“Hoho, with just one attack, the final boss arrives. What on earth happened to the natural progression of things?” Flying high up in the sky, Malgen sneered in ridicule as he watched the Clan Master of the Frie Clan appear before his eyes.
In the cold and dark hours of the night, the temperature surrounding the veteran Spirit Emperor was akin to the hottest of days and was as bright as the afternoon skies. Floating straight ahead of him, there was a middle-aged woman, dressed in the most luxurious red robes Malgen had ever seen. Her eyes were gazing at him with a tinge of resentment and fear, but her posture was as steady as a rock. Releasing a significant amount of mana into the air, the Clan Master was preparing herself for the arduous battle ahead of her. However, before she should summon out her Spirit, she needed to confirm the reason for the Black Masks attack.
“Malgen Chaxrala!!! Why have you come to disturb our peace?! The Frie Clan has never crossed your path, even in your most heinous days!” A blistering hot rage bellowed out from the middle-aged woman. Glancing down at the crater that replaced the fortified walls of the mountain, Enfen’s body began to convulse as she tried her best to restrain her wrath.
“Well… I have no beef with you. In fact, I rather admire the history of the Frie Clan.”
“Then why did you come?!”
“Haha, have a good look at your precious one-armed general, and you’ll know why…” An impish smile crept up the lips of Malgen as he tilted his head downwards, in the direction of Bates.
“Huh?! What do you me… No… No, you can’t mean?!” Initially, Enfen thought that Malgen was trying to distract her from the battle with him and was cautious in diverting her attention. However, the moment she lay her eyes on Bates, her entire being started to tremble. Well, to be more accurate, the one she was taken aback by wasn’t Bates, but Bates’ opponent. With an exquisite spear made out of pure crystal ice, the Black Mask that Bates was facing had was holding his own against the famed One-armed Kingslayer and even felt a slight advantage.
“V-Vellan Awter?!” The Clan Master exclaimed. Vellan’s Spirit was a well-recognisable one, and during the war against the Awter Clan, many of the top brass had investigated and analysed the Awter Clan general’s abilities. Hence, it was no surprise that Enfen could quickly identify the person behind the obsidian mask in just a split second.
“Exactly. You should have done a better job when it came to annihilating the Awter Clan. Some of the survivors slipped through the carnage and found refuge with our syndicate. Well, to be entirely honest, I didn’t even want to come here and fight, but orders are orders.” The Thargrak Golem phantom moved and threw a light punch down the Clan Master’s way, forcing her to take immediate evasive manoeuvres. “No hard feelings, yeah… Please die for me.”
“Hmph! Don’t underestimate me!!!” Hollering out in a burning passion, the Clan Master turned into a ball of bright red light that matched the luminous output of the incandescent moon above.
Using the phantom of his Spirit, Malgen covered his body, to protect himself from being blinded. In a few short seconds, the light being emitted from the middle-aged woman started to dissipate, revealing a rich crimson garment, that wasn’t on Enfen’s body before. Wreathed with a bright flame that shot out embers at every given turn, the Clan Master seemed to have become a spiritual entity. Translucent reddish ribbons hung from her sleeves, giving her a sense of mystique and awe. Opening her eyes, the impassioned fire from her pupils burnt drastically as she stared down the opponent who had trespassed on her mountain.
“Hoho, a Mystic Armament huh… Looks like you got a huge windfall from the aether crystal mines that you seized from the Awter Clan…” Malgen praised the Clan Master for owning such a valuable item.
“…” Enfen’s eyebrows twitched in annoyance the moment she heard those mocking words. Even though Malgen didn’t mean it as an insult, the Clan Master couldn’t help but see it as such. In that war that ended the Awter Clan, there were no winners. Only those that survived and those that didn’t.
“Malgen, you’ll live to regret those words!!!” The fire elements danced in joy as Enfen gathered her mana once more. Being near Frie Mountain, which was a dormant volcano, the middle-aged woman held the home ground advantage. Not to mention, she wielded a Mystic Armament, one of the best external weapons that a Spirit User could use. Even though Malgen was clearly superior in cultivation levels and experience, Enfen could clearly give him a run for his money.
“HAHA, come then!!! It’s been a while since I stretched these aged muscles of mine! Show me your best, O’ clan master of the Frie Clan!!!”
While the Clan Master was readying herself for a long-drawn battle with the famed Spirit Emperor, Bates was busy confronting the muscular lanky man that wielded the notorious ice spear. Fifteen years ago, there was no one in the western region of the Empire that hadn’t heard of the legendary ice spear of the Awter Clan. Vellan’s exploits and accomplishments were nothing short of legendary, even matching that of the Second Elder in his prime. Yet, because of the fall of the Awter Clan, his name, like his compatriots, was buried into the annals of history.
“To think that the remnants of the Awter Clan still live on… Vellan, have you come for your vengeance?” Bates muttered out while swinging his ochre gauntlet about. Since Vellan had arrived to stop the raging bull, the two had been engaged in a long deadlock where none of their abilities was able to trump each other. In the many years leading to that fateful massacre, the two had faced each other multiple times. There were days where Vellan bested Bates, and there were battles that Bates edged out over Vellan. Nonetheless, it was without a question that these two Rank 60 Spirit Kings were currently at the apex of their powers.
“Fuck you, Bates. You know very well that what I want is more than simple vengeance.” The ice spear of Vellan violently crashed into the metallic gauntlet that protected the One-armed general’s only hand. “I want annihilation. I want the Frie Clan to suffer the exact same fate that our clan did… And I want you assholes to watch as I kill off all of your families, and make you feel the same helplessness that I did on that night…”
Vellan meticulously described his plans for the Frie Clan with great vigour. On the day where the Frie Clan skewered their way into Awter Lake, Vellan was present and had even decided to fight till his last breath. However, by some twist of fate, he, alongside a handful of Awter Clan survivors, escaped the carnage and turned into homeless wanderers. There were many days in which he cursed his fate and questioned why didn’t he die fighting like a warrior. Screams of pain and despair haunted his dreams every time he shut his eyes, and Vellan had even contemplated taking his own life to rid himself of the agony. Unfortunately, being the most powerful Spirit Users among the survivors, he had to stabilise his depressed consciousness and charge forward.
“Hmph! You couldn’t defeat us before, even when the Awter Clan head was in the realm of the living! What makes you think that you could stand a chance against us now?!” Bates sent a scorching ball of fire, reminiscent to that of a miniature sun, in the direction of the fallen Awter Clan general. Scoffing at the lacklustre attempt, Vellan pierced through the fire sphere, instantly turning it into a heap of solid ice.
“You’re right… Our Clan Master was strong and wise… Yet, we still lost because of our heritage…” Vellan’s eyes dropped as he recalled the circumstances that led to the Awter Clan’s demise. Errol Awter, Shin’s father, was once hailed to be the strongest Sovereign Koi user in the Awter Clan’s short history. His might was so feared that even the Himmel Imperial family had to pay close attention to the Awter Clan’s growth. In fact, it might have also played a massive factor in the Himmel Empire’s decision to throw all support to the Frie Clan during that war.
“But now, we have the backing of someone greater! Someone who has no qualms about the rules of the world and wants nothing to do with the three major powers! With him behind us, taking on the Frie Clan is a walk in the park!!!” A dark and sinister gas flowed out from the obsidian mask that obscured Vellan’s face, enveloping the crystal clear ice spear in his hands. Instantly, the near transparent spear of the seasoned fighter turned obsidian, and the noble aura that Vellan had once projected had turned entirely evil.
“You! I see… That mask gives you some sort of power boost huh?” Bates deduced instantly. All of a sudden, the pressure being mounted on him from Vellan’s Spirit had drastically increased. Heightening his sense to the maximum, Bates readied himself for the hard fight that was soon to come.
“I have nothing to say to a dead man…” Deciding that it was time to end the battle, Vellan chose to go all out. Pointing the tip of his ice spear at the shaken one-armed man, the Brahmin enhanced his body as a bright light was being transferred from the shaft of his spear into the blade tip. Almost instantly, Bates felt his entire muscular system malfunction as the temperature surrounding him began to drastically drop. Turning his gaze downwards, a chilling frost could be seen constraining his three limbs, significantly hindering his movements.
“Fall into oblivion… *Barafa Hail!*.” Vellan’s rough voice echoed within the ears of the shaking Bates as frosty winds started to emerge from the tip of the Brahmin’s icy spear. Chunks of heavy ice fell from the sky and aimed for the neck of Bates. To the now sluggish one-armed general, the bits of ice seemed to resemble a crashing tsunami of arrows that could easily take down a battalion or two, within seconds.
“Tssk, *Flame Pillar!!!*.” For protection, Bates summoned out a pillar of fire that came from under his feet. Melting off the adverse effect of Vellan’s chilling ability, the one-armed man created an elemental shield that could protect him from the devastating impact of the hail that his opponent had summoned.
“*WHHOOOOOOOSSSHH!!!*.” At that moment, Bates heard a screeching sound, akin to that of a speeding arrow, flying his way. Unfortunately, due to the flaming pillar that he was enveloped in, Bates was only able to tell the general direction that the attack was coming from.
“ARGGGHHHH!!!” Suddenly, the one-armed general felt a piercing pain coming from his abdomen. Diverting his attention downwards, he saw an obsidian ice spear protruding out from his stomach. Oddly enough, even though it was cold on the touch, once stuck firmly inside the body, Bates could only feel the endless heat coming from the injury.
“Like I said… I have progressed. You guys, on the other hand, have become weak from hiding in your shell for fifteen years.” Vellan’s mocking voice reverberated through the chilling air as he levitated closer to the injured Bates.
“Fuck off!” Clenching his fists, the veteran general summoned yet another flame pillar, but this time, he targeted the flames towards his own body. Due to the Frie Clan’s high resistance to fire, Bates wouldn’t die from his own abilities, but naturally, it would hurt like hell. The ice spear that had been lodged into his being had all but melted, reappearing in the hands of the nonchalant Vellan.
“The Frie Clan won’t lose to the likes of you!!! Especially after we had beaten you once!!!” The rage that Bates had sealed up after the massacre of the Awter Clan came pouring out.
“HAHAHAHA!!! YOU DARE SAY THAT IN FRONT OF YOUR GRIM REAPER!!! I applaud you for that!” A maniacal laugh that contained a mixture of disbelief and pure resentment bellowed out from the mouth of the enraged Brahmin. Congregating his mana around him, Vellan summoned out thousands of icy spears, whose sharpness would match even the most powerful weapons crafted by the world’s most renowned blacksmiths. Watching the numerous spears floating in the air with all of their tips pointing straight at him, Bates felt a most primal fear envelop his consciousness.
“Rain upon my enemy… “*Piercing Downpour!!!*.” Instantaneously, the spears hailed down upon the recovering one-armed general, not giving him even the slightest of chances to retaliate.
“To think that I have to use this ability this early into the battle… How careless of me…” Sighing internally, Bates shook his head in disappointment. The earlier words of Vellan repeated themselves inside of his head. It was true that the Frie Clan had stopped fighting over the fifteen years after they killed off the Awter Clan. Whether it was guilt for performing such a despicable act or simply residue fatigue of a long-drawn war coming to a close, it was the irrefutable truth that the Frie Clan had stopped any battles, dulling the sharp knife that was their military. Compared to Vellan, who had been desperately fighting over the years to survive, Bates was clearly way more inferior.
“I might feel the after-effects after this battle, but that’s still better than me dying here! I won’t let the Awter Clan get its revenge!!!” With a loud shout, Bates merged with his Spirit and executed his sixth spiritual ability. Turning into a deity that controlled the fire elements, Bates transformed himself entirely. The arm that was supposed to have been lost ages ago had been replaced with a handmade of eternal fire, that was far more sturdy as compared to a regular human’s arm. On his forehead, fire flickering embers flew above his eyes, making Bates look like a devil’s incarnate. Waving his newly attained hand, the Frie Clan veteran melted off all the piercing ice spears that were headed his direction.
“Hoho, so you still had some fight left in you huh… Not to worry. I’ll extinguish everything in a moment.”
“I’ll like to see you try!!!” Charging off his position, Bates began his desperate struggle against the mighty Vellan, hoping to protect his clan from any more damage.
“Senior Vellan and Brahmin Malgen have engaged the enemy… Let’s begin the next phase of the plan.” While the high-ranking members of the Frie Clan were trying to fend off the powerful Brahmins, Junius and the other Black Masks were preparing to enter into the next stage of the operation.
“Those random Frie Clan bastards are more capable than we thought. They’re thinning out the beast horde that we brought rather efficiently…” One of the Black Masks that Malgen had brought from the headquarters remarked.
Turning their attention down onto the deadly battlefield, Junius and the others watched as the Instructor, Ines and the other Frie Clan members tried their best to kill as many beasts as possible.
‘Instructor…’ Junius had a bitter taste in his mouth as he recognised the dirty face of his former master. Growing up, he had always looked up to the Instructor and saw him as a sort of fatherly figure. After all, everything that Junius had learnt came from the Instructor. Yet, after finding out about the truth, all that Junius could think of was how betrayed he felt. Being an integral part of the Frie Clan, the Instructor must have been a potent force that claimed many Awter lives. Knowing that fact, Junius couldn’t see his former master in the same esteem and respect that he once had.
“The force field is still barring our path! We won’t be able to fly in!” One of the Awter Clan’s survivors exclaimed.
“Don’t worry… That is about to be resolved really, really soon…” A sinister laugh came from behind the masks of one of the Shudras from the headquarters, foreshadowing the events that were to follow.
“Huh?” Just as the Shudra said those words, the ground began to shake as a bright light could be seen forming in the distance. For a moment, all fighters, Black Mask or Frie Clan, halted their actions as they watched the luminous light that resembled that of a sun.
“BWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!” A crimson laser, similar to that of the light that demolished the walls of Aldrich’s Keep, shot at blinding speeds and crashed headfirst into the barrier created by the Shrine Maiden. Only able to hold the force field for less than a second, the white-robed women that were maintaining the barrier all collapsed onto the floor, allowing the laser to land square on the tip of Frie Mountain.
“*Rumble!* *Rumble!*.” Now that its peak was destroyed, the dormant volcano had suddenly awoken, vomiting out lava from its core out.
“Haha, there we go! Come on! We don’t have much time to complete the mission!” The Shudra smiled, as if immune to the shock that descended upon all of those present.
“T-This… Is this the might of the Allfather?!” Junius couldn’t help but holler out. Although he had a brief encounter with the spiritual energy produced by the elusive leader, he had never witnessed how devastating it was first-hand.
“Exactly! By his grace, we will be able to sink the entire world into anarchy! Through him, we will be the kings among kings!” With a fanatical cheer, the Shudra praised the powerful leader that they served.
“I-I see…” Junius could only bitterly mouth out a few words before watching the flowing molten lava descend upon the place that he once called home.
‘Lily… Please stay safe! I’m coming to get you!!!’