Episode 112 – True Agony
The day of the practical exams is finally here and Kiel is inside a large arena created by the Replica Dungeon. Nelaira tricks Deora into attacking the Rroda brothers, and Deora ends up pursuing Kiel with a barrage of fireballs. Kiel runs away, dodging the fireballs, however, Deora manages to hit him with an explosive airball. Kiel loses his consciousness and remembers how he got trapped inside the burning house as a child. After waking up he gets into a life and death situation that makes him overcome his fear of fire and launch a counter attack on Deora. He manages to poison Deora, knocking him out of the competition. Seeing Kiel win his fight, Rhur finished Nelaira off in a fit of rage. Kiel manages to recover through applying a healing ointment. Kiel and Rhur team up to attack Zor. After realizing they are no match for Zor, Rhur turns on Kiel, sneak attacking him. Rhur conjures a lot of lightning and Kiel morphs an earth shield to protect himself.
As the earth dome covered up the light reflecting in Kiel’s eyes, he concentrated on his mana sense, feeling Rhur’s position.
He couldn’t stay inside his earth shield for long, it lowered his mobility, making it easier for Rhur to surround him by Sparkbloom petals.
Unfortunately, earth was currently the only material he had access to that would impede the lightning.
If this lightning was conjured by an elibu, Kiel could create an area of vacuum to protect himself. The electricity conjured by an elibu wouldn’t be able to pass through materials with very low conductivity.
However, the same tactic wouldn’t work against Rhur, for he wasn’t relying on the properties of conductivity to propagate the lightning. He was directly forcing electrons to move through Acceleration.
To him, it was easier to move the lightning if there was nothing in the way so not only would creating an area of vacuum not protect Kiel, it would actually help out Rhur.
And thus, Kiel had no other choice but to put his carefully weaved spell into action early.
Rhur’s electric snakes that had been drilling into Kiel’s shield abruptly stopped.
Kiel couldn’t see how Rhur’s diamond shaped pupils widened in shock, but he could feel him rolling to the left quite clearly. His body probably moved on instinct because the reaction was quite abrupt.
His instincts were quite correct, for a moment later, an invisible several meters wide air blade in the shape of an X passed through the place he had been previously.
Even though Rhur managed to avoid the brunt of the attack, since the size of the air blade was quite large, the leg of the X still managed to hit Rhur squarely in the chest.
For a moment, Rhur thought that Zor had managed to sneak an attack on him.
But then he realized that what he had been hit with wasn’t a spatial blade, for he was able to feel the changes in the airflow just before it hit.
Kiel had used the Morph spell on the air to condense a dense X-shaped construct, then he reinforced it, locking the position of air particles to turn the air solid. Lastly, he accelerated it towards Rhur creating an airblast sharp enough to cut a person in half.
Kiel figured if Zor could control space to cut down, why couldn’t he control the air to do the same?
However, concealing a spell took Kiel considerable time and effort, and this was why he aimed to buy time with his previous attacks.
The force of the slash caused Rhur to fly backward like an arrow, lacerating his entire upper body, shredding his shirt into pieces.
All of the lightning snakes attacking Kiel vanished into thin air.
Rhur’s body, which Kiel felt with his mana sense, was completely unmoving.
There were no suspicious fluctuations of mana either.
The bloodlust that had been seeping from Rhur’s body evaporated, the density of mana in his vicinity slowly decreased.
All signs pointed to Rhur being either unconscious or dead.
Kiel morphed a hole in his earth shield, attempting to see whether Rhur was indeed disposed of. Logically speaking, that slash should have been enough to shred Rhur’s organs into minced meat. However, as long as he didn’t see it with his own two eyes, he would not assume him as dead.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t see anything. The dust his air blade had rose covered up his vision, making him unable to see the state of Rhur’s body.
To prevent Rhur’s sudden rise from the dead, Kiel intended to impale Rhur several more times, and so, he started moving his mana towards the ground around Rhur.
What followed was a volley of earth spikes which aimed at Rhur’s chest, stomach, thigh, and shoulders. Besides the movement caused by the sudden eruption of spikes, Rhur’s body didn’t move at all.
Rhur’s body lay there immovable, impaled by several earth spikes.
As the sound of blood dripping reached Kiel’s ears, he finally let out a breath of relief and dispelled his earth shield.
Kiel made his way towards Rhur, intending to take away his sword.
He still had Zor to fight, and any donations to his arsenal would be greatly appreciated.
Just as Kiel entered Rhur’s vicinity, abruptly, there was a bright blue flash.
A web of lightning descended covering the entire area around Rhur, with him in its center.
The lightning appeared far too fast, far too unexpected. It was something that not even someone like Zor would be able to dodge, let alone Kiel.
Kiel’s mind didn’t even register what happened before he was hit with absolute agony.
His entire body went rigid, writhing painfully on the floor.
His jaw stiffened.
He couldn’t even scream.
His every muscle twitched in sheer anguish, every passing millisecond seemed like an eternity of torment.
Kiel’s mind went blank.
He couldn’t even form a coherent thought, let alone use magic.
As the dust cleared, Rhur’s merciless eyes were revealed gazing down on Kiel’s twitching form.
He stood suspended in the air by Kiel’s spikes.
His shirt had disappeared, revealing Rhur’s finely sculpted chest.
Yet, his upper body was neither naked nor bloody.
What met Kiel’s gaze was not skin, not blood, but the blue metallic sheen of mythril.
Rhur’s entire chest was covered in a skin-tight flexible suit of mythril armor!
The spikes aiming for Rhur’s chest only served to give him a good punch, not penetrating through the armor at all.
Blood flowed down the corner of Rhur’s mouth, yet Rhur still continued to smile, as if to mock him.
This was the disparity between the first-born son and a bastard child.
While Kiel’s pockets were almost empty of gold, Rhur was literally wearing mythril.
Kiel’s abilities weren’t above Rhur’s to begin with, let alone if Rhur’s were amplified by the finest items money could buy.
Rhur continued to stare unblinkingly at Kiel while he accelerated his body upwards, away from the spikes that had impaled his shoulders and thighs.
He didn’t mock him, yet his sneer stung Kiel even more than his words could.
Rhur went as far to play dead, he willingly let himself get pierced by earth spikes, all so that he could get a chance to unleash that one sure hit attack. He had concealed both his spell weaving and his aura to make it appear as though he had fainted, like his bloodlust dissipated.
But his bloodlust didn’t disappear at all.
It was still there, assaulting Kiel’s mind, giving him a strong sense of dread and hopelessness.
Nothing spoke more clearly of Rhur’s hatred for Kiel than the fact that he was willing to let himself be impaled, just so he could make Kiel pay an even higher price.
He leisurely made his way towards Kiel’s twitching body, while wiping off the blood from the corner of his mouth with his thumb.
Then he licked the blood off his thumb in a sensual yet terrifying gesture.
The wounds on his shoulders and thighs already started closing themselves.
Judging by the fact that he could still move his limbs, he had most likely shifted the key veins and nerves to avoid the earth spikes. Although his each movement must cause him a lot of pain, his limbs were still fully functional.
Rhur’s footsteps resounded inside Kiel’s ears as he slowly walked towards him.
Kiel tried to think, tried to cast spells, but the agony wrecking his body left no room for anything.
Just as Kiel thought he would die, the pain suddenly stopped.
Kiel barely managed to inhale a large breath when the pain started once again.
Rhur was giving him hope only to cruelly squash it.
Giving him pain release, only to make his next period of agony hurt even more.
Rhur was worried that Kiel’s heart wouldn’t be able to handle the continuous stress so he deliberately made pauses. Accidentally killing him was out of the question!
Pity that the lightning paralyzed Kiel’s entire body. It would have been even better if he could scream, but alas, there was no way for him to do anything besides grunt.
Rhur reached Kiel’s side and then he carefully picked a spot on Kiel’s body that would bring the most pain for the least amount of damage.
And thus, he kicked Kiel hard in the stomach.
Kiel’s body flew up high, and then it hit the ground hard, rolling several times before stopping, enveloped in a cloud of dust.
The lightning continued to course through his body, making his muscles violently convulse and contract.
Kiel tried to make his arms move towards the last remaining pocket on his pants where he had stashed Elaru’s magic egg, yet his body refused to listen to his commands.
Once caught by Rhur’s lighting, it was impossible to escape.
Only when Rhur made small pauses in electrocuting him, would Kiel manage to twitch his hands towards his pocket a tiny distance. The movement was so slight, looking like nothing more than an involuntary spasm.
And so, Rhur continued to zap him, and then stop, only to start right after.
Each time he paused and saw Kiel open his mouth, he would zap him again, worried that Kiel would manage to scream out his surrender.
He didn’t want this to end.
He savored every second of Kiel’s agony like it was a fine delicacy. Slowly making his way towards him before violently kicking him in his stomach again, in the same spot as before, making him roll like a ball.
Cold sweat had long drenched Kiel’s entire body.
The earth dust stuck to Kiel’s wet body, making him look as dirty as a beggar.
Kiel couldn’t help but wonder: Would the examiners stop the exam? Would they declare the battle as his loss?
Or would they allow Rhur to torture him slowly, until he died?
Most people would be hoping for the pain to end quickly.
Hoping for the third party to save them.
Yet, what Kiel hoped was the exact opposite.
He didn’t want to be saved.
He didn’t want the battle to end in his loss.
His icy blue eyes of his glared at Rhur’s shoes unyieldingly.
No matter how many times you kick me…
No matter how many times you humiliate me…
No matter how much each moment hurts…
It will never make me wish to die!
It will never make me voluntarily give up!
He was still breathing, wasn’t he?
The examiners weren’t stopping the battle, were they?
Then he could keep enduring! He would keep fighting in his own way until the end!
His mouth was filling up with blood, but he couldn’t open his jaw to spit it out.
He wanted to activate his egg but the electricity made his limbs twitch uncontrollably, the most he could manage was to produce a slight twitch towards the pocket each time Rhur paused zapping him.
Kick. Zap. Pause. Zap. Kick. Zap. Pause. Kick.
Kiel was so dizzy he felt like throwing up. His eyes were starting to mist up.
His consciousness was getting fuzzier and fuzzier.
Even his sense of pain was starting to dull.
Is this the end?
Would it all end like this? So miserably?
How did it come to this?
He had dodged so many attacks, he had managed to land so many attacks on Rhur, so why was he on the losing end?!
It wasn’t supposed to be like this!
Yet, no matter how he wished that this was only a nightmare, the reality didn’t change for him.
Not this time.
He had already been pushed almost to the edge of the arena.
Rhur’s delight grew with each passing second. “Tsk, tsk. Don’t faint yet. We are just getting started.”
He proceeded to kick him once again. Kiel closed his eyes, feeling his body hitting the ground again, knocking the air out of his lungs.
Then his body proceeded to roll, and then suddenly, his back hit something.
This episode is dedicated to Mr. Paxson who just joined the Aethernea MVP ranks. Thank you for your kind words! You have no idea how much it means to me to hear that you really enjoy Aethernea. When I hear you guys talk about it, it’s like a magical salve that heals the soul. Thank you <3
Coming up in the next episode:
As the lightning landed on his body again, Kiel managed to open his mouth to spew out a large mouthful of blood.
If someone had told him he would be putting his last hopes into something so ridiculous, he would think the person to be making fun of him.
Almost at the same time as he heard the click of the ring, the whole world turned white.