༺ Valak (1) ༻
Vera’s encounter with Valak was really just by chance.
During the time when he was devouring the underworld of the Empire and spreading his forces throughout the continent, he went to retrieve an artifact that had found its way into the Geinex Plains. That was when Valak felt his aura and unexpectedly attacked him.
No words were exchanged.
There wasn’t even a reason to fight.
Valak just lunged at him with glistening eyes, and Vera responded by drawing his sword.
In the end, the fight resulted in a draw.
The outcome had been decided in just one move.
Valak collapsed with a large sword wound to his chest, and Vera escaped with five broken ribs, resulting in an unfinished victory.
Vera heard about him again after the Demon King’s reign of terror began.
It was accompanied by the news about an individual who caught a commander of the Demon King’s army, who a group of heroes was chasing.
[Valak, the Orc King, killed Teira the Conqueror.]
He was astonished to hear about the news.
Naturally, he wasn’t sure if it really happened because his memory was warped, but if there was even a slight chance that it was true, then Vera had to fight him and figure it out.
‘It was Valak’s technique that captured the Commander.’
He knew this because he had faced him himself.
It wasn’t because Valak, who was on par in strength with Vera, became stronger after fighting him that led Valak to defeat the Commander.
Valak had already trained his body to its limit. If there was a reason, it was because he was more experienced.
‘The technique that killed the Commander.’
He needed that.
Vera clearly remembered his struggle to barely achieve victory in his battle against Galatea.
Now that it became clear that the opponents they would be facing in the future would be far stronger than the Commander, it was unreasonable to continue their journey with such helplessness.
Vera did the calculations once again.
‘I win right now, but what I need is Valak’s technique. I will steal it and make it my own.’
Valak’s combat arts must already be well established.
Vera was certain that he would perfect it within six years of Demon King’s reign.
‘Steal his combat arts, refine it, and fuse it with my swordsmanship.’
That would allow him to reach even greater heights.
Vera drew a long breath.
Before he knew it, Valak was now close enough to see with his naked eye.
He was almost as big as Vargo. His face was rough and very orc-like. Valak’s skin was tan, with a red hue. His long hair was in braids, and a lava-like fighting aura was flickering all throughout his body.
Valak was smiling as he ran towards him.
Vera protected his entire body with a golden divinity as he thought of a way to counter his attack while clenching his fists.
‘The Prince’s swordsmanship.’
Albrecht’s swordsmanship. By mimicking the flow of Albrecht’s sword with my body and attacking, I can draw upon all of his techniques.
With that conclusion, Vera sharpened his divinity like an aura, and Valak, who quickly approached, swung his fist.
There was no sound from their collision.
Vera’s counterattack disintegrated Valak’s outstretched fist.
It felt like an eternity.
Valak’s eyes grew wide as he looked at his fist that splattered into the air.
It was an expected reaction since his fists, which had never been blocked before, were dispersing into an unfamiliar form.
For a long while, Valak stared at Vera.
A black-haired human covered in a golden fighting aura. His ashen eyes shook in curiosity.
Not out of fear or nervousness, but curiosity.
Valak was certain.
He realized that the one who had been endlessly provoking his fighting aura for the last few days was this person.
Valak’s smile grew bigger. He held onto his fighting aura that had dissipated in the air. Then, he twisted his arm and launched his fist at the human once more.
The elongated moment contracted again, and once more, his fist failed to strike the human.
The path of his fist twisted with a tiny noise.
Valak felt his heart burning up. It was a reaction that always followed when his primal instincts began to overwhelm his reason.
A formidable opponent. No, it was an opponent that he could not win against. Someone who could make him go all-out.
Valak had experienced this feeling only once before, in battle.
The Death Knight from the faraway Cradle.
Valak also felt this way when he faced him.
He felt like he would die.
At that thought, Valak felt an intense thrill like never before.
The King of Fighters, an honorable warrior who fights until the end. The thought of fighting in the face of death drove all reason from his mind, and he unleashed his fighting spirit.
The red lava turned into the colors of a blazing sun.
The vegetation that covered the plains started to wither.
His essence, accumulated not through training but through experience, began to unravel.
Vera’s eyes sparkled.
He knew it from their duel during the last round.
Valak would now change his posture. His aura would move. As if confirming the correctness of that assumption, Valak began to spread his feet apart. He pulled his fists behind him, and his bulging muscles were visible.
Faced with an aura that looked like it could set the world on fire, Vera straightened himself out as he felt the ends of his divinity crumble.
Valak’s fist shot out.
A boulder that felt like the sun blocked his field of vision.
It was the only signature technique of Valak that he had encountered.
Avoiding it was the normal thing to do, but Vera did not.
Vera had already mastered that technique. He needed the next one.
So Vera stretched out his hand.
Vera’s hand, which looked like it was going to touch Valak’s fist, twisted its direction and headed toward his wrist. He grabbed it and turned his body.
For a moment, it looked like Valak’s hand would incinerate everything on its path, but Vera spun him around and sent him flying.
Shortly after, Vera aimed his fist at Valak’s abdomen. It was also the Death Fist. He wanted to force him to show something else.
A heavy blow rang out.
The technique landed cleanly, but Valak didn’t even flinch. He wrapped his legs around Vera’s outstretched arm.
He flicked his hips with a move that was unlikely of his big body. Valak’s arm was pulled tightly behind his chest, then stretched out instantly.
It wasn’t a fist-punching technique.
It was a type of lifeforce cultivation that unilaterally channeled his entire body’s fighting aura into his opponent.
Vera let out a short cry of admiration, then untangled his arm and twisted to kick Valak.
A sun-like aura swept past one side of Vera’s body, but he did not take any damage.
This was because the difference in their skill was too big. Valak’s technique was only the foundation, and yet to be completed.
This time as well, Valak’s attacks were useless, and Vera’s kick hit him directly, ending it all in one move.
Vera thought as he watched Valak bounce off into the distance.
‘There must be more.’
The two-handed attack after the Death Fist was certainly powerful, but it wasn’t the kind of technique that could take down a commander.
It was not enough.
A commander was not weak.
Vera refined his breathing and shook off the remaining shock in his body. Likewise, Valak was also bracing himself.
Valak struck the ground with both fists, and went on all fours.
The only thing visible in his piercing gaze was his fighting aura.
‘Did he lose his sense of reason?’
There was no trace of reason or awareness in his gaze.
Vera continued to wonder, then clicked his tongue.
Should we continue this fight? Or should I knock him out and drag him back to the village?
Vera thought that there would be nothing more to see from an opponent who had lost his reasoning.
That thought vanished completely from Vera’s mind as Valak charged.
Valak felt his body grow hotter than ever.
He felt his heartbeat echoing through his head.
That was enough.
Valak charged towards Vera. He thrust out his fist and swung his leg. There were no calculations behind it, but that did not matter to Valak.
His fighting aura engraved in his instinct was his most trustworthy ally and it led his body.
It refined his aura and released it. It guided him to attack, block, and dodge during fights.
Since his body instinctively knew what to do, Valak just had to surrender himself to the exhilaration of igniting his entire body.
His fist struck out, and it was blocked.
The leg he swung was thrown off course by a human arm.
His fighting aura burned his surroundings, but the human’s golden aura stayed in place.
Valak curled his fists.
What followed was a series of the technique that Vera had referred to as ‘Death Fist.’
Right hand, then left, then with both hands.
Valak unleashed blow after blow.
Vera’s golden divinity wavered slightly. His expression cracked.
Valak laughed out loud and struck another Death Fist.
Finally, Valak delivered a powerful blow.
Vera was sent flying backward.
However, Valak did not stop. He tightened the muscles in his legs and sprinted toward Vera.
His outstretched fist… was not a Death Fist this time.
As always, Valak attacked just as his body and fighting aura made him.
He let his instinct maneuver his body, and he just simply vented his emotions.
It was a battle against someone strong.
A life-or-death battle.
It was a noble ritual to find out who was the strongest. To shed blood and flesh, and emerge victorious in the end.
The heat that was burning throughout his body was his fighting aura, and the pain as he pushed his body to the limits was joy.
He put his mind onto his fist, then it burst.
At that moment.
Valak fell unconscious as Vera spoke those words.
In the midst of the completely overturned plain, Vera looked at the fallen Valak with a surprised expression, breathing heavily.
Valak’s final move.
Vera could not stop thinking about the attack that looked unstoppable unless he used his Apostle’s power.
There was nothing special about Valak’s punch.
But still, that attack reminded him of death.
Vera knew about that move.
It was the same move that Vargo used to push back Terdan.
He could not understand.
Valak was weaker than him.
He was a berserker who only knew how to throw his fists.
So how was he able to do such a move?
The move that Valak had just performed was on a level that Vera had yet to reach.
During the battle with Annalise, he was only able to ‘imitate’ that power by using divine power when the gate to the Heavenly Realm was opened
After much thought, Vera realized what Valak had done.
‘…He utilized intention.’
Vera’s gaze pierced through Valak.
The use of ‘intention’ and its meaning that Vargo had drilled into his ears.
It solved all of his questions.
Intention was a thought-level martial arts that could overturn absolute physical power. It was a martial arts of a higher concept that could pierce through life energy and strike at the very fabric of existence.
That could explain how Valak was able to intimidate him, and how he would later win against a commander by himself.
As he arrived at that conclusion, Vera suddenly burst out laughing.
‘Have I not reached it yet?’
What Valak had done was something he still could not do.
He made oaths and vows, restrained and suppressed himself, and had set a goal for himself, so he thought that he knew something about intention.
He was mistaken.
What he had accomplished in his battles so far was merely forcing himself through anger and desperation.
He wasn’t regulating his intent.
Vera felt dejected as he realized that he was not yet at the point of utilizing ‘intention’ and that he had been amiss when he thought that he had been using it all along.