WRATH OF AN EMPYREAN (III)
Lino ignored the stunned expressions of the Su Clan members and he ignored the absolute destruction of the valley the Clan resided in. He turned around slowly and looked at the figure that hadn’t moved from his back since he came here: Lucky. She was currently staring at him with wide eyes full of strange shine, her hands wound in tight fists. Lino faintly smiled as he walked up to her.
“Aren’t I amazing?” he asked.
“Yup.” Lucky replied honestly, surprising him. “You really are.”
“... oh, wow, I’m actually embarrassed.”
“You better be. I rarely compliment other people.”
“You don’t say?”
“... what will you do now?” Lucky asked suddenly.
“Visit the other side.” Lino replied seriously.
“... you aren’t their match.”
“Even if I don’t know what realm you’re at,” she elaborated. “I can vaguely compare the aura. There were at least three that were stronger than you. Much... much stronger than you.” Most-likely Devil Variants, Lino thought inwardly, frowning. If they’re still defending the army... Lucky’s right. I stand no chance. “Why not leave with me and get stronger first?”
“...” Lino smiled as he looked deeply into her eyes. “I can’t,” he said. “This is a borrowed hand.”
“A borrowed hand? Y-you won’t die, right?!!”
“Ha ha, no, not quite,” he explained. “Though... I will be gone for a while. That’s why it’s time for us to say goodbye to each other.”
“In ten years... I’ll look for you. I hope you make a name for yourself so my search doesn’t last long.”
“... you’re selfish till the very end, huh?” Lucky grumbled.
“Yup, that I am. Well, time is running out. We’ll meet again.” Lino said as he suddenly placed his hand on top of her head and caressed her with a smile for a moment. Lucky froze, though by the time she came to and was ready to fight him, he had disappeared. It wasn’t the type of speed she could comprehend for the time being, so she was forced to swallow the bitter pill and wait... wait for the next time she sees him to pay him back.
She averted her gaze from where Lino was at and focused once again on the dismayed standing less than a hundred meters away from her. All of them were kneeling, their arms slumped by their sides, gazes locked at the hopeless sky. Lucky recognized more than a few of them; Sylvia, who would occasionally grab Lucky’s bum for no reason, old man Van who was a coward beyond reason, Velin, a man who pestered Sylvia even after being repeatedly rejected... there was also Riven, young girl who was proficient in setting up ‘Alarm Formations’, Venar, a middle-aged man tasked with training youths in Martial Arts...
She interacted with a lot of members of Su Clan over the course of few months. Yet, she felt neither guilt nor regret while watching the ravaged scenery. In the end, they were just fleeting names in her life, while those who died were her family. She could never forgive the abandonment. Strangely, Sylvia was the first that recovered from shock. Her head tilted sideways as she met Lucky’s gaze. Her eyes were empty, Lucky realized. Void of hope, of ambition, of desire... it’s as though the whole of her character was sucked out and thrown into the void.
“... you should have also died.” Sylvia said. “Then, he wouldn’t have known. We would have been fine.”
“... fine?” Lucky scoffed. “Lino isn’t so kind that he would have needed evidence either way. You were doomed the day you decided to dance with that devil.”
“... he is a devil, isn’t he?” Sylvia couldn’t raise her voice, and neither could she cry. She only felt weak, barren, empty.
“... yes, he is.” Lucky said. “Had you helped us... he would have been an angel.” that was the last thin Lucky spoke to Sylvia before turning and leaving the valley. Her destination? She didn’t know. Lino promised to meet her in ten years. For some reason, she didn’t want him to feel disappointed then.
A strange fire woke within her soul, something even she was unaware of. On the day one legend fell, another was born, in the most unassuming place, a place abandoned by the grace of the world. While it turned a blind eye to the small place at its very edge, a figure that would shake the very foundation of the era was taking her first steps toward a new life.
Lino was currently hovering above the Hope Town, golden wings unfurled behind his back, illuminating the darkening sky. His gaze was fixed toward the forest and then beyond. He had no fear in his heart despite the fact that he was certain he was heading into a trap. It’s not that he didn’t care about living or dying - he still very much did - but that certain things reached beyond that.
He had less than half an hour of the forced transformation remaining. Could he save Freya in that time? He doubted it. No, he was completely certain he couldn’t. However, he still had to go, at the very least to ascertain whether she was dead or alive. She was Fate’s Child, but Fate wasn’t omnipotent. Even if independent of Gaia, it still had its limitations. Its incantations were merely blessed, not invincible.
His wings fluttered as he turned into a golden streak of light flashing through the sky. What took most others a week to cross, he did in less than a minute. There, beneath him, an enshrouded city existed, protected by thick, gray mist. Lino immediately recognized it as a formation. However, he wasn’t worried. It was far weaker than Defensive Artifact of Su Clan.
Did he destroy the Artifact with his own power? Not really. Even if he was Exalted at the moment, it was far from enough to forcibly shatter a Defensive Artifact. The items he threw at it and used to batter it played the key role. Lino always considered himself a blacksmith before a fighter. That’s why, despite his cheat-like progress, he didn’t feel all that powerful. His confidence lay in the items he crafted with his own two hands.
“... he he he, you really came.” eerie laughter broke through the formation, echoing in the sky. “What a fool.”
“A disgraced pig of mankind,” Lino’s voice was cold; it was one thing to kill another person, but to succumb and sell your soul to the devil... that was simply beyond cowardly. “Where is she?”
“Disgraced pig? Ha ha ha ha, you ignorant fool!” a mirage extended from the mist; though there were some differences in appearance, Lino immediately recognized Prince Yox. “What worth is stupid pride in front of absolute power?! Ha ha ha!”
“... Devils needed a conduit to enter our world,” Lino said, his gaze growing sharper. “And you willingly became that, condemning millions to death. What are you if not a disgraced pig of mankind? What absolute power? Devils are absolute power? They are rotten rodents hiding in the wretched corners of the world. I asked you a question you ball-licking devil-whore.”
“...” no mater what, Yox was still a prideful man; how can he withstand being insulted repeatedly by a being he considered nothing but his prey. However, before he even had a chance to retaliate, Lino’s spiteful tongue operated again.
“No, forget it. Your shrieked voice’s just grating my ears. Do you feast on devil cocks every morning? Is that why your voice sounds like you’re gurgling? You fucking devil cumdumpster. No, you are worse than that. You fucking inbred dog. Ah, no, why am I insulting the beautiful dogs? Even if you took her... you probably hid her away. Heh, you hide behind the horns of two dogs who should be buying coffins, and you speak to me of pride? Fuck you. Fuck the rest of you listening. You think you are protected? You think your dickhole father’s plan will protect you? Fuck both you and him. If a single thing happens to her, I’ll annihilate you all. Even if I die, I’ll enter your shit-infested homes and kill you all, you wastes of fucking resources.” it’s been a long, long time since Lino unleashed his spiteful tongue.
After all, in the recent years, he was relatively happy. Even though he would flare in anger from time to time, it was never to the overwhelming point. Today, it was different. He couldn’t do anything. Besides the anger he felt toward the world, he was angry with himself. He discovered two auras far stronger than him hiding within the city. He knew he couldn’t help Freya today. Rather, he couldn’t even avenge his friends. What was his worth? He could only curse like a dog and escape. In his mind, he was cursing himself ten times harder than he was cursing the devils. But... they didn’t know that.
“Careful, little kid,” another voice suddenly broke through the barrier; its mere presence nearly caused Lino to suffocate. “You’re crossing some lines that ought to never be crossed.”
“... huh? Who are you? Fuck you. I don’t care who you are. What are you preaching me for? How important are you anyway? I wager not at all cause you were sent in this backwater hellhole instead of at the place that actually matters. Today, I can’t do anything to you. However, that won’t be the case forever. Pray to your fucking daddy that you are dead before I’m strong enough. If I ever get my hands on you, you’ll wish you were in hell.” Lino, however, didn’t want to leave without doing anything. He stretched out his arms and two swords appeared in his palms. “I’ve still got some time to play. So let’s play, you wretched dogs of hell.”