TL: I have TLed my drafts to chapter 178. There is a numbering issue by the author, and you will see Chapter 177 part 1 & 2. Also, I’m playing my kickstarter’s DnD game Pathfinder Kingmaker. The next chapter will probably come 2 hours later (after an hour of the game, then an hour of editing chapter 174), NO PROMISES THO.
Chapter 173 – Awakening
============ Mephisto’s POV ===========
Mephisto raised his head and saw a pillar of light reaching for the stars. He then turned his gaze on the distant pillar of light that mirrored it, then stood up from the bushes and patted off the leaves off him.
A few seconds later, he narrowed his gleaming eyes and started walking towards to the first pillar of light.
The Sword Saint of Ashes had the easiest time escaping from the Lernaia Hydra, but he did not expect to lose his way in the Dark Forest.
============ Andesha’s POV ============
Golden flames were pouring out from the crystal embedded from Brendel’s chest.
Andesha had countless green tentacles of vines growing out from her back and they shot towards Brendel. She attempted to quell the immense Mana emanating from him a second time, but her steel-like tentacles started burning like paper on a flame upon meeting the light, and they turned into ashes in the blink of an eye.
She screamed, hurriedly withdrawing the tentacles that were everywhere in the vicinity. The golden light seemed like it had the capability to burn her soul, and she felt waves of pain crawling over her skin.
The leader of the Tree Shepherd suddenly turned to the trees, sensing something. Her purple eyes suddenly contracted as she saw a green light flashing from the valley.
“She comes really quickly,” Andesha said through gnashing teeth.
She hastily moved back and grabbed Scarlett’s arm, speaking in a low voice:
“It is still not the time to fight with that woman. My little darling, come with me now.”
But she did not expect to meet resistance and failed to move Scarlett. She turned around in surprise, only to discover that Scarlett was grabbing on a boulder that was jutting out from the ground.
“I’m not going with you.” Scarlett was looking fearlessly at Andesha’s eyes with determination, and she spoke each word with a pause.
“How dare you!” Andesha’s voice went up several octaves: “You promised me! As long as I cured him, you will follow me!”
“But I didn’t say anything about keeping my promise. I will not leave my lord, kill me if you want to.”
Andesha was stunned for a moment. The image of the Tree Shepherds was their cunningness and broken promises. It was unthinkable that she would fell for a little girl’s lie. Even if she wanted to kill Brendel now to get back at her trickery, the golden flames around the Blood of Gods might not allow her to do so.
She trembled in fury and smacked Scarlett’s head with the back of her hand, causing the girl to utter a short cry and fall unconscious to the ground.
But this short delay allowed the green flash in the valley to reach Andesha. Veronica accelerated as she pursed her lips tightly, with her hand gripping her sword’s hilt. She took a single step and crossed the distance of hundreds of meters and enabled her to reach her destination.
In the next moment, she had blocked Andesha from her escape.
“Andesha!” Veronica said, eyeing the tied up Faena with a cold gaze.
“Tsk.” Andesha ceased her actions. She was someone who had much experience in life after all and became composed: “Hmph. It seems like I’m slower by a step. Lady Veronica, your control over your Element Power has indeed reached the ‘Extreme’ state. Your speed is fast enough to cause illusions to fool one’s eyes.”
“Cut your nonsense, Andesha.” Veronica’s voice was cold as winter’s ice. She knew this woman’s identity very well, and the latter’s appearance here was definitely not to flatter her. The fact that Andesha had Faena was just another bit of evidence. “Why is Faena with you, and where are Rono and Elman?”
“Are you referring to this little girl?” Andesha apparently did not take offense to Veronica’s tone. She stretched out her hand; Faena who was bound up by the vines came a little closer to Andesha, allowing her to stroke the girl’s chin. “Such a pretty face.”
“I told you to stop beating around the bush!” Veronica shouted and pulled out her sword at her foe: “Andesha, what are you doing here!”
She noticed the pillar of light behind Andesha, but the golden flames were burning wildly and she did not know there was a person in it. But she noticed that Scarlett was unconscious, and she frowned.
Andesha’s eyes closed slightly and she smiled, making her beauty even more apparent: “Perhaps the Commander would care to take a guess?”
Veronica’s face turned dark and her lips pressed against each other to form a line. She swung her sword without uttering any more words. A green-colored air current left the blade, and it formed into a bird with extended wings and a long tail, homing onto Andesha.
Its speed was astonishingly quick—
Andesha’s eyes widened as she did not expect Veronica to be serious in fighting her. Her slender hands that were laden with green vines waved upwards, and countless pale-white brambles sprung out from the ground, attempting to stop the Sword Energy by lashing out at it. These were the branches of the Roses of the Bloody River that were grown in the Sulfur Rivers. Andesha had brought them along with her and they were as hard as steel, with the thorns on them having a lethal poison that would rot a creature’s skin.
But the green Sword Energy moved as though as it was alive, beating its wings while slipping through the gaps of the nightmarish plants as though it was a nimble swallow, bypassing the obstacles and rushing at Andesha.
Andesha understood that Veronica intended to use her full strength.
The female Sword Saint’s famous Abatement Barrier utilized her Wind Element Power as a defensive style, and though it was known for its formidable defense and did not have any gaps, it also had quite the number of astonishing counterattacks that were flexible and unique.
This green bird was the best example of how strong it was.
Andesha gritted her teeth and let go of her hand on Faena’s chin, and swung it down on the green bird, destroying it. Wind exploded on her fingertips, causing her hair to flutter before they fell back into place.
“Lady Veronica. You’re not my match, why do you act so rashly—” She said.
Veronica did not reply, but the sword in her hands gave an answer. Before Andesha finished her words, a huge maelstrom of green air currents formed in the sky. Countless green birds slowly flew out from it and formed a beautiful scenery. It was an illusion where the green birds were seemingly flying against the white Wall of Clouds.
“The Congregation of Wind!” Andesha muttered to herself in shock.
But the Mistress of Withering Decay did not take long to react. She extended out her five fingers and shouted with a shrill voice:
“Greater Stone Golem!”
A powerful rumbling happened beneath both women’s feet. Countless spikes jutted out, along with soil gushing out like a violent geyser, and they instantly hardened to form a gargantuan Golem.
The green birds that were formed from Veronica’s Element Power smashed into the Golem. Each bird was a condensed shard of Sword Energy, and it caused a huge pit across the Golem upon contact. Hundreds of holes appeared across the Golem, but soil continued to pour out from the ground to repair the Greater Stone Golem.
The Greater Stone Golem was still capable of moving despite the damage done to it, and a low bellow filled the valley as it raised its fist, sending a punch across a hundred feet in order to smash Veronica into a pile of dust.
Perspiration had already formed on Veronica’s forehead, but she appeared calm. She leaped into the air and with her sword raised above her, and swung it with clenched teeth. The blade sank into the Golem, and a flash of green light emerged at the other end of the Golem’s arm.
A deafening explosion shook the air.
The Greater Stone Golem’s arm had fallen onto to the ground with an earth-shaking crash.
Veronica sheathed her sword and took a moment to breathe. Her earlier Sword Arte, the Congregation of Wind, had exhausted her a little. When she looked up at Andesha, she discovered the latter paling a little, but there was no indication of exhaustion.
It was clear who was stronger.
Andesha tilted her head as she returned Veronica’s gaze. In order to prevent the female commander from attacking again, she smiled and brought her fingers to Faena’s neck:
“Lady Veronica, I did not come here to fight you. However, if you insist on doing so, then do not blame me for being ruthless.”
“You’re not going to kill her.”
Andesha was momentarily taken aback at Veronica’s curt reply, and she laughed a moment later: “Indeed, you see things clearly. However, it still depends on how much value this little princess has.”
“What do you want?”
“You ought to know very clearly what I want,” Andesha smiled and paused for a moment, “the Lionheart.”
“You’re out of your mind.”
“Then it seems like you’re not interested in keeping this little princess alive?” Andesha patted the unconscious girl’s face.
Veronica drew a deep breath, but shook her head in the end: “Putting aside the fact that the Lionheart isn’t with me, even if it’s with me, I will not exchange it for Faena.”
“How merciless. Is something that’s not alive not as valuable as a human life?” Andesha’s sharp fingernails were moving threateningly across Faena’s face: “The little princess is the only child of the Duke of Flowers. Are you not worried that he will seek revenge on you?”
“Stop blabbing, Andesha, you and I know what the Lionheart means to the Kirrlutz Empire. Even if the Emperor is in your hands, I will not agree to your threat either. The Kirrlutz Empire will never bow to any threat.” Veronica said.
This time it was Andesha who became silent.
The Mistress of Withering Decay understood Veronica’s personality quite well, and she did not plan on meeting her so early. Instead, she wanted to wait for Veronica to obtain the Lionheart, before using Faena as a distraction so she could steal the sword. It was a tactic that she was best at.
But the sudden appearance of Scarlett and Brendel caused her to lose sight of her goal. Anger slowly filled her heart as she realized her mistake, but she did not stop thinking on how to resolve the current situation.
“Though the Lionheart is not with you, you must have an artifact that can detect it,” Andesha spoke with a low growl.
Veronica frowned when she realized that Andesha was prepared for a fight. She raised her sword to defend herself. But Andesha giggled in an alluring manner, and she grabbed Faena by the throat: “Well, since the little princess has no more use, I’ll use her for a blood ritual.”
Veronica’s expression changed and wanted to speak, but another voice that was void of emotion suddenly interrupted them:
“Lady Andesha, I have no objections to what you’re doing. But you had better explain what you did to me and my guard.”
Andesha’s pupils contracted in alarm. At that very moment, she felt she had been targeted by a monster behind her back. Her hair stood up, and she subconsciously turned her head around.
There was a long stream of golden flames surging towards her.