Souta opened his eyes and found himself in an unfamiliar place.
"What happened just now...?" he muttered, feeling a bit bewildered. The events had unfolded so quickly that he was struggling to make sense of them.
'I believe a new space opened up and engulfed everything within. It seems to be related to the Five Master Clans or one of the major factions. This move may have saved the people in the country from those fragmented worlds,' Saya explained to him.
"I see... So this place is the result of that space opening and merging all those fragments, right?" Souta inquired.
'That's my best guess, but there's no certainty,' Saya replied.
The sky was dark, and a vast forest surrounded him. Towering trees rose to heights of around thirty meters, nearly blotting out the sky above.
Souta raised his hand, sensing the fabric of space around him. "The space here seems a bit unstable," he observed. "It's a patchwork of tough and fragile areas, not evenly distributed."
He could feel that some parts of the space were more susceptible to disruption, while others remained unyielding. It was clear that this place had been created by mashing together various fragmented worlds, likely with several layers due to the peculiar formation he had witnessed earlier. It appeared to be the result of some unknown force unleashed during the recent events.
Souta ventured further into the forest, and after a few minutes, he sensed the presence of living beings nearby. He could feel the flow of their blood, indicating their vitality. He didn't dwell on counting their exact numbers; there were likely more than a hundred individuals.
As he approached, the scenery began to change. Tall structures rose to heights of about fifty meters, but the surroundings bore signs of desolation and decay. It seemed as though a catastrophe had befallen this place long ago, evident from the mold-covered walls and floors.
Souta continued to advance, though he didn't immediately spot any people in the area. However, he could sense their presence as they remained hidden in the abandoned buildings, observing him from a distance.
From this, Souta deduced that these individuals were likely locals from those fragmented worlds who had managed to survive the collapse of their worlds.
As he moved his gaze, he was able to see through the ordinary walls and directly into the people's auras, assessing their energy flow and the state of their mana pools.
Suddenly, he felt a presence approaching. When he turned his head, he recognized a familiar face. The figure had brown fur on his arms and neck, and blood still oozed from his wounds.
It was Li Guan from Primate Island.
Li Guan expressed his surprise, "Blood Lightning Monster, you're here?!"
Souta confirmed, "Yeah." He noticed Li Guan's battered appearance and could tell that he had sustained serious injuries. In his current condition, he likely wouldn't fare well against an opponent like Fendal, and dealing with someone as formidable as Boulder Jack would be an even greater challenge.
"You're with the Priestess of the Fist, right? Where happened there?" Souta asked.
Li Guan provided some insight, "I don't know... The space was swallowed, and I just found myself in this place." He found a quiet spot and seated himself, taking a moment to recover. Glancing at the surrounding buildings, he asked, "What about those people?"
Souta pondered the situation, replying, "I haven't tested their strength yet. They're probably natives from the fragmented worlds that were drawn into this space."
"Have you tested their strength?" Li Guan asked.
"No, but I can sense that their power level isn't bad. The strongest among them has already broken the first shackle," Souta replied as he kept his gaze fixed on the building where the people were hiding.
He decided not to pay much attention to these locals from the fragmented worlds since they posed no threat to him. He had no intention of harming them without cause. If they initiated any conflict, then they would face the consequences.
Souta refocused his attention on the fabric of space, searching for a path that would lead them back to the Tears of Divine Might. After a few moments, he found what he was looking for, and a smile played across his face as he turned to Li Guan.
"You're going to stay here and rest for a while, right? Then, take care of them for me," Souta said, pointing towards the people in the building. "They are probably confused since their world has changed, so take care of them. But if they have ill intentions, don't hesitate to deal with them."
"I know. I'm not badly injured. I'm just exhausted from using my released form, so they wouldn't be able to harm me," Li Guan replied.
"Okay," Souta acknowledged before he jumped into the sky. He wielded his sword and slashed at the space in front of him.
The fabric of space was cut.
Souta didn't hesitate and flew towards it.
Li Guan stared at the cut in space and muttered, "There are no changes in the cut. It feels like I'm not in Imperium."
He sighed and closed his eyes, planning to rest for a few minutes before rejoining the battle. He had been resting for a while now, ever since Shen Yao took on two opponents single-handedly.
Souta landed in an unfamiliar location, and immediately, the overpowering stench of blood filled his senses.
"The smell of blood..."
Surveying his surroundings, Souta detected faint energy fluctuations in the air, suggesting that a recent battle had taken place here. Multiple individuals seemed to have been involved in the conflict, though the fluctuations indicated that they were not particularly high-ranking, likely below the level of Four Shackles.
The sky overhead bore a dark purple hue, and the ground was tainted in shades of red. Despite the evident structures in the area, many of them lay in ruins, with smoke billowing from several, casting an eerie and unsettling atmosphere over the scene. Souta knew he needed to proceed with caution in this unfamiliar and potentially hazardous environment.
The grotesque scene lay before Souta, a macabre display of dismembered bodies and grisly piles of flesh. Saya's warning resonated in his mind, urging caution in the face of an overwhelming presence.
Acknowledging the presence of other individuals in this nightmarish place, Souta pressed forward, scrutinizing his surroundings with meticulous care. An unsettling sense of familiarity washed over him, and it became increasingly evident that the situation he had stumbled upon was fraught with complications.
Souta had a strong inkling of who was responsible for the gruesome scene around him. He came to an abrupt halt, sensing a shift in the atmosphere as an eerie chill enveloped the area. Blood-curdling screams pierced the air, confirming his suspicions.
He felt a heightened awareness from an individual who had detected his presence. In a split-second decision, Souta crouched low just in time to evade a deadly strike. The attack cleaved through the nearby buildings, reducing them to rubble.
With caution etched on his face, Souta slowly turned to confront the figure standing just a few meters away. Draped in a sinister purple aura, the identity of his opponent became unmistakable – it was Nine Yin.
"Blood Lightning Monster, we meet again," Nine Yin's voice echoed eerily, as if multiple voices were speaking in unison.
Souta remained silent, his focus on examining his surroundings, seeking any possible paths through the fabric of space.
"It's useless... Do you think that I would let you go after you've arrived at my doorstep?" Nine Yin spoke ominously as he raised his hands. "I don't know what happened, but it seems that this space serves as a sanctuary for many. Before coming here, we were already aware of our role in this war. The higher powers of the Deadly Sins have decreed that we must restrain any of Selnes Country's top experts, no matter what."
Souta pressed his temples in frustration and sighed. He then grinned and taunted, "Come at me!"
Nine Yin bent his knees and charged toward Souta at an astonishing speed. However, Souta unleashed his formidable power the instant Nine Yin reached him.
[Dual Element Drive: Dark and Light Integration]!!
[Blood Armor: Jade Spider]!!
[Monster Orb Release]!!
Several figures emerged from Souta's shadow, and black spheres began forming on his back. The sheer amount of energy he released shook the entire area.
In less than a second, Souta unleashed a powerful slash with all his might. The crimson energy blade tore through the land, leaving behind a massive gully that stretched for over twenty kilometers and plunged to a depth of three kilometers. It obliterated everything in its path.
Nine Yin landed on the side, his eyes wide with shock. He looked at his right arm, which had been severed.
"You almost got me there..." he laughed before activating most of his skills and spells. His aura surged, growing stronger and rivaling Souta's energy.
The two clashed in mid-air, their blows sending shockwaves rippling through the surroundings.
Souta realized that he shouldn't hold back any longer. The Tears of Divine Might had appeared, and it was time for the most significant battle in this war.
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