The cold wind from the northern sea blew, carrying snow along with it. With the sun hidden away by gray clouds, day seemed like night. The howling wind echoed in the air, like the sound of a horn being blown.
It was already December, where snow was falling. In the final month of the year, blizzards and strong winds would sweep across the entire empire. That would include the distant south where the weather was deemed to be the hottest among all other regions. Even this region would be deeply affected by the cold that was coming. Because the temperature in the surroundings would drop tremendously, everyone would shut their doors and stay indoors. They would be surviving the cold with everything they stockpiled beforehand. So they just let the snow to pile up over the windows of their house, which blocked the entrances to their houses.
Because of the special condition of the natural environment, the buildings in the north were different from others. Their doors were designed to open inward, to prevent the doors from getting stuck even though the snow gets piled up high on their doorsteps. It was an awkward situation because even when it stopped snowing, people would still need to take their shovels and dig their way out of their houses.
When it snowed, coupled with extreme wind that could sweep the streets with snow, the cold air was enough to freeze the water in an instant had caused much inconvenience to the people. Even the Dragon Caravan had to stop their trading activities because of the weather. No matter how mad a person turned out to be, no one would be mad enough to go out at a moment like that.
However, there would still be some exceptions.
In the main city of Moldavia, right by the top of the city wall, there stood a black-haired man with red eyes who only wore a single-layered shirt right on the edge of the city wall.
Facing towards the opposite direction of the howling wind, he closed his eyes and stood still as if he was a statue. If his skin did not have the glow of health and his chest did not move vaguely, he would look like a dead man.
In actual fact, Joshua was 'breathing'.
Along with a strange rhythm, the warrior was regulating his breathing. His entire body trembled slightly. Channeling his focus towards his body, his muscles, organs, and different parts, even the smallest ones, his blood flow began to change in speed. His blood was coursing through his entire body that was trained to the limit. All to build up strength and energy.
Combat Aura is the extension of life, a part of fusion between the 'self' and 'body'. It exists deep in the body because of the tough physique and strong will, slowly accumulating there. Theoretically speaking, unless it was a matter of life and death, it would not be unleashed.
However, the humans across Continental War came up with a system to manipulate this power by experimenting for hundreds or thousands of years.
The process was called '
Joshua let out a breath. Nice and slow. His steamy breath formed a long white vapor that traveled along the icy cold air.
Upon exhaling all of the air in his lungs, he began to control the movement of his blood flow to slow the rate of his heartbeat. At the same time, his heart beat stronger as well. The function of his internal organs began to slow down as well. After that, he took in another breath by following his breathing pace, giving slight movement to his body that seemed to stay still. The power stored deep in him was unleashed. His body began to be strengthened by the second.
Training his mind in the middle of a snowstorm could let his mind calm down in a better way. At the same moment where the warmth in his body was taken away, it got tougher for him to breathe. He breathed heavier and heavier as it went on. Upon reaching the tenth minute and countless loop of respiration, a strange blackish red light began to gleam at the spot where the warrior's heart was resting. After that, the rate of his blood flow began to increase, coursing through every part of his body. He could vaguely hear metal crashing against each other.
"I've done it."
Upon opening his eyes, Joshua had a faint smile on his face that became a little stiff due to the cold. He reached out his right hand and he looked right at the blackish-red radiance that was fading on his hand. Then he nodded in satisfaction. "After days of hard training, I've finally mastered [Steel Armor Kokyu-ho]."
Joshua took up the small knife by his waist and stabbed his hand without hesitation. The speed and strength of that stab were so swift and powerful that a strong current of wind was formed from the movement of that stabbing. However, an ear-piercing sound of a scratch was heard. The sharp tip of the knife was completely flattened as if it was violently pressed against the surface of a tough metallic armor. The body of the knife also got twisted badly.With all that, there was not even a single scratch on the warrior's hand, only a dark red glow on the spot where the knife was focused on.
"Not bad at all. Only at Level 1 yet it has such a good effect."
Joshua then threw the bent knife aside. The blazing Combat Aura of his had ignited around his entire body. The stiffness that the cold brought upon his body had been swept away. After that, he turned around and walked back indoors, "Although that's a little rushed, the 'Kokyu-ho' of this sort could be turned into a power for battle. Looks like it's worth it to let such a skill to occupy one slot of my Permanent Gained Status."
Permanent Gained Status was the term that most players knew as [Passive Skill]. A Steel tier only has one [Passive Skill] slot. A Silver tier has two and a Gold tier has three.
Unlike normal skills, passive skills would require a long time of training before one could obtain them. For instance, even though Joshua already had a lot of experience, he still took approximately five days to master the basics of the [Steel Armor Kokyu-ho]. Additionally, he used the cold weather and his experience to his advantage in mastering that skill.
As a former legendary warrior, Joshua knew about quite a number of practical and powerful passive skills. He also knew the methods of mastering them. However, the reason he put in all his effort in obtaining this skill which would occupy one precious slot for his Passive Skill was the letter he received a few days back.
After the banquet and a brief meeting with Mengsk that night, Joshua had did not rest after reading the short letter that the emperor addressed to him. He continued on to read the letter. Meanwhile, that second letter was a brief message from Fort Dark Forest.
[To the Count of Moldavia, Joshua van Radcliffe,
A thick fog has begun to emerge all around the Dark Forest. Meanwhile, the daemons have started gathering and their roars getting louder by the moment. The detection spell can even confirm that there are Gold-tier daemons among the daemon horde. According to the past experiences, this Dark Tideshould begin by the end of this month or the beginning of upcoming January. The fortress is now on high alert. My lord, please be advised to make your preparation as soon as possible.]
[Yours faithfully, Zorgen.]
Dark Tide and Gold-tier daemons.
Joshua thought about that, with a grim expression on his face.
If an Upper Silver-tier warrior was like a cannon with highly powerful unlimited ammunition which also could move around rapidly, then an extraordinary Gold-tier warrior could deal damage like a supersonic bomber that can cruise at the speed several times faster than the speed of sound which has an unlimited number of Fuel Air Explosive reserved.
That description was only limited to humans. Comparing a human and a daemon on the same tier, the daemon would triumph over the human in term of pure strength. After getting hit by such a brute strength, it would not matter if the person's Combat Aura was powerful or the person was skilled. The person would suffer internal injuries upon taking the damage from such brute force because human bodies still had limitations.
Even though Joshua's skills and control had made him so powerful that his enemies on the same tier as him did not pose a threat, the Dark Tide would be a totally different thing compared to the one-on-one battles he had in the past. Things would not be as simple as the incident where he single-handedly took out nineteen Silver-tier mercenaries. If anyone ever strayed from the main party, that person would have to battle against hundreds or even thousands of daemons at the same time. That person would have been dead for a couple of times before he could even react to or dodge the monsters.
That was war. Every Dark Tide was like a real war. Dealing with war, there was no such thing as being cautious. Furthermore, as liege of the place, Joshua's main mission was to charge straight into the daemon horde and kill any daemons that were powerful enough to pose a threat to the wall of the fortress regardless of whether the daemons were Silver Tier or Gold Tier. Furthermore, under the influence of the berserk virus caused by the Gore Magala, the Dark Tide this round would become much more intense than the previous ones. No matter how powerful the warrior had become, he would still need to make preparations and contingency plans for the upcoming battles.
The challenges would always remain huge and the number of problems that needed solving would also be high.Facing all of the above, Joshua had chosen to master [Steel Armor Kokyu-ho]
Most of the heavy armor especially the Heavy Enchanted Armor, had immunity to Stun and also the ability to reduce Physical Damage received. When a warrior wears a heavy armor set, he would not be distracted by small attacks and could unleash his potential at least three times higher than the time where he did not wear the heavy armor. Joshua also possessed [MAX Mastery], so he would not have any problems in coming up with means of attacks. However, his body was still the basic Transcendental Build of a Gold tier. He would need to enhance his defense in order to face countless daemons that went berserk.
[Steel Armor Kokyu-ho] was a skill that originated from a human warrior that became so powerful that he no longer seemed to be human. He called himself 'Fang Lord' and was currently wandering across all the lands of the continent. Whoever managed to defeat him would be granted with a few special skills of that warrior. Undoubtedly, the [Steel Armor Kokyu-ho] was one of those skills.
It could enhance the basic defense of the player and also reduce part of the Physical Damage received. Then it could also be immune to all Stun Damage and effects when the skill was about to end. Furthermore, the skill also had quite high defense against Penetration Damage. Other than that, it could also enhance the toughness of one's physique and increase one's HP recovery. By the end of it, the person who activated the skill would be as if he was wearing an advanced Enchanted Heavy Armor. There would be no vulnerable spots on the wearer at all during that period of time. It could also comprehensively increase the physique of the warrior from all aspects, allowing the warrior to adapt to a variety of conditions and locations.
However, the skill was not that popular in the game among the majority of the players; it was merely an additional layer of protection. Skills and weapons that could penetrate armor could still wound the users. If that was the case, why would anyone give up one skill slot for a Passive Skill such as this? Furthermore, most of the players were not afraid of death. They preferred to attack instead of defending because they could be revived. Other than Joshua who seemed to love doing different style than the others, only a few players would learn such a skill.
However, the situation was very different now as this other world was real. Joshua only had one life here. Even though he craved for battle and found joy in slaughter, that did not mean that he was not afraid to die. With the real set of heavy armor and this 'Kokyu-ho' skill, Joshua now had two layers of defense. That should make him even stronger and harder to kill than before now.
All of a sudden, a tremor came from the direction of the gate by the south of the city. Joshua's thoughts were interrupted by the sudden tremor.
"What's going on?"
Joshua turned his head over to notice that a puff of smoke was rising slowly into the sky by the entrance of the city. After that, the smoke was blown away by a strong current of wind. He could not help but have a strange feeling.
"What could cause such a commotion, I wonder?"