Chapter 721: The Jaws of Victory

The world spirit of Fyor flew along with James as he toured the twenty-seventh layer, still feeling a sense of unknown dread. However, this dread was not for her own safety, but rather for that of James. He had promised to take on any damage that occurred to her, but what exactly did that mean?

If an ant had only a single hit point, but an elephant took its damage, would the elephant lose only a single point of health, equivalent to a tiny prick of its skin? Or, because the ant was about to be crushed, would the elephant find itself the one doomed to suffer that fate? The ability that James used sounded far too vague for her liking, and she kept feeling as if she were about to cause him terrible harm.

The two of them flew on for roughly ten minutes before the next stream of light flashed over. Just as before, James easily dispatched it with the Eye of Ruin long before it was capable of approaching the two of them. The world spirit could sense that the spirit eaters were agitated by the deaths of their kin, starting to group together.

At the same time, an unknown creature was moving along the same path. Although the world spirit had not directly encountered this creature before herself, she could sense an ominous power radiating from it. Fear gripped at the heart of the spirit, but it was too late to back out now. Without James, only perhaps the Keeper and his gods could stand any chance.

Roughly three hours later, the remaining eight spirit eaters had all begun moving together, along with one of the three dangerous existences that she knew about. These nine figures moved as a single pack, flashing across space to reach their destination in a stream of spiritual light.

“All at once? That’s convenient.” James said as he saw the nine lights soaring towards him. Although the Eye of Ruin required a substantial amount of energy to use, energy was one thing that James had in abundance. His eye flashed again, this time releasing a cone of red light that completely enveloped the approaching figures.

Pitiful howls sounded out as the wolves dissolved, before the world spirit gasped. They all looked the same, but what he said of the eye… “Be careful, one of them–!”

Before she could finish her warning, a green flash moved past James and the spirit. She could feel something come into contact with her body for a brief moment, before a grunt sounded out next to her. Looking to her side, she saw that James was missing one of his arms, a gaseous mist leaking out from it. That arm was the same one that she felt the creature touch on her.

“Damn, I got a bit complacent there.” James grit his teeth, quickly reforming his arm and turning around. The creature nearby, one which had previously been disguising as a spirit eater, slowly revealed its true form as his arm hung limply in its mouth.

The creature’s true form was also similar to that of a spirit eater, only that its body was a far deeper green, its eyes blood red. As its teeth sank into James’ arm, it seemed to dissolve, the energy entering into its body.

“Well, this is going to suck.” James grimaced, feeling the powerful energy from the creature. It was already several hundred levels higher than a normal spirit eater even before it ate the energy within his arm. Now, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that its power was approaching James himself.

“A-Are you able to beat it?” The world spirit asked, moving half a step back, though the eyes of the monster turned to lock onto her from that small movement.

“Normally, I might not know. But, with you here… I think I’ve got an idea.” James said with a smile, nodding his head. “Just stay back and wait for my signal. When I tell you its time, I want you to use all of the natural energy here to attack it.”

The spirit went wide-eyed at that, knowing that such an attack would likely not be able to kill a monster at this level. Regardless, this was James. She had already seen him use numerous incomprehensible abilities during her time knowing him, so she found herself subconsciously nodding her head. “Okay… I’ll do it.”

James smiled, moving to stand in front of her as she retreated. “Then, I guess I better go all-out.” Normally, James would have preferred using the Eye of Ruin again to simply erase this monster. However, doing so required an in-depth understanding of a creature’s bodily structure and energy composition. He met these requirements with the spirit eaters due to having been able to study them when he was originally in the elemental plane of life.

This new breed, however, clearly did not share the same structure. He didn’t know if it was a mutation, or a higher form of the species. Either way, he would need to take time to study it with his detection energy in order to determine its makeup. When there was not a clear difference in their abilities, such a thing was far too dangerous to perform in the midst of battle.

Instead, James focused, gathering the energy to his body that he typically hid in a separate avatar. The last time he did this, he had created a titanic body to block the palace of Deckan. This time, however, a larger body would not aid him as much. So instead, he created armor and weapons that equipped themselves onto his body.

This armor seemed to cover him almost entirely, but appeared a bit thinner on his arms, particularly the right one. The spirit didn’t know if this was to allow greater maneuverability, or if he had simply run out of energy to use. After all, it was his left arm that was eaten, so that shouldn’t be the issue.

Afterwards, a long sword appeared in James’ hand, stretching out over a meter to his side. “As they say, puppy, come at me!” His energy soared, condensing along his blade as he slashed. A white line was drawn through the air, splitting apart space as it passed through the position the monster had been in. It lunged out of the way in just barely enough time, growling low at James and pouncing at him.

James simply gave a battle-crazed grin beneath his armored helmet. “One Light, the embodiment of virtue as an attacking force. All actions shall be met with a counter-force, which is stronger based on the strength of the user’s karma.”

By the time the explanation had ended, a second white line had streaked back from the severed space, flashing back to his sword. Along the way, it clipped one of the monster’s legs, severing it from its body and alerting it to the danger. From the world spirit’s perspective, it looked as if time had simply rewound itself after James performed his strike, the blade of light coming and going in one fluid motion.

“You took an arm from me, so I’d say we’re even now.” James gloated even as he watched the wolf-like creature regenerate its hind leg. He sent out three slashes in rapid succession this time, each one releasing a white line of light from his blade.

The spiritual wolf had obviously learned from its last attack, and leapt far to the side of where James attacked. Even if the slashes were to return along the same trajectory, they would not hit it. James similarly jumped to the side, holding his sword out in front of him. Sure enough, three blade lights did flash back, but not along the same path that they had been launched.

Instead, the lights appeared to be magnetized to his sword, taking a direct route back to it. When the creature saw this, it once again dodged in a hurry. This time, its face clearly displayed its anger, its red eyes releasing burning light. “Ooh, did I make puppy mad? What’re you gonna do, rip my other arm off?” James taunted.

The creature lifted its head and howled, a ripple visible in the air as the surrounding natural energy mobilized. Light returned to this darkened layer as orbs of flame formed in the sky, spiralling wind visible beneath each one. The fire fell, creating flaming tornadoes that filled the battlefield.

“So you’re basically a glorified druid? I thought you’d be more interesting than that!” James said as he lifted his sword above his head, grasping it with both hands. “Behold the power… of two hands!”

As James slashed down with his sword, an incomparably wide beam of light lashed out, obliterating the tornadoes directly in front of him. It was unknown at first if the wolf was hit, as the beam continued to soar off into the distance. Once the attack was finished, James glanced towards his right with a knowing grin, turning to aim his sword in that direction.

However, before the beam of light could finish traveling back to his sword, another streak passed by him. The world spirit didn’t know why James hadn’t reacted in time, but it had managed to bite off his right arm, just as he had taunted. The sword similarly vanished from James’ grasp, both of them devoured by the wolf moments after it stopped sprinting.

With the reinforcement of even more of James’ power, the flaming tornadoes become stronger and stronger, their red flames turning blue, and then a brilliant white. Flaming slashes of wind flew out from each and began to ravage the area as James shouted. “Now!”

Eyes going wide, the world spirit quickly mobilized the surrounding natural energy. Had James known that the wolf would create such powerful natural effects for her to take over? If so, she had to applaud his foresight. Yet, as she reached to wrest control of those forces away from the spirit wolf, she found that her power was not strong enough. The opponent came from a far deeper level of Fyor, one where the natural energy itself was of a higher level than she could presently master.

However, her attempt did not go unnoticed. The spirit wolf growled at her, its figure flashing in her direction. Time seemed to slow down as she watched it charge her. Clearly, it had decided that she was too annoying to allow to interfere with their battle, and had decided to directly kill and devour her.

James was too far away, he couldn’t reach her. The moment she was struck, he would be killed by the effects of his promise. Tears welled in the spirit’s eyes as she considered self-destructing to prevent the danger from transferring to him, but would that even work? Would that be transferred as well?

The wolf’s paw rose up as it neared her smaller body, crashing down towards her head. She closed her eyes, waiting for the inevitable feeling of being pulverized. She could feel its paw touching her head for a brief instant, and then… nothing. Was that it? Had she been killed so quickly that she wasn’t even able to register the pain?

She opened her eyes, finding that she still had eyes, and saw a green cloud silently dispersing in front of her. The terrifying wolf from before was nowhere to be found, and James walked over with a dry chuckle. “That’s mine, so I’ll be taking it back now.” He said as he held his hand out towards the cloud of energy, some of it streaking back towards his body.

“What? But? How..?” The world spirit was confused, not sure how James had managed to destroy the monster in the very instant that it had attacked her. James simply grinned, reaching down to pat her on the head.

“Didn’t I tell you? I couldn’t have done that so easily without you here. Of course, I had to get it to eat the right arm first.” He said as he gestured towards his right hand, where she could see the mark of the dark promise had vanished.

“You mean..?”

He nodded. “When it devoured my arm, it also took in the brand of the promise on my hand. I just had to make sure to keep all of its attention on me long enough to feed it my arm before transferring the aggro over to you. That way, we could just let it kill itself. Convenient, right?” He asked with a mischievous grin as the armor over his body faded away.

You may also like: