“Where did he go?!”
Unable to find her target, Ariel cautiously brought her Lava Warhammer down while being wary of her surroundings. She had never faced such a peculiar situation before. Gawil, who was definitely lying on the floor a few seconds ago, had unexpectedly disappeared from her sight.
“Be careful! Gawil’s Spirit is the Blorgte Chameleon. He specialises in making his presence unnoticeable!”
As Shin and Ariel were confused, the store manager warned them of Gawil’s ability. Although he was not a Spirit User, he had once worked closely with the man. Hence, he knew a little about how Gawil fought.
‘Tsk, damn that Manald…’
Gawil clucked his tongue in annoyance after hearing the store manager’s warnings to Shin and Ariel. His Blorgte Chameleon was one of the most elusive beasts in the natural world, rarely sighted by any explorers. That the reason why was because of its innate ability, camouflage. By changing the colours on its scales and altering its spiritual wavelength, the Blorgte Chameleon is arguably the best disguiser amongst all beasts.
As a Spirit User who had contracted with the Blorgte Chameleon, Gawil had inherited the legendary innate ability. In fact, he had studied extensively on how to improve on it. And the results speak for themselves. When he was just inches away from Lewis, a Rank 50 Spirit Lord with plenty of experience tracking down criminals, Gawil was able to rely on his camouflage ability to utterly fool the seasoned veteran.
So when he found out that he was in no shape to take on Shin and Ariel, as much as it hurt his pride, he resorted back to his forte to deal with the duo. Climbing up a nearby pillar, Gawil planned to launch an assault from the ceiling to take down the hazardous girl, who for some reason was able to spew out lava from her Warhammer.
‘Slowly… Slowly… Now!’
Reaching a point where he was directly vertical of Ariel, Gawil prepared himself for the aerial assault. Unaware that her head was in serious threat of being ripped off her slender shoulders, the scarlet-haired girl moved her eyes in a frenzy, hoping to catch sight of the lizard-man. Finding the perfect chance, Gawil released his claws and let gravity pull him downwards.
“Ariel! Swing your hammer above you now!”
At that moment, Shin cried out to Ariel. Although she was unable to see anything above her head, she still faithfully followed Shin’s instructions.
The Lava Warhammer, which had been dormant for a while, suddenly shone in a crimson light as the primal marking begun to glow once more. Effortlessly spinning the heavy bludgeon around like it was a bamboo pole, Ariel aimed at the empty air right above her.
To her surprise, her Spirit actually managed to make contact with an invisible object causing it to holler out in agony. In that instant when the Lava Warhammer made contact with the unknown body, a molten, volcanic fluid flowed out from the depths of the hammerhead and melted everything it touched.
Unable to maintain his invisible form, Gawil’s figure reappeared in the crumbling store and flew backwards, straight towards the concrete wall. As he flew through the air, Gawil had a feeling of déjà vu. He had once again been blown away by the menacing, primordial Warhammer that he had belittled before.
‘What the hell?!?!?! How did the brat manage to sense me?!’
But what truly shocked Gawil was how Shin could accurately deduce his presence. His prided camouflage, which had served him well throughout the years, had actually been cracked by a boy no more than ten-years-old?!
“Shin! How did you know?!”
Ariel’s hands started to shiver in trepidation. She had only managed to discover Gawil once her Spirit mowed down on him. Beforehand, Ariel did not even have an inkling of where the Spirit Core cultivator was. If she had not listened to Shin’s instructions, Ariel might have lost her head.
“When I attacked him earlier on, some of my created water was heavily lodged into his wound. Since I can manipulate the water I created, I am able to sense where it is. But his concealment ability is extremely powerful. I only noticed him when he got near to us.”
Shin nonchalantly explained how he was able to sense Gawil while focusing his eyes on the man who had reddish-orange lava flowing out from the centre of his chest. When he sensed Gawil dropping down from the ceiling onto the unsuspecting Ariel, a profound fear gripped his heart. The man was genuinely trying to kill them. Hence, to prevent any further mishaps, he had to ensure that he knew where Gawil was at all times.
But alas, there was no way Gawil would allow himself to remain visible for much longer. Gathering his mana once more, the mint-coloured scales began to glow as it brushed off the lava at his abdomen and gradually made his figure disappear.
“He concealed himself again!”
Ariel called out in frustration. What angered her the most is that even though they were focusing their attention on him, Gawil could easily slip under their radar by using his concealment ability.
“Shin! Can you zone in on his position?”
“No, I can’t… His invisibility ability is amazing. If he’s within two metres, I could vaguely sense his position but otherwise… Wait, this is a shoe shop right?”
“Huh? Why are you stating the obvious?”
Ariel squinted her eyes in displeasure after hearing Shin’s words. She mentally questioned his sanity for bringing up such a weird question in a crucial time like this.
“No, that’s it! Store manager do you have…”
Thinking of an idea, Shin moved towards Manald, who was sitting in a corner nearby.
While Shin and Ariel were discussing their next plan of attack in soft voices, Gawil was hiding behind a small shoe rack in invisibility mode. Using both his impaired hands to pat down the pain in his chest and left stomach, the decrepit man just sat there, resting. He was already in a sorry state when he entered the Watkin Shoebox. Now that Shin and Ariel had added on three massive attacks that profoundly deteriorated his condition, he felt that he could hold on no longer.
Struggling to even keep his eyes straight, Gawil felt the world spin round even though there was nothing to affect it. He lost control of his hands, which were trembling wildly and his back was drenched with cold sweat. The sounds of the busy street, which were so clear before, had become muffled and the sweet smell of fabric was wholly replaced with the iron scent of blood.
‘Damn it! Damn it! I just wanted to destroy that fucker’s store! Where did those two abnormal humans come from?!’
Feeling his soul slowly dripping out from his body, Gawil cursed Shin and Ariel, indignant that he was unable to finish what he sought out to do. Trying his best to remain conscious, the damaged man circulated his mana, possibly for the last time.
But at that moment, he saw a vast shadow emerge from behind.
‘What the hell?!’
Turning his head over his shoulder, Gawil looked for the source of the shadow. And he did not have to search for long. Inside the brown wooden store, there was suddenly a humongous blue water ball that nearly covered the entire shop. Unlike the Shin’s previous water balls, the current one that he conjured up was coloured in a vibrant dark blue dye.
‘What’s he doing?’
Gawil questioned the little boy’s intentions by forming such a strange ability. Fortunately for him, he did not have to wait long to find out.
A sharp juvenile voice sounded out.
Already with her knees bent and thighs down, Ariel pounced straight above the gigantic water ball, like a wound-up spring being released. Spinning the Lava Warhammer round, she reached a point where she was able to survey the entire store with a single glance.
Indicating to Shin that she was in position, Ariel remained airborne right above the colossal blue ball of water. At that time, Shin immediately released the form of the ball, letting the dyed water drop, washing the entire store.
Shin’s plan was exceedingly simple. By using the dyes in the shoe store, he would paint the water he created dark blue and form an immense water ball. When it was big enough to cover the entirety of the shop, he would drop the dyed water everywhere, revealing the position of Gawil. And Ariel, who would be flying in the air, will direct her bloodthirsty Warhammer to finish him off.
Seeing that his skin, which should have been invisible, had turned dark blue, Gawil finally understood the predicament that Shin had put him in. He attempted to quickly evade the looming threat from the ceiling, but it was too late. Speeding towards him like a shooting star, Ariel aimed her Lava Warhammer straight at Gawil’s poor head.
‘I can’t dodge!’
Unable to avoid Ariel’s attack, Gawil formed a cross with his two arms to protect his head.
A deafening blast reverberated through the store, stunning everyone inside. Even the constables on standby outside were jerked in surprise. Like a crashing meteor, Ariel created a crater in the middle of the store upon impact, essentially crippling Gawil’s arms.
“Haha! I did it! Shin! I did it!”
Hopping around like an elated bunny, Ariel showed off her accomplishment by waving the Lava Warhammer in her hands up and down. Earlier, when Shin briefed her on his plan, she was a little sceptical. But ultimately, she trusted the training partner that she had been with for her entire life. Thinking back, Shin would always use these kinds of weird tactics to outsmart her and eventually beat her. That’s why she struggled so hard to take a win off this lean young boy.
“Yeah, you di… Ariel! Watch out!”
Walking out from behind the counter, Shin approached Ariel with a relieved smile. But before he could pat her on the back, a large shadow emerged from the crater that Ariel formed.
Hollering out his most agonising roar yet, Gawil wrapped his thick, scaly tail around Ariel’s neck. Like an anaconda that found its prey, his tail tightened his grip, cutting off the air flow in her throat.
Shin brought out The Sovereign Koi, frantically forming numerous streams of water to attack the broken-down man with. After studying the human anatomy for so long, he knew how fragile a human neck was. With just a little force in the wrong direction, the person would be sent directly to the netherworld. Worried that Gawil would snap Ariel’s neck in the heat of a moment, Shin rushed forward desperately.
“Since I’m going out anyway, let me just take one tribute with me!”
And Shin’s fears weren’t unjustified. With his mind unsound, Gawil was unable to make any rational decisions. Normally, he would not even consider taking an innocent life for the sake of his revenge, but now that everything had come to an end, he wanted to do the unthinkable.
“No, you won’t…”
As Gawil was preparing to end Ariel’s life, an adenoidal voice sounded out from the entrance of the store. Before Gawil could turn to look at the source, a radiant golden light enveloped both him and Ariel. Bathed by the same majestic light, the two individuals were facing two contrasting experiences.
Ariel felt her strength, and spiritual energy return to her body and the pressure on her neck lighten. A warm feeling wrapped her heart as if she was placed in her mother’s arms once again. Her Lava Warhammer begun to vibrate in joy as her mana calmed, strengthening her entire body into a state it had never been before.
Gawil on the other hand was unable to control his body once exposed to the golden light. Unable to retain his spiritual body enhancement form, his reptilian tail grew back into his butt, releasing the hold on Ariel. As if he were struck by lightning, he felt a sharp, excruciating pain move through his body, paralysing him in the process. Falling to the floor, Gawil flopped around like a freshly caught fish on a boat.
“Man, I let you out of my sight for one second, and you get caught up in something troublesome. I expect some payment, boy…”
A willowy, blonde woman entered the store with an adorable, white gerbil resting on her shoulders. Behind her, there was an elderly man with a reddish-brown beard who was wearing a concerned expression. Rushing over to Ariel, who was busying coughing to regain her breathing, the First Elder handed her a bottle of water.
Never in his life was Shin so happy to shout out those two words.