Book 2 Chapter 145

Leguna vs Balor (3)

Shadow Double was Balor's third gift. It was also his last trump card.

It allowed him to use the shadow energy in his surroundings to create a double that had seventy percent of his strength and speed. It couldn't release any impetus and its movements had to be consciously controlled, however. This, however, was not what made it so terrifying; it was practically indestructible as long as it was not exposed to light. It was made out of shadows, so it didn't tax Balor much. He could keep it going practically indefinitely, granted the shadow energy in the surroundings lasted, and could replace it at a moment's notice if it was destroyed.

{He's no weaker than before!} exclaimed Gahrona.

{What's that mean?}

{He isn't using his own energy to make the double! It won't expire quickly or be easy to destroy!}

It was only expected for a saint-ranked assassin like Gahrona to give a concise analysis of the situation the moment it occurred.

{So I shouldn't bother with the double and focus on Balor?} Leguna parried the double's slash and kicked him aside as he convened with his master.

{Yes!}

With his greatest trump card revealed, Balor went all-out. He willed the shadow double to keep Leguna busy while he prepared his next attack. He flung a smoke bomb at his feet and used the smoke to hide himself in the shadows.

{Watch out, Balor's preparing something!}

Balor was proving far greater an opponent than expected. He was far stronger and more resourceful than Gahrona thought he would be. There was a very real chance of this being the end of the road for both her disciple and herself.

{I know!}

Leguna leaped into the air and flung throwing knives wildly, hoping one would hit. One did, and, in doing so, forced him to reveal himself. The moment he appeared, Leguna vanished and instantly re-appeared behind him. Lighteater re-materialized just centimeters from Balor's neck. The move had been useless against Kreighdon, but Balor was neither saint rank, nor anywhere near as experienced as the old orc. He did, however, predict a similar attack might be coming. His impetus rushed to his skin to form a barrier to protect him. He curled into as close an imitation of a sphere he could.

It took Lighteater only a moment to cover the distance between it and Balor, but that moment was enough. In the instant he had, Balor fixed no Leguna's position and struck out with his leg. It swept low over the ground at the boy's legs. It struck his legs and swept them out from under him. He fell to the ground, rolled, and dashed up again. The moment his attention was focused on recovering his balance, however, left him unaware of his surroundings. When he snapped his attention outwards again, a stream of dark energy was rapidly closing in on him. Leguna could not use Shadow Blink an indefinite number of times in quick succession. His body needed time to recover. He could not avoid the strike. It struck his chest, burst through his body and poured through his neck into his face where it settled around his eyes. Everything was suddenly pitch-black.

Indeed, Balor was very experienced. He'd held Darkness back until the perfect moment and struck out with it flawlessly. For at least the next five seconds, the little brat would be completely blind, about four and a half seconds more than he needed to kill him. Balor rushed forward along with his double. The two arrived on opposite sides of their target.

{Here he comes! Don't forget about the double!} screamed Gahrona.

She could observe their surroundings, but couldn't share her vision. Leguna was still blind as a bat. The kid's heart burst out of his chest and pummeled the bottom of his skull. He forced it down to where it should be with every strand of willpower and restraint he had left. His attention turned to his remaining functioning senses.

Time slowed to a crawl. He sensed the slow beating of a small insect's wings somewhere to his right. Behind it he heard the gentle rustle of a tree's leaves. A drop of thick sap fell from one of the twigs. It met the insect in mid air and pulled it earthwards. The world was suddenly crystal clear… in a manner of speaking. His heart beat echoed through his veins, his breathing rasped in his lungs. He even heard the faint hiss of blades cutting through the air.

Four of them were making for four different spots on his body. His body moved, almost as if of its own volition. It slid backward, dashing at the double. Lighteater swam in the air and struck shadow more or less where the head should be. His body continued its charge and pushed through the dissipating energy. A second! He just needed another second then he could blink away! Balor did not give him that second.

His low roar burst into Leguna's ears, blurring his 'view' of the world momentarily, slowing his response. The roar also gave Balor a burst of speed. His one sword crackled lightly, another swiftshadow slash was coming. Leguna sensed Balor's increased speed, but though he couldn't catch up in time. The shadow double suddenly moved. It suddenly reconstituted, turned around, and swung one of its blades at Leguna. It couldn't hit his torso, but would cut at his arm.

How could he be so dumb? Why had he thought decapitating a shadow would kill it? It was not a living being! It was too late to react, however. The slash came ever closer to his wrist. He had two choices, abandon his two weapons, or lose his hands. He could not move them out of the way in time with the extra weight of the weapons. He hesitated only momentarily before letting go. Unfortunately, the moment it took him to decide was all Balor needed to launch his attack, The slash slammed through the air at Leguna's torso.

At the last moment, however, the kid blinked out of existence. The slash bisected the double, and it started dissipating. It was not a big loss, however. It was dark, and a few minutes would see another join him.

Leguna re-materialized a dozen meters away. He was on his knee, breathing heavily, blood running down his back, hiding the bone beneath.

"Blurphh!"

A mouthful of blood burst out of the kid's mouth. He swayed to his feet unsteadily.

Still not enough!

Blood poured down his back and legs, filling his shoes and sloshing onto the ground. Balor's black curse nibbled on his energy, weakening him by the second. Across from him, Balor stood nonchalantly. Behind him, his double slowly took shape again. He picked up Lighteater and Ebony, wielding his prizes comfortably.

"Out of it already? How disappointing… This this is all you amount to, even with all your crutches. Well, not with your friends. I should thank them, actually. Your crutches have allowed you to let your legs wither and die. If you'd trained yourself properly, you might have a chance of beating me. I think I'll be kind and not separate you from your friends. You can all go to the afterlife together. How does that sound?"

Leguna panted profusely and wiped the blood off his face.

"You're wrong. It's precisely because of their help that I was able to make it to this point and face you in a fair duel. Without them, I would've long turned into the droppings of wild beasts."

"That's the reason you're willing to risk your life for their sakes?" Balor said with a cackle, "I can't deny that what you do really does sound touching. However, it also sounds incredibly stupid. THink about it, idiot! What is Kurdak doing when you're fighting me with your life on the line? You're fighting for Eirinn's sake, yet, what is she doing right now? What about that Annelotte, who seemed to have done quite a lot for you? Huh? None of them are at your side! They are only watching coldly from afar. All so-called friends and family are like this. They'll act all selfless when it doesn't directly concern their well being or interest. But when their lives are put into question, they'd abandon you without hesitation and let you face all of it alone! That's what friends are! Don't you understand?! You're still fighting like an idiot here at with your life despite that?!"

Leguna watched silently as Balor yelled his thoughts out. He then asked, "Balor, don't tell me that, until now, you haven't found anyone or anything that you would fight for without a care for your own life?"

"None!" Balor roared without hesitation, "They're not worth it! Humans only make use of each other and plot against one another. There's nothing worth fighting for with their own life! One's own life is the most precious thing ever!"

"Hehe... Hehe... Ahahahaha!" When Leguna finished listening, he stood still with surprise before bursting out in laughter. Even in such a tense atmosphere, Balor could hear the endless mockery, sympathy and pity from Leguna's laughter.

"How pitiful!" Leguna mocked after coughing out another mouthful of blood, "Boss once told me: 'People will always have something they're willing to fight for with their lives. Otherwise, they'd be far too pitiful'. Yet, you weren't able to find a single thing or treasure that you deem worth risking your life for in all 20 years your of life! I really can't imagine how pathetic you are! Hahahahaha!"

"Keep laughing and I'll kill you!" barked he.

"I have to laugh!" Leguna said, "You're telling me how much stronger you are. But, the way I see it, you're inferior to me in every way!"

Pride flashed through Leguna's eyes.

"I have many precious friends, friends for whom I'll fight with my life! Because of them, I have responsibility, courage, I know my worth, I became incredibly strong!"

"Wow, you're so strong you're about to die," insulted Balor.

Leguna smiled.

"You really think this is it for me?"

"Isn't it?"

Though Leguna was heavily injured and unarmed, the moment he smiled, Balor felt a sense of unease.

"Of course!" Leguna roared, "To protect my friends and everything dealt to me, I can do much more! I can become stronger! Now, I see my true power!"


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