A shockwave erupted from Zac’s body, causing the closest wolves to be thrown away as their bodies twisted and deformed. Zac wasn’t focused on that though, but rather the three-meter halo that had appeared behind him. It was a circle that shone in silver, though the silver of a honed blade rather than the moonlight that drowned out the area.
It was covered in dense scripts, but the true core of the skill was the image in the middle of the halo.
It was the deceptively unadorned axe that Zac had witnessed in his very first Dao Vision, the weapon of the axe-man who had singlehandedly caused the death of both the divine faction and most likely a whole world. The axe looked almost exactly the same as how Zac remembered it when it was stabbed into the ground next to the endless chasm, and the image infused the halo with an almost blinding sharpness.
“Supremacy,” Zac muttered as he started running forward, each step causing cracks to spread for dozens of meters.
His momentum was rapidly growing as his spectral forest rose around him, giving him perfect vantage of the incoming wolves. He realized that there were as many invisible wolves approaching as visible ones, but he didn’t worry. The heaviness and sharpness of the halo behind him coursed through his body, and it was ready to be released at moment's notice.
Zac swung [Verun’s Bite] toward the closest clump of wolves when they were just twenty meters away, and pained yowls cut through the incessant roars of the vast wolf pack. The mournful cries were immediately cut short though as a dozen E-Grade wolves were flung away like they were pieces of trash, their bodies mangled almost beyond recognition. The ground itself was crushed and split apart as well, forming a deep chasm that stretched almost fifty meters before the power in Zac's swing lost its strength.
That was just the beginning though, as one swing after another started reaping the lives of the vanguard of the wolves, to the point that his killing speed surpassed that of the other three combined. Waves of moonlight drowned him both from above and from the wolves themselves, but this new skill wasn't as easily worn down as [Chop]. The halo was connected to Zac himself and almost impervious to the effect while the strikes were instantaneous, not allowing for the slightest weakening before the damage was already done.
His targets weren’t cleanly bisected as they would have been from [Rapturous Divide] or the final swing of [Blighted Cut], but they rather looked like they had been cut and bludgeoned simultaneously. Wherever Zac turned his attention a wave of carnage would soon follow as long as the halo behind his back remained.
Each swing of his axe contained not only his own strength, but it also contained a fragment of the boundless conviction and power of the original wielder of the simple woodman's axe. The blood of the wolves was already dying the whole area red, and a shocking stream of Cosmic Energy was entering Zac's body from the kill.
There were simply too many wolves to stop them all from reaching the Thea and the others, so he could only focus on the most powerful-looking squads. The others would be able to deal with the peak F-Grade wolves and their recently evolved brothers, but only Zac could kill the ones who were approaching middle E-Grade quickly enough.
Five packs was enough to almost open up his next node, and Zac was forced to trap the rest as to not break a node in the middle of the battle. It almost looked like he formed a sanguine cloud that rotated around him as he flashed back and forth among the trees, each jump with [Loamwalker] resulting in the death of even more wolves.
These elite wolves weren't dumb brutes that simply took Zac's attacks lying, and his whole body was covered in wounds caused by razor-sharp claws and hundreds of energy-attacks that they could launch from their foreheads. Their bodies were extremely sturdy as well, and if it wasn't for the added sharpness of his swings, he would eventually have been overrun by their sheer numbers.
It was all thanks to his recently acquired skill; [Conformation of Supremacy], the skill in the Dao Repository that was linked to the Strength Attribute. It didn't conjure a massive weapon like [Deforestation] or any fantastical sights like [Rapturous Divide]. It simply infused his normal swings with the power of the object depicted in the avatar.
The axe-man in his Dao Vision had almost split a whole world apart with a swing of his axe, but Zac obviously couldn't quite reach that level with his swings. But it still produced an effect far beyond the destruction he could cause with his most similar skill; [Unholy Strike], while also having a slew of other benefits.
First of all, [Conformation of Supremacy] didn't need to be charged for every attack like the skill he got from Mhal required. The halo did dim down a bit after every attack, but Zac could push more Cosmic Energy into it to reignite its power. The effect also wasn't limited to an increase in physical strength, but it rather imbued his swings with a mysterious energy based on the avatar, almost like it gained an additional Dao Seed.
The only downsides to the skill were the high energy consumption and the fact that the skill could be considered a mid-range attack at best since it didn't actually launch any projectiles. The damage caused by Zac's swings were rather just an outburst of the force contained in his attacks.
It had been a pretty big disappointment to see that the Endurance-based defensive skill clashed with [Deforestation], forcing him to give up on getting a new defensive skill now that [Nature’s Barrier] was lagging behind. However, the fact that the Strength-based skill didn’t clash with a single one of his skills felt like a huge windfall. It was the third skill he had picked up, and his only regret was that he couldn’t get it in his Draugr side as well.
The skill was simple and direct, just how Zac liked it. He was only was able to infuse it with his Fragment of the Axe at the moment, but some Dao limitations weren’t that uncommon with early proficiency skills.
The fact that the picture within the halo looked just like the axe in his Dao Vision obviously wasn’t a coincidence, but the skill actually had no connection to that axe-wielding master at all. [Conformation of Supremacy] was rather a blank slate, where you could create your own avatar of supremacy.
The image was interchangeable, and it could be different every time the skill was activated. However, the better the image resonated with your current intent, the more power it would provide, albeit at a higher energy-consumption.
Zac chose the image based on that Dao Vision as it still held a huge position in his heart, and his thoughts often wandered back to the scene of that man's battle against the celestials and the gates of heaven. He had witnessed even more shocking sights and even more powerful beings since then, for example the Grand Protector who defended his world against the death of a universe. But the axe-man was the first true supreme being Zac had seen, a testament of what was possible in this new world.
There was probably no avatar that was as defining of Zac's cultivation path as that lone axe, making it the optimal choice for an avatar. Choosing other avatars might bring out all kinds of interesting effects, but he needed every advantage he could eke out at the moment.
Another horizontal swing resulted in a wave of destruction rippling outward, but a solid silver crescent flew out to intercept the attack. It was one of the leading wolves who had launched some sort of attack from its forehead, and Zac glanced at it with a frown. He tried another few attacks, but the wolves had caught on by now as they spread out.
[Conformation of Supremacy] was able to boost the power of his attacks by a great degree, but its range was limited to around fifty meters, and it weakened the further away from Zac the strike was. He was forced to keep running back and forth, but each swing only managed to take out a couple of wolves after they started to adapt.
He was still keeping a decent pace, and the Cosmic Energy gathered in his body was starting to reach almost uncomfortable levels, but he knew that the situation wasn't really sustainable. Each swing empowered by his new skill cost a decent chunk of Cosmic Energy, even more than a dozen [Chop]'s. That was fine when he killed over twenty powerful wolves with one strike, but he was killing fewer than five with each attack right now.
Zac appeared next to another elite wolf, and it bit straight at his throat the moment he appeared. Zac was ready for the attack thanks to [Hatchetman's Spirit] though, and he simply pivoted his body a bit as [Verun's Bite] fell, cutting both its spine and lungs apart as a heavy wave of sharpness swallowed another three wolves before they had time to jump away.
Another surge of energy entered his body, and he was starting to feel bloated. However, his mind wasn't on slowing down his killing, but rather the opposite. He needed to change the current situation somehow. The moon in the sky was able to whittle down any long-range attacks from the looks of it, forcing both him and the others into a melee against the beasts.
The moon itself was hundreds of meters in the air, and there was no way for Zac to break it apart. He tried flashing toward the two leaders in an attempt to take them out, but two massive lunar crescents forced him into a defensive stance as the other wolves heedlessly started rushing toward the others.
He could only scramble back to protect the rear of the others, unable to leave as much as a flesh wound on the two alphas.
Zac growled in annoyance as he crushed the head of the closest wolf, and he was even considering taking out the cursed blade to deal with the moon above him. The curse that he just had managed to expel was a troubling hidden threat, but he didn't have a lot of options at the moment. He tried shooting a few fractal blades toward the sky, but the pressure that the moon emitted was clearly stronger the closer the blades got.
A sigh escaped his lips as he took out the rotting sword, but he froze when a sudden thud echoed out from his chest. The closest wolves staggered backward with bleeding ears, but Zac wasn't all that much better off as he stumbled to his knees. Another thud caused a wave of weakness to spread across his body, and he sensed how his accumulated energy was rapidly being stolen.
The [Void Heart] had finally woken up, and it was hungry.
The wolves clearly saw an opportunity when Zac fell down on his knees, but a sapphire sheen cut apart the two closest nearby wolves as Thea suddenly appeared next to him.
"Are you okay?" she shouted as she desperately fended off the elite wolves that were going in for the kill.
A wave of destruction rippled out to clear the area as Zac swung his axe from a kneeling position, but another heartbeat made him lose his balance causing him to fall over. Even worse, he sensed that the hidden node was still voraciously hungry, and Zac was afraid that it would start feasting on his own Cosmic Energy if he didn't quickly kill some more beasts.
“Can you create an opening on the big ones? I might be able to take one out then,” Thea whispered as she helped Zac to his feet.
Zac wordlessly nodded as he looked at the two wolves in the distance. Creating an opening didn't only mean to occupy the two big bastards, but it meant also dealing with a huge number of the more powerful that was barring the path. He looked down at the tattered sword for a second, but he decidedly put it away.
The white arc that the sword produced was extremely powerful, but it wasn't that fast. He was afraid that the moonlight would have whittled it down before it even had a chance to pick up its pace, which would place a curse on him for nothing. More importantly, the cursed sword was considered an external tool, and kills with the weapon wouldn't count as his kills. Normally that wouldn't matter, but his hidden node was screaming for sustenance. [Deforestation] was also a risky move, and something he wanted to save for later if possible.
Finally, there was only one thing that he could think of, and [Love’s Bond] slithered across his body as it fastened itself to his back. He hadn’t expected to waste any of the long-cooldown skills of his Spirit Tool at this juncture, but he saw no better option. He had one remaining card that might work even in these conditions, and it might even be able to destroy the foundations of the moon itself.
He needed to activate [Fate's Obduracy].