༺ Hua Ran (7) ༻
Standing on the central platform of the formation, Kang Ryun gazed down at Hua Ran, who was looking at the sky with a pair of unfocused eyes.
The ritual was well underway with the formation of the four perils disguised as the four guardian deities. On top of that, the articles installed on the outside were also promoting the removal of the ‘restriction’ he wanted to remove.
There were two things he was forcing on Hua Ran right now using this formation.
One was the deactivation of the sacred item of the New Faith of the West, ‘Chains of Zeon’, and the second one was the complete eradication of the soul of the original version of Hua Ran, Ran.
The reason why Hua was in the form of a human despite being a Yaksha was because the soul of Ran, the original owner of the body, was a human. The moment Ran’s soul was eradicated, that body would become a full belonging of Hua and she would awaken as the true Yaksha.
If the restriction cast on her was to get dispelled on top of that, then there would be nothing else in the world restricting her as a jiangshi.
And after that, if she were to eat the Concoction of the Flesh of a Thousand Men, given by that man, Tates Valtazar, Hua Ran’s status would go through an immediate transcendence.
In turn, that meant she would turn into a Hou.
3 years. It was both long and short depending on how you saw it. After seeing Hua, created by his younger brother Kang Yu, Kang Ryun had been immediately mesmerized by her strength.
After that, he used the pretext of youkai subjugation to cover her with more and more blood and in the end, he even caused the Moonlight Castle incident to make her accumulate the karma of tens of thousands of people.
His stupid younger brother, who had his eyes set on retrieving his daughter, didn’t even notice that Kang Ryun had taken over the control rights of Hua Ran. In the end, he was labeled as the main culprit behind the Moonlight Castle incident, was caught by the imperial army and got his limbs ripped to pieces.
How could Kang Ryun not feel grateful to him? Not only did he give birth to the Heavenly Yaksha called Hua, but he also died in his stead as the culprit behind the Moonlight Castle incident.
The only thing he wasn’t expecting was that Kang Yu had requested the chairman of Merkarva Academy to take Hua Ran under their protection. Kang Ryun’s original plan was to quickly retrieve the owner-less jiangshi to build greater karma but Chairman Eriu Casarr had snatched Hua Ran away from him before he could.
Despite being the Senior Professor of Purple Hawk and the greatest formation expert of the east, even Kang Ryun had no way of knowing what was happening in the other continents.
He was in despair, not knowing even the whereabouts of Hua Ran when a man visited him.
『I will give you a chance to obtain that jiangshi, as well as a pill to increase its status.』
The man introduced him to the Old Faith. Thanks to the influential and financial power of the Old Faith, he was able to prepare all sorts of articles and set up this stage.
The legendary Spear Saint from 80 years ago. There was only one thing that the man had requested of him.
『Go berserk. Kill as many humans as you can and crush the shell of the chairman. Force her to leave the palace.』
It was nothing in comparison to him obtaining a Hou.
Hua Ran had the power to demolish an entire castle as a Unique-Grade jiangshi before the restrictions were in place. Her strength was bound to reach an unimaginable degree after awakening into a Hou.
A mere city like this could be destroyed hundreds of times.
“Huhahahaha…! I will obtain Hua and become a god! Live an eternal life and defy the heavens!”
“Nope. That is not happening.”
A short sentence brought him out of his maddened laughter. Hearing that insolent voice, the old sage clicked his tongue and heaved a sigh.
“Korin Lork. You again, huh.”
“The man~ is back at it again~”
Kang Ryun glared at Korin Lork and his playful attitude, before turning to Yuhua and Jinhyuk who were behind him.
“Can’t even do what you are told properly.”
“Uncle! Please tell me he was lying! Is it true that this ritual is not to save Ran but to eradicate her? Why are you using an article of one of the four perils instead of the gods?!”
“I heard that the Moonlight Castle disaster… was because you commanded Hua Ran. That it was a command, and not because of her going berserk. Is that true?”
Yuhua and Jinhyuk shouted desperately at Kang Ryun, with eyes eagerly hoping for his denial.
It had become apparent from the point that he was using the article of one of the four perils instead of the guardian deities that Kang Ryun’s goal was different from the rest of them. But even so, the disciples wanted to believe in him but Kang Ryun scoffed and betrayed their hopes with ease.
“Huhuhu… You foolish idiots. It would have been better off for you if you died a clueless death.”
Looking down at his disciples whose faces were crumpled from confusion and rage, Kang Ryun stroked his beard with leisure. His eyes were too cold to be that of a master gazing at his disciples.
“Well. You are worthless now. Stop being a bother and become one with everything within this formation to be fodder for the ascendance of the Yaksha.”
Flick! The old sage opened his fan and activated another formation.
“Did you get cocky from destroying a few of the inner articles? Whether it be on the outside or the inside, the Evil Extermination formation will last as long as there is one of them left. And the target of this ‘extermination formation’ is you.”
The formation wobbled. As planned by the creator, the evil intricacies of the formation were now starting to melt everything inside itself.
“I wonder if you’ll be able to even last 10 minutes.”
The evil intricacies were powerful enough to have a huge impact on all the organisms inside the formation. Besides, this formation was being supported by the articles outside, which meant there was nothing they could do from the inside!
“You know what, a military contractor fraud is a huge problem.”
Tung! Korin Lork smacked the ground with the silver spear immediately after saying that and…!
The Eight Gates Formation started to wobble. Things shattered all around as the core ley lines of the formation suddenly disappeared. It was a complete nullification, so perfect that even the evil intricacies were disabled as a byproduct of it.
“W, what in the…!”
“Now, let me take the honor of explaining what happened there!”
Kang Ryun gasped from the mind-numbing turn of events but the three people accompanying Korin instead shook their heads with a sigh.
“The articles Old Man Kang Ryun was trying to smuggle through the Old Faith? I stole them!
The merchant corporation that supplied the new items? Ah, it was me that introduced them!!
Who supplied them with the items, you ask? Wait, that was me!?
And who carved rune letters on those? Of course, that was also me!!”
“D, don’t tell me you…”
Korin drove in the last wedge to Kang Ryun, who was murmuring in disbelief.
“You should be wary of scams at all times! And don’t forget to check your items! That’s it from me, Immortan Lork!”
Seeing Kang Ryun stumble on the spot, Korin gave him a wicked smile.
“Why? Did you think you were the only one who knew how to lie and scam?”
“Y, you bastarrddddd…!”
He shouted with veins popping up on his neck. His fury was evident from his clenched fangs.
“Now what do you think will happen if Senior Marie destroys all the articles inside the formation on top of that?”
There was no need to even say that out loud. Hua Ran’s ascendance was out of the equation and the Evil Extermination Formation would be completely undone.
“It’s all over, Kang Ryun.”
The conclusion was already set in stone, but Kang Ryun couldn’t accept it.
“No. Not yet! The articles outside are still sustaining the formation and the inside is still holding on! All I have to do is kill you all before they get destroyed! After all, corpses cannot speak!”
“You want to kill us all? How?”
“Huhuhu… Did you forget it? I have the strongest jiangshi under my command!”
He spread his fan as a humanoid figure left the saisen box. After landing on the ground, Hua Ran gazed at them with unfocused eyes.
“M, Ms. Hua Ran?”
Alicia gulped in shock but she felt relieved after seeing the chains that were tightly restricting her body.
“T, thank goodness. The restriction is still…”
Kang Ryun waved his hand once as the chains then fell to the ground.
“Huh? T, the chains…!”
The holy artifact of the New Faith used to be restricting her and the deactivation of that… meant the resurrection of the Unique-Grade living jiangshi, the Heavenly Yaksha.
“Don’t be scared. It’s a temporary thing. He used the remaining articles of the four perils to undo Hua Ran’s restrictions. Looks like he gave up on her ascendance.”
“Huhahaha…! You’re right, but that doesn’t matter! As long as I kill all of you and take Hua Ran, I can restart the ritual whenever I want!”
Seeing him laugh like a lunatic, Jinhyuk bit his lips.
“Damn it… He’s actually controlling Hua Ran.”
The only person that could control a jiangshi was the spiritualist that was linked to it as the master. In other words, that proved how it was Kang Ryun who had given Hua Ran the command to burn the Moonlight Castle down to ashes 1 year ago.
“Fuck… This feels shit.”
The battle began.
“Alicia. Stay back. Our base plan is the same as when we were going up against the King of Iron Mountain.”
Korin and Alicia walked up to the battlefield. Jinhyuk was inwardly burning with fury when Yuhua tapped him on his shoulder.
“Hyuk. We have things to do as well.”
– Kwaang! Kwagang!
Alicia was baffled by the things happening before her.
Even though his growth was exceptionally fast, the Korin Lork she knew had still been within the category of a ‘Knight’. Despite the ridiculous level of perfection and mastery he had over his techniques, there used to be a clear limit to his physical strength.
Of course, she knew that he had a hidden technique called ‘Shura’. That explosive burst in power was so strong that even she could barely follow what was happening with her eyes. After all, it was an absurd ability that increased his ability by threefold at the cost of consuming thousands of Aura for a single minute of use.
‘There’s something else?’
However, Alicia’s eyes that could even gaze between the boundaries of the world spotted an exponential increase that was even greater than usual.
The amplification of his stats thanks to the Precept was beyond belief. Under the back-up of the Precept,〚I will save the world.〛, he was rampaging like a comet that just broke through the atmosphere.
In less than 1 second, he was hundreds of meters away and was pouncing from all sides. How many people would be able to hold off against him? Alicia wondered, because she was certain that she wouldn’t be able to last any more than 30 seconds. It was impossible for a human to withstand the overwhelming storm of meteorites.
Korin was attacking with the mighty force of a meteor but… there was an inexplicable monster who could calmly block his attacks with no words to describe it.
The most fitting word might perhaps be a ‘planet’. Even if Korin were to heat up the entire surface of the planet by causing a large explosion, it was nothing but a relatively big event in the eyes of the planet.
It was no different from sitting inside a sauna.
Heavenly Yaksha Hua Ran.
It wasn’t an overstatement to call the living jiangshi with an Unbreakable Vajra Body, that allowed no blades to go through, as a planet.
“Kuhk… Damn it…!”
Even Korin, who was always rational during a fight, unconsciously let out profanities.
That was nothing unusual though.
An attack after an attack after an attack. It had already been 1 minute and 20 seconds since the start of the battle. He was combusting forth with himself as the fuel and yet the opponent wasn’t even moving in the slightest.
He was the one who had to suffer more as the attacker. There was no way he could stop himself from swearing out loud at the face of such an unfair reality.
Even after a successful attack, he had to run away immediately. Sticking to her for a second attack was not even a consideration.
But despite him attacking as safely as possible without getting greedy for attacks, her following attacks were always a threat to his life.
❰Demonic Aura: Poisonous Claw❱
It seemed like such a light swing of her nails and yet it contained an unbelievably enormous amount of condensed aura behind it.
Each of her swings sliced the ground apart like tofu.
Korin Lork’s most powerful skills were casually blocked by her waves.
The sheer difference in strength;
The amount of leftover aura;
And the bodies they were born with. Everything about them was way too different.
“Mr. Korin… is already nearing his limit.”
Getting grazed by Hua Ran’s inexplicably wide-ranged attacks was enough for bones to be crushed so Korin had to put in a lot more strength as the one avoiding those attacks.
In other words, Korin Lork was overworking his body and was slowly crumbling down from the inside out.
On the other hand, there weren’t any wounds on Hua Ran’s body. She was relying on her superhuman dynamic vision to block the attacks from a supernova, and was even fighting back and yet was showing no signs of running out of stamina.
Korin was being completely overwhelmed. At this rate, it was questionable if he could even wear her down like their original plan.
He paused on the spot after having his ears sliced by the aftermath of a missed claw-attack. Despite knowing that his enemy would pounce at him the moment he stopped, he still halted his feet.
Hua Ran pounced forward. The shockwave caused by her kicking off the ground sounded like the roar of a beast.
Her fist came flying down. Contending against that was the Demonic Arts of Trap and Stab.
Veins popped all across his body. Like a man hit by a falling comet, his body got ripped just by trying to defend against her attack.
Demonic Arts of Trap and Stab—-!!
Using the ultimate move of the Third Style of the Six Ways of the Spear, he deviated the path of Hua Ran’s fist. After missing its target, her fist crashed into the poor ground and caused an aftermath that resembled the explosion of a missile.
Pebbles and dust floated into the air. Korin jumped back to avoid it but the Yaksha did not watch him without doing anything.
She grabbed onto his ankle. In the next instant, his vision turned by 180 degrees and he was made to face the sky, as he fell on his back after drawing the outer line of a semicircle.
His organs got damaged just from that one attack. In fact, it was painful to the degree that he wondered if his organs had been shifted out of place or not.
He was neutralized in just one move as the Yaksha raised a fist above his defenseless head. It was a crimson fist swelling with a horrendous amount of aura.
That would kill him. Regardless of his regeneration and whatnot, that attack was enough to erase his entire existence without leaving anything behind.
It was right when Hua Ran was about to drive her right fist into him,
Her fist was parried up with a screech. After blinking his eyes, Korin noticed that Alicia was standing in front with her back towards him.
She had been watching them fight from a distance until now. She didn’t have any skills that could allow her to close the distance of hundreds of meters in less than a second.
“Don’t tell me you…!”
Korin was shocked after realizing the only possible method she could have used.
There was a skill that allowed its user to take a step forward in a suspended world. In other words, Alicia Arden, she…
“I understand… the plan but… I was worried you might die, Mr. Korin…”
She had taken dozens of steps inside the Domain, just to block one attack.
– Pajik! Pajijik!
The price she had to pay for that was atrocious.
Her entire body got sliced apart as blood spurted out from everywhere. The fact that she had taken dozens of steps inside the Domain had put a massive burden on her body, even more than Hua Ran’s attack.
Alicia’s body crumbled down to the ground. Korin barely supported her from falling down.
She gasped for breath but the Yaksha wasn’t kind enough to wait for them.
The Yaksha raised her arm once again in order to get rid of the cumbersome Alicia. In that instant, Korin used his Shura to its extreme limits to snatch Alicia away from her line of attack.
The swing destroyed the earth behind them and splattered rocks everywhere. The only downside to her ridiculous attacks was that each of her attacks created a cloud of dust that messed with her vision.
Hiding behind a pile of rubble, Korin carefully placed Alicia down on the ground.
“Ah, you idiot. You should’ve just taken care of your own body. Why did you push yourself so hard?”
“Hehe… My body moved before I could even think…”
“Open your mouth.”
He quickly took out an elixir from his pocket. It was a specially-made elixir that he had prepared as the last resort but if he didn’t use it on Alicia right now, it wasn’t strange for her to die from blood loss or have a total paralysis for the rest of her life.
– Gulp gulp!
Thanks to the special medicine injected into her body, Alicia quickly regained her breath.
“Uahh… I, I thought I was going to die there.”
The original plan was to hold off as much as possible until Marie destroyed all the articles of the four perils. And using a small gap that would be created by that, they would do damage with Alicia’s Domain Severance, which boasted of 100% resistance penetration and use their hidden trump card.
That was the plan he had been keeping in mind ever since his return from Nazrea, but there were now 2 variables to his plan.
One was that Hua Ran was a lot stronger than he expected after being unsealed,
And two was that Alicia had been wounded after trying to save him, who had been put in a volatile situation due to the first misassumption.
Fortunately, her life wasn’t in danger thanks to the elixir, but after doing something as crazy as running through the Domain, Alicia was unable to participate for the rest of the fight.
‘Is Senior Marie… not done yet?’
At this point in time, she was probably destroying numerous stone warriors and making her way to the second article after destroying the first. The problem was that they might not be able to last until she broke the third article.
“It can’t be helped.”
He couldn’t blame Alicia for going against the plan though. If he allowed a direct attack from that fist, it was highly likely that he would have died on the spot despite his regeneration ability.
“There’s nothing for you to be sorry for. Thanks for saving me.”
Using the cloud of dust as a cover, he placed Alicia down in a safer area. During the process, he ended up stumbling due to the deactivation of his Shura buff.
“Mr. Korin… Are you okay?”
“No… I’m not okay.”
He had used up all the aura inside the Aura Core as well as his body. The consecutive fight against Sa Jinhyuk and Hua Ran had cost him way too much aura.
‘Do I have to use Sebancia Duke’s core?’
Like a magic sword choosing its master, the demonic core he received from Sebancia Duke had been rejecting him the whole time.
It would be possible to use it by force but… the power inside the Aura Core of a demonic nature was hard for him to withstand with his current body. Despite the back-up of the Precept, he still wasn’t confident.
That was when Alicia spoke to him while gasping for breath, hoping that her sentence might help him in any way.
“Ms. Hua Ran… has never used her left hand until now.”
Korin had unconsciously glossed over it at the start, but noticed how implicative of an action that was.
After realizing what that meant, he smiled despite the hopeless situation at hand. He stubbornly stood up, telling himself that he had no choice but to do this.