Paladin of the Dead God

Chapter 28:



Chapter 28:

Chapter 28. Hunting Human Hunters (2)

The valley at night was darker than the plains.

Neither Gebel nor Isaac had any desire to face vampires in the middle of the night, so they hurriedly headed out of the valley. Isolde, seemingly uninterested in unnecessary risks, quickly followed them.

Since an attack could happen at any moment, Isaac continuously surveyed their surroundings.

He decided to think of the Paladin Order as a ‘means to hold out in an emergency’. The enemy wouldn’t expect the Paladin Order to be rushing to their aid, so holding out would mean victory.

“Will they come back?”

“Are you scared?”

Gebel asked with a smile. Instead of snapping back, Isaac calmly calculated their chances of winning.

“Having seen the Abyssal Beast, they’d have a hard time attacking us even at night. But Inquisitor lady can’t summon the Abyssal Beast all night long…”

“Probably they’ll try to force us to summon the Abyssal Beast first.”

And once Isolde sends the Abyssal Beast back, tired, Duke Heinkel Gullmar will reappear.

The gist was simple.

Our trump card is the Abyssal Beast; theirs is Duke Gullmar.

Whichever side plays their card first loses.

In other words, Isaac’s party had to fight the Wallachia hunters in the middle of the night without the Abyssal Beast.

‘Would that make the odds about fifty-fifty?’

The Wallachia hunters had shown pitiful skills during the day, but it would be different at night. There was a reason why they were considered knights of the Red Chalice. Moreover, he had to estimate how many more would join.

Calculating a fifty-fifty chance, he assumed one or two of the three in his party would either die or be seriously injured. Of course, Isaac didn’t consider his own death.

‘This is calculated without using my tentacles.’

If he’s critically injured and tentacles emerge, it’s highly likely the same thing that happened with Kalsen will happen. Everything nearby would be devoured. Isolde and Gebel too.

Even if he somehow survives, if his tentacles are revealed, Isolde would surely have to be killed.

‘I’ll have to separate from these two if I want to survive right now.’

Isaac’s eyes sharpened as he looked upwards.

Silhouettes were sliding down the valley slope. They were silent, nearly undetectable, resembling fast-moving fog. Gebel and Isolde, noticing Isaac’s gaze, quickened their pace.

Fortunately, there was no red mist, and their numbers seemed small. However, it was uncertain where they might be hiding, free to move about.

“Inquisitor, use the Doctrine of the Moth.”

“Yes!”

At Gebel’s advice, Isolde readily used the miracle. Dust-like ashes fluttered from her clothes, dissolving into the darkness. They had been discovered by the hunters before, but that was because Isaac had diverted their attention with a decoy.

As Isolde disappeared, the movement of the pursuing Wallachia hunters faltered. They must have thought Isolde was their most dangerous opponent. It was natural for them to be disoriented with the greatest threat gone.

But they weren’t fools.

***

A sharp whistling noise echoed through the valley. Simultaneously, arrows flew from above.

“Whoosh!”

Gebel deflected an arrow with his sword in a flash. Isaac, lacking such skill, quickly hid behind a valley rock. The arrows embedded in the rock were treated with a dark substance, typical of those specializing in hunting humans.

Then, Wallachia hunters appeared from behind. Their ferocity seemed heightened due to their earlier humiliation.

Isaac calmly assessed the situation.

‘Two above, two below.’

The same faces he’d seen during the day, now much more fierce.

‘Did the red mist obliterate two during the day? Are these all that’s left?’

Isaac thought as he thrust his sword. The Wallachia hunter, with a grotesque smile, mocked his daytime attack. The hunter’s hand moved smoothly, like mist, a stark contrast to his daytime clumsiness.

‘This won’t be easy.’

Isaac’s sword tip met the hunter’s. In an unexpected turn, the hunter’s sword was pierced with a crack. The hunter’s wrist twisted oddly. Both Isaac and the hunter were slow to understand the situation, but the sword didn’t stop.

Isaac thrust his sword into the hunter’s mouth. The hunter, impaled by his own sword, ended up slicing his own face.

“Ahihiha!”

“What’s that? Your face is half gone.”

Isaac, surprised by the outcome, quickly withdrew his sword. The hunter’s fractured sword, still lodged in his face, shattered. The hunter stumbled backward.RE𝒂ad updated st𝒐ries at n/𝒐/vel/bin(.)com

‘Why are they still weak?’

However, Isaac realized he had been wrong in his assumption. The Wallachia hunters had definitely become stronger. Their movements were significantly faster, more precise, and more graceful than during the day. Even Gebel was struggling to overpower his opponent.

It was just that Isaac’s swordplay was quicker, more refined, and smoother.

‘Am I… actually strong?’

While Gebel was the most skilled among them, it was possible he faced a stronger opponent. There were many variables to consider, but Isaac was confident that his abilities were above average, possibly even at the level of paladins.

Isaac approached his opponent again.

“Ahia!”

The mutilated face of the Wallachia hunter shouted something. Although a normal human would have died, the vampire’s face was quickly regenerating. However, the broken sword blade embedded in his face made speech difficult.

Another hunter, engaged with Gebel, seemed intent on helping but struggled to break free from Gebel’s fierce sword strikes.

Bang, bang. With each swing of Gebel’s sword, the hunter’s blade bent like a reed but didn’t fall. It would have broken under sheer strength. But that situation didn’t last long. Gebel diligently inflicted wounds and finally thrust his sword into the hunter’s foot.

Both the hunter with the pierced foot and the one with the mangled face were now in no state to fight properly. The hunters above, trying to locate Isolde, must have made the same assessment.

Swoosh! Thud, thud!

Arrows began to fly again from above. Simultaneously, the fog clinging to the valley slope charged like cavalry. But even in this situation, Isaac remained calm.

‘Their goal isn’t us. It’s to find Isolde. The red mist can’t reveal itself unless she’s absent.’

They attacked Isaac’s group to keep Isolde in place. Indeed, Isolde was hesitating, unable to attack or leave. In an emergency, she had to summon the Abyssal Beast. Her lack of combat prowess didn’t make the hunters’ judgment wrong.

‘But their skills… are far from sufficient.’

They hadn’t expected to fight Isaac and his group like this in the middle of the night.

Whoosh.

The fog began to take shape, forming a heavily armored knight without legs. The horse seemed to run soundlessly. Or rather, could it be described as running without legs? It merely slid down like a ghost, rapidly charging with a menacing speed.

However, facing this apparition, Gebel showed no fear, merely raising his sword. Isaac, back-to-back with Gebel, took a deep breath.

‘I can’t use the tentacles, but… like them.’

Isaac recalled the advanced swordsmanship he had used when defeating Zihilrat. He couldn’t remember the exact moves but knew he could use them like a skill whenever he wished.

Isaac imagined eight tentacle-like arms writhing and surging out of his body. In his mind, these tentacles halted the ghostly horse’s charge, decapitated, pierced hearts, pulled down and tore apart Wallachia hunters, and crushed heads.

He would make them pay for defiling the sanctuary with their tainted blood.

Isaac swung his sword.

And so it happened.

***

The Wallachia hunter, charging at Isaac, didn’t fully grasp what was happening. An absurdly bizarre aura emanated from Isaac, who had seemed frail. The hunter suddenly thought irrationally that he was committing an outrageous blasphemy against the Red Chalice.

‘Red Chalice, help!’

A scream rose to his throat, but it was too late.

The next moment, the Wallachia hunter’s head plunged into the ground. The hunter, rolling limply, tried to get up, but soon realized only his head remained.

Isaac’s silhouette had blurred for a moment, but he had passed through the hunter’s body like wielding eight saw blades, ripping it apart.

The hunter’s body barely maintained its shape.

It was a ghastly and gruesome swordsmanship.

‘Such technique, fit only for barbaric realms… how could it be in the territory of the Codex of Light?’

The Wallachia hunter tried to protest with his mouth, but his neck was no longer suitable for making sounds. And there was no one left to hear his voice.

Isaac didn’t care about the severed head.

He just felt an immense hunger.

‘Ah… if I hadn’t eaten Zihilrat, this would have been troublesome.’

The hunger was psychological; there was still plenty of meat in his flesh storage. However, the demanding nature of this advanced sword technique was evident; it couldn’t be used frequently.

[Advanced Paladin Sword Technique Proficiency Increased! (Lv 2)]

[Please name your combined advanced sword technique.]

After using the technique only twice, Isaac realized its level had increased. He remembered he hadn’t named it the previous time.

‘The Avalanche Paladin Order named theirs “Avalanche Sword Technique”, so maybe…’

He thought about calling it “Tentacle Sword Technique,” but that seemed embarrassing to introduce to others. Naming it “Isaac Sword Technique” also felt awkward.

‘Isaac Technique. And since it leaves eight sword marks, let’s call it “Eight Branches.”’

From now on, this move would be known as the “Isaac swordsmanship: Eight Branches.” Isaac decided so.

[Isaac swordsmanship: Eight Branches (A) has been established.]

Isaac felt the move embedding in his mind like a skill. He also realized how much satiation it consumed.

Feeling stiffness all over, Isaac turned to check on Gebel. If Isaac could take them down, Gebel should have been able to handle it with ease.

But what he saw when he turned around was unexpected.

“Gebel!”

An old Wallachia hunter in a billowing red cloak was thrusting a spear into Gebel’s side.

It was the Vampire Duke, Heinkel Gullmar.

Gebel was also stabbing Heinkel’s chest, but he seemed to have no strength left.

Heinkel, intent on finishing Gebel, tensed his shoulder, but suddenly someone appeared behind him. It was Isolde, using the Doctrine of the Moth.

Silently appearing, Isolde stabbed Heinkel in the back. Her Sword of Judgment, deeply embedded, emitted intense heat, burning Heinkel’s flesh and blood. As Isolde forcefully pulled out her sword, a spray of blood followed, tearing Heinkel’s belly to his side.


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