BIRTH OF AN EXALTED (II)
Hannah relentlessly soaked the sky in thunder, the latter’s crackling startling even the abominations pouring out of the darkness. However, her mind seemed to be split, eyes often veering away from the battle down below and toward the north. Even still, she managed to practically control a whole side by herself, while Patriarch Chen scrambled to get to the leftovers, feeling somewhat dismayed over just how much stronger she was.
Sensing a disruption in Qi, Hannah steered her attention away from the north onto the darkness deep down below, her eyebrows furrowing. She quickly estimated that the upcoming attack rivaled someone around her level, surprising her greatly as most of them danced around Level 1000.
Taking a deep breath, she flickered her sleeves whereupon thunder suddenly encased her arms, stacking all the way to her shoulders, dancing and burning in deep azure. Sensing the incoming attack further, she pinpointed the exact point of origin before quickly rising her arms, drawing a complex array over her head within a mere blink of an eye and feeding it the thunder directly from her hands.
The array grew, spanning half a mile across at its peak, flickering with thigh-thick bolts and glow washing away the surrounding, darkened clouds. Patriarch Chen took a mere glance at the array before he quickly withdrew, realizing he too would be zapped dead if he stood in its path.
Finishing up the array, Hannah once again spread her arms, coating them in thunder -- crimson one this time around -- creating a strange, almost ethereal contrast of colors. The array above suddenly spat out one thunderbolt after another, each the size of a trunk of a massive tree, and each striking at exactly the same point. Meanwhile, Hannah herself repeatedly flayed her arms forth in a slapping motion, each time producing a booming sound, and conjuring up hundreds of thousands of crimson bolts, causing them to fall like the rain upon the darkness below.
Seemingly unaffected by the Qi’s expenditure, she ceased the attack only to suddenly cluster her hands together and intertwine her fingers, pushing them out and slapping down toward the ground. The sky above split open momentarily, a gap in the void of reality nearly devouring life itself before a beyond massive bolt of lightning emerged from it. It was the size of a small mountain, illuminating the entire eastern end of the Holy City, causing darkness to cease. With a massive crackle and boom, which deafened everyone within a thousand miles radius, the bolt descended and cut directly through the darkness, splitting apart the earth and then shimmered onward like a river, cutting directly through the entire city itself and splitting the domain of darkness in two.
At the very end of its journey, it crackled once again and exploded into a shower of smaller bolts which formed an umbrella-like shape above the city’s walls, rotating so fast they blurred the space around them before piercing down like needles, causing endless wails and cries to emerge. Patriarch Chen stared in daze, his hands still on his bleeding ears; though he very much knew that he was weaker than the Descenders, he still assumed they were at least around his Level if nothing else, given their low numbers of Seventy-Two and Sixty-Eight. Yet, the attack he’d just witnessed wasn’t something that someone in the early stages of the Void could ever conjure up. After all, blending two realities together to create a dysfunctional mixture of matter, causing the volatile bolt to appear, wasn’t something people were capable of without comprehending at least several Laws to a certain degree.
“I’m gonna check up on the others,” Hannah said quickly. “They should slow down for the time being so you should be able to handle it alone. Alright?”
“Y-yes!” the Patriarch quickly exclaimed, biting his tongue.
“Alright, thanks and good luck.” he remained silenced, staring at the fading flash of azure streaming through the sky like a falling star. His already terrified dispositions grew hundredfold in that very moment; he swore up and down he would never, ever go against anyone even remotely associated to the Great Descent. The rumors that they were as human as dogs are... he just confirmed them himself.
Hannah slowly gained speed as she raced through the clouds, heading straight for the north. She, naturally, had no intention on checking upon the other side; the west was being handled by Ella, and there was no way in hell anything was getting past that wall, while the south was being handled by the Devils whom she couldn’t care less for. And even though she trusted Lino, she felt something was off about the whole situation; all the while she fought, whatever abominations spawned never seemed to have any intention of trying to get past her, but all were almost uniformly rushing at her.
Thanks to her speed, it didn’t take her long to reach the north; her heart immediately froze for a moment as she realized her suspicions were spot on. The north was... a mess, to say the least. Thousands upon thousands of craters lay filled with dreaded corpses of all sorts, blood and gore flowing about like rivers, the amount of casualties counting in millions just on the quick estimate.
It didn’t take her long to spot the golden shine amidst the horde of blackness; off in the distance, within the sky, a pair of golden wings stretched, carrying a somewhat bloodied and bruised body around, the latter madly swinging about an assortment of weapons, throwing them repeatedly and rather than trying to lead a guerrilla warfare, diving straight into whatever the hell threw at him.
Even from so far away, she could still immediately recognize the madness in his eyes; no, it wasn’t madness -- it was excitement. He whipped around like a child in the sea of his favorite toys, beheading and slicing apart whatever may come, taking in the whole of the hellish environment he’d created. Just as she was about to leap over and help him, she realized her body wouldn’t listen to her.
“... what are you doing?” she mumbled in a low growl angrily.
“Stopping you from ruining the whole thing.” the Writ quickly replied.
“What thing?! He’s gonna get himself killed!” Hannah exclaimed.
“Oh, would you relax. Even if somehow he was bound to lose, there’s no way in hell those kids could ever hope to kill him. You seriously underestimate Empyrean’s vitality, Hannah.”
“... what do you mean ‘even if he was bound to lose’? Are you saying he’s winning?”
“It’s not about the victory or defeat. He’s chiseling his Will and Soul.”
“He’s trying to cross into the Realm of Exalted.”
“... yup, pretty much only Empyreans are insane enough to try that sort of a thing in circumstances like these.”
“... huh. Can he do it?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know? Anyway, just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Your boyfriend is about to go apeshit on those bastards.”
“He’s not--he’s not my boyfriend...”
“Ouch. You guys didn’t confirm it yet? Sucks. He’ll probably dump your ass.”
“Yeah, sorry. I’ll shut up.”
Lino had noticed Hannah arrive, but he didn’t pay too much attention to it; he was too engrossed in the delirium he was experiencing. As the bloodbath unraveled before and around him, drowning him in the sea of crimson, he felt both his Will and his Soul growing more and more corporeal, and even his Singularity growing more firm, pure and dense. His Divine Sense expanded to twice its size, covering over ten thousand miles in a single, quick sweep and up to a hundred thousand if he concentrates.
Every inch of his being was experiencing rebirth as he completely ignored the pain and the exhaustion; becoming the Exalted was the first major crossroad in the path of cultivation, one which defined whether one can ever truly become someone greater than life. It wasn’t just about aptitude or talent, as being an Exalted had little to do with the innate body properties. It had, however, almost everything to do with one’s Will -- internal and external.
Thanks to the battle, he was slowly but surely beginning to understand the vestiges of Will -- something he had experience with since long ago. It was that voice that was barely audible at the beginning, one which always pushed him further and onward, causing his rationale to seemingly grow corrupted momentarily as he entertained some rather insane ideas. It was back, but it was no longer silent, and it was no longer a stranger’s voice -- it was his own.
The voice, though still not too loud, was rather powerful, almost booming. It became an inspiration of sorts, even fuel, consistently causing Qi to surge in and out of his veins, clearing up his breath and even his mind. The bloodied madness that used to reside was replaced by clarity as his Will expelled the demons plaguing his heart temporarily, sending him into a completely new world that he’d never experienced before. The colors blended together perfectly, he was aware of every movement, every sound, every single streak of Qi flying about, every single hostile intent aimed at him... he saw the world down to its tiniest details, and, perhaps most importantly, for the first time in his life, he’d seen himself beyond the mirror’s vestige; he’d taken a brief look at his own soul, and for the first time he knew... he would be just fine. It was at that moment that an Exalted was born.