“Damn it!” Shin’s ankles left the chilling water puddle that Junius had left him in. The Spear of Aiglos turned like a windmill, giving him a little balance. Shin wanted to charge at the Minotaur before it attacked any of his comrades, but his efforts were all in vain. Dust flew down his soiled robes as a heavy wind pressure stopped any hopes Shin had of advancing.
Tap… Tap… Tap…
Junius’ slow footsteps were all that Shin could hear. The odachi in his hands had made a full swing sending out a violent gust of wind. Still bearing that smug smile, Junius continued to bar Shin’s path back to his teammates, who were facing the threat of the Black Masks and the Umbras created by the Paradise Heart. Shin was about to say something to hopefully distract Junius, but before he could get out a single word, a glimmering silver line was already right before his eyes.
Shin was once again pushed back by the tremendous force of Junius’ strike. It was as if he were wrestling with a bear. The only thing that Shin could do was defend and pray for the best. Physically that is…
As Junius struck his young brother, tens of rapidly swirling orbs that Shin had left behind pounced up like straight needles, violently bending the air around it to its will. Junius noticed the change a little too late and was slow to deploy the barrier that his Legendary-Grade Odachi had, enabling some of the water pillars to collide upon his body. Junius spun around in the air like a ballerina after being hit, negating the impact that he sustained and regrouping his bearings in the air.
Shin didn’t stop there. With Junius in the air, there were many more angles that he could exploit. Stretching his two arms out wide, Shin created hundreds of water spears and imbued a dense amount of mana into a destructive rotating orb. Using a simultaneous attack, Shin combined his ‘Spears of Sparta’ and ‘Meteor Shower’ together.
‘Wow… So this is how much you’ve grown.’ Junius was amused by his younger brother’s growth, but his face remained neutral. After all, the target of those gruesome attacks was none other than himself. ‘However… That’s not enough, Shin!’
The gem stuck inside of Junius’ odachi shone out like a diamond in sunlight, bringing out an invisible barrier that protected his flesh from Shin’s desperate attack. Those mighty strikes, the water attacks that destroyed thirteen Spirit Adepts in under five minutes, were basically beads of raindrops when they hit Junius’ shield. Shin’s lower lip started to bleed, and his eyes turned bloodshot. Those two strikes were the strongest that he had in his arsenal other than his fourth spiritual ability, and they barely made a scratch on the barrier created by the Spirit Armament.
“Are you going to hide behind an artefact all day?! Where’s your pride?! Where’s your honour?! Don’t you want me? Come out and get me fair and square!!!” Shin opted to play a little mind game to coerce Junius to come out from his shell. However, all that it got was a small giggle from the part of the viridian-haired man.
“Oh, Shin. Your thinking sure is adorable.” The madman laughed. “Like I told you. I’m not playing around anymore. Just be a good boy and let me knock you out. When you open your eyes, you’ll be in paradise. I assure you that.” Junius had eaten more salt than Shin did rice. He knew what the youth was trying to accomplish. So Junius wasn’t going to play into it. The Vaishya waved his right hand and torrent of dark spiritual energy burst forth like a tidal wave, pushing Shin back once more.
‘Tskkk, change of plans!!!’ Shin immediately improvised. Generating immense amounts of water, Shin spun his hands around with the motions of a rising tide and formed a rapidly spinning whirlpool around his body. At the same time, hundreds of deadly weapons appeared overhead as water tendrils and chains lead the way to protecting his body. Shin had to reunite with his team if he wanted to have any chance to deal with Junius’ impregnable barrier and to do that, he had to create a distraction. Or in this case, multiple distractions.
BANNNG!!! BANNNG!!! BANNNG!!! BANNNG!!! BANNNG!!!
Hundreds of sonic booms destroyed the peace in the cold throne chambers. The humidity of the room rose rapidly as hot, white steam burst forth from the ground. A blurry figure moved through the mayhem like a rapidly speeding stead, hoping to catch a glimpse of a greener pasture. However, not all things were meant to be. Junius took notice instantly and descended to intercept Shin like a falcon diving in on its prey. Shin spun around waywardly to avoid the plunging attack and was barely able to evade the spinning odachi.
Shin raised a high kick with a trail of water following him. It soon turned into a crescent blade that was as sharp as any weapon that Shin could create which managed to push Junius even farther away from his body. Using that momentum, Shin turned his left foot upwards and coated it with a dense water bubble. BAM!!! BAM!!! The globule burst with tremendous pressure, pushing Shin flying back to his teammates in a blink of an eye.
“Shin! Are you okay?” Kanari was the first to reappear in Shin’s vision. Her nine tails and two fluffy ears twitched while her eyes glistened with worry.
“Yeah, I’m fine… How’s the Minotaur?” Shin had no time to rest. He had to bind together with his comrades to face the Black Masks altogether if they wanted to have a chance in escaping.
“Isadore, Suji and Natasha are dealing with it. The rest of us are pushing down the number of Umbras and Black Masks. However, that Vaishya duo is causing us some headaches.” Kanari explained, her eyes shifting to the monkey man and the masochistic healer. “I caught glimpses of your fight with Junius. It looks like his barrier is negating all of your water attacks.”
“Yeah… Who knew that he would have such a dastardly artefact?!” Shin complained, gripping his Spear of Aiglos tightly. He had trained desperately in martial arts and his created water abilities. Yet, they were all negated by that one defensive barrier that Junius had.
‘If I could use the shard, maybe…’ Shin’s mind went in an unsafe direction for a brief moment but was immediately brought back by the image of Meijing Bingying. ‘No, it’s far too dangerous… Damn it! If I had known better, I would have never had assimilated with that shard!’
While Shin was still recovering, yet another wave of darkness sped right at him from Junius’ direction. Kanari’s brows knitted together while her lips trembled with red hot fury. Sending out hundreds more Auroras, Kanari created a wall of blue flames, blocking out any attack that Junius sent forward.
“Girl, you’re in my way.” Junius spat. He didn’t know Kanari, and he most definitely didn’t care. All he wanted was for Shin to come by his side. “Move or die.”
“You talk a big game, though you’re just a mere mongrel of the Black Masks.” Kanari wasn’t intimidated. In fact, she was livid that Junius continually attempted to knock Shin out right before her eyes. The young maiden cracked her knuckles as the glorious pearls on her wrist brought out a perfect sheen, rejuvenating Kanari from all sorts of fatigue.
“Shin, let’s trade. You fought with the monkey man once, I’m sure you can deal with him again. I’ll keep Junius busy until you’re done.” Everyone present knew that the top dog was Junius. His moniker as the Blade of Death was well-known throughout the Terre Continent, and it showed with the hefty bounty on his head. Kanari was taking a risk, fighting the Vaishya alone.
“Fine… However, take this…” Shin removed the amethyst pendant that hung around his neck. His palms were sweaty and his pupils shivering. It was a decision that tore him apart internally, but he knew that it was the best thing to do. Quickly placing the flawed jewel around Kanari’s milky white neck, Shin chanted a few words, infusing the pendant with a gold-cerulean light.
“That necklace has been by my side for six years now. It has been exposed to my healing mana and has been serving as my guardian faithfully. I added my own ‘heal’ into the crystal. It will protect you when you’re fighting with Junius.”
“But… This is…”
“I know…” Shin placed his index finger on Kanari’s lips. “If you somehow kill Junius, I want the pendant to be with you.” He continued to smile. “Though, I do want it back so…” Shin leaned in a gave a silent whisper, one that only the two of them could hear.
“Don’t die…” It was a wish. No, a prayer. However, only those who knew of Shin’s history understood how many emotions the man must be going through right now.
“Don’t worry…” Kanari replied as a crystal bead fell from the side of her eye. Heat waves radiated out from her body while a devastating gale spun through the flat chambers. The ten fingernails that she had were transformed into monstrous claws, and her canine teeth grew.“I won’t.”
“How touching. I guess you’re one of the girls that are aiming for my little brother’s heart, huh?” Junius scoffed at the ruby-eyed maiden.
“No, I’m not…” Kanari grasped the amethyst pendant in the same manner that Shin always did. She had observed Shin for five years now. Kanari knew how much Shin treasured this necklace, and she knew what it meant to him. So for Shin to give to her, it could only mean one thing.
“I’m the girl who has already won it.”
The ground shook, and air boomed when Kanari leapt into the air. Her two Kumiho claws were now coated with pale blue flames, and her Spirit Spectre soul enabled to reign in the skies with aerial dominance. The air around her begun to turn blurry as an illusion of a full moon began to form. Opening her ruby eyes, Kanari locked on all of her senses on the stationary Junius, who wore a smug face as usual.
‘I’ll make you pay for hurting Shin!’ Kanari declared as she unleashed her wrath.
Kanari’s lunar beam connected cleanly, this time with more force than any other Lunar Beams she discharged in her life. Clouds of dense dust smoke and heaps of molten rock flew out from Junius’ location. Everyone stopped what they were doing just to watch the aftermath. Even the illustrious Black Masks, who had fought hundreds if not thousands of battles, were holding their breath. For once in their lives, Craig and Susan feared that their boss would have perished.
Alas, nothing in life came that smoothly.
Junius had raised his odachi in a commander’s salute, kissing the hilt and bringing out the most solid barrier that he had. His happy smile had turned into a wordless frown. The light in the odachi dimmed a little, but Junius added enough mana to supplement its loss before anyone noticed it.
‘She’s dangerous.’ Junius now understood one thing. The maiden before him wasn’t a mere child that he could defeat with one stroke of his blade, but an equal that had to be taken seriously.
‘Just like another Ariel… Haha, Shin you really have outdone yourself.’ Junius chuckled internally. Though he didn’t let anything show on his exterior. Showing a moment of weakness in battle was the most rudimentary mistake a warrior could ever make. Junius took a deep breath in before lowering his knees and centring his body. Two hands on the hilt, the swordsman raised the blade above his head, ready to pounce like a panther.
Kanari was similarly taken aback. That Lunar Beam should have at least taken off a chink in Junius’ armour and yet, the Vaishya was utterly unfazed.
‘No, he’s reacting now. He’s planning to fight at close quarters.’ Kanari could tell by the shift in Junius’ stance. Though it would be in her best interests to keep firing Lunar Beams to wear the menace down, completely depleting her mana before they found a way out seemed to be a dumb thing to do. Thus, Kanari answered Junius’ gauntlet of a challenge with her own movements.
Descending to the ground, Kanari’s two hands continued to burn blue. Kanari spun around twice, creating dozens of Auroras and Foxfires, which threatened to burn the entire chambers to the ground. Junius reciprocated in kind by coating himself in an aura of darkness with the help of the Allfather’s mana.
Black versus Blue.
It was time for the two titans to collide.