Lino stood atop a stone bridge which used to connect two mountains together, heaving as high as a whole mile in the sky. One end now stood somewhere deep within the gorges abyss beneath, the still-standing one cracked at the edges like spiderwebs.
The wind blew cold and stout, swinging Lino’s hair and the cloak weaved into a scarf around his neck and back, frigid snowflakes flickering around the snow-dusted mountain tops and long-eroded winding roads. He donned his expressionless mask, his black armor and hair in stark contrast with it, almost as though he had gone entirely faceless within the snow’s reaches.
Non stood on all four next to him, perfectly fine in the bone-chilling cold of the far north, his silver eyes gazing at the distant end of the other mountain, where four figures stood up front, backed with thousands others. The pressure birthed from within the group grew corporeal, Lino realized as he stared at the wincing, black smoke above them reminiscent of a cloud.
He bitterly smiled inwardly, regretting his previous bravado when he assigned the Emperor to the Eastern Front as the Vanguard defender against the Devils’ attack on the Evanglade Castle. Lino chose to take up the Northern Front on his own, not only without a Titular Void to back him up, but also without any army. Call it confidence due to the [Heaven-Cast Armor Set], or even a form of childish arrogance and pride, but whatever it was, he now deeply regretted his decision.
One or two Devil Commanders would already be slightly too dangerous for him to fight alone, to say nothing of four, with thousands smaller Devils and Demons stacked behind them. Yet he couldn’t just call for reinforcements; at the very least, not just yet. He cared little for the concept of pride, but he cared a lot for appearing cool. And it would be undeniably uncool to ask for help just after he said he didn’t need any.
It wasn’t as though he was entirely hopeless, though. He didn’t necessarily need to kill the other four, merely prevent them from moving further inland. Northern Front was the easiest to defend and the hardest to attack due to its rather terrible terrain, swarmed with mountain ranges, swamps, gorges and a whole other swath of terrain deformations running deep inland.
However, this also meant that moving larger army around was simply impossible. The only reason Devils could do it was because they didn’t rely as heavily on provisions and due to the fact that they were innately resilient to the cold weather. Humans, on the other hand, would be too encumbered due to carrying clothes against the cold in addition to provisions, armors and whatnot.
This made it nearly a perfect place for those of higher Cultivation Realms to duke it out, as practically nobody lived this far north. Part of the reason why Lino chose to go alone was due to Rothar; he figured that they would be slightly lenient on him and send just a single Devil to entertain him... not four.
“To think the Great Descender would welcome us,” a mischievous voice broke past the barrier of distance and loud winds, seemingly speaking directly into Lino’s ears. “We are quite honored.” Oh? They don’t know yet? Lino arched his brow in wonder; it’s been quite a while since Rothar left the Capital. He should have long since informed his higher-ups... Perhaps they didn’t inform these blockheads?
“... four Commanders, huh?” Lino put up a strong front; half of the victory relied on pretending, or at least that was his philosophy. “Should be fun.” he smiled faintly.
“He he he, aren’t you underestimating us a bit, oh the Great One?” a rather seductive voice chimed into his ears, but the feeble attempts to charm him were only that -- attempts.
“Hey, if you’re that interested in having fun,” Lino seemingly glanced at her. “Come over. I’ll give you plenty of reasons to switch sides, you know?”
“I thought direct involvement wasn’t the Descent’s Creed.” a serious voice beckoned out from the mass.
“Oh, rest assured -- this has nothing to do with my background.” Lino said, smiling. “I’m just blowing a personal fuse over here.”
“What? Too bored with the Royal Ladies?” the same seductive voice echoed.
“No,” Lino shook his head faintly. “Too interested in what Devils’ innards look alike. Are you all the same? Or are there some differences? Now isn’t that a fun experiment?”
“I heard that the Descent’s interests lay above the personal ones.” the serious voice spoke out again. “Are you certain you should be doing this?”
“... nothing stands above my personal interests.” Lino said sternly.
“That’s enough talking,” a mild, inconspicuous voice joined in -- Lino quickly located the source, the last of the Commanders and also the one Lino felt threatened the most by. “Regardless of who you were prior to this moment, you’re our enemy now.”
“Well spoken,” Lino smiled lightly as he suddenly whipped out [Earth-Scorcher] from his void and swung it aggressively in an arc. A thunderous explosion drifted out of the halfway point between the two sides, crimson of the flames erupting together with the billowing black smoke further up the sky. “Let’s have fun, then.” Lino’s expression hardened as he took a deep breath, his shoulders contorting for a moment before a pair of golden wings suddenly sprung out. They had grown considerably, now extending for nearly fifty meters altogether, shining even more brilliantly than before.
Heeding the Writ’s advice, Lino used the last remnants of the Divine Stone he had to not only fix the [Wings of an Archangel], but also further upgrade it. Though it pained him to use his most valuable resource, he truly held nothing back when it came to preparations -- after all, his life was far more valuable than any material possession. The wings appeared remarkably holy, especially in juxtaposition to his black armor.
The wings fluttered suddenly, carrying him above the bridge as he sucked Non into the Dimensional Pouch. However unique the dog was, after all, he had no business participating in the upcoming battle. Lino, plastered against the gray clouds and white snow shone almost like a sun, nearly an image of the Archangels from the Beginning of Time. However, he knew he was long ways off; even the weakest of them had at least six wings spanning miles from one end to another.
[Wings of an Archangel - Unique Legendary]
Level: 250 (+Growth)
+25% Affinity to Light Element
+15% Affinity to Fire Element
+23% to Elemental Defense
+500% to Flight Speed
Special Effect - While flying, increase Agility by 10%, Strength by 12% and Vision by 20%
Special Effect - Indestructible
Special Effect - Can be turned into a spherical shield briefly, which will reflect incoming attacks worth of 800,000 durability. Recharging time is 1 hour.
[Unique Special Effect -- Penance] - Repeatedly fire arrays of light in random directions within the frontal cone for 30 seconds, each array dealing 100% of the Host's overall damage with a chance to instantly kill any Unholy
[Unique Effect] - The Wings will grow alongside the host; basic stats are increased each 5 levels, while further abilities require specific conditions to be fulfilled before becoming available.
Note: The Wings of the First Archangel, forged in Fires and Light of the First Scripture, from materials never known to the mortal world. Their radiance forever banishes the darkness, yet, within their seed lies one, dormant.
“... Wings of an Archangel?” the calm voice’s tone changed momentarily. “Who are you?”
“Seventy-Two.” Lino replied simply, tightening his grip on the massive sword.
Just like he did with Akava, he infused a torrent of Qi into the sword before also stuffing a tinge of Will into it, heaving his arm back and around before flipping the palm open with the forward momentum, sending the sword barreling like a shooting star toward the ground.
“DODGE!!” a panicked voice barely eclipsed the sounds of the sword seemingly piercing through the shell of the world itself; by the time the first echo begin to dance around the mountains, the sword crashed, collapsing the other end into ash and dust as though nothing was ever there, piercing deep into the mountain while causing one explosion after another, creating a massive crater over one side of the mountain, nearly destroying it entirely.
Lino sighed inwardly, somewhat disappointed, but it really couldn’t be helped. After all, he attacked from the front; someone at the level of the Sin-Devil Variants had more than enough time to dodge, though almost all of their army had been wiped out. Realizing there was no time for regrets, Lino whipped out both the [Hell’s Belittlement] as well as the [Spear of Salvation] holding one in each one of his hands.
Spinning sideways as the wings fluttered, he heaved the spear in an arc as it clashed against another metallic object, sending the wielder barreling backward like a cannonball. With a grunt he then heaved the war-hammer around in a circle for a moment causing his muscles to contort and his veins to pop out like worms before throwing it in a seemingly random direction.
The clouds and mist standing in the hammer’s path quickly collapsed, revealing a starkly dark figure behind who immediately unfurled its wings and flung herself sideways. Still, the hammer’s sheer momentum caused such strong wings that she was unable to resist them, quickly beginning to fall toward the earth.
“Is it really wise to be throwing away your weapons?” the calm voice echoed out again, from in front of Lino this time. The latter finally took a good look at the former; it was a three-horned devil with gray-ash skin and a massive tail dancing behind him. A pair of seemingly dead eyes stared at Lino’s with a tinge of anger and hate hidden behind them.
“Throwing?” Lino smirked as he put the spear away, extending his arm whereupon the [Earth-Scorcher] suddenly appeared within his palm again. “Oh, wow. Your expression right now is priceless. These really are the moments I lived for...” Lino chuckled faintly, shooting a quick glance at his armor. He mused that, really, it was quite insane the way the whole thing turned out to be.