After Musa made his declaration, silence ensued. The heavy moment was broken by laughter and the surrounding people turned to the source of the sound, only to see Hafis barely managing to hold-in his mirth.
“Ha ha ha! Yes! I had thought a coward like you would be too afraid to pick me…after all your master would probably have spared your life. You remember how the Challenge by Blood works…the winner decides the fate of the loser. Master Ladidi please lead me to the Blood Battleground…I will be waiting for you trash.” Hafis said as he made his way deeper into the chamber towards a tunnel on the left without even waiting for instruction.
“Such an arrogant man…huh…I don’t know what I did wrong in training him.” Elder Ladidi complained before saying goodbye to Elder Usman and following after Hafis. The crowd dispersed excitedly to notify others about the upcoming challenge.
Meanwhile, Elder Usman, who was the oldest H’assassin in the clan now, even older than the clan head, worked up to Musa and frowned when his saw the different daggers in his hands.
“So you lost one of your shadow blades?” Musa’s master asked with a raised eyebrow.
Musa could not bring himself to respond and only nodded his head in shame. Although Musa was different from his past self as an external mage, he still remembered the kindness this wise old man showed to him when Musa was a student under his care.
His master’s element was fire and his gift was heat vision, a very useful ability in their line of work. Ironically, his master was the only H’assassin who did not struggle with control issues anymore while the Musa of before had been so disabled by his fear that he had failed his first solo contract and choose to vanish.
“Hmm, hurry to my room to get a new set of daggers and throwing weapons…Hafis is not as you remember.”
“Neither am I master.”
After saying this, Musa walked confidently into the same tunnel on the left.
Jide opened his eyes in his room as he had just managed to go in and out of a far-sight vision. He quickly rushed to record his memories of all the images he saw. As he was recalling the blurrier images from the far into the future visions, he smiled when he remembered a vision closer to the present and said, “Oh, Musa. Show-off.”
And indeed what only Jide knew was unfolding in the Blood Battleground.
Musa worked through the chamber and arrived in the open arena of the Blood Battleground. The arena was lit by torches on the wall and had an octagonal-shaped dias in the center with viewing platforms surrounding it. Although there were scattered shadows in the arena, the battleground was a lot better lit than the Shadow Battleground as it was designed for warriors of the clan. Therefore, Musa was already at a disadvantage.
Musa only smiled and stepped onto the stage.
“Ha ha ha prepare to die cousin, trash like you has no place in the clan.” Hafis said as he swung his mace around. The force from the air displace scattered the dust on the floor around him.
Musa just folded his arms, placing his hands near his daggers and waited.
As the crowing in the viewing platform increased, Elder Usman stepped out of the tunnel and joined Elder Ladidi at one end of the dias before saying casually, “Begin.”
It didn’t even dawn on Hafis to use his ability as he charged at Musa.
Meanwhile, Musa drew on the dark energy within him and harmonised it with the darkness energy around him to activate an ability he called ‘blackout’. Absolute darkness descended on the whole arena in an instant. Musa then liked this up with his dark ability stealth movement technique called shadow travel which manipulated the darkness essence of the dark cloak to corrode all sound while he performed the shadow waltz.
Dashing behind Hafis without him realising, Musa first stabbed one of his daggers far enough into the side of Hafis to wound but not mortally injure him before placing the other dagger at his throat. Then he lifted the blackout.
All this happened in the space of a few seconds as the spectators barely saw Hafis charging before the light went out and returned as they heard Hafis scream. Shock was plastered on everyone’s face.
“What…what just happened?” the usually calm Elder Usman could not even articulate clearly. Elder Ladidi was gripping the hilt of her saber as she stared cautiously at Musa. Hafis wanted to use his ability now but Musa pushed his dagger at Hafis throat a little harder, drawing blood and deterring any actions.
When Musa was sure that his opponent was subdued, he disengaged and moved calmly towards the two elders before bowing and saying, “Please take me to the clan chief, I will explain when everyone is gathered.”
Nnenna had enjoyed every single minute of their trip through the forest to get to the Oshodi Kingdom as she got to spend precious time with her master and other friends from the Night Owls. Their procession had faced some attacks by monsters on their path but their master and Nnenna surveillance had ensured they were never caught unawares. Nkeiru usually liked to serve the role as scout alone as she complained that anyone who followed her made too much noise. Obi took on the role as vanguard right behind her and he was equipped in heavy plate armour with a tower shield and cutlass.
Nnenna was sweating just looking at him.
Nnenna and Amaka as well as two other seniors from their hunters group made up the center while Kayto brought up the rear. Everyone body here except Nnenna was at least an experienced silver hunter which meant they had been in the forest alone multiple times. In fact, one of the two seniors was a Platinum hunter and of course Master Nkeiru was a Diamond hunter as one of the boss leaders of a hunter’s group in Omole. It was not to say that regular humans could hunt monsters with impunity but as a group or with traps and with enough time and effort, one could train to be able to hunt most of the beasts in the forest separating the State of Ife from Oshodi Kingdom. Therefore, it was possible for the older member’s to progress gradually.
However, this was no longer of concern to Nnenna as they currently were a week away from Oshodi Kingdom and had already passed a couple groups of hunters from there. They had been informed of the conditions at the border and the security checkpoint and screening to enter the border city which would only require them to show their mercenary license.
Nnenna was therefore confident that they would be able to get into the Kingdom and couldn’t wait to start the next phase of her adventure.