Gehma and Val traveled through the night without stopping, fighting corrupted beasts along the way. Gehma took care of the fighting while Val dozed off due to low mana, leaving them both covered in black ash.
When Val suddenly stood up from the back of Gehma, the knights were surprised. They hadn't noticed his presence before.
- “You! take your hood off, and state your identity”
The first knight shouted, keeping his hand on sword. Val indifferently looked down and raised his hand. Both knights unsheathed their sword warily, but a sudden gust rose from beneath Gehma, and cleaned them of ashes.
- “Y-Your Grace!”
The knights knelt down hurriedly as his hood wear off by the gust, revealing his distinct long ears, a sign of the divine family. Divine family members have longer ear in comparison to the rest.
After much apologizing, the second knight escorted them inside the outpost.
- “It’s really lively here”
Val spoke stoically as he followed the knight with Gehma while keeping his hood on. Many adventurers and travelers from different races were seen wondering around the street.
- “It’s a common sight, Your Grace. Although small but from different shops to inn, we’ve everything that an adventurer needs. Hunting on the outskirt of Dunnet-Un is quite popular among beginners. Although it’s dangerous, but it’s a good way to get experience, monster parts and money”
- “The barracks are at the west gate, I’ll notify them and arrange the best service for you and the mount”
The knight offered, but Val stopped in his tracks.
- “No need. Right now,I'm a traveler on a paladin's pilgrimage, and I prefer to act the part. You can return to your post, Sir Knight”
- “F-Forgive me for asking Your Grace, but does that mean you’re planning to hunt on the outskirt of Dunnet-Un?”
The knight suddenly grew anxious. Though, he was already aware of the recent trial held in Kelnar for Val but hadn’t expected him to be here. Val found that excuse reasonable.
- “Is there any problem?”
- “There is, Your Grace. Actually-”
Booming sound of war horn echoed throughout the outpost and soon, dozens of knights seen rushing toward the west gate while urging everyone to get inside.
- “It’s a monster attack!! Allow me to guide you to a safe place, Your Grace”
The knight bowed but Val wasn’t concerned, he knew that this kind of event was normal here.
- “I think, I’ll be safe here inside as long as you’ll be on the defense line, Sir Knight. You need not be here with me, after all you’re a proud knight of Kelnar”
The knight felt mix of emotions, he can’t possibly leave a member of divine family alone in this urgent situation but Val flattered him, and ignited his sense of duty.
The knight bowed again and ran straight toward the west gate, burning with knightly passion. Val waved at his back.
- “Will the guild put up a monster extermination quest again?”
- “I hope so. It’s a best quest that rewards according to achievements.”
- “The more you kill, the more you earn? I like it”
While beginner adventurers panicked, veterans seemed excited about the situation. They were looking forward to the rewarding quest.
- “Fools! Stop standing here, there’s no quest this time”
A Yasa adventurer came running and shouted after catching his breath. Many seemed puzzle after hearing him, but Val headed for a nearby inn, ignoring the commotion.
- “The strongest knight of Kelnar, Sir Javer Siastar, is on the defense line. Move your feet or you’ll miss seeing him in action”
While adventurers rushed to the west gate in excitement, Val stopped in his tracks upon hearing Javer's name.
- ‘Why is Javer here? He’s the powerhouse of Kelnar, he shouldn’t be here unless necessary. Did some horrible beast come out of Dunnet-Un? I need find out’
Val knew about the dangers of Dunnet-Un, but he didn’t want to encounter any surprises even before entering the forest.
- “Gehma, wait near that place. I’ll be back soon”
He pointed to the inn and disappeared with a powerful jump.
Hoping from roof to roof, he finally climbed the dome of a tallest tower. While holding the finial, Val observed the region outside of west gate, where dozens of Kelnar knights stood in formation.
- “There he is.. The Cardinal Knight”
An old man who appeared to be in his 60s with gray hair and a beard, wearing brown armor and a cloak, walked out of the formation from the middle. Despite his age, his aura was imposing, his face stern and physique formidable.
- ‘According to Val’s memory, Javer is one of the 5 Cardinal Bishop and strongest person in Kelnar after the Supreme Leader. An honorable knight with many glorious achievements’
Theo recalled from Val’s memory. Then, he shifted his attention to the far west and saw a big dust cloud approaching the outpost like a sandstorm.
- “What is it?”
Dust cloud was shrouding the enemy.
- “Mana Sense”
Val used his skill, and the world dyed black along with his eyes. Then, his black eyes glowed with blue rings and he saw azure mist like mana flowing through everything and everywhere, structuring the world in the blackness.
He peered the distance and focused on the approaching enemy, it was like thermal vision but little different.
- “Hmm, 12 orcs, armed? Their mana is unusually dense, each as approximately strong as High-Priest”
Val recognized the large orcs approaching the outpost, riding wolf-like beasts by their mana flow.
- ‘Still, their numbers aren’t a major threat. Kelnar knights are more than capable of this. Then why is Javer here?’
Val was puzzled, then he saw Javer’s mana flow started raging like fire above him.
- “You vile creatures dare lay fingers on Kelnar. Just because the past few centuries have been peaceful, you seemed to forget what we were once”
Javer spoke calmly, but every knight shivered sensing rage in his voice.
- “THIS IS KELNAR!!”
Javer shout released an explosive gust, pushing the knights back. Val’s cloak fluttered violently and his hood wear off as the gust passed.
The orc group stopped in fear when the booming gust hit them. They were dark orcs, a corrupted species of orcs with extraordinary size and strength.
- “We were once hailed as the strongest Dragon Slayers under the heaven, and I’ll remind you why”
Javer declared pridefully. While the orcs remained true to their nature as they rushed toward the knights ferociously with roars, raising their crude weapons.
Javer leaned forward while keeping his hand on the hilt of sword.
- “Kelnar Sword Technique, Dragon Slaying Art, First Form”
- “Crimson Flash”
Everyone blinded by a crimson light which only flashed for a 10th of second. After then, an eerie silence descended.
The aftermath in front of them was unbelievable. The orcs alongside with their mounted beasts, were all incinerated, and their bodies were slowly crumbling into ashes. A large area behind the orcs was scorched up, leaving only small red flames lingering.
White smoke were releasing from the sheath of Javer’s sword. To everyone’s second surprise, Javer’s sword was still sheathed.
- ‘Dragon Slaying Art’
Val recalled the history and tradition of Kelnar from the books he had read.
Founded next to Dunnet-Un, Kelnar was often invaded by the monsters and beasts, but the greatest adversary the city had ever faced was dragons. Divine class monsters with strength rivaling to Supreme Leader’s.
To stop the chaos, Kelnar’s 18th Vicar (Supreme Leader) developed a deadly sword technique, and it became an inheritance of Vicar. The 18th Vicar also started a tradition where he chose a strongest knight to learn few forms of his sword technique to ensure better safety of Kelnar.
- ‘Why use this against mere orcs?’
Val wondered before leaping straight toward Javer.
- “So, this is the famous Dragon Slaying Art”
He landed behind Javer nimbly. Javer’s eyes widened in surprise after hearing someone behind him. He turned around and knelt down, recognizing Val. All knights followed suit
- “We greet his grace the third.”
In barracks, Javer and Val were having a discussion about the current situation, sitting in the commander’s room.
- “2 days ago, the outpost was attacked by the same dark orcs. They were 20 of them. Though our knights have managed to defend the outpost, but the orcs were succeeded in capturing our 5 knights and few adventurers alive including the vice-commander”
Javer answered in serious tone when Val asked about his presence at the outpost.
- “I’m tasked with the investigation, and if possible, rescue”
- ‘Is this because of the vice-commander? Otherwise, this type of situations are common. We’re just foods for the monsters’
- “Did Sir Javer search for them?”
- “Yes, I led a small group to the outskirt of Dunnet-Un but we haven’t found any traces, our search failed. City guild is now actively giving warnings to the adventurers. For the time being, His Grace should also refrain from hunting at the outskirt”
Javer was serious but Val found it problematic. At this rate, he’ll have hard time leaving the outpost.
- “Then, you can just teach me Dragon Slaying Art, so that I can defend myself better”
Val smiled playfully and Javer laughed out loudly.
- “Haha.. His Grace surely has changed a lot. I was truly surprised earlier. It’s been a while since I failed to sense someone’s presence. No wonder, everyone is saying that you’ve overwhelmed the trial. Congratulations, Your Grace.”
Javer recalled the moments after performing Dragon Slaying Art, he couldn’t sense Val’s presence until Val spoke to him.
- “But as you’re aware of the tradition, it is something that cannot be freely taught or learned. The knowledge is only passed down by our Vicar to the chosen ones”
Javer returned the smile
- “Well, as a swordsman, I can’t help but admire it, even though I know my own limitations”
Val stood up, feigning sad expressions, hinting toward the lack of divinity seed
- “Then, I’ll be on my way, Sir Javer. May the Goddess grace us with her protection”
Val turned to leave, but Javer interjected
- “Actually, I’m also quite curious about your skills. How about this, please show me the best strike and I’ll share my insight on the First Form of Dragon Slaying Art. Of course, if only His Grace would desire.”
Javer proposed, knowing that the art can’t be just performed by having the knowledge nor it can be wielded by a seedless.
- ‘What an unfair deal. No wonder, Edric’s personality is so twisted. His master is the cause’
Val thought, having recently learned that Edric was Javer's disciple.
- “Sir Javer, you want me to perform my best strike.. on you?”
In the training ground of the barracks, they stood facing each other, while the knights stood around spectating them with excitement.
- “Precisely, Your Grace. Please don’t hold back, and go all out”
Javer smiled. Val shrugged it off and unsheathed his sword.
- ‘Currently, my temple rank is restricted to Arch-Priest. Though, there were opportunities but I still haven’t used my full strength. I was cautious in Kelnar because of Asvaldur, but here I don't need to restrain myself’
Val thought with closed eyes. He decided to use everything available to him under the restrictions. Javer smiled warmly, finding Val's contemplation cute.
Wind started swirling around Val, glowing with azure light. Then, it burst forth, releasing a cold wave of mana that sent chills through the knights.
Javer’s smile froze up and knights gasped looking at the abysmal amount of blue aura streaming from Val’s sword, upward like a trail.
Val opened his eyes and his body set ablaze, emanating a fierce blue aura, while his eyes glowed with blue rings. Feeling the pressure, knights took a step back but Javer found it amusing.
Val chose to channel half of his mana into the enchantment of sword, activating it, and the remaining half into his body, enhancing his physical abilities.
- ‘Let’s see, how much I weigh in compare to the strongest knight of Kelnar’
Val thought, and in an instant, he vanished from his spot and reappeared before Javer. He thrust his sword toward Javer's heart, but Javer remained unmoved, wearing a smile.
Taking him by surprise, Val’s sword stopped before reaching Javer by an invisible force.
Before he could question, 6 gold magic chains became visible, shackling his sword. The other ends of the chains were attached to a big semi-circular magic frame, his sword restrained in the middle.
- “It’s one of my blessings, Your Grace. It can restrain anyone weaker than me. You can try breaking the chains, and if you manage to break even one, I’ll consider it my defeat”
Javer declared with a smile.
- ‘He’s playing with me. But, it’s my first time going against someone’s blessing. It’s a great opportunity to experience it’
Val decided to dance on Javer’s rhythm for now.
He tried to drove the sword toward Javer again utilizing his mana, but the chains repelled. Massive torrent of blue and gold energy surged around them, pushing everyone back.
One chain snapped, and the sword shortened the distance with Javer, but Javer was still unfazed, he had expected that.
But Val suddenly stopped his mana flow and withdrew his sword, leaving Javer dumbfounded.
- “This is my victory then”
- “But you could have pushed further. I’m aware that His Grace still has plenty of mana, then why?”
Javer pouted playful, acting like a mischievous grandfather. The corner of Val’s lips twitched in disgust, but he forced himself to smile
- “I just performed according to Sir Javer’s condition. I hope you’ll keep your words”
Javer sighed in defeat.
- ‘I just wasted my time. There is nothing out of ordinary here, and from what little Javer had shared with me, it requires divinity to unleash the Dragon Slaying Art. It’s not like any seed bearer can use the technique, it even sounds so crazy that I’m sure no one would dare try it’
Thought Val as he’s walking back to Gehma, keeping his hood on. Javer had shared the rough knowledge of using the First Form of Dragon Slaying Art with him. He also learned that there are total of 8 forms in Dragon Slaying Art but only 5 were passed down to Javer.
Val sighed. Reaching close to the inn, he saw Gehma surrounded by 4 adventurers. They were all Horaen who were trying to probably kidnap Gehma when they saw no saddle and her master near her.