Fyndar would never forget the afternoon in the early spring of Starfall Year 833.
It was an ordinary day. The sun shone and the weather was quite cold. Fyndar was patrolling around the palace until dusk. He received the news that there was a guest at the gate.
Naturally, the red-haired knight was ready as always to show the way.
Count Radcliffe paid a visit. He was looking for Master NostradamusI believe that Master Nostradamus is now sorting out ancient books in the library of Black Swan Palace.
Preoccupied with thoughts about some tasks, Fyndar walked towards the gate of the palace. For many years, his work had always been the same. The family had arranged for him to be stationed here simply because there was a higher chance that he would meet people of significance.
Joshua van Radcliffe. He had been hearing that name quite often recently. Fyndar could vaguely remember the rumors related to that name. He put on a serious face.
The Dark Tide, the dimensional door, the heroic act of slaying dragons and even an archdemon This man was unlike any other ordinary guests who visited the palace. The other people relied on their power or even their fortunes to gain the respect and favor of all the guards in the palace. However, Joshua had undoubtedly relied on his pure strength and power to gain respect.
"A Gold-advance who's only in his twenties Haha!" Arriving at the main gate of the palace, Fyndar laughed sarcastically at himself. He was about to enter his thirties but his strength had only reached the pinnacle of Silver tier. Even though his basic mastery of Combat Aura was almost perfect, he was barely close to the next tier. Just like him and his cousin Brandon, there was such a large gap between them. The red-haired knight no longer had the mood to envy or feel jealous about it anymore.
"Extraordinary people will always exist in this world. I just need to learn how to adapt."
The knight tried to comfort himself. Soon after, Fyndar was greeted with the arrival of the warrior and the two divine armaments.
The knight felt a little disappointed when he first laid eyes on the warrior.
What he saw was an ordinary man with black hair, wearing ordinary clothes, with an ordinary face, which was a little fierce. Everything about the man was ordinary. He did not seem to be the type who would strike a deep impression on anyone. Casting aside the rumors which suggested the warrior was as powerful as the god of war, Fyndar did not feel like he was looking at a great nobleman whose status was actually a count. Even though he could sense that the warrior really had immeasurable strength, Fyndar was not especially impressed by the warrior's presence, not even a little.
Ordinary just too ordinary This man is as powerful as the usual powerful champions in the continent.
Of course, even if there was a huge difference betweenand the reality, the red-haired knight would not let his disappointment show on his face. He faked an enthusiastic smile on his face as he led the warrior and the others to their destination.
That was the job. Fyndar was very well aware of that. Even though rumors could exaggerate the truth, part of the rumor was usually true. Joshua did not unleash any oppressive pressure or aura. However, it was hard to tell if he was actually trying to suppress his power. Most people loved to do that. Fyndar knew that things would be good as long as he held on to his responsibilityto serve the guests.
The 'Northern Count' looked like a simple man.This man was unlike those great mages who looked down on people, taking everyone around them for a fool. He was also unlike the other nobles who were arrogant. The words and tones that the warrior used were direct and simple. He was not arrogant at all. His words hid nothing. Fyndar felt that he did not have to think too much before speaking to the warrior. He did not even have to address the warrior with a special title like with the other nobles. He felt really relaxed talking to Joshua. The experience was just pleasant.
Perhaps Joshua is a man with great strength but is really easygoing?
Fyndar felt comfortable around the warrior. However, he soon realized that he could not have been more wrong than he thought.
As they walked through the last passage to Black Swan Palace, a group of clergymen walked right past them. The red-haired knight was not bothered by their presence. They were the guests who were staying in Morlaix Palace for two weeks now. He had escorted them around the palace a few times during their stay. He was already familiar with the presence of the clergymen.
However, the warrior behind Fyndar did not feel the same way as he did.
Joshua furrowed his brows as he looked at the clergymen.
Instantly, the red-haired knight was overwhelmed by a feeling as if he was tied to a sinking rock in a bottomless sea. The chill penetrated through the layer of his skin and continued to creep into his bones and spine and touched his soul.
He shivered then turned around to look at the warrior. What Fyndar saw underneath the easy-going look of the warrior was the true power of the warrior, and that was just the tip of an iceberg.
With just a glimpse, Fyndar felt as if his heart exposed by the red eyes which seemed to be able to see through everything. The light at the corner of the eyes made the knight believe that his heart and his thoughts were exposed since the beginning. Be it his humility or arbitrary comments, which he kept to himself, was no secret to the warrior anymore.
In order to stop the fear that was slowly seeping into his heart, Fyndar took a step back and took a deep as he instinctively put his hand on the sword at his waist. The weapon gave him the courage to speak again.
"What's wrong, my liege?"
He tried his best to hide his dry throat with a casual tone.
While Joshua did not seem to mind about the knight's heart, he glanced at Fyndar and asked, "Why is there a party of elite clergymen in Morlaix Palace?"
The words were simple and straightforward and the tone was casual. The cold aura had vanished all of a sudden. The black-haired warrior had once again returned to his normal form, an ordinary man who did not look like a noblean ordinary passerby who left no impression or whatsoever.
However, Fyndar no longer thought about the warrior's appearance. He did not even dare to think about anything else at the moment. He only solemnly answered the question asked by the warrior. Then he immediately sent the warrior and the others to the Royal Library of Black Swan Palace. He seemed as if he was eager to take his leave as soon as he was able to.
No one would stay next to a volcanic mountain let alone stand at the mouth of the volcano. Even if it was a dormant volcano or a fence at the edge of the cliff, no one would.
It was simply irresponsible to put one's own life in the path of danger.
" He is far away from us now."
After walking away from Black Swan Palace, he made his way to the front gate of the palace to get far away from Joshua. When he was sure he was far enough, Fyndar broke down and began to tremble in fear. He hugged himself as tightly as he could. His teeth and his body was shivering. Drips of cold sweats began to fall from his forehead.
The knight realized that his back was already soaked in cold sweat. His body and his basic instinct had reacted faster than his mind. Fyndar did not feel discontent. He felt fortunate that he did not behave disrespectfully in front of the warrior.
"The rumors are more than true that heavy aura"
Before Fyndar could shake off his feeling, he suddenly felt the ground tremble.
It felt as if the entire palace and earth was shaking. The maids and the servants in the Royal Library lifted their heads and began to panic. They looked around them anxiously and then at the ground.
"Impossible! This is the Holy City of Triplet Mountains. It is impossible that an earthquake would hit us here!"
Although it was only a brief tremble, everyone started to talk. They frowned and prepared to leave the library as soon as they could. That included Fyndar. He walked swiftly to get as far away from Black Swan Palace as he could. However, he was not really far away when he sensed two strange Combat Aura in the wind. One of the Combat Auras felt extremely familiar. Fyndar turned around and took a look at Black Swan Palace which was no longer trembling. Right beside the knight, the plants and flowers swayed violently as the strong, cold wind blew. The garden seemed to come alive.
"Could it be"
Fyndar mumbled to himself as he could not believe his own judgment.
In Black Swan Palace, a series of magic circles emerged everywhere. The air rippled with the activation of the magic circles as invisible magic began to strengthen the building, stopping the hall from trembling.
In the empty lounge on the first floor of the library, the epicenter of the tremble spread energy waves everywhere.
"Dimore, you are just like your father. Both of you get to know people through your fists. Instead of a ruler of a kingdom, you are both more of a warrior."
The voice of a man sounded deep and crystal clear as its laughter echoed through the hall. The person who spoke had yet to fully unleash his power, "This is a good habit for a warrior. Combat Aura resembles your own life and your own will. It can completely represent your soul. At least it is much more real than words."
"That is absolutely true! Only the Emperor who holds the high power"
The other voice echoing in the hall did not sound as relaxing as the other. He seemed to be struggling to speak. Even so, he stayed calm and cold as he finished his sentence, " would never be able to survive one night in this world!"
After he finished his sentence, the man poured in all of his power as he was ready to battle.
The energy wave that was spreading out of the lounge was getting stronger. It had turned into waves of ravaging winds, flipping all of the tables, chairs and other things in the living hall and blew them far away.
In the middle of the lounge, two men sat at a table as they faced each other. Their right arms were clasped together as if they were arm-wrestling. The black-haired man seemed to be relaxed. His arm was charged up with a dark-red blazing Combat Aura, his body did not show any sign of emitting energy wave at all. On the other hand, the blond man gritted his teeth as he poured all of his power into his arm. Most of the energy waves that were spreading into the surroundings seemed to be coming from him. His body was charged with light-silvery Combat Aura, causing the winds to grow stronger and colder.
"You should use your full power from the beginning or you will not stand even the slightest chance," Joshua said as he looked at the second prince in front of him with interest. Then he patiently explained, "Whether it was a battle or arm-wrestling, your enemy will never wait for you to slowly charge your power up to the maximum."
Sitting a little far away from him, Ying frowned and asked, "Master doesn't seem to be the type who would waste his energy speaking so why now?"
"It seems that he has met someone he knew long ago. He seems very happy at the moment."
Ling shrugged and said, "He also speaks when he scolds Black."
In the meantime, Dimore found himself caught in a bitter battle.
He came all the way here to get a good look at the warrior who had received the praise by Emperor Israel and said that the warrior would definitely become a Legendary-tier. Dimore was naturally proud and confident. He enlisted himself into the military when he was still a teenager to become a warrior at the frontline. He had survived all of the battles so far. There was no other prince who had experienced as much as he did in the entire history of the Royals. He believed that his will and determination would never waver. He believed that he could triumph over everything that came into his path.
His father, Emperor Israel, had also admired his son in that regard. He even once said that Dimore was his true son. However, the Emperor had never said that Dimore was 'the best'.
This was one of the greatest regrets of the second prince who was always wanted to become the strongest in the entire world. But Joshua was praised instead.
"Who is he?"
"Why does father have such high regard for him?"
"Is it possible that he is stronger than me? Can he really be stronger than me, someone who has crossed countless battlefields and returned with victorious honor?"
That thought haunted Dimore all the time since. The decision that Israel made during the celebration had led Dimore to be even more determined to meet the warrior who was rumored to possess the heavenly strength that made him a god of war. Even though he came to the library to calm his mind by picking up a few books to read, that thought haunted his mind.
And coincidentally, Joshua had arrived at the library to look for Master Nostradamus.
Was that fate? Was it destiny? Dimore did not have the answer to that question. He did not seem to be bothered by it either. The second prince only knew one thing for sure. If he ever wanted a duel with the warrior, this would be the time. He had been suppressing his will to battle all this while. Now that the warrior was just in front of him, he could no longer keep the beast in him.
So he challenged the warrior without hesitating.
And the outcome was far from his expectation.
He was completely suppressed.
"Powerful you are truly powerful."
The muscles on his arm bulged. The light-silvery Combat Aura had torn his uniform on the right arm. The air in the surroundings became so cold that it felt like winter had arrived. Layers of frosts began to form on the floor and walls. Dimore stared at the warrior who appeared to be emotionless. Then he spat out, "Your age is about the same as mine. However you possess the power that triumph completely over mine"
That feeling of helplessness was just similar to the feeling he felt back when he was facing an unstoppable beast. He had experienced it before when did that happen?
Oh right, it was that one time.
In that instant, Dimore seemed to be reminded of a memory he experienced on the northwest plains many years ago.
That was a bloody battle that filled the Saad plains with piles of bones and rotting flesh. Blood was spilled into rivers.
Thousands of violent orcs rode out into the battlefield on their stone-horned rhinoceros at an unstoppable momentum. They wielded the shackles on their wrists that were tied to giant sledgehammers as they began their onslaught. They roared as crushed all of the bastions, men, and any other obstacles in their way. It was chaotic as dust and sand were stirred up, forming haze.
Dimore was on the frontline of that battle. That was the worst battle he had ever encounter before in his entire life. That was also said to be the most dangerous battle of all time. Numerous stone rhinoceros rode into the battlefield like living siege vehicles. They could easily tear down the line of defense on the frontline. The Imperial army did not have a single heavy equipment to defend themselves against the incoming assaults. They were completely unable to defend themselves.
The current moment felt exactly like as how he felt back on that battlefield.
The palm of the black-haired warrior felt like the charging stone rhinoceros, or perhaps a meteor that was about to crash onto earth. The force was unstoppable. Even after Dimore had juiced every single drop of his strength, he could barely keep up with it anymore. He was slowly losing. The feeling of helplessness began to spread all overDimore's body. He knew that he was not going to win.
The strength that Joshua possessed could bring victory at the battlefield. In regards to Combat Aura, strength, skills, will, soul or determination, Dimore knew he could never win the opponent in front of him. The warrior had yet to use his true strength. He was just using the same level of strength to greet Dimore. The warrior was winning the game purely based on techniques and skills. After noticing that, the second prince had finally understood that even though his opponent had the strength of a Gold-advanced, he might only be trying to appear that way. The true strength within Joshua might have already surpassed that. He might have attained a higher realm, Supreme tier!
However, there was no way that he was going to turn back now. Dimore gritted his teeth as he made up his mind. Even if he had to lose, he would rather lose only after he had tried his best. Furthermore, he still had a secret method that could help him win. Though that might damage him to a certain point and he might simply lose anyway, but that was the only option left for him.
Just as the second prince was ready to unleash his secret technique, a deep voice of an old man echoed from the main door of the lounge. "Enough, you two!"
The old man was a little frustrated and enraged at the same time, "This is the Royal Library, not a ring for you two to wrestle!"