Chapter 157 – Unfazed (Part 2)
‘Why didn’t my skill affect him? It should have taken affect upon contact!’ Zachary’s surprise vanished an instant after meeting Leo’s gaze. The situation had turned dire in his mind.
Unbeknownst to anyone outside of Zachary’s family, the Iron Body skill was a marvel in numerous aspects as the further it was practiced the more benefits were gained in the aspects of defense, offense and speed, but the aspect that eluded most people was their ability to apply the skill in an attack towards their opponents…
This was the special secret of the skill. When practiced sufficiently, a practitioner could upon contact initiate the skill within the body of someone else. At first thought it sounded beneficial… But it wasn’t! The moment the skill was triggered within someone who did not understand it’s method… It would begin to harden the muscles or organs at the point of contact!
It was the method he used to render Marcos helpless in an instant! In fact, because he had targeted Marcos’s heart, he truly had been in danger of losing his life had Zachary not acted swiftly to reverse the skill!
The greatest drawback to this application of the technique was that a great amount of mana would be wasted in forcefully trying to apply it to someone else. This was the first mistake Zachary had made during this battle and the moment he realized his skill had failed to take effect on Leo, his gaze had turned solemn as he clearly understood his predicament.
‘I got hasty…! Too hasty! I let my anger overwhelm me for a moment… I can’t do that while using the Iron Body skill I know this! Foolish. Foolish mistake!’ Zachary inwardly chastised himself as he glowered at Leo.
‘I could have won the match previously… Sticking close and attacking until he made a mistake would have secured my safety while forcing him into a corner… Even fighting at his pace and I wouldn’t have likely suffered any real damage but now… I don’t have enough mana to keep up the Iron Body skill long enough! I need to think of a way to end this quickly without giving anything away.’
Zachary grit his teeth a slow grinding noise could be faintly heard as he considered the embarrassment of being unable to win against a junior.
The Iron Body fist didn’t particularly use too much mana, most of the mana was just circulated internally changing structure, but the use of it externally wasted a huge portion of the user’s mana. Just earlier he had already used the skill on Marcos, and now he had just tried it on Leo!
In the midst of the crowd one person was standing at the very top wearing a cloak. He had originally planned on making a short appearance to view the spectating crowd mock Marcos after his unseemly defeat but now his face was riddled with anger as he watched the ‘lackie’ he’d sent not only fail to embarrass Marcos, but now seemingly unable to even defeat his friend.
Unlike the crowd who was staring at Zachary’s grey figure looking angry but all powerful, he knew better and understood Zachary’s position. He could see the internal flow of Mana within Zachary’s body and his agitation was reaching an all-time high.
Leo gazed at Zachary’s glowering face with a stern expression of his own. His confidence had taken a small dip since the beginning of the fight. He’d been cornered from the start and hadn’t expected this outcome, but instead of wondering why Zachary had not followed up his attack he wasted no more time thinking as he reached one conclusion ‘I can’t let him continue at his pace!’
“I’m coming!” Leo shouted. He didn’t shout at anyone in particular but it was clear he was warning Zachary.
Leo’s honor got the best of him, and although he wanted to hurt Zachary, he didn’t want to kill him. He’d been angry but not hateful after witnessing him heal Marcos after the fight, from his perspective it didn’t matter why he’d done it, whether as a mercy, courtesy or to protect himself from punishment; he’d done it none the less which was all that mattered to him.
Leo’s mind was set as he lowered his stance slightly, looking like he was about to begin a sprint with his sword facing the ground in his hand he started concentrating as he screamed in his mind ‘Burst!’
Leo’s face winced slightly but he was already anticipating the pain.
He suddenly remembered his conversation with Lydia the day before they left her courtyard.
“No matter what you do. None of you are to use *Burst* until you’ve all mastered the basics. Even then, I still do not want you using it until I’ve given you the ‘clear’ understood?”
The three of them nodded.
“Good. You should know that I’m pleased you’ve all understood the core premise. That’s something that takes brains and understanding of your bodies to achieve. It took me 4 years to develop my own perfect version of this type of technique. Although there are numerous speed enhancing techniques, when perfected this is one of the few that will give you up to a 4x fold increase in speed without damaging your muscles at all. That’s a rare thing. The skill itself also has room for improvement if you want to try your hand at it when you’ve mastered it hahaha…”
Lydia laughed at them a bit, but it was clear in her gaze that she was proud of her technique. “I created this technique based on a simple one I found in the library. In all of Lumea improving an already existing technique is not easily done, but I look forward to one of you giving it a shot.” Lydia said while smiling at them a little smugly.
Lydia’s expression turned serious as she quieted down for a second before speaking, “This shouldn’t even have to be said” Lydia said as he gave Daichi and Leo a strange look. “But under no circumstances are you to try *explosion*.”
Both Leo and Daichi gave each other a strange smile but they both nodded in response.
Leo could only apologize to his master in his thoughts as he’d already made up his mind. He’d only just left her less than an hour and already he was breaking a promise to her, although he found it ironic that he would do so despite how he viewed himself, he didn’t have time to dwell on the irony.
The muscles in his legs physically squirmed under the flow of mana through his body as he circulated the technique. Leo’s knees creaked for a second as they slightly buckled as he grimaced in pain but he bore through it. ‘Now!’
Only a few moments had passed since his shout and Zachary only scowled at him in response but it was too late!
The moment Leo burst forth his image had already disappeared from Zachary’s line of sight!
Zachary’s mind froze for less than a fraction of a second before he felt an ominous presence, he instinctively put up his arms to guard his face as his eyes darted to the left in time to see Leo’s figure appearing next to him!
‘Must block!’ Zachary thought.
Leo swung his sword using all the momentum he’d generated through his speed to pierce at Zachary’s shoulder!
His scream uttering out the ferocity of his attack and the measure of pain his body was already in as the sword made contact with Zachary’s shoulder!
The momentum of Leo’s body pushing Zachary back two meters as his heels dragged along the ground!
ARGH! Zachary screamed but his body didn’t relent as his mind stayed focused. He could feel pain surging like a wave from his shoulder! ‘He injured me!?’
Zachary had never been injured in a battle before, the pain of having his skin torn or pierced by a weapon a foreign feeling as soon as his heels stopped being dragged backwards he steadied his body as both of them froze.
Both of their gazes on his shoulder. Shock evident in both of their eyes.
In fact, the entire arena had gone utterly silent. Everyone was processing the sudden burst of speed. He’d suddenly covered 10 meters in a second! More surprising was the result!
‘He pierced through my skin! Bone! It hit bone!’ Zachary’s mind was shocked.
‘My full strength attack using my entire momentum using <Burst> only pierced a few inches!?’ Leo was equally shocked as his gaze lingered on the would where his sword was. He could remember using a sword as long as he could remember anything. Instinctively or through experience, he could tell that his sword had only pierced exactly 3inches into his opponent.
Meanwhile the entire audience slowly broke out into whispers. Everyone could tell the fight had reached a critical moment as they strained their eyes to see every detail.
Leo was at a loss. After using <burst> he legs felt torn apart. He could tell that although he wasn’t in physical danger, that one burst of speed for one moment was the extent of what he could do right now. He was left feeling as if he’d run vigorously at his max speed for an entire day. His tank was empty. Even if it wasn’t, he could tell that Zachary was the type of opponent who fell under the category of his weakness.
Zachary’s gaze was hazy. The pain was worsened with every breath he took. He wasn’t in any life or death danger, but his mana was wavering. ‘I can’t keep up my skill any longer…’
Both of them considered their next move, neither wanting to relent to the other.
Their gazes met and they could tell they were at a crossroads.
Zachary’s pain reignted his anger as their eyes met and the reality that he could lose this fight sunk in. A sliver of fear at what that would mean for his reputation over rode all thoughts of the pain he was feeling.
“Enough!” A stern voice shouted but only loud enough for those near to hear.
Both Zachary and Leo turned their heads to see the same instructor covered in black appearing next to them. Even the audience had only seen him seemingly appear out of thin air next to them.
“What’s going on!? Why did he stop the fight??”
“OH MY GOD! Does Zachary lose!??”
“Maybe he’s injured worse than we thought!?”
“No! The instructor must have stopped them because Zachary was just about to retaliate and endanger that newbie’s life! That’s the only explanation!”
He ignored their gazes and spoke indifferently “I deem this fight officially over. This will be ruled as a draw.”
Immediately the crowd broke out into jeers and conversations!