Nine Paths Of Asura Chapter 47


47 Heavenly Grind
Lineir stared at the battlefield littered with corpses and ruined constructs. The bodies were full of cores and various sect treasures! He began to collect the spoils but soon found his hands full. Staring desolately at the countless prizes lying in front of him, he began to sigh, ready to begin sorting so as to take only the best of what he could carry.

"Kiddo, relax, I can sense something good about a quarter on the way in. On that Patriarch's body over there. Go over and search him first!"

Lineir ran over, dropping what was in his hands and quickly searched the body.

"On his finger, that ring, take it! It's a spacial ring!" Lineir sighed in wonder, Mei was absolutely correct. As soon as he touched it, he could feel that the ring was not ordinary. It seemed to have a weighty presence to it, like it took up more space than it really did.

"Go ahead, drip some blood on it, the Patriarch won't be needing it, see what's inside!" Mei urged Lineir, and he quickly obeyed.

Inside were several treasures, though most were nowhere near as high quality as the ones on the ground outside. Everyone had brought out their strongest treasures in hopes of saving their lives in this final battle. On the ground, some top notch treasures were there, though most had been crushed or burned through extreme use during the battle.

"Kiddo, there are five more rings lying around. Gather them up, then begin looking for treasures. You don't have enough space for much, just gather up the cores, and any top notch treasures which aren't ruined. I'm afraid you won't find many, everyone used forbidden arts and sacrificed their cultivation and items before they died. What's left are likely just shells. At the end, Mei's words were true, and there wasn't really anything good left over in treasures. However, the number of cores was enormous, and took up much of the space in the spacial rings. Each of the cores was uniform, and all were of the same rank. 257 eighth tier cores. Lineir was practically salivating at the thought of them, though they were not of much use to his cultivation until he improved his techniques more. Just one eighth tier core could move a kingdom. 257 was a number which no greater sect could hope to match, and even the entire forces of all the sects on the continent would have trouble producing so many. This wasn't even necessarily a problem of power, even if there were people to hunt high level magical beasts, ones that strong were in terrible places which most didn't dare enter, and they were tricky to find and catch. At that level, most beasts had begun to gain intelligence and were crafty. Once they sensed something was off, they would not come out and thus catching a large number was impossible. A treasure trove of 257... Lineir could be said to be holding the greatest single collection of high level monster cores in the continent at the moment. Only some insanely powerful forces which remained out of the public eye might have some comparable stockpiles, but they rarely surfaced, focusing on closed door cultivation. Lineir was in essence... rich! Stinking rich!


Of the treasures he looked through, almost all were burnt out or uninteresting. It could be said that the greater sects really went all out before they died. Life saving treasures, damaging treasures, soul depleting treasures, everything under the sun was used to try to battle the golems or escape. However, he did manage to pick out a few lesser talismans inside the spacial rings, and there was a cracked phoenix crest which held a strange aura that Mei insisted he keep. Almost everything else was weapons, and broken as they were, Lineir had no interest in them. They took up too much space and he already had a far better weapon. Pondering what to do now, a great shaking came and the ground swept out from under his feet.

Rumble, rumble, rumble, crack, crack, crack.

Lineir fell over as the entire pillar seemed to shift and turn.

"What is happening! Mei, I thought you said that this pillar could survive a disaster of the Heavens!' Lineir was rolled sideways as the pillar moved faster than his body could keep up.

"Kiddo, I said it would survive anything short of a disaster of the Heavens. Take a look at the sky. Looks like a disaster is coming!" It was indeed, as Mei said. When Lineir glanced up, the cloudy veil above was swirling about in a great vortex of divine wind. Inside, the blue sky was riven into shards by white cracks of blinding light. He rolled on the pillar as it shifted and realized that the pillar was moving in time with the vortex. It was as if the sky was a huge ocean, and the pillar was stirring it up. In minutes, the pillar finished shifting, and the rumbling stopped, though the horrific cracking noises continued.

"By the nine Hells...what is this!" Lineir tried to get a grasp as to what was going on. He had rolled towards the outside of the pillar, which means it had shifted inwards on itself. Finding himself near the edge and open sky, he looked over and gasped.

"The gods...they've gone mad." Above, the sky was cracking so much that it was like shattered glass, a mirror smashed to pieces. Mei suddenly cried out,

"The pillar, look down!" Lineir looked down, and experienced a sense of vertigo as well as an even greater shock.

"Impossible!" The entire pillar had curved in itself. What had once been extremely wide concentric rings, were now narrow and thin, banded about. From behind him, in the middle of the rings, what had once been open space between the rings was now a solid cylinder, piercing the Heavens. It was as if the pillar had turned into a giant screw, and he was standing in the grooves. Suddenly from above, a great breaking noise came.

"It's breaking apart?" Lineir questioningly stood there for a second, and then as the true implication of what was happening came to him, the red haze of madness came as he realized he was in mortal danger. The uppermost section above the clouds had literally exploded, shattered chunks of rock blasting out across the land. Lineir felt the cracking noises increase as section after section exploded, working its way down. The top 10% of the pillar was simply gone!

"Disciple, we need to go, now!" Mei told Lineir, but in doing so, she asked the unspoken question between the two of them... how? There was no way they could back down to the first level and out the way they came. Similarly, they were high above the ground, so high that to fall from here would simply be a good way to appreciate the view before plummeting straight to the Hells. How could they escape?

CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK

Another 10% gone, Lineir craned his neck up and observed for anything, anything at all that might let him find a way out of this. It was a hopeless situation, these events were far bigger than mortals, it was like an ant trying to avoid the steps of giants, it could watch all it liked, but once below the foot, it could only be crushed. Still, Lineir's path was to survive, any way possible! In madness, time slowed down and he observed, the grooved rings exploding outward first, and then the pillar within, cracks seaming down the smooth rock, crumbling away. Rocks rained by in slow motion, and Lineir was forced to dodge a few which had not been blasted far enough out from the pillar.

"I will not die! I refuse to die just because the Heaven's do not give me a way!" Lineir was shouting out in frustration, huge chunks of rock, actually just small pieces of the grooves above were splashing down next to him, and he would dodge them and continue to observe the explosion which was still coming. Now the top 70% of the pillar was gone. Lineir howled madly, screaming his rage out.

"Not yet, not yet, this is not fair, this is unfair, this is not justice, this is injustice, this is not right, it is just inane right! Why should my end be decided by ones who do not know me!" As he spoke, his words grew more and more twisted, and at the end, his face turned from anger to a rictus of madness. Red characters seeped up and wrote themselves before his eyes, they rolled about and scripture came.

"The Heaven's give themselves the right. To allow this is to accept the chains of fate. Chains placed on birth, undeserved! Chains placed on us, unfair! Chains placed on anyone, insane! That is madness, it is forced on us when we are yet unable to understand words! Resist, fight back, find your freedom! You are almost there, see what madness truly is!"

The raging red words flowed back into the haze and Lineir's vision slowed even more as the red haze became even darker. Now the rocks were falling as slow as feathers, he was removed from time, observing, making ready for his move. 50% of the pillar gone, soon he on the first 10% would face destruction. There was no way out. But he could not die. He would not die! Madness flowed in his heart, and the red blood in his chest boiled and frothed with overlapping waves. He felt as if all this emotion was spilling out from him, infinitely fast, expanding like the creation of a new universe, unimagineably fast, though outside the world was so, so slow.

"40% of the pillar left, and I'm on the first 10%. Time's running out. Where is it, what is the way out, I do not believe the Heaven's cannot be denied!"

The boiling his veins reached critical, and he felt himself withdrawing in, the outside world slowing to an absolute crawl. In his mind, he saw himself walking a dark path, filled with the unseen, no the unseeable! It was darker than black, a maze of nothingness in which he walked, and he could not see anything. However, with every step, he could hear a matching step to his, in lockstep, it followed. Infinitely, he walked, and infinitely the footsteps followed him.

"Do you see yet?"

He kept walking. Forever and ever he walked, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, ever the steps ringing behind him, stalking him, behind him, BEING with him. He could never shake them.

"Kiddo, 30% of the pillar is left, you've only got 20% left to make your move, move it!" Mei's voice intruded, but was overshadowed by the infinite whisper,

"Do you see yet??"

Steps following, he could not outrun them, they just followed! What was it? What was following him in this maze of nothingness. What horrible monstrosity had trapped him in this cage of darkness so that it might stalk him without being seen?

"20% kiddo, now or never!!! Don't give up on me!"

"Do you see yet???"

Lineir stopped walking. The steps stopped. A second after he did. He turned. Darkness. He turned again. And again. And again. And again.

"I don't see anything!"

A deep chuckling and then,

"Of course you don't."

A light flicked on. Lineir looked around, walls surrounded him, reflecting infinite versions of him. Mirrors of himself everywhere, yet as he took a step, he saw only himself and his shadow.

Step...Step...Step...

His shadow was the only thing following him. Nothing else.

"DO YOU SEE YET!"

Lineir stared and saw nothing but his shadow. Then he sighed. Of course that was it. What was always with him. Impossible to catch, side by side with him at all times, at his back, in front, no matter how you turn, it will always be there. In the darkness it follows, it waits with you, and it steps behind you. In the light, when the truth is shown from outside, only then can you see it, following.

"I see it!"

"Good. Inside you, always with you, from the moment you exist, the chains of fate were placed on you, you created it. Madness, the unspoken. It is the subservience, the acceptance inside you which agrees to the laws made by others. Made by those who said they had the right. Who made themselves the right. Made you believe... YOU WERE WRONG!"

Lineir's eyes snapped open as he felt his blood settle in his heart. The crimson tide surged, but this time, it surged with him, carrying him back into the outside world. Huge chunks of rock flew down, and he realized that death was almost upon him. The unknowing judgement of the Heavens, that unfair, unintentional disaster, was almost upon him!

"KIDDDO!" Mei shrieked in despair. Time was up.

Lineir saw the pattern, he saw the hole in the Heaven's plans. His despair lifted and freedom descended. He was not going to bow down and be crushed today. Turning away from the edge, he ran in. Past the broken looted bodies of golems and men, past the battlefield, he ran as he had never ran before. The full power of his cultivation came to bear and the spin of his Raging Storm Second Heart whirled at full speed. He ran for the newly created solid cylinder, the inner pillar! However, as he went, a weight suddenly sprang onto his back, and he fell, face plowing into the rocks, bloodied.

"Can't fly! But if I'm going to die, You're coming with me!" The dragon girl! She was clinging to Lineir's back. As she said those words, her eyes closed, and her arms tightened in a death grip around Lineir's neck. He shook, but she didn't budge, even unconscious her strength was immense! Lineir thought it over for a split second. She must have transformed into human form after suffering the combined attack of the sects. But that didn't matter now. What mattered was getting to the inner pillar.

"I will not die. The Heaven's can place any amount of weight on me. The only thing I will ever say is not enough!" He got up, and began running, the Dragon girl tightly wrapped on his back. Face and forearms streaming blood, he left a dripping trail on the path behind him. But he did not stop! As the grooved ring on the level above shattered and exploded above, white light from the splitting sky shined down onto him.

"Not yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

His vision wreathed in red, he stared ahead at the inner pillar, coming ever closer. Above, the inner pillar of the upper level also broke, cracking down. Behind him, the ground started to shatter as the grooved ring broke off from the outside in. The crumbling ground came ever closer, but Lineir kept running, the girl on his back locked to him, a shared fate.

"Kiddo, what's the plan here, the outer ring is already crumbling, and so too will this inner pillar, you're going to fall, how will you slow yourself down!" Lineir kept running without answering. Finally, he reached the end, vision pulsing.

"Made it." He said. Then he whispered the words which would deny fate, deny sense, deny death!

"Mei, I'm not going to slow us down. You will!"

So saying, he slammed the black sword, which could deny the Heaven's with a will which did deny the Heavens, into the central inner pillar. Mei, seeing this, sharpened the blade to maximum, and it easily slid into the rock. The outer ring collapsed and Lineir's legs dangled in the air as the only thing which supported him was this blade stuck into the inner pillar which was beginning to crack. The blade, sharp enough to cut dimensions, began to slide through the rock as if it was water, and Lineir began to fall down the pillar. Moments after he passed, the path of his passing would shatter as the pillar crumbled and below the grooved outer rings would crack and crumble instants before he passed by. There he went, man defying the Heavens with a girl on his back and a sword in the pillar, grinding the pillar of the Heavens.

Down, down, down, the blade slowed his descent ever so slightly, and he dropped out of the sky, a man riding disaster. His arm muscles burned from holding onto the black blade which was slowing him down and keeping him from falling faster and faster to his death. Mei yelled out,

"Too fast, don't let go!" as she decreased the sharpness of the blade, the resistance increased slightly and the sky and land began to merge back into a single picture as the fall slowed. Lineir laughed and laughed endlessly as the wind rushed by. This was madness! This was to defy the Heavens! This was to fall from the Heavens! But it was so, so very fun!
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