A note from sumdumbguy

If the last chapter hadn't been a day late, this chapter would have been released today.  So here it is.

After several failed attempts to pull herself out, Vivian abandoned the thought she could get out of the wall on her own.

"As the caretaker, protecting you is my duty. There's no need for thanks." Vivian responded softly as Anya parted the wall.  Vines wrapped around Vivian and set her gently on her feet. "Thank you for softening my landing though. That could have really hurt."

Vivian brushed the dust off her clothes nonchalantly as she took in the sight of the beast before her.

Sphinx: Othello
The Liralau discovered ancient statues scattered in the desert wastelands they dwell.  Their God immediately took a liking and created this pet modeled directly after those statues.

This collassal monstrousity razed countless ancient civilizations, brought extinction to more than a few ancient races and if scratched correctly will purr like a kitten.

Ages ago, in a time forgotten.  This beast was partly responsible for the death of the Jadendajuda God.  This giant beast solidified his place as the favorite pet of the Liralau God, as he performed beyond her expectations.

"This thing is beyond me." Vivian frowned as Anya offered a new staff.  Wrapping her hand around it, she felt the texture was rough and inconsistent; it was not made of wood.  Lifting it from the vine, she felt the considerable weight of the staff.  She gave it an experimental twirl to give her hands and muscles a chance to adjust.

"This is... a staff made of building material with a vine intertwined?" Vivian listened as she kept her gaze locked on the sphinx, "No way, Bayne gave you this idea?"

The sphinx rolled to its feet and looked disdainfully at the tree, the building growing around it had nearly completed.  Annoyed, the sphinx lifted and shook its paw.  It was throbbing.  The sphinx sniffed the air and immediately caught Vivian in its gaze.

"Anya, are you good?" Vivian asked as she assumed an offensive stance.  She sized up the collassal sphinx.  It looked back at her amused and let out a series of roars and grunts.

"If that's supposed to scare me, try again." Vivian spoke flatly.  The beast shook it's head pityingly.  Rather than attempt to communciate again, it released a long, slow and bored yawn.  A clear indication that she wasn't qualified as its opponent; a fact she already knew.  Turning its back to Vivian, it faced the newly formed building surrounding Anya.

"Curse the gods." Vivian scorned, "Sasha... do you see any possible way to get rid of that thing.  Preferrably before Anya gets killed here."

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do.  Even pushing your body to your limits won't let you scratch it.

 "That's what I expected, but not what I wanted to hear." Vivian frowned as she kicked off the ground, breaking into a run towards the sphinx.  She threw caution to the wind, leaping into the air.  She launched herself bodily at the sphinx.  Even if there's nothing I can do, I will not just stand by and watch.  I made an oath to keep her safe.  She swung her staff with all her might.  The sphinx lazily turned its head to look at her.  Her efforts didn't even amount to the pain of a bee sting.

The sphinx swung its tail lazily, as though it really couldn't be bothered with the effort.  Vivian swung her staff in response.  The two collided and Vivian was sent crashing to the ground.

I already told you this would be the result... what are you trying to prove?

I have to protect Anya.  Aside from that, I've been fighting fate my entire life.  Vivian rebutted.  There's something within this life of mine that's altered what should be possible time and again.

The sphinx picked up its foot and brought it down on top of her.  Grey fire kindled within her eyes as she braced herself.  She drained her mana pool pushing her strength stat to its highest possible value for an instant and thrust her staff to meet the sphinx's foot.  The two collided, the staff pierced its foot sinking in deep, instead of stopping it.  The sphinx stepped on her, crushing her flat into the street.  The sphinx lifted it's foot instantly from the pain the staff caused.

Anya spent her entire mana pool to activate [Anya's Blessing].  Vivian coughed up blood and took a sharp breath as her ebbing life was dragged forcefully back into her body.  She lay where she was, her body broken; she was lucky just to be alive.

Anya has granted an additional sub skill to her blessing:  [Guardian Spirit].

Her eyes barely open, she saw the foot coming back down over her, she wimpered a single word as a grey light wrapped soothingly around her.  "Jaden...?"

Despite the pain, she found herself comfortable in a gentle embrace as her eyes closed.  She lacked the energy to stay awake.

Jaden was running the trail, following after Isa.  He was wondering just what his mother had done to increase her speed as much as she had.  Even temporarily, that was quite a boon to have.  Running on and on, the city never seemed to get any closer.  The blur of trees whipped by.  He looked back on the trail behind him, the Liralau was catching up to him by running on all fours.

Make haste, creator.  Vivian is about to pick a fight with a beast far above her ability.

"Can't you stop her?  ...Nevermind.  That was a dumb question." Jaden replied.  "The important question is why?"

Anya is in danger.

"For Anya?" Jaden asked, though he understood.  A grey light illuminated the sky ahead for a moment and vanished.  "That was Mother?"

Yes, she actually knocked the beast off its feet.  She's impressive as always.  Even so, the disparity in strength is too great.  She will die if this continues.  You must hurry.

Jaden's features hardened.  "You're saying I'm stronger than Mother?  As I am now?"

Creator... You are the soul of a god in a mortal body.  Vivian's role in the prophecy has long concluded.  It's time to walk the path you have already chosen.

Jaden brought his hand to his face, his fingers traced the scar on his cheek back to his ear.  "I won't disappoint Mother a second time." 

His face full of determination, he pushed his speed to his physical limit, his agility taxed his constitution while his dexterity made sure there was no wasted effort.  He felt something draining inside.  "I see.  This is that draining feeling Mother was talking about." 

He pushed his body harder, leaving the physical limit far behind.  He raced through the forest path, approaching the city faster than he'd ever dreamed possible.  He stopped at the edge of the city. 

He saw his mother underneath the beast's foot, thrusting her staff straight up.  Time froze for Jaden as he watched his mother's body get crushed beneath its foot like an ant.  Initially, despair gripped his heart.  Followed by a barrage of emotions.  Confusion why his mother confronted it head on, not avoiding it.  Sadness and rage at his own lack of urgency and ability.  Anger and hatred at the beast that crushed his mother.

Vivian... I'm sorry, I tried.

Jaden watched the foot rise into the air.  His eyes shifted to the prone body of his mother. She coughed.  A grey inferno erupted and raged in his pitch black eyes when he saw the foot coming down again.  His physical body disintegrated into a grey light as he moved.  Time seemed to stop for him as he travelled through the air.  One destination, one thought in mind.  The foot barely moved in its descent.  The grey light enveloped Vivian's body, lifting her carefully and effortlessly.  A body formed as the grey light exploded outward, cradling her gently.

"Jaden...?" she wimpered through lidded eyes and fell unconscious.

He looked at her sadly and raised his right arm to the sky.  He caught the creature's paw and stopped it dead.  Air exploded outward from the impact.  Jaden bent his arm slightly, and pushed back, throwing the sphinx off its feet.

"Anya, keep Mother safe." Jaden stated, his deep baritone voice surprising himself, as he laid her in a vine bed.  The vines wrapped around her forming a cocoon, which Anya immediately filled with a plant fluid to aid in her healing.  The vines contracted, dragging the cocoon away along the ground.

"Thank you," Jaden spoke again, his new deeper voice giving him pause as he looked over his body.  The innocent four year old disappeared.  In its place was a man in his late teens.

The sphinx rose angrily to its feet for the second time today.  A series of roars and growls ensued.

"Your insults fall on deaf ears.  You hurt my mother and for that.  You will experience fear before you die." Jaden responded.

The sphinx appraised Jaden, "Hoh, you understand this language?  Are you a survivor of that old race then?"

"No.  I'm the reincarnation of a god you killed once.  But you weren't alone then, were you Othello?" Jaden asked, his face devoid of emotion.  He glared at Othello, his normally solid and stoic black eyes were a swirling black abyss ready to devour anything and everything they caught in their gaze.

"You have the same eyes as back then..." the beast flinched, and averted its eyes as it took a step back.

"How I've dreamed of meeting you again.  And the others." a cruel smile formed on Jaden's face; accentuated by the more prominent scar on his cheek, "Let's begin, shall we?  Your first lesson in fear."

Jaden?  Why am I sensing an anomaly in you?

"From my understanding, my soul spent a long time in the void; the anomaly attached to me first, and then I infected you.  I'm sorry, Sasha." Jaden's deep voice echoed quietly, carrying an omen of despair as it traveled. The sphinx shivered from a cold sweat as the echoes warped around its body and glazed over its hide.

That makes sense.

Jaden stretched his arms, shook his legs and rocked his head left and right as he approached the sphinx, getting his body loose.  Othello watched him warily.  The last time these two faced eachother, the god was outnumbered but certainly not outclassed by any of them individually.  That's certainly the case now, as the sphinx was easily thrown away.

"Let's play away from the city, shall we?" Jaden appeared in front of Othello's face, and a right hook sent him crashing into the forest.  "Er.. sorry Anya, not much I can do here; he's a big toy."

"Hm? Did I hear you right?  You'd rather I played with him inside the city?" Jaden asked surprised. "I see.  I can certainly handle that request.  Get some for Mother too, Anya."

"He's no weaker than before." Othello complained as he spat out blood and a tooth.  Jaden grabbed him by the tail and dragged him back towards the city, "My mistake sphinxie, I was asked to play with you inside the city."

Othello clawed desperately at the ground in an attempt to escape the deathly tight grip on his tail.  "Tsk tsk, you tired of playing already?  I'm just getting warmed up." Jaden taunted as he raised and snapped his arm back down, sending a jolt of pain through the sphinx's tail.  He brought his arm overhead pulling the tail taut.  He grabbed the tail with his other hand and yanked, lifting the sphinx into the air; he swung his arms around, spinning the sphinx around in circles over his head.  He released, sending the sphinx soaring through the air towards the city.  Jaden smirked as he jumped into the air, trailing after it.

Anya watched the sphinx's approach with anticipation.  She prepared the location it was going to land.  The buildings resized and moved around, in what Anya was hoping was a very uncomfortable landing.  Othello gave little care to the city below, he turned his body around in the air in order to not land on his head.  The buildings readjusted for his new positioning.  His rear legs caught the edge of a building throwing his momentum out of balance.  His upper body flipped back, his head hit the ground hard leaving an indentation.  A new variety of vine burst out from the ground in massive quantity.  The vines closest together entwined and weaved into five separate rope-like strands.  One wrapped around the beast's neck, holding its head uncomfortably against the ground.  The remaining four snared the beast's limbs and pulled taut, pinning the beast to the ground.  Anya pushed a slim spike up from the ground under the sphinx's back, pressuring his spine uncomfortably, and forcing the creature into a truly painful and helpless position.

"Anya, I didn't know you could be so... these are just wicked." Jaden commented as he observed the vines.  The vines making up the ropes were thick and covered in sharp thorns.  Jaden observed one of the numerous barbs.  "No, I'm just surprised is... Really, Othello here was after your life too?"

Othello looked pitiful as he tried his best not to squeal from the pain permeating his neck, spine and where his limbs connected to his body.  Jaden ignored him as he looked at the thorns closer, there was some liquid oozing from them.  "Anya, what is this fluid? ..." Jaden fell speechless and gave the sphinx a cruel smile.  There was a healing agent getting injected into his body.  "Othello, just what did you do here before I arrived?  Anya wants you to suffer as much as possible.  And I'm happy to oblige her."

The sphinx struggled fruitlessly against his bindings and he gave up quickly as they dug into his hide.  It snarled instead, "You coward, fight me alone."

"You're one to talk." Jaden scratched his chin as he recalled the memory.  "It's true; I don't need Anya's assistance, but she asked nicely for her own satisfaction at how you've hurt her."

"I didn't..." the sphinx's protest was cut off at his throat as the vine gripping him tightened considerably.

"Allow me to enlighten you.  Anya is the city.  The buildings and plants are her body and limbs.  The giant tree you so wanted to rip to shreds is her heart.  I see the realization in your eyes, that's good.  And right now, you are at her mercy.  Oh just one more thing before I let you two get more... acquainted.  The woman you stepped on, she gave life to Anya."  with that, Jaden walked away, "Let me know when you're done Anya, I have my own long overdue score to settle with him."


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