Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 02 – Chapter 02

Proofreaders: Vaanouney, ExperimentBL626, Aaron Frawley, Fireutsies

Anger Management

Late into the night, the three Smoak brothers watched worriedly as the freak snowstorm continued piling up the snow, covering their entire house.

They had to travel tomorrow, to attend an unarmed open martial arts tournament. Grandmaster Cacoy had both invited Donny and Seth to participate in the 10-13 division and the 14-17 division respectively.

There was also an 18-21 division but grandmaster Cacoy wouldn’t allow Nash to participate in it. He felt that Nash hadn’t put enough effort into his training. Nash gave no argument and agreed with the grandmaster.

Morning came and the blizzard had stopped, leaving a bothersome three feet of snow. Nash had to dig through all that snow in order to make a path. Seth and Donny offered to help but were told to conserve their energy for the tournament.

Their grandmother, Daphne, wanted to join them but the cold weather was too much for her to travel outside. Besides, even if the weather was sunny, they still wouldn’t want her there. They knew that she would just be nervous watching her grandsons’ fight.

A few hours later, grandmaster Cacoy came to pick them up in his silver suburban. Nash had been contemplating on getting a car for their family, but decided not to.

After careful consideration on how unstable his income was, buying their house was all the risk that he could handle.

Nash’s first game item auction resulted with $450. Three of his double bladed mantis swords sold for $100 while the last one was at $150.

It was a bit less than what he hoped for. He thought that while attending Seth and Donny’s tournament, the Lioumereans should go to Mandragora Forest and gain their poison resistance.

While they were there, they might as well hunt some mantis blades. He planned on selling ten a day. He thought if he sold more than ten, it would greatly depreciate in value.
                               

* * * * * * 

The four eskrimadors arrived at the youth center where the tournament was being held. The center had a huge hall about the size of a football field.

As they came in, an usher came to them and briefly explained the rules and how to win in AUTOMATA (Amateur Unarmed Tournament Open Martial Art Techniques Association).

The ways of winning in AUTOMATA were as follows:

* Win via Judges’ decision.

* Win via submission.

* Win via referee stoppage or fight doctor stoppage (due to serious injury).

* Win via corner’s stoppage.

* Win via knock out.

There are only three rounds in each fight with two minutes per round. In the event of a tie, one more round will be extended to them.

Note: Referees have the right to deduct points whenever a participant has performed a misconduct.

AUTOMATA fights were harsher than most amateur competitions, but the association still regarded the safety of the participants to be the highest priority, resulting in early referee stoppage in most fights.

With such rough conditions, the participants in the tournament were noticeably few. In Donny’s category there were only eight, whereas Seth’s category had thirty two.

The participants were all required to wear complete protective gear. Everything was checked by the officials before the start of a match.

Normally, Nash would discourage such an event but his brothers kept on begging him for days. They had been practising Eskrima for quite sometime and they wanted to try out their skills.

He knew full well how good his brothers had become, this was the sole reason why he agreed. There was no way anyone could beat them in this competition.

His brothers attending AUTOMATA also made him feel connected to them. He was also currently in a tournament in Zectas. Their plan was for all of them to come out as champions in their respective divisions.

Donny’s division went first. Nash and grandmaster Cacoy helped him put on his protective gear while Seth was doing some stretching on his side of the Tournament hall.

The excitement in Donny’s eyes were crystal clear. Grandmaster Cacoy gave him some quick reminders about what to do during the competition. Afterwards, Nash gave Donny a fist bump. He wanted to hug him but Donny told him in advance not to do anything to embarrass him.

“Break a leg bro! Ah, I meant figuratively, you got that right?”

“Yeah, I know, besides if I did that I would get disqualified.”

Nash laughed as he saw his youngest brother brimming with confidence. Donny stepped onto the blue padded mat. The referee asked Donny and his opponent to bow to him, bow to the judges and then bow to each other.

The opponent was two inches taller than him and stood at a height of five feet and six inches. From his stance it looked like he was a taekwondo practitioner.

He ran closer to Donny and gave him three consecutive side thrusting kicks. As Donny kept on backing off, his competitor leapt and tried to make a leaping round house kick.

Donny timed his sidestep correctly and caught the other kid in mid-air. Donny tackled him on the ground and pinned him down with a shoulder hammerlock.

Where the opponent’s arm was held bent against his back, and his hand forced upwards towards the neck, thereby applying pressure to the shoulder joint. The referee counted up to ten and declared Donny as the winner.

Using small variations of the same pattern, Donny won his second match against a boxing practitioner, in barely under two minutes. It would have been faster if his opponent had made the first move quicker.

It was Donny’s third fight, and this was already for the championship of the 10-13 division. Both of the fighters stared at each other, neither one made any moves.

This time his opponent was an aikido practioner. As such, he waited for Donny to make the first move. Donny lost the patience to wait and ran in the direction of his adversary.

The aikido practioner caught Donny. He was thrown down on the mat but as he fell down he made a scissor grab with his legs, bringing down his opponent with him.

Donny quickly grabbed the aikido practitioner’s feet and performed a toe hold, using his hands to hyperextend and hyperrotate the ankle.

His opponent tapped out, and Donny was declared the champion of the 10-13 division. Nash ran up to Donny and raised him up on his shoulders.

                                    

* * * * * * 

Seth’s 14-17 division was divided into two groups. Each group had sixteen participants. The winner of each group would fight in the finals for the championship of that division.

Smiling at his younger brother for winning the championship, Seth gave Donny a thumbs up. He had won his fourth match. Now, he was qualified for the finals in his division.

Seth’s matches were very identical to Donny’s. They both used quick and efficient movements to end their matches as quickly as possible.

Now, that Donny had won. Nash, Donny, and grandmaster Cacoy went to Seth’s corner to give him their full support.

His opponent for the championship was a seventeen year old rich kid by the name of Sagen Smith. Sagen had a height of 6 feet and 2 inches.

Sagen’s face showed as if he had already won the tournament. Sagen’s profile indicated that he practiced mixed martial arts but specialized in striking styles.

The referee called for both Seth and Sagen onto the mat. When they stood near each other it was clear just how much of a height difference they had. Seth was only five feet and seven inches tall.

They bowed to the judges, to the referee and to each other. Sagen casually moved forward into Seth’s range. As he felt that Seth was within his reach he leapt out and did a ‘superman’ punch at the young eskrimador.

Seth responded by dodging to his right while grabbing hold of the attacking fist with his left hand. Now, that Sagen was within his range. He pounded on as much as five body blows before Sagen kicked him off.

The affluent kid was clearly agitated and continued to repeat the same attack. For that reason, all of his strikes were caught and countered.

Because they wore protective gears, Seth’s body blows were not as effective. Despite that, the judges took note of those accumulated hits and awarded the round to Seth.

Since this was the finals, Seth wanted to use his strikes instead of his holds. He wanted to give Nash, Donny, and grandmaster Cacoy a great show.

The grandmaster understood what Seth was doing and gave him a disapproving look. With that one look, Seth clearly comprehended what his master was saying, that he was being  too overconfident and underestimated his opponent.

Ashamed of the what he was doing. Seth decided to focus and to use all of his skills to end this match as expediently as possible.

As their second round started, Sagen was doing the exact same thing. Seth prepared to grab him and to put him into a submission hold.

POW!

Seth was sent flying as Sagen’s right punch, hit him squarely on his chin, on the unprotected part of the headgear. Nash was shocked as he saw the body of his brother floating in mid-air and fell hard on the mat.

The referee rushed to where Seth was lying down and was about to call for the doctor when, Seth sat up and assured the referee that he was alright.

Groggily, Seth stood up and took on a fighting pose. Seth took his time to regain his senses and stayed as far away from Sagen until he could fully recover.

Sagen tried to put in one more hit but wasn’t able to catch Seth’s speedy footwork. The second round clearly went to Sagen because he scored a down.

During the interval between rounds grandmaster Cacoy and Nash asked Seth what happened. They didn’t understand why he would get hit by such a telegraphed punch.

“Are you okay? Mima will kill me when she sees your face. What happened? Why did you get hit by such a simple punch?”

“I don’t know. I was getting ready to grab his fist when something blinded my eyes.”

“This is why I always tell you. Never underestimate your opponent. Not even for a second.”

“I understand, grandmaster Cacoy. I’m really sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Grandmaster Cacoy, told Seth to take the initiative rather than wait for Sagen to perform his attack. Seth nodded and got ready to fight.

For the third and final round, Seth was on complete guard. He didn’t understand what really happened but he knew that he had to protect his eyes.

Grandmaster Cacoy’s eskrima had incorporated different forms of martial arts. Seth used a peek-a-boo boxing guard and moved forward. Sagen was jumping around and continued hitting Seth’s guard.

But with Seth’s determination he pushed on until Sagen was within his reach. When Sagen released another wide left hook, Seth performed a series of hits to Sagen’s head and body.

He was dominating Sagen when he suddenly stopped and tried to protect his eyes from something. Finally, Nash discovered the reason why Seth was hit in the second round.

Someone in the crowd had been using a red laser pointer and was blinding Seth. Nash was about to go to the source of laser pointer when he noticed that there was another one coming from his left side.

There were at least two people who were blinding his brother. Sagen quickly took advantage of the dirty distraction and hit Seth with a powerful uppercut.

Somehow, Seth managed to block the blow with his left hand. He guessed that Sagen was going for his chin again. Being extremely cautious paid off.

While Seth was backing off he was hit with another laser pointer to the eye. The laser pointer was really strong and was causing him to see double images of Sagen.

Seth’s eyesight were out of focused. As he was seeing after images of Sagen, he couldn’t tell which one was real.

Sagen continued punching Seth while he was still adjusting his eyes. Nash tried calling for the referee’s attention about the laser pointers but the referee was too focused on the match to notice Nash’s yelling.

It took a while for Seth’s eyes to regain their normal sight. Seth was sure that if he doesn’t score a down before the round ends, Sagen will win the championship.

Desperate, Seth risked the chance and attacked Sagen. He was able to hit Sagen’s chin when Sagen was using his wide punches.

The blow clearly affected Sagen as he was about to fall down to the mat. Unfortunately, Sagen managed to clinch Seth and hold his arms down.

A laser pointer managed to hit his eyes once more before he closed them. The laser pointers were very bright that it caused his eyes to be really sore and itchy.

At the same time as he was clinching, Sagen was doing pathetic body blows in order to rack in more points while Seth’s eyes were still hurting.

Two minutes finally ended, marking the end of the finals match for the 14-17 Division of AUTOMATA. Nash was furious.

If the judges didn’t notice the underhanded tricks that Sagen was using then he didn’t need to hear the results from the judge’s score card.

The judges gave the following scores, 28-27, 28-27, 28-28. Giving Sagen the majority decision, two out of the three judges gave him the win.

Nash was about to run to Sagen’s corner when grandmaster Cacoy and Donny grabbed hold of him.

“Nash, this isn’t the time or the place. We don’t have any proof of what they just did. Look, Seth is coming. You need to be strong for him.”

A somber looking Seth was coming there way. He was clearly trying to smile but it was clear that his heart was aching.

“Seth, are you alright? I’m so sorry I didn’t catch what they were doing on time.”

“Don’t worry about it. I don’t want you to go after him. I think he has at least six bodyguards with him. Let’s just charge this to experience. Now, I know that I rely too much on my eyes. I’ll find some way to beat him on an official match next time.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I don’t care if he has a hundred bodyguards. I won’t let him get away for what he did. You were clearly the better fighter.”

“Nash, let’s just go home. Placing second in my first AUTOMATA isn’t so bad, besides Mima will be worried if we get into any trouble. Remember, you are the one who told us that we should only use Eskrima for self defense.”

This time Donny joined in to calm his brother down.

“That’s right, besides we all know that, Seth, is the true winner. I also don’t want to see you get hurt by those body guards. I’m sure if Mima were here she would also want you to forget about this.”

“Fine! Let’s just go home for now, but I can’t promise you that I’m dropping this… I’ll get back at that, Sagen, one way or another.”

                                   

* * * * * * 

Coatl city was filled with exuberance. The streets were filled with players and NPCs from all walks of life. Merchants and vendors were selling small figurines of the four finalists for the Swordsman to Knight Tournament.

The mayor of the city had invested quite a sum of money into the promotion of the Swordsman to Knight Tournament. Many players and NPCs from other cities came to Coatl.

It was the opening event to Coatl city’s month long extravaganza. There were various forms of free entertainment, like the circus outside of the beginner’s square and the musical contest by the Bards, Minstrels, Instrumentalists and other Musician variation jobs.

Aside from the free entertainment. There were also other events that required a joining fee. There was the ‘Muddy Boar Catching’, the ‘Mounted Race’, and finally the ‘Jousting Tournament’.

The ‘Jousting Tournament’ would culminate their month long festivities, this even was exclusive to people who had jobs of Knight variations.

New players were starting at Coatl city because of these special events. With all the businesses that these events have brought in, the mayor’s return of investment would take less than four days.

There were speculations that the mayor, Duke Burmistrz, was actually a part of some shady organization. Smoke kept a note of this as he continued his tour of the city.

Originally, the Swordsman to Knight Tournament was held once a year. Yet, a few years ago, Duke Burmistrz, decided that it was more lucrative for the city to hold the tournament twice within one year.

Blacksmiths were selling their Swordsman and Knight equipment like hotcake. Coatl city’s tourists increased by four times.

Smoke, who was currently walking around the city, wore his hooded cloak and Swordsman’s attire and was going by the name of Ilad.

Laernea and Gandiva were still on their way to Coatl. They came from Mandragora forest after gaining the poison resistance attribute and delivering five hundred mantis blades to Darius. Smoke had asked him to make as many double bladed swords as he could.

If he could sell them at the auction house for the same amount as before then he would have a decent increase in his monthly income. He planned on auctioning four double bladed mantis swords at a time.

There were so many products available, Smoke wanted to buy some of them but thought that his zecs should be spent somewhere more lucrative, he told himself that he would only spend money in order to make more money.

His altruistic nature was specially reserved only for Nanahuatl, but anywhere else on Zectas he stuck to his business and investment adages.

Smoke also admired the business sense of the mayor of Coatl city. He was sure that the every transaction done here would put a smile on the mayor’s face.

He wished that he owned a city of his own. Someday, he knew that he would. Smoke firmly believed that one could only truly posses something when one had the proper power to protect it.

Igniz, hidden under Smoke’s hood, kept on moving around trying to get a better view of the festivities. He would move to a certain direction, which meant that he wanted to go that way.

Smoke obediently followed his dark ember symbiote because he did not have any particular place to go.

While inspecting the other wares from different shops, Smoke found a disturbing figure. One of the finalists for the Swordsman to Knight Tournament looked eerily familiar.

At once, his heart started pumping vehemently. It was the face of the stuck up rich kid named Sagen but Smoke thought that it couldn’t have been him.

Zectas’ age requirement was strictly for 18 years old and above. Sagen couldn’t have joined in on the game because the gamepod would detect the actual age of the person inside.

He decided to ask the NPC who was selling the figurines, she was a short plump Gnome.

“Excuse me, ma’am, can you tell me who this is?”

“Oh, that’s Swordsman Sagen. He is the finalist from the Northern District. Wait a minute, aren’t you Swordsman Ilad? Of course, you are! It’s a pleasure to meet you sir Ilad. I know you’re not yet a Knight but don’t worry, with your skills, I don’t think I’ll jinx it.”

He didn’t notice the Gnome’s pleasantries. Smoke was filled with hot rage. He wanted to scream and break everything in sight. He clenched his fists tightly and released all of his anger underground.

He used his ‘Earth Manipulation’ ability to squash and squeeze all of his anger out. Smoke had caused the immediate area to quake.

The whole street was rattled but it soon ended after five seconds. Everyone looked at each other and asked what that was. The merchants were especially glad that none of their wares were broken from the sudden earthquake.

The female Gnome looked around and checked that everything was in place. After checking her items she remembered that there was a celebrity in her stall.

Smoke regained his senses as he noticed that he had caused a brief mass panic. He extended his hand to the female Gnome.

She shook Smoke’s hand eagerly. While shaking hands with the Gnome, Smoke raised his eyebrow. This NPC wasn’t bothered by his poor appearance. He thought that maybe he could try out his beggary ability with her.

“Yes, that’s right. My name is Ilad and you are?”

“My name is Kort. Can I help you with anything today, sir Ilad?”

“Please, just call me Ilad. I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about Swordsman Sagen and the other finalists for the tournament.”

“Hmm… All I know about, Swordsman Sagen is that he is the leader of the guild called ‘Feras’. He also likes to be on the offensive. He always leaps out swinging at the start of all his fights.”

Kort then grabbed the other two figurines and raised them to Smoke, giving him a better view of their faces.

“This Swordswoman goes by the name of Ayu, she uses counters. In some ways she is similar to the one you fought in your finals match at the district championship, Cudny.”

Kort lowered Ayu’s figurine and raised the one on her right hand, it was the figurine of a Halfling.

“Swordsman Kasar maybe short but his speed is top notch. All of his matches in the eastern district ended under five minutes.”

“I see, that’s quite some useful information. How much do these figurines cost?”

“Well, they’re 150 zecs a piece but if you buy all four figurines I’d give them to you for 400 zecs”

“Oh, that’s too bad. I wanted to have all four of these well crafted figurines but I just realized that I’m short on zecs. If only there was a way for me to get them as a memorabilia of this tournament. I may not win but at least I could tell my friends that I fought against such great Swordsmen.”

Smoke tried making the saddest puppy dog eyes and hoped that it would work on Kort. The female Gnome thought that it would be too cruel not help him out. In view of the fact that she was cheering for Ilad to win the grand prize.

“Sir Ilad, it would be my great pleasure to give you these figurines for free. All I ask is you win the championship.”

+ Received complete set of ‘Coatl city’s 5th Swordsman To Knight finalists’.

“Thank you so much! I’m sure these will serve as my good luck charm and make me win the championship. Be that as it may, I’m afraid that you may not like what you see in the tournament.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“You’ll see it when I fight against Sagen.”

“Why? What did he do?”

Smoke’s pitiful face instantly changed into a dark murderous killer.

“He robbed my brother of his honor and rightful title and now it’s time for him to pay the price.”

The female Gnome shuddered in fear as she watched Smoke walk away. She thought that she was lucky she gave him those figurines. Kort feared what he would have done otherwise.

Smoke left and went to buy the equipment that he needed in preparation for the finals and his grudge match against Sagen.

                            

* * * * * * 

The finals for the Swordsman to Knight Tournament was still a week away. Giving Smoke plenty of time to prepare. He would often ask Madam Dawny for advice on how to continue his training and preparation.

While waiting for the Lioumereans’ arrival in Madam Dawny’s farm. Smoke thought to enhance his common gladius and basic leather armor.

For the basic leather armor he chose the cheapest tower shields with the highest defense, he bought four of them. He used the shields as fusion ingredients.

With his ‘Earth Manipulation’, he created the transmutation circle that was specific for increasing defense.

====
+ Transmutation Completed:

  Result: A strengthened leather-shielded armor
  Effects:
    Defense: + 500
    Durability: + 400
    Weight: Increased by 50%
    Agility: -50
====

Smoke’s experimentation on his ‘Item Transmutation’ ability, indicated that if he used the same base material the next results were negligible. There were even times where in it would have a worse result than the previous transmutation.

This made him decide to only use throw away items to raise his ‘Item Transmutation’ and to only one transmutation on expensive items.

For his gladius he bought four flamberges. He was hoping that the four pieces of two-handed swords would greatly enhance the gladius’ attack.

Smoke modified the previous casting circle and tweaked it to focus on offense.


+ Transmutation Completed

  Result: A compounded flamdius
  Effects:
    Attack: + 90
    Durability: + 200
    Weight: Increased by 30%
    Agility: -30

Both transmutations resulted with negative effects but Smoke was still satisfied with the results. His old equipment were now stronger and deadlier.

With the Lioumereans’ delayed arrival, Smoke thought he could unleash all of his pent up anger on Sagen with his training.

Sagen had lied about his age in AUTOMATA. Smoke was sure that he couldn’t trick the gamepod but with his influence he could easily procure fake birth certificates claiming that he was still 17.

That bastard not only cheated Seth but everyone in AUTOMATA. He was gonna make him pay. Smoke had created a square wall to hide his secret training sessions.

Instead of calming down, his anger only increased. He was aiming for the training dummy he crafted inside the wall with an ‘Exploding Strike’ when he accidentally blew up one of the walls instead.

Laernea and Gandiva stood still as they were paralyzed at the sight of their leader. They had never seen him so angry before.

Gandiva, the tigress Lioumerean, was the one who broke the silence.

“Um, what happened? Did someone die? How is everyone? I hope they are okay. Please let them be okay.”

Steam was rising out of Smoke. It looked as if his whole body was covered in dark purple fire. Igniz’s energy responded to his strong, vehement emotions by melding with his mana and dispensing out some sort of flame aura.

It took a few more seconds for Smoke to recognize Gandiva and Laernea. His temperature finally started to cool down. He didn’t know what he had just done. All he knew was that debris and rubble were everywhere.

Smoke decided to collapse the whole square building and to rebuild a new one when he decides to train. He also noticed that Gandiva and Laernea were still apprehensive when he went near them.

“Hey, I’m sorry if I scared you. I didn’t know what came over me. I just felt like my whole body would explode if just stayed still, and from the damage that I caused I think it did.”

Laernea, the lioness Lioumerean, was still clearly afraid of Smoke but she still wanted to console him nonetheless. This rampaging scene was familiar to the Lioumereans.

“Can you tell us what really happened? What could have irked you to become like this?”

Their DarkElf liege stared on the ground and fell silent. They had not seen his fight with the Maneator but since that time Smoke would have flashes of going berserk. He had lost himself to his wrath.

Laernea continued on, she felt that Smoke was slowly regaining his senses. The fierce killing aura that he was emitting was slowly fading away.

“Gandiva and I used to be really angry individuals. We would pick a fight with anyone. I felt that if I wasn’t fighting the rage would consume me from inside.”

Gandiva pulled Laernea in tighter and together they slowly stepped closer to Smoke. The Lioumereans gave him a hug. Smoke felt ashamed of what he had just done.

This maybe virtual reality but his overcharged emotions were all real. He thought that this isn’t something his family would want him to be doing. Yet, something inside him was burning. He agreed with what Laernea said, if he didn’t let his fury out, he felt that he would be swallowed whole.

“I’m… Just really frustrated with a certain individual. His name is Sagen, he is the northern district’s finalist. He dishonored my brother. He didn’t only hurt him physically he also harmed him emotionally. That bastard, Sagen, he even brought his thugs and they ganged up on my brother. When it comes to my family, I don’t care if I turn into a demon, as long as I’ll be able to defend them and give them justice.”

“That makes sense! I would probably do the same if anyone were to mess with Laernea and you, and of course the rest of our team.”

Gandiva’s usual playful and energetic nature eased Smoke’s tension and lightened his mood a little. She continued on to explain what calmed them.

“I think the reason why Laernea and I were so angry before was because our parents took us out of our village ,’Felin Platerres’, and abandoned us in the outskirts of Centeo city. We were only about eight years old then. We couldn’t understand why they would pluck us out of our peaceful valley. I guess we must have done something really bad for our parents to throw us away. Still, we wanted to return. We thought that our village was somewhere south. So, we decided to travel southward and came across the sternest looking Human you could imagine, Madam Dawny.”

Gandiva was smiling as she was remembering her childhood. Smoke thought that she should have been sad rather than happy, after all they had been abandoned by their own parents but he decided to listen on quietly.

“We were stealing from a food stall when she caught us red-handed. With one look she understood that we were homeless. We just learned this later on, that she wanted to take care of us herself, but she couldn’t due to the fact that she was still an active adventurer. She made us tell her the other places where we shoplifted from. One by one, we went back and she paid for the stuff that we stole. She also made us apologize to the owners.”

Laernea was also smiling as Gandiva was telling the story of their childhood. She continued where Gandiva had left off.

“Madam Dawny scared us, by saying that she knew of a place where little trouble makers like us belonged to. We were terrified because she kept on a stern and serious face. She continued to take us southward. We originally planned to escape as soon as she left us in this ‘reformation center’ that she spoke of. She left us at the entrance of Nanahuatl village. She told us that we could either leave or try the life inside the village. We decided to stay, since we felt that we didn’t have a place we belonged to anyway. We kept on doing our usual petty thefts and people got angry but they never locked us up or kicked us out of the village. They just waited for us to settle down. I remember that I finally felt at home in Nanahuatl was when master Darius gave us a purpose and treated us like we were his own family.”

This time, Gandiva added in some of her thoughts.

“Master Darius taught us how to read, write, fish. Heck, we even learned how to cook some decent meals from him. We kept on asking him to teach us how to fight but he never did. Not until we told him that we wanted to fight for your cause. He said that if we had a reason to fight for, then it would be okay to teach us. He also told us that if we were to face the root of the problem, then it is most likely that our anger or anything that might have been upsetting us would disappear. For me, it was the fear of being forgotten. I felt like I was a nobody but when I came to Nanahuatl I knew that my friends and the family that I’ve made there would remember me even after I’m long gone from this world.”

Smoke was inspired by hearing Darius’ advice. Even when they were miles apart, Darius was still helping him. He was glad that Darius taught his students not only how to fight but also how to be helpful and productive members of society.

                                  

* * * * * * 

Now, that he knew what to do with his anger. He focused on his training once more, this time with a specific goal in mind. He went to the old lady sitting on her porch.

Madam Dawny was enjoying the afternoon sky, rocking away in her wooden rocking chair. He wanted to ask for more guidance on being a Swordsman.

“Madam Dawny, I wish you a good day. I see that you’re enjoying a quiet morning. I know that it’s a bit bothersome but I was wondering if you could share some more of your wisdom. I was thinking that even though healing abilities are mostly associated to acolytes and paladins there should be something similar for Swordsmen right?”

Madam Dawny just stared at Smoke with a hard stern look. She looked stricter than when she gave him advice on the district tournament. However, he knew that she was real soft inside and continued to match her gaze with a smile.

“There is such an ability, but I haven’t heard of a Swordsman in recent times that decided to acquire it. Its basic requirements are quite high and the ability itself can be called mediocre at best. Do you still want to learn the ability even with all that information?”

Smoke nodded with a smile. He didn’t care if other people found the ability to be useless. All he cared about was that he could use it in the upcoming finals.

“Yes! Can you please teach me the ability. I’m willing to do anything to learn it.”

“Alright, just do these steps. Go to the central library. Ask for the head librarian. Her name is Madry tell her I sent you. Then you just have to pay for the ability tome ‘Life Share’. You do know what an ability tome is right?”

“Of course. I’ve used some of those before. Thank you so much for this information. I’ll head straight for the central library now.”

“Before you go. I’d like to give you something. In the off chance that Madry might offer you a ridiculous price for the tome. Maybe, you can find some use of this one instead.”

+ Received Ability Tome: ‘Mount Mastery’

“Wow, I didn’t think anyone but Darius would just hand out ability tomes.”

“That tome enhances the user’s ability to maneuver and fight on top of a mount. There were different variations of this ability that would enable the other jobs to get a mount. Like the Pathfinder’s ‘Beast Tamer(Mount)’, the Warrior’s ‘Mounted Warrior’ and the Druid’s ‘Animal Whisper’. Nevertheless, it is the Knight’s ‘Mount Mastery’ that is the easiest to acquire. In mounted form, a person would need a longer weapon to increase his range. Hence, making most Knights take up the spear or the glaive. Go ahead and acquire the ability.”

+ Consumed ‘Mount Mastery’ tome.


+ Learned Ability: Mount Mastery
    Passive
    Level: Beginner Level 1
    Experience: (0/1,000)

    Enables the Knight to take control of a mount as if it were a part of the user’s own body.
    Effects:
    * Increases mount’s speed by 5%
    * Increases mount’s defense by 5%
    * Attacks in mounted form enhanced by 5%

Madam Dawny eyebrows met as she saw Smoke consume a Knight only ability tome. Although, this ability was readily available from the time that a player gets the job of a Knight hence making it a junk ability tome.

“Thank you so much! I’ll use this properly when the time comes. Alright, I’ll head out to the central district’s library now.”

Smoke equipped with his hooded cloak, ‘Wings of Cologus’, and a basic Swordsman’s attire proceeded to the teleportation circle in the southern district.

                   

* * * * * * 

Sometimes merchants and other vendors would recognize him as Ilad their southern district representative. He would wave and smile at them cordially.

NPCs would go near him and shake his hands, all except for the stalls near the female Gnome called Kort. The NPCs there would avert their eyes when they saw Smoke coming their way.

Smoke failed to notice this and continued onward to the central library. He stepped onto the teleportation circle targeting the central district.

It wasn’t only the NPCs that crowded around Smoke, there were players as well that would ask him to add them to their friend list but Smoke would refuse all of them politely. If he did that, they would discover his real name.

He finally came upon the special casting circle. This was his first time using a teleportation circle and he felt weird. He thought that it would be a seamless experience but it felt like his brain was jiggled up a bit. Like an elevator making an abrupt stop.

Before, he thought that the southern district was already crowded but it could not compete with the population of the central district. Players and NPCs numbered in the thousands.

There were shops that were catered to specific players like the ‘MaguStore’ and the ‘SnipeRus’. Of course the Knight specific stores still dominated the market place.

He was excited to check each store, but his preparations for the finals superseded anything else. He went directly to the central library.

Smoke had never seen this many books in his entire life, the real world included. Inside the central district’s library there were thirty floors, all of which were filled with books.

The central library was the tallest building in Coatl city, but he didn’t think that all of its floors were filled up with books.

He was salivating when he imagined just how much acquired knowledge and Intelligence stats he would receive if he were to read all of these books.

A tall male HighElf with golden hair was standing at the front desk. Smoke went to him and asked to see the head librarian, Madry.

“I’m here to see the head librarian. Madam Dawny sent me.”

The HighElf looked at him curiously. He was not used to see a Swordsman inside the library. He would occasionally see some Alchemists, Mages and Wizards, maybe even a Priest but never a Swordsman.

“Hmm, Madam Dawny, huh? Let me check if she is available.”

The attendant with golden hair disappeared into the backroom. After a few minutes he came out and told Smoke to follow him. They went to the fifteenth floor of the library.

They arrived at a normal looking door with the label ‘Head Librarian’. The HighElf knocked twice, and a deep voice answered them to come in.

Smoke couldn’t have guessed what the head librarian looked like. Sitting in front of them was an old female Ork with glasses.

“Well, what do you want? I know that we may not look busy, but we actually are. The sooner you tell me the reason why Dawny sent you here, the better.”

“Of course, first let me greet you on this fine day. My name is Ilad. Madam Dawny told me that you could help me acquire the ability ‘Life Share’. I desperately need it for my upcoming tournament.”

“Tournament? What tournament?”

The HighElf quickly answered the head librarian.

“I believe it’s the Swordsman to Knight Tournament. I think he is the southern district’s champion.”

“Oh, it’s that time of the year huh? Strange, you’re the first one to ask for this ability. Also, I don’t see why you we need an ability to heal someone when the tournament is one on one?”

“I have took the time to know my enemies, and for me to be able to assure a just victory I know that I would need that ability.”

“Very well, since you were recommended by Dawny, I shall allow you to purchase the ability tome. You just need to pay us ten million zecs.”

“What? Ten millions zecs? Isn’t that too pricey for a mediocre ability?”

“How dare you? You don’t ever call an ability mediocre! For that insolence, you’ve forfeited your right to buy the ability tome.”

“No, no, no, I’m so sorry, I meant no disrespect. It’s just that I’m really poor. I think you can tell from my appearance just how poor I am.”

Madry examined the DarkElf closely. Smoke thought that the Ork was convinced that he was penniless as he claimed to be.

“Yes, you do look like you can’t afford to buy for ten million zecs. Nonetheless, I can’t let it go for anything less than a million zecs.”

Smoke thought that he could offer up his newly obtained glaive ‘Rzeka’ but its attack at 80 was twice the attack of his green dual knives. He also needed the weapon when he would be disguised as a Knight.

Then, Smoke remembered that Laernea and Gandiva brought twenty pieces of double bladed mantis swords. Each sword could probably sell at around 20,000 zecs to 30,000 zecs.

“Would you be open to a trade? I have with me ten pieces of double bladed mantis swords. These swords are still quite rare. I think there are less than twenty of them including these in Coatl city.”

“I am not a weapon’s appraiser. If you want, you can take them to one of the shops outside and sell them there.”

Smoke thought that it would be troublesome to sell each blade. His furrowed eyebrows and deep sighs caught the attention of the female Ork. He was about to give in and pay her with actual zecs when the head librarian spoke out.

“Hmm, it would seem that I could take the risk of accepting this offer, provided you pay the sum of one hundred thousand zecs.”

The DarkElf did his best to suppress his smile. He quickly turned around and pretended to be counting his money. He couldn’t believe how useful his ‘Beggary’ ability was.

“I would like to inform you that this is my whole life savings. If only I didn’t need that ability tome I would have walked away from this deal. Against the better judgment of my pockets, I accept and will pay the said amount.”

Madry motioned for the HighElf to retrieve the book. Upon his return, he went to Smoke and opened a trade window. After which, they successfully traded the agreed upon items.

+Received Ability Tome: ‘Life Share’

Smoke eagerly inspected his traded ability tome.


+Ability Tome: ‘Life Share’

    The basic form of healing for a Swordsman.
    Ability consumes 100 mp/sec.
    Ability consumes 2% of the Swordsman’s maximum HP and shares it with the target.

    Requirements:
      Job: Swordsman
      Level: 80
      HP Regen: at least 2%
      Intelligence: 150
      Mana: 4,000
      Life: must be more than 10% of maximum HP

The head librarian then spoke out and said.

“You’ve received the ability tome, but I doubt that you could use it.”

Before Madry finished her sentence, Smoke had already activated the learning process of the tome and acquired its ability.

The female Ork’s jaw dropped. She couldn’t believe that there was a Swordsman who could meet Intelligence requirements.

Smoke took notice of the head librarians reaction and decided to ask the question that had been bugging him since he saw her.

“Forgive my rudeness, but I just have to ask how did you manage to become the head librarian?”

“Oh? Because I’m an Ork?”

“No, of course that’s not what I meant. I just mean that you look too young to be the head librarian.”

Madry raised her eyebrow. She thought to answer his question because she had one of her own.

“I’m not your stereotypical Ork. I am a MadoHai Ork. There are only a few of my kind left and we are the most magically gifted among the Ork sub-races. Now that I’ve answered your question, can you answer mine? Why would a Swordsman invest as much as 150 to his Intelligence stat?”

“Oh, that’s because I was taught that brain triumphs over brawn.”

* * * * * * 

Central district’s coliseum was four times larger than the one found in the southern district. It was made to fit every audience from all districts.

Duke Burmistrz, the mayor of Coatl city has been invited to be the guest of honor for the ‘Swordsman to Knight’ tournament.

The old Human Viking War Lord had been in various epic battles, and although his job was not of the Knight variation, he was included in the order of ‘Legendary Knights’.

Rumor has it that Duke Burmistrz was once a High Commander of the ‘Ladrones del Mundo’, the secret society of marauders and thieves.

Before the start of the tournament, the guest of honor asked to speak before the entire arena.

“Citizens and visitors of Coatl, I am honored to have all of you here in our sacred stadium. I am sure that we will witness a most enjoyable battle. Still, I find that the rule for having a one on one to be dull. I propose that we hasten the inevitable and have them all fight in a free-for-all battle. What do you say, my good people?”

The crowd cheered loudly as a new format for the finals was implemented. The screens that displayed the original sequence of fighters had updated into a bold and eye-popping “FREE FOR ALL FIGHT – four Swordsmen enter, one leaves as the champion!”

Smoke didn’t mind the new format. In fact, he welcomed it! This only hastened his fight with his desired opponent, Swordsman Sagen.

He was given his own private area to prepare. Laernea and Gandiva were allowed to join him in his private quarters.

They were there to give him their support, they worried that he would experience another episode of blind rage. But were relieved because Smoke looked to have recovered from his anger streak.

It was about an hour before the start of central district’s championship. The southern district’s representative was busy preparing his equipment and cooking his meal.

He was excited to use the new spices and garnishes, and to test out his newly learned recipe, when a call abruptly interrupted his preparatory measures.

“Smoke, why didn’t you tell me that something was up? How do you think I felt when I heard the news from Laernea that you were rampaging in Coatl city?”

Sierra had called the troubled DarkElf. He didn’t have any reasonable answer for her. He barely understood what he was actually feeling during those flashes of rage.

“Listen, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I didn’t mean to hide it from you. It’s just these emotions keep coming out of me. I think you remembered the time before I quit the diner? I’m having those feelings again but this time they’re getting stronger.”

“I thought that you already got past that. Aren’t you here to enjoy this other world where you could be a different you?”

“I am here to enjoy Zectas, but I also think that I’m discovering the real me. Don’t worry, Gandiva and Laernea gave me a pretty solid advice on how to deal with my anger.”

“Well, I guess if you got a handle on it, then I guess you’re alright. You are alright, right?”

“Of course! Trust me you won’t see me picking fights in the real world.”

“What was that again? What was the last part you said?”

“I said, I’m fine. Honestly. Anyway how is your search for the village? Have you found the exit to the labyrinth?”

“I’m still waiting for Adder’s report. You know how he likes to be thorough. I think we will find the exit in two days, worst case maybe four.”

“Don’t hurry on my account. I’m still trying to get the recommendation to enter the labyrinth as well. It looks like my original estimate for this quest was wrong.”

“I know! I had a gut feeling from the moment you told me, that you expected us to be done in a week. Anyway, don’t worry about it too much. I’m still having fun on my end. I’m learning a lot of new things in my Werebear form. You know, just in case it will take us longer to break the curse.”

“That’s great. Not that you would be stuck in that form, but you getting better at your Werebear form. I hope you know what I meant.”

“Yeah, I do. Smoke, please talk to me if something is bothering you.”

“Don’t worry I’ve really got it handled.”

“Alright, stay safe, I don’t want to hear you having any mental breakdowns. Take care!”

Sierra was very worried about his well being. He also knew that each member of his private army wanted to check up on him.

Despite that, they didn’t call because the tournament was about to start. Even if they didn’t, Smoke still knew that he had their support.

After his conversation with Sierra, he continued sharpening his gladius. Afterwards, he ate his newly learned dish ‘Pork Rib Stew with Sage Cornmeal Dumplings’.

The meal boosted his health regeneration by 3%. When used together with the ‘Heart of ReenTe’, Smoke’s total health regen was at 5%. Provided that he doesn’t get hit.


FREE FOR ALL FIGHT:

Ayu (Lioumerean) vs Ilad (DarkElf) vs Kasar (Halfling) vs Sagen (Human)

All the participants were ushered into the center arena. The crowd grew wild as each of their representatives appeared before them.

Smoke, Sagen, Kasar and Ayu were all called to stand on the large oval ring. Each district representative stood on their respective ends of the ring.

Smoke donned the following equipment: his strengthened leather-shielded armor, compounded flamdius, rare shield, rare lucky bunny ears, rare necklace, rare gloves, and epic hooded cloak.

He checked on the other participants. Ayu, the Lioumerean cheetah, was dressed in a provocative leather armor. Smoke thought that it revealed too much skin. Her sword was a schiavona, a basket hilted sword. She also had a medium-sized round shield on her side.

Next, there was the Halfling, Kasar. He wore a black leather armor and had two kodachis as his weapon. Kodachis were the only Katana type swords that were accessible to the job of a Swordsman. Smoke thought that Kasar must have wanted to have Samurai as his advanced job.

Lastly, directly across Smoke, stood Sagen. His face looked exactly like the same in Zectas. He wore a heavy chain-mail. He had on his back a great sword called a zweihänder.

A loud commentator’s voice was heard throughout the arena.

“My Lord Duke Burmistrz, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you, the finalists of our 5th bi-annual Swordsman to Knight Tournament. From the southern district we have the mysterious, Ilad! From the western district we have the enchanting, Ayu! From the eastern district we have the nimble, Kasar! And finally from the northern district we have the headstrong, Sagen!”

Sagen’s guild had bought an entire front section of the arena and had huge banners with the name ‘Feras’ printed across it. They kept shouting out Sagen’s name.

All the participants continued on waving to their audience. The crowd exploded into shouting, clapping and cheering.

Everyone was in complete uproar. They could not wait for horn to be blown.

TTOOOOOOOTTTT!

Each one of finalists studied each other carefully. Their eyes were darting back and forth as they checked the opponents on their sides and in front of them.

Their stalemate did not last long. Smoke rushed towards Kasar, while Sagen ran for Ayu. It was a simultaneous fight between high level players.

Kasar jumped from Smoke’s right side to his extreme left. Smoke was significantly slowed down by his added enhancements on his leather armor and sword.

The Halfling ran circles around him. Attacks from Kasar’s kodachis came from every direction. If it weren’t for Smoke’s ‘Cunning of the Dire Fox’ ability, he would have received numerous back attacks.

At the same time, Sagen raised his zweihänder over his shoulders and ran into Ayu’s direction. Ayu was not flustered by the huge sword and met his charge head on.

Sagen used his ‘Great Divide’ ability, Ayu easily side stepped the wide attack. She thrusted her schiavona at her attacker, but struck nothing but air. Sagen had rolled away after executing his wide attack.

Ayu gave chase and was faced with a great horizontal cleaving attack from Sagen. She did her best to block the blow with her shield but was knocked back.

Kasar using his two kodachis, he unleashed twin ‘Sword Smite’ attacks. Smoke planted both his feet firmly on the ground and got ready to receive both attacks.

Owing to the fact that Smoke’s modified equipment gave him added weights, he did not move from where he stood. Smoke found an opening after Kasar’s powerful attack.

He used his flamdius and unleashed his own explosive strike, throwing Kasar over to Sagen, who had just blasted away Ayu.

Kasar saw that Sagen was about to attack the fallen Lioumerean and took this chance and launch a series of sword strikes on Sagen’s back.

Sagen tried to runaway and was attacked by Ayu. Smoke saw that Sagen was stuck in a pincer attack between Ayu and Kasar.

Manipulating the ring, he launched himself upward. In the last few seconds, Kasar saw Smoke coming from above him. He tried to block with his two swords but Smoke’s attack went right through them.

With his flamdius, he sliced down Kasar with his own variation of the ‘Great Divide’ ability. Smoke’s added weight increased the force of his attack.

Kasar took the slash right on his torso and was slammed down to the ground. He was stunned for two seconds. Smoke grabbed hold of his feet and throw him off the ring.

Ayu was about to attack Sagen when a red light struck her eye. It was from one of the Snipers sitting in the crowd, who used the ability ‘Guided Light’ which temporarily blinded Ayu.

The ability ‘Guided Light’ was intended to give Snipers an added accuracy bonus but Sagen used in the same way he cheated Seth in AUTOMATA.

Sagen repeated his most powerful attack the ‘Great Divide’ and blasted Ayu off the ring. Ayu was eliminated from the tournament.

Only Smoke and Sagen were left standing on top of the ring. Smoke’s lifebar was still hidden because he did not receive any direct attack, while Sagen’s lifebar displayed (62,184/89,000 HP).

Raising his zweihänder over his right shoulders, Sagen prepared his attacking stance. On the other side of the ring, Smoke sheathed his flamdius and raised his right hand.

With his open palm pointing at Sagen. This move bewildered his opponent. Instead of charging blindly at Smoke, Sagan prepared to dodge whatever attack was coming.

The audience waited with anticipation to see what move the DarkElf would use. A small ball of white light was formed and was launched from his hand. The white ball flew fast and struck Sagan and healed him for 5,400 HP.

When Smoke used his ‘Life Share’ ability his lifebar appeared, which displayed (55,305/61,450 HP). He did not stop and kept on launching more ‘Life Share’ orbs in the direction of Sagen.

He did not stop until Sagen’s lifebar was full. His current lifebar displayed (25,150/61,450 HP). Smoke activated his necklace, ‘Heart of Rentee’. Now, his regen was increased to 5%.

Sagen was dumbstruck. He just stood there and watched Smoke’s life increase at an amazing rate. Twelve seconds passed, and Smoke’s life was already fully restored.

The audience applauded Smoke’s action. They thought that he wanted a fair match with Sagen at their prime conditions.

“You bastard! How dare you make a laughing stock out of me! WAAAAAAHHHH!”

Sagen was enraged. His humiliation was clearly visible on his face. He got back to his fighting stance and ran towards Smoke.

Like clockwork, multiple red lights pointed on Smoke’s eyes. Yet, Sagen and his Snipers couldn’t believe what they saw.

Smoke’s eyes were shut tight. The red lights were clearly seen on Smoke’s closed eyelids. Sagen smirked and continued on his attack.

With a great vertical swing he struck down his zweihänder and made a deep hole on where Smoke stood. Sagen tried checking his sides and found nothing.

A shadow was casted over his face which made him look upwards. Sagen was staring directly at Smoke’s ‘Armored Armadillo Shield’.

KLAANG!

Smoke used his ‘Armadillo Bash’ ability and Sagen was stunned for one second. The moment Smoke hit the ground, four quick flaming thrusts slashed Sagen’s body.

All four slashes made Sagen’s lifebar drop down to (68,056/89,000 HP). The injured swordsman tried to retaliate with a side attack but Smoke’s shield did not budge an inch.

With his eyes closed, Smoke smiled and did the exact same move as Sagen but with a completely different result. Even with his zweihänder blocking the flamdius, Sagen was pushed back by five feet.

“ARRGGGHH! When will you stop mocking me?”

“Not until I’ve completely stripped you of your pride and made a complete fool of you in front of everyone here.”

“Just what the heck is your problem anyway? I don’t recall meeting you before.”

“No, you haven’t, but your cheap tricks have irked me for the last time and this time you shall feel the full brunt of my wrath.”

Smoke ran towards Sagen and launched multiple lunges. With his zweihänder he was only able to parry about two thirds of Smoke’s attacks.

Sagen kept on backing up as Smoke continued his unending lunges. They had circumnavigated the ring and Sagen was left with only (33,350/89,000 HP).

At this point, Smoke stopped his attacks. He quickly backed off, giving Sagen plenty of space to reorganize himself.

Sagen’s fighting tactic was completely obliterated. From the division tournament, he had been relying on his Snipers blinding his enemy. He didn’t think that there was someone capable of fighting him with their eyes closed.

“Are you proud of yourself? Are you happy with winning titles that don’t belong to you? My brother should have won that tournament but you took it away from him.”

“Brother? Who’s your brother? Well, whoever he is, it’s his own fault for losing. In the end the winner is the one who is in the ring…”

A series of white orbs came at Sagen and completely healed his life. Smoke was left with (6,150/61,450 HP).

“DAMN YOU ILAD! You even reduced your life to 10%. I’ll show you, no one makes fun of Sagen! WRAaaaaahhhhh!”

For the time it took Sagen to reach Smoke’s location, Smoke’s lifebar had fully restored. Sagen’s zweihänder was still raised over his shoulder, when Smoke used his ‘Earth Manipulation’ ability and catapaulted himself at Sagen like a canon.

KLAANG!

Sagen was once again stunned by the ‘Armadillo Bash’. This time, Smoke didn’t stop with the lunges, he finished it off with a loud exploding slash which pushed Sagen near the edge of the ring.

With only (43,350/89,000 HP) on Sagen’s lifebar, a succession of ‘Life Share’ orbs came his way once more. The crowd started laughing as Sagen cried out once more.

Only the section with the Feras guild members remained silent. They were glaring angrily at Smoke for making a fool out of their guild master.

Like a mad raging bull, Sagen went straight at Smoke, still holding his zweihänder over his right shoulder. Smoke responded by retreating strategically and continued pummeling Sagen with his ‘Life Share’ orbs.

After five minutes of running around, Smoke stopped. Sagen stopped as well. Sagen kept on shaking his vehemently.

He couldn’t grasp how anyone could fight so well without their eyesight. He took his usual fighting stance and devised a new strategy.

Screaming from the top of his lungs. Sagen ran blindly, moving closer to Smoke. The DarkElf responded by using the same counter move, launching himself at Sagen with blinding speed.

But before Smoke came into Sagen’s range, Sagen struck his zweihänder on the ground and used his ‘Great Divide’ ability on the ring.

Debris were flying everywhere. Smoke was hit, he was not able to dodge all of the scraps from the broken ring. The effects of his necklace had worn off.

“Did you see that? Oh, right, you can’t because you stupidly closed your eyes. Just who in their right mind would fight with their eyes clo…”

KLAANG!

After such a devastating attack, Sagen took the chance to gloat, giving Smoke an opening to use his ‘Armadillo Bash’. Now, that Smoke’s regen only relied on his special ‘Pork Rib Stew’, it was reduced to 3%.

In that one second that Sagen was stunned, Smoke performed the fastest slashes he could muster with his flamdius.

After that blurring attack, Sagen was still left with (38,152/89,000 HP). He launched a sideways cleave for his counter attack.

But while Sagen was preparing his counter-attack, Smoke had already moved to his blind spot. From there he used the most explosive strike he could summon.

BOODOOM!

The blast blew Sagen off to the opposite side of the ring. Sagen still had (13,284/89,000 HP) left. Smoke slowly walked to Sagen’s direction.

Sagen boiling with rage took completely different stance. He lowered his knees and arched his back. He took his zweihänder and leveled it to his line of sight. His zweihänder’s sharp edge pointing straight at Smoke.

Sagen ran at his top speed and thrust his zweihänder with all his might. Smoke’s responded by simply moving to his side and ran his shield across the length of Sagen’s blade.

Smoke raised his flamdius for maximum leverage and ardently stroke down Sagen. His opponent was plowed forcefully to the ground.

With his eyes still closed, Smoke used his right foot and stepped on Sagen’s back, pushing hard against the ring. He drove his flamdius fiercely on the ground, missing Sagen’s face by an inch.

“Know this. I’m prepared for your entire guild to come at me. But, the moment one of your members attack me, I will not stop until I’ve reduced all of your levels to zero.”

Sagen nodded meekly and tried to speak but Smoke pushed his foot down even harder.

“I hope this fight will teach you how to obey the rules and play fairly.”

“Of course, I’ve definitely learned my lesson. I concede. You can throw me off the ri…”

Smoke pulled his flamdius and stabbed Sagen in the back. Sagen’s lifebar went down to zero and was killed. Dying meant that he was blocked from Zectas for another twenty four hours.

The announcer’s voice exploded and covered the entire stadium with the results of the Swordsman to Knight Tournament.

“And the champion for the 5th bi-annual Swordsman to Knight Tournament is… Ilad!”

The audience jumped from their seats. Cheering and shouting came from everywhere. The guild members of ‘Feras’ discreetly exited the arena. The crowd could not believe how Smoke completely dominated Sagen. A replay of the finals match kept playing on the main screen.


+ 5th bi-annual Swordsman to Knight Champion
  * You’ve won the title 5th Swordsman to Knight Champion
  * You’ve won the complete ‘Gora Equipment Set’ (Ruby Knight Set)
  * Increased fame by 200(Beggar Penalty: 25%)

                    

* * * * * * 

After winning the tournament, Smoke, Gandiva, and Laernea went to the central district’s Knight Academia. The walk that should have taken only ten minutes was lengthened into thirty.


+ Friend request from: Liebste
           Accept? [YES/NO]



+ Friend request from: Namorada
           Accept? [YES/NO]


+ Friend request from: Amoureux
           Accept? [YES/NO]


+ Friend request from: Novia
           Accept? [YES/NO]


+ Friend request from: Kekasih
           Accept? [YES/NO]


+ Friend request from: Premi
           Accept? [YES/NO]

The sea of people could not be parted. NPCs and players alike kept on asking him for friend requests. Smoke politely declined all of them but was bothered by the numerous system notifications that he decided to disable the option.

He finally reached the Knight academia. There, Smoke spoke with various NPCs and after a few minutes he went to a secluded corner.

As he was equipping the ‘Gora Ruby Knight Set’, Smoke realized that it had been twenty four hours since he had spoken with Sierra.

In all the excitement he had completely forgotten to inform her that he had won the tournament.

He thought about giving her a call now, but as soon as he had equipped the ‘Gora Plate Armor’ and the ‘Gora Helm’ he decided to, finish Ilad’s ‘Job Change’ from Swordsman to Knight.

Smoke emerged, fully equipped in the tungsten carbide, Knight equipment set. His ‘Gora Helm’ only revealed his eyes. It had two bent horns on the sides that pointed upwards and one in front.

His ‘Gora Plate Armor’, ‘Gora Gloves’, ‘Gora leggings’, ‘Gora Boots’ were all thick and had black metal linings but they still gave him a great range of motion.

His ‘Gora Shield’ had the crest of a ram on it. The shield’s defense was 500 points below his ‘Armored Armadillo Shield’ and had no effects or abilities. However, he still wore the poorer equipment in order to complete the set.

Due to his low Beggar level, the fully equipped Knight armor looked tattered, to the point of near destruction.

He thought that the rustic look gave him an aura of a well traveled Knight.

Smoke stepped out of the Knight’s academia and tried to go over to the mayor’s villa. He wanted to have an audience with him. Smoke had hoped that Duke Burmistrz would allow him entry into the labyrinth.

Sadly, Smoke’s plans were foiled when the inner city’s guards stopped him on his tracks. Even if he had received the title of ‘Swordsman to Knight’ he is still not allowed to go beyond the second layer of the city.

“Psst. Psst. Ilad, over here.”

Smoke looked around and tried to find the voice that was calling out to him. In a dark corner, Cavalry Knight Macher, was waving out to Smoke, calling him out.

With his failed attempt of gaining access to the inner layers of Coatl city. Smoke decided to see what Macher was up to.

“Great job on winning the tournament! I won’t waste your time, so I’ll get right down to business. I have a lucrative business opportunity and I think you’re just the right man to turn it to a complete success. Are you interested?”

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