In the ring. Dustin stood tall with hands behind his back, exuding an imposing and majestic air. He no longer hid his talents and shone from the full display of his powers. No one dared to meet his eyes. The fact that he had defeated the King of Kicks with one move made everyone look at him with awe.
“Surprising! The Harmons have an ace under their wings.” Maximus narrowed his eyes, putting on a serious face. Dustin had won his respect through the display of strength. Not even Maximus could easily beat the King of Kicks with bare hands.
“Weakling!” Dustin dusted and straightened his sleeve. Then, he coolly announced, “Next?”
The Boulderthorn disciples exchanged furtive glances. They knew they weren’t Dustin’s match, especially after
he had defeated the King of Kicks.
“Max, what do we do? That punk is wild!” Feeling aggrieved, Brody clenched his jaws.
“Looks like I’ll have to go.” Maximus stood up slowly, his eyes shining with excitement. He had shown up to the battle as the ace and wasn’t originally planning to fight. In his eyes, the battle was child’s play and offered. no challenge. However, Dustin’s presence shocked him and introduced some excitement. Maximus was not in the martial arts practice for fame or wealth: he was in search of excellence in swordsmanship. Every time he
crossed paths with an ace, he would be combative.
“Max, he’s quite strong. Are you confident in beating him?” Brody questioned cautiously.
“I am not his match if we fight bare–handed, but I have full confidence if I fight him with a sword,” Maximus
“Great! Max, give it your all! He’s just trouble. We should get rid of him as soon as possible!” Brody sniggered with malice. Maximus was one of the rare talents in the art of swordsmanship, ranking sixth on The Hundred Immortals before reaching thirty years of age. He was levels above the King of Kicks and especially invincible when fighting with a sword.
Once, Brody’s father predicted that Maximus would achieve divinity within three years. By that time, Maximus would already make it to The Heavenly Immortals.
“What’s up? Is there no one else from Boulderthorn?” Dustin scanned the space with a sharp glare.
“I’ll go!” Maximus leaped into the air, and when he was close to landing, he tapped the tip of his feet on the shoulder of a spectator before bouncing back up in the air with extreme nimbleness. His movements were fairy -like, making the group of women in the guild squeal in admiration, their eyes sparkling in awe.
“Wow! He’s so cool!”
“A young man who looks great in white–he’s my type!”
Not only was Maximus blessed with good looks and gentlemanly, but he also pulled off a spectacular
entrance, giving off the impression of a young knight.
“Who are you?” Dustin scanned him from head to toe.
“I’m Maximus Kane, one of Boulderthorn’s disciples. I’m here for the experience.” Maximus bowed at him
politely. His self–introduction caused a commotion within the guild.
“Maximus Kane? Isn’t he ranked sixth on The Hundred Immortals?”
“That’s right! He’s the famous ‘Lightning Blade‘ in Balerno. I had the honor of witnessing him in action!”
“Oh, fuck! It’s Maximus ‘Lightning Blade‘ Kane! I heard that his sword moved as fast as lightning. He’s never lost a battle ever since he gained his fame. This is going to be fun!”
The crowd discussed Maximus with great interest, for Maximus was an ace ranked sixth on The Hundred Immortals, much stronger than the King of Kicks, who ranked ninth.
The gap in their rankings was huge, even though they were three places apart. It was hard to climb up in the ranking once a martial artist entered the top ten. The top five names in the ranking barely changed–they practically maintained the same ranking all year round.
“Ah, finally, a normal opponent.” Dustin looked amused and gestured, “Please.”
*Just a minute. Maximus said with seriousness. “I’m good at swordsmanship. Shall we change the battle into an armed fight?”
“Hey! You can’t change the rules as you wish! We disagree with that!” Ruth instantly protested unhappily at the suggestion. Any sane person knew that a bare–handed fight was totally different than fighting with weapons. An average man armed with a weapon could beat a group of opponents, not to mention that the person in question was Maximus “Lightning Blade” Kane.
“Why? Are you afraid that he’d lose to Max?” Brody jeered at her. “If you’re scared, just admit defeat right now! Stop wasting our time!”
“We’re not! You guys are the ones who break the martial arts code! Ruth argued the facts.
“Nonsense! We never banned weapons from battles. Why don’t you get Rhys to use a weapon too?‘ Brody laughed frostily.
“You-” Ruth choked in anger.
“Sure! Use a weapon if you’d like. It doesn’t make a difference.” Dustin was unconcerned and agreed to the change without fuss. A frustrated Ruth felt that his remarks went against all her effort to fight in his interest.
“Many thanks.” Maximus bowed again and drew his sword out of the sheath from the back. He even introduced it. “My sword is three feet and six inches long. It is made from deep iron and has been my companion for five years. It is so solid that it penetrates almost everything!”
“Come at me.” Dustin waved.
your weapon?” Maximus raised an eyebrow quizzically.
“My bare hands are my weapons.” Dustin answered.
sure?” Maximus narrowed his eyes, thinking that his opponent was capable but overconfident. Dustin would be humiliated if he wanted to block the sword attack with bare hands.
“Of course. I’ll give it to you if you manage to injure me.” Dustin waved at him once more. “Come on!”
“Okay! Be my guest!” Without further ado, Maximus propelled himself forward with the unsheathed sword in
hand. When he got closer to Dustin, he plunged his sword at the opponent, creating glimmers of metallic
reflection and stirring gusts of wind in the quild.
Most of the martial artists exclaimed in astonishment, Maximus sword moved fast and was unusually sharp. It was hard to tell the sword from its shadows, hence it was hard to defend oneself. Even skillful martial artists at the same level dared not fight bare–harded against the sword. However, Dustin stood in the same spot and appeared as though he hadn’t noticed the attack.
“That rascal is bold! Why isn’t he dodging Maximus sword attack?”
‘Did he think he’s invincible after beating the King of Kicks? He has no idea how powerful Maximus is!”
“Right! There is a huge gap in capability between each member of the top ten of The Hundred Immortals! Looking down on Maximus is the same as digging your own grave!”
Amid the murmurs, everyone heard a soft clunking sound as Maximus‘ sword came to a halt. The sharp blade. came to a stop an inch before Dustin’s throat, unable to move. When the crowd took a second look, their faces. turned white because they realized that Dustin had caught the sword between his two fingers.