Chaos' Heir - Chapter 685
The people under the gazebo belonged to superior leagues, but their words spread through the roof, reaching the soldiers' ears. Many Thilku froze when Lord Rsi mentioned the Emperor, and their stern expressions couldn't hide their restless mana.
Similar reactions unfolded under the gazebo. Onp held back a cough when he heard that name, and deep respect filled Lord Exr's mana. The sole mention of the Emperor could make any Thilku bow in respect.
Khan didn't need the symphony to tell him how serious the situation was. He could deal with soldiers and Lords, but the Emperor's name carried too much power. He was nothing more than an ant before it.
Nevertheless, Khan didn't wallow in fear nor jump to formal apologies. His actions had stirred displeasure inside the Empire, but he had paid a heavy price for them. His shoulders now carried the weight of genocide, and the Thilku even wanted to disrespect him for that.
"[I expected more than veiled threats after giving the Empire a planet]," Khan exclaimed.
Khan's statement spread shock among the crowd on the roof, with two exceptions. Lord Exr smiled, almost proud that Khan would reply in that fashion. As for Lord Rsi, he felt pure irritation.
"[You didn't give the Empire anything]," Lord Rsi snorted. "[We could have colonized this planet whenever we wanted]."
"[False]," Khan stated. "[You needed me to kill someone you couldn't kill]."
The Thilku had to hold back gasps. As true as Khan's words were, speaking them so brazenly was no different from an insult. He was basically claiming that no one inside the Empire could match him.
Of course, that was a well-known truth by then. Khan's name wouldn't have become so famous in that foreign environment otherwise. After all, he had killed a fourth-level Thilku enhanced by the Nak's mutation. That feat alone put him at the very top of the third level.
Still, the issue remained. Khan was right, but the Empire didn't like it. Its pride was too great to accept that a human had surpassed all the Thilku soldiers at the same level.
"[Are you accusing the Empire of weakness]?" Lord Rsi questioned.
"[I've always respected and acknowledged the Thilku's strength]," Khan pointed out. "[I'm simply the strongest]."
Khan's words didn't carry any trace of arrogance or delusion. He didn't convey pride either. He had merely stated a truth that no one could refute.
For the first time since the beginning of the festival, Lord Rsi diverted his gaze from the streets to look at Khan. The irritation was still there, but a tinge of curiosity had appeared. Khan's confidence and utter recklessness had stirred that feeling, making the Thilku desire to inspect that strange human.
To Lord Rsi's surprise, Khan looked beyond ordinary. His blue hair was odd for a human, but everything else was in line with the rest of his species.
However, Khan's extraordinary features had nothing to do with his physical appearance, and Lord Rsi felt able to smell that. The Thilku didn't have enhanced senses, but his level granted him a broader understanding of mana-related topics. In his eyes, Khan looked immense and dangerous, like a volcano ready to explode.
"[Why were you so adamant to help on Cegnore]?" Lord Rsi asked.
"[My situation required higher fame and status]," Khan shortly explained, finally meeting Lord Rsi's red eyes, "[And I have a personal beef with the Nak]."
"[Who doesn't]?" Lord Rsi scoffed. "[You still stole honor that belonged to the Thilku. How do you plan to repay the Empire]?"
"[I don't]," Khan responded. "[I earned my strength. I won't apologize for using it]."
Khan and Lord Rsi fell into a stalemate of stares, adding a chilling feeling to the roof's atmosphere. Almost every Thilku shuddered under it, and Lord Exr remained the only exception.
Lord Exr obviously didn't like any potentially offensive remark directed at the Empire, but his mind had already accepted Khan as the next Ambassador. He had long since made his decision, so he let himself enjoy the clash between his chosen man and his superior.
"[Words won't convince me]," Lord Rsi exclaimed. "[Unless you prove your strength to me, your existence will remain a blight on the Empire's pride]."
"[You could have started with that, My Lord]," Khan declared.
Lord Rsi snorted before releasing a short, hoarse cry. His voice filled the roof and spread on the streets below, threatening to deafen any Thilku in his surroundings.
Nothing happened once the cry dispersed, but a movement in the symphony turned Khan's gaze to his right. Something was coming at high speed, and a gale soon blew on the roof.
The gale wasn't natural. Mana accompanied that harmless wind, hinting at the existence of a spell or similar techniques. The reason for that soon became clear, and Khan heaved a helpless sigh at its sight.
A two-and-a-half-meter-tall Thilku appeared past the roof's edge and rose higher into the air, seemingly flying without needing footwork or additional gestures. Confidence brimmed in his dark-red eyes, and his fluttering red cape infused the scene with a thick sense of pride.
Of course, Khan instantly understood the truth. The newly arrived Thilku wasn't flying. He was riding the gale that had blown on the roof. His element probably had something to do with wind, which his martial art exploited to make that technique possible.
Flying was a rare skill, so the Thilku on the roof smiled in pride, seeing their companion matching one of Khan's most troublesome abilities. However, Khan only saw flaws in that technique. Moreover, the challenger's level left him completely disappointed.
"[That's Imtd]," Lord Rsi announced, "[One of the best warriors of the Empire. Defeat him, and I'll start to believe you]."
Khan could only sigh again. Imtd looked strong and full of battle experience, but his level triggered Khan's anger. Imtd was a third-level warrior. That was beneath what he was willing to accept.
"[I've never felt more insulted in my life]," Khan stated, standing up and unfastening the sheath on his waist. "[Out of respect for the Empire, I won't kill him]."
Lord Exr had to hide a smile when he saw the sheath fall on the pillow, but the other Thilku found the gesture insulting. Khan might have defeated a mutated fourth-level warrior, but taking a fellow warrior lightly was a serious offense.
Amox shared those feelings but for different reasons. He had fought Khan not too long ago, so he didn't doubt his battle prowess. Still, there was a limit to how much Khan could do without his air advantage.
Lord Rsi opted for silence, limiting himself to following Khan's sprint outside the gazebo. The sudden movement didn't cause any ripple in the lingering soft gale, and the two challengers soon met above the streets past the rooftop.
Khan gently tapped the air to hover in a spot visible from the rooftop. Meanwhile, Imtd let himself fall before another gale ran under his feet and stopped his descent. The Thilku stopped at some distance from Khan, matching his altitude, and his grin turned into a stern face at the absence of the sheath.
"[You underestimate me]," Imtd declared in a hoarse tone, pointing at Khan's empty waist.
Khan casually inspected the symphony, studying how Imtd kept himself in the air. The Thilku didn't need strong gales to fly, but his feet never stopped releasing mana. The technique was quite heavy on his energy reserves, but seemed able to create decent bursts of speed that could surpass Khan's basic martial art.
"[Attack already]," Khan sighed. "[I didn't come here for this pointless demonstration]."
Khan didn't want to insult the Thilku. His words had been a pure and cynical declaration of how little he thought about Imtd. That warrior was actually strong, but Khan couldn't consider him a worthy opponent.
Imtd didn't take Khan's words lightly. Battle intent shone in his eyes before that complete disregard toward his expertise and achievements. He wanted to teach Khan a lesson, and his mana moved accordingly.
The Thilku's mana escaped his body and fused with the surrounding air to create a forward gale that blew in Khan's face. Part of that wind carried sharp and heavy features that seemed able to cut the flesh or hinder its movements.
Khan remained still under that attack. Ordinary soldiers would feel forced to close their eyes, but he kept his open, radiating the same disregard for his opponent's power. Nothing could make him falter, and the attack eventually began.
Imtd shot forward, riding the gale while using the sharp parts of that wind to hinder Khan's escape routes. The Thilku was looking for a frontal clash, and his scary acceleration seemed able to make it happen in a fraction of a second.
However, the wind suddenly dispersed. Imtd found himself with no foothold right before Khan. His momentum also prevented him from stopping, but Khan took care of that.
Imtd's vision went dark when a hand closed his eyes. Khan casually grabbed the Thilku's head before sprinting at full speed back to the roof. The acceleration destabilized Imtd's balance, and the urge to throw up filled his torso when his back hit something solid.
When Imtd became able to see again, his entire mind froze. He found himself on the roof, right before the Lords' platform. His back was on the floor, but his body wouldn't move. His eyes were glued to the terrifying figure hovering above him.
"[You are dead]," Khan calmly exclaimed without looking at the warrior below him. His eyes were on Lord Rsi, but no intensity filled them. His expression wanted the Thilku to know how worthless third-level warriors were to him.