(Bonus chapters left: 1)
Dale spread his Perfect Balance to its limit, feeling it cover everywhere within roughly two feet of his body. While he did this, he used his Will to strengthen his senses to the maximum.
Right now, Dale was aware that his movement speed could not compare to this Yellow Thunder Beast. It was able to physically move faster than his eyes could perceive. This wasn’t something he could compete with.
In terms of attack speed, Dale’s attacks were much faster than his movement speed. Despite that, he was still slower at attacking than the Yellow Thunder Beast.
However, if he focused entirely on defense, by using his Perfect Balance to pinpoint the incoming attack, Dale figured he might find a opportunity to let loose with a counterattack. He came up with this plan mid fight, as he came to understand the creature’s weird attack style.
Dale held his hands outward from his body, his slightly less black right arm swaying gently to his right, his left arm moving slowly on his left.
A second went by. Then another. Dale held his breathing steady, his senses on high alert. The sounds of the world outside of his awareness faded as he focused himself entirely on the area around him. A bead of sweat slowly dripped down his forehead.
Dale felt an intrusion into his Perfect Balance, coming from directly in front of him.
Keeping his eyes closed, Dale reacted instantly. His vision would only prove detrimental in trying to see through the attacks of the beast. Instead, he relied on his Perfect Balance to pinpoint the attack. He then moved his left arm forward to intercept the attack and try to create an opening. He was a little surprised, however. All the previous attacks had usually hit him from behind.
As his left hand streaked forward, his hardened fist curling tightly, Dale felt a second intrusion into his Perfect Balance, from behind. His closed eyes twitched in greater confusion, but he responded to this second attack as well, moving his right arm behind him in a sweeping motion.
Dale’s Perfect Balance gave him a detailed understanding of everything in its area of control. However, that was considering if he was given time to scan with it. A fast moving attack like the ones he was being targeted with, while he could detect the motions and movements of the attack, he still required some amount of time to fully examine and gain knowledge of the attack. Thus, while he would be able to react and dodge an attack, he wouldn’t instantly know exactly what was targeting him unless he had a few moments to fully concentrate on it. At this moment in time, both attacks aimed at him were blurry in his Perfect Balance vision.
Dale’s left fist collided with the first attack. As soon as it did, Dale became aware of the attack, the blurriness fading.
His left fist knocked the first attack to the side. As it collided, Dale realized that this wasn’t the arm of the Yellow Thunder Beast, charging with its electric attack, but instead, an arrow that was filled with a type of energy. The energy in the attack was weaker than the Yellow Thunder Beast’s attacks, but still significant. As soon as Dale’s left fist knocked the arrow aside, the energy struck out at him, burning his left hand with a small explosion of fire and knocking him off balance.
A bare second after this attack, Dale’s right fist connected with the attack that was hitting him from behind. As his right fist slammed forward and intercepted the attack, he also kicked out with his right leg, connecting with the Yellow Thunder Beast.
Electricity exploded behind Dale’s back, shocking his right hand and setting off a small explosion of lightning. This was the strongest shock Dale had received yet, and this one actually managed to damage through his skin, searing some of the muscles and ligaments in his right hand.
Because Dale had been thrown off balance by the arrow attack, he was unable to properly respond and deflect the incoming attack from the Yellow Thunder Beast. Despite that, he still managed to deflect enough of it that the damage he took, while relatively serious, was still negligible. Even as his body crashed through the air, his right fist was already regenerating, drawing energy from his Titanic Sea.
Dale landed hard. He felt his ribs creak as he hit the ground chest first, rolling and tumbling in a rough ball. As he rolled and tumbled, he once more felt an intrusion into his Perfect Balance, the sphere of awareness around him vibrating as something entered its range.
Without giving himself time to angle his body properly, Dale flung out his left hand in front of his tumbling body, directly intercepting whatever was coming his way. He also activated his Shatter Steps technique off the ground, blasting himself into the air.
Dale felt a stinging sensation in his hand as a small grey knife pierced into his left. It sank a full two centimeters before stopping, unable to pierce any farther. An orange light flashed around the knife and it exploded into shards of metal, withdrawing from Dale’s hand in a rush. The orange light, however, swarmed into the cut that had formed on Dale’s hand. It gave off a poisonous feeling.
Dale, meanwhile, was now more than a dozen meters in the air, tumbling. He rapidly gained control of his spin and slowed himself. As he fell, he sensed a strange feeling emanating from his left hand.
The wound caused by the knife that had slammed into him was rapidly healing, the damage it dealt not permanent. However, upon impact, the blade had released a strange orange energy that invaded his hand. Dale could feel this energy slowly working its way towards his heart, slowly burning his body from the inside.
Instantly, Dale exploded outward with the power of his Divine Ability, Titanic Transformation, drawing extremely harshly from the energy in his Titanic Sea. He used his Will to focus all of his Titanic Energy on the flush orange energy that was invading his body.
This orange energy, while virile and poisonous, was no match for Dale’s Titanic Energy, and was almost instantaneously snuffed out.
Dale then let go of a great deal of that energy, going back to simply maintaining his Titanic Transformation.
Dale landed on the ground, falling to a knee before standing up at the force of his landing cracked the earth beneath him. He felt his body regenerate from the damage he took, the knife wound and damage from the poison on his left hand as well as the searing burn damage he had taken from the electrical attack on his right hand.
Despite that, Dale grinned as he looked up, elated.
“Haha! Finally got you!” Dale grinned happily as he looked towards where the Yellow Thunder Beast stood, between him and the Great Lake City.
The Yellow Thunder Beast was obviously leaning on one leg, its right arm massaging its left leg. The yellow fur that covered its leg was pressed down, a result from Dale’s violent kick.
For, when the Yellow Thunder Beast was attacking Dale, Dale had not only blocked the Yellow Thunder Beast’s attack with some degree of success, but also landed an attack of his own. His strategy to bait the creature into attacking him and then responding had gone well. It would have gone perfectly if not for the interference he had received.
Dale had launched a powerful right kick, putting all of his strength behind it. A leg was traditionally stronger than an arm, and Dale’s legs followed this pattern. While a proper punch from Dale could unleash, in his transformed and enhanced state, around a million and a half pounds of force, a kick from Dale could unleash slightly more force than that.
To take a full strength kick from Dale without proper preparation was tantamount to suicide.
The Yellow Thunder Beast let out a piercing shriek, its bird-like beak stretching open to reveal dozens of sharp and deadly teeth. The electrical aura that had gathered around it suddenly exploded forth in a sharp crescendo as an enormous ball of fire slammed into the creature.
Dale jumped backwards, avoiding the brunt of the explosion. Flame and lightning mixed together in a chaotic array as a huge explosion shook in front of Dale. It kicked up a storm of steam, smoke, and dust that covered the area.
“HAHAHA KEEP IT STILL LADS!”
Gorgth’s familiar voice shook the air as he descended out of nowhere, raw fire rolling around him in waves. The imitation natural energy that he controlled covered his body, enhancing it. He didn’t, however, have his massive greataxe that he usually wielded, Dale noted.
Dale looked past Gorgth, seeing several other Profound Beast Hunters following the man from the city. There were easily several dozen other experts here, giving off the Auras of a 1 Star expert or stronger. Several of them were travelers that had been at the Donden Auction House, joining in on the excitement, while others were the Profound Beast Hunters that had been called in from other villages. He recognized the Watch Commander, Bei Bron, the leader of the City’s defense force in this group as well. Several of the city guards joined the mass of cultivators, rushing out towards the Yellow Thunder Beast.
“I’ve got a trace on it! We can follow it now!” Watch Commander Bei Bron yelled out, his hands fluttering in the air. A small red line ran from these fluttering hands, down towards the middle of the dust cloud that had formed in the air. The guards and cultivators around him all began smiling, staring intently at the cloud of dust.
This line of red suddenly jerked, and was pulled off to the left, away from the city and towards the mountainous region. Dale watched as the Yellow Thunder Beast emerged from the cloud of dust, fleeing at an incredibly fast speed.
Dale blinked, however. He could see it! When the beast had originally been fighting, it had moved at a speed that was too quick for his eyes to discern. Now, however, while its speed was still great, it was visible! Dale instantly came to the conclusion that his kick had injured the beast’s leg sufficiently to slow it down.
Almost as one, the group of city guards and Profound Beast Hunters, as well as Gorgth, brandishing his powerful flame technique, moved after the Yellow Thunder Beast, chasing the red line of light. Dale immediately gave chase as well, feeling his hands begin to regenerate. He checked the size of his Titanic Sea, noting that it was about two thirds empty. While he still had enough energy to fight and chase, he would have to retreat soon.
A few moments prior, on the Great Lake
An elderly man with a lined face sat on a small wooden boat. He had long white hair and an equally long white bear, sprayed across the simple white shirt he wore. His brown trousers were stained from the water splashing around him, but the elderly man didn’t seem to mind. He wielded a long fishing rod that he was currently fishing with, casting the line out far into the lake.
The lake around this man was peaceful, with small waves rocking back and forth. For miles around, all one could see was the lake, splendid crystal blue water that sloshed back and forth. The only indication that there was land anywhere at all were the large mountains to the south west. A gentle breeze brushed past the elderly man, bringing forth the fresh smell of the water.
The tranquility of the moment was like a breath of fresh air.
That moment, however, fell apart as a second figure appeared, floating in the air above the elderly man.
“My, my. To think the infamous Ten Thousand Tonne Book Emperor, Reginald Yingavinson, the Scourge of the Rakesh Empire, the slayer of the Ice Ghoul King, the Redeemer of the Gale Peak Knights, had fallen so far, it is no wonder you have remained hidden from the world for so long.”
A man wearing a sharply tucked black suit and coat, with a mellow grey colored tie floated in the air, looking down on the elderly fisherman. A crystal necklace in the shape of a cross was the only jewelry adorning this man, a necklace that floated in the air with the man as he slowly descended, setting foot on the waters of the lake. The man groomed his black hair back and adjusted his glasses as he double-checked the identity of the man before him in disbelief.
The elderly man turned slowly to face the sharply dressed cultivator in front of him, his lined face moving precisely. He gave the well-dressed expert a nod.
“Admiral Saron. What an unexpected… surprise. I would think the Donden Merchant Company would have a better use for one of its four esteemed Admirals then to bend knee to the lackeys of the Kingdom of Charade.”
The man Dale knew of as Doctor Saron laughed, using his hand to smooth down his mustache and beard.
“My, my. Remarkably well informed for one in your condition. Well, you’re not wrong. It doesn’t exactly sit well with me, but where the Head commands, the hands must follow.”
The elderly fisherman nodded, giving away nothing as he cast out his line again. The lake water brushed back and forth slowly. A few minutes passed by in silence as Doctor Saron stood there, examining the old man, while the old man fished peacefully. White light flashed around the Doctor as he drew upon the same power he used to examine Dale’s body.
“What happened to you?”
Doctor Saron broke the silence, nodding at the elderly fisherman.
“You were a peak 7th Star Cultivator, a mere half step from surpassing the 7th Star and achieving the 8th. Even I have yet to achieve the same level of cultivation as you did. Yet… your current state, hmph I would be surprised if you could even be considered a peak 5th Star cultivator. You are a hundred times weaker than you used to be.” Disdain filled Doctor Saron’s tone when he mentioned the words 5th Star, as if it was nothing. The Doctor continued to speak.
The elderly fisherman reeled his line in, slowing picking up the hook and checking it. After examining it for a moment, he cast out his line, and turned to face the Doctor.
“That is your other specialty, isn’t it? You are a doctor, after all. I suppose my condition is no secret.” The elderly man nodded, scrubbing his face with his hands as he set the fishing rod down.
Doctor Saron responded,
“I have no grudge with you, Reginald. I am only here to seek out Gregor Bailong Shen, the Blood Rendin-… Ah. Right. The two of you were friends, weren’t you? You were all members of that group, what was it, the ‘Last Lee Kents Alliance?’”
“The Last Defense Alliance.” The elderly man smiled, a sad gleam appearing in his eyes.
“Last Defense Alliance, huh. Quite the hubbub came about when y’all announced that. Then you all disappeared, vanishing, until a few years ago, when the infamous Shen ransacked the Royal Vault, stealing multiple treasures. The rest of your members, however, have remained in the shadows, never heard from again.” Doctor Saron’s voice became excited as he spoke, his red eyes gleaming.
“Have you all fallen to the state you are now? What happened? What was the mysterious reason you and the other seven founded that alliance for?” The Doctor stared at the elderly man expectantly, a small smile on his face.
A few tense moments passed, as the elderly man looked at the Doctor, his old eyes wavering. After a moment, he seemed to relax. He reeled his fishing rod back in again and tied the hook up, not casting it out.
“It couldn’t hurt to tell you. It is something this world must prepare to defend against, and the Donden Merchant Company’s preparations could only help. However, I implore you to keep this a secret. The spread of their existence will only lead to the deaths of those who know.”
“It is a tale of an incredibly dangerous race of creatures, creatures that call themselves Reavers.”
Just as the City Lord was about to continue speaking, a loud explosion shook the air, coming from the south. Red flames and yellow lightning mixed together and shot into the air, sending out a shockwave.
The elderly fisherman’s eyes opened wide, and, without another moment passing, the man leapt up from his boat, swinging his fishing rod into the air. Immediately, the hook and line blasted out, sending out through the air at an incredible speed. A moment after this, the elderly fisherman’s body disappeared in a jerking motion as he hurtled forward towards the south at an incredibly fast speed.