Max immediately became suspicious when he saw the field behind them, having no signs of burns on its surface.
When Max first encountered Smiling Death, it was the searing heat of the flame that gave away his position.
Feeling the sudden change of temperature, Max was then able to react instantly, dodging back to create space between them.
Now from the looks of things, it seemed like it was only some sort of trick, possibly an illusion that could deceive his senses.
However, Max currently had no way of confirming it. If there was really an illusion applied to the weapon, Max could only take a risk to find out.
If the illusion is powerful enough to play with his senses, then there's nothing he could do to block it.
But Max also knows that he wasn't wrong this time. Adding up every clue he gathered, this illusion should only be limited to the space around the weapon.
This can be proven by the disappearance of the scorching surface beneath Smiling Death once he moved past and left the area.
When Max recalled the initial attack earlier, the possibility of the weapon having an illusion around it became more and more believable.
A moment ago, when Max was only curiously looking around the strange landscape, what revealed the unexpected ambush was the sudden arrival of intense heat.
It was a failure of an ambush. The usual silent and sneaky attack were replaced by what felt like a massive fireball being thrown at him.
Max would be a fool not to notice such an attack. Up to this, Max could say that attempting to catch someone off guard and using a striking, bold weapon like that doesn't make a good combination.
This also solidified his idea that the illusion was on the weapon, not on the man.
Max knew this because if it were the man who has the illusion, or having an illusion related skill, then he would have held his skill back so as to not expose himself and waited to close the distance on him before using it.
Since Smiling Death did not do it like that, Max could only assume that Smiling Death had no control of the illusion, causing him to think that the illusion was on the weapon, not on the individual.
"Looks like I'll have to test it."
Max brightened up as soon as his mind formed a great plan.
Running through the lifeless forest, one could only see dying trees and barren drylands. Life doesn't seem to be welcomed here with the absence of vitality in the surroundings.
Contrary to the towering mountain that Max arrived at, this place didn't have the abundance of creatures, and the woods also lacked spirit, giving off a dark, bleak atmosphere.
But for Max, this forest has everything he needs. Reflecting on his eyes was a large trunk blocking his way, if Max didn't move aside, he would be hit in the next second.
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Smiling Death's smile turned wider, thinking that this was his chance to catch up to Max. In front of him was a clump of trees, which would make it harder for his target to escape.
Luckily for Smiling Death, the direction Max was running towards was where he originally planned to go, so no time will be wasted in this unending chase.
Just as he got closer, Smiling Death was surprised to see Max collecting dead woods from the nearby trees he passes through.
But he quickly forgot about it since sticks would cause no harm to him. This futile action would not change anything. What can a mere branch do against him?
Max collected more and more woods, breaking them off from the fragile trees. He disregarded the small and overly large ones and only picked the decent-sized ones, carrying them with both his hands.
This was everything he needed to conduct the test. The rest would be up to his vision.
After counting down a few seconds, Max suddenly threw the woods towards Smiling Death, who was following closely behind him.
As the distance between them wasn't too wide, the projectile he threw shot directly towards Smiling Death.
However, it didn't manage to hit him. Brandishing his dagger, Smiling Death easily blocked and slashed the flying objects targeted at him.
Smiling Death was amused by the ineffective attempts. If he got held back by some tree branches, then even he would be ashamed of himself.
Unknown to him, Max couldn't wipe off the smile on his face. He had finally confirmed it. Now at long last, it was time for him to fight back.
Not giving Smiling Death an idea, Max slightly slowed down, pretending to be exhausted to further narrow the distance between them.
Once the gap got smaller, Max, with great force, suddenly took an opposite turn, lunging towards Smiling Death, who was surprised by his actions.
Shouldn't he be the one chasing? Why did his target, who had only been running away the whole time, suddenly turned on him?
Although Smiling Death was surprised, he was quick to react, blocking the dagger that appeared out of nowhere on his target's hands.
A sharp metallic sound rang out as the two weapons collided, each having their own force empowering it.
Hearing this, Max now proved that all those terrifying flames were fake, which was only meant to trick his senses into believing it was all real.
His dagger was nothing special. It was only a disposable one that is designed to be used on casual battles and training.
Max had lots of it in his Inventory. It was cheap for a dagger, yet it managed to stay undamaged even after connecting to the fiery, destructive blade the man had.
Naturally, it wasn't that his dagger was special in any way. It was only proof that the weapon on the man's hands was nothing but an ordinary blade disguised as something formidable.
Max only dared to try this because he was already confident that it was only an illusion.
When Max threw back a good amount of tree branches, the man would only evade it, but occasionally, he would use his dagger to block it.
Every time he did that, Max would always keep a close eye at the parts where the branches connect with the weapon.
Since Max only got decent sized branches, he would clearly see if it was burnt by the weapon or not, and with the fearsome power behind the flames, it would surely not be limited to small burns.
Just like what he had expected, the tree branches never once ignited in flames.
This made his confidence grow, and ultimately, it led to the decision of Max using his weapon to initiate the first contact.
Knowing that the weapon was only an ordinary one, Max had no more reason to be alarmed.
It was time to put an end to all of this.
Without stopping, Max rained down a barrage of attacks with Smiling Death, only barely keeping up with him. Still, his smile never disappeared as if nothing could ever bother him.
Finally, when Max saw an opportunity, his dagger nimbly went past the arm of Smiling Death straight towards his chest.
The dagger mysteriously bounced off. Surprised, Max only paused for a second before swiftly sliding to his side, swinging his blade towards his unprotected throat.
Smiling Death only smiled at Max as if he had already expected it. Max, on the other hand, became more serious while also being slightly confused.
This couldn't possibly be another trick, right?