Tarron hurriedly walked to the mess hall, bumping against the other eldens as he made his way.
Excitement filled his heart, approaching Thalanil who lazily sat on a high chair with his drowsy eyes about to fully close.
“Your Highness! Your Highness!”
Tarron’s shouts pulled Thalanil back to reality.
Suspicion dawned over him, wondering what Tarron was up to today.
“What is it now, Tarron?”
“Your Highness, Thalanil. That boy is fighting in the arena.”
Thalanil widened his eyes in surprise.
He was bored the entire time Zachariel didn’t fight in the arena in the past two weeks.
Now, a chance for him to witness Zachariel’s fighting prowess and talents had arrived.
He didn’t want to use his own elden Prospects against Zachariel when Raffila lost to him.
The status of the eldens as a powerful entity needs to be preserved.
Otherwise, with one single human overpowering each one after the other, that would tarnish their reputation in front of the eyes of many.
“Looks like today won’t be a boring day then.”
He hoped to witness an interesting match.
Zachariel was thrown to the platform, rolling on the ground, and felt the dust clouding his face.
`Damn, this big sister is rough.`
He cursed himself for calling her a senior.
Maybe if he thought of things earlier, he could’ve talked his way out of the predicament in fighting against these powerful senior Prospects.
`I hope senior Edward wouldn’t mind letting me off today.`
He stood up and dusted his clothes.
`Damn, my polearm.`
Scarlet modified his weapon yesterday and he forgot to retrieve it from her.
`Well, she never said when I could retrieve it anyway.`
Zachariel put it on his mind to visit Scarlet later.
In the meantime, he noticed Edward on the spectator stands.
“Alright, time to bet!”, Edward knuckled his fists.
He went to the betting station and took out a bag full of gold coins.
“Sir, betting is closed for this match…”, the staff apologized.
Edward gritted his teeth and stomped the ground.
`What?! That Luna! She set me up!`
He glued his eyes at Luna.
She rolled her eyes at him.
Edward trembled in anger.
`Hmph, that idiot. Does he think he could make a profit out of me?`, Luna snorted.
She readied herself, strapping the chains on her arms.
They hit the floor, coiling themselves as the chains elongated in a way Zachariel had never seen before.
`Were the chains that long?`
Zachariel thought he remembered it wrong.
“Brat, you’ve done a grave mistake.”, brandishing her cold dark chains, “Don’t you know that?”
The captain guard stepped up.
“Sentinel vs. The Chained Maiden! Start!”
The chains beneath Luna’s feet penetrated the ground.
She used her earth mana essence to dig the earth and make way for her chains to go through.
`The chains are underground?`
Several chains sprang from the ground, trying to grasp his limbs.
Zachariel blurred away.
He turned around and dashed towards Luna, imbuing qi essence to his fists.
The air converged towards Zachariel’s fist.
Luna raised her left index finger, springing chains beside her, and blocked his attack.
On contact, he lost the strength he had gathered from his fist.
`The chains are darker than usual. So she layered her chains with dark mana essence?!`
The chains wriggled and suddenly branched themselves into multiple chains, quickly creeping at him.
Zachariel jumped back but the chains followed him, trailing underground.
His left foot landed and was then entangled by the chains.
It clung tightly, restricting his movements.
The rest of the chains followed and bounded Zachariel in all of his limbs in no time.
They squeezed his muscles, making him gruntle in pain.
“Resist me, brat! The more you wiggle, the worse they’ll squeeze you! Do it! Shout it! Let me hear your pain!”
Zachariel didn’t listen to her insane thoughts.
Rather, he inspected the dark mana essences invading his body.
`This is different from the beldum cuffs which simply disallows a cultivator from using qi or mana essence!`
The dark mana essences siphoned every essence he had and used it to fuel Luna instead.
In other words, the beldum cuffs stalled the flow of essences within one’s body.
Meanwhile, Luna ‘stole’ the essences that flowed within one’s body.
He thought about the peculiar spells.
`Should I use it here?`
He raised his head and saw a glimpse of Thalanil’s figure.
The sight of the elden gave him a reason to use the spells as he wanted to.
`Don’t hesitate anymore Zachariel! So what if your enemies know of your abilities?!`
The doubt in his heart vanished, replaced with confidence and indifference to the consequences of his actions.
The chains that bounded him cracked like glass and exploded into fragments.
A horrific aura washed over Luna.
She could hear an ethereal voice instructing her chains to fragment themselves into nothingness.
The strange phenomenon shocked the spectators.
Edward questioned what happened.
`Did he just break free from Luna’s chains of execution?`
In his own experience, he would concentrate his mana or qi essence before bursting them out of his body.
The force should and would be enough to repel the chains away, not destroy them.
He, however, didn’t feel any disturbance of mana or qi essence when Zachariel broke free of Luna’s chains.
His recollection could only point at Zachariel muttered something inaudible before her chains turned to dust.
Back on the platform, Luna broke free from her previous chains and used a new one.
She laughed like a lunatic.
“That’s good! That’s good! Bring me a good fight!”
Zachariel couldn’t hear her properly and thought that Luna cursed at him.
His head spun like crazy as he knelt on the ground with blood trickling down his mouth.
`Just like before, huh?`
He wiped the blood off his face and stood up, bearing the pain and dizziness in one go.
Luna sent out her chains, this time, in more quantity than before.
Zachariel no longer held back.
`Remember what senior told me that day.`
“Zachariel, since the Templars are onto you now, you should remember this.”, Von called out.
“What is it, senior?”
“Treat every battle as if it’s your last.”
`Treat every battle as if it’s my last, huh?`
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, feeling the clanking of chains from the trembling ground on his feet.
A chain sprang below him.
Zachariel opened his eyes and grabbed it with his left hand, pulling the chain towards him.
However, he found out that the chains were longer than usual.
`I can’t pull her to me like this.`
Zachariel snorted and threw the chain away.
He dashed to her while flexibly dodging her attacks coming from different angles.
`It’s no use brat! I’ll just block your attack!`, Luna grinned.
Luna suddenly found herself being lifted off the ground.
She reacted and anchored the chains underground.
This, however, gave Zachariel the time to land a punch on her face.
The force in his fist almost made her pass out.
If not for the anchored chains, she would’ve flown far away.
She remained in place but Zachariel utilized this to land another set of blows to her body.
Then her face.
Luna gritted her teeth in anger, releasing her control of the chains, and went barehanded.
“You think my fists aren’t as strong as yours?! Hah!”
Zachariel and Luna’s fists met.
He could feel the power behind Luna’s smaller fist.
`As expected of big sister Luna.`
Zachariel remained calm despite the thrill he felt in his heart.
He slightly withdrew his fist and Luna did the same.
Both of them opened their palms and sent out a similar attack.
`Concussive Palm Thrust!`
The concussive force numbed their hands.
Zachariel suddenly bent his right knee and kicked with his other leg.
Luna ducked and grabbed it.
Zachariel didn’t wait to be pulled by her and kicked again.
Luna bent back. She didn’t notice that Zachariel sent out a slashing wave using his feet.
She was blown back and slid.
Both of them wanted to charge again but the captain guard stopped them.
“Halt, this match is a draw!”
In his eyes, these two people would beat each other to death should the match continue.
Moreover, he could sense the hatred and satisfaction in Luna’s eyes, while he saw the persistence in Zachariel’s eyes.
Zachariel lowered his numb arms and breathed deeply.
“Big sister Luna, you sure are… rough…”
His vision blurred and he lost consciousness.
A burst of evil laughter echoed in Zachariel’s ears.
He opened his eyes and smelt the scent of blood in the air.
The ground felt soft and muddy.
`Where am I now?`
He found himself in the middle of a forest.
It was dark and muddy and stinking of dead bodies.
People shouted in the distance, followed by clashes of swords and explosions from spells.
Zachariel noticed bodies lying on the ground.
The jutting gut was the cause of the stinking smell.
He laid his back on a tree, regaining his breath.
Zachariel walked around the forest. As he drew closer to the chaos, the number of bodies piled up.
`Are these the Saint Disciple’s followers?`
The familiar fleur-de-lis symbols were printed on their backs.
Some of them lost their heads, while the others crawled on the ground with missing limbs, gurgling with blood flowing out of their mouth.
“Naïve Prince! You have no way out now!”, the Saint Disciple’s voice entered his ears.
He followed the trail of bodies and arrived on the edge of a cliff.
Below him was an entrance to a cave where the Saint Disciple and his followers blocked whoever was inside.
Someone exited the cave.
He had a muscular body with his long hair draping over his shoulders.
Runic marks were inscribed in his entire body.
Some were long and coiled like a snake.
The others were shaped irregularly like an abstract painting.
“Saint Disciple, I have done nothing wrong.”, his cold voice replied.
“The bodies outside says otherwise, prince.”, the Saint Disciple argued.
His ethereal golden wings fluttered, exuding a holy and pure aura that made one feel safe and refreshed.
A wave of tipsiness washed over Nerval.
“Your tricks won’t work on me no more, Saint Disciple!”,
“Is that so? Try this! Zarto Gol Das Harlifa Nova!”
A pillar of light struck down from the heavens and hit the back of the cave.
It easily crumbled the earth and formed into a hand, grasping something inside.
The golden hand took out Haferna who had a pale expression on her face.
“How about this, naïve prince? Did you expect something like this?”, the Saint Disciple mocked.
Nerval sent out a wave towards the golden hands, crumbling it into pieces.
He dashed at Haferna, catching her falling figure on time.
The Saint Disciple narrowed his eyes on this scene.
“What’s the matter, prince? Lost all your worth?”
“How dare you call yourself the Saint Disciple?! You should be upbringing justice and holiness, not evil and greed!”
“I am upbringing justice and holiness in the eyes of the many. Unfortunately, you, yourself is one twisted and blinded person such that you cannot see the reality of my actions!”
Nerval was dumbfounded.
“Enough! Surrender yourself and end this tragic nonsense you have started for years!”
Nerval was trembling in anger.
The Saint Disciple’s words were the most ridiculous lines he heard.
Haferna weakly opened her eyes, grasping Nerval’s arms.
“Haferna.”, he gently looked at her.
“Nerval, I’m… okay. Don’t… worry about me, ah!-“
She coughed out blood.
`The poison is still inflicting her greatly! I need to get out of here, but how?`
He was surrounded by the Saint Disciple.
His power as an altruist wasn’t comparable to the Saint Disciple.
He was helpless against the Saint Disciple.
Nerval was out of options.
Multiple golden orbs blasted off towards Nerval and Haferna.
Nerval widened his eyes in fear.
`Am I going to die?`
At that moment, time paused.[ Warning: Host’s life in fatal danger ] [ Assessing further parameters… ]
Nerval was dumbstruck.
`What is this thing in my head? What is going on?`[ Assessment complete ] [ Initiating emergency procedure – Code 114 ] [ Deploying Cerebrus Mode ]
Something soothed his mind and his thoughts streamed unobstructed.
He felt that a huge river flowed in his bloodstreams and muscles. His five senses were enhanced.
Nerval grunted in pain.
The runic marks in his body started to glow in dark green.
He could feel the power rushing to his body.
Nerval sent a wave that destroyed the golden orbs.
They shattered into pieces with the leftover shards falling to the ground.
The Saint Disciple was intrigued by the sudden turn of events.
“Whatever you do, naïve prince, you’re still going… to…”
He stuttered, his bulging eyes staring at Nerval, afraid that he would miss something if he blinked.
“That is… a ‘vettel’…! Impossible! You weren’t there when it all happened!”
His voice broke, shivering in disbelief when he saw the lotus mark on Nerval’s forehead.
Nerval didn’t understand what the Saint Disciple talked about. The only thing in his mind was that he was overflowing with power he never held before.
He raised his hand and pointed it at the Saint Disciple’s followers.
“Abysno Gol Darhesstroggo!”
Space cracked in their position, tearing their figures.
“Ah, help me!”
Their cries for help shook off the Saint Disciple from his dazed expression.
“I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it! Mulfa Gol Das Halgen!”
The fleur-de-lis mark in his forehead glowed in golden light, to which, he felt something resonating with his mark coming from Nerval’s lotus mark.
The Saint Disciple shivered again.
This time, he felt a connection he had long forgotten.
“Grr!”, Nerval grunted.
His forehead turned hot.
A thought appeared in his head.
An overwhelming aura spread out from Nerval to the entirety of the world.
It drastically changed the scenery, turning everything to desolate and blood-red.
Everything froze in place.
All except Nerval and Zachariel.
The latter’s eyes curiously observed his surroundings.
He tried to pluck a leaf but it didn’t budge.
“What sort of power is this?”
The power brought amazement and fear to his heart.
A power that could control the entire world.
“Can I use this power?”, he asked himself.
But his other part rejected the thought.
He was already having trouble using the other spells.
What more of a spell that was world-defying?
Zachariel turned his gaze back to Nerval.
The guy grabbed Haferna and escaped not long after.
After 30 seconds, the world returned to normal.
The Saint Disciple slumped on the ground, helpless and conflicted.
He was clutching his head with tears rolling down his eyes.
“Oh no! I have sinned! I have sinned greatly! I am not… I did not… No, I would never! Where is he? Oh, great brother, where are you?!”
His followers were confused.
The Saint Disciple was so adamant in capturing Nerval earlier.
Now, he acted like he had found a long-lost sibling for decades.
“He has already left and it is because of me!”
“I have to return! I have to return! I should tell them of a great…”
Thunder resounded near the area.
The wind picked up, carrying the scent of horror and stinking flesh from the horizon in front of them.
The Saint Disciple felt danger.
“Everyone! All of you! Return to the Mortal Faction’s base! Do not hesitate, now!”
He led the escape.
Zachariel wondered what happened and raised his head.
Far ahead, the atmosphere turned murky.
Life seemed to have taken its last breath as all sorts of living things decayed.
Not even the largest of animals were able to resist.
Beneath the dark interlude, shouts of incantations resonated.
The ground trembled in fear.
The leaves shuddered in terror.
The trees bowed down in submission.
An army of humanoid beings marched.
Though dull and redundant, their voice carried a hint of surging power for each incantation they repeated.
“Darhes Fo Murane Forron Riha!”
“Darhes Fo Murane Forron Riha!”
“Darhes Fo Murane Forron Riha!”
Leading them was a tall figure.
He was a human without skin and a skeleton, walking under the bask of darkness and death.
The muscles on his head twitched like a decapitated worm with eyes nowhere to be found.
It had a mouth where its lips were like two centipedes sewn on his muscles.
The rest of his body was arranged like an armor made of muscle tissues.
The monster cackled.
Its hoarse voice resounding.
“There he is. Long before.”
“Gone he went. Find we shall.”
“Leave none alive. Kill all resist.”
“Army of the dead.”
“March, we begin!”