“Fight me, Shin Iofiel! And if I win, you must leave Kanari alone!” Fred Newton bellowed out. Ever since that final rejection at the podium, Kanari had been avoiding the fifth-year as if he were the most repulsive creature that ever existed. Each time Fred tried to approach, a black-suited butler would emerge from the shadows, stopping whatever advance he planned.
However, even after getting mauled numerous times by Kanari’s female bodyguard, Fred never gave up. Braving through the broken bones and torn tendons, the devoted lovebird would rise from the ashes to try again. Yet, no matter how much he displayed his dedication, Kanari never gave him the time of day.
Over the past few months, Fred tried to approach Kanari over twenty times to no avail. He was so tenacious that even Kanari’s butler felt terrible for breaking his body twenty times. Unfortunately, the girl remained adamant on her viewpoint. Kanari had rejected Fred for the final time, and she was exceptionally clear that she wouldn’t consider him even if he were the last man on earth.
Nonetheless, Fred wasn’t one to give up on the one girl he loved. Convinced that Shin was the virus that had corrupted his pure-hearted Kanari, Fred decided to move to get rid of the cancer. In his mind, if Shin were out of the equation, he would be given a second lease of life when it came to wooing the ice queen.
“I can’t do that. Kanari is her own person, and she’s hanging out with me on her own free will. I can’t decide that for her.”
“Just stay far away from her!!! Without your influence, Kanari’s eyes would be opened!!!” Blinded in his own desires, Fred couldn’t see his own faults and blamed everything that happened on Shin. “If you didn’t exist, Kanari would have definitely chosen me by now!!!”
“You’re unredeemable…” Elrin scowled in disgust. When she heard the stories of how passionate Fred was, she thought that it was cute for a boy to carry that much devotion for one girl. However, now that she was up close and personal with him, the white-haired girl felt utterly repulsed by Fred.
While Elrin had her mental image of Fred utterly shattered, Shin was still writhing in anger over the incident in the colonel’s office. Just like before, Shin was unable to change the mind of the person in question, making him feel utterly pissed at the whole situation. He had befriended Kanari, and they shared a mutual relationship of trust. Additionally, he had never seen the girl as a romantic partner before. Thus, when Kanari’s brutal rejection of Fred had nothing to do with Shin. Yet, here he was, facing the unreasonable fifth-year with floss in his brain.
His fists clenched, Shin held back the urge to punch a hole through Fred’s head. “I have never bothered you. In fact, I make strides in my schedule to avoid you. But time and time again, you come with these ridiculous accusations. If you want to fight, fine! I’ll beat some sense into your tiny little brain.”
Shin bent his waist and assumed his standard combat position. Instantly casting his spiritual body enhancement, the youth became covered in scales as his spiritual energy spiked through the roof. Usually, Shin would never enter a fight in which he knew nothing about the enemy. However, Shin’s mind wasn’t functioning as per usual. After allowing Junius to escape before his eyes and facing the injustice in the colonel’s tent, the youth’s rationality was clouded with the primal desire to break something. In this case, the target of his wrath was Fred’s face.
“Since you won’t agree to my terms, I’ll beat you until you accept!!!” Finally getting what he came for, Fred too summoned out his Spirit.
His fleshy body glowed in an argent hue while the phantom of an Iron Titan appeared behind his back. Spreading his arms out wide like an eagle, Fred allowed himself to get enveloped by the power of the Iron Titan as his skin turned metallic. His muscles swelled up increasing his overall body shape by fifty percent.
“Is this okay?” As she saw how menacing the fifth-year senior looked, Elrin pulled the sleeves of Isadore with worry. “Fred is already at Rank 29 and is on the precipice of advancing into the Spirit Adept realm. Shin might be talented but can he really bridge the five rank gap?”
“Not sure.” Truth to be told, Isadore was also uneasy that Shin so readily accepted Fred’s challenge. No matter how rotten he was, Fred was the fifth-year valedictorian, as well as a rising star in the Himmel Empire. Before the golden generation, his name was the one that resonated the most in Imperius Academy. Facing him wouldn’t be a walk in the park. “Go get Madam Warulee, just in case… I’ll stay here and assist Shin if he gets into trouble.”
Elrin hurriedly ran away from the training site to seek out the head of the auxiliary department. As much as she believed in Shin’s strength, Fred was no mere pauper from the street. He was the fifth-years’ current valedictorian for two years running, and his martial skills were among the top in the academy. Not to mention, he was Rank 29 while Shin was only Rank 24.
“I have waited for this day for a long time! Once I beat you down, Kanari will undoubtedly see who is better suited for her!”
“How absurd…” Shin scoffed.
When he fought in the year-end tournaments, Shin almost always had a plan tailored for each one of his opponents. For the toughest ones, he had even investigated numerous facts about their fighting styles, preferred movements and basically anything under the sun that could assist him in formulating a plan. However, now that he was corrupted with anger, Shin could care less about having an elaborate plan. The only thing he wanted to do was beat the shit out of the senior that stood before him.
Shin executed the Lightning Swallow Steps and closed in the distance in the blink of an eye. Pivoting his ankle, the black-haired youth sent a scorpion tail kick straight to the abdomen of the fortified Fred. His feet clad with incredible amounts of mana, Shin hoped to at least shake his opponent’s balance and catch him off guard. With his superior speed and martial skills, he would then follow up with a combo meant to break bones, and in the process, teach the insolent Fred a lesson. Unfortunately…
“What the?!” Shin exclaimed as a tingling pain crept up his lower body.
Instead of sending Fred flying, Shin was the one who felt the full impact of his massive strike. Completely covered with iron skin, the muscular Fred was reinforced entirely as if he were a fortress. Kicking an iron wall didn’t cut it. Shin felt like he was a rodent that had attacked an immovable rampart.
After having his entire being broken down by Kanari’s bodyguard time and time again, Fred was immune to weak attacks by those around his cultivation level. In fact, Fred was confident that his defence had surpassed that of his seniors, making him the greatest defence-oriented student in the academy. He was even optimistic of taking Kanari’s Lunar Beam head on without any repercussions.
In Shin’s moment of weakness, Fred capitalised and grabbed the boy by his ankles. Treating Shin as if he were a caveman’s club, Fred slammed the boy onto the ground, forming a crater beneath him with every hit.
“Fuck you!!!” Shin cursed as he created a water sphere to cushion his fall. With his scales, Shin was able to lube up his entire body, enabling him to slip out of Fred’s tight grasp. Instantly retreating a dozen metres, Shin felt his head spin.
‘Damn it, I might be slightly concussed…’ Shin lamented his earlier folly. What was he thinking? Diving headfirst at the Iron Titan without a plan? ‘Tch, his defences are much better than Danroy’s!’
“Stop daydreaming!” Seeing that Shin was crouched down and unmoving, Fred charged forward and launched a high knee towards the youth’s face. Gritting his teeth, Shin was forced to make a last minute escape.
‘This asshole… I’m going to neuter him for Kanari!!!’ Shin swore to take Fred down with a vengeance.
Leaping forward, Shin executed the seismic combination that he had further perfected since the year-end tournament. With his superior speed, Shin was able to thoroughly blindside Fred with his movements, allowing him to land almost all of his hits onto the iron man’s body. However, no matter how hard he launched his attacks, Fred’s body remained unmoved. In fact, even his expression was frozen.
“You done?” Fred brushed off Shin’s attack as if he were an adult playing with a toddler. Stomping his feet onto the ground, the fifth-year generated a light tremor that shook the training grounds, destabilising Shin’s balance in the process.
‘How is his defence that powerful?!’ Shin couldn’t comprehend how Fred grew to be so durable. The hits that he landed weren’t soft. An average Spirit Core cultivator would have made ten stops to the infirmary after taking Shin’s attacks head-on, and yet, Fred stood there as if nothing had happened.
‘Divine Binding Needles wouldn’t work, martial arts don’t work, and my created water attacks definitely don’t possess enough firepower to break through his defences…’ Shin thought back on all his moves and could only wallow in despair as he realised how powerless he was against a foe like Fred. ‘As expected, I need a crazily potent offensive ability like the one in the memory of the charred thorn. Otherwise, I will be left behind!’
Further driven to work towards his new ability, Shin cracked his knuckles. ‘Whatever, I’ll just pound him down and see what happens.’
Unlike the year-end tournaments, Shin didn’t need to win the fight against Fred. In fact, if not for his belly of hate, Shin wouldn’t have accepted the challenge anyway. Thus, he could just continuously launch strike after strike on Fred’s body, in hopes of releasing his built-up stress.
“BOOM!!! BOOM!!! BOOM!!!”
Accelerating to his top speed, Shin tried out every martial art he had in the book. Soul-Piercing Fist, Seismic Step, Fluttering Elbow, Crocodile Whips its Tail. Everything that Shin had learnt over his freshmen year, he unleashed onto the iron body of Fred’s. Since Fred claimed that he had no weak spots, Shin tested that assertion with a scientific curiosity. He aimed for the meridians of Fred, known weak points of the body, and even his manhood.
No, Shin doubled down his attacks at Fred’s crotch. Three out of ten hits that Shin launched were all aimed at Fred’s family jewels, and they weren’t mere light punches or kicks. Shin would often use his most powerful martial arts on that forbidden area, so much so that even Isadore, who was on the side of Shin, started to look away with trembling lips.
‘So his balls are really made out of iron?! They’re even tougher than the other parts of his body!!!’ Shin spat out mentally.
Typically, a kick to the manhood would send a fighter out of commission. However, for some godforsaken reason, Fred had actually managed to strengthen his most vulnerable point until it became as hard as diamond.
“You know… Even I feel ashamed if you keep targeting my crotch…” Although there was no pain, Fred’s entire face twitched in discomfort.
“…” Shin remained silent. As he anticipated, all of his hits only served to slightly dirty Fred’s body. The fifth-year senior’s defence was too potent for his weak strikes. Catching Shin’s right foot with his thighs as it landed once more on his crotch, Fred gave a dirty smile.
“If you’re done trying to take me down, let me return the favour.”
For the first time since the battle commenced, Fred moved from his position. Grasping both his hands together, Fred raised his hands up high in the air as a tremendous amount of mana enveloped his knuckles. A metallic screech echoed out into the field, forcing Shin wince in fear.
“HARGHHH!!!” Fred unleashed his strongest offensive ability to date, in hopes of crippling Shin entirely. Unfortunately for him, Shin sensed the overwhelming danger and utilised the Dance of the Valkyrie to escape from Fred’s hold to fly up high into the sky.
‘Fuck, I almost died there!’ Shin felt his heart racing at the speed of light. His body turned cold as he imagined the possible outcome of getting hit by that attack. Only after a brief moment of reflection, did Shin dare to look down onto the devastation caused by Fred’s attack.
The bumpy terrain of training area had been flattened as a humongous crater, one the size of an elephant was left behind. At its centre, a man made of iron glared furiously at the sky. On the ground, Fred was near invincible in his generation. However, when it came to aerial and underwater combat, he was akin to deadweight.
“What’s going on here?!”
Before the fight could progress any further, Madam Warulee’s aggravated voice rung in the students’ ears. Behind her, Elrin, as well as some curious onlookers who were alarmed that an explosion had occurred in the backyard, came running as well.
“We were just having a friendly sparring session, Madam.” Fred tried to explain.
“In what universe does a friendly spar result in the total devastation of the area?” Madam Warulee screamed. “Don’t you know that we’re not on Himmel Empire soil? Both of your actions are out of line!!!”
Descending from the sky. Shin released his spiritual body enhancement and reluctantly approached the angered middle-aged woman. “I’m sorry, Madam Warulee…”
“Tskkk, a simple apology won’t cut it! Both of you, in my office now!!!”
As he watched Madam Warulee stomp away in anger, Shin heaved out a despondent sigh. ‘What a bloody mess…’