High-order Warrior Kurdak
Thanks to Eirinn's efforts, Kurdak finally recovered completely from his injuries. It was the moment to which everyone was looking forward. Kurdak had managed to stimulate his potential during his last match and it was time to see the fruits of his labor.
"Are you really okay, Boss?" Leguna asked, swinging his sword in the training center.
"Don't worry. I'm tougher than before!" Kurdak proclaimed, patting his chest.
He could feel the changes happening to his body while he was recovering. He hadn't completely recovered yet, but he could feel power pent-up inside him that had to be let go. It was beyond what he'd had even in his prime a few years earlier. He believed he could break through once again into the 14th stratum. Similarly, he could possibly activate aspect-infused impetus. If he managed that, remaining bedridden for so long would've been worth it.
"Better warm up first."
Leguna was worried rather than excited. Kurdak had just recovered and it wouldn't do for him to get injured again by pushing himself too far too quickly.
"Tch, you say that like I'm getting old," Kurdak snapped, dissatisfied. He had no choice, however, Vera was watching.
Aspect... flames... impetus... Kurdak tried hard to recall the sensation of unleashing his aspect infused impetus.
A strong wave burst out of his body. As the others expected, it was light red. Leguna felt its heat from dozen paces away.
"Good!" Leguna nodded happily, "It seems you've finally got it."
"It doesn't seem to be pure enough though," Vera splashed some cold water. She remembered how it had looked during the match. It had been a bright red, not this thing, washed red.
"Activating it is enough. We can slowly refine it over time," Leguna explained.
Leguna, young as he was, had the most experience with this in the group.
"Then all is well." Vera nodded, smiling.
"Wait," Kurdak said all of a sudden.
"I don't think I'm there yet." Kurdak clutched his two-handed sword tightly with both hands and got into a horse stance, his face wrinkling up from the effort.
"Boss, are you trying to take a shit?" That was the first thing that came to Leguna's mind upon seeing Kurdak's pose.
"Your ass!" That was all Kurdak said before he roared loudly. "Aaaaah!"
Accompanying his raw was another wave of even stronger impetus. Kurdak's impetus erupted from his body like lava out of a volcano and caused a slight gust to blow in the surroundings.
Leguna and Vera closed their eyes from the dust in the air. They blocked their faces with their hands and Kurdak regained control of the rampant flow of impetus after a while and stabilized them around him.
Leguna put his hand down and his eyes widened as his mouth hung agape.
"This,,,, t-t--this is a freaking impetus armor, right?!" stammered Leguna.
Vera looked at Kurdak with total disbelief. "Impetus armor... it really is impetus armor..."
Impetus armor, per its namesake, was a kind of armor formed using impetus. It could be considered an impetus skill. Though the principles were simple, the execution was unbelievably hard.
It required one to cover oneself with impetus to form a protective layer around the body. THe hardest part of it was that normal impetus protection was really weak and if one's stratum isn't high enough, the defensive layer of impetus wouldn't be tougher than a chicken bone. It would be no different from a decoration! After repeated testing by the residents of that world, they came to the conclusion that the minimum level to use impetus as an armor effectively was the 15th stratum, the first stratum in the high order!
Kurdak's impetus armor seemed slightly ethereal. Though it didn't look eye-catching, Leguna could feel the energy that radiated around Kurdak. That armor was definitely useful! That meant that Kurdak had already become a high-order warrior!
It was the 15th stratum. Not a single one of them would've expected Kurdak to get so much out of is match.
"Ahahahahahahaha!" He couldn't help but get full of himself after seeing his impetus armor. He then glanced at Leguna and smirked. "How's this? Do you feel admiration for me yet?"
"You're amazing, Boss!" Leguna almost wanted to squeal like a little girl in excitement.
They had talked about which one of them would advance to the high order first. The most probably of the four was none other than Annelotte, followed by Leguna. The two of them were shocking geniuses relative to their peers and even though their strata were lower than KUrdak back then, Kurdak believed that their speed of advancement would no doubt see them enter the high order before him.
Yet, reality played out completely differently. Kurdak had advanced beyond the two geniuses and became the first one to reach the high order.
Leguna wasn't the slightest bit dissatisfied or envious at that happening. After all, he had only become an assassin formally for three years while Kurdak had been working as a mercenary for more than a decade. He had trained for thrice the time Leguna did.
The reason Kurdak was able to reap such spoils in the first place was thanks to his own efforts. If he wasn't able to beat Leguna despite all that, the heavens would be far too unfair.
Regardless, Leguna had always respected this 'Boss' of his. While he wouldn't be glad when others were stronger than him and would be motivated to try harder, he was nothing but glad for Kurdak, who was someone like an elder brother to him.
"Ahahahahaha!" Kurdak couldn't resist indulging in Leguna's praise. It was as if he had closed the gap of talent between himself and the two geniuses. He tossed his two-handed sword with a howl and started dancing.
Quite apparently, he still hadn't gotten used to maintaining impetus armor. After moving slightly, he couldn't keep it running and caused it to explode. The gust that followed buried Kurdak in a bunch of soot and dust.
"Kurdak!" cried Vera in surprise. But her panic soon subsided when she saw the stupid smile on Kurdak's face.
"Ah, come on. Let us spar for a bit," said Kurdak as he picked his sword out from the dust.
"No problem! Don't think you can defeat me just because you made it into the high order!" said Leguna as he got into stance.
"Hmph, I'll show you how strong I am!" Before he finished, Kurdak already charged in with his sword.
"Hey! I haven't entered stealth yet, cheater!" cried Leguna.
After 15 minutes, the victory was decided. Kurdak had triumphed over Leguna. He was a warrior that excelled in direct combat after all. Fighting head-on with Leguna like that was still quite effective.
Leguna had wanted to rely on his advantage in speed to fight Kurdak. But the high-order warrior not only gained a raise in level, his more powerful impetus was also able to suppress Leguna's speed. In time, Leguna naturally lost.
"Hmph, you won because of a cheap shot," said Leguna, not too satisfied with Kurdak's unannounced and forceful attack.
"Come on, everyone knows that the one who strikes first has the advantage. Why should the assassins always be the ones to get the first strike?" said Kurdak as he rolled his eyes. He knew how threatening being ambushed by Leguna was. In actual combat, Leguna would be able to take out the enemy in the first strike.
Even though it was only a sparring match, there was still a chance Leguna could end it in one move. Even so, attacking without announcing was a little too shameless. So, Kurdak changed the subject and said, "The finals are coming up two days later. Are you going to watch it?"
"Of course," Leguna said, "Seeing Annie mess with other people is quite the interesting experience. Even though that Bribahns is only a mid-order magus, he looks so freaking stuck up. Annie will show him!"
"Hey, you just got taught a lesson by her yourself," mocked Kurdak.
Leguna seemed a little embarrassed by that. it was true that he didn't manage to deal any substantial damage to Annelotte when he used Shadowedge. It really didn't look good for him. Awkwardly laughing, he said, "You know how strong Annie is. It's only normal that I'm not her match."
"Actually, even I didn't think that the lass would be so strong," said Kurdak. He had heard it from Leguna and the others after the match. At first, he thought that Leguna would win, but he had lost so terribly instead!
"I will continue to improve, and one day, I'll definitely surpass Annie," said Leguna solemnly.
"Good! That's the spirit! How can we men keep letting the women bully us?"
Leguna looked at Kurdak and carefully asked, "Aren't you embarrassed to say something like this?"
"Buzz off! Those are two different matters. Don't mix them up," Kurdak said as he gave the back of Leguna's head a slap. "What are you going to do moving forward?"
After some thought, he said, "I'll think about it after the tournament ends. I heard that the empire will be hiring us competitors for some work, so doing that doesn't sound bad either."
"Hmm... Relying on the empire, huh? That sounds like a good idea," Kurdak said before he tapped on Leguna's shoulder, "Alright, you can't rush the thing with Annie either. Let's take it a step at a time. Come, let's go have dinner. Vera, that's enough shooting practice! We're leaving!"
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