FRIEND FROM THE OTHER SIDE
As Lino was wreaking havoc across the Demonic army, the trio in the sky all observed the action with different expressions; Ava’s was one of the shock and complete confusion. If someone told her Lino was one of the most talented blacksmiths in the world, she would still be inclined to believe them as she witnessed his potential firsthand. From that, she also derived that he must have spent every day since his early youth studying and practicing the craft to achieve the knowledge he currently possessed. At the same time, if someone told her that his cultivation was at the very least of Purity Realm and that he was a fighter cruel beyond reason, she’d have smacked that person immediately.
It was universally known that, despite the nigh limitless lifespan of cultivators, it was just the same nigh impossible to follow two paths at the same time. Road of cultivation was endless; in actuality, since the dawn of time, not a single cultivator had approached the realm of Primes and Fiends from the Ancient Eras. While Ava couldn’t claim she had met the most powerful cultivators in the world, she had peered toward the top, and it was still marred with more potential. Even today, those old monsters in seclusion were doing their hardest to break further. They simply had no time to pay attention to anything else. A person would choose their path as early as the Core Realm, as that’s when their innate talents were revealed to the world. Those who were talented in cultivation would pursue that path, perhaps only occasionally dabbling in the auxiliary fields as a reference. Those who were not would pursue some of the other myriad paths: blacksmithing, alchemy, talismans, formations, arrays, runes, etc.. Even if there were a minuscule amount of people who followed two paths due to their immense talents, sooner or later they’d leave one rotting in the dust.
What startled her, though, was that Lino displayed talent in both crafting and cultivation that shouldn’t be possible within a single person, especially due to his young age. It meant that he had to divide his attention between crafting and cultivating, yet still managed to progress to the point where he could easily be considered a top genius in both fields even when compared to First-tier Sects from the Upper Strata of cultivation. While he still lacked quite a bit to be compared to those inhuman kids from Holy Grounds, one can easily attribute it to the fact that he came from nowhere and nobody. Perhaps others may not know, but she knew that Lino came from the other end of the gorge, from the place that nobody really paid any attention to. She was simply unable to process what she was witnessing properly, feeling as though every bit of her worldly understanding was being crushed under the feet of this berserk-looking youth.
Hovering next to her, Sevan had other thoughts; he didn’t know that Lino was a blacksmith who crafted the sword he was currently holding. Had he, he’d have probably already knelt before the youth. He only saw the immense strength Lino possessed which inspired his fighting spirit to yearn to spar with the unknown youth. It was even more so because he realized that Lino was a Body Cultivator, a branch of cultivation that had nearly gone extinct in the world. In the end, who would willingly throw their bodies into flames and frost of hell over being able to summon those two to do their bidding? Even Temar and Seya, and perhaps even their Elders, who can be considered quasi-Body Cultivators would never dare do what Lino did - jump straight into the fray without any consideration. At best, they’d act as vanguard force as their bodies were considerably more durable than those of ordinary cultivators. His grip on the sword tightened as he wondered how can he get the youth to spar with him, at least once.
However, of the three, Skydevil’s expression was the oddest; there was a trace of surprise, a bit of joy, and even some glee mixed in there. If one didn’t know any better, they’d think he was looking at his pupil destroying his enemies, and not a random kid ravishing his own army. However, if one was to peer into his mind, they’d perhaps even be more shocked of what they’d find in there.
‘So he’s my future Little Master, huh?’ Skydevil’s name was Linger, and he was direct descendant of the Skydevil’s current Patriarch. Though political games ran deep there, there were generally two factions, and his Patriarch belonged to those who sided with the Origin Father - the Father of all Devils. ‘Heh, if Master knew I met the little devil in the middle of nowhere, would he be surprised?’ his thin lips curled up in a faint smile as he observed Lino decimate three Great Demons under his command. ‘His growth is steady,’ Linger thought. ‘It looks like the Writ is bending rules to help him out. Even so... aren’t you being a bit free-willed, little bugger? Fine, fine, I’ll let you grind yourself to Mythic Realm, but don’t you know the idea of being low-key? Look at you. Now everyone’s wondering who the hell’s this kid. Tsk, tsk, tsk, looks like I’ll have to sneak into his room one night and properly educate him.’
Linger was one of the few Devils of younger generation that was privy to the true reason behind worldwide Demonic Invasion of Gaia; despite however many Devils protested against it, Origin Father was, in the end, Origin Father. He was a being which had long since surpassed the realm of understanding. In billions of years of Devils’ existence, not a single one came even remotely close to his realm. Rather, nobody even knew what his realm was; many didn’t even know whether he was dead or alive. However, Linger perchance once followed his Master to meet the Origin Father. He certainly was alive, and he certainly was incomprehensible. Even so, regardless of his immense strength, he was still forced to hide away as he was unable to compete with Six Writs and Gaia at the same time. Army opposing them was thin, but, in reality, only a single piece was missing. And Linger was currently staring at that missing piece who seemed to be having a lot of fun.
“Kid, don’t you think you’ve had enough fun?” Lino suddenly heard a voice breach past his barriers and directly enter his mind, startling him. He recognized the voice; it was that of Skydevil’s. However, strangely, he didn’t feel any hostility coming from the voice but rather a hint of playfulness. Could he...? “Aren’t you supposed to be playing it low-key? Heck, look at you, isn’t your ego a bit too big? Tsk, tsk, you can’t be like this man.”
“... fuck. You are.” Lino mumbled, sighing.
“I’ve been gracious to have let you grind yourself out,” Skydevil said. “But it’s time to pull the curtains to your one-man show. Now I want to see your acting skills in play; pretend that you’ve just suffered an injury so great that even when compared ten thousand mountains piercing your anus, it could still hold up on the same level.”
“... what is wrong with you? Ha, nevermind. I assume you’ll find me for a chat anyway. Fine, watch me display the world’s best acting.” Lino had realized that the Skydevil was part of the few who knew the reason behind the massive invasion. If he knew and still stayed his hand, it meant he was in support of it, or at least belonged to the camp that was in support of it. His heart calmed down as he looked around and realized that everyone was looking at him with eyes that, for Lino, spelled disaster. Crap, I really overdid it... hai...
He suddenly grabbed at his chest and his vicious expression turned timid and painful. He gurgled for a moment as his face contorted, a mouthful of purely black blood flying out like a bomb out of his mouth. He fell onto his knees and dropped the spear, suddenly heaving his head backward and roaring into the sky like a beast approaching the threshold of death. His muscles bulged and his armor cracked slightly, which pained him perhaps more than anything as it would require a lot of resources to repair. Blood began oozing from his ears, lips, nose, eyes, and countless other points across his body. The victorious imagine he displayed just now was completely gone, replaced by one of utter horror.
“GODDAMMIT!!!!!” he bellowed, truly making others feel as if he was just about to die. Many, including Ava and Sevan, came to a simple conclusion: he overdrew himself and now he’s suffering from backlash. With worried expression, Ava signaled Temar and Seya with her eyes who immediately understood the message: save him! Two rushed in as their bodies burned in crimson flames, cleaving opposition as though they were bread. They quickly landed themselves next to Lino and watched in horror as the previously handsome boy was bleeding black blood from everywhere, his face like a petrified statue. They quickly picked him up and carried him out of the encirclement while battling Demonically Possessed. Luckily, no Greater Demons came to stop them and they soon found themselves out, running back. Others realized that the boy just wanted to show off, which immediately nullified whatever glory Lino attained, causing him to cry inside. Dammit, my image was perfect!!! I’d have carved myself out into their hearts and remain there until they die! Now?! Now they’ll be telling their grandkids the story of idiot who wanted to show off! Fuck you, thin-lipped, ugly-looking, skin-and-bones, narrow-eyed bitch! Fuck you back to hell!