Zenith Online: Rebirth of the Strongest Player
Chapter 328: Ruthless Valor, The Menace Surfaces

Kieran's claim to be the most dangerous menace on the battlefield wasn't unwarranted. Setting aside his accolades of slaughter thus far, simply the activation of this new passive was enough to turn Kieran into an absurd opponent.

Granted, this skill served no purpose in small fights, so despite its high ranking, it did have its apparent shortcomings. That said, Kieran understood the reason for such an ability, so if he was being honest, it played its role perfectly.

There was no reason for it to venture into several different paths when it was designed to excel in one—ruthlessness.

「 Ruthless Valor (Lv.1)

Skill Rank: S

Skill Type: Passive

Mastery (00.01%)

Description: After this passive detects a proper murderous impulse within the user, the following effect: «Ruthless Catharsis» will activate.

«Ruthless Catharsis» - Based on the user's Infamy Value, they can exhaust a portion of it to reset the cooldown of active skills related to the «True Berserker» Hidden Class. (Skills outside of the natural Skill Tree remain unaffected.) [Note: This passive only applies to S Rank and below Active Skills.]

1 - 10 Infamy Value: Resets up D Rank Active Skills

11 - 50 Infamy Value: Resets up to C Rank Active Skills

51 - 100 Infamy Value: Resets up to B Rank Active Skills

101 - 500 Infamy Value: Allows the user to reduce the remaining cooldown of an A Rank Skill by up to 50%.

501 - 999 Infamy Value: Fully resets A Rank Active Skills.

1000+ Infamy Value: Reduces the cooldown of S Rank Skills by 20% for every 1000 Infamy consumed.

Note: At its current level, «Ruthless Catharsis» is not capable of completely expunging Infamy. The remaining value must surpass 50% of the initial Infamy Value to engage in a «Ruthless Catharsis». 」

Cooldown resetting! Such an ability was absurd.

However, what was more absurd than the ability to reset skill cooldowns was the ability to do so by expelling Infamy!

In other words, the True Berserker Class promoted and even rewarded slaughter!

As Kieran gazed upon the Infamy Counter that appeared in the corner of his eyes, he grinned from ear to ear. One of the reasons he had never gone on a rampage was due to the inconvenience of having Fourth Degree Infamy.

The hefty fines he would face and the annoying bounties he would experience were simply not worth the hindrance in his eyes.

Though Kieran enjoyed exacting revenge, he understood that momentary bliss was oftentimes a double-edged sword laced with poison.

In the end, he would only end up hurting himself if he indulged to the point it was senseless.

However, with the presence of Ruthless Valor and the ability to achieve a Ruthless Catharsis, Kieran no longer held any reservations toward the matter.

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If he felt like the situation demanded that he go on a rampage… he would let loose!

Thus, Kieran picked up Crimson Ashrune and looked at the Seven Antumbra Agents as if they were already dead. In his eyes, the fate of these seven individuals was already sealed.

"Sanguine Slashes!"

Kieran first began by activating this skill that drained his Health at a constant rate. Then, he took a single step forward, his eyes fixated on Xis, the swordsman that initially damaged his Tensile Blood Swath.

"You. I'll be taking your head," Kieran declared.

Due to his confident words, Xion narrowed his eyes and scrutinized Kieran's sudden change in demeanor.

In truth, the vibe Kieran emanated was no different from their own.

Perhaps it was even worse.

Not only did he emit the presence of a trained killer—he emitted the presence of one that had engaged in hundreds, perhaps even a thousand killings.

Kieran's bloodlust was simply unprecedented.

The potency was to the point that Xion began to question the background and history of this individual before him. Could they be another hired hand?

'I wonder… how many confirmed kills does this man have to emit this kind of bloodlust,' Xion thought to himself.

However, he couldn't ponder this question for long because Kieran began his retaliation shortly after he made his declaration.

Bang!

Kieran sped forth while using Surge Step to increase his speed.

At the moment, Xion felt it was best to intercept Kieran and put a stop to his actions. Despite their identity as the Seven Antumbra Agents of Umbra, Xion couldn't justify an ego challenge.

He was the type to stick with the option of the greatest odds of success.

Therefore, Xion issued an immediate order the moment he sensed Kieran preparing to act. "Wujing, Bleak—intercept."

"Understood."

The two other assassins namely Wujing and Bleak sped toward Kieran with Soundless Bursts, but they weren't the only ones. The two fighter-type members approached as well but did so from two off-angles.

Yet Kieran didn't change his action, he traveled toward Xis at breakneck speed.

A collision was inevitable at the pace everyone was moving.

Of course, Kieran's speed eclipsed the others but because they were close to one another, Bleak and Wujing quickly appeared within Kieran's path of advance.

Whoosh! Whoosh!

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Both of them aimed strikes at Kieran but he shifted his eyes back and forth before tossing Crimson Ashrune up slightly.

Bang! Bang!

Moments before the daggers met Kieran's body, he slapped their wrists away and spun in a way that let him kick both of their elbows simultaneously.

Not only were their arms immediately shattered by the force of Kieran's attack, but they also lost control due to the Shattered Bones effect. This led to their arms being flung inward, resulting in their daggers piercing their chest.

Their eyes widened in disbelief when Kieran snatched Crimson Ashrune out of the air and cleaved their bodies in half with a circular slash.

Crimson Ashrune itself may be somewhat of a blunt weapon, but the Vampiric Blood Encrustation and Sanguine Slashes made it razor sharp!

With the death of Wujing and Bleak, Kieran's Infamy Value increased.

Though he was listed as a Defender since the Seven Antumbra Agents attacked first, he somehow still received an increase in Infamy.

While it was mere speculation, Kieran believed this was related to his new passive. Perhaps it made it so the system couldn't differentiate when Kieran was an Aggressor or a Defender.

Nevertheless, the situation didn't mean much to Kieran anymore since he could unload up to half of his accumulated Infamy to become a true menace.

After dealing with these two, Kieran suddenly stomped his foot.

"Grand Stomp!"

Due to the incredible force of this action, the ground exploded, forming large fissures where slabs of rock erupted and made traveling through them essentially impossible unless nimble enough.

Though, utilizing one's nimbleness to maneuver the changed terrain was not the smartest idea.

After using Grand Stomp, Kieran stood in place. As he narrowed his eyes, his ears twitched, picking up on the sounds of light footsteps approaching on the elevated chunks of rock.

Kieran casually waved his hand, launching Crimson Ashrune at the upcoming position of these footsteps.

Before Xion could warn them of the incoming attack, Crimson Ashrune, which had expanded to thrice its size thanks to Kieran activating his go-to skill—Seethe Burst—was already upon the unsuspecting agents.

Boom!

Without turning to look, Kieran pulled on the newly reformed Tensile Blood Swath, retrieving Crimson Ashrune while his Infamy Value increased to 4.

One thought came to Xion's mind as he witnessed Kieran's overwhelming display. 'These are not the movements of a person believed to be exhausted.'

Bang! Bang!

All of a sudden, Xion heard muffled thuds with a strange explosive property sound beside his ear. As he looked, he witnessed Vielens with an excited expression.

However, it was not an expression normal people would make.

It was almost as if the euphoric thought of battling against someone like Kieran put Vielens in a manic state.

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"Xion, let's handle him together. Me and you together, we're of a different level of skill," Vielens suggested, his crazed grin becoming even more unsightly.

Xion considered the suggestion briefly before ultimately deciding to nod. "Very well. I just hope that you can keep up with my movements."

"Keep up?" Vielens scoffed with an amused smirk. "Do you know what a Vajra is? It's the weapon of some god named Indra, which serves as the inspiration for my class."

All of a sudden, light blue crackles enveloped Vielens arms and legs as his hands became encased in what appeared to be a diamond-like exterior.

This ability was the reason the class was called a Vajra Brawler.

A few moments after he made these preparations, Vielens darted toward Kieran at a speed that only Xion could match when it regarded the capabilities of the Seven Antumbra Agents.

As he watched them approach Kieran squinted, contemplating his next move. Would he target Xion or would he go after Vielens?

Eventually, Kieran came to another conclusion, executing an attack where he left one vulnerability. The vulnerability was positioned so that both Vielens and Xion could target it.

However, whoever engaged in such an activity would be a true fool.

Sadly for Kieran and fortunately for those two, neither Vielens nor Xion took the bait cast in front of their tempted eyes. The outcome of this failed tactic was Kieran having to deal with their simultaneous attack.

Out of the two, Kieran was most surprised by the attack Vielens mustered.

'Oh? Not only did the force of his strike increase, but so has the density and speed. Additionally…'

Kieran looked at the cerulean arcs of lightning that attempted to enter his body but were unsuccessful due to the protection of his Vampiric Blood Encrustation.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Though Kieran exceeded them in attributes, Kieran found himself in an odd situation due to precise shots of the archer.

If Kieran took his eye off them for even a second, an arrow would appear shortly after.

Eventually, Kieran grew tired of the entire situation. "I've entertained you long enough now I can't afford to do so anymore."

In the background, Kieran could feel an eerie energy brewing, one that felt ghastly and somewhat malevolent. And there was only one presence within the sea of players that could produce such a phenomenon.

Following his statement, Kieran suddenly slammed his foot on the ground, creating a pool of rapidly expanding blood. The viscosity quickly increased until it formed chains.

The chains snaked and crisscrossed as the two dodged them.

However, Kieran didn't expect this skill to successfully entrap these nimble opponents. But, it did buy time.

Time for Kieran to perform two actions.

His first action—unleashing a massive Crimson Current against the archer. His second—executing a Phantasmal Flicker that allowed him to effortlessly lob off Xis' head.

"As I told you before—his head is mine." After speaking, Kieran looked in a certain direction. "If you're going to approach me, then do so. Otherwise, your subordinates will continue to die meaningless deaths. Though, if I'm being truthful, not even your intervention will change things."

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Zenith Online: Rebirth of the Strongest Player Chapter 328: Ruthless Valor, The Menace Surfaces
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