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(Humiliation amplified)

The two halberds were more likely to penetrate Zen even though his body was a powerful spiritual weapon, resulting in Zen being severely wounded or worse.     But, Zen was able to sense the positions of both White Fiend and Black Fiend, which upset the coordinated efforts of the two evils.     

Suddenly, Zen's eyes flew open, and he moved a step to the right.    

 After skillfully dodging the attack, Zen hurled the broken flying knife at the Black Fiend.  

 Not expecting Zen to have the ability to discover where he was, the Black Fiend used the halberd to defend himself.   

  The halberd was a top-grade mysterious weapon and when the two of them attacked people together, their power could be equal to that of a spiritual weapon. Black Fiend lifted the one in his hands to parry the incoming attack from Zen's flying knife.   

Regrettably, the Black Fiend underestimated the power and strength of the broken flying knife.    

 As the two weapons collided, the halberd was halved, and the knife continued to fly to its original target, the Black Fiend.     

With his head separating from his neck, the Black Fiend's final thoughts were a mass of confusion, 'How did Zen discover me...?     

How is that blade so strong...?'    

as he lay there, the Black Fiend faded and questioned everything.    

 "No! Black Fiend!"    

Shrouded in mist, the White Fiend hollered in anger at the sight of his partner dying at Zen's hands and vengefully sent the halberd hurtling at Zen.   

Having already penetrated the veil of invisibility cloaking the White Fiend, Zen dodged his attack easily.    

 Realizing he was at a disadvantage, the White Fiend decided to conceal himself amid the mists and waited for the right moment to destroy Zen.     

Without mercy, Zen stabbed her utilizing his soul strength.    

 Filled with excruciating pain, the White Fiend fell over. His neck was severed and he surrendered to the power of the broken flying knife.     

The two evils perished in combat!    

 Shortly afterward, the black and white mists, along with the life vitality that brought them to be, began to disperse slowly.....     

In front of the Green Haze group, Martin stood, staring at the vast expanse of mist fearfully.   

Fully aware that there was a fierce battle between two evils and Zen beside him, Martin was concerned when all he could see was mist.     

Although he was confident in Zen's martial art skills, he didn't think Zen had a chance winning because the gulf between Zen's expertise and his foes' was overwhelming.     

However, gradually, the mist dissipated and Zen came into view, standing near the remains of his two opponents.     Emerging the victor was Zen!     

Sighing in relief, Martin admired Zen's ingenuity and ability to create consecutive miracles.....    

 Meanwhile, Martin realized Zen could defeat him with a single blow.....    

 However, he thought it was reasonable and he could accept the fact.   

As soon as he saw the severed heads of the two evils, Liam's shocked panic paralyzed him.     

His entire body was racked with violent, uncontrollable shuddering.     

Seeing Zen walking in his direction carrying the halberds, Liam fell to the ground.    

 Fear filled his widened eyes.    

 "Stop Zen!"    he shouted as his limbs shuddered out of control.     

"Why? Aren't you dying to kill me? Dying to doom me? Didn't you say, you wanted to finish me off, here, at the Dragon Fort?" taunted Zen while he glared down at Liam!   

  "I did say that, but, only because of the orders that Fren gave! Please, Zen, spare me!" begged Liam. Facing Zen now, he lost his bravado.   

"I would have spared you because of our shared fellowship, but, you were intent on killing me here, at the Dragon Fort. 

There's no way for me to justify sparing you!" warned Zen as he pointed his broken flying knife menacingly at Liam.   

  "I... I am nothing! A beast without human feelings..." Liam whimpered as he groveled, prostrating himself before Zen until blood covered his forehead.    

 Softening somewhat, Zen's heart was moved by Liam's suffering.    

 Raised in a scholarly family, Zen was gentle by nature, though he'd come to realize that by killing, all disputes ended.   
  But, killing still was not a way he liked.     
A glimmer of mercy crept into Zen's mind.    

 In that instant, Liam triggered his golden needle, sending it at Zen.   


came the sound as the golden needle whizzed through the air, making its way to Zen at tremendous speed.    

 Granted, Zen had a body similar to a spiritual weapon, but it didn't stop the golden needle from piercing his skin and lodging firmly in his chest.    

 "Zen, that was the Strychnos Thorn. It was made by an expert at forging poisonous needles in the Zhu Clan. And now, you're as good as dead!" exclaimed Liam full of exuberance after landing his unexpected blow.     

Removing the golden needle effortlessly, Zen said, "This secret weapon is famed throughout the Eastern Region, but..... it won't bring my death!"    

"Ping, ting-ting-ting-ting!"   

 Zen dropped the needle on the ground. It clacked as it rebounded, clattering against the ground a few times before coming to a stop. Zen grinned.   

"But? How? You.....!" staring up at Zen, Liam's confusion mounted, and he demanded, "Anyone poisoned by the Strychnos Thorn dies! How is it you are an exception!?"    

Shaking his head, Zen replied, "That's a secret that you don't need to know since you're done for!"    

Almost the second that the broken flying knife left Zen's hand, poor Liam's neck was parted from his head. After looking down at his dead enemy, Zen turned and left without looking back.     

Notorious for its remarkable fatality rates, the strychnos poison would be ejected from a hidden weapon to kill rivals even at the nature level.     

Even though Roger was at the nature level, if Liam had attacked him, Roger would die on the spot.   

But, Zen was blessed with a superhuman ability and was invulnerable to poisons. 

    As Zen walked away, chilliness greeted him.     

The chilly force spread, covering the ground and freezing everything, including the plants, rocks, and soil as it moved past them.    

 Heading at Zen, the chilly force raced along.    

 A chill touched Zen's feet causing him to jump to one side.     

"Cre-ka-rack!" crackling noises rose as ice crystals covered with thorns fanned out in front of Zen.     

The crystalline blossom was striking in appearance but fatal by nature.     

Had Zen not evaded it in time, it would have impaled him.     

At that moment, Zen suspected that this was Randall's doing.   

Several of the trees ahead were snow-white.     

There was a misty pine up ahead. Usually, misty pine was matched with the weather around it, so that on the coldest of days, it reflected that. Ahead, it performed a beautiful winter scene, which was an abnormal sign, indeed.   

  Randall appeared from behind an icy tree.    

 "Are you presuming that you'll manage to leave the Dragon Fort, alive?" asked Randall as he stepped closer to Zen. His steps were deliberate, slow, as snowflakes fell around him. Randall scoffed, "At sixteen, I joined the Imperial Army. I rose in fame and rank by my abilities, only to be humiliated by you, a brat. That alone gives me a good reason to kill you here!"    

Giving a slight shake of the head as he grinned, Zen returned, "I'm ready for your assault at any time you want to try!"  

"I promise if you don't resist, I'll kill you swiftly!" said Randall while his life vitality began to move, shaping itself into a long and ice-encrusted spear.     

With his heart thumping, Zen's first inclination was to run.     

Refiners at the nature level could be divided into ten ranks according to their power. Each rank was disproportionately more powerful than the last.     

Presently, Randall was a leading master, blessed with rank four in the nature level of refining. With that level, he was bound to be able to defeat Zen, who was only at the marrow refining level.     

"Are you going to attempt to run away from my fatal strike, Zen?"    

ridiculed Randall, grinning as he took a step, just as Zen made his way to escape. Where Randall stepped, the ground became covered with ice.   

As Randall ran, the ground iced over and was in constant motion. Actually, Randall wasn't running. He was skiing over the surface.    

 It didn't take much effort to overtake Zen.    

 When Randall was nearly on Zen, he stopped to aim his icy spear and launched it at Zen.    

 The icy spear whizzed along the air at Zen as fast as the golden needle that Liam had sent at him earlier.    

 Sensing the threat behind him, Zen was about to turn and dodge it, but that proved to be a futile move.     

"Swoo-oosh!" as the spear sliced the air, it passed Zen's shoulder, the razor-like tip shredding his tunic and cutting into his skin as it flew. Blood spurted like a geyser from the fresh wound.    

 'Randall's prowess is worthy of his reputation in martial arts!' Zen admired his rival's talent silently.   

Glancing at the graze on his shoulder, Zen knew he had barely managed to escape death. Randall's ability and force were, indeed, a threat to take seriously.  

   But, Zen had a few tricks up his sleeve still.    

 In an earlier battle, when he went against the queen blade locust, Zen wasn't able to counter her strikes as he could now.    

 Zen had a secret weapon that would turn the tables in his favor.     

As Randall drew nearer, Zen volleyed his broken flying knife, throwing it behind him, at his antagonist.     

During Zen's encounter with the two evils, the mist was so thick that Randall couldn't see, so he was unaware of the might of Zen's secret weapon.    

 Smirking when he saw the paltry attack Zen sent his way, Randall waved his hand to form an icy shield.   

His blunder was classic. Considering a mysterious weapon couldn't endure the impact of the broken flying knife, there was no hope in his icy shield surviving. The shield shattered as the knife hit it, leaving Randall's forehead vulnerable.   

  Caught off guard, Randall barely had time to duck and fell to the ground.     While Randall might have been Zen's superior at the martial arts level, he was left humbled beyond measure.    

 His humiliation magnified at tenfold being overwhelmed like this by Zen.    

 Randall flew into a rage, as the blue veins became visible and were bulging on his forehead. "Zen, that was an underhanded move, and sooner or later, I will make you suffer for this!"

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