Book 8: The Mercenary’s Promise || Chapter 31: Payirci (1)

Rumble… Rumble… Rumble…

Thousands of darkness-imbued Spirit Beasts bolted forth from the depths of the Payirci, plaguing the land as if it were a virus that couldn’t be cured. The brave men and women from the Alliance forces all stood their ground as they helped those who were injured the most to safety. The White Knight Commander had long moved to assist the eastern front alongside her trusted officers, all with the intent of helping the retreat.

Spirit Beasts of all shapes and sizes inched closer to the frontlines, baring their fangs and ferocious weapons. Serpentine water beasts with dark acidic poison dripping from their opened mouths threatened to erode any that stood in their paths. Fishlike beasts glissaded in the air as if they were still in the high seas and released tremendous amounts of water in their wake. And it wasn’t just oceanic Spirit Beasts that had joined the fray. Wolves, bears, tigers, eagles, falcons, rhinoceros, elephants… Spirit Beasts of all shapes and sizes emerged from the depths of the Payirci and contaminated the land before them.

Brave soldiers held their ground with the goal of protecting the innocents of the land. So how could Shin and his friends sit by and spectate? Their Spirits summoned and their mana spiked, the seven young heroes targeted all of the foreign Spirit Beasts.

“Elrin! Protect yourself!”

“Right!!!”

The first thing a team must always do before entering a fight was to protect their auxiliary Spirit User, even if it meant weakening the vanguard. Everyone with a little bit of common sense knew that. However, Elrin didn’t like being part of the convention. Going against all expectations set by the auxiliary department and Madam Warulee, the white-haired young heiress created her own protection ability when promoting into the Spirit Adept realm. The Rosary of Eternity split itself into hundreds of little pearls, each brimming with its own unique resplendent light.

The hundreds of pearls oscillated around Elrin for a few times, as if they were comets orbiting around the sun before finally settling down in their own respective locations. Elrin’s clenched fist abruptly opened up sending out almost a quarter of the young maiden’s mana out from her body and into the pearls that levitated around her. Like a star chart, one pearl released a beam of light connecting it to another. That beam that entered the adjacent pearl split into four and continued to link another four sets of pearls. Following that pattern, the beam of light continued to spread until a figure could be seen from afar.

Enveloped by endless light, Elrin closed her eyes and allowed the figure to take its full shape. In just a few seconds, the hundreds of beads faded into nothingness as a translucent armoured knight encased Elrin within its chest plate. With an armour strong enough to defend against the harshest of winds and fiercest of attacks, the champion stood strong with a translucent spirit shield at hand, ready to protect its mistress from any harm.

“Eternity Paladin!!!” Elrin shouted her abilities name to complete the cast. With her protection in order, the maiden turned to her comrades, who were likewise ready to begin the fight. “Which one of you needs my support?!”

“There’s no need for ‘False Armaments!’ Just give us ‘Sacramental Boost!’ and we should be fine!” Shin barked. Just like Elrin, the Prince of Water had started his own preparations to deal with the menace that was headed their way. With his arms raised, Shin created hundreds of water spears, each with their own unique shapes and sharpness. When Elrin sent a bead over from her Rosary of Eternity and cast ‘Sacramental Boost,’ Shin instantly felt capable of mass producing even more water spears, far surpassing the usual amount that he would normally create.

The twins weren’t slacking off either. Using the Crystal Toxotai Mantra, the pair of identical sisters merged their two bodies with an illusory chain of light. Their bodies now glistened with a diamond-like lustre while ice-elements floated all around them in complete euphoria.

“Crystal Body!” The twins proclaimed. They were long-range archers that had no need for standing on the frontlines. However, with Ella’s ferociousness and Emma’s pinpoint accuracy, the two were often left unguarded with nothing to protect them. Hence, they heavily invested in improving their shared ability to further increase their effectiveness in battle.

Shizen with his Adivinar Tree created thousands of vines and roots, dyeing the entire region around him in his own colours. Being the centre of the team’s formation, Shizen was responsible for assisting the vanguard in their assault and pulling them back if they overextended their advance. Shizen’s Adivinar Tree also served as a protector of the backlines which proved useful when swatting away pesky flies that attempted to encircle the group.

Isadore was rather meek compared to the rest of the team. Since he couldn’t summon out the Spirit of Himmel in front of that many spectators, the silver-haired elf-man was relegated to using the Spirit Armament spear he could find. Standing in the front lines alongside Shin, Isadore was ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.

And finally, there was Kanari. In her full Spiritual Body Enhancement form, the foxy maiden’s nine fluffy tails wagged rapidly while the blue flame ball orbited around her. Her elongated nails and ruby-red eyes glistened in the late afternoon sun with the gales behind her back. Flushed red from excitement, the young maiden seemed to have turned into a primal beast that would maul anything that came in her path. Baring her fangs, the Kumiho girl leapt straight forward and charged straight at the enemies.

BOOOOOMMM!!! BOOOOOMMM!!! BOOOOOMMM!!!

Thunderous echoes broke the atmosphere of the rocky plains with unfathomable amounts of spiritual energies pouring from each direction. Kanari’s early attack obliterated the first handful of Spirit Beasts that were flying straight at the troops, giving the green light for the soldiers to begin their strike.

Supporting the young maiden out in the field, Shin fired all of his Spears of Sparta, instantly narrowing down the numbers within Kanari’s reach. Ella supported Kanari’s charge with her own form of justice. Thousands of icicles flowed out from Ella’s Ice Bow sliced through numerous Spirit Beasts, weakening them tremendously for Kanari to finish them off. Emma too assisted the Witch in the South through her expert aim, penetrating the skulls of Tier 3 Spirit Beasts before they could even come close to dealing any damage to Kanari.

Showing off why they were called the Glacial Fairy Markswoman and the Blizzard Fairy Sharpshooter, the twins continued their relentless assault all while supporting the main damage dealer of the group. Almost every time Shin looked at Kanari, there was a pale blue flame within her palms and each time she swung it, the land would implode sending her foes straight into the abyss. Using her foxfire and gale control, Kanari was able to create a wall of blue inferno, blocking a good portion of the darkness-imbued Spirit Beasts from every tasting the flesh of the wounded soldiers.

“Change of plans! All of us are to support Kanari!” Shin watched as the maiden continued to wreak havoc as if she were playing with her own dollhouse. There was no point in sticking to their wait-and-see policy. If Kanari was popping off, the team had to support her in any way that they could. “Elrin! Cast ‘False Armament on Kanari and Isadore! Shizen, protect our flanks! Isadore, let’s go in and join the fun!”

Wielding the Spear of Aiglos, Shin hopped in straight into the wall of flames where Kanari lay in wait, alongside his trusted partner. Forty glittering pearls shot forward from Elrin’s direction and encircled the wrists and ankles of the two main vanguards while Shin went in alone and landed right behind Kanari’s back. She had just executed two octopus that tried to entangle them with her tentacles and didn’t notice the arrival of the black-haired man, which startled her for a second. However, after feeling the warmth from Shin’s back, the young maiden instantly felt rejuvenated.

“Shin…”

“Not now, Kanari!” Sensing that her tension had died down, Shin immediately raised her voice. “We’re still in the middle of a battle! We can’t lose focus!”

“R-Right! Focus!” Kanari hyped herself up by pumping her two fists up. However, even after Elrin had granted her False Armaments, the young girl didn’t seem willing to leave the comfort of Shin’s broad and manly back. Glancing over his shoulder, Shin did his best to stifle his laughter when he saw the puffed up adorable face of Kanari’s. Nonetheless, they were still in the middle of a battle, so…

“Kanari… I know that things are awkward between us, but after this whole battle is over, could we take some time to talk? Maybe in private without any pesky eyes?”

Shin didn’t mean anything by inviting her for a tryst, however, the young maiden completely took it the wrong way. Kanari’s face instantly thought back to yesterday night, where the pair was all alone under the grandeur of the night sky and the sweet taste of a man’s tongue in her mouth. Did Shin want another rendezvous like that? Of course not. But a woman could only dream…

“Okay…”

“Good! I’ll support you! Go crazy with your fire!”

Wholly unaware that he had ignited a new fuse, Shin smiled and spun the Spear of Aiglos around, creating dozens of shapes to assist the maiden in her onslaught. A hail of water bullets slammed down onto the Spirit Beasts that were just inches away from him while Shin created floating water disks for Kanari to step on if needed. Leaving the flaming field, the pair bolted forward with everything that they had. Blue flames circled around Kanari with every turn that she made while Shin covered her openings with water tendrils and crazy amounts of created weapons. For good measure, Shin had also summoned out an army of water golems to form a line that blocks any Spirit Beasts from moving deeper into the retreating Alliance forces.

Kanari attacks, Shin covers. That was the harmonious dance that the two had concocted. Anything on the ground was swept away by the deadly flames of the Kumiho. Anything in the skies was being devastated by the weapons that Shin created or the constant bombardment that he had placed them into. The perfect waltz by the Witch in the South and the Prince of Water. That was the consensus shared by those who witnessed the two fight. Any Spirit Beast that was below Tier 4 stood no chance against the combined might of the two prodigies.

However, that didn’t mean that absolutely no Spirit Beast could damage the pair. Seemingly angered that its comrades had fallen like flies, a Tier 4 savage tiger pounced forward with the intent to kill. Its roar was heard far and wide, making it quite hard to miss. Before Shin or Kanari had the chance to react to the menace, a silver flash sped past their peripheral vision and encountered the tiger head on.

Isadore kicked the tiger on its chin, spinning it one round before it landed on its belly. The force that propelled him forward continued to move the lightweight youth forward and gave Isadore the speed needed to do a complete backspin to give himself the advantageous position. With yet another roar, the crazed tiger opened its jaws to release a fearsome orange fire, which ignited and sped straight at Isadore with a vengeance. Not willing to become a beast’s barbeque, Isadore spun thrice and landed on his feet right next to the tiger. His spear sliced through the thick flesh of the Spirit Beast twice in those spins, giving rise for Isadore to land yet another blow.

Alas, a Tier 4 Spirit Beast was much different as compared to its weaker counterparts. With one leap the tiger retreated almost a hundred metres, allowing the dark matter that encompassed it to heal its broken tendons and mend its bones. However, Isadore wasn’t about to let it go just like that. Chasing down the tiger, the silver-haired boy exchanged blows with the beast when it was still healing, slicing and dicing any claws or fangs that got in his way. In the end, Isadore’s spearmanship and overall physical boost proved too much for the Tier 4 Spirit Beast to bear. With one final thrust, Isadore pierced through the tiger’s skull and extinguished the light within the beast’s eyes.

“You guys have to be more careful about dealing with Tier Fours!!! They aren’t the typically beast that you can just sweep away!” Isadore chided the duo after his masterful display. “Just handle the weaker ones! I’ll push back any Tier Fours or Fives that might come!”

“Thanks! You’re a lifesaver!” Shin replied amidst a wide smile. The seven young heroes didn’t only consist of Shin and Kanari. Every one of them were monsters that would dominate their own fields and Isadore was no exception. Even in the backlines, Shizen was clearing Spirit Beasts as if they were dominoes that could be toppled by his Adivinar Tree. Vines and razor-sharp leaves bound all Spirit Beasts within the land all while two archers executed them without any mercy.

‘Junius… Oh, Junius…’ Shin looked up at the Payirci that stretched for almost a kilometre in length. Even though there were no windows, Shin knew that Junius was watching down on him, observing his every move. ‘You’d thought that you had ended us… However, this is far from over… We’re only just beginning…’

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