Chapter 97 – The Cosmos Arena (8)
[Translator – jhei]
[Proofreader – yukitokata]
One step forward.
Jin matched Dante’s movement and closed the gap a little more. Subsequently, Dante took another step, and Jin mirrored it again. Prudently searching for an opportunity to attack.
‘This is more nerve-racking than I thought. Five more steps and Dante will start his atta—Hmf!!!’
Jin unconsciously stopped.
He had a strong feeling that Dante’s attack would begin earlier than expected.
His eyes flickered to the left, then to the right. Then, as he focused his attention back to the middle…
Dante had disappeared.
And the familiar sound of a sword traveling through the air went to his ear.
Surprised, Jin raised Bradamante, and Dante smiled as he flew towards Jin.
The impact that traveled through the sword hilt was incredible, as if an explosion occurred within his sword. Within the heavy blow was an energy as sharp as shattered obsidian.
If Jin even lacked a little less hip and lower-body strength, his stance would have collapsed immediately. He let out a sigh of relief. Then, he calmly took steps towards the left to retreat from Dante.
"I tried it, thinking that there was a possibility of it working. But as expected, it didn’t."
Disappointed, Dante licked his lips. Jin cracked an awkward smile instead of responding.
‘He’s faster than I thought…?’
The battle could’ve finished on the first sword swing. Jin’s entire body was covered in goosebumps, and his back was covered in sweat. All the while, Dante looked very carefree.
‘This is like Lady Alisa’s top speed. If it weren’t for the 110 battles that we had, there would be no way I blocked that attack. What kind of observation game is this, crazy bastard? You tried to finish it in a single strike.’
Although a little surprised, he could feel that he improved and grew a lot.
‘And if this is his top speed, it’s super winnable.’
He was certain. With this certainty, Jin also thought that, if Dante could attack any faster, there was no way of winning.
As Jin prepared to swing his sword, Dante’s blade was covered in a more potent aura.
"If I can’t win with speed, I’ll do it with strength."
‘Just what I wanted!’
Jin had no time to respond. Dante had already begun to swing his sword, and Jin was still gathering his aura to defend.
He was too slow.
Boom! Boboom! Boom!
Every time their blades met, sounds of explosion echoed. Instead of two sharp weapons, it sounded as if two blunt weapons were hitting each other.
"Is this really a fight between kids?"
Compliments could be heard all over the audience. They all expected a great battle between the two, but they didn’t think it would be this entertaining.
Beradin, oblivious of his sweaty hands, clenched his fists.
In the beginning, Jin looked as if he was being pushed to a corner. But as each second passed, he caught up to Dante’s tempo. When they were about twenty swings into the fight, the two looked evenly matched.
‘That was his top speed!’
Jin was certain of it after matching swords multiple times.
No matter how talented Dante was, there was no way a 19-year-old could surpass the speed and strength of a former Vermont Special Forces agent.
All Jin had to do now was to hold on.
‘Dante only increases his speed at strategic moments to ration his energy. I just need to barely match his tempo until he gets exhausted.’
Jin’s plan to take down Dante was simple. He would utilize the only trait that he had an advantage in against Dante.
‘I felt it when he came to my room. Dante has shockingly great skill, but his stamina is very low.’
Dante’s body didn’t complement his skill, and that was his weakness. He was 19 but looked around 13 or 14. He had a very small physique, which made it hard to believe that he was 19. He could raise his power and strength using his aura, but altering his endurance was beyond his range of ability. If his stamina were as great as his sword skill, then he would’ve never requested Jin for help.
On the other hand, Jin was blessed with the Runcandel Clan’s renowned physique. His physical strength, endurance, recovery rate, and agility surpassed most if not all human beings.
He could survive the nights in the arena without Dante.
But the same could not be said for Dante.
‘The key is how fast Dante realizes that my stamina is far greater than his.’
Dante’s stamina was incomparable to Jin’s. Dante had always attempted to overcome his weakness, dripping blood and sweat. He also executed inconceivable amounts of training.
Which was why it was hard for Dante to realize.
That he still lacked one major trait compared to the 16-year-old in front of him.
Outclassed by innate talent.
"You’re holding on well! If you have something coming, you should bring out all of it now. Starting now, I’m gonna get a little faster."
"If I bring out everything I have, you’ll get depressed, idiot."
"Your jokes are pretty average, just like you. I like that."
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Dante’s blade slit Jin’s thigh. It wasn’t a deep cut, but blood still splattered. Jin gritted his teeth. It was close. If it were a little deeper, it would’ve been fatal.
‘I’m gonna have to let him get some shallow cuts on me.’
The problem was the need to dodge every lethal swing. Since the tempo was faster, Dante’s stamina would deplete faster. However, as Jin received more shallow wounds, he also got gradually exhausted.
Losing blood meant that he was also losing stamina.
‘Conversely, I can’t give him a single scratch until he gets tired.’
Still, with hopes of victory, Jin gritted his teeth and kept dodging. As long as he maintained his current speed, he extrapolated that he could continue with the battle for at least an hour.
‘But that guy will go for the win at some point.’
Dante wasn’t an idiot.
Although it looked as if Jin was losing and Dante was carefree, there was no way Dante would be oblivious of Jin’s plan. Ultimately, he would find a way to outplay Jin’s defense plan.
Evading that attack was crucial. Another cut on the shoulder. And while dodging a storm of jabs, Jin got a cut on his hand, almost letting go of his sword.
He backed off, tore off a part of his coat with his teeth, and wrapped his hand to cover the wound. Dante tilted his head in confusion.
"He’s done for! End him!"
"Just a little more, Paul Mick!"
All of the spectators who had bet their money on Dante began to shout and scream. To their eyes, Jin looked like he was getting single-handedly beaten, so they thought the battle was soon to be over.
However, Dante finally realized it.
‘He knows that he has more stamina than me, so he’s dragging out the battle. And finally I know… that you were also using an alias…!’
If he was a Runcandel, he would have an inconceivable endurance beyond Dante’s knowledge.
Putting aside the cuts on the thigh, shoulder, and hand, if Jin possessed a normal body, he should’ve fainted during the shockwaves from the clashing of swords.
Dante mouthed Jin’s real name, and Jin smiled.
‘So you figured it out?’
Jin felt that Dante’s breaths were getting hoarse. His own breaths weren’t the same as in the beginning of the fight, but he still had more breathing room than Dante.
"I guess it’s my turn now."
As the audience’s energy and screams continued to fill the arena, this time, Jin charged towards Dante. The spectators—who had their money on Jin—stood and screamed.
"Let’s gooooo! Let’s fucking gooo!"
Jin—who had been on the defensive the entire fight—began to attack.
And Dante began to look back to see where it all went wrong.
‘Damn it. I should’ve finished him off at the beginning!’
He didn’t need much time to make that conclusion. If he didn’t have that sense of foreboding at the beginning, Dante would’ve already won.
‘Then what was that feeling? My instincts were telling me that a careless attack would be dangerous.’
Dante could not work out that what he sensed was due to Jin’s two suppressed abilities—spiritual energy and magic. If Jin used those abilities, Dante wouldn’t even stand a chance.
An inherent terror that came from a ‘stronger opponent’.
Jin swung Bradamante with all his might and began his attack. Dante’s stance staggered, urging him to back off.
Jin only did a single movement in each attack.
The swing he practiced ten thousand times with maximum effort every day. One that he could replicate three thousand times.
‘Jin Runcandel, you monster. You still had this much energy left…! On top of that, how is a simple swing so heavy?’
Jin continued with the same vertical swing, and Dante could not easily escape from it.
Each time Bradamante fell on him, it felt as if a massive wall pressed upon him. He had neither the time nor strength to change his stance.
At this rate, in a few minutes, Dante would experience an embarrassing defeat to the same swing. So he had to come to a decision.
‘Do I have to use the clan’s secret technique…?’
Unlike Jin—who hadn’t learned any secret decisive killing moves—Dante had already mastered multiple secret techniques from his clan. These attacks had the potential to flip the battle completely. He could easily use it with his remaining energy.
However, he was faced with a dilemma.
‘But I don’t want to kill you.’
If he used his secret technique, then Jin would certainly die.
Which prevented him from using it. Although they had only met a few days ago, Jin was a very important person to him.
A savior. A worthy opponent. A mountain that the Hairan Clan must overcome. The Runcandel Clan’s youngest son.
Dante made a conflicted expression while sorting out his thoughts, and Jin knew exactly what he was feeling.
‘He’s hesitating because he doesn’t want to kill me. If not, he would’ve gone for the win by now.’
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Jin sheathed his sword and looked Dante in the eye before speaking.
"I am Jin Runcandel. Don’t go easy on me, Dante Hairan."