Chapter 296: New Challenger
Around her, the once vibrant battlefield had turned into a scene of desolation. The fallen cultivators, who had fought with such valor, now lay motionless, their life forces extinguished. The weight of their collective sacrifice pressed heavily on Althea's heart.
The seasoned warrior, who had fought alongside her, crawled toward her with visible effort. His face was etched with pain, and his voice strained. "Althea... we gave it our all. I... have no regrets."
The younger cultivator, still conscious but grievously wounded, mustered a weak smile. "We... fought for something greater. Even if... we don't see it, someone will carry on."
Althea's eyes brimmed with tears, both for the fallen cultivators and for the desperate situation they now faced. The city depended on her, and she couldn't afford to give in to despair. With a steely resolve, she pushed herself to her feet, though every movement was a painful reminder of her weakened state.
As Althea rose from the battlefield, the remnants of her strength barely supporting her, her eyes locked onto Tornit. The abomination, seemingly rejuvenated by the malevolent blast, was far from finished.
Tornit's grotesque form lunged toward her with an unnatural speed. Its limbs, once distorted and wounded, were now regenerating before her eyes. With a deafening roar, it launched itself at Althea, its clawed appendages ready to rend and tear.
Althea attempted to evade, but her movements were sluggish, her reactions delayed by the loss of her life force. She managed to narrowly dodge the first strike, but the second one found its mark. Tornit's razor-sharp claws slashed across her shoulder, tearing through her robes and drawing blood.
Pain surged through her body, but Althea gritted her teeth, refusing to cry out. She knew that any sign of weakness would be a fatal Pain surged through her body, but Althea gritted her teeth, refusing to cry out. She knew that any sign of weakness would be a fatal invitation for Tornit. With a swift, desperate movement, she retaliated with a blast of elemental power. A bolt of searing Light energy surged from her fingertips, striking Tornit's grotesque face.
The undead abomination recoiled with an anguished screech, its festering flesh smoldering from the impact. However, its retaliation was relentless. With a whip of its long, sinewy tail, it struck Althea with incredible force, sending her crashing into a nearby stone pillar. The impact left her breathless, her body aching from the tremendous blow.
Struggling to regain her footing, Althea's vision blurred momentarily. Tornit advanced upon her, closing the distance with each looming step. Its malevolent aura enveloped her like a suffocating shroud.
Althea pushed past the pain, determination fueling her spirit. With a fierce growl, she leaped to her feet, unleashing another barrage of elemental attacks. Brilliant shards of ice shot toward Tornit, followed by cascading stones and scorching beams of Light. Despite her weakened state, she fought with every ounce of her being, refusing to yield to the abomination that sought to snuff out hope.
But Tornit was relentless. Its limbs struck like serpentine whips, blocking or deflecting Althea's attacks. Its eyes, filled with malevolence, fixed upon her. With an uncanny swiftness, it lunged forward, jaws agape, ready to deliver a fatal bite.
With her energy waning, Althea knew she couldn't evade Tornit's final strike. She held her ground, determination in her eyes, and spoke with unwavering resolve. "If it is to be... my end, then so be it. But I will not... let you monster get out of here alive."
In the midst of the harrowing battle, Althea prepared herself to make the ultimate sacrifice. With Tornit's monstrous form closing in, she steeled her resolve, fully aware of the dire consequences. Her eyes blazed with determination as she gathered her energy, intending to channel it into a last, desperate attack that would consume both her and the undead abomination.
However, fate had other plans. Just as Althea was about to unleash her self-destructive strike, a deafening roar pierced the air. It was as though the heavens themselves had descended with a vengeance.
A colossal sword, shimmering with ethereal energy, rained down from the sky, crashing into Tornit with a thunderous impact. The blade was an embodiment of pure, awe-inspiring power, a manifestation of sword energy like none had ever seen before. It struck Tornit with such force that the abomination was forced to divert its malevolent attention, protecting itself from the onslaught.
Amidst the debris and chaos, a figure descended from above, landing gracefully upon the battlefield. Kaelar, a legendary figure within the Azure Continent, stood tall and resolute. His presence alone seemed to radiate power and authority.
In swift, graceful movements, Kaelar made his way to Althea's side, who lay battered and injured. His eyes held a mixture of relief and concern. Without hesitation, he took out a precious 6-star healing pill, a rarity that was scarcely heard of, let alone seen.
Kaelar gently raised Althea's head and spoke with a voice like a soothing balm, "Hold on, Althea. You're not going to die today." With great care, he placed the healing pill to her lips and allowed her to ingest it.
The moment the pill dissolved in her mouth, Althea could feel a surge of revitalizing energy coursing through her body. It was as if the very essence of life was being restored to her. The pain in her wounds began to ebb, and the strength she had lost started to return.
As the healing pill worked its miraculous effect, Althea's vision cleared, and her strength began to return. She watched in astonishment as Kaelar stood before her, his eyes filled with genuine relief.
Kaelar smiled, the weight of the world seeming to lift from his shoulders. "I almost didn't make it in time. I'm happy that you've survived, Althea."
Tears welled up in Althea's eyes, not only from the physical pain but from the overwhelming emotions she felt. "Thank you, Kaelar," she whispered, her voice trembling. "I thought... it was the end."
Kaelar's expression was a mix of concern and warmth. "You have the heart of a true warrior, Althea. The world still needs you."
With Kaelar's support, Althea slowly rose to her feet, feeling the renewed vitality surging through her. She was no longer on the brink of sacrificing herself but standing alongside a friend, ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead.
With renewed strength coursing through her veins, Althea stood beside Kaelar, her gratitude for his timely intervention etched upon her face. But before she could take a step forward to join the battle, Kaelar gently but firmly placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Althea, you should consolidate yourself first," he said with a steady voice. "Let me fight this abomination first."
Althea, her gaze unwavering, hesitated for a heartbeat. She could sense the truth in Kaelar's words. Her strength was depleted, and Tornit, reinvigorated, was a force to be reckoned with. She nodded, trusting in Kaelar's unparalleled mastery of the sword.
Kaelar turned his attention back to the looming threat that was Tornit. The abomination, although weakened by the earlier onslaught, still possessed a malevolent vitality that was terrifying to behold. Its grotesque form oozed with malevolence as it slithered and thrashed, ready to unleash its next wave of attacks.
Without further words unsheathed his sword with a fluid motion, the blade singing with an almost melodic resonance.
Tornit, sensing a new challenger, turned its attention to Kaelar. Its malevolent eyes gleamed with an unholy hunger, its grotesque form poised for attack.