Many kilometers away from Dyon's thoughts sat a group of about ten thousand in the shadows of a mountain range.
They were made up entirely of men and they were abnormally large. Even the smallest of them would stand at 2.5 meters tall at his full height. But, maybe the most striking characteristic, was their leather like skin and oddly flat noses.
Funny enough, their flat noses were as a result of a surgery they often performed on themselves to heighten their sense of smell in order to offset the vision problems that came with their cultivation technique.
This odd collection of individuals was of course the Phantus God clan.
"Commander Draven, we'll be out of the Earthen Passage by tomorrow."
A towering man with robust grey leather skin nodded, standing to his full five-meter height as he walked over to what looked like a slowly roasting pig.
Picking up the thick skewer, it was as though he didn't feel the searing heat. He rotated it in his hand, entirely too focused.
The surroundings were eerily quiet as the army watched their commander inspect his food. Many had their own, but there seemed to be a silent agreement that the first bite went to Commander Draven.
Still staring at the meat in his hand, a deep rumbling voice seemed to penetrate everyone, "What is the rule of us Phantus?"
"SKIN AS TOUGH AS THE EARTH. COURAGE AS BOLD AS THE SKY. BLOOD AS HOT AS THE SUN."
There was no hesitation in the response, a deep fire burning in the bellies of everyone.
"Are you all aware of what they've said about us?"
The sound of tensed muscles and gritting teeth were the only things heard under the shadows of the mountain.
A bit less than a year ago, the mighty Phantus Clan had their reputation unceremoniously tainted… And the worst part was that it was done by a woman. The Phantus God Clan had always seen women as the weaker sex, in fact, their campaigns never had a single female member of their clan take part. And yet, their pride had been stripped of them by a being they had looked down on from the start.
Their beasts were tamed, their armies were put to heel, and their defenses were crushed… All because of Madeleine Sapientia.
In this time, they had spent all of their resources, prepared to combat that one glaring weakness. They refused to lose like they did again. Even to the point where they insisted on running vanguard in this experiment… the experiment that would change the tides of everything.
"Tomorrow. I want no mistakes. You attack when I say you attack. You fight hard and without reserve. Defeat is not an option. Only death."
Commander Draven finally bit into the large pig. His teeth were large flat rows of an endless white, but they were immediately tainted by a scarlet blood.
His look was sinister, and his aura reverberated through the air, causing the mountains around them to tremble violently as red dripped down his jaw.
For the coming day, there could only be victory.
The next morning, Dyon sat still, meditating in the same position he had been in since the previous night – the faint flickering of red flames dancing around him.
Ever since he had begun dual cultivating with Ri, his blood essence had steadily increased; and, with his demon qilin blood at 31% now, his affinity for fire will had grown exponentially. As such, he began tapping into this will as well, knowing fully well the didn't have full control over his black flames quite yet. Maybe if he started with red fire first, he could work his way to that level. But as it was now, it seemed only emotion could make them come out…
Slowly, the red flames blazed, increasing and shrinking to Dyon's will. 'Sixth level is my cap. If I stimulate my demon qilin blood I should be able to tap into the seventh. If I use my humanoid manifestation, I should be able to tap into the ninth. That's enough.'
The truth was that, by now, Dyon already had the ability to tap into the ninth level of his wind and sword wills. However, his other wills were all around the sixth level. It seemed he was missing something to surpass that mark.
The more he thought about it though, the more it made sense. His Weapon's Hall manifestation gave him high affinity for weapons, so his sword will being high made sense.
In regards to his wind will, he had been confused at first. Why was it so easy for him to learn? But then, he remembered the tattoos on his back. How could Dyon have a manifestation with wings and not have a wind will affinity?
All of this confirmed one thing: he hadn't integrated enough of his blood essence yet. His soul was melded perfectly to him, therefore he benefited from 100% of its affinity. However, with his blood essence not being fully integrated, his affinity for wills other than wind and the sword were lacking.
That said… He had only been practicing fire will for as long as he knew he would be facing the Phantus clan… meaning he had learned up to the sixth level of fire will in a single night!
'Those flaming black-gold circles of my humanoid manifestation…'
Dyon was perfectly right. Even though the black flames flickered in and out of existence, it still boosted his fire will affinity to this level!
Dyon took a deep breath, finally resting. Taking out some spiritual fruit, he ate hungrily to alleviate his fatigue.
Suddenly a gently voice came from behind Dyon, "Did you go out last night?"
Dyon suddenly felt like laughing, this sounded exactly like the start of a conversation in a romantic comedy. 'Maybe those shows I showed Ri are influencing her.'
"Yea, I went to prep the battle field."
Two delicate hands slid across Dyon's shoulders as he felt a soft kiss on his ear, "You should have brought me with you. Did it go well?"
Dyon reached back, pulling Ri into his lap, "Let's just say the Phantus will have a really tough time using their earth will effectively."
Ri giggled, "You should tell people about your plans, you know. It'll make us worry less."
Dyon grinned, "Only me and my lovely fiancée need to know." He said, lightly kissing Ri's neck, "Did I ever tell you, you smell like lavender floating in an ice pool? How am I supposed to focus with you here?"
Ri pouted, "You seem to have focused just fine last night. Don't think your flowery words will work with me. I'm not as naïve as little sister Del –."
Dyon kissed Ri deeply, stifling her words before pulling back to enjoy her flustered features, "You make it sound like it was easy."
Ri lightly tapped Dyon's lips with her finger, shaking her head, "I hear that men lose their strength if they have sex before battle. Might not be the best idea."
"Oh? But, I heard something too."
Ri raised an eyebrow, "And what was that?"
Dyon's hand waved as defensive and concealment arrays whirled to life, "The exact opposite is true for women."
Ri shrieked and giggled as Dyon flung her to the bed, wrapping her arms around him happily.