Konrad stretched out his hand, summoning his energy war hammer. Revolving his Hundred Flowers Scripture to the extreme, dazzling white-purple light swirled around his form as he flew toward the Stolas Beast.
Nils tapped into his light attribute to envelop herself in the same white-purple force. Her speed skyrocketed, surpassing all she could accomplish with her wind and lightning attributes.
Their eyes burned with the same fighting intent, and although separated by a distance, they were of one mind.
Surprised by Konrad's sudden breakthrough, the Stolas Beast's large green eyes shone with puzzlement. However, it quickly shrugged off any rising apprehension. Even with that increase of strength, could they contend with him?
"You are merely delaying the inevitable."
It spread its wings, and dark-green fog descended from the clouded sky to enshroud them. It then turned into a green beam and shot toward Konrad.
Konrad had always been its primary target. Nils was just extra. Its thirst for his bloodline drove its every action.
The fog surrounding its wings corroded the air, turning every spot in its wake into a poisonous zone. Breathing in such a gas would be lethal for most people below the Arch Rank. As for those of the Arch Rank, they would feel a rapid loss of strength and see their bodies wither until they no longer possessed the power and will to resist.
Unfortunately for it, it wasn't facing ordinary people.
"Anzu Beast Manifestation!"
Behind Konrad, the tall, illusory form of a lion-headed eagle appeared. It was a manifestation of the Transcendent-level Anzu Beast Totem he absorbed. Thanks to the totem, he could resist any blow beneath the Transcendent Rank and possessed the Anzu Beast's three attributes. Fire, water, and storm.
However, his cultivation was insufficient to make use of them and fully control the power of the Anzu Beast Physique. Still, it was now more than enough to release a part of the totem's power for a short time.
In its life, that Anzu Beast was at the mid-level of the Accursed Beast Rank and could look down on this low-level Stolas Accursed Beast.
Even in death, its power wasn't to be underestimated.
The illusory Anzu Beast spread its wings; a conflagration rose from its left, a tidal wave from its right, and from its beak, a terrifying storm flew, and all three forces soared toward the Stolas Beast.
"How could this be?"
Taken off-guard, the Stolas Beast couldn't respond in time. The conflagration, tidal wave, and storm crashed into it and sent it reeling mid-flight.
As if aware of Konrad's move before he made it, Nils was already waiting for the Stolas Beast's failure. She didn't waste the opportunity and hacked at its neck with her wind and thunder sword.
The Stolas Beast roared and flung its battered wing at Nils' swords.
As if metal composed its feathers, the wing met Nils' swords in a ringing boom and propelled her backward from the impact.
But the Accursed Beast wasn't given any time to breathe. Konrad was already upon it with his hammer brandished and the Anzu Beast Totem empowering and protecting him.
He brought his hammer down in a crushing blow that forced the Stolas Beast back from the impact.
Sharing Konrad's light attribute, the duo turned into dozens of afterimages that delivered blows upon blows on the retreating Accursed Beast. Oppressed, it could only keep going backward.
"Hateful! Have they been trained as a duo from the womb? How could their coordination reach such a level?"
It didn't feel like it was fighting one person. Instead, it was getting the feeling that dozens of individuals united in a battle formation were upon it and spotting any weakness within its guard.
And unbeknown to it, the Stolas Beast was quite close to the truth. Thanks to their spiritual connection, Konrad and Nils weren't just two people. Instead, they were two overlapping forces, and the result was several folds what they could have accomplished together was the connection not present.
Better, Konrad's Origin Sight allowed him to draw a pattern of the demonic beast's moves, and as the fight went on, every single flaw and habit within its fighting form was becoming evident to the both of them.
Because people beneath the Transcendent Rank couldn't fly (unless they possessed some special skills allowing them to do so), the duo would return to the ground, in small intervals, before leaping higher to hack at the beast.
Although that inconvenience allowed it some breathing space, at this rate, it was bound to get slaughtered.
"I didn't think I would have to go this far for two toddlers. Fourth Circle Spell: Mystical Essence Poisoning Ring!"
The Stolas Beast opened its beak, four green circles appeared by its side and coalesced into a dark-green dome that encircled the three of them.
Poisonous force spread from within the dome dived into the duo's pores and infiltrated their bodies.
There were several poisons at play. A poison to cause pain and paralysis, a poison to cause flesh withering and bone-melting, and a poison to cause hallucinations.
Konrad was well equipped against the problems of the mind. However, when it came to physical poisons, it was a whole other matter. Incubi had no extra defense against such venoms.
The Anzu Beast Totem's power wasn't enough to resist, and he was quickly falling prey to the Stolas Beast's poison spell.
On the contrary, although her situation was still troublesome, Nils was having a much easier time. As a Pureblooded Paragon Spirit, she possessed innate purification abilities that allowed her to resist such poisons. However, her cultivation was after all insufficient. Thus, although she could suppress the toxins, she could barely move.
Only by releasing his lineage weapon could Konrad reverse the situation. But if he did so, after the battle, he would be forced to modify Nils' memories. And for some reason, he found the thought frustrating.
However, Nils who felt his frustration, unease, and decaying body, had different plans.
Without hesitation, she mustered all her strength to float toward Konrad and press her hands against his chest.
She said nothing, but with their united minds, he felt everything.
"Don't worry, I won't let anything happen to you."
"You can count on me!"
Those were the words that sprang from her mind and echoed within his. Her mind was fairly simple. Since they were comrades in arms, he was her responsibility as much as she was his.
And since she owed him her life, she had to give it her all to ensure his survival.
Those were her principles.
Within her, Konrad didn't find the usual selfishness that defined all creatures. Or perhaps selflessness was her kind of selfishness? In any case, it was a rare, disturbing sight.
She felt his puzzlement which caused her lips to curl into a radiant smile.
"Don't be so surprised. I know that although you are a terrible person, even you have your selfless moments.
That being the case, how could I as a genuine, good person not be better?
Hopefully, you can break free of that dome and carry both of us to safety.
If you can't, I must say that being one with you was both the most frightening and most mesmerizing moment of my life. I never knew a scoundrel's mind could be this complex and entertaining.
It almost makes me want to forget myself and wish to forever be one with you.
One in mind, one in heart, one in soul."
Her True Spirit energy flew into his body and suppressed the toxins. Blood streaked down her lips, and her face turned to a deathly pale, but still, her radiant smile remained.
And as the last ounce of poison was purified, she lost all strength and passed out within Konrad's arms.
His face showed no expression, but his heart beat slightly faster and a sensation he'd played with, but that remained foreign to him brewed within.
Upon seeing Nils faint, the Stolas Beast believed the game won and burst into hearty laughter.
"Hahahaha! With that pesky little creature out of the way, your life is mine!
Even if our lineages are different, the benefits I will gain from swallowing you will be immense!
Past today, my bloodline level will soar, my cultivation speed will skyrocket, and my future shall be limitless!
This is fate!"
Elated by its future prospects, it was losing itself in self-gratification.
Konrad didn't spare it a glance, holding Nils body firmly against his chest.
Vast demonic energy erupted from Konrad's body, a jet-black spiked war hammer engraved with vein-like purple lines appeared within his right hand, releasing a horrible force that dispelled all toxins and shattered the green poison dome.
Seeing that weapon, the previously elated Stolas Beast was terror-stricken.
"A…lineage weapon? You are…a noble?"
Konrad gave it no answer.
Tremendous suppression force crashed on the Stolas Beast, causing it to tumble and crater in a resounding explosion of dust. Fred of its spell, Konrad softly landed onto the ground with his eyes still focused on the passed-out Nils wrapped by his left arm.
The weight of mountains crushed the Stolas Beast. Its movements became sluggish, and it struggled to straighten itself on its obnoxiously long legs.
The vast demonic energy spreading from Konrad swept all its toxins, and turned the area into an infernal land.
"I didn't know I faced a superior and offended your lordship…my deepest apologies…"
It stuttered. Still, there was no answer. The heavy silence only heightened its unease.
Konrad flung his hammer at its face. Man-Breaker smashed its beak, bashed its skull in, and shattered its facial bones.
It flew backward and crashed against a distant tree.
Konrad gently placed Nils on the ground, and with a grasping motion, Man-Breaker returned to his hand.
He then turned to face the Stolas Beast whose body was sliding onto the ground and said:
"It's time to die."