Lionel Belmont flashed forward, not caring for Tau's perceived superiority. As far as he was concerned, his rank at number one wouldn't change.
However, what they were all burying deep within was an apprehension… A doubt that had Dyon lived… They wouldn't have stood a chance…
Lionel's figure was bathed in red and blue flames, dancing along his feet as the drastic hot and cold caused small explosions that increased his speed even further.
Tau Aumen immediately noticed this. His eyes narrowed, a deep disdain settling into his features. "It seems I've let you strut around for too long."
The rest of the rankers stayed back… They simply didn't have the strength to take part in this battle. Even Saru, who should technically have, was so heavily wounded by her fight with Dyon that she had lost too much of a step.
A roar reverberated through the skies, drowning out Tau's lion completely.
In the next moment, everyone froze… It was in that moment they all seemed to realize something odd…
Dyon's manifestations had yet to disappear…
The rage of Dyon's humanoid manifestation boomed, a tempest of soul strength threatening to shatter the arena.
Lower eighth soul stage. Middle eighth soul stage. Upper eighth soul stage…. Peak eighth soul stage!
Rings of sonic booms blasted into the air.
The once domineering clouds separated, cowering in the face of a sound so arrogant that the heavens seemed to bow down. The crackles of black lightning struck into the ground but felt like mere whimpers in the face of the growing wave of black flames.
Ri and Madeleine turned from their position in the sky, their delicate bodies trembling against the violent surges of wind.
"You all have a lot of fucking nerve." A voice laced with music intent sent rage filled words tearing through the stadium.
'Death isn't something that'll be dictated for me. Death isn't something that's inevitable to me. Death isn't something that I'll bend over and accept.
The laws of this universe are meant to be used. The path of cultivation is meant to be in defiance to the heavens. What would I look like if I folded to the will of the universe? Why? Because that's what it wanted? Ridiculous.
You won't dictate my death. You won't dictate the death of my loved ones. There'll come a day where I'll rewrite your laws with a wave of my hand. A time where even the cosmos itself won't be able to dictate my actions.
This is what my dao will be built on. There is nothing in this world that will ever shake my heart. Even in the face of death!'
A flaming black gold circle hovering behind Dyon's manifestation began to glow, prominently highlighting a blinding white flame.
In an instant, the black flames that once coated the arena disappeared in a flash, replaced by such a strong purity that Madeleine nearly felt inferior. But, in her heart, all she felt was an endless happiness.
Dyon hadn't reached one with body. In fact, he had just barely stepped into one with heart, increasing his life by just a few seconds and extending the time he had by a fraction. He had forged a path even his grand teacher hadn't seen. He tossed away all conventions of how death intent should be mastered. No. Dyon wouldn't become a puppet of death. He would become a reaper. This martial world would come to know his wrath.
His control of death qi increased with each passing moment.
The crowd watched with baited breath as Dyon's death omens fluctuated wildly. Every time his death seemed inevitable, he would extend his life by just a few more seconds, before the cycle repeated itself again and again.
The universe groaned in agitation and anger. Dyon's life, it wanted it!
But Dyon's defiance and arrogance roared into the skies again and again, daring the universe to act if it could.
"My life is mine!"
The gaping hole in Dyon's chest slowly closed, pushing death further and further away.
The white flames caressed Dyon's wounds, fusing with his aurora and pushing his soul's prowess to the limit. With Dyon's soul talent, and how long he had spent using his soul to sense the laws of death, how could its power not increase? He had managed to jump an entire stage in 6 months! With just one more step, he would have a celestial soul!
Madeleine looked over at Ri who was to her side. She saw eyes that were all too familiar to her… Eyes that expressed nothing but love…
Celestial will bloomed within Madeleine, and yet, it felt so much different than before… So much more powerful…
King Acacia's eyes snapped away from Dyon's heaven defying feats toward Madeleine. His sensitivity to things matched what Dyon's 6th sense would be like once he reached his level of cultivation. Except, instead of it being because of an innate aurora, it was because of his True Empathy! How could he not understand the substantial change in Madeleine?
'Her celestial will… It's a supreme law now….'
A pillar of blinding light fell from the skies, accompanying Dyon's white flames.
Suddenly, Dyon's life began being extended by minutes instead of seconds. And then it was hours instead of minutes. And then it was days… Then weeks… The months… Then years…
In an instant, no one could see the end of Dyon's lifespan. It wasn't that he had become immortal, but rather, he had returned to his youthful self. Just like every other youth, the looming presence of death was too far away to calculate.
A hand tore through the pillar of light, grasping onto the key that hung in the air. There was no resistance. In fact, the key sung happily, disappearing in an instant.
Stunned silence filled the arena as a handsome young man stepped out of the dissipating light. His looks had gained a dark edge to them that only seemed to make his appearance more captivating. This was a man that had seen the edge of death and fought his way back. Defying the heavens themselves.
King Acacia chuckled bitterly, 'You little bastard… I can't see through your soul strength anymore…'
Dyon flashed into the skies, instantly swooping his wives into his arms, not allowing them to say a word.
Suddenly, he laughed as he felt their soft waists. "I guess I won, huh?"
Tears drenched Dyon's bare torso as neither of them seemed able to speak. It had only really been ten minutes, but it had truly felt like a life time…
But, all of that was interrupted.
The sound of clapping made Dyon's brow furrow. He looked up in the skies to find a man with long blond hair and striking blue eyes strolling in the air, his hands clasped behind his back. Shockingly, this man was lean in stature, yet stood at least five meters tall!
"Truly spectacular." The man spoke with a barely perceptible pressure. And yet, he managed to fill Dyon with a feeling of unease that he had never felt before. This was the first time in the martial world that anyone had made him feel a need to take a step back.
"For me to see such an outstanding young talent in my life has truly broadened this old one's horizons. I can only hope that my sons manage to become a tenth the talent you are."
King Belmont frowned. He had commanded for no one to move, but he had used Dyon's death as an excuse. The problem was, Dyon was clearly alive now!
"This old one would like to broaden his horizons even further," A small smile played on the man's chiseled and handsome features, "Won't you take that treasure out again? I would love to take a few moments to analyze it."