Dale, alongside Lin Rakesh, Lei Bao, and three of the other Profound Hunters, led the party towards the southern gate. Seven other villagers had joined the entourage to the Great Lake City, bearing large amounts of hides and beast skins, as well as dried meat. They were quite close to the city at the moment, with the walls and site, and Dale and the rest of the Profound Beast Hunters had relaxed. Lei Fan had ran ahead with Cloud, running towards the large, open southern gate.
When Dale first saw the Great Lake City, he gasped slightly, not expecting the vibrant white walls. The walls of the city were pure white, almost glowing in their pure color. They stood what Dale guessed to be 10 meters tall, and shaped smoothly, for ease of movement by guards. The walls stretched for miles, far enough that Dale couldn’t see either end.
The land around the city had been cleared out for 100 meters, the thick trees and foliage cut down. The Great Lake that this island was famed for was to the north of the city, and something Dale intended to visit. It was said that odd creatures lived in the lake, beings that could bend water to their will, creating strange currents and mysterious patterns.
Dale watched as Lei Fan ran ahead, chasing after Cloud. He smiled, shaking his head. While he might only be 13, Dale had a very mature mind. He looked at Lei Fan like he would a younger sister or even a niece. The young girl was wild, and had grown on him over the past several weeks.
As she raced towards the entranceway of the southern gate and breezed through it, Lei Bao and Lin Rakesh exchanged concerned looks. Both of these Profound Hunters had visited Great Lake City multiple times. Each time, their would be procedural check by the guards at the gate, asking about their purpose. While it wasn’t stringent and their was no tax to enter, the guards were always present.
Now, however, the southern gate, a monstrosity of a metal contraption, stretching almost twenty meters wide, seemed to be pulled all the way up and left open, with no guards attending. There was a small crowd of people standing a few meters back from the gate, but none of them seemed to be trying to get in, and were all staring through it with interest.
Dale’s mind went on alert as he sensed the tension in the air. Abruptly, he heard the air screech as several extremely powerful attacks were exchanged just on the inside of the city. Dale’s highly attuned senses detected waves of force crashing in the air. Yet, Dale also felt as if these waves were extremely controlled, so as to not damage the surroundings.
Abruptly, Dale’s heart dropped as he realized these mighty attacks were coming from the same location Lei Fan had just dashed to. Without pausing, Dale activated his Divine Ability, Titanic Transformation and directly ran forward. When he reached the obstructing crowd, instead of trying to move them out of the way or push them aside, Dale leapt into the air, jumping over them.
“Cloooooooud get back her!” Dale heard Lei Fan call out as he soared over the crowd, the heavy chest on his back making him look rather ridiculous. He landed just south of the southern gate entrance, tapping down on the ground. His skin and body underneath his Growth Armor rippled forth with strength and power, his Titanic Transformation giving his body a boosted increase in strength. Dale could sense the difference in his transformation from before, his growth in his Titanic Sea meaning his overall strength and regeneration had increased.
As Dale landed on the ground, he got a clear view of the inside of the gate, and what was occurring past the gate.
Dale saw, in that brief moment, Lei Fan standing stock still with Cloud clutched into her arms. He saw a man dressed like a barbarian and holding on to an axe that was ridiculously large. And, he saw a cultivator that seemed as if he was made of the essence of purity itself. This cultivator wore gold and white robes, and had long, blonde hair. Power white energy emanated from this cultivator, especially concentrated on the long katana he wielded. He looked to be around eighteen years old, though it was hard for Dale to tell due to all the light glowing around him. The expert was also very tall, easily a foot and a half taller than Dale. This cultivator had just asked a question, his eyes directed at Lei Fan.
“This is your spirit animal?”
Without waiting for a response, the pure looking cultivator blurred as he stepped forward, the white light surrounding him gathering and focusing on his long katana as he yelled out,
Dale felt a strong sense of danger appear as soon as the white light surrounding the cultivator began to congregate on the long katana the man wielded. He didn’t, however, feel a significant amount of energy in the attack. At most, the energy in the attack was on par with that of a 2 Star expert. Dale activated his Shatter Steps technique, blasting himself forward to intercept the blow.
The ground where Dale had been standing shattered as the underlying forces of the world reflected back against Dale, propelling him forward. Dale accelerated at an enormously fast speed, landing just in time to stand between Lei Fan and the pure white light katana attack.
Dale hadn’t had time to draw Aarsasho, his actions forcing him to move immediately. With the help of his Perfect Balance, something Dale had kept constantly up, Dale was able to precisely manipulate his body to perfectly block the oncoming attack, using his right arm to try to knock the blow to the side.
The cultivator giving off a pure aura twitched his eyes as he saw Dale move forward, in the way of his attack. However, he didn’t change the direction of his blade strike, and instead aimed directly at Dale’s right arm.
As soon as Dale’s right arm tapped against the katana, Dale realized his mistake.
While the energy the attacking cultivator imbued into his attack wasn’t very significant, their was a quality to the attack that made it extremely difficult to dodge, and extremely strong, the pure white light. The attacking person’s sword skill was also something that vastly outstripped Dale’s own. The katana moved fluidly, its power inherently zoning in. Dale almost felt as if the blade was dancing forward.
The katana knocked against Dale’s arm and then slid around it, cutting into his Growth Armor on his wrist and striking towards Lei Fan. The attacker seemed like he was planning on ignoring Dale.
Indeed, as Dale realized his mistake, he also came to a horrifying realization. This attack wasn’t something he could block. The energy might not be strong, but the fluidity and inherent power in the attack was several levels above Dale. If Dale wanted to block the strike, he would have to sacrifice something.
Dale also knew, however, that if he didn’t stop this strike, Lei Fan would die. The small girl that he had become somewhat attached to would have her life ended here, for reasons Dale had yet to discover. This was unacceptable. As Dale’s former master had always told him, treat kindness with kindness. He could not ignore Lei Fan’s situation.
Dale was, after all, still Dale. With his Perfect Balance, the unique technique he had mastered that allowed him to be intimately aware of his body, as well as his own incomparable strength, Dale’s control of his body was something very few experts could compete with. In terms of controlling his own movements, Dale had long ago reached a master class level.
In less than a fraction of a second Dale snorted and, using his Perfect Balance, swung his entire right arm forward precisely, forcibly intercepting the katana. He didn’t have enough time to activate his Will, the extreme fraction of a second barely insufficient.
The pure white light powered long katana slammed into Dale’s right arm and shoulder, exploding the air in a shower of white sparks and light. The screech of rending metal rang out as the katana sheared through Dale’s Growth Armor and sliced directly into his arm and skin.
Under the influence of Dale’s Divine Ability, Titanic Transformation, his entire skin, body, and muscle structure transformed into one much more powerful. The very cells of his body expanded and filled with energy, then densifying to become denser and tougher. As such, Dale’s body defenses were very high. It wouldn’t be wrong to say his body alone was tougher than any armor he had worn.
When this pure white katana sliced into his arm, however, it cut through Dale’s defenses like a knife through butter.
The katana sheared through Dale’s skin and sliced into the bone of his right arm. Dale’s bones were incomparably tough, however, several times stronger than his skin. When the katana came into contact with his bone, a second explosion of white light shone out as a huge amount of the force behind the attackers strike was spent. The katana continued moving forward, however, and cut cleanly through his bone.
After it sheared through Dale’s bone, the katana completed its slash and fully cut off Dale’s right arm. Blood spattered out of the vicious wound as Dale grit his teeth in pain, ignoring the agony of where his arm used to be.
The pure cultivator’s attack continued forward. However, thanks to Dale’s sacrifice of his right arm, Dale had managed to slightly shift the aim of the extremely skillful katana strike. Instead of slicing towards Lei Fan, it now slammed into the ground three feet from her, the long katana narrowly missing the young girl. When the katana came into contact with the paved stone that lined the inside of the Great Lake City, the rocky surface exploded into shards, unable to contain the force of the attackers blow. The katana itself sunk into the earth several feet, slicing directly downward. Lei Fan was knocked backwards, flying a few feet away before landing roughly on the ground near the south entrance.
The tall, pure looking cultivator noted this irregularity, with a twitch of his eyes revealing his surprise, and began to make a motion to swiftly bring his katana up and continue his attack. At that exact moment, however, Dale’s counter attack arrived.
When the attacking cultivator sheared through Dale’s right arm, Dale had not stood still watching. Instead, Dale had grasped onto the power of his Will, the sense of authority and power rushing into him. A sense of just anger filled Dale as well, a terrible, powerful feeling that colored his eyes red. His anger for the attacking cultivator had reached untold heights. For such a pure looking expert to attack an innocent young girl like Lei Fan, Dale could only assume he was an evil, murdering bandit of some type. As such, Dale went all out to defeat the attacker. He held his last resort, Laozi’s Gaze, ready just in case.
When Dale grasped onto his Will, he immediately commanded his left arm to change. He forcibly redoubled his arm’s defensive properties, and shifted the skin on his arm, thickening the callus on his left fist. Dale hadn’t had time to prepare and grab onto his Will when the cultivator attacked initially, or he would have modified his right arm as well, to make it stronger defensively.
As Dale’s left fist transformed, it took on the appearance of a jagged, stone fist. Small spikes formed where his knuckles stood, and his entire first expanded. The Growth Armor gauntlets he wore expanded with his fist, perfectly matching his body.
All of this took time to describe, but in reality happened in an instant. As soon as Dale blocked the pure cultivator’s strike with his katana at the cost of his right arm, he struck out with his left.
Dale’s reinforced arm punched out with the full force that Dale could unleash. Because his right arm had been used to redirect the katana strike, Dale hadn’t used much of his energy in blocking it. Thus, he was able to fully focus on his counterattack after successfully deflecting the katana strike away from Lei Fan.
Dale’s strike was brutal and crude, but perfectly aimed. While Dale’s technique might be untrained, his control over his body was something he held faith in. In terms of reaction speed and strength, Dale felt he was unrivaled for those his age, if he was able to make full use of his abilities.
Dale’s fist slammed into the pure looking cultivator’s right side. The gauntlets on Dale’s left fist shattered, the force between Dale’s blow and the powerful, defensive robes the white and gold robed cultivator wore too significant.
The pure looking cultivator was thrown backwards, flying a dozen meters through the air before he struck down. In order to stop himself from flying backwards, the pure looking cultivator slammed his right leg down into the ground, instantly stopping his motion. The delicate looking cultivator then turned to focus back on Dale, letting out a quiet scream of rage and frustration. He seemed little worse for wear, the only indication that he took any damage at all being that he seemed to be favoring his left side as he stalked forward.
Dale, on the hand, had fallen to his knees, gasping. In that strike he had imbued all the strength in his body, letting loose with a punch holding more than a million pounds of force. When his fist collided with the gold and white robes the tall cultivator wore, however, his knuckles, enhanced by his Will and Divine Ability, Titanic Transformation, had cracked, though not shattered. His punch wasn’t weak by any means, and was at least as strong as the full powered attack of a strong 3 Star Expert, stronger still if one considered Dale’s Will enhancements. Simply, the defensive abilities of the gold and white robes this cultivator wore were a bit too ridiculous. Dale had expected to directly break several of the cultivator’s bones, but instead had merely knocked the attacker back a little bit. As he wobbled, the damage from his right arm began to take its toll on Dale, blood loss affecting him.
With a savage grunt, Dale forcibly flexed the remaining muscles on his torn right shoulder, sealing off the wounded veins. He felt himself damage his right shoulder significantly with the move, bones and flesh grinding against each other. However, his movement worked, and he stopped feeling as if he was about to faint. He readied himself to receive the pure looking cultivator, bringing his sole arm up in front of him. A savage light gleamed in Dale’s eye as his Titanic Sea throbbed in him, inherited memories of past life and death battles glowing within.
Before the pure looking cultivator could attack Dale, however, a figure blurred in between Dale and his attacker, slamming down an enormous great axe.
“Tian Shou! I have decided to defend this little brother for his bravery today! If you would kill him, you will have to kill me as well!” The barbaric looking cultivator gave Dale a thumbs up behind his back while he yelled out loudly at the pure looking cultivator. A tangible Aura of fire began to spring up around the barbaric looking cultivator, burning the air itself.
“Gorgth! You dare step between me and the ones who have dared to humiliate me?! You dare?! Today will be your last, savage trash!” The pure looking cultivator stepped towards the barbaric looking cultivator, brining his long katana up into the air. The pure white light that was constantly flowing around him gathered in the cultivator’s sword again. This time, however, the light formed a blade of its own, stretching nearly four meters in the air off the tip of the long katana.
Gorgth, the barbaric looking cultivator that had stepped forward to intercept Tian Shou, smiled with glee. A happy light gleamed in his eyes as he gathered the fire that floated around him to concentrate on the ridiculously large great axe he wielded. The cultivator seemed almost happy that Tian Shou was seriously attacking him.
The air between these two cultivators grew heavy as powerful waves of force appeared. The fire spawning on Gorgth’s great axe grew hotter and hotter, while the concentration of white light on Tian Shou’s long katana grew brighter and brighter. Both fighters looked at each other intensely, hatred appearing in both of their eyes.
Before either of the two could attack, however, an unexplainably loud and regal voice shouted out,
“CEASE THIS AT ONCE! HOW DARE YOU SQUABBLE LIKE CHILDREN IN MY GREAT LAKE CITY!”