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Feng Qing'er and Qing Tan shot forward like two bullets, moving faster than the eye could see. Behind Feng Qing'er, many runic patterns formed and dispersed in the air to create something greater while behind Qing Tan, an ever-expanding swamp of darkness consumed the land.

Shadow Generals and Captains were useless in this battle, so they weren't summoned to act arbitrarily. Even as distractions they didn't have much use. Instead, Qing Tan directly summoned three beings that hadn't seen the light of day yet.

One was a man who stood 6 feet in height and had an imposing demeanor. His facial features were masked in shadows and he was wearing a pitch black armor set that covered his body. However, his aura still remained similar to the one he had when he was alive.

"Winthrop!"

"You conniving bitch!"

Surprised exclamations came from the Apostles who had remained silent thus far. They couldn't maintain the same demeanor when they saw the shadow of their fallen comrade return to oppose them.

"Ohh~ that's right! You know this guy! Mm, he's a new addition so he hadn't seen much combat yet. Treat him well, okay?" Qing Tan said teasingly as she continued forward.

Behind the fallen Demon Commander, there were two massive beasts, one in the form of a strange bird and the other similar to a rhino. Both had similar levels of power to the Demon Commander.

The three Shadow Commanders closely followed Qing Tan's movements like loyal guards, separating only when they arrived in front of the enemy. Each of them occupied an Apostle while Qing Tan stayed in the rear and observed the overall situation.

On Feng Qing'er's side, there were no helpers or summons. Instead, the swirling flame runes in the sky seemed to have gained life of their own as they danced around the Apostles.

"Little girl, I've seen you before. Do you think these paltry tricks will work on us?" One of the Apostles sneered.

She moved her arms in a specific pattern, causing the dark material surrounding her to swirl and take shape as runes of its own. When these runes impacted the flaming patterns, both sides immediately dispersed.

The remaining Apostles that Feng Qing'er made similar maneuvers, easily dispelling the runic patterns around them. However, the second they did, they found another wave of runes eclipsing them again.

"Hahaha, it's just like he said, you guys gained a ton of information because of my mistake. Well, did you think I waited a month to attack because I was scared? Naturally, I've made sure that things will be incredibly difficult for you regardless."

As Feng Qing'er spoke, her fingers danced like the hands of a conductor, drawing out more and more runes with her mana. The sky had already been filled with thousands of flaming patterns that resembled the gait of a Phoenix.

"This time, all I have to do is hold you back. Do you think I won't be able to?" With a mocking grin, Feng Qing'er charged into the fray, followed by an array of runes and Phoenix phantoms.

***

While the two battles raged, Damien teleported far away from the commotion and closed his eyes. His body soon became ethereal and merged with the space around him.

He wasn't using mana to do so, no, his natural affinity with space made it so that he could perfectly incorporate it with concentration alone. The caveat was that if he made any movement or broke his concentration, he would immediately rematerialize.

With his eyes closed, Damien's consciousness entered a whole new world. Even when he wasn't focusing, his unique breadth of vision as a spatial expert allowed him to view the world through spatial layers, but in his current state, he had surpassed that.

The spatial layers he usually saw were like layers of film or cloth that were endlessly stacked on top of each other, flowing like waves while being sturdy as diamond. It was an interesting perspective on the world that'd make any normal person's brain split just by viewing it.

But for a spatial expert, this was just normal. But rather than this normal, what Damien currently saw with his awareness was a world of endless darkness that seemed to consume everything.

There was a saying that said where there was light, there would inevitably be darkness. The relationship between space and the void was similar.

In fact, in certain veins of thought, the void could be considered a sub-concept of space. But this void was different than the one that gave Damien's physique its namesake.

While it carried similar properties, it was at an even lower level than Damien's Low-Level Void Essence. It was like a snake while the Void was a dragon.

But regardless, a snake was still a descendant of dragons. It had the potential to become a dragon if it had the aptitude and willpower to work for it.

When Damien's consciousness sunk into the void, he directly used it as a medium to communicate with the true Void, seeping his Low-Level Void Essence into it and creating a channel.

This method was far more roundabout than what he did when he first created his Sanctuary, but this method also had a far greater chance of success.

During the creation of the Sanctuary, it was the massive country-sized portion of overlapped space that caused the foundation of the area to shake and open a thumb-sized crack into the Void, but Damien couldn't easily replicate such a situation. It could be said that his first encounter with the Void was due to pure luck.

So, when Damien worked to establish a true stable connection this time, he did it differently. Damien sat within the void and meditated on that connection like an old monk, silently drawing power from it and trying to manifest it into the real world.

He didn't need much. Even a thumb-sized portion of High-Level Void Essence would be enough to quickly and quietly assassinate a Demon King, let alone an Apostle. He at least needed Mid-Level Void Essence to accomplish his current task.

But as he continued attempting to draw Void Essence above his comprehension level into his body, he soon realized that it was impossible.

Borrowing the power of Mid-Level Void Essence was something he could do, but his body simply couldn't bear the strain of such a task yet. Perhaps even his Half-Dragon body couldn't bear the weight.

But there was an easy solution to this.

'Demon Dragon Transformation.'

He called out the chant in his head, and his bloodlines answered immediately. His body went through heavy changes, taking on his Demonic Dragon Form.

At that moment, he finally obtained the capital to contain some Mid-Level Void Essence in his vessel. But he still didn't have the comprehension level to do so permanently. Even as the Mid-Level Void Essence entered his body, he felt that it would only stay there for a few seconds before it started to disperse.

'Well, my body can only remain like this for half a minute, anyway, so a few seconds is solid.'

Damien opened his eyes to be greeted by a chaotic battlefield of flames and darkness. Dark material flared through the area and combatted the combined forces of Feng Qing'er and Qing Tan.

It didn't take long for Damien to grasp the situation.

'If Qing Tan didn't have those shadows, they would've been done in already.'

But there were no what-ifs in this world. What mattered was that Feng Qing'er and Qing Tan had successfully bought him the time he needed.

Damien didn't let his thoughts simmer for too long. He moved his mana to keep him assimilated into the space around him while also using vector control to make sure the spatial fluctuations didn't spread into the surroundings.

He rapidly crossed the chaotic battlefield without being noticed by anyone and finally caught sight of his target.

The old man was still standing in his previous spot, watching the ongoing battle with a light smile on his face. Even as he saw his so-called brothers and sisters get injured, he didn't seem in a hurry to make a move.

Damien felt there was something off about this old man's demeanor. He had felt the same uncomfortable sensation since the moment he laid eyes on him. But he didn't have time to dwell on it. His Demon Dragon Form wouldn't last long enough.

20 seconds.

Damien arrived in the old man's vicinity, slowing his pace and steadying his breathing.

15 seconds.

Damien had become invisible. Not only his bodily functions, even his life aura and mana fluctuations had diminished until they were unnoticeable even if he came out of the void.

10 seconds.

Damien arrived behind the old man who still didn't move an inch. Seeing that smile up close, the uncomfortable feeling in Damien's chest grew even fiercer.

8 seconds.

The Mid-Level Void Essence he had been temporarily housing appeared on the tips of his fingers, causing the surrounding space to crack. He could no longer remain concealed as he had before.

7 seconds.

Damien's hand shot forward and plunged into the old man's chest without resistance. The Void Essence on his palm spread through the old man's body, causing it to rot and become nonexistent.

6 seconds.

The old man finally turned his head to look at Damien. Even as his body crumbled into nothingness, the smile on his face never faded. When Damien met the old man's eyes, he noticed that they were like hollow black holes, seemingly not containing any consciousness behind them.

5 seconds.

The old man's body no longer existed, his head floated in space as his neck slowly faded. Suddenly, that eerie smile widened into a wicked grin. Damien froze. He felt a chill like nothing he had ever felt before.

4 seconds.

Damien couldn't move. He couldn't think. His mind was completely occupied with the deranged grin of the old man in front of him. His mana became sluggish, his life aura waned. It was like Damien had suddenly begun dying.

3 seconds.

The old man's head had already started being banished into nothingness. The Void Essence that wreaked havoc in his body was also starting to disappear.

2 seconds.

Damien was at the end of his rope. Originally, he didn't plan to stay for so long. He wanted to retreat immediately after striking his blow, but now, he was stuck here, unable to move. Time seemed to come to a halt, with only Damien and the disappearing remains of the old man left in the world.

1 second.

"• ••••• ••••••••• ••••••"

The old man finally spoke. The old man didn't have a mouth nor a throat to create sound from, and Damien couldn't even make out the words the old man said, but for some reason, he could understand them clearly.

The voice he heard was unfathomable and malevolent, causing Damien to experience a visceral fear that he had never experienced before. Just by listening to it, Damien felt his life force wither until it reached the point where his natural lifespan was only a few months long.

0 seconds.

Damien's Demon Dragon Transformation ended, time sped up until it was flowing normally again, the old man's figure completely vanished from existence.

Damien immediately collapsed to the ground. His body was wracked with insane pain that he couldn't understand and his mind was in shambles. Mouthfuls of blood continuously flowed from his mouth without pause.

Damien's chaotic mind raced, but he was unable to form a single thought. He couldn't even consciously register the pain that he was supposed to be experiencing.

He had no idea what the surrounding situation was. He had no idea where his body was or what was happening to it. He was trapped inside his mind space with a single image playing on replay over and over again.

It was the image of that malevolent smile and the sound of that unfathomable voice. Under the stimulation of these two factors, Damien was slowly losing his mind, unable to stop it from crumbing to dust.