A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special - Chapter 231

 

A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special Novel


Chapter 231. A Subsurface War (8)



The ground beneath their feet, something one would simply assume was always solid and unlikely to collapse out of the blue, had done just that. Chimeras and humans alike, all those who had not yet managed to escape, were swept off their feet and plunged into darkness as they fell together.




The screams of monsters and humans echoed up as they all tumelted out of sight.




The Side Guard had long been evacuated. By now, Pram should have taken Swan outside, too.




At first, Desir hadn’t noticed that the tower was made out of Blankšum. Only after seeing the hole in the floor made by Swan, did he recognize the silver metal, which was now scattered everywhere. Only when it was staring him in the face, did Desir identify the tower’s composition.




The defining characteristics of Blankšum were well known. Silver-colored, very high anti-magic capability, and excellent durability.



Blankšum was not something that could be easily smashed apart by magic or physical force. Even more so if it was layered thick.




‘If it’s the same Blankšum I know, it won’t be a problem breaking it down.’




A plan was made from this starting point. Moving Runel, which was also made out of Blankšum, he gave Crow Mask the false impression that he had inadvertently made a meaningless attack.




However, Runel was actually breaking the floor, and was merely pretending to be flung endlessly around Crow Mask as it orbited the spatial tear.




It was a simple task. No matter how hard it was, the Blankšum on the ground had already taken significant damage as a result of the continuous fighting. The spell Desir was casting had been nothing but a mere trick. It was just a means to make Crow Mask cancel his magic.




And it achieved its purpose spectacularly.




*Whoong*




A ferocious gale swept past their bodies.




They all fell endlessly. The basement was so deep that it was hard to tell just how many floors that had fallen.




Desir and Crow Mask both began to calculate spells. The air was filled with shimmering light as the scattered shrapnel of Blankšum fell alongside them, reflecting the gathering mana.




[Fire Storm]




[Distraction Area]




Desir completed his spell faster.




Desir, who had manipulated the situation from the beginning, knew exactly where Crow Mask would fall.


It was only a slight advantage, but that was more than enough.




Adjest felt a shiver travel down her spine.




‘Did everything happen as you expected it would?’




In a magical duel, having a slight advantage was no different from winning or losing. Desir did his best to create such an advantage against a terrifying opponent, and somehow, had actually succeeded.




A huge storm of flame rose from below. All the living creatures, man and otherwise, let loose screams of unimaginable pain. Screams that morphed, distorted, and merged together in an ungodly cacophony, a sound that could very easily scar an individual for life. The fire beneath them swallowed the clamorous noise, rendering their pain mute to those outside, replaced only by the blistering roar of untamed fire; a magical storm of fire so strong that it threatened to raze the very world to ashes.




Blurred scenery continued to pass by her watery eyes as they still fell, having reached terminal velocity long ago. Straining


her eyes, she could just make out the bottom of the pit.




She couldn’t afford to stay idle any longer.




Adjest grabbed Desir’s hand and began to invoke her own magic.




[Frozen Palace]




Ice crystallized out of the air, covering Desir and herself. Starting as a small block of ice, it quickly grew out into several columns. The ice columns began to form a web-like lattice, and struck into the walls of the cavern. With their newfound ground shearing into the walls, Desir and Adjest’s rapid descent began to slow.




The ice scratched against the wall and sparks shot out from it.. They slid down the wall, failing to find purchase against a wall that had countless pipes running along it like an intricate network of blood vessels.




As their speed continued to slow, out of the blue, four of the six cobweb-shaped columns created by Adjest were crushed. It


was the work of space magic. The crushed pillars of ice could no longer bear any weight and collapsed.




As they began falling again, Desir’s eyes were fixed on one place.




Though his eyes only captured darkness, there was clearly another presence that had been there. Traces of heavy mana and spell invocation hung in one spot in particular, distinctly marking it for someone like Desir, who was well-attuned to the flow mana.




‘How did he manage to beat us down?’




Crow Mask must have completely departed from the collision course that Desir had been anticipating. He presumed it had something to do with his Fire Storm, and the safety zone surrounding himself and Adjest that Desir had excluded.




‘Space movement magic.’




Desir immediately began invoking spells without hesitation.



[Grease]




[Fireball]




His spells were arranged swiftly in front of him.




For a magician, every fight was like a game of chess. The difference between an average magician and a good one was in how many steps ahead they could anticipate the enemy acting. The difference between such magicians could result in having entire spells already prepared in anticipation of the other person’s actions.




[Fire Storm]




Desir had adjusted this Fire Storm such that he could fire it at a close distance. To maintain its power, he had to reduce the range and scope such that the backlash on him and Adjest was as minimal as possible.




Desir spewed out an enormous cone-shaped flame. In that moment, Desir had taken on the very essence of a flame-spitting


dragon.




The half-finished spell Crow Mask had been invoking collapsed under the onslaught.




Desir didn’t leave it at that though. He had already begun invoking another spell.




[Parie Arund]




A strong, sweeping pressure washed over Crow Mask. The gale loosened his mask.




Desir immediately followed after him. With Crow Mask against the ropes, he couldn’t afford to let him escape. He had an extremely focused expression, the look of a hunter that had almost cornered its prey.




“Crow Mask. At one point in my life, I might have thought you were right.”




Crow Mask kept a straight posture. Countless cuts could be


seen through his torn clothes. He reached his arm out towards Desir, who was sprinting towards him.




“I’ve never been wrong. Not once in my life.”




Spell collided with spell.




The two magicians invoked spells simultaneously.




[Lightning Wave]




[Void Crush]




The two men’s spell formations unfurled at high speed before the spells manifested.




It took less than a second for the invoked magic to collide with its counter.




It was a fight in which the magician who fell behind in invoking speed would lose.





“I’m sure at one point, your noble goals were worth fighting for.”




*Flash*




Several bolts of lightning violently raged towards Crow Mask.




“But your current method is by no means acceptable.”




“Do you think you’re in such a position that you can lecture me?”




*Crash*




Desir was a fraction of a second too late in grasping the subtle variation in Crow Mask’s spell array.




He was caught up in the area of effect, having not understood the range and the true target Crow Mask had chosen for this space twisting spell. It was a minor mistake, but the result was


devastating.




*Splash*




A gruesome sound reverberated in the room. The sound of flesh and bone scraping against itself before tearing apart.




Blood burst out like a fountain, as Desir’s right arm twisted many fold upon itself.




Crow Mask looked at Desir, who did not even scream. Desir looked back, but couldn’t read Crow Mask’s expression through his mask.




“So then, Desir… What have you managed to do for the commoners?”




*Boom*




Space collapsed on itself and exploded right where Desir had stood moments before.



Desir’s spell had completed a fraction too slowly.




Crow Mask didn’t let up, pouring his mana into another spell he lobbed at Desir, who was in turn forced to take more steps back.




It was almost impossible to defend against space-based magic, the so-called strongest attribute, with conventional means.




His arm throbbed in pain, interrupting the spell he was invoking. It was a subtle lapse in concentration that can occur when one wanted to concentrate but something else overstimulated the brain.




Even these minor detractions could have significant impacts on whether a magician won or lost in a magical duel.




“What have you done for the common people so far? You’re also a commoner. You didn’t do anything for the common people at all!”




“Change takes time. Building awareness takes time.


Launching a coup will only deepen the nobles’ hatred!”




“That’s the problem.”




*Crack*




The very fabric of space between them had started to collapse. A fine crack in the air continued to grow uncontrollably over time.




Desir could feel the ferocious suction power of it pulling on him.




“You’ve never wanted to help commoners, not really. All the action you’ve taken was for your own corrupt benefit! You just took advantage of your position as a talented commoner and moved into a privileged position. Improve awareness? Gradual improvement? Bullshit! All you did was teach the nobility and the Emperor how to properly capitalize on talented common people. You taught them nothing about the struggle of an average person! That’s why you’re nothing more than a hypocrite.”


Crow Mask opened the valve on years worth of wrath towards the Empire. As he pressed into Desir with every ounce of energy and hatred he had, Crow Mask left open a gap in his defences.




Desir didn’t miss it.




Runel flitted toward the middle of Crow Mask’s face, but he wasn’t dumb enough to make the same mistake twice. After seeing the damage that Runel had done, Crow Mask wasn’t going to underestimate it again.




He raised his head hurriedly, allowing Runel to brush past his mask. As a consequence, his mask had started to crack.




“At least I have only acted for the betterment of the common people so far. Not just talented commoners, but a world where everyone is equal. All of my actions have been moving us towards such a world. I have lent my wisdom and skill to the abominable Outsiders, and I have done so many unspeakable things. But despite all that, the purpose of my actions has remained unchanged.”




His mask finally shattered, showing a heavily scarred face.


“The complete liberation of all commoners.”




Half of his face, once a visage more noble than anyone else, was covered with hideous burn marks. His eyes were also distorted.




But, he didn’t move to cover his face. He faced Desir with his formerly hidden face fully visible.




*Boom*




“That’s why I, who had fallen so far, got a second chance. I crawled using everything at my disposal. And my work paid off: I’ve got a chance to change the world. I despise nothing more than hypocrites like you, hypocrites who have championed my noble cause for their own gain! Working for a better world, no matter what the means are… Does someone like you have the right to blame me?”




It was the ultimate showdown between two magicians. Both had used their ultimate magic. The spells they had spent countless hours developing. During this temporary lull, the nature of the battle had changed into something more ideological. Winning this could result in a decisive advantage.




It was a close battle.




Desir opened his mouth with difficulty.




“… … You already know that your words are contradictory.”




Crow Mask did not deny that he had embarked down the wrong path. However, he never claimed moral superiority while attempting to achieve his goals.




It was a contradiction.




A man who sought to perpetuate injustice in the pursuit of a perfect ideal.




That was the type of man he was.




“You already knew you’re a hypocrite, didn’t you?”






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