Volume 10 - Dream Eater: Chapter 18 – Gate
The unknown terrors that might emerge from this gate were a mystery. While Lily was unafraid of the known foes before her, she harbored a genuine fear of the unknown. But there was no room for doubt or hesitation.
With a whoos.h.i.+ng sound, Lily accelerated to her maximum speed, her feet seemingly stepping on the air and leaving behind psychic ripples with each stride. Her aerial dash nearly matched her ground speed, making her sprint in the sky far swifter than any of her peers within the same realm. Her afterimage lingered where she had been as she instantaneously appeared before the ancient gate.
With a deft movement, her crescent moon blade was unsheathed in a vivid crimson blur. Cras.h.!.+ Her powerful slash struck the gatepost, sending vibrations through the gate. A deep mark was etched on the gate, and cracks spiderwebbed across the post adorned with ancient G.o.d demon carvings. But the gate remained standing.
“You want to destroy the gate? Dream on!” taunted Hunchback, brandis.h.i.+ng a tattered black formation banner bearing the crest of an ancient Asuka-era samurai clan. He waved the flag, releasing several gloomy spirits to ensnare and attack Lily.
Lily was forced to divert her attention from the gate, confronting the attacking corpse souls, beings with chilling abilities that could weaken even a formidable warrior’s soul. Yet, against Lily’s robust soul defense, their abilities were in vain. Her blade, a dance of crimson energy, carved through the enemies with the force of a triple-soul big dipper expert. The combined corpse souls, their strength equal to a single-soul big dipper, were annihilated by Lily’s blade.
Dojigiri-Yasutsuna, a weapon of terrifying lethality, endowed Lily with the ability to overwhelm quadruple-soul big dipper experts and face quintuple-soul ones. Her agility, evasion skills, and weapon’s potency posed a grave threat to even the most formidable adversaries.
Lily’s triumph over Shuten Doji had been the result of fierce determination, the acc.u.mulated resentment of countless slain women, and her sword’s inherent evil-slaying power. While she lacked the innate strength to defeat a quintuple-soul big dipper powerhouse, her blade theoretically made it feasible.
Even the toughest armor could not withstand Dojigiri-Yasutsuna’s edge, making it an overpowering weapon to wield. Testing it was sufficient; it was not a tool to be used lightly.
The attacking corpse souls, although spiritual in nature and devoid of real souls, were manifestations of ancient anger and malice. To obliterate them, Lily needed to overpower them with sheer force or use spiritual power to annihilate them.
Lily’s abundance of spirit power enabled her to swing her Crescent Moon with unyielding intent. The bursts of crimson blade beams contained dense and potent spiritual energy, sufficient to consume a significant portion of the corpse soul’s energy.
And thus, the corpse spirits were promptly devoured by the blazing crimson beams, leaving Lily to contemplate her next move.
“The gate must be destroyed!” Lily resolved in her mind.
“Don’t even dream of it!” Hunchback’s voice thundered as his long spear thrust forward, sending a gloomy, strange, dark wave toward Lily.
“Be gone!” Lily retorted, chopping backward.
With a mighty slash, Lily’s potent energy and keen awareness allowed her to target the wave’s core, dispelling it and deflecting the spear aside.
Whoos.h.!.+ Lily moved like a blur through the air, her velocity far surpa.s.sing Hunchback’s capabilities.
“What!?” Before he could even react, Lily was upon him, her blade thrusting forward.
In a desperate move, Hunchback conjured a demonic s.h.i.+eld with one hand. Boom! The force of Lily’s stab overwhelmed the s.h.i.+eld, sending it flying away.
“Ah, cough—!” Hunchback groaned. With purple lunar force, Lily’s full-powered stab was akin to the force of a triple-soul big dipper expert. Although he managed to block the stab, the resulting shockwave inflicted internal injuries on his once-imposing body.
Lily’s momentum did not wane as her long, slender white legs carried her forward, leaping over Hunchback’s head. With a “Boom!” her leg slammed down as she pa.s.sed by.
As a blunt weapon, Lily’s wooden sandals, a celestial maiden’s lower-ranked spirit artifact, proved more destructive than the Crescent Moon, directly cracking Hunchback’s spirit s.h.i.+eld.
“Ugh!” Hunchback cried out, blood pouring from his mouth, nose, and eyes, the result of serious injuries from Lily’s powerful kick.
“Why is this woman so strong?” he wondered in disbelief, panic rising as he saw Lily’s leg poised for another strike. He didn’t dare to block it, yet dodging was impossible.
“d.a.m.n woman! How dare you injure my brother!” Kuki roared at that moment, furiously charging at Lily with his broken sword.
The two double-souled big dippers were no match for Lily, but they had many treasures at their disposal, preventing Lily from swiftly ending the fight without deploying her purple lunar force.
“Can’t delay!” Lily thought, lifting her leg high and smas.h.i.+ng it down once again with a booming impact.
Hunchback, seeing his brother coming, gritted his teeth in determination. All he had to do was endure and block this one blow. He lifted his s.h.i.+eld with both hands, hiding his body entirely behind it.
Lily’s leg, glowing with a purple aura, swung down like a giant axe. The earth shattered with a loud “Boom!” as her kick broke through the lower-ranked spirit artifact s.h.i.+eld that had resisted so many other devastating attacks. Lily’s wooden sandal brutally collided with Hunchback’s head.
Another booming sound followed the horrendous impact that shattered his skull, sending shockwaves that destroyed his meridians, internal organs, and damaged his spirit sea.
“Hunchback!” Kuki’s howl of fury filled the air as his slash, accompanied by a wave of fragmented ancient phantoms, headed toward Lily.
With a “Clang!” Lily intercepted the slash with Crescent Lily, one-handed. The force of the impact resonated through her sandals, causing air explosions beneath her feet, but she remained unaffected and motionless in the air.
In her other hand, Himeko’s longbow materialized. With a foot, she pushed the bow out and drew the string with one hand, nocking an evil-slaying arrow. It was fired with a shot that Kuki, witnessing it, was powerless to prevent.
The bright arrow soared into the falling Hunchback’s body, and with a resounding “Kaboom!” it pierced through his shattered spirit sea into his big dipper spirit, blowing the crimson humpback monster to pieces.
“Hunchback! You witch! I’ll kill you!” Kuki screamed, his anger boiling over at his brother’s death. He pulled his weapon back and aimed a full-force slash at Lily’s waist.
Unwilling to waste more time, Lily countered with one hand, her purple lunar force-infused crescent moon slicing through Kuki’s weapon. In her other hand appeared a treasured knife, White Night Peony, one of Shuten’s prized weapons, with a white ivory handle and an inscription of blossoming peony petals. She thrust it directly into Kuki’s chest.
“Agh!” Kuki’s howl resonated as the White Night Peony found his heart, inflicting grave injury to his spirit sea. His origin soul fled into his head, his eyes glowing a golden hue as needles shot out, radiating an eerie, Yomi-like aura.
Feeling an imminent threat, Lily’s instincts kicked in and she quickly evaded to the side.
Kuki, noticing Lily’s retreat, seized the opportunity to flee, but Lily’s speed was unparalleled. In the blink of an eye, she had caught up to him. “What!? No—” he started, but before the words could fully leave his mouth, Lily was already behind him, Crescent Moon in hand.
With a swift and lethal motion, the blade sliced down from his head to his torso, cleaving him in two. Kuki was dead.
Lily couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret. When refining Crescent Moon, she had integrated a hound anima within it, deeming it the most suitable choice at the time. But this decision had now limited the weapon’s growth. Although she had replaced the hound anima with a big dipper anima and then quenched it, the weak innate foundation still restricted its potential.
Crescent Moon had achieved the ninth grade, and Lily estimated that absorbing one or two more big dipper animas might elevate the blade to the level of a low-level spirit treasure, but that would be its limit. Yasutsuna, having Shuten’s anima as its first integration, was a different story entirely, its potential far higher. It wasn’t beyond reason to think that Yasutsuna could eventually reach the legendary rank of upper-level spirit treasure!
Lily’s attention was drawn to the gate, ominous and fear-inducing with the Yomi fluctuations it emitted. “I need to hurry and destroy that gate before anything happens,” she thought, determination steeling her.
Her concentration was broken by the sudden attack of several shurikens. “What?” she exclaimed, easily evading the ambush. The throne realm demons were recklessly attacking her, desperate to protect the gate.
“Annoying things!” she muttered, deploying numerous purple lunar force domain blades that ground them all into dust. The power she now wielded, even relying only on the purple lunar domain, was enough to wipe out anything beneath the saint realm. A large group in formation might prove challenging, but these attackers were no match.
With a focused build-up of purple lunar force, she unleashed a slas.h.i.+ng blade beam at the ancient gate. “Scythe!” she cried, as a thunderous crash rang out.
The ancient gate erupted, unleas.h.i.+ng a terrifying wave of Yomi energy, another dimension’s force. The explosion flattened an area several hundred meters in radius, leaving a crater reminiscent of a meteor strike. The powerful wave hurled Lily back a thousand meters.
Had Fuyuki and the others been closer, they might have been killed by the blast, s.h.i.+mizu in particular. The ancient gate was destroyed by Lily’s strike, but the resulting shockwave was unexpected and alarming.
“How dangerous… Thankfully sister s.h.i.+mizu and the others are far away, things could have gotten really dangerous,” she muttered, floating in the air, gazing in shock at the large sinkhole in the mountain.
The explosion had obliterated many of the treasures from the two big dipper corpses, leaving only those above the ninth rank intact. Expanding her domain, Lily gathered all the surviving treasures into mirror s.p.a.ce.
She collected the black array flags, two primary weapons, and Kuki’s burning short blade. These four low-ranked spirit treasures, along with a dozen something ninth-grade treasures, were quickly collected by Lily. She would examine them later; for now, collecting them was her priority.