Chapter 51:

Interlude: King Janus

Reverie's End: Blades of Malice

Day: 10/1/991; Time: 4th hourBookmark here

Addas' magic allowed him to move very quickly along the battlefield and avoid unnecessary encounters, but it still took him almost a half-hour to get through Gamma's labyrinth and arrive at the castle gates. He had no trouble with the guards; one or two punches was enough to knock out any of them. Addas' punches were strong enough to puncture metal; there was no easy way to block his mana-augmented powers. The guards fell like flies; he ran up the stairs and continued to knock them out effortlessly.Bookmark here

However, when he reached the higher floors, Addas started encountering knights that were not as easy to defeat. They wore golden armor and had dark blue eyes. These men seemed lifeless and possessed; Addas could not sense a drop of fear from them. It was as if they were born to fight and to die; they had no other purpose in life. It took Addas several strikes to knock out these resilient warriors; they didn't scream or show any signs of feeling pain. Addas had never seen such sorcery before; it was beyond even Dios' abilities. He quickly learned not to waste time with them and to just keep running upstairs.Bookmark here

Eventually, he arrived on the eighth floor and ran towards the balcony where King Janus was standing. The king had been observing the battles from on high; he showed no signs of worry. Despite the Blades of Malice's massive display of power, he remained composed. It was not easy to startle the king of Ethos' greatest kingdom.Bookmark here

"I'm sorry that we couldn't have met under better circumstances, King Janus. I am here to end this war and that means you must forfeit your life," said Addas casually.Bookmark here

The king turned around and looked at Addas; he did not look surprised. "You must be a skilled fighter if you made it this far. However, I will not be defeated so easily," said the king as he pulled out his golden lance.Bookmark here

"Unless you're stronger than your knights then you might as well give up right now," smirked Addas as he readied his fists.Bookmark here

"If I wasn't the strongest then I would have no right to be the king of Charon," replied King Janus as he lunged forward with his weapon. Despite having the appearance of an exhausted middle-aged man, the king moved swiftly and Addas had trouble dodging his stabs. Addas was only able to keep himself alive by coating his body with mana and weakening any potentially lethal strike. He had underestimated the king; Addas soon came to the realization that King Janus was the strongest foe that he had ever faced. He threw a few more punches and parried the king's jabs before he finally leapt back to catch his breath. The king looked like he had barely exerted himself. Bookmark here

"This is impossible! I've never fought anyone like him before! His powers are unnatural… No human can be this strong!" thought Addas to himself. He was clearly caught off-guard; Addas never expected a mere king to be this powerful.Bookmark here

"Did you think I was as weak as those other kings? Humans are weak, but my powers have long since surpassed what is natural for humans," said the king.Bookmark here

Addas looked at the king carefully; he was tall and had brown hair, but it was his dark blue eyes that caught his attention. They were the same color as the eyes of the golden-armored knights that he met earlier. It was an unnatural color and looked lifeless.Bookmark here

"You have the same eyes as those golden-armored knights. Those men had no feelings or emotions; what did you do to them? They were far stronger than the average soldier," asked Addas.Bookmark here

"So, you've encountered the royal knights along your way here. They are the strongest men in our kingdom; it is thanks to them that Gamma is at peace," said the king. He then continued to speak after pausing for a few seconds to gather his thoughts, "I did nothing to them; they volunteered to become that way. It was all for the glory of Charon and to serve their kingdom. They gave up all sense of self to become mighty warriors."Bookmark here

Addas had a look of shock on his face and said, "Is this some kind of mind manipulation? You brainwashed them? What kind of sorcery is this?"Bookmark here

"Sorcery? Don't be such a hypocrite. It's not the same as the dark arts practiced by Dios. I am well aware of his abilities to erase and alter memories. Gamma's methods are far more humane," replied Janus.Bookmark here

"So you know about that? We have definitely underestimated you, King Janus. I thought we were fighting against a human, but it seems that your powers go beyond that of mortal men," said Addas. He began to charge up his energy to maximum strength; Addas only had two minutes to make the most of it.Bookmark here

He lunged forward and began to punch and kick furiously. Addas fared better than last time, but Janus was still the better fighter. He could only make small dents in the king's armor. The King's lance blocked most of Addas' attacks with ease; Janus also had the advantage of range. Addas was limited to close range attacks; the king could easily dodge and get out of the way if he needed to.Bookmark here

Addas was growing impatient; after 30 seconds of fruitless fighting, he jumped back and decided to end everything with one powerful attack. He brought his hands down to the same level as his hip and began to gather mana. The king looked on in amusement and took a defensive stance; he surrounded himself with a water barrier. King Janus was as equally skilled in magic as he was in physical combat.Bookmark here

Addas finished charging the attack, brought his hands forward and yelled "Spirit Wave!" The transparent energy beam traveled quickly and hit Janus' water barrier. Water began to splash everywhere, but the beam could not penetrate the wall of water. King Janus held out both arms and kept the barrier activated. Under normal circumstances, the Spirit Wave would have been an excessive use of force; it was powerful enough to disintegrate most fighters. But it could do little more than scratch the king. Bookmark here

After assessing the full extent of Addas' powers, Janus decided that it was time to end the fight. He grabbed his lance with his right hand and aimed it at Addas' left shoulder. Addas was busy firing off the attack and was too distracted to notice that he was in danger. The king shot a water bullet from the lance and hit Addas in the left shoulder. He recoiled from the pain and flew back almost three skars, hitting a pillar. If he got knocked back any farther he would have fallen off the balcony and plummeted to the ground. Even the mighty Addas would not have survived that fall. Addas' energy dissipated; the fight was over.Bookmark here

The king put away his weapon and deactivated his barrier. He looked down at the wounded Addas and said, "You are several centuries too young to be fighting me. All of you have underestimated Charon; the Blades of Malice and those traitors, Eris and Nyr, will now face the wrath of my kingdom. Did you really think I did not know that you were colluding with those rebels? Dios has led you down the path of madness, young one. Turn back before it's too late. Your men will never defeat mine!"Bookmark here

Addas looked up at the king and slowly got up; his wounds were not fatal, but he knew that the king had given him one last chance to give up. Rejecting Janus' kindness would be foolish. Addas looked down at the ground and could hear the battle dying down; his men were starting to run away. The battle had been lost. Addas looked back at the king and did not say anything.Bookmark here

"You fought bravely. No one has come this close to conquering my kingdom in over a century. Now go, before I change my mind!" said the king as he pointed his lance at Addas.Bookmark here

"Over a century? How old are you?" asked Addas as he held his bleeding left shoulder.Bookmark here

The king chuckled and said, "You wouldn't believe me even if I told you. Now go!"Bookmark here

Addas used whatever energy he had left and used it to sprint out of the room. He grit his teeth; Addas acted calm, but he was very irritated. Never before had he been defeated so quickly. After leaving the castle, he bound his shoulder and retreated alongside his allies.Bookmark here

King Janus had averted a tragedy. He walked over to the balcony's railing and looked below at the ruined city. "It's a shame that I could not prevent them from using the Emerald. Even a spirit of Ethos has his limits," he thought to himself. As he walked away, he immediately felt dizzy and used his lance as a support to keep himself from falling. He began to cough out blood and fell to the ground. "Is today the day that I become one with Ethos? 900 years is a long time to be alive; perhaps I shall finally have rest," whispered King Janus as he passed out.Bookmark here

The battle was over; cheers echoed throughout the city. The knights of Charon had won. The event later came to be known as the "Emerald War". Cries of joy reverberated all over the city, but the king continued to sleep. It was not until several days later that he awoke from his slumber. Bookmark here

Just outside the city stood a red-haired man shrouded in a dark aura; next to him was a black panther that looked equally as ominous. "Dios, you fool! Is this the best you could do after one century?" laughed the man.Bookmark here

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