Chapter 375: The First Retainer
“Hiruka! Hiruka! …”
Screams rang out within the black market’s underground arena as Hiruka stepped onto the stage once more. Likely due to her recent killing of Blood Mask, they were even louder and crazier than before.
Hiruka smiled charmingly back towards the crowd.
Only by drawing their attention and gaining their support could she continue to gain astonishing wealth with every match. Wealth which grew like a rolling snowball and continuously increased her strength. Wealth which was required for her continued triumph.
Furthermore, unlike the many thugs who participated purely out of greed, Hiruka had set clear rules for herself. She would stop once her strength and/or wealth grew to a point where she became capable of escaping from one of the Office of Special Affair’s arcane teams.
The longer she remained within the underground black market, the clearer she understood that the best method to wash oneself of one’s sins was to become strong enough to prevent others from killing oneself.
But at this moment, a trace of shock emerged within her eyes.
She watched as Belo stepped onto the stage. Even before she saw his face, she could tell from the aura radiating from his body that he was a youth no older than sixteen.
Sweat covered Moss’ body as he watched nervously from the stands.
Belo was still wearing his usual robes which they had nicknamed ‘whiteboard’. They were the cheapest linen arcane master robes one could buy with no design which offered absolutely no protection against anything, not even the most ordinary flame.
He had also chosen not to wear a mask to cover his face. Instead, he had simply taken off his glasses and made three marks atop his face with blood.
As the blood heated, it began to drip like wax, covering his face and making him unrecognizable except to those who were familiar with him.
“Eh? It’s just a child?!
“What kind of vampire is this? It’s actually a child who’s still drinking his mother’s milk!”
“What are they trying to pull? I actually bet some coins on him! Give me my money back!”
Belo’s appearance caused the stands to erupt with curses as the sounds of things being broken rang out from various corners of the stage.
Although Belo’s appearance was rather frightening, the people present were those who had all seen their fair share of blood. As a result, they didn’t take him seriously and believed that the organizers had deliberately made him seem more than he was.
Belo raised a finger before his mouth and gestured for everyone to be silent.
“Hiruka! Hurry up and kill him!”
“Kill him within half a minute and I’ll gift you an artifact! I don’t want to see this idiotic child ever again!”
The crowd erupted into another wave of swearing.
Roy Wayne and several other members of the Burning Corps just stood silently outside the metal cage enclosed stage like bosses, their arms crossed before them.
“A bunch of people without eyes.”
Hearing all of the mocking and swearing, Roy Wayne sympathetically shook his head, “They do not know of this ancient beastman tradition of facial blood tattoos prior to battle. It is something which only those who have awakened their ancestral imprints and obtained the ability of Bloodline Transformation have the qualification of doing.”
“How come I’ve never heard of this tradition?” One of the arcane masters around him couldn’t resist asking.
“This tradition only existed during the Era of the War with Dragons… and by the middle of the Era of the War with Dragons, those beastman tribes were all defeated and killed.” Roy Wayne tugged at his hair as he chuckled and said, “But this just shows you how much of a genius this child from Holy Dawn Academy is. His lineage is incredibly pure, and it is of one of the ancient tribes. He should be an heir of one of the ancient beastman families. In the face of his bloodline, the beastman bloodlines known by our Kingdom of Eiche and the Kingdom of Doa are mere dregs …”
“He has the bloodline of an ancient beastman family? And its extremely pure?” All the surrounding Burning Corps’ arcane masters took a deep breath as they all looked at Roy Wayne with eyes filled with uncertainty. Could it be that their commander had actually gone a bit mad following the loss of so many arcane teams during the war?
Facing Hiruka, Belo abruptly opened his mouth and arrogantly blurted, “What are you looking at? Are you going to obediently come here and lick this grandfather’s feet?”
“What? Lick feet?”
Due to the racket caused by Belo’s appearance, those in the stands were unable to hear Belo’s words. The members of the Burning Corps, however, were able to hear everything perfectly as they all nearly tripped over their feet.
“This is also an ancient beastman tradition!” Roy Wayne exclaimed as his expression turned more serious.
“What? Telling others to lick their feet is also a tradition?” The feeling that their commander had gone mad only increased.
“Correct,” Roy Wayne nodded. “It was a tradition held by only the most ancient beastman tribes. Powerful beastmen would tell another to lick their feet to signify that they wish for that person to become their retainer – a loyal follower. That said, kissing the toes was indeed required as ceremony.”
“It really was a tradition of ancient beastmen? And it was a kind of recruiting call?” The members of the Burning Corps were thoroughly shocked once more.
If Ayrin, Rinloran and the others had heard this, they likely would have been similarly dumbfounded.
Ding! Ding! Ding! …
The sound of metal colliding repeatedly rang out at this moment.
“The pool for this match has exceeded three thousand coins! Let the match begin!” A shrill and hoarse voice sounded immediately after, announcing the start of the match.
“You won’t lick my feet?”
Belo’s eyes abruptly reddened until they were the color of blood.
At the same time, his body began to transform rapidly.
“Is this a transformation skill? He’s transforming into a werewolf?”
“A beastman bloodline?”
The swearing within the stands disappeared as spectators began to converse heatedly amongst themselves.
A brilliant light abruptly pierced Belo’s upper body.
But it was only an afterimage.
Belo reappeared on all fours like a wild beast.
He had dodged Hiruka’s probing strike with a demonstration of astonishing speed.
Belo’s claws shattered the stage as his legs erupted with terrifying force and he charged towards Hiruka.
“Beastman bloodline… able to dodge my Shadowless Blade, you are not a novice… are you strongest at close combat?”
In stark contrast to the berserk Belo, Hiruka was extremely calm as a light flashed in her palm and she brought out the Storm Goddess’ Jewel once more.
Countless currents of wind enveloped her, forming a dim yellow barrier around her.
If close combat was her opponent’s strongest suit, all she had to do was prevent them from getting close.
“Crack! Crack! Crack!”
Terrifying sounds continued to emanate from the stage, and even sped up.
Belo was no more than ten meters away as the barrier of wind fully formed.
At this moment, a trace of hesitation filled Hiruka’s heart.
Should she use Spear of Bellona?
If she used the same skill as before, would it fail to please the crowd and reduce her rewards?
Hiruka took a purple earring off her left ear.
“Nightmare Devil Earring!”
“Hiruka is going to use the Nightmare Devil Earring to kill him!”
Cheers burst out within the stands.
Any arcane master who fell into the nightmare generated by this earring would begin to harm themselves in unthinkable ways, such as hanging themselves on the cage, using the barbs to lacerate themselves, etc.
In response, Belo, who was charging forwards on all fours, merely sneered like usual as he slammed his hands heavily into the ground.
Numerous cracks emerged in the stage as countless pieces of rock flew into the air.
Currents of blood red wind rose sharply from the floor and surged towards the barrier of wind surrounding Hiruka.
Hiruka’s expression changed greatly.
Belo’s strike had not contained very much force, but the instance it struck, she had felt countless chaotic arcane energies pervade the barrier of wind around her, disrupting its balance.
“What a move… Chaotic Blood Devouring!”
Outside of the stage, Roy Wayne was full of praise as he exclaimed, “Using this bloodline skill in a place like this where countless people have shed their blood… to him, this caged stage is like a powerful amplification artifact.”
The sound of people inhaling sharply rang out from throughout the stands as the dim yellow barrier slowly turned blood red until it looked like a diseased heart and finally burst apart.
Hiruka’s face turned extremely pale.
She immediately gave up on trying to utilize the Nightmare Devil Earring as arcane particles surged forth around her ankles at an abnormal rate.
Horrific arcane energy fluctuations began to ripple from the two black bands around her ankles.
A black flame homed in onto Belo and struck him precisely on the left side of his neck, blasting apart a large chunk of his flesh as if something had taken a bite out of it and exposing Belo’s cervical vertebrae.
Belo’s ruptured blood vessels and mangled flesh wriggled like dancing roots.
Cries of astonishment rang out within the stands as the crowd realized Belo was still alive.
The bloody light within Belo’s eyes intensified even more.
Countless threads of blood erupted from Belo’s eyes and landed on Hiruka.
Hiruka let out a miserable shriek as she dropped to the ground and began convulsing violently.
The crowd inhaled sharply once more.
Hiruka’s blood vessels emerged over her face, covering it like horrific red tattoos.
“He won… he actually won…”
Familiar with Belo’s abilities, Moss finally let out a sigh of relief as he plopped powerlessly into his seat. “Belo… this guy… does he always have to end up so bloody?”
“What is Hiruka about to do?”
The crowd abruptly became chaotic once more as Hiruka propped herself up with her arms, as if she was trying to crawl.
Everyone’s attention was fixated on the stage as Hiruka crawled before Belo and hesitantly kissed Belo’s feet.
“She actually licked his feet… it’s actually an ancient ceremony?” The members of the Burning Corps stared blankly at the now motionless Belo.
Half his body covered with blood, Belo looked down at Hiruka like an immortal demon as another thread of blood shot from his eyes and landed onto her.
Hiruka let out another painful moan before collapsing once more, as if all her burdens had been lifted.
Air whistled around Belo’s neck as he quietly said, like a lord bestowing knighthood, “As you are my first retainer, I shall name my first arcane team after your alias, Snake Charmer. Today is the first day of the Snake Charmer team.”