Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 10


Chapter 10: One After Another

Whooosh! Ping!

A loud metal clanging sound exploded in the alley, breaking the eerie silence of the small alley. Joshua eyes' swam around the entire place in search of the dagger. He wanted the dagger to pierce the wall but it seemed that it had bounced off something metallic and fallen to the ground.

At the same time, a shadowy human figure emerged from the darkness and immediately withdrew from the alley.

With keen eyes, Joshua identified the shadowy figure as a warrior clad in heavy armor. His metal armor had many scratches that could only be resulted from arrow grazes and light sword cuts. The armor was made to be tough hence it allowed the dagger to slide off his armor instead of penetrating it.

Even though the hidden man's face was fully covered with armor, both Joshua and Chris could sense the emotion of surprise given off by the warrior.

"Silencer?!"

Chris exclaimed silently and he noted that the warrior in the alley was the same warrior that was always by his father's side. Noting that something was awry, he retreated a step.

When both of them were having their warm conversation, he was silently notified about it by Joshua swift hand movement. He thought it was merely his habit to grab a blade by his hand but little did he know that Joshua could sense out a presence and even pinpoint his position. As an alchemist, his sensory skills were sharper than an average warrior. How did he not sense the silencer?!

The man that was forced out of his hiding, shared the same expression.

"Surprised? Thought so."

Joshua grinned. Swiftly, he pulled out the spear that he stabbed in the snow and entered his battle stance.

"I see that you had combined the techniques of both shadow assassin and spirit warrior. Not bad. Spirit Silencing Aura matches well with Shadow Walk. You can move around stealthily even with heavy armor. It would certainly remove one presence in the field and increase one's survivability."

"Commendable. No one could have detected your presence. But you see, I'm different. You think that the Silencing Aura can help you move without a trace. The problem with that is the aura was a gigantic mute barrier. When you came, all the sounds that were supposed to come from the alley were mysteriously silenced. Even a monkey would know that something was going on."

While he was taunting the silencer, Joshua turned to glare at Chris and hinted him to move back. He knew that the silencer was of Upper Silver tier. If both of them were to fight each other with their unrestrained strength, the damage would be overwhelming and he might get caught in the crossfire. He had the confidence to end the opponent's life within ten seconds, however, the power display will be too great for someone like Chris to handle.

A spirit warrior is a warrior's special class granted with many special supernatural abilities. Even though at first glance, a spirit warrior had anti-magic skills, they were also known to have many other ultimate skills.

The silencer moved away from the alley and stood in the middle of the road. He did not mind that the son of his benefactor was running away. He just stood there, glaring at the warrior that had thrown the dagger at him and got it.

As a spirit warrior that had pledged to be silent, he had special skills to cancel out enemies' spellcasting and possessed the supernatural ability to mute sounds. Being a silencer had its drawbacks; he was mute for the rest of his life and had to use Spirit Sense to communicate with others. To others, it might be some form of punishment or a huge sacrifice. However, the silencer felt it was a worthwhile trade to gain immense power.

Combining the silencing ability and Shadow Step, the silencer had the highest confidence in his own survivability and assassination prowess. However, even the best swimmer would swallow a mouthful of water from time to time. When his stealth was broken by Joshua with a mere dagger, the dissatisfaction he felt was severe. However, the worse was not about being detected.

(Unable to communicate verbally?! What willpower Unable to communicate That would make his willpower as resilient as a rock! In that case, a mental attack would not have any effect on him!) (1)

With the helmet covering his entire face, the silencer cocked his head slightly to prepare himself to receive an attack from Joshua, who seemed to be ready to jump at any time. The itch in his hands was ready to counter his attacks.

I have never seen such stubbornness coming from a warrior. My 'Spell Disruption' skill would be useless in a physical brawl. The fact that he could see through my stealth would put me at a huge disadvantage.

Thinking rationally he had decided to not fight the man. He began to take a step back silently.

I could not even exert half of my powers fighting against him. I'd better withdraw now and think of another plan.

"You think you can escape?"

Joshua might have keen eyes, but he was not a mind reader. He could not possibly know how to read the other person's mind, especially when he was fully clad in armor. All he knew that the enemy was planning to escape by sensing his movements. At that moment, he couldn't care less. He flexed his forearm and jumped forward with the spear in his hands, ready to pierce.

With years of combat training, not only he was proficient with all sorts of weapons, he could even use a wood chopping machete as a greatsword and a polearm as a spear.

He stomped the ground with such so much strength that it sent him flying straight like an arrowhead. The spear in his hand was aimed directly at the silencer's heart. The whistling sound of the spearhead flying through the air was so loud and sharp that anyone would deem it as an attack that could pierce through the thickest armor made, including the silencer. He knew that the incoming spearhead was too dangerous to be taken lightly, especially when the incoming attack had him limited to the small narrow alley.

However so, the silencer was still an Upper Silver-tier with superior experience. If the fight was a melee, a close quarters combat, Joshua would surely be the one that had the upper hand. He had nowhere to escape. However, he was only using a long spear. Such a weapon possessed no real threat to him.

The gray metallic armor glowed with a faint radiance and formed a small barrier-like protection. When the spear landed on the armor, the spearhead was deflected, crashed into the wall, and reduced the foundation bricks into dust. The loud crashing sound had alerted the entire neighborhood, prompting the citizens to scream in terror. Amidst the chaos, the silencer jumped to the side and pulled out a scroll out of thin air. With a powerful burst of magic power, he vanished.

"Advanced Invisible Scroll?!"

The burst of magic had traces of light that Joshua recognized. He ran a few meters ahead but immediately came to a stop as he felt it would be pointless in chasing after someone who would be truly invisible.

It was a little unexpected of the silencer to use an Advanced Invisible Scroll in that situation. What else could he do then? Silencing Aura, paired with the Advanced Invisible Scroll effect, and the silencer's own Shadow Step skill stacking on each other would make him walk without leaving a footstep. Not to brag, even though the silencer's attack power was not even half of Joshua's, but if he wanted to disappear, not even a Gold tier could chase after him.

"Shame that I don't have the All-Seeing Eye"

Knowing that the silencer was running for his life, Joshua had refused to chase after him since he knew it would be a waste of time. Reaching the end of the alley, he scoffed, and started to walk back to where Chris. He started to reminisce the past when he was playing Continental War where he had the passive skill called the 'All-Seeing Eye'.

The passive skills would grant him the ability 'True Sight' where he could see through all disguised, invisible, or hidden players. It also allowed players to identify players that were hidden behind trees in the forest. It was considered to be one of the strongest passive skills available. However, to acquire the passive skill, Joshua had once killed more than have a dozen Elder Cyclops on the ninth floor of the Abyssal Spectre Land. It was to collect all the necessary sacrificial materials for the passive skill quest.

"Still, 'All-Seeing Eye' aside, I had the skill 'Max Mastery'. All normal skills should be available at my disposal."

He opened up his status window to read the skill list again and examined the skill [MAX Mastery]. Joshua remembered the glory of his past and scoffed. "As long as I have the experience, the system will acknowledge it."

As a common knowledge to all gamers out there, there was no game that relied on only one skill to carry 1 the entire game. At the end game stage, having a thousand skills in one's skill tree would be extremely vexing. If the skill was not used, even if one were to strike a pose just like the skill 'Charge', the system would not register the action as a valid trigger for the skill 'Charge'. At any time, if one were to be in a fatal situation, the skills that were placed in the hot bar might be able to save the player. No normal player could search a skill from the list and search for the required skill to save one's *ss. In the end, the player would die and respawn again from the save point.

That was the initial stage of the game. It all changed after the game introduced the 'Legendary' expansion.

Players that had received the 'Legendary' status would stop receiving all support from the system. Bow users would not have crosshairs to assist their aiming, warriors would not have the auto-lock system, mages would have to chant the entire spell to cast a skill. On the other hand, the system had introduced a means to all players to properly activate all their skills without pressing the button. For example, if a warrior wanted to use 'Charge' to rush forward, all he had to do was to physical sprint forward with the weapon pointed to the front. The skill 'Vertical Cleave' would only require the player to lift the weapon up and forcefully cleave it downward. This concept applied to other classes as well.

In summary, all Legendary-tier players would not have the luxury of buttons to press anymore. All skills, abilities would require manual activation. In a way, this implication was made to restrict player's capabilities and to increase the game's 'lifespan'. In a way, a player would invest a long time to fully enjoy the game. Although it had taken some time, players felt that the 'real' game had only just begun when the developers had introduced the new system. The system, to replace all active skill triggering button, was called Mastery. [Skill Mastery].

Those with [Skill Mastery] could freely activate all their skills within their given skill tree. Sadly, the only skills that Joshua remembered clearly were all categorized in the Gold tier. A few aspects that he remembered was that passive skills could be learned and be permanently activated. However, they require players to learn and train manually. The 'All-Seeing Eye' skill had taken him a long duration to acquire. He needed to return to the Abyssal Spectre Land to kill half a dozen Elder Cyclopes, acquire the sacrificial material needed, and reenact the sacrificial ceremony. With his current tier of Silver, it would take years before he could even get the gist of it.

While he was thinking about it, he had arrived at the exit of the alley and saw Chris running towards him. Astonished, he remarked, "That was quick."

As an Steel-tier alchemist, Chris' physique was better than average humans. To prevent from getting caught in crossfires, he usually ran away to find a safe place to hide. After a while, when the battle ended and there was nothing but silence, he would come back to check things out.

Joshua returned to the spot where the spear was stabbed and pulled it out of the crumbling wall.

"No. He ran away. It was a little letdown. But, then again, I too was unable to fight anymore." He showed what was remained of the spear and frowned, "Look, my weapon was broken in half. I swear that the fight had taken less than one second yet the damage is so severe. What a bummer!"

"Forget it. This is but a normal, mass produced weapon. It's normal for such a weapon to break that easily."

Joshua could not help but reminisce about the game again. Back then, he was wielding an indestructible Inscribed Rune Greatsword. He threw the broken spear aside and turned to Joshua. He then immediately frowned and said, "Chris, there's someone behind you. Why are there so many invisible bastards around?!"

"Huh?!"

Chris turned around quickly when Joshua pointed it out and reacted just as fast. At that moment, he trusted him enough to not stop him from doing anything to Joshua. The alchemist then pulled out a bag of glitter powder. He grabbed a handful of them and scattered them forward.

Swooosh.

The powder flew across the alley and fell on something. The powder than made out a silhouette of a human and by the shape of it, it was a female. She stood there, stunned with disbelief that she was found.

"You had flawless invisibility. If the odor on your body wasn't too strong, I couldn't have found you."

Joshua casually waltzed his way toward the stationary female, who did seem on planning to escape and said sternly, "Hmph. I see that you're not up to no good. That or Chris here would have died a long time ago. As such, I'm willing to give you a chance."

Joshua swiftly grabbed the female's shoulder and ask, "Why are you here? Reveal your intentions or I'll turn you into a ghost that's forever invisible, just the way you like it."

Translator Notes:

(1): It is unclear whether this message was the author's own words or the character's monologue.

  1. Gaming term. A carry could mean a player that is the MVP of the entire team to lead them to victory. The words used in the sentence means that the skill is the only skill that a player uses from the beginning of the game till the end.