CLASH OF GIANTS (II)
An explosion blasted midair, one so bright it sped onward for tens of miles, causing all those who were yet to reach the center to gasp in wonder and halt in motion. Following the bright flash of light was a shockwave toppling over hills, buildings and people as though they were made of paper. Winds reached thousands of miles per hour, blasting those unprepared backwards, even killing several in the process.
At the epicenter, Ella deflected Annar’s frontal jab and spun sideways while ducking midair, using the momentum to stab at the latter’s chest. Annar endured the pain and pushed back, gritting his teeth and swinging his other arm at Ella. A hook with fire blasting like a mouth of volcano behind it came from top at Ella’s back as she spun yet again, crossing her two swords over her chest as she welcomed the gauntlet directly.
Another blasting explosion ensued, sending Ella barreling toward the ground directly and piercing open gigantic hole with seemingly no end. A streak of white light flashed through the smoke, cinder and fire and breached into the air as she swiped her swords sideways, forcing Annar to instinctively raise his arm in defense. Sounds of metal clashing echoed as sparks gave birth to embers and rioting blaze. Ella struck repeatedly, the speed of her swings well beyond what an ordinary eye can perceive, leaving behind only streaks of blurry white light.
Annar felt as though his bones were being broken repeatedly as he poured oceans-worth of Qi into his arms and gauntlets, defending against seemingly infinite strikes that followed no rational pattern. As he was pushed back repeatedly, the battle shifted for nearly a mile away before he tried a counter-attack; the two never broke eye contact, both coldly staring at each other. Seeing the angle of Ella’s thrust, Annar shifted his left arm slightly sideways, briefly deflecting the strike from the center of his chest to thrust through his armor and into his ribs.
Infusing the bones with massive amounts of Qi, he temporarily broke Ella’s momentum, giving him a breadth of second to reply. However, that breadth was more than enough. A spinning, outlined circle appeared behind his elbow as it scourged out ghastly, golden flames into a massive cone, propelling his arm forward. The gauntlet landed squarely against Ella’s chest, contorting her muscles and forcing her to spit out blood as she felt berserk force blast her backward.
Streaking from nearly two miles above toward the earth, she saw that the encirclement of corpses and a previously laid formation awaited her at the bottom. She forcibly swallowed a mouthful of blood as she drove from her Qi reserves and blasted a spectrum full of it into her swords till they began resembling mirages more so than physical objects.
She shifted so she was falling in a 45 degree angle, beginning to spin with her two arms extended and swords curved behind her back, her knees bent, legs pulled back. Gust of smoke and cinder fell off of her and trailed backward through the sky as she roared through, blighted against the earth. The sound of impact remained stiffened within the confines of distorted spacetime before it all tore to bits. A blast of magnitude that Scarlet had never witnessed before in her life suddenly unfolded, burning all her risen undead to nothing but empty ash, filling her sight with blinding light. She had but a mere moment to awkwardly raise up her defenses as the energy collapsed upon her.
It was the sort of weight surpassing what she understood of the world; it cracked her ribs, crushed her lungs, halted her heart and bisected her limbs into small bits and pieces of flying, flashing gore. A gnarly scream denoting hellish sense of agony, pain and torment sounded out nearly as loudly as the explosion itself. Formation cracked. Undead were burnt. She was sent barreling tens of miles backwards along the sifting debris and shattered rocks. She felt a piece of nature in that moment, part of chaos, part of collapse that was the consequence of provoking the devil.
Smoke and dust married in conviction, hiding the catastrophe that had befallen the Forgotten Kingdom. Ella stood erected at the center, all around her ruin and land ravaged beyond description. Visible threads of white Qi were pouring in and out of her, her golden hair standing up right as though there was a wind blowing below her. Her azure eyes turned bright till the point of being nothing but two white glows with steam swaying out into the sky above her.
Her tattered clothes were broken further, only a few pieces left remaining, covering her most private parts. She suddenly tilted her head sideways and up, locking onto Annar above who was looking at the scene unfolding before his eyes in ungodly dismay. A funny thought, however, suddenly echoed inside his mind, one that nearly made him burst out into laughter amidst all this slaughter. He wanted to shout at her: this had nothing to do with your title of Sword Maiden!! Alas, he couldn’t. Terror had struck him... but, he didn’t cower. He didn’t hide. He didn’t try to run back and escape.
His body still ablaze grew even brighter, flames gaining a tinge of icy colors in their depths. Up above the Avatar of God of Fire, and down below the Avatar of Immortal Sword. It was no longer merely a battle between two cultivators; it was a battle of styles, of ideologies, of beliefs.
Rather than waiting for Ella to climb toward him, Annar screamed into the world, his roar resembling Dragon’s, causing hearts of all those who had heard it to freeze for a moment. He then turned into a streak of flames and dove in a majestic fashion, turning into an object resembling a falling star. Flames grew larger and larger, wider and wider, thicker and thicker, till they blanketed vast portion of what the others saw.
Althone... Gustav... Damian... all those who watched from the outside stood still, frozen, astonished... afraid. That wasn’t a battle they could participate in. Rather, nearing it would no doubt necessitate their deaths. That was the battle of gods, battle of beings that had long since abandoned their mortal coil.
Annar was crashing into Ella within blink of an eye; she welcomed him freely, her two sounds now but streams of light as she swung them repeatedly, sending out billows of skin-cutting Sword Qi into the sky like rain. A massive sun crashed against seemingly small stars, yet they ate away at it, bit by bit. Two ends met at last, the ensuing energy paralyzing time itself. The space around the two distorted and they appeared to have been sucked out of reality, yet the space repeatedly bulged and contorted as though there was a worm trying to get outside.
There was no explosion. There was no sound. Yet, but a second later, they suddenly appeared, and alongside them was the explosion, it was the sound of the world being torn into bits and pieces. Even the mere remnants of the crash were enough to level everything in the surrounding fifty miles into an absolute flatland and wasteland, bereft of anything but a single, stationary building nearby which somehow remained standing.
As the dust settled, two shadowy figures could be seen within it. One standing and one lying. Both were back to their original appearances, Ella going as far as becoming the ordinary-looking housewife yet again. She looked down calmly at the barely-breathing Annar whose lips were strangely curled up in a smile. Cuts ran rampart across his body, his armor shredded into bits and pieces, leaving him entirely naked to lie on the floor.
His right arm was cut off cleanly at his shoulder, the right side of his abdomen split open till guts were spilling out, a massive gash half the thickness of his thigh ran up from it down to his calf. It was a state beyond misery, yet his expression would suggest anything but that.
“... l--legends... did you no justice, Sword Maiden.” he mumbled out faintly.
“...” Ella said nothing, merely whipping out another set of ordinary-looking clothes and donning them over her nearly entirely shredded ones.
“Truly... ay... I was a fool... fool for ever believing I stood a chance,” he said. “That’s what all my Clansmen said. You are an exaggerated Legend. You are a myth. You are a story. Ha ha... blurgh... ha ha ha,” he laughed madly, vomiting out a mouthful of blood over his already bloodied chest. “Fools... we’re all fools...”
“... you shouldn’t talk so much,” Ella said as she bent over slowly, placing her thumb onto his forehead. “Especially if you have nothing clever or witty to say.” Annar soon felt a stream of blissful, calm energy devour his chaotic body.
“... you aren’t going to kill me?”
“I don’t think your Father would appreciate me killing you over something so idiotic.” Ella replied with a sigh.
“... ha ha, you mean to say that you’d rather save me than bicker with my hot-headed old man?”
“... where has all the respect for Elders gone, eh?” Ella asked, smiling lightly.
“Screw them,” Annar said, taking a fresh, deep breath as his lungs cleared up. “They fucked the world up and then left the wasteland for us to manage and fix.”
“... oh. Right. Will Scarlet be okay?” Ella asked as she looked sideways toward where she remembered Scarlet being sent flying.
“She should be... you really think it’s easy to kill those crazies? Huh...” Annar shivered for a moment. “Honestly, I’d rather fight against you than her. It’s just... so annoying.”
“You’re annoying, you bastard,” a seductive voice joined the duo as space next to them distorted for a moment before Scarlet popped out. She seemed fine, despite the state Ella remembered her being in. Well, fine... save for the fact that two of her limbs were now black, one of her arms seemed scorched red, and the other almost porcelain white. She looked rather strange, when all was said and done. “Can’t believe you suggested the two of us can beat her. Don’t know whether I should call you optimistic or idiotic.”
“What? These were the only limbs I had at hand...” Scarlet shrugged as she looked around and noticed the house as well as the man calmly sitting in front of it, surrounded by two constructs standing on guard. “Oh? Could that be the famed Iron of the Dragon’s Flame?”
“... eh? People are still calling him that dumb nickname?” Ella asked as she withdrew her thumb, helping Annar stand up on his one healthy leg. Though she can’t completely fix him right away, for someone of Annar’s realm, it wouldn’t be too difficult to recover to peak in due time.
“Hah, what do you mean dumb? It’s the most envied nickname among the blacksmiths of the Mainland,” Scarlet said, rolling her eyes at Ella. “Do you know how many smiths want to be called that?”
“Hey, apparently there are a lot of stone-bangers who want to take your old nickname,” Ella spoke to Eggor as the trio walked over slowly. “They seem to like it.”
“Oh god!! Really?!! Fucking finally!!” Eggor exclaimed as he leapt up onto his feet. “I’ve been wanting to get rid of that embarrassment for literal eons!! Who is it? Is it that old shithead Dave? That midget Entoar? Maybe even that pervert Sonya? Fuck, I get shivers even remembering her. Did you know she once tested the quality of ‘metal’ by shoving it in---”
“Enough of that.” Ella interrupted him quickly. Annar looked strangely at the two, wondering whether this was really the legendary pair that flipped the Mainland a big one before wandering off to do their own thing elsewhere. “Curious eyes are approaching. The three of us are pretty much spent. So, it’s up to you hubby.”
“... the only time you call me hubby is when you know the next fifteen minutes of my life will be me getting fucked repeatedly.”
“You’re imagining things.”
“Alright, you’re not. So, good luck hubby. We’re cheering for you!” Ella said, flashing him a bright smile and kissing him on a cheek. That seemed to invigorate him and turned the frown upside down.
“... he really is gullible, isn’t he? Like a teenage boy.” Scarlet added.
“Aren’t they all?” Ella said as the three sat down and leaned against the house. Though both Eggor and Annar’s brows twitched at that statement, neither said anything. They simply decided it wasn’t worth it.