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Chapter 35: Strike!

The robed man was putting more and more pressure on Ryan as their fight continued, and soon enough, Ryan faltered. The robed man saw this opportunity, and he got ready to deliver his final strike. What he didn't know was that he wasn't the only one who saw this opportunity. Raymond had seen that Ryan was about to lose, and he instantly attacked, leaving afterimages behind him as he ran toward the robed man.

The robed man was too preoccupied to care about his surroundings, so he didn't see Raymond approaching until it was already too late. The second he swung his sword with all of his strength, he felt his spine shiver. Danger. Unprecedented danger was approaching him at an incomprehensible speed. Looking around, he managed to see Raymond approaching him, but this small gesture would come to spell his eventual doom.

Ryan was no pushover, and he was already ready to unleash the last of his strength. Seeing Raymond approaching, he didn't think much of it. That was until he noticed the robed man diverting his attention to Raymond. As soon as he did, he mustered his strength and instantly attacked. His broadsword shone with a bright brown light as he raised it up to his waist with both hands. After accumulating all the earth spiritual energy in the surroundings, Ryan slashed out horizontally with his sword, creating a massive amount of sword energy that headed straight for the robed man's head.

The sword energy might not be comparable in quality to something like Raymond's sword force, but the sheer quantity alone was sufficient to make up for it. The robed man was quickly brought back to his senses by Ryan's attack, and he was faced with a choice. Either he could try and deflect Ryan's attack in time, and hopefully stop Raymond's attack afterwards, or he could try and dodge it and counterattack.

The smartest option would normally just be to dodge and then counterattack, but Ryan's attack was more complicated than it seemed on the surface. The oppressive earth spiritual energy in the surroundings bore down on the robed man's body, and he could hardly move his body. Since that was the case, the only thing he could do was deflect Ryan's attack, and hope for the best. His entire upper body was shrouded by a slight red light that quickly converged in the sword in his hand.

After mustering the last of his energy, the robed man met Ryan's attack head-on. The clash of energies stirred up their surroundings and swept the wind away. The wind that was swept away seemed to strangely flow in the same direction, but neither the robed man nor Ryan had energy enough to care about it.

It was at this moment that Raymond finally arrived. The wind had gathered around his sword as he stabbed forward, aiming straight for the robed man's head. Although the attack was both fast and violent, it was deathly quiet, and unless the robed man had good enough danger perception, he wouldn't even have noticed the attack. Luckily for him, he noticed it and raised his sword in an attempt to block it. When his sword was in a position to receive Raymond's attack, he felt like something was wrong.

The sound of flesh being torn apart could be heard.

The robed man looked down, only to see a sword deeply embedded in his chest. His ghastly eyes wandered to Raymond's face, a dumbfounded look on his face. Raymond responded to this look by twisting his sword into the robed man's heart, tearing it apart completely. The attack didn't stop there, as Raymond's sword force rampaged in the robed man's body, destroying anything in its way.

The robed man had still not given up completely, and he reached out with his hand, aiming to grab Raymond's throat. Raymond had been vigilant this entire time, and he swiftly backed off, leaving the robed man to his own devices. The robed man was on his last breath, and he quietly looked around. They had come here to complete a fairly simple mission. All he needed to do was stall an opponent in the spirit-refining realm. Everything had been going according to plan until this blind brat showed up!

That was right, he had been completely fooled! He had thought that Cristopher Baxter was the one approaching him, but he could clearly see that it was just a blind youth instead. Had their plans been leaked? Was it truly a coincidence that the enemy had someone so skilled in illusions on their side? Was it not a plot at his life, to fool him into a false sense of security?

"I commend you, Baxter bastards. I didn't expect to end up dead in your hands today, but I hope you know that this isn't over, THIS WILL NEVER BE OVE-"

Thud.

The sound of the robed man's head hitting the ground interrupted his grand speech. Ryan couldn't be bothered to listen to his nonsense, so he simply beheaded him. Raymond's attack had basically crippled him and left him defenceless anyways, so he couldn't resist it at all. Raymond was a little intrigued by the robed man's reaction since it implied that there was something bigger at play here. For now, Raymond stopped thinking about it, since they hadn't handled the situation at hand yet.

Although he had basically exhausted all of his strength, Raymond was still vigilant, there were plenty of enemies left. Ryan saw how tense he was, and the exhaustion that was obvious for all to see.

"Relax a bit kid, I'll handle the small fries, you've done more than enough."

With a pat on his shoulder, Ryan left Raymond all by himself, and he left to clean up the battlefield. Raymond inspected his surroundings a bit before he heeded Ryan's advice and sat down on the ground. The soft grass was nice to the touch, unfortunately, it had become ruined by the blood of Ryan and the robed man. Raymond couldn't be bothered enough to care if his clothes were stained by blood at this point, he just tried his hardest to clear his mind.

As he looked ahead, he saw Ryan enter the fight, completely destroying any opposition that came his way. Blood and limbs flew through the air, and Raymond could almost feel the discomfort of the wind. A single punch from Ryan could cave someone's entire chest in, killing them instantly. This was what a true disparity in strength meant. It was a scene of carnage, but Raymond still watched. He didn't need to watch, but he did so anyway. This carnage was the result of weakness, and it was something that Raymond never wanted to experience.

He burned the image of such carnage into his mind, vowing to himself to become stronger. He wanted to control his own fate. He wanted to be strong enough to live however he wanted. He didn't want to bow down to others or to be at their mercy.

Slowly but surely, something within Raymond started to change, as for whether this change was good or bad, it's hard to say, only time will eventually tell.


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