"You must have realized by now that your efforts are fruitless… and for good reason." The Martial Blade God spoke calmly.
Both of them were currently floating atop a devastated landscape. Nothing but absolute destruction could be seen for miles. At this point, they were floating above what could only be described as a sea of devastation.
However, both Martial Artists never got distracted by their surroundings. Their gazes were on each other the whole time.
"Your 12 Ultimate Forms… They were defeated a long time ago, by me." The Martial Blade God's words struck Edward in a heart-wrenching way.
"I once asked myself… what would happen if I were to be faced with the 12 Ultimate Forms that I created? Back then, it had been my masterpiece. However, in a situation whereby someone had mastered this technique and honed it to the same level of perfection as I had… How would I be able to defend myself against it?"
Edward's mind was slowly realizing why his attacks thus far had proved to be pointless. They were never going to serve as a threat to the being in front of him.
"After spending years training, I developed the perfect counter;
'Dispersal' for 'Ignition'.
'A Thousand Returns' for the 'Thousand Miles'.
'Shallow Evasion' for the 'Descent'.
I was eventually able to defeat every single one of those techniques."
Edward's bones were rattling, and his muscles ached. He slowly began to feel more exhausted than before.
"I never recorded this development, so you must have not seen my Reverse Ultimate Forms when you were learning the original. Do you know why I chose to do that?" The Martial Blade God slowly began to sheathe his blade.
"You… wanted your successor to figure it out themselves."
"Indeed. You should think of how to defeat yourself, even if no one else can. Rather than remain in your current state, seek out power by defeating whatever and whoever you consider to be ultimate."
Edward realized the profound wisdom in his ancestor's words, as well as his own arrogance. He had always thought he was too strong, but now… being faced with a true master… he realized just how much he had to learn.
"Shall I show you an example?" The Martial Blade God placed both hands behind him and rested a relaxed gaze upon Edward.
"W-what are you…?"
"I will now fight you a bit more seriously." The Martial Blade God spoke.
Edward could tell that he was dead serious, but that made him even more confused.
'Why isn't his blade unsheathed? His hands are behind him as well?' Edward thought to himself.
He was genuinely puzzled, but he took his stance regardless.
"You are right in thinking I require a blade to reveal the extent of my power. After all, what is the Martial Blade God without his blade?"
'Exactly!' Edward thought to himself.
He wasn't been paranoid or anything. This was simply a natural flow of thought.
"You are mistaken about one thing, though." As the Martial Blade God spoke, Edward slowly felt something in his insides.
It was like a needle—no, this was a blade.
The sharp sensation tickled his heart, coursing through Edward's entire body. It didn't take long for him to figure out that this strange phenomenon was being caused by the Martial Blade God himself.
Edward broke out in a cold sweat.
He could feel his powerlessness, and the nature of the blade that had now ceased stirring up his insides. For a second, he had thought he was dead. He had thought the sharp blade would pierce him, killing him instantly.
How the blade bypassed all of Edward's layers of defences remained a mystery, but Edward knew as surely as his enemy was right in front of him, that what he had felt was real.
"I do not need any physical blade to win against you." The Martial Blade God's voice echoed in the vast, cloudy area.
The smoke and fumes caused by the destruction around made the sky darken at this point. Stormy clouds stood above their heads, but Edward was still wrapped around the words of the Martial Blade God, as well as what he had just done.
"What… was that?"
The Martial Blade God let out a little smile. It was brief, but Edward could tell that it was warm.
"The blade I will now use to fight…"
Suddenly, a somewhat transparent projection was etched into the space between Edward and his opponent. It took form, and the shape of a blade manifested.
The blade was suspended in the air, and it felt just as real as it felt unreal.
It seemed too visible to be considered false, but it also had some elements of invisibility that made it seem unreal. So, which was it?
What was this weapon?!
"... The Mind Blade."
The invisible blade suddenly began to multiply.
Two. Four. Eight. Ten. Twelve. They kept growing in number… until…
… The whole sky was littered with them.
Many blades stood above Edward, their tips pointed in his direction. Like suspended raindrops, they awaited the time of their descent. All of them, without exception.
"A-are you still under the influence of [Justice]?" Edward had to ask.
This power he sensed… Was well beyond him. The dome that surrounded them still seemed active. Plus, the scales were evenly proportioned. Yet, Edward simply couldn't believe that this was fair.
No—how could it be?!
"I am. The only difference between us right now is our level of skill."
Impossible! How was this possible with simple skill?
"I simply used my skill and will. The energy wasted by you in your precious attempts to fight me was moulded by my mind. I granted form and life to them, turning them into my weapons. It has nothing to do with how much power I possess."
Edward's eyes were beyond bloodshot at this point.
He had thought this would be a fair fight by reducing his opponent's abilities. He wanted a true battle of skill with a Martial Artist, but what did he expect from someone who had come before him?
"Just who… are you?" He could only mutter powerlessly.
"Who am I?"
"How did you get so strong? The blade you wield… the techniques you use… the power you possess… why are they so different from mine?"
Edward had reached a realization. He couldn't beat the man in front of him. He felt like he couldn't beat him no matter how long he trained or how much he tried.
There was just 'something' that distinguished them.
Something Edward thought he would never have.
"I see. Your question is valid. Who am I? How did I arrive at this point? Well, Edward… the answer to that is right in front of you."
Edward was just as confused as he was perplexed. What did this man mean?
"I have no name. I have no identity. All you see is all I am. I am the Martial Blade God, and only the Martial Blade God."
Edward's eyes widened instantly.
He now understood! He understood the difference between him and the man in front of him—why he could never be as strong as him no matter how hard he tried.
'This man! He…! Everything about him is Martial Arts!'
Unlike Edward who had saturated his life with so many other things, there was only one definition of his opponent—one thing that defined him.
He cared not for money, women, or friends.
No, there was only one thing that occupied this man's mind. One reason he lived, one reason he breathed, and one reason he would die
"You understand now, don't you?"
Edward nodded instantly. He could not beat this man. No Martial Artist could.
"I have given everything to Martial Arts. And this… is my reward."
That was what made the Martial Blade God invincible.