Chapter 90: Tilting Scale Balance (3)
The first move was made by Hawa.
‘He wants me to have a go?’ she thought as she shot forward, baffled by Chi-Woo’s provocation.
She knew that he was a hero who specialized in fighting spirits, but the recruits from the celestial realm had lost their powers. Moreover, Chi-Woo was hopeless in close combat as he had said himself. When she had first fought with him, Hawa thought she was fighting a complete idiot, and knocking him off balance was as easy as subduing a child. And even though she had battled him countless times so far, she never had to go all out even once. She engaged him with moderate effort while thinking it was bothersome that Chi-Woo mostly evaded and defended, but now that he was actively egging her on, it seemed only natural for her to respond to his provocation in kind.
Wanting to quickly put Chi-Woo into his rightful place, Hawa quickly shortened the distance between them. Her eyes widened in shock when Chi-Woo rushed toward her as well rather than backing away as he had done before. They were running toward each other.
‘He really wants to have at it?’ Putting it to test, Hawa threw a light jab at the left side of Chi-Woo’s face. Chi-Woo pushed her hand away with relative ease but ended up exposing the side of his ribs. Hawa aimed a round kick at the opening, and Chi-Woo twisted his body to evade the attack.
Hawa scowled and decided to back away for now. Usually, the kick would’ve landed; Chi-Woo would’ve been flung away by a great distance after shouting ‘Whoa!’ in surprise, and the fight would’ve ended. Even when he hadn’t been hit, Hawa would’ve still maintained her upper hand and pounded him one-sidedly until she ended the fight.
But that was all in the past, and Chi-Woo maintained a calmness that indicated he had read her movements and calculated the possible repercussions of his own actions. In other words, he was now able to approach the battle logically and decipher his and his opponent’s movements.
‘He progressed.’ Well, that was only expected of a hero. Even if Chi-Woo wasn’t an expert in close combat, Hawa had thought Chi-Woo’s fighting style was strange; case in point, he spun slightly every time he attacked. It was like he needed time to break a habit he’d developed while practicing in one spot.
‘How bothersome.’ Even if Chi-Woo was an easy opponent, he was still a hero. His instincts alone set him apart from regular folks, and there were a couple of times when she had thought her attack would land on him for sure, only for Chi-Woo to evade it. Hawa was sure that it had been his instincts that helped him in those situations, because when she purposefully confused his senses by making feint attack after feint attack, Chi-Woo had failed to dodge out of the way.
Confusing Chi-Woo’s senses was her best strategy, which had allowed her to boast a victory rate of 100% when Chi-Woo only blocked and evaded when fighting. Yet today, after hiding like a turtle inside his sh.e.l.ls until now, Chi-Woo was coming to the forefront to face her.
‘Should I check whether his newfound confidence is valid or not?’ Hawa was aware that Chi-Woo had received La Bella’s blessing, and that his physical attributes had noticeably improved. However, he hadn’t been able to surpa.s.s a human’s limit yet. No matter how highly she regarded his physical attributes, Chi-Woo was still lagging far behind Ru Amuh, and Hawa was sure that she could match up to him if she really tried.
Were their physical attributes on a similar level, what would determine the winner would be combat skills. Even if Chi-Woo had retained all his experiences as a hero, Hawa had undergone rigorous training since she was young and escaped death by a hairbreadth many times. Considering the man’s past and the resulting drawbacks, she was confident in winning.
Thus, Hawa dived into a full-on offensive. She kicked her left and right feet fast and irregularly while shortening the distance between them, her relentless kicks keeping Chi-Woo’s hands busy. When there was less than a meter left between them, Hawa suddenly stopped kicking sideways; her leg folded like a crane instead before soaring upwards. Chi-Woo hurriedly tipped his head back, and Hawa’s feet brushed past his jaw, missing by a hair. Chi-Woo quickly lowered his head again, and as if she had expected him to do just that, Hawa dived in with her next attack.
Hawa’s fist struck out like lightning and hit Chi-Woo’s left eye. Hawa felt a heavy thud through her hand and became sure that she had landed an effective blow. ‘It worked,’ she thought, but then Hawa’s eyes widened. Although she had struck him properly, it was her hand that was hurting. It felt as if she had hit a boulder with her bare fist.
The next moment, Chi-Woo gripped the fist Hawa had thrown. Hawa flinched. It was surprising that Chi-Woo hadn’t backed away nor even groaned after getting hit. Unlike the time he had jumped up and down from a light punch, Chi-Woo faced Hawa with strained, bloodshot eyes. Before Hawa could pull her hand back out, he yanked her towards him and b.u.t.ted heads with her with great force.
Thud. The impact threw Hawa’s head backward, and blood gushed out of her nose.
“Ah—” Hawa wavered. It was Chi-Woo’s turn to rush forward now. Even as she backed away, Hawa swung her left fist, but Chi-Woo dodged out of the way gracefully by bending his waist. Hawa was then fully exposed, so Chi-Woo rushed towards her. But at that moment, he saw the curved tails of her eyes and the raised edges of her lips. She was smiling like was a.s.sured of her victory.
Hawa knew Chi-Woo had let the punch land on his eye on purpose. She then predicted his next actions and guided him accordingly; she had purposefully swung her left fist widely to make him bend. Aiming for the same left eye that she had struck before, Hawa swung her right arm. Seeing Chi-Woo flinch as her plan fell into place, Hawa was certain she would secure the victory with this punch, but then…her right fist swung wide in the air.
‘What?’ The punch that didn’t land ended up breaking Hawa’s balance. She gaped slightly to see that Chi-Woo had never straightened his body. He had purposefully broken his balance and toppled over. As a result, Hawa’s fist had only grazed the top of Chi-Woo’s head.
‘How did he respond to that?’ Her timing had been perfect. Even if Chi-Woo had sensed what she was going to do, his body shouldn’t have been able to keep up. Hawa was especially confident about her agility and quick reflex, so she was boggled by Chi-Woo’s impressive reaction speed even after witnessing it.
The wide attack left an opening as her body struggled to regain balance. Chi-Woo bounced off the ground like a spring and didn’t miss this opportunity. After bending his arms, he swung his fist while remembering all the humiliation and pain he had to suffer.
“Ack!” Chi-Woo struck Hawa in her stomach, hard, and Hawa doubled over, flying into the air and slamming into the wall. After letting out a gasp that she had been holding in, she quickly spun around because Chi-Woo was throwing another punch.
Chi-Woo’s fist struck the rock wall and left large cracks on it. Hawa’s pupils shook slightly at the sight, but Chi-Woo’s attacks continued. While enduring the pain in her stomach, she tripped Chi-Woo with her leg and climbed on top of him, wrapping and tightening her thighs around his neck while twisting his arms.
Chi-Woo groaned from the pain, and Hawa yelled as she tried to hold Chi-Woo back.
“Ahh!” Hawa screamed in agony. All red from the lack of air, Chi-Woo had bitten into Hawa’s thighs and ripped off a piece of her flesh. Shocked, Hawa kicked fervently and tried to escape, but Chi-Woo didn’t let her go. Even as he got kicked, he didn’t let go of Hawa’s ankle. After succeeding in throwing her down, Chi-Woo climbed on top of her and attempted to punch her. He struck his fist and elbows down continuously. If the fight turned into a messy brawl instead of a battle of techniques, Chi-Woo was at an advantage with his better durability; and this had been Chi-Woo’s plan all along after seeing Hawa’s user information. Like Chi-Woo had predicted, Hawa could no longer resist. She simply covered her face, alternating the arm she was using to block the attacks.
After the barrage of punches, Chi-Woo forcefully pulled Hawa’s arms away, but when he saw her face, he stopped. Hawa was bleeding from her nose, her lips had burst, and her eyes were brown and blue. Her slightly ajar lips trembled, and other parts of her body were shuddering as well. After seeing the look of fear in her eyes, Chi-Woo stopped attacking. In Hawa’s point-of-view, the current Chi-Woo in front of her was the definition of a beast.
There was only animosity in his bloodshot eyes. The only thing on Chi-Woo’s mind was to kill his opponent. And Hawa now fully realized what being Chi-Woo’s enemy meant. She had thought of it as a declaration of his change in att.i.tude mixed in with a bluff, indicating that he hadn’t tried his best before. However, that wasn’t it. Chi-Woo hadn’t gone easy on her before, but he had also never considered Hawa his enemy. He had always treated her like a roommate or a companion, but once he saw her as an enemy, he acted like an entirely different person. This was how Chi-Woo treated his enemies.
‘But still, it’s too…’ How could someone change this much?
Chi-Woo quietly collected his breath and got up after seeing that Hawa seemed to have lost her will to fight. Seeing him do that, Hawa’s blank eyes regained their glint, and while lying down, she kicked Chi-Woo’s private area.
“Ugh!” Chi-Woo immediately fell. He couldn’t help it when his legs gave out, and he clutched on his hurting bits while screaming, “Eh! Ehhh!”
“You should have…finished properly.” Hawa laughed and stood up. “You have to stay vigilant at all times…” She staggered to Chi-Woo and was about to kick him in the face.
Hawa froze mid-kick and slowly looked down. Chi-Woo’s foot was between her thighs and had struck her in the same area she had struck him.
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“…Like…this…?” Chi-Woo smirked as he was still going through an indescribable pain.
“What…” Chi-Woo couldn’t hide his astonishment.
“If you want to hear the word oppa so much, why don’t you try winning one more time?” Hawa said.
“Right now!” Hawa yelled as Chi-Woo snickered. Her eyes burned with revenge. It seemed Hawa’s compet.i.tive spirit was no joke, either.
“I was taken off guard, but I acknowledge your skills, and I will fight properly from now on.”
“So, you want to fight one more time? Right away?”
“We are done with healing anyways.”
“Well, I suppose we can.”
Hawa got out determinedly, while Chi-Woo got out of the pool leisurely. Not long afterward—
The battle ended with a literal bang. Covered in blood from head to toe, Chi-Woo dragged an equally beaten and tattered Hawa into the spring pool. And after she regained consciousness while receiving treatment, she felt a strange sense of déjà vu. While blankly staring at Chi-Woo smirk, she remembered that she had fainted in the middle of the battle and lost again.
“Come on, don’t tell me the great successor of the Shahnaz tribe will break a promise?” Chi-Woo chuckled. “When even I kept my promise.”
Chi-Woo was pressuring Hawa to uphold their bet since he had followed his without complaint. Although Hawa’s body shuddered in humiliation, she couldn’t snap back because of all the things she had done until now.
“What are you doing~ Hurry up~ Huh~?”
In the end, after a long pause, Hawa muttered, “…O…O…” Left with no other option, she forcefully moved her heavy lips and muttered barely audibly, “…ppa.”
“Huh?” Yet Chi-Woo didn’t let the matter slide so easily. He had been waiting for this moment too much to do so. “I can’t hear you~?” Chi-Woo pushed his ear closer to Hawa’s face and nodded. Hawa inhaled deeply. She would love to grab Chi-Woo’s ear and pull it apart if she could, but she had already promised.
“…I got it. Oppa…”
Satisfied, Chi-Woo nodded and clapped in satisfaction. Considering their ages, it was only right for Hawa to call Chi-Woo oppa, but Hawa felt an incomprehensible sense of humiliation and shuddered. Then she said, “Let’s fight one more time tomorrow.”
Instead of answering, Chi-Woo turned his head away while pretending to be occupied with something else. Hawa heaved and while tamping down the rage that was boiling inside her, she added, “Oppa.” Finally, Chi-Woo chuckled and responded. Even the fishes inside the spring pool covered their mouths with their fins and laughed at her.
“Scram!” Hawa splashed the water around and took her anger out on the fishes.
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