15 He“s a Paladin
The clouds of dust and steam began to rise as the blaze gradually lost its glow. No one could see anything through this fog; meantime, it was also impossible to identify any presence. So, this would only be interpreted as one simple result...
Yuma sent a deep sigh of relief; it was finally done. His body could no longer take that pressure against itself. His muscles had become truly tired and exhausted, a result of this breathtaking battle against Erben. Furthermore, his magical force seemed much lower than before — from when he had started the fight with the paladin.
Although he had used that spell which could weaken the enemy's might and strengthen him and his allies by it, still, Erben — his foe — was far superior in terms of sheer spiritual force. The title of Paladin wasn't just a mere name; it had a magnificent power behind the person who would be carrying it.
The more time would pass from their conflict, the gap between them could be understood much better; Yuma lacked stamina in a fight like that while Erben possessed an endless amount of energy as his spirituality, even though he had lost a significant quality of it — because of Yuma's spell.
Showing weakness to your foe in a battle would be considered as a deadly act; letting your enemy be aware of your vulnerability would just make everything worse. Hence, one has to keep his defects from the sight of the opponent to not attract his attention to those lacks; which he — Yuma Takahashi — had done.
There also existed another fact. Choosing what strategies to use against your enemy is something which can be regarded completely necessary before engaging in a battle. Yuma knew many Spells as a wizard; even an average magician would know around 1,000 common spells under a distinct category beside a few special spells — that appeared to be specified to only a few people in a generation.
One of Yuma's special abilities was called "Rain of Sorrow"; it would provide many advantages for him while fighting with his opponent. When he searched his memories to decide what spells to use against the paladin, Yuma could only reach a few options which he could rely on them. Using inappropriate spells would just be a waste of Magical Force during a fight; therefore, he chose to only apply a few of them with first considering the power of his enemy. That was why he had to analyze Erben's movements and capabilities at first.
Yuma Takahashi had a hard time avoiding the paladin's attacks, but luckily he didn't get injured by those strikes, not even the slightest. It had also surprised him, though it was as to be expected; the rain would simultaneously slow down Erben's moves at that moment, after all.
A true warrior has to apply pressure on his foe by using all kinds of weapons, which was why Yuma was meanwhile trying to weaken the paladin's mentality with words, and of course, putting a casual expression while conveying it to the enemy that he is still strong enough to continue.
However, the fact seemed to be something else. The difference between him and Erben would be plain to understand if one knew what was going on inside of Yuma. There was only one way which he could have a hope in defeating the paladin by considering the overwhelming strength of him.
The Rain of Sorrow would give him so many privileges over the enemy in long-term battles. It had one special ability — a sub-spell — which could finish powerful ones instantaneously, although using this skill would be viewed as a huge risk.
The Chains of Affliction would restrain one's body and use his own energy to destroy him. Consequently, the more this person was powerful, the more he would be damaged. By regarding the substantial Spiritual Energy which Erben had possessed as one of the Paladins, there was no way for him to still be alive after such a tremendous explosion — caused by his own power.
But that wasn't without a cost since "all magic comes with a price". There existed a danger behind this grand opportunity, a small but still critical chance that would evert everything; it was the weakness of this ability.
The Wizards had magical force as the source of their powers while priests could use their spiritual force as a gift from the divinity; but even with this difference, both of them had to be master at one simple thing, the control over their energy. Without enough concentration over whatever you want or desire, that thing won't be achieved no matter what; focusing your attention is the requirement for shaping your intentions.
Having more capacity in controlling your inner force would present you an easier way to victory since it could give you better control over your own powers while making them more accurate and deadly against the enemy.
So, if his enemy had adequate control over his energy, Yuma would be in real danger since there existed a huge chance for Erben to control his power again, and therefore, whatever he had done until then would be a waste. It was the worst case scenario which Yuma appeared to be afraid of it more than anything else.
Nevertheless, the presence of the paladin couldn't be recognized in that fog; this was the reason behind Yuma's relief. It meant everything was all right; finally, the paladin had been defeated.
From the very first moment when he came into this town once again to save his family, he had feared from one simple thing, failure. It would bring many horrible consequences as a result; failing against the priests would mean letting them do whatever they want with his family, and he was absolutely aware of what they would do to the Wizards' families. So losing wasn't an option; he had to do anything — no matter what — to assure the safety of them.
Since Yuma had just defeated the paladin, he appreciated everything which he had done or caused until then, even though it included the massacre of those innocent young students down there. After all, his decisions had given him what he wanted, defeating Erben and protecting his son.
Yuma was still gasping for air. The only thing which his instincts as a mortal being were telling him to do was to rest in a convenient position and forget about everything else, though he couldn't do that by any means; how could he relax while his dear son is in danger? This alone could give him extra energy, enliven his strength, and revive his spirit completely.
He glimpsed the priests; they had entirely shrouded the sight of the earth with their endless quantities. One would observe them as a large group of crows from where Yuma had stood, concealing every inch of the ground while preventing the raindrops to go any nether. There was no time for him to rest as Charna was fighting with those enemies all at once.
Therewith he readied himself to fly downward and help her as he had promised. As Yuma turned around, his back was exactly placed in the direction of the fog. The moment he wanted to charge hurriedly toward those priests and help Charna, something stopped his body immediately, making him unable to move even the slightest.
The source for this hesitation wasn't something which could be considered "physical"; it was far away from being restricted in mere fleshly sensations. This weight was a seal against his heart, darkening all Yuma had placed in there.
The relief which he had reached because of his victory disappeared all of a sudden. He couldn't believe it since accepting such a fact would endanger what Yuma wanted to protect all this time. There was no doubt about it; it was the presence of that paladin, resting precisely behind him. Nonetheless, it had been greatly intensified from before — tremendously compressing the space with its existence while hardening the breathing in that air.
"Sorrow? Pain? Don't make me laugh..."
Those words were coming from his behind, right from inside of that fume. The clouds of smoke began to slowly fade, letting Yuma have a clear sight of the atmosphere including who had stood right there, the source of that voice.
When the fog vanished from Yuma's view, the silhouette of that person became quite visible for him, though he already knew who he was by sensing that formidable presence of spiritual force. That outline — which appeared fully obvious right then — belonged to Erben Whisperwinds the paladin.
"We, the soldiers of the Lord, fight to clean the world from evils who force the people to suffer from pain," Erben continued as he frowned at Yuma, "I, as a holy warrior, have to assure your annihilation. Erben Whisperwinds will end you and this sorrow, right here!"
Yuma couldn't put a relaxed expression; he could no longer show he's strong. Besides being worn out and weakened due to his early fight with Erben, his morale had also become lowered exceedingly since he knew what was going to happen.
Erben had regained his strength once again; what Yuma feard the most had already happened. There was no possible way for the victory; how could he win against this paladin — who now possessed all of his spiritual force — with such a trivial remained magical force which he had at that moment?
And without winning this battle, the life of his beloved son would definitely be threatened by these priests. He had to buy more time for him, although Yuma's body would no longer obey his orders. The loving father didn't have an influence on his evil mind, not anymore; which was why he didn't have to think any longer since this brain couldn't be used because of his physical fatigue. Yuma Takahashi just had to "feel" it with his heart.
Even if Yuma didn't intend to give up and flee, the person before would never let him run.
Erben's appearance didn't contain any harm as though nothing had happened to him; his physique was exactly as same as before the explosion. No, he was even stronger than earlier. One significant difference could be understood by looking at him; Erben no longer had that black garment. Instead, a refulgent armor with golden signs — engraved accurately — on it could be seen as a cross symbol was marked on it with an eye-catching crimson color.
This new outfit matched with that ostentatious spear which he was wielding at the same time, creating a mighty air around Erben Whisperwinds as it was reflecting the minimal light of the sun around.
"My fire exists only for one simple reason..." Erben thundered as he readied himself to attack, "to burn people like you!"
Erben rushed at Yuma forthwith while thrusting his lance forward, keeping it precisely straight in that direction. However, none of these movements were evident by the mere human eyes; an ordinary man would observe nothing but a quick displacement of a silhouette, moving at the speed of light from where Erben had stood to Yuma's position.
This time — due to the incredible speed which he had — it was impossible for Yuma to evade Erben's strikes; the only choice he had was to lessen the imminent damage, thereby Yuma tired to bring his right arm in the way to protect himself from getting a serious wound in the chest. An unbearable pain began to appear as he could feel a grievous twinge in his humerus. It was so intense that Yuma's brain would react to nothing else but this unendurable suffering — which that razor-sharp spear had forced him to bear.
There was no way to hide his feelings from becoming apparent through his look; bearing that pain stoically would be totally infeasible as the aching sensation would intensify therewith. But there was no time to think or rest for Yuma Takahashi since his enemy was right before him; he had to do something, even though it would be entirely impossible with the current condition.
Yuma could still use his left arm; therefore he decided to swing that black sword and try his luck by thrusting it through the air. Another shock — this time through his left arm — made Yuma ache in agony as that grimy sword — which he had held — instantly got thrown away by the great push that Erben had applied on it with that golden spear. Yuma couldn't use his hands, not anymore; he was completely defenseless and vulnerable.
Thinking in that situation would be beyond the capabilities of Yuma since his brain could no longer work normally because of that tremendous pain over his upper limbs. The pointed tip of Erben's weapon had already caused great damage against his enemy that nothing except blood was obvious on Yuma's arms. However, he — Erben — wasn't satisfied yet.
"This is called pain!" he glowered at Yuma swaggeringly, "How can I force the innocent souls to bear such a thing? Only Evil and its followers shall burn in Hell forever!"
His body wanted to writhe in agony as it was sweating profusely, though Yuma didn't have time for that at all; he was supposed to do something; he had come there to protect someone, after all. Right then Yuma was a father — not a pathetic man who would just squirm around because of a mere pain. There existed a lot more important things which he had to do.
Yuma used his remained energy to move back and create a gap between himself and the paladin; moreover, getting prepared for casting a spell on Erben. Even though it would be a waste of Magical Force as it obviously couldn't provide enough damage while Yuma was in that condition, still, he didn't care about it; he would no longer mind those facts. Yuma Takahashi just had to continue, and keep fighting until the very last moment.
"[Symbolic Magic: Rise of Fallen]"
A sudden light became manifest as he expressed these words, purpling the atmosphere by shining its violet radiance. It suddenly formed an inverted pentagram with a shining detailed line around.
"It's useless..." Erben made a gesture of disappointment.
The purple rays of lightness surrounded Erben completely, yet, no sign of concern could be identified by looking at him. The brightness of those beams thereafter got reinforced as a stream of light began to subsequently radiate through a large radius.
Yuma had put all of his strength into that attack, so even if his heart wished to stay, his body could no longer follow since he had already reached his limit.
As the violaceous brilliance grew dim, the rain of sadness dominated the space once again. That spell had no effect on the paladin, just as it was expected.
"I told you, it's useless."
Yuma didn't even have enough power to keep his eyes open at that moment; everything looked blurry and hazy in his sight. His ears weren't able to hear the sound of rain any longer.
"Don't worry, wizard. I will kill you without pain," Erben added, slowly moving toward him while decreasing the distance between Yuma and himself, "I assure you that your son and wife will also experience a painless death."
That last sentence made him tremble, though he didn't have any control over his weakened body so it would be impossible to react to those words. Now he understood his decisions weren't right, but he couldn't change them anymore; the lost time wouldn't come back as the results were absolute.
It was a failure, what he had feared the most; though not because of his own life, but for his dear son, Giichi.
There was no way to run from the destiny. Strong reaches glory and weak faces death, the only result which awaits them.
His consciousness grew faint as Yuma Takahashi could see his sunset close. The fate which was waiting for him absolutely wasn't the glory; it was death.