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376 Titanic Statues

    Above the canyons, high in the sky, Kiba's shirt fluttered in the wind. He looked at the incoming gigantic fist made of rock, shining with a strange metallic glint.

    The spike-like knuckles on the fist shrouded everything else, ready to tear him to pieces. Compared to the enormous fist, both he and Ashlyn looked nothing more than bugs.

    Behind, black liquid surged up like waves, moving forward to envelop him and Ashlyn. At this altitude, Ashlyn couldn't fight, and presently she was floating in mid-air thanks to him.

    As Ashlyn finished warning him about the black liquid, he waved his free hand. Mist-like energy swept out from his palm that began to swirl around them.

    With a whooshing sound, the mist-like energy concentrated into a force field. From a distance, it appeared as if Kiba and Ashlyn were inside a golden bubble.

    BANG

    Just as the force field appeared, from behind, the corrosive black liquid crashed on the force field. Acidic sounds ringed out and corrosive ripples splashed throughout the force field.

    Ashlyn left his other hand and stood on the surface provided by the force field. As long as the force field remained, she didn't have to rely on his direct support to float.

    At the same time, the enormous fist rumbled forward. Piercing winds swept out as the fist directly slammed into the force field.

    Vibrations that were visible to the naked eye swept inside.

    Kiba's furrowed his eyebrows as he saw cracks appearing on the force field. Golden glow splashed out and the black liquid gushed inside.

    "Why the hell does this core region love corrosion so much?"

    Kiba has only entered the core region barely half an hour ago. But he has met many poisonous or corrosive elements that originated from the core region.

    The gigantic snake that appeared to save Count Viper, the alien serpent who wanted to absorb Kiba, the nanites (which harmed Felicity), White Phantom Snakes- one of them bitting Verna whom Zed saved and now this black liquid.

    In one way or another, they were related to elements of corrosion and toxicity.

    The blue nanites which harmed Felicity were different as they were explosive which relied on genetic material, but even they had some corrosive element in it.

    Kiba was interested in reason but he knew now was not the best time to think about.

    As the black liquid moved towards Kiba, and the enormous fist moved back to strike again; Kiba took Ashlyn's hand in his, and abruptly, shot down.

    The force field faded and the droplets of black liquid splattered like rain.

    The rock fist seemed to be excited as it saw Kiba and Ashlyn falling down. It once again punched straight at them.

    "You know this is not the type of welcome I had in mind," Kiba remarked as his aura burst out.

    Whirlwinds of golden energy exploded like the ocean waves. The intensity of his energy was such that Ashlyn was forced to cover her eyes with a hand as they continued to move downwards.

    Swoosh~!

    A terrifying pressure enveloped the entire area. The red smog - that existed in place of sky - was silhouetted by golden energy waves.

    The enormous fist stopped in its path, shocked by raging aura. Cracks riffed out on its surface, and the core inside supplied with more explosive strength.

    Yet, much to its surprise, more cracks riffed throughout the fist.

    One of the shocking ability of this fist was that it could abruptly increase its power and recover.

    Earlier, when Kiba attacked it the first time, the fist has increased its power many folds and destroyed through his attack.

    Kiba was in no mood to play with this fist or the corrosive black liquid.

    It wasn't like his opponent was some man whom he could mock with some mocking remarks, or an alluring woman whom he could flirt with, or the best type of opponent - a husband whom he could cuckold.

    The enemy was just a rocky fist and black liquid. There was just no fun in wasting time.

    This was why he surged out his aura that was at peak of Beta.

    He stopped in mid-air along with Ashlyn, looking down at the fist. His eyes were filled with disdain as if daring the fist to smash at him.

    The black liquid which was falling as rain droplets froze in mid-air. This was out of its own violation.

    It was like the aura below was volcanic like the great sun, and an innate fear rippled through the corrosive liquid, making it stop.

    Just then, the golden energy around Kiba focused together into an illusory lotus with seven petals. The phantom was of a lotus in full bloom; its petals suffused with strong vitality.

    The volume of black liquid was enough to make a lake, but as the golden lotus appeared, the liquid wished it was just a droplet.

    Thanks to a mutation that lasted for thousands of years, the black liquid which originally existed thousands of feet underground - similar to lava in Earth's crust-  the liquid mass gained sentience.

    With time, it gained a hunger, a need to satisfy its craving of living beings. It fused with a portion of canyon landmass that was actually the enormous fist.

    As the geo-energy was strong, it could summon as much energy as it needed. This ensured that it was never defeated, no matter how strong the opponent.

    The carcasses of primeval lifeforms inside the cliffs were the best proof. (It has to be mentioned that those living beings were already on verge of dying from lack of energy so they weren't really strong enough to resist).

    Now, as the liquid mass perceived the illusory rose, every drop in it was feeling a crisis. It was like how a small snake feel at the sight of a gigantic snake.

    There was a strong urge to kneel down.

    The golden rose was emitting strong vitality, but only the black liquid realized a peculiarity. The petals were filled with corrosive energy!

    Ssss

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    The black liquid retraced back in the form of waves. It didn't dare test out the phenomenon of fighting corrosion with corrosion.

    The flower phantom sensed black liquid moving towards the hole in the ground, to enter back into its habitat, the illusory lotus acted.

    The petals of the lotus opened further and then shot at the black liquid. Lotus was small and incorporeal, and yet when it appeared next to the corrosive liquid, it ensconced the entire liquid mass.

    The rocks on the ground - which couldn't even be destroyed by a Belta- when they made contact with the illusory flower, they wilted and corroded. In an instant, the rocks disappeared.

    The lotus petals closed the black liquid from all directions and then glued together. The moment the petal touched the liquid mass, strong seething sounds reverberated out.

    On the macromolecular level, two types of corrosive energies were fighting against each other. It was a matter of domination, and the result couldn't have been any obvious.

    Terrifying energy of corrosion from the lotus ripped through black liquid mass, and the sheen on its petals intensified.

    Its vitality increased as if it has satisfied its craving...

    "How boring," Kiba sighed as he floated high in the sky and destroyed the enormous fist with an arc of golden energy.

    He already has an answer on liquid's origin, and as he thought of its sentience, he couldn't help but marvel at the miracles of world.

    "Life doesn't necessarily have to originate from life..."

    Kiba then thought of the types of immortalities. His eyes flashed brightly as he concluded something striking about life and immortality.

    "Oh well, it doesn't interest me but Pythia would love it."

    Kiba thought of the mutant with time abilities whom he met in The Fair. The one who gave him a virtual tour of the future, and showed him Dr. Kiba's adventure.

    He recalled her shining olive skin, dirty blonde hair, and the mouth-watering slender figure.

    As he thought of the loose yellow robe she has covered her body with, he couldn't help gulp down. His mind flashed with the images of the swells of her breasts.

    "Haah~ Why am I thinking like some pervert?"

    Kiba wondered as he found himself envying the rotating hourglass figure that was tucked between Pythia's cleavage.

    He smiled as he thought of how Claudia would respond if she ever came to know about this.

    [[Master, you are so dedicated to your cause that in the middle of nowhere, you have time to think about a woman.]]

    Kiba was sure her remark would be far more sarcastic but he toned it down.

    Ashlyn looked at him and blinked her emerald eyes. She noticed a strange look on his face and wondered what he was thinking after defeating black liquid.

    "He must be feeling disappointed," Ashlyn thought.

    She has seen how he loved to toy with his opponents and take a sadistic pleasure, but just now, he got none of his usual fun.

    As she thought of this, she remembered his complete opposite - his younger brother.

    She poked Kiba, and as he turned around, in a cold voice, she said, "A shameless man like you have no right to be strict."

    "?!"

    Without saying anything further, she left his hand and jumped. At this altitude, she could land safely without hurting herself.

    In mid-air, Kiba wanted to weep but has no tears to shed.

    How come his other self was making trouble for him even now?

    Helpless, he shot down at the ground to join her.

    ...

    Kiba and Ashlyn walked together without saying anything. She obviously couldn't forgive him for being strict on a kind man like Zed. Of course, she couldn't either tell him that she was referring to Zed as she promised to not disclose about him being present in the forest.

    A smile bloomed on Kiba's lips as he thought of her dilemma. Her thinking was a bit naive but cute nevertheless.

    Twenty minutes later.

    They appeared before the titanic statues carved out of the cliffs. The statues seemed to be of two brave warriors with their spears intervened in X.

    Compared to the two grand statues, Ashlyn and Kiba weren't worth mentioning at all. They were even smaller than ants.

    Ashlyn gazed at the humongous spears above her before walking forward. The distance below the spears was no less than a city wall, and hundreds of people could easily pass by.

    Kiba followed from behind but just as he took a step below the intersection of the spears, a heavy rumbling sound enveloped every sound in the world.

    Ahead, Ashlyn's eyes flickered with shock and she hastily lifted her head up. Stones and rocks were falling from the cliffs that joined the statues.

    Both statues were shaking, and a cyan glow splashed in their eyes, almost as if coming to life after a very long sleep.

    Ashlyn was surprised at the development.

    Barely an hour ago, when she was in the sky admiring the canyons, she has noticed a few people passing through the entrance below the spears. Back then, there was no such action.

    In fact, as per the data she had, the statues never acted in such a manner when the core region opened up before. Her adopted parents have given her information about the core region, and in that information, the statues were only mentioned in passing.

    According to the details she has, similar statues existed in almost all starting points of the core region. In other parts, where the geography was different, the statues were carved out of other things. Some out of mountains, ice, lava, and so on. The composition depended on the environment.

    No one really believed the statues served any purpose except for the end of starting points.

    Ashlyn was still processing this when a spear pierced on the ground below with ear-piercing sound. The ground trembled as if an avalanche was coming.

    Red dust exploded out along with terrifying shockwaves that surged in all directions.

    Ashlyn leaped back to avoid the shockwaves. She looked ahead, and noticed the spear has landed right before Kiba.

    "Kiba?"

    Ashlyn obviously realized she was not the factor for this development.
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