FIRE AND FURY (III)
An ear-tearing shockwave ripped across the entire Northern Fjords, collapsing the sky unto a blanket of flames that consumed everything. Hundreds of thousands of souls and hearts jolted as the eyes gazed upward where an inferno of crimson and coral flames awaited them, mingling with brilliant flashes of golden and black light that tore open the holes in it. It was a sight both majestic and terrifying, causing many to cower and crawl, hiding away from fear of having the inferno fall upon the world.
Hannah sighed in relief when she saw the flashes of golden and black, focusing up front. She was currently seated on top of Edryss’ back, Ennya floating right next to them alongside Jade and a small platoon of Wizards behind her. The small group faced two Drakes -- yet-to-become-Aspects Dragons, really -- and a massive army of cross-racial factions -- Hannah saw Humans, Devils, Elves, Nightdwellers, Angels and even Gods mingling in there. That was her own battle to fight; she couldn’t spend it worrying about how Lino was doing.
Meanwhile, the latter was currently cursing inwardly while swatting a torrent of flames with the [Dragon Slayer]. It was really hot -- really, really, really, really hot. Not to the point where he would burst into flames himself any second now, but pretty hot regardless. It was also fairly dangerous; just then, as an opener, Vy decided to surprise him with a sea of flames as he spat it out form in-between his scales, covering the entire sky and world around him and Lino.
The latter barely managed to react in time, collapsing his Wings into a shield that luckily endured the full barrage before dissipating into smithereens. Right now, Lino was still in the process of actually understanding <Sword of Chaos> -- like Vy promised, he took on the burden, one largely associated with Laws, Will and Vitality. While Lino prided himself on his Vitality, he felt like a tiny ant beneath the Dragon in front of him. Millions? Tens of millions? Lino was fairly certain it was in actual billions. What would have sucked Lino dry a million times over seemed like a drop in the ocean for Vy.
Despite the fact that Lino was still adjusting to the sudden outburst of knowledge he received, Vy pressed on with his attacks, barely allowing the former a chance to breathe. It didn’t help either that Lino had to consciously pull himself back repeatedly from diving in too deep and losing himself; after all, <Sword of Chaos> was far more remarkable than Lino had ever even begun to imagine.
In total, it had 72 Forms -- however, they did not correspond to the Laws, but instead corresponded to one’s Will. It was physically impossible to Master all Forms, or even learn them to a basic Level. One of the first things Lino understood is that he would be able to Master only 13 Forms unless he was willing to entirely change the compass of his Will. Even with Vy upholding the burden, Lino was actually only able to use those 13 Forms, so he felt rather cheated, yet also beyond ecstatic to try them out.
“<Sword of Chaos> -- Second Form!” he exclaimed as he held the [Dragon Slayer] with both his hands in front of him, the blade pointing downward. “-Veil of Madness-!!”
Blistering shadows erupted from the sword and consumed the flames surrounding it, collapsing the reality of is with the reality of was -- screams and laughter, both distorted beyond recognition, ripped through the void from beyond and surfaced within the world. They beckoned all those who could hear them, above and below; while those below suffered terribly despite the fact that they only heard it as a whisper, Lino basked in a temporary replacement of emotions -- all he felt just a second prior vanished, replaced entirely by one feeling alone -- madness.
His jet-black eyes collapsed into a singularity, sclera, pupil and iris becoming one and the same, ebony-dyed beyond understanding, like two black holes absorbing everything. Smoke billowed out of their corners as he Lino took the [Dragon Slayer] in one of his hands and took out [The Untamed] and held it in the other.
With the fluttering wings, he turned into a brief nothingness, a whizz of wind, a whisper of collapsing lungs, breaching past the flames and winding up on top of Vy’s back whereupon he stabbed both of his swords at the same time. The latter winced in pain and roared, his massive wings shaking as the scales on the back of his body lit up like stars, immediately after spitting geysers of flames upward like pillars.
Lino flew backwards, crying out in momentary pain as he forcibly halted his body, flipping mid-air and immediately withdrawing [The Untamed], taking out the [Gauntlet of Absolution].
“<Sword of Chaos>,” he mumbled faintly. “Sixth Form --” his eyes suddenly switched their hue from black to crimson, yet remained otherwise the same. The [Dragon Slayer] cried out hollowly and angrily, suddenly catching on fire. “Wrath of the Empyrean!”
Lino felt his Will drain out of him and travel into the handle of the sword before consuming the blade, projecting a mirage of Lino’s eyes above the two, above the world itself. Vy suddenly flung himself sideways and turned to face Lino, the pair of fire-raging eyes meeting the crimson ones. They both froze in time for a breadth of a moment, each reflecting excitement more so than anything else in their gazes. However, the brief stillness led to a pure rapture; Lino heaved his sword over and stabbed it directly into Vy’s neck while the latter shot out a ball the size of an island at Lino, dousing him in infernal madness.
Both screamed out, Vy largely due to the foreign Will suddenly infiltrating his very Soul, trying to corrupt and consume it. Lino suffered mostly because he had to actually take off the [Heaven-cast Armor] and put it into the void world as otherwise it would have melted under the flames. However, this in turn meant he had to take on the brunt of those flames with his very own flesh -- and however resilient he was, he was not invincible. Time and again fires that kept melting his skin off fought with his Qi that kept fixing it; although it all lasted merely a few seconds, it was the sort of pain that would remain a scar rather than a memory. Being burned alive is beyond unpleasant; yet, being burned alive thousands of times within a few seconds... it was mind-bending.
Both took a second of respite before focusing onto one another yet again; Lino dove freely and used the gauntlet to rip out the [Dragon Slayer], forming a massive gash on Vy’s neck that wouldn’t heal any time soon. The latter swiped with his claws and tore away at Lino’s ribs, turning him into a corpse for a moment before he managed to regenerate.
“<Sword of Chaos>,” unrelenting, Lino didn’t retreat but instead pushed onward -- just like Vy whose scales suddenly opened like windows, revealing tender flesh beneath, ripe for carnage. “Forty-ninth Form -- Undying Will!!”
Lino suddenly felt his body lighten as all his wounds disappeared, his skin obtaining a faint, metallic sheen, his Will suddenly externalizing on its own and covering his entire body like a shield. His Qi rapidly recovered, his mental agony vanishing entirely, replaced by tranquil peace and focus.
“<Sword of Chaos>,” immediately pressing forward, he mumbled under his jaw. “Thirty-third Form -- Timeless Rapture...”
Time slowed down to a crawl suddenly, both Lino and Vy finding themselves inside a world that they couldn’t comprehend. All around them, everything barely moved an inch, every facet of their beings failing to keep up with the speed of their thoughts and commands. Lino cursed inwardly, realizing he had mistakenly interpreted the form, having believed he would be exempt from its effects. However, he quickly realized that, even if Vy took on the burden of Will and Laws, Lino was still limited in execution due to the lack of understanding.
He imagined that the ‘Timeless Rapture’ Form was reserved for those who could command time with a single thought -- he certainly could not, which meant he also got stuck in the same, weird position like the rest. Vy and Lino shared an awkward moment, with the former doing a lengthy laughter of mockery due to everything having slowed down and Lino trying desperately not to blush out in shame.
It all lasted for a whole minute before finally resuming. Lino immediately cried out in frustration and flew over to Vy and began punching the Dragon repeatedly. The latter, however, still continued laughing, seemingly ignoring Lino’s violent outburst. By the end, Lino was breathing heavily and Vy was just now realizing he actually took quite a beating while not paying attention.
“Damn, you’re one emotionally-charged kid,” Vy commented with a hint of bitterness present in his voice. “We could have just laughed it off.”
“... what do you think I am? An idiot?” Lino snickered. “While you were laughing, I got quite a few clean hits in there. You fucking idiot.”
“... tsk. You’re a devil’s child, aren’t ya’? Aren’t ya’?!”
“Nah, just a dude with common sense.” Lino shrugged. “I knew you would continue to laugh after the effect ended, and while I really felt like joining you, I also felt like beating you up. So, you know, I went ahead and beat you up. If I used weapons, you’d have figured out something was off... but because I just used my ‘puny’ fists, you just thought I was discharging. Heh, discharging.”
“... oi, oi, oi, what happened to the battle-crazed kid you were supposed to be?!”
“Fuck, dude!! How am I not a battle-crazed degenerate?! Here I am, literally exchanging blows with a freaking Dragon tens of thousands of Levels ahead of me! I have balls the size of the fucking sun! People should literally perpetually kiss the ground I walk on in hopes of picking up a sliver of fucking courage I have!”
“... wow. And I thought Dragons had some issues with ego.”
“Oh, go suck a dragon dick,” Lino growled. “<Sword of Chaos>--”
“Wait, wait, wait!”
“What is it?!”
“Those down below are yet to recover,” Vy said. “If something accidentally streams from us downward, they won’t be able to dodge it.”
“... fine.” Lino said, crossing his arms over his chest. “But we wait in silence!”
“... so, you like the <Sword of Chaos>?”
“Oh fuck me...” Lino grumbled, rolling his eyes. He at last got another taste of what others must feel like when he just won’t shut up... yet, it hardly taught him a lesson; if anything, it made him even more motivated. It was a pretty good tactic when it came to pissing people off.