice finally made Azrael let go of Han Byul. As he looked toward the direction it came from, he saw a tall female knight at about six feet two inches who wore a grey cloak over her silver armor. Her face was slender with short green hair that reached just below her ears. What were most prominent though, were her sharp hazel eyes that reminded Azrael of a hawk that was staring at it’s prey before going in for the kill.
“Aunt Estrana! Don’t tell dad about this okay?”
Finally remembering that her aunt was there, Han Byul’s face turned red from embarrassment. Estrana began to chuckle at the sight of her cute niece and patted her on her head.
“Haha dont worry; I won’t speak of it to your dad. Anyways, you’re Azrael, right?”
“Yes ma’am. My name is Azrael. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“Not only once, but twice you saved my cute little niece. I really would like to thank you.”
“It is nothing, ma’am. Even if something like this happened a hundred more times, I would stake my life for her.”
“Ho… you are quite the brave one, aren’t ya? Well, I can’t really say you wouldn’t after seeing what you did. Anyways, you three should go back to your hotel. The tournament is starting tomorrow isn’t it? Go rest, my subordinates will escort you back and guard the hotel so something like this doesn’t happen again.”
“You sure, aunty?”
“Of course. Also, Azrael I would like to have a word with you sometime during your stay here. Would that be okay?”
“Of course ma’am. Just let me know when.”
“Excellent. Lieutenant Maiser!”
At Estrana’s order, a young man who stood at five foot ten inches with brown hair that parted in the middle rushed over.
“Take four men with you and escort the Princess and her friends back to the hotel. Once they enter, set up a guard watch to make sure nothing happens.”
After Han Byul gave one last hug to her aunt and spoke a few words with her, they set back to the hotel along with their guards. The whole time they were going back though, Azrael had a complicated expression on his face. When she noticed, she squeezed his hand to get his attention.
“Hey Az, what’s wrong?”
“Huh? Oh, no I was just thinking over some stuff. Anyways, how’d you run into your aunt?”
“Aunty Estrana? While we were running away, she appeared with her contingent of Soldiers. She said that one of her men had ran into Winston and been told everything.”
“Hm.. is that so? Anyways what does she do?”
“She’s one of the commanders for the Guardians.”
“You mean those elite royal guards for your country? What are they doing out here?”
“She’s here as a representative for the Rhostaz Kingdom. Each royal family tends to send a representative to watch the Rising Star Tournament and recruit students.”
Throughout the rest of the walk back to the hotel, Azrael’s face continued to show a difficult expression. Seeing his expression, Han Byul and Zer wanted to say something but couldn’t think of a way to break his mood. Once they reached the hotel, Han Byul and the boys said goodnight to each other and went to bed early in preparation for the beginning of the tournament tomorrow.
Back at the location where Estrana and her men had saved Azrael, Estrana was deep in thought while her men took care of the assassins’ bodies and cleaned the area up. At that moment, her most trusted officers came up toward her.
“Ma,am, permission to speak?”
“Lind, huh? Permission granted.”
“Ma’am, what should we do with that student's body? Also....that was quite a dangerous plan. Why did you have us standby when the assassins attacked and make it seem like we just got there when we reached the Princess? She could have gotten killed.”
“Just get rid of it like the others, and Lind, do you really think I would let my precious niece get hurt in front of my eyes?”
Lind panicked when he heard his commander’s threatening tone.
“No ma’am, that wasn’t what I meant! I just can’t understand why we waited so long.”
“I wanted to ascertain that child Azrael’s skills that’s why.”
“You mean that tri elementalist ma’am? I was so surprised when I saw he could use three elements. I thought tales of tri elementalist were just myths until today…”
“Yes him. Lind what’d you think of his fighting?”
“He looked like a veteran to be honest. It seemed like he always paid attention to his surroundings and used as little movement or magic power as he could. Also no matter how bad the situation was he seemed to always be calm and calculating. Now that I think of it, it felt as though he was used to battles and life or death situations…”
“Good eye as always, Lind. You saw the same things I did. Anyways, take care of the rest of this, will you? I need to send word back to my brother that his daughter is fine. Also, we need to recruit that kid into our Guardians rank at all cost. He’s way too talented. Think of how strong he will be by the time he grows into an adult?”
With those words, Estrana left. As he watched the back of his commander as she left, he tried to imagine Azrael as an adult. The thought of potentially having to fight someone like that made him shiver. In his mind, he totally agreed that they must get a monster like him to join them rather than fight against them.