Sneers and jeers started ringing out from everywhere, but Arc ignored it and readied himself again. Compared to the boxing stance that hed taken earlier, Arcs legs were spread further apart, and he was standing like a Taekwondo fighter. Apparently, he was utilizing a Taekwondo skill.
“Ugh, Im hurt. Youre the real thing.”
Sting shifted his Bastard Sword to his right hand and smiled slyly.
Arc paid no attention to Stings words and was about to lunge toward him when he suddenly stopped, noticing a greyish light beginning to glow from the NPCs Bastard Sword.
Arc couldnt help but be taken aback, as sword qi was something that could only be used by a Master at Level 10 or higher. Yet, before he could think about this, the Bastard Sword shot towards Arcs right foot.
Sting and Arcs bodies smashed into each other, sending them flying back by about two meters.
“Hes able to go up against sword qi?”
“This doesnt make any sense!”
The observing mercenaries couldnt help but yell out in surprise after Arc seemingly emerged from the clash injury-free. However, Arc knew that he was in a dangerous situation. The leather armor around his knees had been shredded.
‘Its real sword qi.
Since this was the case, Arc was in serious trouble. He didnt have the martial arts power or prowess required to fight a Level 10 being, but at that moment, a chastising voice rang within Arcs mind.
“Hey, idiot. Think about this carefully. That guy is using Master-level skills, but hes just Level 7. Do you really think a Level 10 monster would appear for a Level 7 test?”
Arc regained his composure after listening to Ellies telepathic voice as the cat hid somewhere. Ellie was correct. There was no way someone at Level 10 would attend a Level 7 test. Furthermore, the sword qi had definitely hit his leg, but Arc hadnt been injured too heavily.
‘I see. That guy has reached Master in terms of skill and ability, but hes still stuck at Level 7, so his overall base stats are restricted.
Of course, skills and abilities were important aspects of reaching higher levels, but that wasnt all. Unless someone also learned to use aura or mana, they would be restricted by the physical limits of their body. As such, a martial artist may reach the pinnacle of physical martial arts and become Level 8, but they wouldnt be able to level up anymore.
Sting had definitely reached this point, but his muscular and physical strength stats were only at 70 points or lower, and he was also limited to ten to 20 years of internal energy. Even if Arc was to give Sting the benefit of the doubt, Sting only had half a cycle or 30 years of internal energy at best. Despite his excellent fighting capabilities, Sting was limited by these other factors. Sting had gotten to where he was through constant training and fighting experience, but Arc had gained his skills by training and practicing in moreholistic martial arts.
“As I am now, standing utterly alone, I command thee….”
“Hmph! Chanting a spell right in front of me!”
In a fit of rage, Sting shot toward Arc, but the latter calmly deflected the oncoming sword blade with his palm and sent an uppercut at Stings chin. Since Sting was able to shape his mana into sword qi, he clearly had greater mana control than Arc, but this didnt mean that he was a more accomplished martial artist. Although Arc had lived a modern life, he had also spent a great deal of time training in martial arts.
Sting had assumed that Arc was preoccupied with his chanting, so hed rushed forward and attacked head-first. Yet, his head was soon jolted back after getting hit under his chin. In an instant, he used a three-swing combo to deflect any following attacks before stepping back. However, Arc did not follow up on his initial attack. He continued to chant his spell.
“Sparks into anger, whirlwind into despair.”
“This doesnt make any sense! How can he be chanting in the middle of battle?”
Sting cried out in disbelief, but Arc continued chanting as he stood with his legs spread out to around two steps wide, standing with a firm posture. This was a defensive stance that emanated an aura, seemingly stating that anyone approaching him would have their skull cracked in half.
Normally, in situations like this, Sting would retreat or try and stall to see if his opponents defenses revealed any openings, but right now, Sting knew that he had to make a move, as there was no chance that Arcs spell would be beneficial for him.
“Leader! He might just be pretending to chant. If you wait just a bit longer….”
“You idiot! Do you think I received the title of Sword Master as a joke? Hes really chanting a spell!”
After Sting cried out, he swung his sword at Arcs neck, but the player was prepared, so he deflected the oncoming attack and used the inertia to rotate for a roundhouse kick. Of course, Sting was able to block the attack, as he wasnt a pushover, but he couldnt help but think that the battle would continue until Arc lowered his defensive posture.
‘Ack, my light armor…!
After Stings blade hit him, Arcs light armor started cracking and ripping, causing him to quicken his chant. Despite supplementing his defenses with magic power and being experienced in the self-defense technique, Thoughts Gold Strong Technique, Sting had struck with sword qi, so Arc couldnt endure for too long. Actually, it was surprising that Arcs defenses had held up this far.
“Damn it! Your defenses are truly something!”
When his blade strike was deflected once more, Sting blocked Arcs retaliatory roundhouse kick with his elbow and was unable to stop himself from frowning at the immense internal force. While he was at a higher level than Arc, he was no match for the players strength and internal energy levels. Moreover, Sting had already unveiled all of his cards, but Arc still had the spell he was chanting, which seemingly gave him the upper hand.
“Ah, wait a moment, lets try to talk this out….”
Yet, before Sting could try and talk their differences out, Arc had finished chanting his spell.
“Flame Buster, Part Two.”
With ating, magic power rushed out. The packets of magic power spread throughout Arcs body according to a set path laid down by his magic technique. Then, after gathering together, the groups of magic power exploded.
In the blink of an eye, six punches simultaneously landed on Stings body, moving so quickly that the individual sounds of their collision rang out as a single thump. It had only taken a twentieth of a second to send out all six punches. This was Flame Buster Revolver. With this technique, compared to a magnum-type of shot that pressurized magic power and exploded it out, Arc had reinforced his body and sent accelerating power to his arms and elbows, which had been overlaid with magic circles. In a split second, Arc was able to launch multiple punches that carried tremendous power and speed.
The whole process was completed so quickly that the observers only saw Stings body tremble a few times before crumpling to the ground. The only hint that Arc had done anything was the steam rising from both of his hands.
As Stings body collapsed without even a whimper, Arc took a couple of steps back and started stretching his body. The surrounding mercenaries seemed to be on the verge of attacking him, but none of them moved.
“Do I need to defeat all of these guys as well?”
If Sting had attacked alongside his mercenaries, Arc wouldnt have stood a chance, but since Sting had been neutralized, fighting the rest of the mercenaries would be akin to going up against an orc village. Obviously, if all of them attacked at once, Arc would be killed easily, but if he could move around and kite his opponents, it would only be a matter of time before they were all killed. However, while he was thinking this, Arc heard a telepathic voice.
“I dont think you need to do anything more.”
Then, a text message appeared,
Arc instantly disappeared.
“W-what? Where did he go?”
The mercenaries were on edge after witnessing their monster-like leader being defeated by Arc, their adrenaline pumping. Yet, Arc had just vanished and disappeared, so the mercenaries couldnt help but look stupefied. After completing a quest, the teleportation that would take place was similar to the Recall spell from the Gate Ring, which was a return item sold at the Exchange Center. So, compared to how a user could be attacked while logging out, the transportation after a quest was instant.
“What about our leader?”
“Hes alive; hes just unconscious.”
“He truly did just leave after defeating our leader… whats going on? Were not like knights that uphold some higher principles like honor or anything like that. He only wanted to fight?”
“It seems like he also took the gold that he threw earlier. Dang, hes quite thorough.”
Unable to understand what was happening, the mercenaries constantly chatted and murmured as they helped their leader stand up. And, just then…
“W-what kind of noise is that?”
The entire space was filled with the noise of metal-on-metal like a giant iron cogwheel turning. This sound didnt come from any particular direction or source; it rang throughout the heavens and earth.
Alongside the heavy metallic clanking sound, a distant mountain disappeared.
After another metallic clang, the sky and ground turned to dust and instantly threw the mercenaries into a dark, empty void.
On the far horizon, the world seemed to be sinking into something.
“W-whats going on? Whats happening… huh? Wait. How come all the villagers look weird?”
The Phoenix Mercenary Guild was a fairly sizable organization that specialized in large-scale warfare, and their building reflected this status by being one of the biggest in the area. While the building wasnt tall enough to peer into other mercenary guild complexes, it was enough to easily look down on a vast portion of the village.
From this high vantage point, the mercenaries could see all the residents of the village looking up at the sky, unmoving. They werent even surprised or anything like that; they seemed closer to robots that had their batteries removed.
Then, the mercenary soldier fell into the same state. Originally, the living organisms would have been suspended before the surrounding environment and programs were deleted, but since this world was recreated for a users test, the process had run backward.
After one final clanking sound, the entire world fell into darkness.
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