On top of the stone statue.
Garen and Sylphalan collided into each other madly.
The palm and the sword met head-on again and again. Each collision sent a large quantity of white vapor and red light flying everywhere. They rain down on the surrounding walls and onto the ground, constantly creating new and uneven holes.
"Divine Statue, East King Hand!!"
A platinum divine statue appeared suddenly behind Garen, and rushed into his body in an instant, the two of them merging into one. Carrying with it an incomparable platinum light, his hand stirred the cloud vapor around them, and his palm grabbed straight for Sylphalan’s head.
Sylphalan’s body leaned back, Garen’s clawed fingers brushing just past him. A moment later, a red light lit up from behind him, just like a peacock displaying its plume. The red light then became countless red threads, aiming to pierce Garen.
The red threads shot out from all directions, and for a moment everywhere the eye could see had been surrounded.
"Crimson Moon Shadow." Sylphalan somersaulted away, his fingers pointed at Garen. All the red threads instantly shot towards Garen.
"Ten Thousand Mammoth Trample!!" Garen jolted his arms, and a circle of transparent shockwaves spread around him, blowing away most of the red threads.The few remaining threads pierced his body and made the hissing noise of cutting metal. In the end, all that remained were several white marks.
He leapt across to Sylphalan again, the platinum aura completely gathered onto his body, without any wastage whatsoever.
With his current condition, if the opponent was anyone but Sylphalan, all they would see would be his shadow. The seemingly overwhelming difference in power could have struck fear in their hearts.
This was the highest level of this world’s martial arts, when the aura and the human body merged into one. People called it King of the Century!
Similarly, Sylphalan was also covered in black light now, like a sun during the eclipse. His aura stuck close to his body, the two becoming one.
As the two fought madly, the stone statue also began to shake intensely. Each meeting between the two of them was like a bomb explosion.
Inside the entrance to the tunnel, a thin black shadow was quietly making his way to the stone statue’s peak.
"Go on, keep fighting… Hehe, when the two of you have beaten each other, be it the Black Smoke Pot or the Eternal Starry Night, all of it will be mine!" He couldn’t help but laugh in his deep voice.
The intense tremors kept coming from the tunnel’s stone walls, growing stronger and heavier.
"The opponent this time is far stronger than last time. Sylphalan, your time has finally come." The black shadow reached out his hand to touch the stone wall, laughing coldly. Suddenly, he sensed something amiss.
"Wait, why are the tremors growing stronger?!"
He stopped in his tracks, and turned his head to look. Unbelievably, there was a hint of red firelight in the pitch-black tunnel.
"That is… a bomb!!???" His eyes widened abruptly. "No… No!!! Sylphalan, you madman!!!!" He started screeching madly, his whole body rushing towards the tunnel ahead of him.
The God of Spear Mare stood quietly in front of the tunnel, looking at the part of the tunnel that had collapsed after the explosives went off. For a moment there, he didn’t know if he should advance or retreat.
The King of the North Pole walked out from behind him.
"Sylphalan is a madman. In order to make sure no one disturbed this final battle, he went ahead and bombed up the whole tunnel."
Mare gripped his fist tightly. Wordlessly, he turned around and walked away.
"Where are you going?" The King of the North Pole looked at him, confused.
"..." Mare did not reply. He just walked faster, disappearing down the tunnel in the direction he had come.
On the beach
Andrela sat cross-legged on the ground, his long sword stuck in the sand beside him. He was looking up blankly, staring at the dark and dull sky.
Black flower petals fell slowly from the sky, dancing and twirling, sprinkling his sword, his clothes, even his face.
A snow of black flower petals had descended on the entire island.
"What… is this?"
Andrela reached his hand out to pinch one of the petals, but it disintegrated into powder in his hand.
Nightmare was standing right beside him, and caught a petal lightly, trying to keep it intact.
"I don’t know, but I got a bad feeling about this. Let’s get away from here as soon as possible."
"Wait for Garen to return, then we can go together." Andrela was unmoved.
Nightmare lifted up the unconscious Andrela.
"You won’t listen even if I tell you. Why don’t you think of what kind of level Garen has reached. Even if he survives, you might not."
She took one last look at the red and white cloud vapor erupting constantly from the top of the statue.
"Garen, don’t die."
The island shook vigorously, and black snow fell from the sky.
The petal snow completely engulfed the entire Smoke Island.
A large flurry of red flames erupted from the stone statue’s waist area. At the same time, a large of black fog sprayed out.
The whole giant stone statue began to tilt slowly. The upper half began to slant gradually, breaking apart, and sliding towards the island.
At the same time, there was the rumble of thunder in the sky, as though weeping for the destruction of the giant stone statue.
On the stone statue’s peak.
Garen and Sylphalan were face to face, the red threads and white clouds between the two of them morphing into two blurry shadows. Countless red threads and white shadows knocked into each other, turning into countless red and white shards, spraying and scattering to the sides.
The statue’s whole head also began to tilt and shake vigorously.
The platform in the gap slowly tilted to the right.
Garen’s back crashed into a portion of the wall, and completely decimated that part of the wall with a crash. It left a huge hole, allowing them to see the roiling black sky outside.
"Divine Statue Return!!" His eyes glared suddenly, his whole body engorging explosively. His muscles expanded rapidly, and many platinum lines appeared on his body, forming several strange and distorted natural images and symbols.
"Sylphalan! Die!!" he roared, his hair standing on end. His palm expanded until they were like plantain fans, attacking Sylphalan from both sides. It was like a huge platinum giant grabbing a dwarf with both his hands.
The soundwaves from the loud roar complemented the pulsing of all the muscles in his body, creating a strange but intense tremor that made his body increase even further. In the end, he had enlarged until he was two and a half meters.
Before the move hit him, Sylphalan already felt sharp winds attacking him like knives, cutting into the skin on his face.
Both his ears felt the two huge pressure coming on both sides at the same time, as though two behemoths were charging at once, and he was temporarily dazed. This power was more than twice as strong as Garen had been just now.
Sylphalan didn’t retreat. Instead, he advanced, a small calm smile on his lips.
With that tiny sound, countless black veins started surfacing on the skin of his face, like countless insects and worms. All of them gathered to the center of his brow, forming an eye-shaped lump.
He reached out his hand and swept the blade of his sword. In an instant, there was a flash of red light.
He thrust his sword at Garen’s face, seemingly unaware of Garen’s palms coming from both sides.
The Sword of the Sprites was as blinding as the setting sun, instantly radiating an intense and burning hot light.
The chime of the clock went long and far.
Garen’s hands hit nothing but air, as did Sylphalan’s sword rays. Both of them switched positions.
In a split second, it was as though all sound had ceased. There was only the long lament of the ancient clock.
Another chime rang out.
Garen’s hands grabbed the long red sword, the white vapor and red threads of light tangling up and colliding with each other. The whole space was covered with shaved black stone shards. The black light around Sylphalan’s body strengthened, and he held the sword with both hands.
The last chime of the clock.
Sylphalan gave up on the sword and used his hands instead, pointing one finger at Garen’s chest. The tip of that finger sank deep into Garen’s skin. Garen couldn’t avoid it in time, and stared down at his own chest.
In that moment, both of them froze completely.
The head of the stone statue exploded in a ball of red flame.
The ground underneath the platform was torn apart by the intense explosion, and countless black shards flew out from the flames as charred shrapnel. Both of them were entirely engulfed.
The whole top half of the giant statue collapsed, and smashed onto the island floor, creating a splash of smoke and ash in its wake.
Where the statue fell, a pillar of black smoke rose into the sky. It blew the infinite black petal rain in all directions, growing thicker as it went.
Garen gripped Sylphalan’s arm tightly. He was beginning to vomit blood-- dark red, almost coagulated chunks.
The two stood facing each other. Sylphalan’s whole right arm had gone through Garen’s chest, protruding from his back.
As for Sylphalan himself, blood-colored cracks had formed along his right arm and shoulder. Like the hairline cracks on a piece of porcelain that would fall apart with the slightest touch.
Oddly, the cracks were still spreading towards his head.
Blood started to ooze slowly out of Sylphalan’s body, but it was barely visible on the black coat. The only proof of his injuries was the blood dripping down his leg.
There was the rumble of thunder in the sky.
The two of them were currently standing on the forehead of the giant statue. Beneath them was a steep cliff, that opened up to a valley of bright red, blinding hot lava ten thousand feet below.
A large body of lava was spraying and splashing. Worse of all, it was rising, slowly but determinedly.
The place the stone statue had fallen turned out to be the mouth of a huge volcano. The whole volcano mouth was round and over a thousand meters in diameter, forming a giant cylindrical abyss.
Wafts of thick black smoke sprayed out of this exit, scattering volcano ash that looked like black petals. They floated down and scattered everywhere.
The top half of the giant stone statue had fallen beside the mouth of the volcano, and its head was suspended in the middle. Heatwave after heatwave rose and roasted it.
The red-hot light had dyed the entire stone statue completely red. Even the two people standing on it had become scarlet.
"Divine Statue… Return!!" Garen roared abruptly, all the platinum aura around his body exploding away. It became a platinum round disc that spun in the air above his head. This huge attack stampeded towards Sylphalan viciously.
"Omniscient Eye!!!" Sylphalan also roared, the lump on his brow splitting open. A ray of sharp yet shapeless telekinesis shot out like a blade, ramming towards the platinum attack.
The two shapeless powers collided. Sylphalan flew back, falling into the mouth of the volcano. His right hand grabbed the side of the stone statue, but somehow, his hand was suddenly suspended in mid-air before he pulled it back.
He suddenly looked slightly lost and calm, as though his thoughts had flown off into the distance somewhere
Garen’s hand grabbed his right hand, and kept him hanging off the cliff.
Some small pebbles tumbled off the edge and fell into the red-hot lava, melting into nothing in an instant.
"Do you really want to die that badly?" Garen looked at Sylphalan with clenched teeth.
"Don’t you think… the scaret flames… are really pretty?" Sylphalan smiled. For some reasom, his smile looked slightly lost.
All of a sudden, a piercing cry came from the clouds in the sky.
Garen looked up. It was the sound of an airplane gliding through the air.
Suddenly, Sylphalan broke free of his grip. Lying horizontally, he fell quietly into the abyss. His coat beat about in the wind, making him look a black swallow that had fallen into a sea of red.
"What a beautiful scarlet…" he murmured, looking at the red light on his body. And then he looked at Garen, who was staring at him with widened eyes from the cliffside.
In that moment, Garen’s face overlapped with that handsome, charismatic and confident face from the past.
"Big brother… To think, I could never walk out of your shadow, even until the very end…"
Soundlessly, Sylphalan fell quietly into the lava. He was engulfed completely, leaving not a single trace, just like the rocks that had fallen before him.
"You little…!!!" Garen gripped his fists tightly, his teeth clenching together with a loud clack. All the muscles in his body were trembling.
His hand touched the right side of his neck. The bloody red gash there was clear as day, and it had been inflicted with ease by that Omniscient Eye just now. If Sylphalan had used that move from the start…
"A victory like this… You just handed it to me!!???" Garen felt an unprecedented sense of shame and unhappiness. This was the final battle he had looked forward to all this time, and yet his opponent just threw the match?
A piercing wail came from the sky.
In that moment, an intense sense of danger rose in his heart.
"You want me to die?!!!"
His whole body was expanding vigorously, the platinum aura surrounding his body expanding madly in all directions.
In between his mad howling, Garen raised his fists and swung them at the sky. Behind him, a huge platinum statue burst into form, and raused its fists at the same time, swinging them through the air.
A soundless bolt of lightning. A black mushroom cloud rose from the ground, the intense radiation spreading in all directions with abandon.