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429 Poison in the Water

    For hours Jerigh and the female grand judge escaped from explosions caused by the conflict between two dangerous powers. A sharp and scary energy, and one which would force someone with a weak stomach to shriek in disgust. However, no matter how far they went, they conflict seemed to follow them, making them unable to lose it in the endless space.

    After more than six hours, the female judge stopped her march. With her arms drooping down her side, and a face face filled with worry, she turned to look at Jerigh, and said, "I will open a portal for you, then continue on my own. Report everything you have seen."

    "Chia!" Said a familiar yet disembodied voice that came from behind her. This voice was able to make reassurance appear on the face of the weakened female judge, as she turned around with newfound calmness. Moments later, the heavily injured male judge appeared in the distance. Once only a few meters away from them, he took a few deep breaths, and added, "That consciousness escaped. I have managed to injure it, and it fled."

    The female judge looked past the male judge, and towards the direction where the waves of conflicting power were coming from. After noticing the lack of other forms of presence in that direction, she took a deep breath in relief, and said, "Good.. good. Did you find out anything new? Who is he, or where did he come from? Was he a spy from the other civilization?"

    The male judge raised in hands in surrender, and instead of responding, he said, "We can talk about this later. Let's get you back on your feet first." he then slowly floated in her direction, carrying in his hand a few pills.

    While many would mistake these pills as simple healing pills, they would only be half right. Healing essence was an artificial form of essence created by merging life, and time essence when condensing a pill. These pills would contain the concepts of regeneration of the life essence, and the concept of passage of time of time essence. However, while still considered healing pills, the ones carried the male judge had a different use.

    Created from the merging of the concept of repetition of time essence, and the concept of youth of life essence, these pills were able to restore one's condition to that of the peak of their lives. These pills were called Pills of Youth, and were extremely expensive and limited pills which were given to the judges to help them recover after using the peak of their powers.

    Unfortunately, not even these pills were able to refill one's life essence, which was constantly corroded by death essence until the moment of their death. Their only use, was to rejuvenate their cells, and help them live their lives as young and healthy individuals.

    At the sight of these pills, the female judge felt reassured, and slowly floated in the direction of her companion.. however, just as their hands were about to touch, unbeknownst to the two of them, time began to slow, and before they could react, a light flashed past the straightened arm of the male judge, parting his hand from his wrist.

    Just as quickly, Jerigh, who had been standing right next to the female judge, grabbed the two pills that fell out of the judge's detached hand, and immediately after, he grabbed the female judge by the waist, and shot in the distance at the top of his speed.

    "What are you doing?!" shouted the female judge with anger. She had clearly seen Jerigh cut the hand of her companion and steal the pills, but instead of leaving right away, he took her along. "What is the meaning of this?" she kept asking, confused by Jerigh's actions.

    Instead of answering, Jerigh handed over the Pills of Youth to the woman, and after letting go of his sword, he grabbed the sheathed one that was hanging from the waist of the female judge. He then unsheathed it, and after moving the woman behind him, he placed the sword in front of him in a defensive position, focusing every bit of power within his body, in his arms.

    Less than an instant later, the male judge appeared in front of Jerigh with his gavel in hand, and hammered it against his weaker opponent. The impact instantly disintegrated Jerigh's arms, and created a shockwave so powerful, that sent both him and the female judge flying backwards at a speed difficult to see with the naked eye.

    This attack was clearly meant to kill, or at least injure both of them, and if not for the fact that the male judge had been drastically drained of his power, nothing of Jerigh would have remained.

    Right after meeting with this attack, the female judge realized what had happened, and with the small amount of power she had left, she tightened her hold on Jerigh's clothes, and used the momentum of the blow to reach a speed which, if not for the blow, the two wouldn't have been able to reach.

    The lack of attrition and gravitational pull allowed both Jerigh and her to make full use of the burst of speed to distance themselves from their pursuer.. at least long enough for her to ingest the pill which Jerigh had wisely taken from her former companion right before attempting an escape.

    Meanwhile, the battle between the Brutal and the Swordsman kept raging on in the distance, becoming more and more violent as time went on.

    -----

    After a whole hour, the female judge finally managed to return to a state which allowed her to bear the power of her gift, and therefore, allow her to fight back.

    "That brat has good eyes." Said a familiar voice  that came from behind them, right where the male judge was following them at a slightly slower, yet still impressive speed.

    It was only now that the female judge noticed something.

    She turned to look at her former companion, and said, "Whatever you are, you can't use his gift.." her eyes narrowed into two menacing slits, and her hand wrapped around the handle of the sword which she had managed to recover during their escape.

    What the female judge said was right. The invasor had managed to sink into the mind of her former companion, and gain control over his body, but while he could use the full strength of his cultivation, immortal gifts were different. The knowledge that required their use resided in the mind, and that was not something that could be assimilated by simply prying into someone else's memories. Only mental entities like Aeron and the Mindhive were able to assimilate experiences as their own.

    Specifically, the Judge's gift required a shared desire to protect something with a large number of people, in order to draw power from them. Without this shared desire, one was left with nothing but selfishness, and the incapability of exploiting this gift.

    Slightly reassured, the female judge stopped the motion forced upon them by her former companion's blow, and decided to face him. With the power of her gift, and the protection of the Deathbringer's artifact, she was sure to survive this encounter. At least long enough to send Jerigh back to report what happened, and call for more reinforcements.

    "I will force you vermin out of his body." She said as her rejuvenated body started to once again glow with a similar, yet dimmer golden light than before.

    "Yes! There is no point in hunting an already dead prey.. But who says I can't use that silly gift of yours?" Responded the invader before seeping out of the male judge's eyes in the form of a faint smoke.

    The judge's eyes immediately cleared, and he seemed to regain his wits. However, after noticing the small cluster of smoke next to him, he bowed his head, and looked down in fear.

    "Go little one, take care of your friend. No blood is sweeter than that spilled from the hands of loved ones." Said the invasor right before the male judge started to summon the power of the judges, and similarly to her former companion, began to glow with a golden light. On his face, was an expression filled with sadness and shame.

    Before the female judge could do anything, her former companion rushed in her direction while brandishing his powerful gavel.

    The invasor observed with amusement as the two judges attacked each other relentlessly. The more they fought, the more power was taken from the other judges, and the more they would glow with golden light, turning into two miniature stars whose lifelong objective was to clash against the other until only one of the two remained.

    After more than a hundred exchanges, the bodies of the two went back to their old and weakened state, and the glow emanated by their bodies began to disappear.

    The situation had long passed the point where it could be considered critical, so the female judge gave up on her chance of survival, and instead of parrying the next attack, she turned to look at Jerigh. With a swift motion of her hand, she grabbed the pearl that was hanging around her neck, and threw it in his direction. She then sent a gentle wave of power towards him in an attempt to throw him into the portal she was trying to open behind him.

    The pearl quickly reached Jerigh, and by using the wave of power, sent Jerigh flying back once again right into the portal that had started to form a few kilometers away.

    Unfortunately, contrary to the female judge's expectations, the attack of her former companion never arrived, and instead, a feeble smoke seeped into her skin. It only took moments before her pained expression changed into a malicious smile, and her previously opened hand shut tight, closing the portal even before it could fully open.

    Jerigh was only able to witness as the invasor took control over the body of the woman, unable to do anything to stop him.

    "That was quite fun!" said the invasor with delight through the mouth of the now old looking female judge. He then turned to look at Jerigh, and while slowly floating in his direction, he added with excitement, "Once I find that little dimensional traveler, I will turn him into my personal artifact. So many high quality resources here.. And they bleed so splendidly."

    Jerigh was nothing less than confused by the words of this entity, after all, he was unaware of what had caused him to appear, or from where. If only he possessed the same knowledge of Daniel, Aeron, and Edmund, he would know that this being's cultivation revolved around absorption of life, and through it, he had managed to gain control over his own dimension.

    With time, the number of people whose lives he and his people could have taken started to become smaller and smaller, causing them to set their eyes onto the other dimensions.

    Unable to take his true power into the other dimensions, his only way to visit another one was through a place known as 'Tryportas', a place of unknown origins, which allowed for consciousnesses to explore different dimensions, while leaving behind their physical bodies.

    In Edmund this invasor had found a power which allowed one to physically travel through dimensions, a power that if he could control, would allow him to invade other dimensions, and continue his cultivation to higher levels.

    All of that started with what was standing just a hundred meters away. A thirty years old man which, by chance, shared the smell of the person he was looking for.

    This search had become an obsession for the invader, to a point where nothing of what surrounded him matter. Not even when the entire area around him started to be filled with sword intent, did he look away from Jerigh.

    Unfortunately for him, while he believed himself to be invincible while within this dimension of weak cultivators, he was forced to think again as he felt an indescribable pain come from each fiber of his body. His first instinct was to shriek in pain, but the more he moved, the more he felt his consciousness being cut into shreds.

    What he was feeling, was the strongest and ultimate move of the Swordsman's system. An active ability called 'World of Blades', which turned everything within a certain distance into sharp and deadly blades that were able to cut through anything. The only way to survive it, was by possessing a power strong enough to protect oneself, or remain completely still for the entire duration of the ability.

    The two subjugated and weakened judges were caught by this ability, and without even realizing it, they had been sliced into an unrecognizable meat paste in a matter of instants.

    Suddenly, the space that separated the invader from his prey started to look a million times larger, and each moment, the two seemed to move further and further away from each other. If only the invader's mental fortitude had been a bit weaker, none of it would have remained.

    This ability remained in place for a few long seconds, until finally, it disappeared without leaving traces. In its stead, appeared the injured body of the Swordsman, who had clearly gone through a very hard and painful fight against his brother, the Brutal.

    As the pain subsided, the invader felt his anger towards this ant grow beyond control. Unfortunately, before he could act on it, the Swordsman sliced the empty space, and ripped a portal open. He then grabbed Jerigh by his shirt, and pulled him into it.

    The portal closed right behind them.

    Fuming, the invader cursed the person who pushed him away from his hopes and dreams, only stopping the moment the Brutal approached him from behind. On his body, were numerous slices and cuts from which he had yet to recover.

    "I want you to find him.. FIND HIM NOW!!!"
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