The better the skill, the higher the potential. The higher the potential, the harder the application difficulty. It meant that a user’s competence was important in pulling out all the potential of a skill. Nevertheless, there were skills that couldn’t be solved with the problem of competence alone.
Super Sensitivity was a representative example of this. It was a skill to predict upcoming crises and the behavioral patterns of targets. It predicted when someone became a target of a skill already used, when to target the opponent, when they would encounter the opponent, when to move to a specific place, and so on.
The skill functioned under all conditions and was given the ‘system assistance.’ The system alerted users to the predictions through a notification window or voice message. It was hard for even a genius to handle the flood of information that came in real time. How many people would tolerate the voice guidance or notification windows in a sober manner?
As such, there were restrictions. A great swordsman’s Super Sensitivity only had a duration of a few seconds while Kraugel’s Super Sensitivity had many functions limited. Every time the stat increased, the limits of the functions would gradually unlock, giving the player time to adapt.
The same was true for the Shadow Technique that belonged to Lantier’s Methods. This top-rated skill that had to partially control the shadows and their weapons reduced the player’s burden by limiting the number of weapons and shadows that a player could raise. Previously, Faker studied the skill from Kasim, and only six shadows could be raised when the skill was level 3.
However, Kasim was different. Just as Mercedes could handle Keen Insight which was the higher version of Super Sensitivity, Kasim was able to control the shadows perfectly. It was the ability of the named-grade NPC with the setting of ‘King of Shadows.’
Hundreds of thousands of shadow troops filled the battlefield. They emerged from the feet or from the back, stabbing the imperial soldiers’ necks and backs. The basic characteristic of the Shadow Technique where the ‘power is weakened when summoning a large number of soldiers’ also applied to Kasim, and it was rare for an imperial soldier to be fatally wounded or killed by the shadows.
“Uh... Uwahh...” Still, the morale of the imperial forces sank completely. The sudden appearance of hundreds of thousands of troops was more shocking than any natural disaster.
Just one person... The center of the stage, which had been naturally created, contained the calm Drunk Duke Diworth. No, he was amused. He precisely captured Kasim’s image hiding in the darkness.
“You were a black cat survivor.”
Diworth threw Noll, who was held in his hand, to the ground. Noll coughed up blood. He was unable to recover. The unidentified alcohol absorbed into his body prevented his magic power and organs from functioning.
Tong! Diworth kicked Noll in the direction of the knights and shook his head.
“There weren’t any duty officers at headquarters at the time, so it was my job. I used my brain. Unfortunately, I was too excited and made a mistake. You will die by my hands and won’t be able to get revenge on the empire...”
“Take back those words,” Kasim interrupted Diworth in the middle of his speech. Kasim’s stealth disappeared, and his eyes shone with killing intent.
Diworth scratched his head. “What words?”
“Don’t call me black cat!”
‘Black cat’ was the name the empire used to refer to the Nero. The skin of the Nero was black and their actions were clandestine, so they were nicknamed ‘black cat’. There wasn’t a ‘demeaning’ intention behind it. Why would they demean insignificant beings? It was just easy to call them by this name.
“We aren’t black cats but the Nero! We are humans, not beasts! Humans!”
Then the empire trampled on the Nero, brutally murdering them regardless of whether they were adults or children. Only Kasim survived. Kasim’s shout rocked the battlefield. In the midst of the imperial soldiers, the shadow soldiers poured toward Diworth.
Diworth swung his hand. “Trivial things.”
The magic shield destroyed all the shadow weapons that flew at it. The scattered shadows returned to their places.
“In order to deal with a duke of the Saharan Empire, did you increase the number of shadows to this point?” Diworth didn’t know Kasim, but he knew the King of Shadows. The empire’s intelligence network which spanned the entire continent was well aware of the fact that the King of Shadows was Lantier’s disciple and that he used shadows. “The more shadows that are dispersed, the more cloudy they become. If you intend to kill a duke of the empire and get revenge on the empire, you should’ve gathered all the shadows at one point and aimed for my heart. Like this.”
Magic power condensed around Diworth’s fingertip and aimed at Kasim. Goosebumps appeared on the skin of Noll, who got caught by the imperial knights.
“A human has such power...!”
The desert split apart. A straight line of magic power pierced Kasim’s heart and didn’t stop as it disappeared beyond the desert horizon. No one knew where it flew to. There was no sound. Then Kasim fell to his knees. He looked like a broken doll.
“Kasim!!” Chris, who had been hopeful after Kasim appeared, shouted desperately. He belatedly realized things had gone wrong and used the Tyrant’s power. Chris hoped that Kasim would be alive and that Noll would escape while he attracted Diworth’s attention. He rushed through the imperial forces toward Diworth. Then a hand protruded from a gap between the soldiers and stopped Chris.
A voice rang out, “Teacher didn’t die.”
Kasim lived due to his desire to get revenge on the empire. He had protected a baby’s side for years while only thinking of revenge, and it wasn’t easy for him to lose his composure. Kasim’s fury when creating the shadow army was an act. It was a sacrifice to announce that there was a Nero survivor. He attracted Diworth’s attention and didn’t reveal that this was a falsehood. It was all for one purpose.
It was to rescue Noll. Knights fell from a few flashes of light as Kasim appeared among them to grab Noll.
The great knights fought back against Kasim. The magicians also supported them. However, Kasim was the best assassin, and ordinary knights and magicians couldn’t stop him. Kasim was faster than anyone else as he held Noll in his arms. The Shadow Technique combined with the Nero characteristics meant it was more covert than normal shadow skills.
Kasim appeared and disappeared like a ghost. He rescued Noll and hid in the shadows, making it hard for even Duke Diworth of the Seven Dukes to detect him.
“I was tricked.” Diworth was less intoxicated after releasing his magic power. Once his drunkenness was gone, he lost interest and handed matters over to Marquis Fulbas. “Catch the one you can grab.”
He was going to do it anyway. Marquis Fulbas’ gaze turned toward Chris. He didn’t intend to miss capturing Chris.
“Commander Chris of Reidan, you are valuable as a hostage.” Marquis Fulbas swung his sword and so did the four earls by his side. Every one of them was more powerful than Chris. They were leaders who led hundreds of thousands of troops. In the first place, there was no way for Chris to break through hundreds of thousands of troops.
‘I can’t be a hostage.’
If he was a hostage, he would grabbing at his teammates’ ankles. The time wasted would also increase. It was better for him to die neatly. Kasim and Noll had escaped safely, so there was no need for regrets.
Chris judged and released all of his armor. He intended to passively die from the enemies’ next attacks without letting them capture him alive. The death of the commander would greatly reduce morale, but it was better than being a hostage.
At this moment, the wind blew. There was a gust of wind that made the imperial soldiers split apart like the Red Sea and form a barrier in front of the marquis and the earls. There was only one magician Chris knew who could completely control the wind.
He was an early member of the Overgeared Guild. Zednos, former Tzedakah member and 1st ranked wind magician, sent a whisper to Chris.
-I can only maintain it for three seconds! Use this gap to escape!
A miracle didn’t happen easily. Zednos squeezed out all his mana, but only managed to tie up the feet of a few of the troops. One of the earls was gathering aura at the end of his sword. The wind barriers were already losing momentum and were destined to shatter.
His colleague had risked himself to come help, so Chris couldn’t passively die. Chris wore his armor again and rushed through the rain of arrows. The soldiers’ gazes were dispersed as Chris saw his companions everywhere. Jishuka and Yura covered him with arrows and bullets. Pon, Regas, and Peak Sword attacked the enemies while Vantner and Toban used wide-range taunt skills. His other colleagues like Zirkan and Laella were doing their best to secure the path of retreat.
“Chris! This way!”
“In any case, I’m foolish.” Chris laughed as he swung the greatsword to the side and sliced the enemies. The members of Overgeared were positioned in oasis around the desert. Those who pursued guerrilla warfare or physical strength and maximum efficiency now entered the battlefield. They were trying to save Chris, just as Chris tried to save Noll. They didn’t think life was worthless. They just believed that their colleagues’ lives were more important than their own.
This was all because of Grid. It was all learned from watching Grid.
Magic rushed toward Chris’ back as he rushed to escape. The imperial army didn’t miss this gap when Chris’ body was reeling from the powerful force. Spells quickly poured out and reduced Chris’ health. If the marquis hadn’t given the order to capture him, Chris would’ve already died. Chris felt the earls approaching and shouted with all his might, “Give up on me and run away together!”
Then Chris’ shadow moved. The shadow spoke, “The commander shouldn’t die.”
The shadow grew, and black hair fluttered.
One of the earls reaching out to Chris fell down. Faker jumped out and inserted a dagger into the earl’s side. It was a destructive technique linked to speed. The move was reminiscent of the living Doran who only Grid knew.
“Not a chance!” The fallen earl rose again. A total of four earls stabbed at Faker at the same time. Faker avoided one knife in exchange for thrusting a dagger into one person’s abdomen. His body was torn apart. The sight of Faker’s blood was unfamiliar to Chris. Faker was strong even to Chris.
However, Faker didn’t look back. He summoned six shadow soldiers to protect Chris. Faker had to disperse his mental power in order to control the soldiers. This meant that his body was weakened, but he didn’t care. He was the shadow that protected the Overgeared Kingdom. It was his duty to serve and sacrifice himself for the light while not letting others know him. His death wouldn’t affect the war.
“Eclipse.” Faker completely assimilated with the darkness, but he didn’t have full control due to the six shadow soldiers. The earls didn’t lose sight of Faker, and Faker continued to grab their ankles while being cut.
“Next time... Next time, I will protect you!” Chris was escorted by the shadow soldiers and barely escaped the enemy’s encirclement. The members of Overgeared gathered in one place and helped him.
However, Marquis Fulbas was closely chasing Chris. “It isn’t a bad situation.”
It was the opportunity to strike down the enemy commander. Marquis Fulbas welcomed the golden opportunity and was about to release his ultimate technique, only to stop. It was because Noll appeared with Kasim from the shadows and threatened him. “Get lost!”
Marquis Fulbas realized that Noll had removed most of the alcohol and quietly lowered his sword. He had to give up the chase as the Overgeared people fled neatly. Then he resented Diworth.
‘If Sir Diworth fought to the end, we could’ve wiped out the enemies.’
Diworth was lazy when he wasn’t drunk. He didn’t show passion toward any particular situation. Diworth wasn’t in a position to condemn the young nobles for being cowards. The grim truth was that most of the Seven Dukes were like Diworth. The empire that had been prosperous for so long was decaying from the top.
Marquis Fulbas sighed and commanded the entire army, “Get sufficient rest.”
“Wahhhh!” It was an order to take a few days of rest. The soldiers cheered upon hearing the command of the marquis, who judged that the Overgeared members and Noll wouldn’t attack again today.
At dawn on that day, a strong wave of magic power was detected over Reidan Castle.
“Mass Teleport?” Marquis Fulbas rushed out of the barracks and felt a strange apprehension.
Earl Baget approached him. “I guess reinforcements have arrived.”
The earl had been seriously wounded by the Overgeared Kingdom’s young assassin during the battle.
“I was worried, but I’m glad you are healing well.”
“Thank you for your concern.”
The smell of chicken poop coming came from the earl’s body as he answered. He must’ve sweated a lot on the battlefield.