The spiritual power that Wang Zhong possessed as a result of the Fate Stone's nourishment allowed him to be able to stand his ground while conversing with any power of the natural law. His words were like the warm sun that melted the ice in winter. Wang Zhong could clearly see a flash of surprise in her cold and machine-like eyes, which sparkled as she woke up from her trance instantly.
Those definitely weren't a pair of eyes filled with despair. Instead, they were full of hope and resistance just like Wang Zhong when he was younger, never giving up in the fight against fate. Even if she had been frozen for a thousand years, she was still her when the ice melted.
"Big Brother!" The little girl was struggling as if she wanted to escape some kind of cage, but that struggle only lasted for a moment.
Suddenly, flames started burning from the huge cluster of ice crystals on the matchstick. In the next moment, the layers of the ice crystal broke off continuously, and the flames had become the size of a torch, carrying a sinister vibe. It was as if a pale and fuzzy human face was shining amidst the flames.
In that instant, the little girl's body grew stiff. The struggle in her eyes was replaced with an indifferent and mechanical look carrying a hint of madness, as if she had become one with the crazed face in the flames. Her untamed light golden hair suddenly stood on end, flying around wildly in the air. Her body was suspended from the ground, and snow from the surroundings gathered around her in a frenzied manner. Immense and endless energy radiated from the little girl's body; it formed bouts of strong winds mixed with snow around her, causing a major change in the surroundings!
"It's so cold, so cold… You are mine! All of you are mine! My fuel!" the insane face in the fire screamed.
The next moment, the little girl moved towards Wang Zhong at lightning speed, still holding the matchstick. Wherever she passed by, the air seemed to become frozen, forming an incredible icy line behind her.
Originally, Wang Zhong was not far from her, and he didn't have time to move at all. While he was shocked, he suddenly saw the little girl's body tremble slightly as her hand holding the matchstick stopped in mid-air.
There was a hint of urgency and persistence in her eyes now unlike the madness previously as she fought to not let the craziness take over her.
"How dare you rebel against me! You're disobeying me just for this mortal?" The icy face in the flames roared frantically. It was snowing heavily in the surroundings, and a crazy amount of snow flocked to the matchstick, becoming its fuel and energy. Not only did it cause the entire matchstick to rapidly grow larger in size, but it also became the size of a torch, and the ice crystal flower on the tip of the matchstick looked magnificent. It was as if a will that wanted to control the entire world had appeared, seeking to destroy the little girl's resistance.
Wang Zhong knew this was the moment that decided whether everyone lived or died. It wasn't the little girl who controlled this secret realm but the matchstick. If the matchstick destroyed the little girl's willpower completely, he would be as good as dead.
An extensive black and white chessboard stretched out from under Wang Zhong's feet and instantly spread across the entire street.
Dominator Dharma Idol!
Wang Zhong already had an experience in dealing with powers of the natural law when he was in the desert. A battle between two powers of the natural law boiled down to which level the power was at and which category it belonged to. Powers of the natural law acted alone and were extremely exclusive. Although the Dominator Dharma Idol definitely couldn't balance a power of the natural law of this level, it could certainly disrupt what the matchstick was doing!
The matchstick was trying to integrate the little girl's willpower into its own. It was only when they merged that it could become the dominator of this world and be flawless. However, both parties were in a heated confrontation. The little girl was obviously at a disadvantage, but she grabbed at the chance when Wang Zhong's Dominator Dharma Idol interceded. That bit of power might not have been enough to make up for the difference in willpower between her and the matchstick, but its presence still held significance. Although it couldn't weaken the matchstick at all, its involvement caused it to become the third party that broke the symbiotic relationship between the two parties.
Wang Zhong swallowed the gob of blood that was rising up his throat. The backlash of using this power to destroy the relationship posed severe consequences to him, but he couldn't afford to think too much of it now.
Suddenly, Salamander moved. No one knew when, but his chains were wrapped around the little girl already, taking advantage of this moment to forcefully pull her away. The physical separation of the matchstick and the little girl caused the symbiotic connection between the two to be cut off. The little girl's frenzied eyes turned clear immediately, and Wang Zhong caught her in his arms, retreating quickly.
As a result, their surroundings changed. The temperature was no longer lowering, and the heavy snow that seemed intent on burying everything here stopped. At the same time, in two other locations, the little girl that Aiolos was confronting disappeared, as well as the little girl who was using Mu Zi's vitality as fuel for the matchstick.
Surprised, Aiolos and Mu Zi instantly recovered from their despair-filled confrontations. Right after, they could hear a thunderous roar in the sky.
"You betrayed me! How dare you, a lowly bastard, betray me! All of you must die!"
The gigantic matchstick descended into madness. The ice-crystal fire didn't become weaker in the slightest as the surroundings changed but burned brighter instead. The terrifying coldness it exuded was worse than before, freezing the air within a 10-meter radius of it. This was a sharp contrast to the surroundings, which were regaining vitality.
The matchstick floated upward, and it dashed toward the little girl with its flaming ice crystals. Wang Zhong didn't dare to treat this lightly and retreated at full speed without looking back. One shouldn't judge a book by its cover in the Dimensional World. He would be doomed if he underestimated the power of this matchstick based on its appearance. No matter what form this thing took, it was the core of this secret realm, a power that he could not fight.
Wang Zhong couldn't afford to be careless in front of this terrifying opponent. He activated his 'Speed Circuit', which he had recently gained some insight on, to full power. Even if the surroundings were cold, he continued running at high speed. At the same time and in the blink of an eye, Salamander released his black iron chains that carried raging flames. It formed an extensive iron grid network and headed towards the matchstick to trap it.
The flames on the black iron chains were frozen the instant they came into contact with the icy crystals. You could even see the sparks of the flames being frozen and also how the flames were flickering before they were frozen. The white-hot flame color turned into the color of the icy crystals, sparkling.
In an instant, all the flames were already frozen, and the black iron chains were getting frozen too. Salamander, who had no defense against this freezing technique, was frozen as well, becoming an icy statue.
The iron grid network was already fully built before it came into contact with the icy crystals, but it wasn't able to produce the effect that it should have. Gui Hao and the Ape King weren't able to escape from this extremely tough iron grid network even when they used all their power. However, after being frozen, the iron network was as weak as a normal icicle. It could be broken and easily shattered to pieces by the matchstick!
Simultaneously, another force appeared to block the matchstick.
It was a black figure who appeared out of thin air; it resembled that of a black bolt of lightning and left a long trail behind it in this icy world.
One could see a horse raising its front hooves and the flash of a black spear, accompanied by an aura that wanted to destroy everything. Snow flew everywhere.
The voice came to an abrupt stop.
The terrifying impact almost threw the matchstick off track. The enormous flaming ice crystals had shed numerous petals in this collision. Without the little girl, the matchstick appeared to lose its strongest defense. It only knew how to attack.
This powerful attack made it uncomfortable and even dealt a little damage, but the other party's attack wasn't on the same level as it.
Crack Crack Crack Crack Crack!
The tip of the spear that came into contact with the matchstick was frozen after the collision, causing Bolsanches the Headless Knight to be frozen too. Not only was his body frozen, even the remaining impact force from when he was sprinting formed a path made of ice crystals.
Right after, burning ensued!
Unlike Salamander who was left alone after he was frozen, the matchstick could sense that the Headless Knight had a powerful and pure energy body. It needed to replenish some of the energy that it had lost from the earlier attack, so it turned the Headless Knight into its fuel and nutrients. One could see the frozen body of the Headless Knight start to 'burn' just like the flaming ice crystals, burning all of Bolsanches's energy as fuel.
At the same time, a third attack followed. It was a flaming phoenix that was rushing towards the matchstick in an unstoppable manner, melting all the snow on the ground in its path.
An immense blast of power exploded from the phoenix, turning the area in front of it into a huge sea of flames. Bolsanches was forcefully separated from the matchstick that was absorbing its energy.
Phoenix Rises to Ninth Heaven!
Wang Zhong didn't know what had happened to Aiolos and Mu Zi, but he knew he had to seize every chance to delay the matchstick. The time that Salamander and the Headless Knight bought was lost in the next second, as they were frozen instantly.
Salamander and the Headless Knight could only do so much since the difference between their levels of power was too vast. Dammit, Wang Zhong felt even more useless after reaching the Heroic Soul Stage.
The crazy matchstick had arrived in front of him, and he couldn't run. Wang Zhong clenched his teeth; he would just go for it then. He forcefully summoned his Soul Power, but using the Dominator Dharma Idol had caused Wang Zhong to suffer internal injuries. His Soul Power had already dissipated. At this moment, the little girl who was being protected by Wang Zhong suddenly broke free and stepped forward to face the crazy giant matchstick.
A deafening sound could be heard as Wang Zhong fell on his butt. There was a violent collision between the crazy matchstick's tsunami-like icy waves and the little girl's icy wall. This scene would have looked magnificent to any bystander. However, the little girl toppled onto Wang Zhong after taking this blow.
The little girl and the matchstick both had their weaknesses after being separated from each other. The problem was that the matchstick was the one which truly controlled this secret realm.
Clearly, the matchstick didn't expect that the little girl would dare to go against it. The fact that someone could interfere with the power of the natural laws in its secret realm was definitely intolerable to any secret realm consciousness. It had a strong 'survival instinct' and sensed that Wang Zhong was a threat. Anything that interfered with the laws of the secret realm had to be destroyed!
The matchstick expanded in size and brought forth more intense icy waves. The entire secret realm was quaking. Wang Zhong hugged the little girl tightly as the feeling of death enveloped him.
Suddenly, a loud roar could be heard. Above the city where the sun was shining brightly, a tall golden figure descended from the sky just like a God of War.
There was a deafening noise, and a huge pit appeared on the ground. Wang Zhong, who was hugging the little girl, was blown into the air by the icy waves. In the huge pit, Aiolos looked as dazzling as Apollo. Wang Zhong was speechless at this sight. How can this guy look heroic all the time? Dammit, he looked like such a loser now.
Bang bang bang bang!
Without the little girl's powerful defense, Aiolos wasn't afraid of this opponent. He would be happier if it could put up a good fight!
Aiolos and the huge matchstick started attacking each other. Both of them didn't put up any form of defense; they were just attacking until one party was defeated. Their howls and roars filled the sky.
Wang Zhong was dumbfounded at this sight. At this moment, he really felt that Aiolos wasn't an average Heavenly Soul Stage expert. Even Heavenly Soul Stage soldiers wouldn't fight like this with no regard for their lives at all. Furthermore, his Soul Power seemed to grow stronger as he fought. Aiolos was definitely the battle freak among freaks.
Mu Zi appeared too. He was much slower than Aiolos but not too late for the party; at least, he could block the shockwaves for Wang Zhong. Mu Zi looked at the little girl who was curled up in Wang Zhong's arms and gave a warm smile. He seemed to have understood that in order to overcome despair, one shouldn't join it but, rather, counter it with hope.
Mu Zi didn't intend to interfere in Aiolos's battle with the matchstick. As long as the matchstick wasn't at full power, Aiolos had nothing to fear. In fact, Aiolos was a little depressed that though he was the strongest, he seemed to be a liability every time. Now, he finally had the chance to show his power, so Aiolos was going to annihilate the other party. Anyway, this was a Dimensional Secret Realm, so he didn't need to suppress his own power. He was like a terrifying war machine, having dominated the matchstick ever since they started exchanging attacks. His Soul Power was rising steadily and seemed endless.
Eventually, with a powerful blow, the matchstick exploded; it shattered into bits of crystals that fell from the sky, gleaming for the last time under the sun. The little girl looked up at the sky with a bright smile on her face.
She was free.
These were fragments and memories of the Dimensional World. To her, they represented misery. However, she finally felt warmth and a sense of relief today. She was willing to give up eternity for that.
With the matchstick's defeat, the ice and snow in the secret realm disappeared too. The little girl's body turned blurry. She was a part of this secret realm, so if it disappeared, she would too.
Looking at the little girl's smile, Mu Zi's heart was breaking. At his level of power, he had a different understanding of 'life'. This little girl had a fate exactly like his, one that dictated that she would be alone forever.
"Big Brother, you're so warm…"
The little girl snuggled comfortably in Wang Zhong's arms.
"Wang Zhong, save her! Aiolos, can you do anything about this? Don't let her disappear just like that! I don't want her to!" Mu Zi grabbed Wang Zhong's hand suddenly.
Why was every glimmer of hope followed by despair again? If that was the case, one shouldn't have any hope in the first place. Taking it away after giving it, that was the cruelest thing in the world. Mu Zi had experienced this way too many times, to the extent that it would make him fall apart.
Aiolos stayed silent. No matter how strong the enemy was, he wouldn't back down, but there were some things he could do nothing about.
Wang Zhong looked at the little girl who was about to vanish. Suddenly, an idea came to him in a flash of inspiration. Since his spiritual power could provide her with warmth, perhaps…
Channeling his spiritual power, he prayed that the Fate Stone would display its magical power. However, his spiritual power wasn't able to change anything this time. The little girl was imprinted on this secret realm. Now that the core of this secret realm was gone, her carrier was gone and she would disappear…
Suddenly, a crisp sound came from the third Golden Stone Slab that Wang Zhong possessed as something resonated with the third plane of the Fate Stone.
The little girl's gradually fading body started to stabilize. The third Golden Stone Slab represented the water element and gave birth to the third Soul Guard — Alice.
The exit from the secret realm that Ham Sausage dropped them off at was at the pyramids in the Fifth Dimension. They were in that icy world a moment ago, but upon arriving in the scorching desert, everyone only felt warm and comfortable despite the stark change in surroundings.
The trio glanced at each other and smiled. Mu Zi was especially happy. It was the first time he didn't taste despair and pain. This was why Wang Zhong was the person who could go against fate.
The little girl became an existence similar to Salamander and the Headless Knight. Frankly speaking, Wang Zhong didn't know whether this was another bond or actual freedom for her. Perhaps he could do something about it when he became stronger in the future. One thing he was certain about was that Simba was very happy. He finally had a normal friend.
As for gains, the other two's cultivation methods were such that they didn't care about material gains. What they actually cared about was spiritual enlightenment that allowed them to make breakthroughs in their cultivation journey. This had been an enjoyable battle. From the conversation that questioned their soul, the two of them had a deeper understanding of themselves. That wasn't a monetary gain that could be shared, but it was the most important gain.
Their experience with this secret realm that had several levels had finally come to an end. Aiolos had gained the most out of their entire journey together. Even Wang Zhong and Mu Zi could sense that the aura Aiolos exuded was much stronger and more mysterious than when they had first battled the Queen at the wooden cottage in the secret realm.
"I'm going to go back and reflect on this trip. The next time we see each other, I will become stronger, so you guys should work harder too." Aiolos's face was full of smiles.
"I'm staying in the desert to do some stuff," Mu Zi said, a trace of peace on his face. Since it was proven that fate could be defied, he wanted to try new things that he hadn't dared to in the past.
"I have to hurry back to the Holy City. My Skylink is flooded with calls. Something important must have cropped up. Brothers, when we meet next time, I will definitely become stronger!"
Aiolos and Mu Zi smiled at each other. "Well, it seems like it's just the two of us then. Let's drink till we drop!"
The Scream Bar, Martial Emperor City. The bounty hunters were boasting about their abilities in high spirits. Amidst the music in the bar, they could be heard bragging about their legendary achievements that left people dumbfounded. This attracted the attention of some teenagers who listened with interest, wishing that they were one of the bounty hunters. However, the purpose of the bounty hunters wasn't to entertain these silly men. They were hoping to attract the attention of the women in the bar with their stories and have a marvelous encounter with them, free of charge!
An old mercenary walked into the bar and asked, "Ugly Boss! Is there any work?" He went directly to the bar counter and ordered the strongest liquor. It was evident that he had just come back from a mission and didn't want to rest. He wanted to take on another mission again.
Ma Dong, who was dressed as Ugly Boss, smiled as if he had just killed someone. "There's only been underground work recently." A hoarse voice rang from his throat.
"Underground? The Gui Family again? Have the Gui Family and Zhao Family gone crazy recently?" The old mercenary frowned.
"Are you doing this or not?' Ma Dong said in a hoarse voice. His hand on the bar counter scrawled a number that almost no mercenary would be able to reject.
"F*ck! How much is the deposit?"
"Others, ten percent. If it's you, I can give thirty percent."
"Dammit! Consider me in. After this, I'm retiring!' It was obviously unwise to get involved with the Gui Family, but there were always people who were left with no choice.
One day passed very quickly. There were times when the bar was buzzing with activity, then it would gradually become deserted. Only a few old alcoholics sat at their old place, using the dizzying feeling that alcohol brought to drown their sorrows. Sometimes, Ma Dong felt like he would lead a degenerate life forever, that he would become numb to everything someday.
Ma Dong stood at the bar counter and took the glasses out one by one, wiping them and putting them back. He repeated this cycle since this was the habit of Ugly Boss. It was also his habit now when he was thinking about something. The old him would never have dreamt that he would become like this one day.
The door of the bar was pushed open. Ma Dong glanced at the door. He froze slightly while wiping a glass before returning back to normal.
After experiencing so many things, almost nothing could influence Ma Dong's emotions. However, there was an exception.
Milami was still herself but also not quite so at the same time. Her once young and demure face was replaced with a mature and elegant look. It was obvious that she had been living well, or rather, very well. At one glance, one could tell that she was full of energy. She was more voluptuous than before too; her cleavage was now like an alluring treasure that aroused the curiosity and hormones of men. However, she looked unapproachable.
Ma Dong felt like laughing but didn't show anything on his face.
"One shot of tequila."
Milami sat in front of Ma Dong, knocking on the bar counter.
Ma Dong took out a shot glass skilfully, poured tequila in it, then pushed it towards Milami.
Milami drank it in one shot. "More."
Ma Dong poured more calmly.
Milami looked at the newly filled tequila. After a long time, when Ma Dong started wondering whether she had forgotten that she had ordered another shot, she drank her tequila in one go again. "More."
Then, one shot led to another. Milami finished each shot quickly, but she didn't drink in close intervals. By the time she finished her sixth shot of tequila, the last alcoholic in the bar had already left. She was the only one left sitting in front of Ma Dong.
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