༺ Annalise (3) ༻
The moment the space shattered, Annalise belatedly had a thought.
She didn’t even have time to adjust her spell again. It was because the Apostle was already before her very eyes, swinging his sword at her.
Annalise gritted her teeth while deconstructing her spell, and then her body dispersed.
Spatial Movement Spell [Dying Flame].
The sword had cut through Annalise, who had turned into flames. After she scattered, her body reassembled again on the opposite side of where she just was.
Annalise felt her heart pounding.
‘My judgment is clouded.’
The Apostle’s taunt momentarily scattered her thoughts. It wasn’t anything worth getting worked up over, but she became hot headed and lost her temper.
Annalise quickly weaved another spell. There was no time to relax. If she wanted to suppress the side effects of the serum, she needed to quickly leave this place and regulate her body.
The square of six magic circles assembled into a cube, and each side of that cube was a manifestation of a different spell.
High-Ranking Flame Commandment Spell [Apocalyptic Fire].
The cube began to glow, scorching everything in Annalise’s line of sight.
Vera observed the flame that started rising from the sky and took a deep breath. His expression worsened.
‘I can breathe.’
Now that the spatial spell had been erased, all he had to do was attack. However, that wasn’t an easy task.
The problem was that the Tower Master was a long-range fire wizard. If he went too close, she would use spatial movement magic to widen the distance again, so it was impossible to attack.
Furthermore, the attack was also a problem.
It was a feeling of certainty. Annalise had been shot by divinity countless times throughout the battle, inflicting minor injuries, but, there were no wounds on her body at all.
Why do all of the enemies I meet have such good regeneration? It’s irritating for no reason.
Vera shot forward. His movements were so fast that they could be described as warping through space. Divinity burst from the Holy Sword as he swung, drawing a straight line across the space.
As expected, Annalise was unharmed. She glared menacingly at Vera with her pink eyes, evoking another apocalyptic fire.
Vera felt his divinity surrounding his body burning as he began drawing in an excessive amount of the divinity of the Heavenly Realm.
Annalise’s spellcasting speed was too fast. There was only one way he could think of to handle her.
“Wow, you’re rather quick for an old hag. Well, I suppose being healthy is a given when you’ve been jumping up and down every night in bed.”
It was only right to abuse her apparent lack of emotional control by provoking her to interrupt her spellcasting.
Annalise’s demeanor changed once more.
The apocalyptic fire condensed, dispersed, and then arranged in a sequence.
Apocalyptic fire spears filled the ceiling, then fired directly at Vera. As that was happening, a new apocalyptic flame burst out of thin air.
“It’s you who needs to shut up. Don’t you think your job should be for you to enter a coffin and shut up forever, for the sake of the ‘young’ people?”
Even as he spoke, his body was moving diligently. He wasn’t approaching her mindlessly. Rather, he was roaming around the garden to sharpen his divinity and fire it.
“The serum of the ancient species, is it? Ah, I understand. Your dentures must not fit anymore, and you wanted new teeth. How are they? Are your new teeth sturdy?”
Annalise’s jaw trembled as she scattered her spell. Her thoughts were becoming increasingly blurry, but she didn’t realize that.
There was only one thought in her mind.
‘I’ll kill you!’
She would kill him, tear him apart, burn him, and scatter his remains in every direction.
Her mana, rising endlessly like a spring that never runs dry, began to fuel her rage like firewood.
Enchantment Spell [Overclock].
Fire Support Spell [Heatwave]
Two more spells were added to the apocalyptic fire spears. The spears glowed brightly and exploded with such power that the entire garden was swept away.
Vera ran, avoiding the center of the explosion and dispersing the explosions with minimal damage. At the same time, he imbued his divinity into the Holy Sword.
He was watching for an opportunity, for a single shot. A smaller attack wouldn’t be effective. She would recover quickly even if she was severely injured.
Therefore, he needed to deliver a devastating attack that would render her unable to recover, causing her to fall from a single strike.
His divinity overflowed with power, enveloping the Holy Sword. It condensed, sharpened, and hardened. He wrapped it again with divinity.
Despite his provoking and mocking words, Vera’s mind had been growing increasingly colder.
He had been constantly observing Annalise to find her weakness. In the end, Vera discovered a single peculiar point.
‘The corner of her eye.’
Even though all the other wounds, the blood flowing down from the corner of her eye had yet to cease.
‘The head can’t regenerate.’
After making that judgment, Vera acted quickly.
Vera swung his arm, and with a stabbing motion, he thrust the Holy Sword.
The distance between them was wide, but that didn’t matter. It was because what he was thrusting wasn’t the sword, but the divinity imbued within the sword.
The divinity turned into a wedge and rushed in. Annalise sensed it and twisted her body to take the attack with her chest.
A large hole appeared in Annalise’s chest.
A hole that was large enough to fit a human head was gouged out of the center of her chest, but Annalise was not shaken in the slightest. A spine stretched out from the center of that gaping hole, and above was her flesh encasing her muscles and organs, filling up her stomach.
As Vera was sharpening his divinity once again, an explosion occurred right under his nose.
“I got you!”
In a flash, amidst his blurred thoughts, Vera heard a shout in his ear.
Vera calmed his shaken mind.
…Or at least he tried to.
However, he failed. His thoughts had been thrown off by the explosion that occurred right in front of him. Vera was stumbling, his body still trembling from the momentary impact as a spear of fire descended upon him.
The sound of something falling was followed by a deafening explosion, nearly rupturing Vera’s eardrums.
Vera tried to regain his senses while steadying himself. Divinity was still wrapped around him.
His current dizziness was due to his semicircular canals being disturbed. If he was able to just hold on a little longer, a complete recovery was possible.
He was experiencing tinnitus, and between each ringing sound was a high-pitch laughter cutting in.
It seemed to be Annalise’s voice. An old hag waiting for her death, laughing without even knowing her own place.
Vera firmly shut his mouth, binding more powerful divinity together to shield his body. It was enough to endure the impact of the spell.
After recovering from the previous attack, he had to think about how to handle her next move.
How do I match her intellect? How do I approach her? How do I stop her spatial movements? How can I win?
His head was spinning. He felt dizzy. His thoughts were abruptly cut off by a knocking sound, but he soon recomposed them.
He was still experiencing tinnitus, the ringing sound persisting.
The serum of the ancient species. The ancient species. Can I win?
The gateway to the Heavenly Realm. The divinity of the Heavenly Realm. A divinity-forged sword. Is this enough?
What am I missing? I’m certain that I avoided all her previous spells, so what’s different?
His thoughts continued. Questions came to mind one after another in search of an answer.
In the middle of that, Vera felt his irritation rise.
He was irritated because he was barely losing to the likes of the Tower Master, the likes of someone with over a century of experience in spells.
The serum of the ancient species? It didn’t matter. After all, she was still just human.
That old hag didn’t say anything. It was because no matter how great of a power she was using, that power would destroy her.
It wasn’t a story only limited to herself. No matter how great the ancient species may be, the one using that power was still Annalise. She was only human.
He was barely losing to a mere human.
As if he had drowned in a sticky swamp, as if he had been buried under a pile of dark ashes, his stomach sank. He trembled, and disgust and rage surged within him.
He didn’t know the source of his emotions. It was just a feeling that made him angry.
The ringing in his ears worsened.
It should have subsided with time, but the ringing worsened to the point where his vision turned white.
It felt like a thick, dark swamp was devouring him whole. The eerie ringing added to Vera’s heartbeat, and at that moment, he lost his grip.
The sword wailed.
At the same time, a flash went off in Vera’s head.
Vera trembled. It was a natural reaction to the sudden awakening of his senses.
His shaky gaze was directed towards his right arm, where the Holy Sword was emitting a faint light.
‘…A moment ago.’
What was he thinking about?
His thoughts were slowly returning. He tried to recall his previous thoughts, but he couldn’t recall them.
As the ringing died down, the sound of explosions grew even stronger.
The colorless world was once again burning with a red light.
Vera narrowed his eyes, trying to find the source of his last thoughts and the change that had just occurred.
However, he didn’t have the luxury of doing so.
As the explosions grew even more intense, he saw Annalise in the distance, weaving a spatial spell once again.
For some reason, Vera felt confident that there was a change.
‘The Holy Sword reacted.’
The Holy Sword, which hadn’t reacted to anything since its completion, had just reacted for the first time.
Something had triggered it, something that could turn this reaction into a phenomenon.
Vera tried recalling what that thing was, and eventually, he thought of something that could serve as the trigger for the Holy Sword.
When the Holy Sword was completed, his stigma must have been engraved within. And just moments prior, he almost let go of the sword. He almost broke his vow.
That was right. The Stigma reacted to the oath he had made.
Vera gripped his sword tightly.
‘There’s no price for the oath engraved on the Holy Sword.’
But, that didn’t mean there was no reward.
The Stigma of the Oath was completed by absolute balance. It only worked when there was something to be gained.
A long sigh escaped from Vera’s lips.
The exact mechanism would have to be investigated further, but he could feel it.
‘The divinity is stronger.’
The concentration of divinity and not the size had increased. It contained the same amount of divinity, but the output had become stronger. The change was caused by the faint light emanating from the Holy Sword and flowing into his body.
Vera knew what he could do with this.
Could he do it? Would it work? All those doubts were erased.
Vera charged forward, his eyes shining.
An explosion followed.
Annalise’s expression stiffened.
Suddenly, Annalise felt a sense of danger as Vera charged at her, unexpectedly taking on an offensive stance.
It was her intuition, a sort of animalistic instinct.
She activated her spell.
Spatial Movement Spell [Dying Flame].
Annalise’s body reappeared behind Vera from a distance away.
Vera stopped and looked at Annalise.
He didn’t approach her with the intention of making her hide. Rather, he had approached her to create distance between them.
Vera gripped the sword with both hands.
‘A sword that can harm the ancient species.’
There was only one such thing that Vera knew of.
It was the ability that Vargo had shown him three years ago, when he was escorting Renee to the Holy Kingdom. It was the same ability he used to fight the mountain pushing colossus, Terdan.
The ability was still engraved in his mind, but with this concentration of divinity, he could at least, create a mere ‘imitation’. He hadn’t been able to do it before due to his lack of output, but this time, the Holy Sword was assisting him.
‘An imitation is enough.’
After all, the opponent wasn’t a real ancient species. She was merely a fake one, using a serum to imitate them.
The divinity overflowed, enveloping his entire body. Then, all of that divinity converged around the Holy Sword.
The distance wasn’t an issue. The regenerative power of that hybrid wasn’t an issue either.
With that ‘intent,’ he could cut Annalise down.
Vargo had shown him the sword of a realm that manifested that intent.
Vera’s right foot slid back far behind, his knee bending. The sword fell behind his waist.
It was a flawed stance with many openings, but despite that, all of those openings gathered together to form a balance.
Annalise quickly followed up with a spell, her instinctive sense of danger rising upon watching that scene.
Seven circles emerged. There was no time to form a cube. It was as if she just stuck them together like a lump of clay and shot them out in an incomplete state.
Vera focused his gaze on the white apocalyptic flame hurtling towards him, and forged his intent with a singular form.
The sword swung diagonally.
The intent forged with that form created a singular phenomenon with a rule.
A name was necessary.
The rule that was created by naming had to be bound to reality.
Vera swept the space with his sword, engraving the name that naturally came with that form.
Remembering the moment that the massive mountain-like colossus had fallen…
He made a single cut.
The blade tore through space.
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