Elder Cultivator 558

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As the old sword guy appeared in front of her with a few more, further individuals were intercepted by people in the stands. Chikere looked at the old sword guy, then towards the now barely guarded weapon that was supposed to be the prize of the tournament- but which would probably have never been given away to anyone. “Rahayu! Stop this old guy!”

Rahayu frowned, taking in his opponent- and his sword. “Fine, I guess I did technically lose that bout. That should be a decent enough upgrade.”

Before the guy from the Harmonious Citadel could protest in any manner, Rahayu was already cutting towards him, making him quite occupied. Meanwhile, Chikere dashed through the others that had come along. Several lines of blood were drawn along her as they sought her death, but their skills were lacking. Especially given that they were in the Harmonious Citadel. Chikere hadn’t thought that something written for a broad audience such as Citadel’s Downfall could possibly have given her useful insights, but upon actually looking at it… there were even things she hadn’t considered to counter their techniques, small weaknesses that were sufficient to exploit.

With a sword, of course. The author’s insane suggestion to just shoot them with a bow was immediately disregarded. Still, she only needed just enough edge for them to die and her to not. Her army of swords dashed along with her, cutting down several figures in her way.

The outer formation around the sword was now down, as the guards had lowered it to join the surrounding battle which involved more than the Harmonious Citadel had anticipated- but as those involved with running the tournament they weren’t lacking in presence. In fact, there were several powerful figures unanticipated by Chikere. Not just the Harmonious Citadel, but those who were foolish enough to be their allies. 

The prize sword glinted spectacularly where it was currently stowed near the arena’s best seats. Chikere leapt towards it, only to find her way barred by an old woman this time. “Don’t think you can just move as you please.”

Chikere clicked her tongue. A spear. She could fight against that, but it would be pointless. It wouldn’t even be able to enter her arsenal. “Out of the w-way.” Chikere still had trouble talking due to the hole through her neck. “I’m c-claiming my priiize.”

“It would never belong to one such as you,” the woman said. “You are unworthy to touch a weapon made by the Grandmaster Smith Sadiq.”

“Who? Oh, t-that guy?” Chikere’s swords did not stop with her, forming a semicircle off to one side of the woman. “T-too bad. I can have whatever swords I w-want.”

“That is untrue.” Chikere didn’t have time to react when the man appeared next to his swords-conglomeration that he claimed was a single sword. She’d barely even noticed it dropping from the sky next to her. “My weapons only go to those who are worthy.”

On two sides of her, Chikere felt a spear thrusting to take her life, and a sword with power she couldn’t imagine facing… at her current level of power. She had sufficient confidence that she would reach that point with time. Her response was to charge straight forward, along the side of the old woman where she’d placed her own swords. There was no way she could defend against both… but she didn’t have to.

A portion of the arena exploded as swords and spear clashed. Chikere knew the sword hadn’t been coming for her, or she would have had no choice but to bet her life just to survive a single second. As the shockwaves of the attacks met, the ground rumbled and the clouds parted, and Chikere was quite glad that the sword’s menace, at least, didn’t follow her. Those who were smart had already been fleeing the area, not wanting to get involved in the battle- but several behind the old woman were cut down as a blade of force continued past her. The old woman held her spear, sliding and creating sparks against the smith’s blade. “What is the meaning of this, Sadiq?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” he said. “I created you a blade to be the prize in a grand tournament, and what have you done? How will it go to someone worthy now?”

“The Harmonious Citadel has many disciples who-”

“Are unworthy. Otherwise I would have made it for them.”

“You can’t possibly allow the weapon to go to a bandit and insurrectionist!”

“And why not?” Sadiq asked. “She won the tournament with her blades.”

The two fellows were talking quite casually for the way their intensity was beating against each other, sharp enough to kill anyone who got too close if they weren’t strong enough. Chikere heard them, but wasn’t paying much attention. She was focused on her prize, ready to slice open the inner formations and take it. Unfortunately, someone got there first. A woman with natural dark skin was there ahead of her, disarming the formation and putting her hands on Chikere’s sword.

“What…” Chikere coughed as she spoke before she could finish her questions. “Let g-go of myyy sword!”

The woman was from the Harmonious Citadel. Mid Integration stage, perhaps. Not young, but neither was she old. She turned casually towards the charging Chikere. “It’s not yours. It was always destined to end up with someone like me.”

Chikere tilted her head. She had sarcastic questions, but her throat hurt and talking seemed pointless. As she tilted, her swarm of swords curved along with her head motion.

The woman held her stolen sword in one hand while she pulled another from a sheathe at her waist. “I see you are a collector,” she said. “But such inferior weapons won’t do you much good, nor will your quantity.” 

Chikere had to admit the woman had some skill. Especially with the way her swords scissored around Chikere’s own blades and snapped them apart. Sure, they were absolutely the inferior ones- ranked fifty or less- but it was still blasphemy. But the woman was fast, keeping just on the edge of the cloud of swords while Chikere chased after her, slowed by surrounding battles and interference from other disciples. More swords were destroyed. It was quickly clear the woman was doing it just to aggravate her. She recalled them, sending them back into sheathes and storage bags. 

“So you do recognize your own weakness. Each blade you control is weaker than the last. Though I suppose there’s no point in giving you a lesson since you won’t have a chance to make use of it after you’re captured and executed.”

Chikere just mouthed words with her lips. The only thing she actually put voice to was, “You’re dead.”

A flash of movement and Chikere was in front of the woman wielding two swords. Chikere’s arms were outstretched, but the two blades locked around her. With a twist, her sword was flung from her hand. With the same motion, she cut gashes into each of Chikere’s shoulders, not quite avoidable. She was fast, and her power was certainly real. “You’d better surrender before you lose something.”

That was the problem with some people. First of all, if Chikere were going to die it didn’t matter if she lost her arms or legs a bit before that. Second, some people were afraid of minor consequences to an excessive degree. She steeled her gaze, extending her empty hands in front of her. She did not have to move, but instead she reacted to her opponent’s intent.

One sword came for each of her arms. Chikere reached out for both. The one to her right, her opponent’s left, was just a bit weaker and slower. It sharpness a few degrees less refined. It would be a good number two or three. It cut into her starting with her hand then made its way up her arm. Chikere did not intend to allow such a thing to happen, but she couldn’t stop it. What a pity. The blade was making it way closer to her, where she would be cut in half.

But… so was the other blade- on her left side, in her opponent’s right hand. But as it thrust into her palm, it did not waver in its position or trajectory. It did not cut through her- and though it stabbed deeper, once it was out the back of her hand it hardly meant anything. Chikere stepped forward with her left foot, angling her right side back to keep what was left of her arm there intact a moment longer, and reaching her left forward further until her fingers closed around the crossguard of her new sword.

The fact that her opponent was currently holding it had indeed crossed Chikere’s mind, but she wasn’t going to let something like that stop her. Nor did she worry about the way it ground against the bones inside her fingers as she twisted it out of her opponent’s grip, nor the way it cut as she twisted her wrist around without withdrawing the blade. She had no time for that, and the blade simply twisted around and cut off her opponent’s arm at the elbow. 

Both opponents took a step back, but only Chikere was grinning, her right arm fully mangled and her left held in the least comfortable manner possible to hold the blade forward, her fingers clutching white knuckled on the crossguard to barely touch their tips on the hilt itself. 

“… What’s wrong with you?” the woman asked.

“… My sword,” Chikere said. Honestly, it was so inconvenient to have a hole through her neck. She couldn’t wait until it healed. Too bad her arm wouldn’t do that, despite the cut being clean.

When her opponent tried to step forward, presumably to ‘finish off’ Chikere with her one good arm now that Chikere had two nearly crippled arms, she found the motion difficult. Then she had to sweep her sword behind her to deflect incoming attacks, not able to deal with the blade embedded in her foot. Chikere hadn’t called back all of her sword… she’d merely stopped directing them to attack. Unfortunately the woman’s energy was keeping Chikere from extending the power of the blade further up her leg, but it still held her in place just enough.

Chikere dashed forward, intent on cutting her in two. As it turned out, with insufficient power and a grip that couldn’t even be deemed ‘abnormal’ made it difficult. The woman was spun all the way back around to face Chikere having deflected her blades in an instant, their weapons clashing. Gouges were torn in the arena behind Chikere from excess energy, but her body remained mostly intact. Except for the arm thing and a little gash on her front.

Before Chikere could do more, her opponent leapt up- leaving the sword behind. Instead of falling back down, she stood upon the air. “Chikere the bandit. I will remember this insult.” Then, she turned to flee. Chikere might have chased the woman, but she’d already gotten her sword. She would like that other one, but her goal was accomplished.

She looked down at her right arm and cut it off at the shoulder. It would be easier to stop the flow if it was a clean cut, and she hadn’t been able to maneuver the damage to be something that could be fixed. With bandages supplementing a cap of her energy, she was no longer bleeding there. 

She flicked her hand to open her bag and pulled out a bottle of pills. She couldn’t remember what went into it, but there were a few different kinds. Some were for one thing, some another. She just downed the whole thing. Blood replenishment and wound closing pills had to be part of that. 

Then she looked around, setting her sight on the next target. Anyone from the Harmonious Citadel. That old woman with the spear was already fleeing Sadiq, and he seemed content to let her go… but the more damage Chikere could cause to them the better the whole plan would have gone. 

She grinned as the medicine coursed through her veins. Life was good. The Harmonious Citadel was being shamed, and she had a new sword. Shame about the arm though.

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