Though Wen Zhi was able to hold his ground, his other men weren’t having as much luck. Slowly, the ring around Ludmila was shrinking.
“C’mon! Ten more seconds! You all got this!” He shouted to encourage his men.
Even when the Chen family broke away from their strongest defensive position to stop the girl, they were still difficult to hold back. Since they had foregone most other training to focus on defense, their forward advance crept slowly, like moving walls that were converging to crush its prey.
The blows that Wen Zhi and the others launched only moved them inches back at a time, but that still bought them precious seconds. Anything would help as the final moments ticked down until she was ready.
Wen Zhi’s side was so close to Ludmila’s technique now that the wind whipped against their backs. The pressure of the reinforced mana that she had set up braced against them, adding a little push towards holding up their line of defense.
Just when it seemed like the line was going to fall, Wen Zhi felt a burst of mana, which signaled that she was finished. Immediately, the line of men dove to the ground and covered their heads.
With a bright crackle and an intense boom echoing through the air, the dome shattered, and a barreling form was expelled out.
Though the Chen family knew that it was coming, they reacted like how they always had – by defending their ground with every bit of confidence in their unbeatable defense.
Yet, fate was not merciful for them. Before they could blink, the ten or so layers of mana shielding their bodies were blown away so forcefully that they were left sailing meters into the air. In fact, anyone that had been standing several meters within her path had been inadvertently bowled over by the cluster of bodies that were sent flying.
A sound like cannon fire echoed as her attack created a sonic boom throughout the air that stopped the whole battlefield in its tracks. As the dust cleared, only one man in the path of her attack remained standing – Chen Shi Yuan.
His arms had been crossed in front of him to shield his body. Though he had moved a good ten meters backwards, he had managed to stop this outrageous attack from overpowering him.
“Little girl. That was certainly an impressive attack. An arrow of near unstoppable speed and power. If I hadn’t been the ultimate shield, then you surely would have prevailed. To think that one as young as you was able to force me to pile on another ten layers of mana that I left in reserve!”
Chen reared back his right arm to perform his final blow, one that countered the full strength of his enemy back towards her. It was the ultimate move for the ‘Iron Body, Broken Sword’ Style, which could weather the strongest attacks and return it back to the attacker. He gave her a look of pity as he felt a bit sad to end the life of one so young and promising. However, she had chosen to step onto the battlefield as a warrior, and he would honor her by using his greatest attack.
Given her lightly sheltered body, even her bones would likely turn to dust in an instant. At least, she would feel no pain from death. Yet, even as Chen’s fist started moving forward, Ludmila’s eyes never lost hope.
The girl suddenly disappeared before his eyes. In the next moment, Chen felt a loss of sensation that he had never felt before. He tried to lift his left arm up, which had been braced against the girl after halting her initial attack. However, he found that he couldn’t feel it anymore. When he looked down, he realized why.
His entire left torso had been missing – from his shoulder down to just above his waist, the body parts that were once there had become a massive void. They had been sheared clean off, not even giving his body time to react to it. Only moments after he realized this that an immense wave of pain had kicked in.
As his unbalanced body toppled over, his head turned toward the destruction that Ludmila had left behind him. A hole, somewhat larger than a person, had shot through the final gate. The walls around it had encountered a tremendous shock, now crumbling due to a lack of support to widen the hole further.
Those that peered through the opening saw a clear, narrow path leading straight towards the family grounds. Those unlucky enough to be standing where the path aligned had been shredded from the attack. It took several moments and miscellaneous body parts landing on the crowd for them to understand what had just happened.
Unknown to Chen, Ludmila’s final attack had used a skill that she had recently acquired.
After feeling helpless against Wen Zhi, who had shrugged off her attacks, she racked her brain to come up with a method that could penetrate anything, no matter what obstacle stood in her way.
If her one advantage against everyone was her speed, then she would become the arrow that could pierce anything. She would become so fast that no one could see her coming. With that in mind, she had developed ways to use her mana control to speed herself up beyond anything she could achieve before.
Her determination to see this through had led to a new skill popping up after she had broken the sound barrier for the first time.
‘Instant Acceleration’ – The ability to increase oneself to their maximum speed instantly for one action. Limited to one use per day.
Ludmila had found it to be very useful in practice. Requiring no windup, it allowed for her to attack someone faster than they could react. Even Lau was unable to defend against her instant attack when she had used it on him, despite knowing about it. It was as if time had completely stopped for a brief duration, enough for one action.
That aside, there was another factor that gave it even more potential – the fact that it registered one’s top speed of the day as the maximum speed.
At first, it would seem like a higher speed upon execution had little bearing when the acceleration was instantaneous. However, Ludmila noticed that her resulting attack grew more powerful when she moved faster that day.
Living a nomadic life and still a child, she hadn’t been exposed to the concepts of physics, which Lau vaguely remembered from his younger days. Among the simple physics equations, one had stood out in his mind – Newton’s Second Law, which stated that force was proportional to acceleration.
Within the same instant of skill activation, a higher maximum speed meant that the acceleration was much greater. As such, not only had Chen met with the power of an extremely fast, mana-enhanced object colliding against him, but also, the force from the instantaneous acceleration to that speed piled on top.
Given the astronomical boost to the attack, not even the extra mana shields that Chen could muster in reserve were able to hold up to her strongest attack, one that she had secretly refined from her training.
The end result had been Ludmila turning herself into a railgun that destroyed everything in her path.
Like many skills, there was a significant drawback to ‘Instant Acceleration’. In exchange for this amazing burst of power that lasted for a mere moment, Ludmila’s speed fell to 1 for the next 2 hours. She would be moving at a snail’s pace for the entire duration. Not to mention, there was only so much she could block by reinforcing her mana completely in front of her. As she collided with various objects, her attack eventually came to a halt, but not without causing extensive damage to her own body.
However, as she sat in a pile of rubble that was the result of her crashing into the Thunder Phoenix Clan’s home, she could care less about the consequences. She had just pierced the man known as ‘The Impassable.’ Little did she know, that triumphant moment had given her a new name by those who had witnessed it – ‘Heaven Piercer.’
“Up to the rest…,” Ludmila mumbled, her consciousness growing dark. Though her injuries had not been life-threatening for the moment, several bones had been broken, and there was little that she could do to seek medical attention. She had completely exhausted her mana and would be out of commission for a while.
Those left at the battlefield had been stunned by this amazing display of power. The Chen family had been reduced to under 10 standing. The leader, Chen Shi Yuan, had collapsed from losing a significant portion of his body. Yet, no one moved a muscle. The battle had been decided. The remaining fighters of the ‘Iron Body, Broken Sword’ style powered down their mana and surrendered.
Just then, a loud clamor of people burst through the gate. Other than the hole that had pierced through the wall, they had seen nothing of the match that had just unfolded. The remaining 400 or so members of the Thunder Phoenix Clan knew nothing about how badly the tables had turned due to the efforts of a single girl.
Thinking that they had the advantage against a tired and battle-worn army of Kaguya’s supporters, who was only half their numbers, the warriors charged through the gate and licked their lips at their prey.
However, Wen Zhi raised his hand to give his troops the ‘signal.’ All at once, the men pulled something out of the sacks tied to their belts. White, palm-sized balls were held up, and with a cheer, the men bit into them. For those close by, whiffs of Mapo Tofu could be detected in the air.
This food had been what Wen Zhi had requested of Claude right before they had set off for battle. Though the first round of Mapo Tofu had been a failure because the effects were too strong, Claude had adjusted the mana enhancement using Lady Kaguya’s notes. As a result, the next batch produced a dish that increased their fighting parameters significantly and healed them without leading to the battle frenzy side effect. Furthermore, he had added cinnamon as an extra spice to help with mana regeneration. When asked how they could transport this dish for consumption on the battlefield, Claude had used it as a filling for steamed buns. Thus, Wen Zhi’s side was able to renew their energy in no time.
As the charging members of the Thunder Phoenix Clan approached, they noticed a shift in the air. Looking at their opponents, they didn’t have the eyes of those that had faced a long, drawn-out battle. They were focused and calm. The grip of their weapons was firm, and their stances were relaxed. Furthermore, their bodies calmly emitted a strong aura of mana.
As their weapons clashed, they were met with stiff resistance. They had not been the wounded prey that they had expected them to be. With a hearty cheer from Wen Zhi, his troops pushed back and repelled the clan members away.
“What the hell were the Chen Family doing?! How have they not been worn down?!”
“They couldn’t have broken through without SOME damage!”
The surprised voices of the clan echoed backward through the ranks. Suddenly, the 200 or so fighters in front of them felt less like a cornered group and more like a small, elite force sent to demolish them.
“Charge!” Wen Zhi yelled as he barreled forward, knocking people off their feet and carving a path forward. With the pick-me-up he consumed, he was raring to kick as much ass as he possibly could.
After seeing Katsys take out so many with her bombs, and now, Ludmila smashing through the clan’s sturdiest defenses, there was an itch that Wen Zhi wanted to scratch. It was an annoyance that came from falling behind the others as he was supposedly leading the charge against the Thunder Phoenix Clan.
“Gotta take back some of that glory for myself!” He yelled out as his spear swept across the space in front of him. As he envisioned himself as a certain War God from a Musou video game, Wen Zhi made ripples through the ranks like he was a one-man army.
Because of his high defense, he could ignore the attacks coming towards him as he became a whirlwind that blasted straight past the final gate and continued onward towards the main grounds.
The sounds of men falling to his spear faded from his ears as he remained focused on the goal ahead. Hopefully, Claude had found Lady Kaguya and his brother. If he hadn’t by now, then he would just have to charge forward and give him a hand.
As the crowd finally started to thin, Wen Zhi looked back at the pathway that he had carved out. Though the space was slowly being filled in, he could see that his allies were not far behind. They could likely handle the rest themselves. He swung his spear high above his head to tell the others that he was moving forward. Their collective morale was higher than it had ever been as Wen Zhi set his sights on the buildings ahead.
“Still, those foreigners are quite something… To make the mighty Thunder Phoenix Clan fall with only this many fighters…,” Wen Zhi mumbled his appreciation under his breath.
Without them, they would have likely fought a hopeless battle and died trying. Zhao Lei Dao had clearly underestimated the power of a few determined Electi and a genius princess.
“Damn, what a girl to serve under.” Wen Zhi briefly compared Katsys, or rather, Princess Katalina to Lady Kaguya. He could now see why Claude and Ludmila had been so strong. It was much like how he and his brother held regard for their master. Their hearts were one and the same regardless of the different countries that they came from.
And by banding together, they would show Zhao and his entire clan that they had made the biggest mistake of their lives.