With Vengre down, the 4 quickly focused on Greendre. The heir from Lion’s Mane family proved more cautious, but at the same time, because of his restraint he had not yet taken down Alan.
There were a few close shaves for Alan when he found a chance to lop off his opponent’s head, but at the most critical moment, a shield of fire would appear as if pre-empted somehow, and the great heat would force him backwards.
He spent a great deal of time, thinking about how to handle that blast of flames, as well as how his opponent could keep guessing his next move. But before he achieved either cause, the other heir, Vengre, had already fallen.
He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by 3 opponents. Normally, 3 Peak B rankers would naturally be beneath mention for someone like him, but the truth is the opposite. He couldn’t understand just why he is so disadvantaged against them, but one thing is for certain. Their fighting techniques are odd, to say the least.
Whenever he managed to strike Alan, the sharp edge itself is easily nullified by slight twists of his opponent’s body to turn the blade. Such an ability made him feel ashamed to call himself a genius among the imperial troops. But if he knew their abilities to detect his next move with the storm palm, he would not be that surprised.
Even if he managed to cut his opponent, the wound would never be deep, as the force of his blade would either be quickly deflected or seemingly absorbed. At times, it felt like he was hitting a cotton bag instead of an actual human being. This defensive technique that caused him to be amazed to no end, however, as the heir, 5th in line for his family, he had great knowledge of the different martial arts common in the lands, and an extremely low-ranked technique quickly came to mind.
The formless sword style.
It is a martial art that had no speciality and a weak firepower. Created by a genius sword saint who turned looney, most sword masters had judged this skill to be useless once they tried to adapt it into their repertoire of skills.
These 3 fighters before him seemed to be using that infamously useless technique, yet for reasons unknown to him, it seemed far more potent than what the sword masters have declared.
He himself, as a swordsman, held high regards the sword masters, swordsmen who reached the 5th stage of the sword. Though the creator, a sword saint, is still a tier higher, he trusted the masters’ judgement since the originator was only a mad person. It’s nothing odd for a crazy sword saint to create a useless skill, so no one actually paid much attention to it.
But little did he know, the swordmasters had tried to adopt this skill into what they already had. A mistake that none discover, due to the commonplace these are done.
Kairos, conversely, made the formless style as his core martial art, and in turn so did his friends. With this technique as their axis, every new skill they learned is added onto the formless style. And in return, they discovered how powerful it is as a technique, genius beyond most people’s understandings. Just by a B ranker using it to fend off against an A ranker gives it the credit that it had been deprived of.
The conclusion by those esteemed sword masters that the formless sword style is useless is unavoidable since no one in their right minds would disperse away all their learned martial arts, only to relearn them after making the formless style into their main technique. The hidden requirement of this technique is adopting the other skills into its stances.
And thus, the martial art manual that was publically denounced quickly fell into the hands of commoners who are too poor to choose anything better. A few young aspiring swordsmen among them truly tried practising the skill, but a genius’ work is extremely difficult to pick up, and they soon gave up on this technique. The bad name that it has quickly encouraged people to trash it or left it to collect dust in their house.
One of those dusty reprinted tomes made their way into the trade fair of Saint Cadets Academy, and now its value finally found.
“It cannot be? Is this truly the formless sword style? But they aren’t even using swords… This doesn't make sense, only a few experts of the swords managed to pick up the technique, so how could they even adopt it with other weaponry?!” Greendre complained ceaselessly under his breath, while his eyes searched for reinforcements, “Why aren’t anyone coming yet? Come on, these 3 B rankers are freaky!”
Of course, with Vouno’s hiding ability, he did not notice that he was essentially facing 4 cultivators instead of 3.
On the other side, Kairos and Jones that had charged into the group of Peak A ranking elite troops found themselves surrounded on all sides and cut up like a fish on the chopping board.
The sword formation of the troops are extremely dangerous, and they are barely hanging on by the skin of their teeth. But despite how many times they were struck down by the troops, the two boys quickly picked themselves up and continued to battle.
“This is nuts, are their skin made of iron, and their bones steel?” a soldier exclaimed, taking a fearful step backwards after failing to cut down his foes.
Most of them preferred to attack with their raw strength, given the benefit of having a stronger body due to a high cultivation rank. Ki attacks itself are usually flashier and powerful, but in return, those techniques are sorely limited due to the difficulty to learn and rather inflexible. Once they revealed their Ki-based martial arts, their enemies would learn of it and easily counter. Therefore, to not lose valuable trump cards, most of the soldiers had kept their strongest attacks while waiting for a chance they could defeat the boys in one go.
Alas, this worked out in Jones and Kairos’ favour. The two having incredible physical ranks found themselves largely unbeatable against physical martial techniques. Before Jones asked Kairos to fight with the troops, he did not know how strong his physical defences are, but he quickly comes to realise that their physique are not much different from an immortal’s, or a low-grade Titan ranked weapon. Now, only the Ki attacks and artefacts are the things the two need to watch out for.
However, the two are not only defending. Whenever a soldier gave them an opening -- and they often did even being veterans, due to the chaos on the battlefield – Kairos or Jones would throw in an attack quickly. Using pure physical prowess, they ploughed through the ranks with their weapons and sent any foe that was careless, flying with raw arm strength.
The soldiers swore ceaselessly but still met their attacks bravely. The immortal sword and the immortal Swallow that the two used flashed in crescent lines in the air as the two battled the ‘Blade Sea Stance’ that the troops had laid out.
“Bloody kids!” A middle-aged soldier called out, it was his voice that gave his age away, for his helmet hid his face completely.
In response, Jones dashed forward with his immortal sword in hand and chopped downwards. The soldier easily blocked the weak attack, though the immortal weapon is something dangerous, the force behind it is only Peak D.
The troops continued to hammer blows down at them, but every attack failed to draw blood. However, when any of them began to use a Ki-strike or a martial art, the boys would immediately infuse soul force into their bodies and suddenly jump to B and A rank.
The battle became harder and harder as the blade sea stance played out. Taking numerous attacks, the boys started to feel worn down. Even if they had managed to avoid all the Ki attacks and dangerous artefacts, they are still made of flesh and blood.
Not just 5 minutes passed, and the difference between A rank and Peak D & Mid C could be seen. In fact, it is only because of Jones’ frightening fighting talent that he was worn down at the same speed as Kairos.
Their situation turned instantly. The soldiers, noticing that their prey has weakened, started to use greater moves. They started empowering their weapons with Ki and slashed down at them.
The boys dodged as quickly as they could. They had not learned the static-reading ability of the storm palm skill technique, but their movement techniques alone allowed them a way towards survival.
A quick glance showed that their friends are also in a hard battle. With Greendre now cautious against Edward’s arrows, his defences could only be called flawless. And although Greendre is only a soldier like the ones that Kairos and Jones are fighting, as an heir to a noble family, he has countless talismans and treasures that countered the 4 every time he started losing. Even Vouno was unable to help overturn that situation.
Damn. We need to hold on a while longer here!
The both of them had this same thought in their minds as they continued their desperate battle.
On the 5th minute, the soldiers began to join Greendre in suppressing the 4 opponents the heir faced. With so many foes, it is impossible for Kairos and Jones to draw all their attention away.
I need to speed up even more!
This is not enough.
The two used their lightning flicker body over and over to run among the large group of soldiers. Whenever they found a dangerous Ki-based attack that is impossible to dodge, they would infuse their body once more with their already low soul energy. The soul infusion helped, but in return cost them dearly. Regardless where they turned, only more blades met them. They gritted their teeth and dodged once again, forced to depend on their raw strength more frequently. Disappearing like the shadows, and flickering into existence as lightning does.
The thinner blood capillaries in their legs were the first ones to burst. Their sweat turns red as they continued executing their movement techniques. The stress of combat they increased exponentially by the seconds but still they pushed themselves further on. Quicker and quicker every step, even as their fatigue grew.
The imperial troops grinned. The fugitives are obviously on their last legs now. Many of them started gathering their Ki. The time to execute their final moves too quickly take the boys down has come.
But at this moment, 15 minutes after the combat started, they found themselves starting to slow down.
The ones among them that are more experienced with poisons were the first to notice, “We’re poisoned!” They cried out.
The weakening powder that Jim has poured all over is finally taking effects. Made for the eradication of demonic wolves, the Black Winds, this poison is scentless and colourless. Though it is horribly slow acting, once its effects are felt, even the powerful regeneration abilities of a demonic type of beast would not be able to counteract it.
The soldiers, who are around Peak A ranking, could have easily prevented being poisoned by simply protecting themselves with a Ki barrier. But the prerequisite is to know there is poison in the area first.
They could even forcefully purge the poison if the amount is little. At the start of combat, the A rankers had all the chances to do so. But they needed to feel the poison within their bodies first to know so.
If Jim had used a poison that could kill, the soldiers would have tried to purge it out already, since the poisonous effect would be stronger. Unfortunately, the weakening dust is not only slow acting but very difficult for any to notice a difference in themselves until it is already too late.
With their strengths draining increasingly, the imperial troops became even more desperate than before.
“Jones! An artefact, be careful!” Kairos yelled without looking. The two of them already had their soul perception completely covering every detail in the area, but because of Kairos’ high mental capacity, he never misses a single thing within his observation area and often spots dangers faster than any of his brother.
Jones immediately found the source of the threat. A dagger-shaped artefact, infused with wind elemental Ki that is heading towards the back of his head.
But unlike what the assaulter hoped, Jones easily plucked it off the air from behind him, without even turning around.
“Hey, nice dagger. I’m going to give it as a gift to my buddy, Jim. Thanks man” He laughed and kept the weapon in his time-space ring. A new ring, given to him by Kairos, since his old one was lost after confiscated by his kidnappers.
“Hey Kairos, why don’t we do a little looting?” He suddenly said, as if the idea just crossed his mind. Since the soldiers are weakened, he does not see why they shouldn’t get back at their tormentors. Bursting capillaries felt like wasp stings all over their body.
“Since we can’t defeat them, and now they can’t do anything to us… Yeah, okay. Why not” Kairos replied like it is only a regular day. A regular day of two C and D rankers beating up countless waves of elite A ranked soldiers.
They began plucking out weapons right from their opponents’ hands, but the risks involved also greatly increased. Their soul infusion, even when they only used it at the most crucial moments, quickly dwindled down. However, they each collected a handful of high-grade weapons.
At this time, the two that barely have much Ki and soul power left noticed that the 4 had managed to get to their mission location. A spot close perfect to escape. And immediately, Kairos gave a signal to them by throwing a seal stone up into the air.
The stone exploded, just like how he did when he faced off against the grand patriarch of the Carry house, and that explosion nullified all the Ki energy in the area.
All the fighters that released their Ki suddenly found their energy disrupted for a second by the powerful sealing effect.
Then at this moment, catching his cue, Edward chanted, his voice carried off by the wind as he said his full incantation, even as the rest of them pooled what power they could spare to give him, “The five elements of creation revolves on my arrows.”
At this point, he pulled on his bowstring without an actual arrow, but his entire bow began to glow in 5 interchanging colours of red, blue, silver, green and yellow.
Then a beautiful bracelet on his wrist that no one had noticed before, started enlarging and it spun in the air, hovering without support. When no one had noticed, Vouno gifted Edward the Vox Shalua guard’s family heirloom that could greatly raise his power.
The archer’s aura immediately spiked to S rank, then he continued under his breath, “Upon its tip carries my frozen will. Its shaft made of lightning. Its feathers guided by wind.”
An arrow materialised itself between his fingers, made purely of the 3 elements, as it spiralled on the arrow rest.
“I call upon the true name of destruction. Enyo!! Deliver my rage!”
Edward’s fingers slip off the arrow fully drawn against the bow, and it flew off straightaway breaking apart into 8 missiles and dove deeply into the enemy ranks.
The group quickly charged right behind the arrows, as quickly as their feet could carry them.
The soldiers dodged his arrows with all they got, being the second time they saw this secret art, most of them learned to dodge out of the way instead of meeting the projectiles head on. They could still remember the fearsome attacks that killed a dozen of their comrades instantly.
The 7 of them gathered and quickly break out from the soldiers’ encirclement, as they bolted towards the edge of the forest.
“Don’t run~” Princess Axtalia shouted, her voice throbbing with desire, for she had not yet seen enough of blood being shed.
She then whispered wilfully, too soft for even the guards next to her to hear, “You can’t leave without satisfying me. I even ripped out his vocal cord, aren’t you going to stay and play with me?”
Every soul force user in this place should be able to hear what she said, but under the noise of everything is happening a normal person would find it hard to make sense of a whisper. Unfortunately for her, Kairos is not a normal person and nothing spoken in this place escaped his soul perception. His eyes widened in rage and his objective suddenly changed.
“You fools! Hurry and give chase, if you let them run, we will send all your wives, daughters and sisters to the imperial brothel!” The 13-year-old girl hissed. The soldiers, not knowing if their princess knows what she is saying, but certain that she had the power to do so, quickly recovered their senses and summoned their mounts. The famous contract beasts of the imperial elites, Golden Lynxes. With their spirit cats’ immense speed, they are confident to quickly catch up with their targets and once again surround them.
But at this time, Vouno suddenly stopped fleeing, and he turned around facing the pursuers.