There was a reason why the Royals had asked Orion to craft a perfect version of Lith\'s joke blade for themselves.
Orion had made his creation capable of being infused with the elements, amplifying the effects of fusion magic.
The gravity field, now also amplified by Ruin\'s enchantment, allowed Lith to make the sword heavier when it hit and lighter when it moved.
Ruin amplified Lith\'s abilities and vice versa, tipping the scales in his favor.
Soon Gaaron was forced on the defensive to not be overwhelmed by the raw strength and speed of each attack.
The few times he attempted a counter, Lith pushed his blade so far that Gaaron almost lost his grip and life.
\'Dammit! I spent too much time in politics and too little on the battlefield.\' Gaaron thought.
\'I\'m rusty, but my battle experience is way superior to his.
To overcome raw power, I must set my pride aside and use my brain.\'
He activated Frostbound\'s effect and a thick layer of ice instantly covered him, making Gaaron look like a crystal statue.
Aside from a strong elemental aura now surrounding the older Awakened, Lith had no clue what such an effect could be good for.
At least until he noticed that the crystal layer kept growing, but not to make the protection thicker or enhance Gaaron\'s body mass.
Even though they kept fighting at the best of their abilities, two more crystal statues had come out of the original one and were flanking Lith.
\'Solus\' Lith asked.
I can\'t say which one is the real body.
The ice layer is too thick and rich in that guy\'s energy signature to see through it with mana sense.
I\'ve bad news, though.
Those three are the focus points of a simple but deadly array.
\'The temperature is dropping at an alarming rate and soon the air will become unbreathable.
Plus, I can see that the crystal\'s growth has never stopped.
It\'s just a matter of time before the ice constructs stabilize and you have to fight nine of them.\'
Lith gritted his teeth in frustration as he deflected the blade of the Gaaron in front of himself before shattering him with a powerful right uppercut.
The gravity field had locked the blade in place, making it impossible for Gaaron to dodge Lith\'s attack from such close range.
\'Damn! Not only can he control them at will, but he also swapped position when the copies came out.
It\'s a nice trick, but a trick nonetheless.\' Lith thought while deflecting the two blades aimed at his vitals.
The other two Gaaron had struck at the same time, exploiting the moment when Lith was focused on the crystal statue he had assumed to be his real enemy.
Ruin trapped the first blade while Lith\'s gauntlet grabbed the second.
He was assessing the difference in strength between the two attacks to find the real source of the spell when the third statue regenerated and joined the fight again.
\'Fuck me sideways.\' Lith thought as both Gaarons twisted and pulled their blades, forcing Lith to either let go or be forced to assume an unstable stance that would leave him open to the third construct.
Lith reacted by using gravity magic to turn everyone lighter so that, instead of stepping forward, the statue in front of him performed an involuntary jump while Lith easily lifted the other two and slammed them against their flying comrade.
Normally such a move would have failed since Gaaron could use gravity magic as well, but even though Frostbound\'s spell was powerful, it took a huge toll on the caster\'s focus.
Even with the help of the artifact and its magical formation, moving three bodies at the same time and boosting them with fusion magic was far from easy.
Lith had exploited Gaaron\'s slightly slowed reaction time to beat quantity with quality.
Two of the statues shattered while the third one revealed Lith\'s prize.
The Skinwalker armor was already crackling at his every movement due to the ice growing so fast that it would be soon thick enough to become bothersome.
Between the armor and his enhanced body, Lith had yet to feel the sting of the cold, but his breath was already steaming and his eyebrows were covered in frost.
Aware that he had no time to lose before the cold robbed him of his superior strength, Lith threw away the copies and slammed the original on the ground.
Gaaron released the last spells in his rings, but Lith simply tanked them with the boosted Orichalcum and slashed down with Ruin.
Gaaron managed to defend despite his awkward position, but a huge wound still opened on his chest.
In a last-ditch effort, Gaaron threw his pride to the wind and activated a mind link with Lith by using a tendril of spirit magic to connect both their cores.
There was no time for words and he had the distinct impression that Lith wouldn\'t believe to anything he might say.
Thoughts, instead, could not lie.
\'Wait, I\'m not after your life.
I\'m here on behalf of the Council.\' He thought as Lith slashed again, making Frostbound fly out of Gaaron\'s hands.
\'Tell me something I don\'t know.\' Lith mind-sneered, intrigued by the interference enough to reply but not enough to stay his hand.
The moron had enough.
Go rescue him. Raagu ordered Athung, whose attempt to Blink was blocked by the sudden appearance of Silverwing\'s Hexagram.
Not so fast, kid. Sentinel the Garmr said while appearing from behind a nearby tree.
Her brown-red fur was still bloodstained from her last victim and her flaming red eyes were staring at Athung in hatred.
All four of them.
The beast looked like a wolf, with a height at the withers that reached 1.7 meters (5\'7).
Its red fur was comprised of hairs so thick that they resembled spikes and her tail looked like a thorned whip, cracking the ground at its every movement.
Reaper and Lifebringer joined her, completing the encirclement and leaving Athung no way out.
Well, this explains why those three never returned nor called for help. Raagu was mildly amused by the sudden turn of events.
Lith\'s orders were clear.
He had asked the Emperor Beasts to not interfere unless he asked for help, like he had done when the three Awakened had attempted to escape.
Once they had been dealt with, the Emperor Beasts had focused their attention on the last remaining intruder.
Athung looked at them with Life Vision.
Their mana cores were cloaked, appearing barely stronger than a squirrel\'s, whereas their vitality was overbearing and resembled that of her own master.
I can\'t fight them by myself and save Gaaron at the same time. Athung said while taking out her staff.
One of the Hexagram\'s weak points was that it couldn\'t block enchanted items.
Pseudo cores had a different mana flow than mana cores and the magical formation was incapable of allowing its users to perceive it.
Point taken. Raagu replied.
Red runes appeared all over Athung\'s Council amulet, connecting her position with the Gate in the elder\'s office and allowing Raagu to cross the distance separating them in one step.
I\'m the human representative of the Council and I\'m here on official business.
Step aside. Raagu ordered.
What\'s the Council Sentinel asked, receiving from the other kings of the woods a shrug in reply.
Gods, that\'s why I hate country bumpkins. Raagu could see that the Emperor Beasts were completely oblivious of the meaning of her words.
Her title bore no significance to them.
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