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Chapter 215 - Stolen (2)
Azell's party was able to escape the prospect of death through Yuren's sacrifice. They earned time to regroup. It wasn't just Azell. Kairen and Leticia were also gravely wounded. This opportunity was worth its weight in gold.
The party moved as far as possible, and they avoided locations that possessed access points to the Road of Emptiness. Then they received help from members of the Guardian Shadows to find a hideout. Healers were called in, and their wounds were treated.
"Atein had been revived……."
Suddenly, Azell mumbled to himself.
Azell could feel it. The enormous darkness in the distance was contracting.
Atein was the first and strongest magician, who was capable of changing the world with his power. He was Azell's mortal enemy, and he had woken up from a long sleep called death.
"I feel it."
She was merely a traitor, yet she used to be a high ranking officer in the Plain of Darkness. She had been connected to the Great Darkness in the past, and the remnant of that connection notified her that Atein had been revived.
"All the thanks in the world wouldn't be enough for what Yuren has done for us. He gave us so much time."
Yuren had delayed Atein's revival by 100 hours. In terms of days, it had been four days. If it wasn't for that time, Atein would have tracked down and killed Azell's party by now.
On top of that, Yuren had made sure to cut off the connection between the Great Darkness and the Vitan's Chalice. They could no longer be tracked down through the Vitan's Chalice. Even if Laura was killed, the Vitan's Chalice would no longer return to the Great Darkness.
In his limited time left, Yuren had told the party about what measures he had taken.
He told them why Atein wanted Azell. He told them about Atein's true goals, and what Atein was capable of achieving after his revival….
The information evoked a deep fear within the party.
In the past, Atein was tactically driven into a corner when he was separated from his army. The human alliance kept Atein's army in a gridlock, so Atein had to inevitably fight a one on one battle with Azell. He had lost. However, this didn't mean Atein's power wasn't endless. Instead of a one on one battle, his power was more suited for large scale battles.
During the Dragon Demon war, the human alliance had felt this truth to their bones. This was why the human alliance had sent Azell to keep Atein occupied. The one on one battle had been an attempt to keep Atein away from the battlefield.
"Azell, if you fight a one on one battle with the king…."
Suddenly, Laura asked him a question.
"What is the probability of you winning?"
"It is fifty-fifty."
It seemed Azell didn't even need to think about it before he gave her an answer.
In terms of overall battle capability, Azell had recovered to his prime level. He was also able to Dual Band his eight Rings of Life. He had acquired enormous Dragon Demon magic from this process, so he had jumped past the limitations of his past. He now had a surplus of power, and any deficiency was filled when he recovered his lost Dragon weapons.
Laura tilted her head in confusion.
"The odds are like that even though we stole two Dragon weapons from him?"
Yuren had given them many large presents, and at the same time, he had harmed Atein to an appalling degree.
Yuren had stolen two of Atein's Dragon weapons, and he had transferred it to Azell.
It was the Brand of Paradise and the White Flame Phoenix.
In their past battle with Atein, Yuren had decided that there were two Dragon weapons that had to be stolen from Atein, and Yuren had been successful.
It truly was an admirable achievement.
The Brand of Paradise was a Dragon weapon made by deciphering the power of the last Arp. It was done by deciphering Reginor's power. The Dragon weapon had the amazing power of being able to manipulate localized time.
"Even if Atein doesn't have this Dragon weapon, he can still manipulate time. He could use a spell that can produce the same effect. However, there is a cost to using the spell that wouldn't be present when using the Dragon weapon. Moreover, we still have to come up with a good idea on how I can put the Brand of Paradise to good use."
Azell's power had increased, and Atein's power had decreased. This was a fact. However, both sides knew what powers each side had. It was basically a shuffling of the deck. The stolen Dragon weapons couldn't be used as secret weapons that could take Atein unawares.
"The fact that we were able to steal the White Flame Phoenix will have a minimal effect in a one on one battle with Atein. It is merely a strategic gain."
The White Flame Phoenix was like the Crying Phoenix. They were Dragon weapons capable of fighting by themselves when summoned. The user didn't needed to continuously concentrate on using the Dragon weapon, and it had the capability of carrying multiple people across long distances at high speeds.
This wasn't too much about what Atein had lost. It was more about enormous benefit gained by someone in Azell's party. One of Azell's party members had received the Dragon weapon. Yuren hadn't taken the White Flame Phoenix for Azell, who already possessed the Crying Phoenix. Yuren had stolen it with the intent of someone else in Azell's party inheriting it.
"Anyways, we have to kill him before he shakes up the world."
"How will we do that?"
At Laura's question, Azell bit his lips.
If the revived Atein was by himself, it might have been a different story. However, he possessed a force called the Dragon Demon King worshippers, so Azell's task would be truly difficult. Azell had recovered his battle capabilities, and it rivalled the power he possessed during his prime. He also acquired comrades that was strong enough to make a name for themselves during the Dragon Demon war. However, there was a limit to what a small elite force could do against an enormous organization.
Azell let out a sigh.
"We'll have to find a way. Let's just leave it to the duke to worry about that…."
During the Dragon Demon war, Azell had fought in the frontline. He had no hand in coming up with the strategies. Azell was a fine blade. He needed a wielder that could maximize his effectiveness. During the Dragon Demon war, Carlos had been such a person, and there were others that had taken on that role.
Currently, Kairen was in charge of that role. Kairen had already come up with a method that caused trouble for the Plain of Darkness. He now needed to come up with a battle plan for fighting Atein.
"I have to finish the blade that'll cut off Atein's neck."
On their final conversation, Azell and Carlos had come to that conclusion.
He had to be able to freely use the Extreme Extinction.
Currently, Azell could manifest Extreme Extinction through the Sun Lightsaber. The requirements were too burdensome for Azell to manifest his best skill.
He had to find a faster and easier way to manifest it. It was the key to becoming victorious over Atein.
In fact, Atein's action was proof that Azell and Carlos had been right.
Yuren had spoken to him.
'Azell, Atein isn't trying to kill you. He is trying to acquire you for the Extreme Extinction.'
To be precise, Atein wanted two things. He wanted the Sky Splitter and the Extreme Extinction.
Carlos had marvelled at the fact that the Sky Splitter was a Dragon weapon that transcended the common sense of this world. It was able to change matter into light, and light into matter. It was able to freely move between the material and the immaterial world. The Dragon weapon had the power to eventually create a phenomena called the Extreme Extinction. It had astounded Atein.
Atein had concluded that a certain problem of his was unsolvable, yet an answer to his problem had shown up in the form of Extreme Extinction. Atein wanted to change the fate of the world, and he determined that he needed the new possibility created by Azell.
"However, Atein knows about the existence of the Extreme Extinction. It is a matter of time before he is able to recreate it. If I ignore that possibility, I might be taken unawares."
Since Carlos was dead, the only one that could use the Extreme Extinction was Azell. However, it wasn't a guarantee that Azell would have this superior card forever.
Atein was a magician at the pinnacle, and he had changed the order of the world countless times. At some point, Atein would understand how the Extreme Extinction worked, and he would be able to recreate it. If he developed a way to defend against the Extreme Extinction, it would become a nightmare for Azell's party.
"We have to end it before that happens. We have to kill him while Extreme Extinction remains a deadly weapon against him."
Yuren's death was an irreversible loss for Azell's party. Yuren had left behind a lot of Azell's party, but it couldn't replace his empty spot.
Amongst all of them, Arrieta felt the most responsibility settle upon her shoulders.
No one demanded her to take on more responsibility, but she knew she hadn't been much help up to this point. This truth made her feel dejected.
What if she had been able to awaken her Dragon Soul at an early date? Would the batte have turned out differently? Maybe, Yuren wouldn't have died.
When Arrieta verbalized such thoughts, Leticia spoke.
"What a useless thought."
"You think so?"
At her ruthless answer, Arrieta let out a weak laughter. Leticia watched Arrieta for a brief moment before she spoke.
"You are blaming yourself for not being able to perform a miracle…. It isn't foolish, but it is arrogant. There are tasks that can and cannot be performed by a person. There is a limit to how much you can expect from yourself. This is especially true for a fight where lives are on the line."
"If Yuren was still here, he would have told you the same thing as me. He probably would have given a long-winded explanation."
"It wouldn't be long-winded. I think he would have told me those words in a kind manner."
"Those that love to talk like to package it in that fashion."
At Leticia's words, Arrieta couldn't help but laugh. This time her laughter sounded mirthful.
"In truth, I was surprised when you made your decision on the spot like that. Don't you have any lingering attachment towards the Dragon Soul?"
"I would be lying if I said I didn't. However, I don't know when I'll be able to awaken my Dragon Soul. Our enemies might attack us soon, so I thought it would be better to choose a Dragon weapon that I could use right now."
Arrieta had given up the Dragon Soul to become an owner of a Dragon weapon.
Yuren had stolen two Dragon weapons from Atein, and there was no reason why Atein should possess the White Flame Phoenix. Its function overlapped with the Crying Phoenix, so it would be useful to give the Dragon weapon to another member of the party.
This was why Arrieta received a Dragon weapon. When Azell suggested the idea to her, she had immediately accepted his offer. It surprised her party members. Kairen tried to dissuade her, since he thought she would be giving up too much in the process.
However, she was sure of her decision.
'Yuren earned this precious time for us, but we don't know when our enemies will attack us. Since master, Azell and Leticia is injured, I need power that can protect us.'
Currently, their party didn't have the luxury to plan out their future in a laid-back manner. Arrieta knew this truth well, so she had made her choice.
However, Azell's suggestion had been unexpected.
Azell decided to give her the Crying Phoenix instead of the White Flame Phoenix. Everyone was surprised, but Azell gave a clear explanation.
'If princess was a magician, I would have given you the White Flame Phoenix. However, princess is a Spirit Order Pract.i.tioner, so you are more compatible with the Crying Phoenix.'
In truth, the Crying Phoenix was also a Dragon weapon created by a magician. However, Azell had used it repeatedly after inheriting it. He had modified it to a point where it was a good Dragon weapon to use for a Spirit Order Pract.i.tioner.
On the other hand, the White Flame Phoenix had been Atein's Dragon weapon, so it was optimized for a magician to use. However, Azell would be able to bring out the potential of the White Flame Phoenix. It was like the time when he was able to use the Vitan's Chalice. His past experiences would allow him to modify the Dragon weapon more easily. This wasn't the case for Arrieta.
This was why Azell had transferred the Crying Phoenix to Arrieta. He had received it from a dead comrade. It symbolized his comrade's hope for a better future. It had accompanied Azell for a very long time, so it was a big loss for him. However, he had made the right decision.
'The Dragon weapon isn't a simple tool. Even if it was given up, the one that inherits it must treat the Dragon weapon as if it's a clone of one's soul. First, you should keep using it until you are sick of using it. That is the starting point.'
Arrieta faithfully followed his teachings. Her learning ability was outstanding, so a few days of training allowed her to use her senses through the Dragon weapon. Of course, she was able to summon the Dragon weapon way earlier than that.
Suddenly, she spoke.
"Somehow, it feels as if I've cheated."
"What do you mean?"
"It feels as if I've wronged Seigar. We are supposed to be in a compet.i.tion as to who can awaken the Dragon Soul first……."
"It was an unfair compet.i.tion from the start, so who cares?"
"I guess you are right."
Arrieta didn't deny Leticia's rebuke. From beginning to end, Seigar had to learn the Dragon Soul on his own. Arrieta continued to be instructed by Kairen, so it wasn't a fair compet.i.tion from the start.
Suddenly, Leticia looked into the distance as she spoke.
"It is done."
Afterwards, a light surged into the air, and a powerful wave of power spread into the surrounding.
Arrieta expressed her surprise.
"The fight was incredible, but the phenomena that occurs at the end was also amazing. I wonder if this phenomena occurs only when Azell goes through the Dragon Slayer's Ritual."
Azell had gone through a Dragon Slayer's Ritual far away from the party. After awakening in this era, this was his fourth Dragon Slayer's Ritual.
This fight appalled everyone. Azell's fight with Dragon had shaken the earth and the sky. Azell had challenged a Frost Dragon, who had free reign over the power of ice. However, it seemed this particular Dragon was much stronger than a normal Dragon. The party found this out after the Dragon Slayer's Ritual had started.
The reason behind this phenomena was how the Dragon Slayer's Ritual was structured.
The Dragon Slayer's Ritual was a life and death fight between a Dragon and a human. On top of that, it was a form of communication between two souls. If the Dragon Demon magic of the challenging human was strong, it was as if the Dragon became stronger in response. This was why a Dragon Slayer's Ritual never decreased in difficulty no matter how many one completed.
Azell had put his life on the line when he attempted this Dragon Slayer's Ritual He did it, because he thought it was a solution to the immediate problem his party faced.
Suddenly, Arrieta asked a question.
"Leticia, are you really going to attempt it again?"
"It is needed."
It wasn't just Azell. Leticia decided to attempt her second Dragon Slayer's Ritual.
She had completed her first Dragon Slayer's Ritual in the Albatan forest. It had only been 4 months ago.
One had to completely consolidate the power taken from the Dragon before one could go through another Dragon Slayer's Ritual. If not, the Dragon could steal that power. However, she didn't need to worry about that.
Normally, she would have needed more time. However, she had continued to train in the Dragon Demon magic training method devised by Carlos and Croix Nidel. She had already digested all of the Dragon's power.
Arrieta asked her a question.
"Aren't you scared?"
"You are asking the obvious. I am scared."
Leticia didn't try to bluff. She gave a truthful answer. She had won once, but it was still scary to attempt another Dragon Slayer's Ritual. The Dragon was scary, and the prospect of dying here before the real fight was frightening.
"Despite such feelings, you are going through with it."
"I'll say this again. It is needed. Isn't it the same for you, Arrieta?"
No one had asked Arrieta to go through with the Dragon Slayer's Ritual again. However, Arrieta had already made up her mind.
"Azell is truly an ill-natured man. Don't you think so?"
"I agree. He is a bad man. I guess that is why he was able to seduce so many women."
Azell possessed the most power amongst them, yet he didn't hesitate to put himself in danger. He didn't hesitate to lead through action. He didn't tell them what to do with words. He did it first, and other followed his example.
"Well, let's go greet that bad man."