Wen Zhi lunged forward, the weight of his spear heavy as his rage fueled the deadly thrust that tore through the air. He had no qualms beheading the evil person who dared to hurt the two most precious people in his life.
However, the tip of his spear suddenly stopped as it came mere inches of Zhao Lei Dao’s face. The position as leader of the Thunder Phoenix Clan was not just for show. He had to be the toughest person without question to stand at the top.
The mana from his battle aura alone had been able to halt the incoming weapon, a testament to his intensive years of mana training. With a scoff, he batted away the spear with his bare hand, thinking himself to be clearly the superior one.
“It’ll be a sad day when cultivation masters are defeated by the likes of you Electi, demons in waiting that draw power from the darkness.” Zhao drew his fist back.
Reflexively, Wen Zhi leapt back and invoked his Heaven Aura Protection. Just in time, Zhao’s fist slammed into his chest and sent him flying into the air. Several meters back, Wen Zhi landed on his feet, clutching his chest.
Though it would’ve been a deadly blow for many, Wen Zhi’s incredibly high Def had negated most of the damage. However, the level of Zhao’s strength was still high enough to seep past his defenses, causing a sharp jolt of pain. He was fortunate to have been summoned as an Electi; only due to that was he able to stand toe-to-toe with the most fearsome warrior in Sanshiro.
“No better time to use this, huh?” Wen Zhi reached into his pocket and pulled out a bun, the very same Mapo Tofu bun that the others had ingested for a power-up. Zhao looked at him oddly as he scarfed it down.
“You mock me by eating in the middle of a fight?” Zhao narrowed his eyes at the rude gesture the young warrior was making. It was improper to consume food on the go such as he had done, but one could say that Zhao was stiff in his ways.
“No worse than your ambush with a weapon obtained from another country. Honor and respect of a warrior, my ass! You threw that out the door with your hypocrisy when you targeted our weaknesses and took Lady Kaguya and my brother hostage!”
“Well, excuse me. A necessary injustice for a greater good. I have no ears to listen to one who doesn’t know their place!” Zhao reared back and punched again.
This time, it didn’t have the same impact.
Wen Zhi felt a surge of power in his body as the mana-enhanced consumable took effect. He could feel mana gushing from his gates, ready to be used against his opponent. With the palm of his free hand, he stopped Zhao’s incoming fist. The strength of their mana was nearly equal.
“Draw your weapons, Zhao. So that I can cut you down at your best.”
Pulling his fist free, Zhao happily obliged. He drew the twin swords from his waist and got into position.
For a man as menacing as Zhao, Wen Zhi could not back down from this moment. He had to strike down the very heart of the Thunder Phoenix Clan if he wanted complete victory. Only by doing so, would his followers understand that they had messed with the wrong people. The clan’s code, like many other clans, was to follow the strongest.
As Zhao’s blades moved at a blinding speed, Wen Zhi caught them with the length of his spear. Even with the ability boost from the food, Wen Zhi barely had the focus to get into position. This would not be an easy fight.
“Crackling Dragon Ascendance!”
Electricity sparked from the ground moments before a large mana attack erupted from below Wen Zhi, engulfing the area around him in a 6-foot radius. Zhao clenched his teeth as a few bolts penetrated his mana shield and stung his body. He leapt back and countered with an attack of his own.
“Flurry of a Thousand Blades!”
Zhao’s arms moved faster than the eye could see, thrusting his swords countlessly at Wen Zhi, who was unable to block those blows. Luckily, each strike itself did not have the power to penetrate his shield. As such, it felt like he was pelted with an endless barrage of stones; none of them doing much more than leaving a slight prick. However, since he could only rely on his mana to block them, the attack was draining his reserves quickly. Once his mana dried up, he’d turn into swiss cheese.
After what felt like a very long time, but in fact only lasted for a minute, the attack ended and the two leapt back to reposition themselves.
“Tch, that all you got? Such prized fighting techniques are wasted on you and your kind.”
Zhao had been referring to the lightning-imbued attacks that Wen Zhi and Wen Lu used, which converted their mana into electricity. The Thunder Phoenix was a mythical creature of legends that the people of Sanshiro revered – a legendary beast that the first heroes that established the country had summoned to defeat the demons of the past. Therefore, only those that the Holy Family deemed worthy were allowed to learn of the techniques.
For that reason, not even the members of the Thunder Phoenix Clan possessed knowledge of these moves, despite their name. The clan had simply named themselves as such in a tribute to the beast that slayed all demons.
“And who are you to decide that? Lady Kaguya is our ruler, both you and mine. Yet, you spit on her decisions and claim us as demons. It’s no wonder the beast’s powers weren’t offered to you.” Wen Zhi charged his spear and let out a mighty thrust. “Spear of the Thunder Dragon!”
“Naïve!” Zhao dodged to the side and swung his sword straight at Wen Zhi’s neck. “Such a telegraphed attack!”
But then, another spear came forth from the corner of Zhao’s vision. Immediately, he twisted his body and lowered his head as the magically charged spear sailed over him. Zhao rolled to the side, seeing that there was another challenger interrupting their duel.
“Brother, you simply can’t let your emotions take over. It makes your attacks predictable.” Wen Lu snickered at his brother.
“Those guys certainly took their time to free you. Wasn’t sure how much longer I was gonna last.” Wen Zhi barked back.
Behind them, several other members of the rescue squad had arrived. Wen Zhi breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Lady Kaguya standing behind Claude, with Yi Long and Chrysanthemum hiding farther back.
Claude had shown up to break the restraints that bound Wen Lu, allowing him to retrieve his equipment and join in. The remaining castle guards and the back-line squad were cleaning up the rest of the clan members.
“Give it up, Zhao Lei Dao. Your clan has been vanquished. You are the only one left resisting. Give up and repent for your misdeeds. Perhaps, the Gods will overlook this treachery in the afterlife. Do not sully what you have already achieved!” Lady Kaguya called out to him.
She was trying to give him the chance to save face. If he surrendered, the clan would simply disband, and he would commit ritual suicide to reclaim honor. The ordeal would be swept under the rug and forgotten in the tides of history.
However, Zhao would never admit to defeat. He was too set on his beliefs that he was in the right. The deal to save face sounded like a demon’s curse that would plague the land. His resistance would simply not be something the people of Sanshiro should forget about in a short time. Even if he should fall, he was convinced that the people should know of the ‘contaminated’ leadership that they blindly followed.
Lady Kaguya sighed as she saw that Zhao’s stance remained firm. “Very well. You leave me no choice.” She raised her hand and brought it down, signifying for her two guards to execute him.
Wen Lu, who had recovered his spirit from a Mapo Tofu Bun, and Wen Zhi lined up and took a deep breath.
The two halves came together to form a greater power. The ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’ formed the day and the night. And thus, the two of them were essential in the embodiments of the Holy Family’s strongest protectors. Without one or the other, their greatest technique could not be performed.
“The Dark and the Light of the Heavenly Bodies shall strike down all who is caught in between,” the twins chanted as they tossed their spears high into the sky.
Before the others could blink, the two of them had teleported to the spears thrown above and sent down vicious beams that converged on the place Zhao was standing.
Escorting the others off the rooftop and into the building for safety, Kaguya knew that there was nowhere for Zhao to run. The wide area that this attack affected was inescapable. Its effects were nearly unstoppable.
Normally, one could only guard against one type of mana at a time. Like Yin and Yang, one could only actively imbue his defenses with one flavor of mana. Even those who had cultivated their bodies to the very extremes were no exception. This concept was known only to those of the Holy Family, so that was what made the combined attack of the Sun and Moon so unstoppable, thus making them worthy protectors of the country.
Kaguya bit her lip as she resigned herself to having to deal with the clan without public acknowledgement of their leader being punished for his crimes. After all, there wouldn’t even be ashes left behind after such an attack.
The resulting explosion rocked the entire building. Kaguya and the others raced down the stairs as the top of the building seemingly eroded from the attack. They could tell that the integrity of the building was starting to weaken. It would be better for them to exit before it collapsed.
For several minutes, the Sun and Moon blasted the rooftop, until the surface started to crumble. Where Zhao stood, a large area around him caved in. The blast continued breaking through each floor of the building as the impacted surfaces gave way to the merciless bombardment.
By the time the beams finally ended, there was a huge hole that traveled through the entire height of the building, everything eviscerated in its path. It was a wonder that the building did not collapse upon itself from the damage.
Kaguya and the others looked up to the sky from ground level, having made their way out of the building and rejoining the others. Lau was carrying an unconscious Ludmila in his arms, who Katsys had just healed. The others froze for a moment when they saw how battered she had become, but Katsys gave her reassurance that she would be just fine. Lady Kaguya’s castle guards and loyal retainers had tied up the remnants of the Thunder Phoenix Clan and were making sure that they were detained properly.
As Wen Lu and Wen Zhi floated back towards the ground to join them, Kaguya breathed a sigh of relief. The battle was finally over, and they had been victorious. She was proud of everyone who had pitched in and overthrown the might of the strongest clan who had lost their ways.
However, a sudden feeling pricked at her just then. She turned back towards the clan home, a sudden chill running down her spine. Around them, the clan members started to writhe in agony as if something was hurting them. What was strange was that nearly all of them were suffering from the same fate.
Perhaps, they had been too early to celebrate.
A thunderous explosion rocked the building, causing it to split apart. A shower of debris rained onto the open area of the valley, the result of a column of light blowing everything around it away.
“No… that’s impossible! How could that be!” Kaguya panicked. She could clearly feel Zhao’s mana at the center of that wreckage.
The others shielded themselves from the flying debris that came towards them. Wen Lu and Wen Zhi stood in front of their master, batting away the more dangerous objects with their spears.
“What is going on?!”
“Did we not get him?!”
The twins cried out, wondering why their attack had failed. Normally, no one could stop the energies of two opposing forces that were combined into one attack. However, Lady Kaguya could think of one exception.
“The Divine Phoenix!”
Sure enough, from the column of light, it seemed like the form of a phoenix rose from the wreckage. It howled and crackled with energy as it reared its giant form for all those present to see.
The guards lost strength in their legs as they saw its form, the form of the legendary Thunder Phoenix, the divine being that was thought to be invincible like a God.
Kaguya never thought that she would see it ever summoned. Very few knew that it had existed in reality, much less the method to do so. However, Zhao had managed to find out, and by doing so, he had led them all into the deadliest trap as a final resort.
Through the sacrifice of a devout warrior and a multitude of his followers who carved a magical emblem in their bodies, their collective mana would summon the mighty deity that could slay all around it.
Just before Zhao died from Wen Lu and Wen Zhi’s combined attack, he had triggered the spell to summon it, which, in turn, activated the emblems on the other clan members. Now, those that had taken part in that ceremony, whether willingly or not, had been drained of their life force and became an empty husk.
Kaguya realized far too late that those emblems hadn’t simply been a tattoo signifying them as part of the clan, but a symbol to give their lives to Zhao’s very cause. Now, the Thunder Phoenix was awake and would demolish all those that stood in its path. Not even Wen Lu and Wen Zhi’s greatest attack could match this divine power.
“I-It’s too late… No one is leaving this valley alive….” Kaguya grabbed onto the sleeves of her two Electi and started to despair.
Before they could get far enough, the Thunder Phoenix would shower the whole place with its attack, one that was far stronger than even the twins at their peak. They had merely minutes to spare before it fully awakened. Precious minutes to savor the lives they had.
Suddenly, she felt a hand on her back. Looking behind her, she saw a chef there.
“If we can’t escape from a god, shouldn’t we go down trying?” His knife glinted as the image of the Thunder Phoenix reflected off its surface.