Shin gasped as he watched the tranquillity being ripped out of Mort Bay. Yeunghi’s one swing of the sword had sent ripples of frozen ice flying all around the basin, annihilating all wildlife that once thrived there. Naturally, the pitiful lives of plants and animals matter nought to the livid Spirit Emperor. A vein popped in her forehead as she roared out in angst.
“Black Masks! I know that you’re here! Come out and meet your fate!”
“…” Shin was speechless. In this world, strength really was the law of the jungle. When he first came to Mort Bay and discovered Junius talking to the two mercenaries, the only reason why he didn’t act was due to his mediocre strength. If Yeunghi was with him, Junius might have already been in his custody.
“Are the members of the Dalgeom Sect this boorish?” A cordial voice echoed out from the devastated ruins, bringing a smile to the Pixie’s face. Shin’s intelligence was legitimate! There really was an enemy hiding right under her nose.
The pieces of debris that broke off from the initial impact flew up high in the sky as a number of Black Masks emerged from the ruins. Although the vast majority of them were the lowest tier, Shudras, there were some big fish mixed inside of the pond.
“Two Brahmins, five Kshatriyas and ten Vaishyas…” Shin immediately identified the Black Masks ranks from the patterns on their masks. “Not to mention, there are at least a dozen Shudras, and god knows how many are still hiding… Even if Senior Yeunghi was the strongest Spirit Emperor in the world, there’s no way that she could face that many opponents at once.”
“I concur, but who said that she was alone?” A resonant voice responded to Shin. From a distance, the remainder of the Dalgeom Sect, alongside Isadore and Elrin, had finally arrived that the desolate bay. Lifted up by their Spirit Emperor bodyguards, Shin’s two friends floated to his location while the members of the Dalgeom Sect prepared for battle. The Sword Tyrant, Jimga, as well as his disciples, unsheathed their swords as they approached the Pixie.
“You did well, Shin Iofiel.” Jimga praised the youth that was being carried by Madam Warulee. “Your intelligence helped us to weed out the dastardly Black Masks. For that, you have my thanks. You may return now.” As much as he would like to chat even more with the strange and talented boy, Jimga had to join his Sect in eradicating the enemy.
“That’s it? We came all the way just to get a thank you?” Once the members of the Dalgeom Sect were out of range, Elrin protested under her breath.
“No, at the very least, we get to witness a high-level battle between the two forces. That way we get intelligence about both the Black Mask syndicate and the Dalgeom Sect. Was this your plan Shin?” Isadore hypothesised.
“The Dalgeom Sect was a bonus… I’m only interested in seeing the Black Masks fight.” Shin didn’t even bother to hide his motives from his friend. “Also, Junius might be inside of that bunch, so we can’t leave yet. I made Senior Yeunghi promise that if he appears, she will let me deal with him.”
“Right…” Isadore mumbled but didn’t say anything further. Giving his undivided attention to the two forces that were about to clash, the silver-haired youth folded his arms in great interest. Even as someone of his privilege, witnessing a high-level fight was rare.
“Black Masks! If you surrender now, I can spare your lives!” Yeunghi barked down at the villains. To her, this warning was just a standard procedure. The only thing that she wanted to do right now was to maim her enemies limb from limb.
“Kakaka, the lady is misguided. Why should we surrender?” One Brahmin chuckled.
“Has your brain gone to rot?” Yeunghi snorted in derision. “We have three Spirit Emperors while you have none. We can wipe you out in the blink of an eye. However, that can be avoided if you surrender.”
“You truly are a fool…” The other Brahmin scoffed at the Pixie’s remark. “Attacking the forces of the Allfather without knowing your place in the world.”
Yeunghi’s eyebrows twitched at how demeaning the Black Masks were. In her mind, the men that lay in her path were already as good as dead. Pumping up her mana, the swordmaiden raised Durandal up high with a tightened grip. “I take it that negotiations have failed?”
“There wasn’t one, to begin with.”
“Good. Then go to hell.”
“No… You’re the one that’s welcome…” Although the Brahmin’s face was hidden behind the thick mask, Shin could tell that the man was letting out a sinister smile. “You’re the ones that welcomed… To hell!!!”
A thunderous clap pierced through the heavens and the seas trembled in fear. Tsunamis that buried the coast rose from the bay and threatened to decimate all that stood near the coast. Even Shin and his group, who were way back in the backlines, felt fear as the waves came crashing down onto the forest.
A colossal tower of serpentine flesh emerged out from the deep Mort Bay, sending water sprouts spiralling all around it. Opening its jaw, a tremendous amount of mist descended upon the bay, giving the beast an ethereal look that would make poets go wild with imagination.
“A World Serpent?!” Yeunghi bellowed out in fear. She had expected to come to Mort Bay and utterly annihilate all the Black Masks that stood in her way. Yet, before her lay a Tier 9 Spirit Beast that was rare to find, even if one scoured through the entire Uncharted Wilderness.
“Tskkk, all of you, retreat now!” If Yeunghi could recognise the menace, so could her senior brothers. Jimga and Wangu ordered their disciples to immediately fall back while they moved forward to protect their junior sister.
“Junior Sister Yeunghi! Come to your senses! We have to run away!”
What was a World Serpent? Legend has it that in an age immemorial, the God of Serpents, Jörmungandr, once had an affair with a mortal snake, and had three children with her. To avoid bringing shame to his family in the Immortal Realm, Jörmungandr banished his three mortal children into the lands below, allowing them to set up their own dominions. His first child, the Amphiptere, used its wings to rule the skies. His second child, the Basilisk, used its petrifying stare to rule the earth. And finally, his youngest child, the one who inherited the most of his blood, found itself bound to the oceans, due to its infinite growing capacity.
The accounts varied since Serpent of the Oceans was so elusive, but sailors claimed that the colossal beast gets bigger every year, and once it reaches its full length, it would have enough skin to completely coil around the world, thus giving it its name… The World Serpent.
“That’s not an enemy we can face! We have to move now!” While the Dalgeom Sect members were busy confronting the Black Masks, Madam Warulee had already made preparations to escape. The Spirit Emperors didn’t even consult Shin, Elrin or Isadore. Once the World Serpent made its appearance, they tightened their grip over the three younglings and flew away at the top speed that they could manage.
‘World Serpent?! The Black Masks has that monster under its control?!’ Shin was absolutely appalled. Even he, as someone who had been cropped up on land for the entirety of his life, knew about that ancient beast. Even though it was technically a Tier 9 Spirit Beast, many considered to be as difficult to handle as a Primordial Beast. If it destroyed an entire town, no one in the whole continent would dare challenge it for revenge. After all, it stood at the apex of the cultivation world, and even Spirit Saints wouldn’t dare face it head-on.
‘Run as far as possible!’ That was the only thought in Madam Warulee’s head. The World Serpent’s enemies were the members of the Dalgeom Sect. Thus it allowed Shin’s group to scurry away in peace. However, the same couldn’t be said about the disciples that were attempting to get on their Gryphons.
Creating a hurricane that disrupted the air space around Mort Bay, the World Serpent wiped out the few disciples that were attempting to run, leaving behind the three Spirit Emperors that moved against the Black Masks. The Dalgeom Sect’s Pixie, who had braved thousands of battles, felt her soul leave her body the moment the Tier 9 Spirit Beast wiped out her fellow companions. With just a thought, the World Serpent could annihilate the elites of her sect, just like that.
“I know!” The swordmaiden swung Durandal at the rapid winds that barred her escape in a frenzy. Her years of battle experience kicked in as her brain went into auto-pilot. Now wasn’t the time to mourn her loss or grieve over her mistakes, escaping the menace that was the World Serpent was of top priority.
Alas, if only it were that simple…
BANG!!! BANG!!! BANG!!!
Heavenly thunder boomed with divine lightning crashing down. Each time the Spirit Emperors tried to move further inland, a stormy wind dragged them back to the ocean as thunderbolts halted their movements.
Wangu, the most experienced of the Dalgeom Sect members, combined his Spirit with his mythic-grade sword and warned his juniors with a hectic face. “We can’t get near to the bay! The World Serpent is unable to come on land! Once we reach a certain threshold, it won’t chase us anymore!!!”
“Screw you, Black Masks! How the hell did you tame the World Serpent?!” At the same time, Jimga cursed the enemies that he came to fight, only to realise that they too weren’t immune to the devastation caused by the Tier 9 Spirit Beast. Almost all of the Shudras were dragged into the ocean, while the higher levelled Black Masks were doing their utmost best to avoid being collateral damage.
‘Shit looks like even they can’t control it!’ Jimga was relieved yet concerned at the same time. If the Black Masks had some reign over the hell that was being unleashed, perhaps they could have negotiated a truce. However, from the looks of it, the World Serpent was moving of its own accord, not bound by any human control.
“If we can’t run, let’s fight…”
“What?! Are you crazy Jimga?!” Wangu cried out. “That’s the WORLD SERPENT! Even if the Sect Master were here, he would be forced to call for backup. There’s no way that we can beat it!”
“At least we can distract it! We’re the Dalgeom Sect! Our offensive abilities are second to none! Even if we can’t kill it, if we take out its eyes, we might have a real chance of escape.” The Sword Tyrant reasoned. “Right now, we’re just sitting ducks, waiting to get shot at!”
“Jimga…” As much as Wangu disliked the idea of fighting a Tier 9 Spirit Beast, one that was more ancient than the Sect itself, he had to admit that his junior brother was making a whole lot of sense.
“Also… If we do perish, at least it would be at the hands of a worthy opponent.” The Sword Tyrant smiled. A battle junkie like him loved to seek out formidable foes that he could bring down, and each head that he collected was a trophy for his cabinet. If they don’t make it out alive, at the very least, they would have gone toe-to-toe with one of the earth’s mightiest beings. Hence, even though his mind was telling him to run away, his heart was telling him to stay and fight.
Hearing his junior’s words, Wangu put on an incredulous expression before turning greatly amused. That was right, true to his name, this junior brother of his was the Sword Tyrant! There was no way that he would back away from a challenge especially when it was one of this scale. “Hahaha!!! You’re right! We’re the Dalgeom Sect! There’s nothing that we can’t overcome!!!”
“Senior Brother Wangu…”
“Change of plans! Yeunghi, you try to freeze the waters. Jimga and I will take on the World Serpent head on! Once we blind its eyes, we would immediately retreat!” Just like old times, the eldest Spirit Emperor formulated a game plan and relayed it to his juniors. “Also… I forbid you to die. The two of you are the most talented individuals in our clan. We can’t afford to lose you!”
The three Spirit Emperors stopped resisting the winds that were blowing them back to the bay and spiked their mana release. The mythic-grade spirit armaments that were in their hands glowed in an astonishing fervour as if they were warriors ready to march into war. It was finally time for the three Spirit Emperors to take on an untouchable sovereign of the land, the World Serpent.