Nightmare Steeds are the final form of the Purgatory Warhorses. However, not every horse was able to evolve into such a lofty form. Even now, no one knew the exact requirements for becoming a Nightmare Steed, not even the Purgatory Warhorses themselves. Still, that didn’t stop the Nightmare Steeds from being unreasonably strong.
The most basic requirement that everyone knew about was that the Warhorse had to evolve from a Five-stars to a Six-stars. During that process, the Purgatory Warhorses had a chance of evolving into a Nightmare Steed. It was worth stating however that even if said Warhorse failed to evolve then, that didn’t mean that it lost the chance to become a Nightmare Steed forever.
Each time a Warhorse raised its Star Level, it had a chance of becoming a Nightmare Steed. Thus, while it was said that entire process was secretive and hard to decipher, there were those who simply chalked it up to sheer luck.
Nightmare Steeds had the ability to penetrate the Dream Realm, create an illusory Dream Realm of their own, control said realm and finally devour said realm. Such a unique ability is said to be of the psychic branch of magicks. Because of this ability, the Nightmare Steeds could be considered invincible, at least in the Dream Realm, especially since till now, there has been no known record of a way of resisting such a dream incursion.
—From <<The Encyclopedia on Illusory Fiends>>
Just based on the crunch of their bodies slamming against the ground, I could tell how hard their crash landing was. With their stamina completely spent, even maintaining some semblance of balance during descent was impossible.
Sinmosa, still bearing me and the others, galloped at full speed around the line of sight of the Demonic Fire Igneous Giants till finally we came upon No.3 and Big 4. There I saw a sight so sorry, a wave of heat seemed to rush up to my eyes and caused me to nearly cry.
There was barely any patch of skin left on them that wasn’t horribly burnt. From top to bottom, they were covered in blackened scorch marks, and as they laid there twitching on the ground, they could barely move a muscle at all. Had it not been for the gentle rise and of fall of their chest, I would have honestly mistaken them for dead.
“Mama…will the two of them be alright?” Mo Na’s brows were furrowed deep with concern as she asked in a quivering voice. Normally, she would have been coolheaded enough to realize that they were still alive but because of her young age, the anxiety caused her to lose her judgement for a moment.
“It’s alright, they’re still alive.” Gently patting her on the head, I sighed with a heavy heart. Even in their barely humanoid state, they were still alive…At the very least, if there was something worth celebrating, it was that given a devil’s immense recovery abilities, they would be able to make a full recovery once they pass this critical stage, assuming of course that I gave them the necessary nourishment.
“Sasani will be fine, right?” Even though Sinmosa assured me not too long ago, I couldn’t help but worry for the Cerberus. He was, after all, facing off against three giants, not just any old dog, cat or slime you found in some random dungeon. Those were fully fledged super super rare class Elite monsters.
“Don’t worry, he will be alright.” Faced with the prospect of her mate getting potentially hurt, Sinmosa seemed unexpectedly calm. Perhaps this was because of her trust in him.
As facts would have it, Sasani didn’t let us down. He successfully kited the three giants, not only dodging every attack in the process, but also managing to throw in a couple of attacks of his own. Thanks to that, he thoroughly earned the ire of those three giants who had no intention whatsoever of letting him off the hook at this point.
While his attacks didn’t inflict any effective damage to speak of…but for prideful creatures like them, how could they ever tolerate a rat nibbling away at their bodies?
By now, it was clear that all that talk about delaying for thirty minutes was all horsepoop. Still, it wasn’t like we could delay these giants forever so I decided to press that Warhorse elder once more.
However, before I could even say a word, a black silhouette came speeding towards us, seemingly galloping atop a road of fire. In terms of appearance, the newcomer was a black horse, similar to the Warhorses we had encountered up till now. However, that was where the similarities ended as other than its figure, there were a host of features that set it apart from any ordinary Purgatory Warhorse.
For example, the mane on the back of its neck and the bristles on its tail were all blood red. Its hooves were crowned with a similarly eye-catching tuft of red hair that, when paired with its mane and tail, made it seem like there were clouds of fire riding atop blood. Even more unusual was the fact that on the top of its forehead was a black single horn…was it some kind of corrupted unicorn?
The black newcomer was clearly galloping in the air and yet I couldn’t feel a single shred of mana emanating from it. In fact, the more I looked at it, the more unreal his form seemed, as if I was looking at a dream. Clearly, this was no ordinary bystander A.
The unknown black horse came blasting through the skies at lightspeed. In just a few moments, it crossed the distance of several hundred meters, bringing itself up to us, or more accurately, the Warhorse elder.
Just like the arrogant elder, this newcomer didn’t even bother to spare us a glance and instead addressed the other Warhorse in a haughty tone, spoken in the language of the devil: “I received a distress signal, was that sent out by you, Warwraith?”
“Grand Elder Shade…” While the Warhorse elder, known as Warwraith, was significantly larger than this newcomer, he seemed more like a wronged child in front of the Grand Elder. “It was I who sent out the signal, the target of our hunt this time are those three Demonic Fire Igneous Giants. They were tougher than expected so my calculations were thrown off and…and…we suffered losses…heavy losses…”
“A Five-stars and two more Four-stars who are about to evolve…so that’s why. For a party like yours, such a composition would be hard to overcome…”Said Shade, having turned his head around to face the three giants who were still being distracted by Sasani. “Then what about these Hellhounds and…devils? What are devils doing in the Remnants of Sable Radiance?”
Having never asked us about our origins, all Warwraith could do now was to awkwardly answer as such: “I’m not too sure myself, we just happened to stumble upon them while hunting.”
“Forget it, I’ll take care of our prey first.” Upon saying that, he took to the sky and galloped towards the three giants.
Seeing that this so-called Grand Elder was so confident in his abilities, my first thought was: ‘Great, we finally don’t have to be that Warwraith’s cannon fodder.’ My second thought however was: ‘What if these black horsies decide not to let us off…’
Just a mere fifty meters away from the Demonic Fire Igneous Giants, Shade came to an abrupt stop and stared down the three giants with his bloody red pupils.
While the three of them weren’t able to sense any mana movements from his approach, they could clearly sense the power of this newcomer. Each opened their mouths wide and roared as if to warn off the Warhorse.
However, all that earned them was a cold reply from the Warhorse as he peered deeply into the gem-like, fiery pupils of the Five-stars: “Dream…”
A second later…*boom*!
The Five-stars giant who was on edge just a second ago, suddenly stiffened up before collapsing to the now trembling ground in a cloud of dust. From the way the ground shook, it was as if a mountain had crashed into the ground.
Shade, on the other hand, paid no attention at all to the fallen giant and instead turned his eyes to the remaining two giants who had now abandoned Sasani as their target.
As before, he spat out that same chilly word. This time however, he didn’t peer deeply into any of their eyes but instead casually tossed out that command. Soon after, their bodies stiffened up and collapsed, just like that Five-stars.
‘What a strange and terrifying skill…all he said was two words and all three of those giants were taken care of…can someone tell me exactly what is going on here?’
In the midst of my confusion, Sinmosa calmly said this: “Asleep.”
‘What do you mean Asleep? What’s asleep?’
“I’m referring to those giants…that Purgatory Warhorse…no…that Shade is a Nightmare Steed, the final form of the Purgatory Warhorse.” Sinmosa explained to me with narrowed eyes. “It was said that the requirements for evolving into such a form were secretive and unknown so their numbers are few. However, in proportion to their rarity, their strength is insanely strong, especially their ability to control dreams. Those three giants are probably trapped in some kind of dream state right now.”
‘I remember those things…back on Earth, I saw a wiki page on them on the net. They were called Nightmare Beasts and were said to be born from the souls of dead horses. They not only had the ability to float, they also came with a ring or aura that frightened those around them. They could breathe fire that was able to melt everything in its path, even molten rock…a truly terrifying mythical beast.’
Perhaps it was born out of some need to prove her words but right as Sinmosa explained all that to us, the Grand Elder cast another hypnosis on those three giants by merely speaking as before: “Hostility…”
I didn’t understand what he meant by that, at least it was so for a brief moment.
A mere second later, the three of them howled in pain simultaneously and began trembling… ‘were they having a nightmare?’
‘Wait, how were they even put under a psychic spell? Oh right, these giants aren’t exactly pure elementals but are part giant as well.’ In other words, they still had certain features of fleshbound creatures…for example, the need to eat or the ability to dream…
The three giants struggled with their nightmares for a minute or so, during which they would periodically reach into the air and claw at nothingness while their legs flailed about wildly. Because of their massive stature and strength, every tremble was met by a tremor from the ground…truly a terrifying race…even more frightening had to be that Grand Elder who single handedly took them all down by himself…