Shin and Kanari continued to dominate the battlefield with all of their teammates covering for their weaknesses. Whenever a Tier 4 Spirit Beast showed up, Isadore made sure that he was the first man to intercept it. When they were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the horde, Ella would immobilise the beasts using her superior icy dust control ability while Emma went in for the kill. At the very backlines, Shizen was using his vines and razor leaves to keep any monsters from encircling the two geniuses and was always on the lookout for potential dangers with a vine on standby to pull them out if need be. And who could forget the masterful support that Elrin was providing to the pair? Her Sacramental Boost enabled Kanari and Shin to continue blasting skills left and right without care for their mana pool. Furthermore, with her False Armaments, Kanari and Isadore were able to outmanoeuvre any foe that came into their view due to their increased speed and power.
Standing to the side, various figures were watching the seven young heroes move with absolute mastery, and some even gaped in awe as they forgot that they were on a battlefield. One of them being a familiar obese young man, who should have been focusing on defeating the opponents that he had.
“They really have grown to complement each other,” Danroy remarked within his Bangeo Rhinoceros Phantom. Danroy’s fats jiggled with every movement he made and the abrupt turn he did to his comrades didn’t help in that sight. “Don’t you think that they’re more powerful than before as well?”
“…” Suji remained silent with his Purple Dragon Crescent Blade in his hands. Though they were competitors, the sinewy young man had to admit that their teamwork was perhaps far superior as compared to their own team’s. However, since he had a bet with Shin, there was no way that he would verbally admit that.
“Kanari really is a monster…” Hacking down yet another Spirit Beast that came into her path, Natasha turned around and almost dropped her jaw that her classmate’s absolute powers. As time went by, it became increasingly evident that the seven young heroes were doing everything that they could to supplement Kanari in her brutal never-ending assault and that the Kumiho girl was the focal point of the team’s dominance.
“Shin’s no slob, either.” Danroy continued with his own observation. “How the hell is he able to use water when Kanari is spewing fire all around the battlefield?! It makes no sense!!!”
Any four-year-old knew that water and fire don’t mix. In theory, if Shin were to use his created water alongside Kanari’s Foxfire, the two would cancel each other out, rendering all of their attacks obsolete. Yet, the Prince of Water was somehow able to not only keep the blue flames burning but to also aid Kanari in any move that she made. It defied all logic, but Shin had managed to do it with relative ease and to significant effect.
“It just goes to show how talented the two are…” Natasha made that thoughtless comment. After five years sharing the same classroom with Shin and Kanari, the swordmaiden had long accepted her inferiority and had given up on ever competing against them. Unfortunately, those wouldn’t move on, no matter how many years would pass.
Suji swung his trusted Purple Dragon Crescent Blade, sending thunderbolts flying all about. Mana spewed out from the core of his body as the blue lightning became more and more violent, congregating underneath the groin of the muscular young man. The lightning bolts continued to gather until a dim shape took form. Suji’s two feet rose above the ground, and it wasn’t because he was floating, but an electric equine creature was now right beneath his bum, bolting its two feet up in the air like a prized stallion ready to jump into war.
“Hmph! I’m going in!”
The muscleman derisively said those words as he turned into a purple flash. Charged up like a lightning rod, Suji rode into battle with his fourth spiritual ability and proceeded to slice through anything that stood in his path. The purple coils of lightning continuously disintegrated the souls of the Spirit Beasts with each swing of Suji’s Guandao, bringing the death toll of the beast to an all-time high. Due to the thunder mare that he was riding, Suji was able to cover much more ground as compared to Shin and Kanari, allowing him to reach the absolute centre of the horde to wreak havoc at heart.
Noticing the commotion, Shin and Kanari turned to see what the ruckus was about. What greeted them was the superior black eyes of the Son of War. Suji never admitted that he was inferior and he wanted everyone to know that. Their interaction lasted for barely two seconds before the muscular man rode off with even more murderous intent, hacking and slicing anything that moved within his peripheral.
“Someone’s in a bad mood.” The Witch in the South giggled.
“You talk as if this doesn’t concern you.” Shin wasn’t that amused by Kanari’s sny laugh. “You do know that he sees you as a rival to surpass as well, right?”
“He likes you more, though!”
“That’s definitely not the case!”
“That so is!”
Shin and Kanari argued over that small detail while mayhem continued to unravel all around them. The Alliance forces were pulling back bit by bit. However, able-bodied warriors continued to stay back to help the weaker members retreat as well as kill a few hundred Spirit Beasts to thin down their numbers. Fortunately, with the assistance of the White Knights and the elite volunteer teams, the withdrawal of the troops was going much smoother than the commander expected.
“Hey! We’re in the middle of a battle here!” Before their debate could turn into flirting, Isadore screamed out while jumping back with a dead hare Spirit Beast impaled on his spear. “Focus a little!”
“Right! Sorry!” The pair immediately apologised, stifling their laughter in the process. Just as Isadore had said, they were way too casual, so Kanari decided to take it up a notch.
“Shin, cover me.” The young maiden closed her eyes and gathered all of her mana into one point. The pale blue flames that surrounded her began to burn even brighter, and Kanari’s gales fanned the sapphire inferno to ignite even more of her foes. Sensing that something was up, the Spirit Beasts all turned their attention to the stationary Kumiho girl.
Talons, fangs, horns, claws. An assortment of vicious tools was head Kanari’s way in the hopes of killing off the menace from its source. However, instead of drawing blood, all those weapons that the Spirit Beasts had turned into mush as they came into contact with the honeycomb barrier that Shin had created.
“Oh no, you don’t!” Shin ridiculed the darkness-imbued beasts and created hundreds of water bullets to deter them from coming close to the young maiden before she could finish her cast. Crimson beads splattered all over the Aegis Bubble, and dust flew all over the place. Kanari was efficient in her attacks, but Shin wasn’t one to be looked down upon either. His attacks were basically poison to any Tier 2 Spirit Beast or lower and Tier 3 Spirit Beasts would perish with a little bit of concentrated effort from the youth. In just a few moments, Shin had cleared the area in front of him, enabling Kanari to execute her ability.
Her mana spiked, Kanari finally opened her eyes, revealing those gorgeous blood-red ruby pupils that she had. The aura that Kanari emitted struck fear in any Spirit Beasts weaker than her and complete anger in those that were equal or mightier than her. However, a common consensus was felt among the Spirit Beasts… The woman had to be eliminated at all costs.
Alas, it was too late. An illusion of a full luminescent moon appeared right in front of Kanari, sending forth tremendous amounts of spiritual pressure and forcing the most ferocious of beasts to go tame in their legs. The temperature rose drastically with each passing second and soon, heat waves strong enough to give a regular human a stroke dominated the field in front of the illusory moon. The Spirit Beasts ran in terror, but their boiling blood made it somewhat challenging to make it anywhere near safety. And finally, Kanari said those fateful words…
Fiery radiation melted anything, and everything within Kanari’s path as the Lunar Beam danced past the beasts as if nothing was there. In an instant, dozens of beasts were incinerated into ashes, never to see the light of day ever again. Pale blue foxfire left in the wake of the beam continued to spread out and igniting the remaining Spirit Beasts that Lunar Beam had just barely missed. It was carnage. However, it was carnage that the Alliance forces sorely needed.
“ORRYAHHHHH!!!” Seasoned warriors that witnessed Kanari’s deadly attack howled out in a battle-cry, washing away any fatigue that they had accumulated. The adrenaline pumping to their heads, the soldiers continued to fight and thin down the drastic numbers of the beasts, all while facilitating the retreat of their allies.
And it wasn’t just the Alliance members that were amped up. Suji’s group and an array of other contracted teams raised their weapons and burst into the horde. It didn’t matter if they were a Rank 12 Spirit Apostle or a Rank 58 Spirit Lord. They had all but forgotten their exhaustion and were on the brink of pledging their lives to the cause.
Amidst all of the commotion, Kanari stood still, silent. The gorgeous pale blue flames that encircled her continued to flicker in the orange afternoon glow. Whistles of eerie winds brushed past her supple white skin and swayed her nine tails from side to side. Finding it odd that the young maiden had halted in the middle of a battle, Shin jumped back and approached her from her front.
“Kanari? What’s wrong?”
“Shin…” The Kumiho woman took several deep breaths in expanding and compressing her rich bosom drastically. Kanari’s ruby eyes blossomed with a spectacular crimson radiance while the blue foxfire balls around her continued to oscillate in absolute joy. “I feel… So different… So powerful…”
“Different? Powerful?” The Prince of Water furrowed his brows and observed the movements of the black-haired maiden. On the surface, there was nothing different about her. Kanari still exuded the same beauty as she always did and there wasn’t anything odd about her movements. Thus, whatever was bothering her had to be internal.
“Wait… Could it be?!” It didn’t take long for Shin to connect the dots. Stepping forward to hold her hand, the youth sent his spiritual sense into the young maiden’s body, only to feel a pleasant throbbing sensation emitted straight out from Kanari’s core.
“Kanari! You’re breaking through!” Shin gasped. The Witch in the South was long stuck at Rank 39, and it has been a few months since she had made any progress in her cultivation. Nonetheless, neither the maiden nor her teachers were frustrated by the lack of improvements. Crossing the first barrier of mortality was tough and the bridge between Rank 39 and Rank 40 was much wider as compared to Rank 38 and 39. Yet, here Kanari was, reaching the peak of Rank 39 and ready to take the first leap to double her lifespan.
“I am? I am!” The maiden examined herself and leapt up in absolute joy. The Highgarden Duchy had been preparing for this moment for almost her entire life. Saint Firebird, the Duchess of Highgarden, as well as an assortment of the best mentors and meisters had been planning her eventual rise to the Spirit Spectre realm. Kanari had always dreamed that she would be surrounded by the best resources, the most spectacular chambers and the highest authorities in the land to facilitate her ascension. However, right now, there was only one thought in her mind.
“Great! When we get back to base, I’m immediately going to attempt my breakthrough!”
“You what?!” Shin hollered out in absolute fear. Crossing the first barrier of mortality was a deed that needed ample planning and real-time support. One false move and Kanari’s cultivation base might be severely wounded, crippling any chance that she had to become a Spirit Spectre. She had to be extremely cautious with her ascension, and yet, the Witch in the South wanted to do so in such a remote land?
“You can’t! You should return to the Himmel Empire and make your attempt there! It’s far too dangerous here!”
“I won’t leave you to deal with Junius alone you know.” Kanari knew that Shin wouldn’t leave the Payirci alone, especially when Junius was hiding deep inside of it with god knows how many forces. “I’ll breakthrough into the Spirit Spectre realm right here, and we’ll take him on together.”
“That’s enough, Shin! Don’t you trust me?”
“I do… But this is another matter altogether! If something were to happen to you…” The Black-Haired Tyrant didn’t dare to complete his sentence. Meekly dropping his head, Shin held on to Kanari’s hand and placed a cap on his emotions.
At that moment, a resonant horn bellowed through the field, signalling all units to retreat to safety immediately. The injured and the fallen had been moved. There was no reason to stay in this infested land anymore.
“Let’s discuss this later…” Shin held the wrists of Kanari and jumped back with her in his hands. It wasn’t the time nor the place to talk about breaking into Rank 40. What’s more important was for them to retreat back to safety, away from the seemingly endless waves of darkness-imbued Spirit Beasts.