༺ The Empire’s Future (3) ༻
Titania couldn’t understand the situation.
Her once joyful daily life had vanished in an instant, and from the moment it turned into a scene full of violence and screams, she had trouble regaining her composure. However, the decisive moment was when she heard that the man with the scar on his face was targeting her.
Had they been targeting me from the start? But why?
Titania’s heart was filled with fear and guilt. Although she didn’t know the reason, it was clear that the men were after her. This also meant that her dear friend and instructor were in danger because of her.
Titania knew that Instructor Eon was strong, but she didn’t know the extent of his strength. So, she was anxious. She had the ability to read people’s emotions thanks to her high affinity with spirits. But at most, she could only vaguely feel what emotions others were experiencing.
The men standing in front of Eon had a terrifying and rough aura, like that of a murderer who had killed countless people.
On the other hand, Instructor Eon’s aura was like a calm lake. It was so serene that she couldn’t tell what he was thinking or just how strong he was.
In contrast to Titania’s anxious expression, Oznia remained incredibly calm. She only seemed annoyed that she couldn’t help in this situation, not showing any concern that Eon might be in danger.
Titania couldn’t understand Oznia’s confidence.
One of the gathered men sneered.
“What nonsense is this guy talking about without even having a sword?”
“Yeah, he doesn’t even have a weapon. He looks too easy.”
Despite the mocking laughter of the men, Eon didn’t react at all.
He simply looked at the sword held by the man who was mocking him.
His gaze seemed to have touched the man’s pride, as he no longer hesitated and charged towards Eon, screaming.
“You bastard… Die!”
Even though Eon was unarmed, he just looked at the man running towards him with a sword in a sullen manner.
Just as Titania thought Eon would be in trouble, his body suddenly spun like lightning, delivering a powerful kick to the man’s jaw.
And then, Titania saw a human being fly into the sky.
The man who was struck in the jaw soared almost 3 meters into the air, but as if proving that humans couldn’t fly, he fell rapidly to the ground. The sword the man was holding also flew up, spinning in the air before finally landing precisely in Eon’s palm.
Eon looked at the men in the same stance as before.
The only difference was that in a short moment, one man had fallen, and now, a sharp sword was in his hand.
Titania couldn’t see Eon’s face, but she felt a sense of security from his steadfast back. She had no clear evidence, but somehow, just looking at his back made her feel like everything would be alright.
The scarred man’s expression twisted rapidly. He had sent one man to test Eon’s skills, but the test had ended in an instant without any time to assess, leaving him with an angry expression.
“This guy’s no ordinary one.”
However, he didn’t seem to have any intention of backing down just because his opponent was strong.
“Bro, what should we do?”
“Don’t be scared. After all, it’s just one guy. No matter how strong he is, how can he block four swords with just one?”
Although the scarred man said this, he couldn’t bring himself to approach Eon carelessly. The four men hesitated to attack, their eyes filled with tension as they stared at Eon.
“Aren’t you coming?”
As the standoff dragged on for quite some time, Eon sneered and spoke.
“Then I’ll come to you.”
Upon hearing that, the men all took a deep breath and tightened their grip on their swords. They prepared for Eon’s attack with tense expressions, but they couldn’t even follow his movements with their eyes.
The moment they thought Eon had lightly stepped forward, he had already closed the distance and reached several steps ahead.
In an instant, Eon disarmed the bewildered man’s sword and swung his own at the man’s defenseless body.
However, the sword’s trajectory paused briefly in mid-air. As if realizing that the students were watching from behind, Eon forcibly changed the trajectory of his sword, merely grazing the man’s wrist tendons.
But that was enough to incapacitate the man. Seeing their companion clutching his bleeding wrist and screaming, the other men’s expressions turned vicious.
“Now’s our chance! Finish him!”
The sight of flowing blood was enough to enrage the remaining three men. With angry shouts, they charged at Eon all at once.
Titania cried out in surprise.
“Instructor! It’s dangerous!”
Contrary to Titania’s tense voice, Eon calmly swung his sword with astonishing precision. His movements were accurate without the slightest error, and every time his sword struck, it inevitably cut the limbs of his opponents.
Although it was a bloody scene, Titania couldn’t help but admire Eon’s efficient and restrained movements.
“Agh! My arm!!”
In the blink of an eye, all the men were bleeding and incapacitated, collapsing onto the ground. The scarred man was no exception. His injury rendered him unable to grip his sword properly, and he dropped it weakly to the ground.
The scarred man let out a hollow laugh, as if he couldn’t believe that his entire group had been defeated by a single person.
“Ha, haha… What kind of monster are you…?”
Eon, who had subdued all five men in an instant, showed no sign of emotion and calmly asked with the same tone as before.
“What was your purpose in targeting Titania?”
“What was our purpose in targeting that elf girl? Hehe… Ke, kehehe…”
The man laughed coldly, blood dripping from his head as he hung it down.
Suddenly, the scarred man’s atmosphere changed. A dark blue aura burst out of his body, and his injured wrist’s muscles swelled, stopping the bleeding on their own.
It was a technique called “Hardening,” which only a handful of swordsmen could reach, using their magic to strengthen their own bodies. Titania didn’t know about it.
He tore off his blood-soaked clothes, revealing his upper body. Tattooed on his shoulder were two crossed swords. Eon seemed to recognize the tattoo instantly and narrowed his eyes.
“The 5th Legion.”
“Yeah! The unit that served as meat shields in front of the damn dark elves! If you recognize this mark, you know our end, right?”
“…The 5th Legion was disbanded after suffering catastrophic losses during the war.”
“There are no words that can describe the hell I experienced!”
The scarred man charged at Eon, exploding with mana. He no longer held a sword, but his mana-enhanced body had become a sharp weapon itself.
“They poisoned our wells! Dug traps with our comrades’ corpses! Tortured our captured comrades for fun! Scattered their organs like artwork! They even raised the corpses as undead, making the dead devour the living in that living hell! If you’ve experienced it!”
The man swung his fists wildly at Eon like a wild boar, and Eon calmly blocked them. But every time the man’s fists swung, the shockwaves ruffled the air, blowing Titania’s hair.
“You understand my hatred too! Don’t you!! Ugh!?”
The scarred man clenched both fists together and slammed them forcefully into the ground.
Bang! The ground cracked like a spider web, and dust shot up into the sky.
But Eon had already dodged the man’s attack and retreated.
The man gasped for air in the midst of the dusty haze and said,
“Heh, heh… They say it’s a peaceful world now that the war is over, but now an elf princess is entering the academy. What a peaceful world indeed, huh? My dead comrades can’t even return from that hell because their bodies were burned…”
The scarred man glared at Titania with intense killing intent. For the first time in her life, Titania experienced genuine hatred from a stranger and was unable to breathe, frozen in place.
Eon positioned himself between Titania and the man and said,
“Titania is not a dark elf. You can see that.”
“Heh, heh… But what does it matter? When the dark elves sided with the Demon Army, did the elves join the human side? No, right? They holed up in the forest, acting as if it was none of their business and did nothing until the war was over!”
The scarred man, who had been slowly catching his breath, prepared for battle once again.
His voice ice cold.
“If you’re a soldier, you must have experienced that hellish war too. You know that non-humans are not humans. In the end, they’re enemies of humans. They’re no different from monsters. No, they’re even worse.”
Eon stood silently with a stern expression. As his silence grew longer, Titania became increasingly anxious.
Facing the man who argued that any non-human who did not side with humans was simply an enemy, Eon slowly opened his mouth amidst the silence.
“Yeah, I also lost my family in the war.”
“Was it because of the monsters? Or the non-humans? If you’ve experienced that too, then-“
At Eon’s words, the atmosphere around them froze instantly.
Oznia and Titania wore expressions of shock and horror, but Eon, who had spoken the words, seemed incredibly calm.
“My hometown was far from the front lines. So I felt relieved. As long as I was fighting on the front lines, my family wouldn’t be in danger.”
Eon continued calmly.
“But we were attacked by a band of deserters turned bandits. By the time I arrived, all that remained were ashes.”
“…You bastard. What are you trying to say?”
Eon sneered mockingly.
“No one asked about your situation.”
The scarred man’s face contorted beyond recognition. He took ragged breaths, as if his sore spots had been prodded, and with a look of unbearable anger, he charged at Eon and swung his fist.
“You son of a–! I’ll kill you!”
Eon’s arm moved like lightning. His sword sliced through the man’s thigh as he charged.
The scarred man hadn’t tried to avoid the sword even in his crazed state. He had thought that a sword without mana couldn’t pierce his body, strengthened by martial arts.
Eon’s sword shattered, and the sharp fragments pierced through the man’s thigh. His martial arts-enhanced body had been cut through by sheer physical strength, causing the sword to break instead.
Such a feat should have been impossible without the strength of a giant, but the scarred man had no choice but to accept what had just happened.
The man before him was truly a monster.
Eon aimed the half-broken sword at the scarred man’s throat.
“Who’s the real mastermind behind targeting Titania and causing this riot?”
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