The 25th White Mother's white eyes threatened to spill over with tears as she looked over her disciple.
All she had done for Dyon was hand him power, taking advantage of him while he was at his lowest point, before shoving endless responsibilities on his shoulders. And yet, Dyon didn't complain even a bit. In fact, he opened up his heart with ease, wanting to thank her for her kindness, although she knew quite well that it was a kindness at all…
Dyon had often wondered and speculated on why his master had sealed his memories… Little did he know that she had done so because if he knew everything from the beginning… Maybe he wouldn't have been so eager to help…
"You've done me so proud…" She said in a soft voice. She sounded exactly like the first time Dyon had ever heard her. A voice that made even nature itself want to sing…
"You fight with the pride of our sect on your shoulders. You treat Little Zaire just like he was your own little brother. You sacrifice so much… And expect so little… To have a disciple like you in my lifetime may very well be my greatest accomplishment…"
The 25th White Mother's eyes reddened. She wanted to reach down and comfort Dyon, but she didn't feel like she had the right to. The person Dyon wanted right now more than anyone was his mother, but it was impossible for her to give him something like that.
"I'm so sorry…
"All I've been able to give you back is pain. I can't even help you in the situation you're in right now… I'm nothing but a consciousness…
"The only thing I have left to give you is the truth. What you decide to do with it, is something I won't ask. I've manipulated you enough. The decision that remains will be your own and without interference.
"I only ask that you don't die." She pleaded, her beautiful voice growing hoarse. "I never got to treat you as a master should, but I've watched you grow silently all of this time. I love you like I love my own son. I haven't earned the right to be a mother to you, but I can't watch you die.
"Whether you become a demon, or you become something else entirely, just please, fight. Struggle. Live. This is the last request that I'll ever make of you."
Dyon's heart pumped. His anger was overflowing, but he had yet to have an opportunity to vent it.
A faint thought entered his mind. This woman in front of him, was she his master? Or was she his enemy? If he tore her apart, would it make the pain in chest stop? If he rampaged through the world, killing everything in his wake, would he be able to feel something again?
He wanted to know. He wanted to see if there was a reason to live. He wanted the beating of his heart to come with something other than a seething burn. No… He needed it…
The 25th White Mother could feel the changes coming from Dyon, and although they saddened her greatly, she could only nod her head. 'Live. Don't worry about your promises to me or anyone else. Just live.'
Her selfish request was what any mother would want. And although she wasn't who birthed Dyon, the place he had taken in her heart was no different than if he had been…
"You can choose to do with this consciousness what you will after you hear the truth…" The 25th White Mother took a deep breath.
"It is first important that I explain what started all of this, and why we betrayed your mortal realm…"
Outside of the Belmont Holy Land, Ri and Lionel were streaking across the natural moat that surrounded it.
Lionel, having already broken into the essence gathering level, had flames of red and blue gliding along his feet, searing and freezing over portions of the water he traveled upon.
Ri had to make use of array footsteps. Although her array alchemy was much weaker and slower than Dyon's, it was still child's play to form common level arrays, and they were just strong enough to hold her weight before shattering, allowing her to move on to her next array.
Whenever she made a mistake or slipped up, she easily and comfortably used her ice will to freeze the water below, recovering expertly.
Soon, they had reached the outer island of the Belmont Holy Land, but they could immediately tell something was wrong.
Everything was much too quiet. Not to mention the fact that there were none of the signs of conflict you would expect in an area where battle had just taken place.
When they got close enough, the answer suddenly became obvious, there was a barrier!
Lionel's deadpan expression twitched. This was his home, and no matter how he acted, he didn't like the idea of it being trampled like this.
"We have to use a separate entrance. If we forcefully break the array, they'll detect it." Without another word, Lionel turned and dove into the lake behind them.
Ri frowned, but had no choice but to follow in the end, using water will to propel herself to catch up to Lionel quickly.
As martial artists, holding your breath for hours wasn't a problem. However, the depth to which Lionel was diving was starting to put untold pressure onto Ri. She couldn't help but wonder why a lake would be so deep, did that even make sense?
In order for water to affect a martial artist, let alone a half beast and elf like Ri – who obviously had a very powerful body – meant that it had to reach thousands of pounds of pressure at the very least.
Luckily, Lionel abruptly stopped before the pressure became too much for Ri. He faced a small inner cave, which he very quickly entered.
The cave was an inexplicable oddity. Despite swimming up for far less time than they swam downward, Ri and Lionel soon popped their heads out of the surface of a fountain.
Seeing that the surroundings were silent, they both jumped out. There was no need to actively dry their clothes. The water had never touched Ri because of her water will and Lionel had his flames.
"This is a passage within the castle itself. I do not know if they've occupied my home, or if they haven't, but we must be cautious." Lionel explained.
However, despite his worries, there was not a soul in the castle. In fact, they managed to navigate their way though the large maze the castle was and exit through a back channel, remaining out of sight as they inched their way forward.
There was no doubt in their minds that Dyon would be where the most people were gathered. At the very least, that was the best place to start their search considering they had come up with nothing in the castle. Plus, Lionel was here to specifically navigate through the catacombs. Unless he proved he could do so, he wouldn't receive Madeleine's faith seed.
Ri crushed another array plate, handily concealing the two of them as they silently made their way through the throngs of encampments and toward the entrance to the true Belmont Holy Land.
Ri's anger threatened to spill over as she looked over the Daiyu. These were the people who dared to harm her husband for their own personal gain. How could she not be angry?
In fact, when she recognized Chenglei's figure at the entrance of the cave, she nearly reached out and ended him where he stood. But, she knew that she had a higher purpose here. She couldn't afford to reveal herself now. There were too many Daiyu around, clearly ready to protect the cave entrance with their lives should their enemies arrive. Plus, Dyon's life was more important now.
Calming her breathing, Ri grit her teeth as passed by Chenglei, following closely behind Lionel.
Suddenly, in all her distraction, Ri slammed into something hard. When she looked up, she realized it was Lionel's back, so she quickly backed away.
"What are you doing?" Ri didn't have time for nonsense usually. And this was definitely not a time that she'd accept it.
Lionel didn't turned back and only shrugged. "I just thought that this was far enough."
Before Ri could react, violet flames burst out from Lionel, crashing into the concealment array and shattering it completely.
Ri stood there unharmed, blinking and processing what just happened.
The loud noise alerted the Daiyu, sending them into an uproar. The sound had clearly come from within their camp!
Chenglei turned back to find Ri stunned figure, completely still. First confusion played on his features, but when he saw Lionel standing in front of her, a sudden realization hit him.
In an instant, hundreds of Daiyu surrounded the cave entrance. Even after their battle with the Belmonts, it was clear that they had invested heavily into recovery medicines for this war, and very few showed any signs of fatigue whatsoever. In fact, it was likely that they had raided the Belmont's castle itself for the resources they needed.
Ri's blue-silver eyes turned a dark shade of black. Her canines lengthened, allowing a growl to escape from her hips.
However, whether she was angry or not didn't change the fact that she was completely surrounded, having clearly been betrayed.
"Hand over Madeleine, and you might leave this situation with your dignity and life." Lionel said calmly, turning around to meet Ri's angered gaze. "Choose to fight, and I promise that the punishment will completely disregard the fact you're a married woman."