Chapter 6 – Night of the Hunt (2)
“We’re being attack-”
Before the knight could complete the sentence, a dagger was thrust into his mouth.
“What are you doing- Kugh!”
The assassins emerged from the darkness and swiftly eliminated the three knights guarding the entrance of Chimseong Palace.
They then dragged the corpses to one side of the passage and concealed them.
Contrary to popular belief, assassins also preferred to operate in groups to ensure the death of their target.
They made certain that the job was completed cleanly, leaving no traces that could associate the murder to them.
“Did they know we were coming?”
18 murmured as he examined the iron plates guarding the dead knights’ necks and hearts.
On top of that, there were also more knights delegated to the night watch than what the information they had received indicated, and they were patrolling in groups of three instead of two.
It was odd.
They appeared more thoroughly prepared than the previous attempts, as if they were well aware of an impending attack.
“We’re being attacked!”
“Pull yourselves together and stay alert!”
As if affirming No.
18’s suspicions, shouts immediately rang out throughout the palace.
But nothing will change.
To begin with, they had intended on extinguishing all life in the palace.
And they possessed the ability to do so.
It could no longer be called an assassination, but what mattered most was completing their mission.
If I move upwards while eliminating all those on the lower floors… Hm?
As he examined his group, No.
18’s eyes brimmed with vigilance.
The number of assassins assigned to this group was seven excluding himself…
However, he only counted six.
“Where did the last one go…? I’m certain I warned everyone against acting alone.”
A strange noise sounded in No.18’s ear.
An eerie and strange sound, as if a snake was slithering on the floor.
18 and the other assassins turned their heads towards the source of the sound.
This time, a cracking sound was heard from the opposite direction.
18 quickly shifted his gaze towards where the first sound came from.
He was greeted by the sight of the assassin who had stood there earlier, his head severed and his body dropping to the floor.
“What is this…!”
The eyes of the assassins were tinged with confusion.
But their confusion did not last long.
Perhaps it was because No.
18 had weathered countless battles.
He quickly assessed the situation and issued instructions to the remaining assassins.
“Don’t proceed any further and be wary of your surroundings.”
It would be suicide to move onwards without identifying the enemy.
As a precaution, they compensated for the blind spot in their vision by narrowing the gap between each other.
The assassins quickly fell into formation, as if they were accustomed to such a situation.
A disconcerting silence pervaded the air and pressured the assassins.
The silence also brought with it a great tension, as their lives could be lost at any moment.
They were facing an enemy who assassinated two of their own in a split-second while evading detection.
The moment they relax in the slightest, their lives may be forfeit.
There isn’t a single blind spot to exploit.
We won’t lose any other members by maintaining this distance.… Hm?
Just as that thought crossed his mind, something strange appeared before No.
A patch of darkness that flickered strangely at the edge of his vision.
It was as if the darkness had come to life.
Although he was extremely familiar with darkness, this was the first time in his life that he had seen such an unsettling darkness…
18 was watching the patch of darkness like a possessed man, it let out a laugh.
It was a ridiculous thought, that the darkness could laugh, but it definitely seemed to be smiling.
It was a sight that caused goosebumps to rise all over No.18’s body.
He heard a strange noise from behind him.
No.18 immediately turned towards the source of the sound, an ominous premonition overtaking him.
Eujok! Eujok! Eujojok!
The mouth of a beast, engulfed in darkness, was seen devouring the upper body of an assassin.
The assassins around No.
18 swung their swords swiftly, but the beast had already vanished, leaving behind only the lower half of the assassin’s body.
Witnessing such a gruesome sight, the other assassins cried out in disgust.
Terror and anxiety firmly gripped them all.
They were completely unaware of what was happening.
In fact, they weren’t even sure if the enemy hunting them was human.
27, an assistant chief, noticed the rising tension and shouted loudly.
“We’re only facing a single enemy.
For the next attack-!”
But his words didn’t last long.
Because his head had vanished before he could finish his sentence.
At the sight of No.
27’s death, the anxiety and fear felt by the assassins peaked.
Unable to make a proper judgment, the assassins simply fled.
Normally, assassins chose to fight rather than flee, even if it meant confronting a formidable opponent, but only when they knew who they were up against.
An unidentified foe possessing an unknown form.
When such an enemy casually massacred their comrades one after the other, terror seeped into every fiber of their being.
I’ve never heard of such a monster guarding Chimseong Palace.
Since the situation veered out of his control, No.18 decided to flee like every other assassin, cold sweat trickling down his body.
The assassins’ screams were constantly sounding out behind him, as if the enemy had no intention of concealing himself anymore.
This time, he was the hunter, and they were the prey.
It was their specialty, but they were now on the receiving end, experiencing the terror and hopelessness they instilled in their targets.
Moreover, the screams drew closer by the second, even though he was running at maximum speed.
Finally, when the clamor behind him died down.
18 saw it.
The darkness that had just smiled at him from afar appeared right before his eyes.
“Who are you… Who is it!”
As if in response to No.
18’s sharp cry, the quivering darkness parted like a curtain and a man emerged from within.
He had ashen hair and a thin body.
He also exuded a calm aura, his eyes tranquil and his gaze languid.
18 became stunned at the sight of the man.
He was the prince imprisoned in Chimseong Palace, as well as their target.
The same word repeatedly emerged from No.
Discovering that Zion was the monster who had been hunting them left him dumbfounded.
I have to report this.
The world was unaware.
Unaware of what kind of person the Prince Zion that they always ignored and neglected was.
The objective of No.18 was no longer to assassinate Zion.
It was to escape and notify his organization of this precarious situation.
After quickly organizing his thoughts, No.
18 turned around and sprinted at full speed without any hesitation.
No, he even tried to push his body beyond its limits.
“I intend on letting at least one person escape, but…”
As Zion’s low voice rang in his ear, No.
18 could see,
“You’re not the one.”
The sight of his decapitated body, spurting blood while collapsed on the cold floor.
I’m definitely improving through this battle.
Zion thought as he stared at the corpses of the assassins.
Today’s battle had improved Astral Darkness’s power more than his recent training.
Already knowing he would obtain this kind of result, Zion welcomed the battle rather than avoid it.
“Where is His Highness the Prince! We must find him and ensure his safety as soon as possible!”
Sounds of fierce conflict resounded throughout Chimseong Palace.
Good, it will be resolved soon.
The fact that these sounds could be heard meant that the palace’s knights and the assassins were fighting each other.
Furthermore, the knights were not being massacred one-sidedly.
All Zion needed to do was enter the fray and support the knights to bring an end to the matter.
At that moment-
Zion’s ears registered a different noise.
It sounded like an explosion rather than the clashing of swords.
Was there a wizard in the palace? Zion began to wonder, as no one came to mind.
With that thought, Zion’s body began to meld into the darkness.
The fundamental movement technique of Astral Darkness.
Astral Darkness was essentially an amorphous force that differed from all known elements, but it was most comparable to darkness.
Therefore, he familiarised himself with darkness and mastered a variety of related abilities.
Zion advanced rapidly towards the sound of the explosion.
After arriving, he silently began to observe the battle.
“What are you guys doing? How could you think of attacking the Imperial Palace!”
Each time Priscilla was enraged by her enemies, her magic burst out and dyed the surroundings red.
The coordination between her offense and defense, which flowed like water, truly demonstrated her talent as an outstanding wizard that several magic towers coveted.
Even in Zion’s opinion, she was quite brilliant.
The assassins who confronted Priscilla were not to be underestimated.
They appeared to be the most skilled of those who had attacked Chimseong Palace today, unfazed by her magic.
In fact, they gradually began to gain an advantage.
Priscilla let out a painful groan as the assassins’ attacks collided with her own magic.
The wounds on her body steadily increased as the battle dragged on.
The moment one of the assassins broke through her barrier and thrust a sword towards her heart, Zion took action.
One step was all Zion needed to position himself between Pricilla and the assassin.
After that, he slowly extended his hand forward.
The trajectory of the assassin’s sword was shifted by the darkness enveloping Zion’s hand.
Zion didn’t miss the opening that was created.
The assassin’s heart was instantly shattered.
Priscilla furrowed her brows, perplexed by what had occurred.
However, before the body of the assassin dropped to the floor, Zion shifted through the darkness, arriving before another assassin.
Kwajik, kwajik, kwajijijik!
Each move ended yet another life.
Zion’s onslaught couldn’t be stopped or avoided.
It was no longer a battle.
It was a massacre.
It’s a failure.
Amidst all of this, No.
4 had been watching the battle from further behind with a bored expression, not expecting much trouble. When Zion arrived, he could sense it instinctively.
That they couldn’t succeed.
He hadn’t expected that there would be a wizard of exceptional ability in the palace.
However, the fundamental cause of this failure was a mysterious person, enveloped in darkness, who was slaughtering veteran assassins as though he was swatting flies.
He was certain this was also the same person who promptly eliminated the assassins that attacked the other areas.
I had no idea such a person existed in Chimseong Palace, which was said to have been abandoned.
A variable sufficient to completely overturn the situation.
4 realized it, Zion had disposed of the other assassins and was advancing toward him.
4 bent his knees and regarded Zion with trembling eyes, as though he was unable to bear the pressure Zion emitted.
Then, he flung himself through the window behind him.
Instead of fighting, he chose to flee.
Without pursuing No.
4, Zion dispelled the darkness enveloping him.
A startled voice flowed from Pricilla’s mouth when Zion exposed himself.
However, Zion did not grace her with a response.
He simply focused on No.
4, who was rushing in the opposite direction.
A single black thread extended behind him and connected to Zion’s fingers.
Dark Spirit Trace.
This ability, which materialised a thread visible only to Zion, was one of the abilities included in Astral Darkness.
It was a tracking technique that, once connected, allowed the user to determine the location of the target within a certain range.
This ability would be able to guide him to their stronghold.
I’ll visit them soon.
Ever since Zion came to understand the reality of the world and the danger posed by those around him, Zion had never left alive anyone who attempted to harm him.
If they send a hundred after me, I will rip a thousand of them to shreds, and if they send a thousand after me, I will massacre ten thousand of them.
He was extremely meticulous, leaving no room for mistakes.
This life was no exception.
A single black star was spinning brilliantly.
Its oppressive form filled Zion’s languid eyes.
He had completely formed the first star of Astral Darkness.
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