Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 619
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Red black clouds shrouded the heavens. Sanguine light shot out from the cracks between clouds like sharp crimson blades, stabbing into the Kronos mountains.
Raging winds brewed deep within the skies, where thunder boomed distinctly beneath the cloud layers. The air was filled with the scent of sulfur and charred coal, even as the pungent smell of blood filled every corner of the land.
Though it was not a peaceful place from the start, the Kronos Mountains that perhaps counted as relatively peaceful was now a battlefield of invaders from other worlds.
In the burning forests that had been devasted by fire and windstorms, scorched-black trees crackled, while the entire land was filled with magma craters and traces of acidic erosion. Due to the battle between Extraordinary beings, the rivers dried, stone became sand while searing gales steamed, billowed and distorted air itself.
And yet, in such dangerous environments, Lisa was dashing at full speed, using every burnt tree and stone as cover and ran in an irregular pattern.
Through the power of Actuate Bolt and using the minuscule currents to stimulate her own muscles, the Drakonid girl displayed strength that did not lose out to most aberrations despite her petite body. And with her senses toward powerful magnetic fields, she evaded the dragons, demons and those unusual flying transports that were fighting everywhere in the skies.
In a brief dozen minutes, the Kronos mountains had now become the fields of war for foreign intruders. Almost at the very moment the demonic army descended, they engaged the wyverns that came not long after in a terrible close ranged battle. Acidic breath and Abyssal spells danced in the air, while the shockwaves from draconic flames and blasphemous rays leveled the rare few good soils on the ground. There would be the occasional demon or wyvern corpse that drop down, spreading energy as the flesh was smashed into a puddle. And on the ground, the danger instincts of all monsters went into a frenzy and they fled, leaving the battlefield of those powerful outsiders.
Even if they did their best to hold back, the jungle was destroyed from the shockwaves of the battle, while villages burned under the blazes.
It was fortunate that that golden flying equipment had not entered the battle between demons and dragons. Though they would occasionally sneak in and deal an ambushing blow, they would mostly retreat as soon as they did so. In general, they were flying around, collecting samples of plants and monsters on the surface—tractor beams were shooting down visibly from those crafts, drawing plants, panicking monsters and Drakonids into their hold.
Nevertheless, Lisa did not have the time to mind such things. In the brief dozen seconds she began her escape, the girl could already hear more than a few harrowing cries, with some voices being those that she was familiar with—the newly Awakened young monster hunters had been undergoing trials nearby, and those were deathcries from those who had been struck by the shockwaves from the battle.
“Aaaaah!!! Help! I—”
The sound of bones being crushed.
No thanks to her greatly empowered hearing, the sound became nightmarish for Lisa as that sound felt like it came from right beside him. The voice belonged to someone of the same age as she was, and though they did not really bond, it was someone she could sit down on the same table with in feasts… And now, the almost-acquaintance made no other sound after that shrill cry, utterly crushed.
“Don’t think about others. Hurry, Lisa.” The combat-ready Syndicate reprimanded angrily in its pendant form that hung over the girl’s chest. “This is a battlefield—you don’t have to time to be kind to others, and neither do you have the ability to help them! You can only take care of yourself!”
“You will have to wait if you want vengeance. Since the First Legion and the Pentashade dragons had invaded, the fate of this world is sealed—it is becoming an Abyss once again, and you must adapt to such an environment as quickly as you can and grow! You have greater talent than I do, so don’t just die here!”
“…I know, Mister Syndicate…” Lisa gritted her teeth and spoke with a tinge of shudder. The balrog’s reprimanding had jolted her awake, and thus she endured the agony and bewilderment. “But what is all this… why did the mountains became like this?”
“A few days ago, I was just talking to Sofia about what we should do after we become hunters. She said she wanted to hunt crowned bird and craft beautiful clothes from its feathers, while I said I wanted to explore faraway places… But now Sofia is now dead in an instant, how could this happen?”
“…Because that’s the law of the Abyss. You Drakonids are too weak, and could nothing against the invasion of the powerful once discovered.”
“Is that so… too weak, huh.”
Sofia’s vision for the future had been dashed by the sudden upheaval of reality, her positive path and plans ahead brutally destroyed. In the end, she was just a young girl who was a dozen years old, and had been panicking over her inability to awaken her bloodline power just a few days ago. Even with the balrog’s training and attaining the legacy of a Legendary champion, her mind had yet developed to the level to weather such momentous change.
If not for Syndicate continuous shattering of her bewilderment through constant stern words and instructing her every move, the helpless Drakonid girl would perhaps have crumpled under such sudden shifts.
And in this moment, the balrog was working its own mind furiously. It’s the Infernal Sea Legion … it thought. Has that Demon King of the Sixth Abyss resolved to invade this world? The only good news here is that it’s not just them—other powerful factions are competing too.
Not being one to think, but given that Syndicate was now only left with its core form, what else could it rely upon? The balrog hence sensed their surroundings through magnetic fields, racking its brains to think how to break through the encirclement of wyverns, demons and unusual flying transports to return to the considerably hidden Drakonid village. In the end, when the balrog was about to vomit blood, it finally found a safe route.
“Through here, run across the ashes of those burnt trees!” Syndicate told Lisa with a deep voice. “There’s an open field ahead, only through there could we avoid being detected by those demons and wyverns… Hurry, there’s no time!”
“Alright, alright!” Lisa naturally would not suspect that Syndicate had ill intent, but still instinctively paused when she saw the trees that were just scorched gray-white. “Its over several hundred degrees… can I do it?”
“Nonsense. You are a pure-blooded Drakonid trained in Actuate Bolt and had initial success—do you think the legacy I gave you is so useless and unable to withstand just a few hundred degrees?” the balrog urged. “Hurry. There is a whole bunch of demons hurrying toward us from the rear—they could discern living heat energy, you would definitely be found if you don’t hide in the ashes!”
Although the demons were fighting against the wyverns and the golden transports at the moment and might not be concerned over just one Drakonid, not even lunatics would be careless enough to hand the fate of their own lives to others. Lisa knew that it was not the time for her to hesitate either, and so she bit down, took a few deep breaths to adjust her form, and mustered her full strength and charged into the burning ashes!
At the moment, countless faint electric currents were streaming inside Lisa’s body. It was bloodline power originating from Drakonid bodies, and under the willful control of the girl herself, it was rapidly mastered. Bolts hence began to flicker and flow from various parts of the girl’s body, which soon assembled into a thick and massive energy, whirling abruptly in Lisa’s body and streaming outside her skin as veins of green-blue lightning arcs.
Her entire body wrapped by the lightning arcs, the cells in her body began to chafe and work intensely. The currents thus began to drive her body forward, producing various formidable abilities: fearless against burn and lightning, an augmented body and flesh, superhuman senses… the all-encompassing Actuate Bolt drove Lisa forward, her power now outshining over most ordinary monster hunters and capable of facing monsters directly. Even titled monsters with names could be ambushed, killed in a single blow.
Diving into the ashes, Lisa promptly began to swim speedily as if in water. To her, in this very moment, the burning soil and sand were like what water was to ordinary people—easily pushed away, allowing her the freedom to swim, and just as Syndicate said, the ashes that burned at hundreds of degrees could not even touch her… It was now that Lisa truly discovered that she was no longer a typical Drakonid girl, but a genuine Extraordinary individual.
As long as she kept training in Actuate Bolt up to the limit of Kokyu-ho training, she would become the greatest monster hunter in Drakonid history. And if she could surpass that threshold and step to a place beyond, she would become the very definition of a champion.
But now, the girl did not have the time to think that much. She could already sense dozens of incredible electromagnetic fields from her back—the terrible beings Mister Syndicate called ‘demons’. They roared past them in the skies as they dove toward a distant battlefield, their powerful energy emission sending pricking pains to Lisa more than typical searing heat, which in turn made her sure of one thing.
She was weak.
Lisa only climbed out of the jungle ashes after the demons had gone far, feeling her body heating up but unscathed apart from being blackened.
“Keep going, Lisa. You can’t pin your hopes on the monster hunters of your village. They can’t even protect themselves—we must return to the village ourselves… Tsk.”
If it were honest, Syndicate did not find returning to the village a good idea. It could see very well the current state of the Kronos Mountains: nowhere is safe, and it was much dangerous to enter a village that offered a bigger target no matter how well-hidden, than moving alone with one Drakonid. Instead of returning to familiar grounds by instinct, the balrog believed that Lisa now almost had the technique to hide in the depths of the mountains. Ultimately, it could tell that neither the demons nor the Pentashade dragons wanted to claim, as opposed to destroying this world. They would never slaughter the natives, and would assimilate them as their own instead.
If that was the case, were not both options viable for survival?
However, the balrog knew very well that Lisa was just a young girl and incapable of making such cold-blooded decisions. On the other hand, it was alright to return and listen as the mountain Drakonids summarized the current situation. It had faith that a race of such bloodlines would never be struck down so easily.
The Drakonid girl and the balrog kept rushing through the mountain ridges, moving so quickly even as they dodged all dead ends, battle zones of the outsiders and exceedingly dangerous war debris. In half an hour, they reached the Drakonid village that was hidden in a geographical blind spot.
The village was now in full alert. Drakonid monster hunters wearing beast leather uniforms and carrying greatbows are hiding in every corner of the jungle and the hills, patrolling their surroundings nervously. They quickly found Lisa as she was not especially avoiding their sights, and after a brief blank moment, one of the hunters leapt out to guide her, while another ran toward another direction as if to notify someone.
Soon, the Drakonid girl, caked with ash and monster blood, were led by the hunters from the same village, with a one-eyed middle-aged Drakonid welcoming her.
“Lisa?! It’s great that you’re still alive… What happened to you?!”
The one-eyed Drakonid promptly paused at the sight of her ragged daughter who still smelled of thick sanguine. He hurried to her, half-kneeling to check if she was wounded, before finding rejoicefully that the blood were monsters, while her daughter was not even scratched.
“Heavens, Lisa. We’ve lost contact with the entire trial party. Something so huge is happening out there and yet I could not get any news from you…”
Merely embracing the young girl who could hold back the shivers and was about to cry, the middle-aged Drakonid whose face was carved full of the vicissitudes of life could not hold back his tears from welling on the corner of his eyes either. His arms and shoulders were clearly wounded, with most covered in bandages—it was clear that they had fought in a battle.
Even so, this was not the moment for comfort. Having no time to soothe his own daughter, the middle-aged Drakonid rose, stroking Lisa’s cheeks to wipe off the dust over her face. “Hurry to the center of the mountains, and seek refuge in the Land of the Ancestors!” he said with a deep, solemn voice. “Most of the villagers had already left and we are about the last batch, it is fortunate that I’ve waited for you… Hurry and go, those powerful monsters are coming, and they move very fast across the battlefield!”
“Alright, Dad.” Lisa gulped, keeping her tears from flowing. She had found a haven after much hardship, and yet could not vent. “Sofia is dead, everyone is dead… It’s all my fault—if I didn’t leave, I could lead them and evade the demons…”
The middle-aged Drakonid, however, was not concerned, shaking his head. “Don’t be silly, my good child. You can’t do anything—those creatures could see through the best hunter camouflages, and it is by the providence of our ancestors and the Dragon God that you could come back alive.”
“This is indeed a calamity as written in the prophecy, for which there are shelters built by our ancestors in the heart of the mountains… But there is a limit to its accommodation. Late arrivals would have to fend for themselves, so just tidy up, your batch will soon be leaving.”
“Okay.” Lisa nodded obediently, pressing on her own chest before asking tentatively, “What about you, Dad?”
“I will cut… I’ll be with you, I’ll protect you!”
The middle-aged Drakonid hesitated for a moment before correcting himself through gritted teeth. He was aware that such a decision would lower himself in the eyes of his fellow hunters in the future, but to guarantee his daughter’s safety he no longer cared about reputation or opinions. Who knows if Drakonids could survive this calamity in days to come, and moreover—nothing was more important in this world than his daughter.
“I’ll protect you too, Dad!” Lisa became spirited in response, and could not help exclaiming. “I am very strong now too… I could play a part as well!”
“I know, I know… My daughter is a pure-blood that rarely come by over centuries; she would definitely protect us…”
The middle-aged Drakonid had wanted to smile, only to feel a pang of unbearable misery… He had been focused solely on hunting monsters after his wife had been killed by some unusual monster from the Desert of God to vent his grievance, rage and self-blame. Though he did not exactly overlook her daughter, he most certainly did not keep her company most of the time. He had even been happy when he heard that she could not awaken—that way, she did not have to be a hunter, and could live a peaceful life in the village.
But now, she has grown at some unknown point in time and had possessed ability, capable saying words like protecting her dad even under such dire circumstances.
So, such was time. How long had passed unwittingly that the little girl had become a girl who could cross the jungles of a battlefield alone, and the girl in her father’s embrace now became a person who could voice out her determination to protect him.
Without wasting any words, the middle-aged monster hunter hence led Lisa to the last group heading for the heart of the mountains. Ignoring the curious gazes from the Drakonids around them, he joined the escorting party and led Lisa forward, the procession crossing a hidden jungle path at top speed toward the center of the mountains. The hunters patrolling around the village also gathered and formed a single team, hanging far behind the procession and prepared to bring up the rear at any moment.
“Lisa, didn’t you say when you were younger that you always wanted to take a look outside the village? Becoming a monster hunter actually does not really let you go far, actually—but this time, we are heading to where the ancestors are buried, at the very heart of the mountains.”
On the way, the middle-aged Drakonid kept his eyes on the jungle that flowed incessantly to the back, while conversing with his daughter a little emotionally. “It has become a place many Drakonids could not set foot upon for their entire lives… We lived in spaces that are simply too narrow, and many would never leave their village for entire lifetimes.
Lisa nodded. Syndicated had already mentioned such things to her—the balrog had spoken insolently about how rigid and narrow Drakonid norms were, well telling her tales about worlds beyond worlds, devastated worlds and worlds brimming with vigor. It had even drawn many spectacles that made her eyes sparkled: towering and majestic stone buildings, plains without deserts, lands of ice covered in force and borderless oceans.
Lisa had always wanted to see and experience worlds she had not been to for her curiosity and desire for adventure. She always wanted to leave the village and felt that she would pay any price for it—and yet on this day, when she really left her village, knowing very well that she might never return to that little warm stone and log hut, she could help feeling a stabbing pain in her heart.
But that was no longer important… her father was beside her, her family was right beside her. In this moment of great danger, she only cared for her father’s safety in this moment of venture.
The journey was long. They must cross many rivers and gorges since Lisa’s village was one of those on the outskirts of the mountains, and so they must steadily advance at their full speed. However, most of the procession were normal folks—women and children who would fall behind, in which case the middle-aged Drakonid and other monster hunters would carry them and advance. Still, they were lucky to not meet any demons or wyverns on the way, thus covering more than half the trail in a brief few days.
It was now late night. There were distinct magnificent flames emitting int the dark night sky, with draconic silhouettes and meteors weaving in an out of the clouds. The battle had utterly heated up—all demons, wyverns and golden flying equipment had begun to fire everything they had, with most of their primary force fighting decisively at the edge of the mountains. The procession even saw in astonishment that a mountain peak crumbled thunderously in the distance, the outcome of battle between Extraordinary beings.
Most of the Drakonids fell into tired sleep after rushing on the journey for an entire day. Only monster hunters with awakened bloodline power who kept themselves vivid and awake through lightning stimulation took shifts while staying on guard. Lisa, who wielded Actuate Bolt naturally did not feel tired—she was now leaning on her father’s shoulder and watching the night sky silently.
There were endless stars twinkling, their silver radiances brightening amidst layers of white shrouds of light. The village elder had believed that it was an omen of calamity for bright shrouds to obscure the sky, while Mister Syndicate said that it was the fateful meetings between beings of the Multiverse.
Of course, to the weak, fateful meetings meant calamity.
“Is being weak a fault…”
The Drakonid girl was delving into that conundrum. She always believed that it was a statement too difficult to agree with—the powerful should clash with the powerful, why would they involve the weak who just wanted to live their lives in peace? And yet, the balrog would always tell her that sometimes the powerful did not deliberately intend to harm the weak—even voluntarily avoiding them, but when they truly use their full strength, the shockwave from a simple gesture could wipe out the entire Drakonid race.
“It is no fault, being weak. But when one does not even intend to rise up and become strong, the existence of such a race is a fault in itself,” the balrog said. “The weak may not always be preyed upon by the strong, but those weak that do not rise up are fated to be eaten.”
Lisa still could not comprehend such a thought, although she vaguely understood that such acts were a mere waste of strength, just as how lions would not hunt rabbits. However, such discrimination was at least established on the fact that rabbits were fast enough, alert enough—why would lions not spare themselves the pleasure since it was a matter of simple effort if that was not the case?
Just as the girl was about to fall asleep from pondering such grand inquiry, the light of the stars was suddenly hidden from the skies.
A reverberation, a sound of thunder that resounded a hundred times greater than one that seemingly tore the world apart boomed from the peak of the heavens. In that very moment, the dark starry sky turned into chaos—faint blue psionic radiance and black scorched presence of the Abyss. One black, one white; negative energy and the power of frost, runes spread across the skies and invisible spiritual waves filled the skies, dyeing it with colors that escaped imagination.
“It’s… the Monarch! My Lord has arrived!”
Lisa felt a throb by her chest. It was Syndicate shuddering as the balrog looked up toward that sun-like light that took up part of the skies, speaking with a fearful and reverent tone that came from its heart.
“He has come… the real battle that decides the fate of this world begins!”
In the distant heart of the Desert of God, green-blue lightning also shone beyond the mountains. As the skies changed color, the Dragon God that dwelled on the surface did not lose out either, and made a demonstration of its power, bellowing in incomparable rage at those beings that awakened and spied upon its power.
Every Drakonid was hence jolted awake instantly by the resounding noises and the shudder that came from the depths of their blood. They would either stare blankly at the night sky that was brighter then day, or toward the flickering lightning at the distant desert.
Lisa’s father had been watching the night sky as well. He certainly could feel the throbbing deep in his blood, knowing that it was proof that the God they consecrated had utterly awakened. He had wanted to calm the others, since things would definitely improve since the Dragon God was now awake, only to change his expression at once before those words could escape his lips.
“Those monsters are coming!”
Lisa quickly turned in response. Through her shared senses with Syndicate, she could distinctly sense that the battle between the demons and wyverns over the mountains had became wilder as their leaders suddenly joined the fray. Four to five demons and demons were incidentally sent flying by their opponents and plummeted nearby where the Drakonids were camped for the night. They were heavily injured and urgently needed energy to heal, and having sensed some delicacy not too far from them with thick bloodline, all of them rose, bellowing, and charged toward the Drakonid procession!
To secure energy refilling and deny their enemies that, the wyverns and demons now saw the Drakonids as nothing but dinner on the table.
The monster hunters on guard around them no longer cared about hiding, and quickly barked sonorously. “Third party—hold up the rear behind me. These monsters are heavily injured, we might hold them back!”
“Second party, follow me. We will ambush that monster striking from eleven o’clock!”
“Fourth party… Ah.”
The middle-aged Drakonid rose, taking the greatbow beside him and grabbing his quiver of arrows. He lowered his head and tousled the girls’ head, taking a long look at her daughter as if to inscribe Lisa’s bewildered expression deep into his own soul. Then, he turned without a word, striding away from his own daughter, weapon in hand.
There were no unneeded words or actions. Still, Lisa could not react at once, but when she came to and saw that her father and the hunters were going to head for the frontlines to mount an ambush, she quickly stood up to follow her father into father. Nonetheless, it was that moment that the balrog, through their spiritual link dictated by their pact, exerted control over Lisa’s body, turning her around and following the retreating team.
“Mister Syndicate! What are you doing?! Return my body to me!”
“Shut up, rascal. Keep running if you don’t want your father’s effort go to waste!”
The balrog simply did not want to talk. In the brief few days, the middle-aged man had informed Lisa about every trail that leads to the heart of the mountains, even slipping the proof for entry into the shelter into Lisa’s pocket. It could tell that the man was already prepared a long time ago, but was afraid that he would not be able to return, and so never said a thing before he left.
He is a valiant weakling, and a father.
Like a machine, Lisa ran under the balrog’s control, the power of Actuate Bolt working across her body and accelerating her several notches faster than most monster hunters. She hence kept running, running, keeping on even after the balrog had stopped controlling her body because she was now familiar with the way, and instinctively followed it, advancing toward the heart of the mountains.
Unwittingly, tears streamed all over her face.
She could still hear sounds of the distant battle. Broken bowstrings, arrows and bolts darting through the air, the angry and pained roars of demons and dragons. The ability of the powerful monster hunters did not dull in comparison to the inferior demons, and through ambush from elite elderly hunters, they fought on equal terms through numerical and geographical advantage against the demon army, what with them also being injured. Therefore, there was still hope in Lisa’s heart—she could still feel the magnetic fields of the monster hunters.
But soon, as the magnetic fields of demons and wyverns disappeared one after another, the monster hunters’ too rapidly decreased. And as the last demonic magnetic field fled in panic, there were no longer any magnetic fields from the four hunter parties that ambushed them that were still in action. They had simply held on to their last breath to fend off the attacking demons, and when the enemies left, the feeble magnetic fields dispersed as well.
Crack. That was the sound of electric currents bursting—that magnetic field Lisa had lived together with along the years thus vanished like a puff of smoke. The Drakonid girl could even smell the taste of blood, wafting around the tip of her nose.
The girl’s heart froze. Lisa knew that he would no longer return.
Now, there was only her, alone. No matter how she journeyed the distance, searching through plains and oceans to find and kill that monster which killed her mother in vengeance, none would be delighted, worried, or shed tears in astonishment.
She was now on her own.
Therefore, she could no longer turn back from the path into the distance.
Above the skies, the battle between Legendary champions continues, stirring the starry heavens into chaos while stunning energy emission even replaced the sun, illuminating the tiny world.
None of them noticed that from now on, a girl was all alone.