For a reason, no one would ever comprehend, the Terrestrial Expression shifted its attention from Konrad to lock on Ilkaalt, and assailed her with a lightning storm, thereby unwittingly saving Astarte's life.
And as she stared at Ilkaalt's battered form, Astarte failed to comprehend how things aligned themselves so perfectly that right before her life ended, lightning dropped to save her!
"Am I…protected by heavens' will?"
She wondered in a stupor.
"That is not far from the truth."
Qehreman, who saw through her mind, wanted to say but restrained himself. And to follow the script, he "awoke" from Ilkaalt's control and locked a bewildered gaze onto Astarte. Seeing him, she didn't hesitate, vanished to reappear by his side, and pulled him away from Ilkaalt faster than the eye could follow.
Although Ilkaalt now suffered grievous wounds, life essence would soon kick in to mend them all. Instead of remaining to tackle an opponent she couldn't defeat, Astarte reckoned it more important to bring Qehreman back to Konrad's side.
But as she abandoned Ilkaalt to the Terrestrial Expression's wrath, little did Astarte know that Konrad himself wasn't having such a good time.
Although Konrad and Else faced their own lot of suppression, due to the latter's understanding of space laws, their trip went without a hitch. In a matter of a few breaths, Konrad and Else landed on top of the eighteenth peak just before the Bone Mountain.
"It's almost as if…no, it's welcoming us here."
Else realized as they stood on the cliff facing the Bone Mountain. And indeed, she was right, for not long after they arrived, billowing dark fog filled the sky above them, announcing the arrival of their foes. The Terrestrial Expression didn't reveal itself, instead, summoning its legions to meet the trespassers.
And as the heaven-encompassing darkness that stretched across thousands of miles morphed into the ghastly shapes they were now so familiar with, Konrad was forced to admit that this…was the most formidable army he'd come across in his life.
Three million Ravenous Ghosts bloated the sky, and while the majority could be classified as rabble, more than three-hundred thousand Saint-level Ghosts stood within their rank. And above them, two-hundred Sage-level Ravenous Ghosts, all combined in a startling soul formation. Those Else had exiled also stood among them.
To say nothing of now. Even at his peak, Konrad wouldn't rashly clash with such a force. However, he no longer had a choice. This was one of those situations where only one road stood available.
There was no room for retreat.
The grim sounding chirp-like sounds reverberated within the sky, announcing the Ravenous Ghosts' eagerness to feast in a horrific cacophony.
"Do you regret following me to the Barbarian Continent?"
Konrad asked Else as they stood before this irresistible force.
"Not one bit."
She straightforwardly replied, and stretched out her hand, causing massive demonic energies to erupt as she summoned her Ankh of Myriad Eternity.
"Because unlike Yvonne, I can say that I faced death with you. In that area, I win."
Hearing that frank, jovial answer, Konrad couldn't help but burst into laughter.
"Then, let's make sure you can brag about that in front of her."
Konrad declared with a smiling face that remained undaunted before the Ravenous army. He now understood that these ghost's hunger wasn't their own. Rather, it echoed that of the Terrestrial Expression.
Perhaps due to having realized his affinity to chthonian energies, that earthbound poltergeist craved his soul. The ghosts merely were intermediaries.
In tandem, the three million ghosts turned into dark beams and shot toward the pair. Without hesitation, Konrad activated his energy shield, causing them to rebound against it and recoiled without success. However, with only one collision, cracks spread within the shield. Clearly, it wouldn't be able to endure much more.
Meanwhile, the Terrestrial Expression had yet to show itself. Or rather, to show its spiritual incarnation, because as far as its true body was concerned, everything from the first to the eighteenth peak was its flesh.
The only exception was the Bone Mountain, whose concentration of chthonian energies was too vast for the Terrestrial Expression to refine.
At least for now.
Dark-yellow tidal waves rose from Else's Ank to barrel into the monstrosities. However, the leading Sage-level ghosts fired dark-nether beams that tore through the yellow and again slammed into Konrad's shield.
This time, he no longer hesitated, gathering the power of his harem in one energy ball before blasting it at the three million ghost army!
The dazzling jade-colored beam collided with the ghost army in an earth-shaking explosion, causing millions of ghosts to collapse, and the nether force they contained to return to the Blood Mountain Range. The Sage-level ghosts aside, none survived. As for those at the Sage-level, only ten remained!
But as their nether force escaped their collapsing, ethereal hide, Else fired a Valkyrie Judgement at them, preventing them from reforming. Thus, they perished and released their nether force back to the Blood Mountain Range.
Instantaneously, massive dark light rose from the eighteen peaks and merged in the sky under the form of a hunchbacked old man whose eyes locked on Konrad.
"As expected, you still had an ace up your sleeve. How surprising. A pity that you're now helpless."
The Terrestrial Expression praised in lieu of introduction. Although it possessed full control of the Blood Mountain Range, when dealing with unknowns, it still threaded carefully.
On the one hand, Konrad's death controlling abilities showcased his extraordinariness, and on the other hand, the earthbound ghost could feel both the Withering force and millions of death essence units from his body. Clearly, he was no simple individual.
Therefore, with the Bone Mountain as a lure, it used the Ravenous Ghosts to probe his depth and force him to lay out all his cards.
"What makes you think I can't repeat the previous move?"
Konrad asked while staring back at the Terrestrial Expression.
"If you could, you wouldn't be starting now. I'm afraid that impudent ant woman would have been the first to perish. Clearly, this is a move you cannot summon at will. At the very least, you won't be able to in a short time."
The Terrestrial Expression rationalized, calling Konrad's bluff.
He admitted and leaped off his throne to stand beside Else.
Although the energy shield still stood, Konrad didn't doubt it wouldn't manage to stop this Terrestrial Expression for long. Soon, they would be at its mercy.
"Do you trust me?"
He asked Else while moving behind her.
She replied as he wrapped his arms around her waist. For the split of a second, the warmth of his embrace made her forget the critical battle at hand, and she leaned against his chest.
"Then, don't move an inch."
Those were Konrad's last words before he let himself drop from the cliff to tumble down to the base of the Bone Mountain!