CLASH OF GIANTS (V)
Lino opened his eyes slowly, blinking quickly a few times before his blurred vision sharpened. He donned a complex expression, a mix of solemness, sadness and bitterness all cobbled up together in an attempt to express a stiffening feeling. His mind, though back in reality, still drifted back to the scenes which unfolded before his eyes. She managed to kill them at the price of her own life. Perhaps quite an achievement all things considered, yet still a sad tale.
He quickly tried to shake off the feeling as a dubious expression appeared, replacing the previous one. He smiled faintly, shaking his head, as he seemed to be musing and mulling over something and whether to express it or not. In the end, however, he held back and finally opened his senses to the world around him. He was immediately bombarded with extremely loud sounds of explosion which caused him to nearly topple over in fright. At the same time, a robotic voice echoed out inside his head.
[Singularity Compatibility: 71%]
[Absorption amount: 0,06%]
[Resilience toward Fire increased by 5%]
[Affinity with Primal Spirits of Fire increased by 10%]
Lino rolled his eyes for a moment as he could nearly hear the disappointment of those pauses. However, there really wasn’t much he could do. The amount of energy within the faint Singularity was not only overwhelming, but it was also extremely aggressive. It very much reminded him of Lea and her last battle.
He slowly got up and decided to check out what’s with all the explosions. The first thing he spotted as he left was a massive dust cloud spreading miles on end and blocking his sight. The latter then shifted sideways where he saw three figures leaning against the stone, which was also when the three figures spotted him. Annar furrowed his brows, Scarlet smiled flirtatiously, and Ella sighed in relief.
“What’s going on?” Lino asked casually as he sat down, shuffling himself next to Ella as he pushed the grumbling Annar away.
“Eggor’s protecting us.” Ella replied, smiling.
“... pfft. Okay. Sure.”
“No, seriously,” Ella pouted for a moment. “He’s really strong, you know? He could probably beat your ass!”
“You play a wicked game woman...” Lino looked at her strangely. “On my side when with him, on his side when without him.”
“Gotta keep him on his toes somehow.”
“Everything okay with you?” she asked as vaguely as she could.
“Aye, I’m great.” Lino replied, smiling.
“Who’s your friend? Why don’t you introduce us?” Scarlet suddenly chimed in.
“...” Lino looked at her for a moment and furrowed his brows. “Yeah Ella. Introduce me to this beautiful angel.” Ella for a moment finally realized how Eggor felt around this brat; she remembered the days when he used to call her a beautiful angel.
“She’s Scarlet,” she mulled over quickly. “He’s Lino.”
“Scarlet? A daunting name.” Lino said, smiling broadly as he grasped Scarlet’s hand and kissed it gently.
“Oh? A gentleman? We sorely miss those in the world.”
“I’m here to fill the gaps.”
“Gaps? Quite ambitious.”
“What real man isn’t?”
“Indeed. But... are you worthy of those ambitions?” Scarlet asked, smiling vaguely.
“I am,” Lino replied, smiling back with the same tone. “Are your gaps worthy of my ambition?” Ella shuddered suddenly as she quickly chimed in and tore the twos’ hands from one another.
“Oookay, how about you focus on helping him instead of helping her. Wouldn’t that be nice?” she spoke to Lino.
“I’d rather help her though.”
“It wasn’t a question.”
“Oh, alright. Who’s he fighting anyway?” Lino asked.
“How should I know?” Ella shrugged. “A bunch of weaklings.”
“... right. And he’s strong.”
“... I said nothing.”
“And nothing I heard.” Lino said, getting up and casually walking toward the dust storm and the source of clashing sounds.
“I can’t believe you would keep such treasure all to yourself.” Scarlet immediately chimed, seeming somewhat infatuated with Lino’s back.
“Eh? You were being serious?” Ella stepped back in surprise. Though she was certain Lino was one hundred percent serious, she figured Scarlet was just playing around.
“Of course!” Scarlet exclaimed, licking her lips. “Raw, flaunting, straightforward... ah. I want him.”
“She’s a whore. She wants everyone.” Annar added from the side, looking at Lino with a strange expression.
“I don’t want you, though.”
“And thank god for that.”
“No need to bring in the god for that,” she said, her eyebrow twitching. “You can just thank your face.”
“Are we really gonna compare faces?” Annar replied in kind, grinning strangely. “When was the last time you didn’t use Qi to hide your actual face? Huh? A thousand years or more?”
“You should take in something from me, then. Perhaps, then, your Elders wouldn’t be crying like children every time they see you, because you don’t have children to cry for them.”
“Alright, enough,” Ella interrupted quickly, sighing. It seemed that her temporarily-upheld role of a balancing housewife extended to the areas of her life she never thought even existed. “Why don’t you two go back to your corners and back into your own daydreams for a while?”
“Eh, good idea,” Scarlet said, smiling. “At least I’m fairly certain my daydream will come true.”
“What? Sleeping with a backwater bumpkin who probably didn’t see more than two women in his life counts as an achievement?” Annar grunted.
“Heh, how does it feel? When even a ‘backwater bumpkin’ is more successful with ladies than you? Heh.”
“You gotta admit,” Ella said. “You walked right into that one.”
“Who’s he anyway?” Annar suddenly asked, seemingly deciding to ignore Scarlet’s provocative gaze. “I can’t read a single thing about him.”
“... eh? Now that you mention it... oh, he’s growing more and more... amazing...”
“Eh... I suppose... he’s kind of my adopted son?” Ella said casually as both Scarlet and Annar immediately turned toward her with gaping mouth. “Eggor found him sleeping in our backyard one day, and one thing led to another... and, yeah.”
“... well, now I really have to have him.” Scarlet recovered first, adding. “Even if he’s against it.”
“Oh, trust me, he’s not against it.” Ella said.
“He has no reason to be.”
“... hey, wait, back up. What do you mean he’s your adopted son?! Does that mean he inherited Qe’ll’s Martial Arts?! You do know that’s forbidden, right?!”
“...” Ella rolled her eyes at him for a moment before replying. “Of course I haven’t. He’s like Eggor. More of a stone-banger than a cultivator.”
“... oh, so he’s a failure. Sheesh, good.” Pa! Annar felt the back of his head throb though he didn’t dare to look at Ella wrongly, instead deciding to bury his face away and remain silent.
“See? Not that attractive anymore, right Sca---eh? S-scarlet?” Ella turned toward Scarlet who seemed to have stars shining her eyes. “W-what’s wrong?”
“He... he’s a blacksmith?”
“That means he’s... really... really... really... muscular... right?”
Meanwhile, Lino took out a ring from his void world and rubbed it a few times under his fingers. It was the ring that Ava gave him before the two parted ways. It had some basic provisions like food and water as well as not a small amount of Qi Stones. But, perhaps even more importantly... the ring had a few spears and swords of fairly decent quality. He immediately took one out; though it was ‘merely’ a Rare-tiered Level 90 Sword, it was better than anything he had and it would suffice until he finally left these ruins and found himself a place to start crafting without stopping till he dropped dead. At least, that was the plan.
He listened closely once again to locate the main battle before heading over there. He wasn’t certain as to who Eggor was fighting; after all, it could be Damian, it could be Althone and Gustav, or it could be any other party that happened to walk into the ruins and was attracted by the battle before Eggor’s. Though Lino had no clue how it unfolded, the barren flatland through which he walked certainly spoke volumes of the sheer scale. The whole of the place around him, after all, used to be brimming with ruins and hills. Such place doesn’t get decimated within less than an hour unless something truly massive happened.
Lino quickly found his way to the source of the battle and was slightly surprised. Eggor stood at the center, his arms crossed over his chest. Around thirty meters away from him, he recognized Gustav and Althone battling a strange humanoid made of some metal, while not that far away Damian and a woman Lino didn’t recognize were battling another strange humanoid made of metal. However, what surprised him perhaps more than any of them, was a figure which stood further back, merely observing. The figure seemed to feel Lino’s eyes land on it and turned toward him, the two pairs of eyes meeting. The man smiled at Lino and waved lightly, while Lino mused that he simply seemed incapable of escaping strange, old men and their attention.