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CHAPTER 292

CATHARSIS (III)

The castle’s ceiling suddenly collapsed into rubble and dust as two figures stormed in, bringing with them a storm of Qi that displaced everything and everyone with the hall, shelling them against the surrounding walls and pillars. Yennefer and Vyrove landed squarely, both quickly scouring the hall for any signs of the Empyrean, but quickly learning he wasn’t there.

While Yennefer spurred herself and heaved into the sky for a wider inspection, Vyrove remained inside and looked around; similarly, not one of their own was dead. Just a slew of naked girls and women strewn across the floor, most bearing joyous smiles. His eyes turned into slits momentarily as he glazed over Ritton and others, quickly shifting back to indifference.

Looking at them closely, however, he realized nobody was moving -- well, to say they weren’t moving would be a half-truth, as good deal of them were shaking in fetal positions while most lay still with white foam forming over their lips. It was a ghastly sight of terror, especially so once his eyes landed on Ritton.

The latter remained in a half-kneeling position, being the only one not to be blown away by the Qi surge; a trace of terror ran through each canyon on his face, his eyes stirring with desire to close yet fear from doing so, his lips quivering as though in frosted cold, fingers convulsing, breathing quick and shallow.

Vyrove walked over slowly and squatted in front of Ritton, lifting his chin and meeting his terrified gaze. Blood still trickled like tears from his eyes’ corners, dyeing the cheeks crimson, painting a destitute scenery. Vyrove frowned, glancing around and realizing almost everyone else was the same, to different degrees.

“What the hell happened Ritton?” Vyrove asked.

“....” the silence was the only reply Vyrove got, causing him to sigh.

Yennefer landed right next to him a mere moment later, frustration clearly painted over her face. Daring not to poke the already angry bear further, Vyrove got up and created some distance.

“Explain yourself, Ritton. What is the meaning of this?” unlike Vyrove, she didn’t hold back.

“...”

“I asked you a question!” the tone of her voice grew.

“...”

“WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!!” she reached and grabbed him by the collar, lifting him up in the air and imposing her will over his; suddenly feeling it cut, she angrily glared at Vyrove who stood some paces away. “What are you doing?”

“Are you planning on crippling his mind?” Vyrove asked with a cold tone. “I don’t imagine you’re ignorant enough not to know what would happen if you pushed your Will against his right now.”

“So?” she scoffed coldly. “A destitute fool has no more uses.”

“Careful, Beholder of Light,” Vyrove frowned deeply, his body beginning to exude warped shadows. “There’s a certain line we shouldn’t cross.”

“Are you threatening me, you death’s whore?!” Yennefer’s face distorted, Qi around her thickening till it was visible to the naked eye. “Because that is the line you shouldn’t cross.”

“Put him down.” not giving her an inch, Vyrove replied in kind.

“Or what?”

“Or you might come to know ‘chosen’ implies a lot of things.”

“... hoh?” Yennefer suddenly grinned, letting go of Ritton and focusing entirely on Vyrove, walking toward him slowly. “A little boy... wants to grow up?”

“...” Vyrove’s lips cracked into a grin as he extended his arms sideways. “A little whore who was never taught reason. This should be fun.”

“Enough, you two.” a calm and even voice joined on their parade, causing them to shift their attentions sideways to where Ritton was; standing next to him was Ethena. “His Will was almost completely crushed. As the matter of fact, just a bit further, and he’d have been destroyed beyond repair.” she frowned for a moment, sighing. “As much as I hate to admit it, it seems that the Empyrean has far greater control over his Will than any one of us. This requires greater caution on our part from now on.”

“Humph, based on what? On the brain-dead muscle-head being trampled?” Yennefer scoffed, glancing hatefully at Vyrove one last time before walking toward Ritton.

“You jest, Yen. As prideful as you may be, you should be fully aware that Ritton’s Will, if not stronger, was certainly not weaker than your own.” Ethena chuckled faintly, glancing up at the hole in the castle’s ceiling. “This wasn’t the case of Ritton simply losing the battle of Wills. From the looks of it, he never even put up a fight. Or, rather, he was unable to do even that much.”

“... Exalted Soul?” Vyrove mumbled, sighing bitterly. “This is getting more and more out of hand...”

“My guess is that it doesn’t stop just at that,” Ethena said. “While Exalted Souls certainly craft firmer Wills, I’m more worried about the nature of his Will. Even for the Empyrean... it appears too chaotic. Have you two even tried sensing it since arriving here?” being reminded of it, Vyrove quickly externalized his Will slightly and felt about the remnants; just a mere touch of it was enough to send a cold shiver down his spine, forcing him to withdraw his Will.

“... Destruction.” he mumbled. “Remember when I said this is getting more and more out of hand? Well, now it’s entirely out of hand. This isn’t a battle we should be participating in.”

“Humph, what are you so scared of?” Yennefer glared at him for a moment. “So what if he’s taken the path of Destruction? I’ve said repeatedly we just need to band together and he would stand no chance. The fact that he’s going around and attacking us individually simply proves that.”

“... is he attacking us, though?” Vyrove questioned, causing both Yennefer and Ethena to look at him quizzically. “Think about it. Neither Ritton nor I suffered any casualties. While he did traumatize them a bit, he didn’t incapacitate them in the long run. Despite two times where he could have easily dwindled our forces, he chose not to, instead just showing up, blowing shit up randomly, and leaving.”

“... I’ll stay and help Ritton out,” Ethena said after a short silence. “You two return to your posts. I have a feeling this is just the beginning...”

Meanwhile, on the far eastern coast beset with lush green and beautiful waterfalls blowing past the cliffed ends into the ocean, a dome-like structure rested slightly above the ground, encapsulated within a cyan sheen. Inside, a makeshift city existed and lived in full throttle, its centerpiece being the central tower which flourished into a petal up top.

Lying leisurely on a soft bed, surrounded by girls no older than twelve with collars around their necks, Litha lay with her eyes closed, seemingly enjoying the somewhat tranquil atmosphere. Her eyes suddenly jolted open as she cried out and heaved onto her feet, quickly clasping her arms together as a torrent of Qi shifted from nothingness into an overhead, shielding dome of bruising flames that encapsulated nearly the entirety of the dome-like structure above her.

Thunder soon reigned through the thin veil above her, crashing into the flames and eating away at them. The clash of the two forces caused a chain of explosions which shook the earth for almost twenty miles around. Litha bit her lower lip and screamed, channeling more Qi into her arms as a string of tattoos lit up like veins pulsating through her thin arms; her azure-dyed hair turned coral, billowing back like flames, her eyes shifting into two golden halos.

The clash lasted for nearly thirty seconds before ending in another massive explosion which collapsed the tower beneath Litha’s feet, causing her to take flight and look up furiously. Hovering above her, clad in an ordinary-looking one-piece dress, a familiar face watched her with a faint smirk. That crimson hair waved about freely in the wind, the emerald-green eyes as playful as she remembered them.

“If it isn’t little Litha,” Hannah said, chuckling faintly. “How have you been?”

“A stealth attack? Really Hannah?” Litha smirked back. “I expected so from the Empyrean bastard, but not from you.”

“Stealth? What do you mean stealth?” Hannah quizzed. “Didn’t I announce my presence right before showering you with all my love that you so aggressively rejected?”

“Humph, glib-tongued as always,” Litha scoffed, glancing around and spotting a figure sitting atop a crimsoned hippogryph leisurely drinking and reading a book. “Did you really have to bring your boyfriend with you?”

“Boyfriend?” Hannah mumbled, glancing at Lino. “He’s more of a stalker, really. Keeps following me around like an annoying fly.”

“That’s not what you said last night while you buzzed around my fly.” Lino remarked without looking away from the book.

“Really?” Hannah sighed. “Can’t you -- just once in your life -- pass on an opportunity to make a pun? Just... just once. That’s all I ask.”

“That would be so against my character I’m fairly certain I’d cease to exist immediately,” Lino replied. “So, yeah, no. No can do.”

“Haah... you see what I have to deal with on daily basis?” Hannah turned to Litha and shook her head. “It’s driving me insane.”

“Hah, adorable,” Litha scoffed, burning one communication talisman after another. “You two really do belong together.”

“I wouldn’t bother if I were you,” Hannah chuckled. “We’ll be long gone before they reach you. Just wanted to say hi, and express my condolences.”

“Condolences?” Litha frowned.

“For Annar,” Hannah felt a surge of Qi driving toward Litha. “Before you lose your shit, for a change, he didn’t kill him.” Hannah’s voice was serious and low. “Rather, he even tried to save him.”

“Just keep making up bullshit excuses--”

“It was Eos,” Hannah interrupted. “In her last, desperate attempt to recover her dignity, she went after Lino’s friend. Annar and Scarlet... just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let Vyrove know that if you want their bodies, a double date is in order.” Hannah threw a communication talisman and shifted into a bolt of lighting, quickly landing on Grim’s back. Glancing one last time at Litha who seemed on the verge of tears, she sighed faintly. “Don’t be a fool, Litha. Wherever our allegiances lie, you know me. It’s still the same old me.”

“Except she’s a sexual deviant now.” Lino chimed in.

“... god I fucking hate you...” Hannah grumbled lowly. “You ruin everything...”

“They belong back home,” Lino spoke to Litha, glancing at her with empathetic eyes. “Don’t let the pointless war bar their souls’ rest.”

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beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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