o the surface.
Standing right in front of him was an anomaly that he couldn't wrap his head around.

“A-AAHHH!”

Dispelling his skill, he swung down his dagger.

Anxiety, impatience, fear…
All three emotions circled through his head relentlessly.

He was too far gone now: his attack was full of desperation.
Now that the tables had turned, he couldn't calm down.
And so…

“Ah?!”

Right after he had slashed down with his dagger, the man in front of him moved, easily evading the strike, almost as if he'd seen through it.

“Is that all you've got?” the trader asked.

“Sh-shut up!”

When the assassin moved in for a followup attack, the trader was already creating space between the two of them.
The assassin couldn't understand it, and he leapt forward with a cry of frustration.

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“Assault Blade!”

He activated a superior assassin skill that would provide increased bonus damage against other people.
Being that assassins typically have a high agility factor, their attack speed was nothing to laugh at, and this particular assassin was no exception.
With his dagger, gleaming black and gripped in hand, he sped forward at a frightening speed to stab it into the trader's nape.

“Slash.”

At roughly the same time, the trader activated his own technique.

“A counterattack?” the assassin inwardly thought, smiling to himself.
“Is he trying to match me? Pfft, he's no match for my speed!”

The tip of his dagger had almost reached its target anyway…but the blade shook as it neared.

One of the trader's axes was still arcing through the air, and so long as he evaded the assassin's assault, his axe would strike its target with complete ease.

But…

The axe wasn't heading in the direction of the assassin himself…

“J-Just a little more!” he thought to himself.

Just a short distance more, and the dagger would reach home, and the axe…
It inched in further towards the assassin's hand.
The trader demonstrated not an ounce of hesitation, knowing that the slightest slip would greatly backfire on him.
It was almost as if he could read the future, or if he had known exactly how the assassin would lay his assault.

Without a single mistake, there was a sheen of blue light and —

“Guh!”

— a solid impact.

Th-this couldn't be…!

And with that, the assassin's dagger went flying out of his hand all too easily.
It was hardly an impossible feat — the power within the single-handed axe was not at all inferior to the assassin's own weapon.

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“…Slash.”

“Ah, shit!”

The trader swung his axe again.
The assassin, now devoid of his dagger, tried to dodge out of the way, but…

“Guh?!”

The trader read through the assassin's every move unrelentingly, timing his attack precisely to accurately strike.
The assassin's breath came out harshly.
His hands grabbed at the dirt as he crawled away after his bombardment, the trader looking down at him the whole while.

Most likely, the scenario should've normally been the exact opposite in the world of RL — the results should've already been decided from the get go.

Not much time had transpired after the trader's last attack, from the time when the trader had read the assassin's every intention to escape but having been blocked, and the time when the assassin's weapon had been tossed to the wastes as the trader had pursued with yet another attack.

Suffering one attack after another, the assassin had reached his limit both mentally and physically.
And there the trader was, looking down his nose at the assassin as he crawled through the dirt shamefully.

“What the hell are you?!” he shouted, his words empty — or to put it more correctly, shouting was the absolute most he could do at this point.

Even if he wanted to fight, he had no weapon to work with, and even if he did, everything would probably end the same way it had before.
These were the only thoughts he had spiraling around in his head.

In no way, shape, or form, was a “victory” achievable here.

He only had ten percent of health left, and it seemed like the merchant's last attack would be amidst the same silence as it had been.
More than likely, this next attack would finish the assassin off completely.
No longer bearing any hope of escape, the assassin closed his eyes.

In the darkness, he heard the axe cut through the air.

“I am…a trader,” came a low and calm voice.

His words, said by someone who had died more times than he could count, were voiced simultaneously the next announcement:

[You died.]

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