Fall
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It was at that moment that earth beneath them shook.

Caught off-guard, Lucien’s stance shifted, causing his descending sword to lose its accuracy.

Lucien frowned, wanting to adjust for this odd change, but the earth shook again.

Suddenly, a shocking change occurred.

The earth shot up from the ground. In an instant, it loomed over a hundred meters and was still steadily growing.

“Who?!” Lucien roared in anger.

He, Annbar and Vygil shot backward. It wasn’t because this attack threatened them, but rather because they couldn’t find the enemy. For an enemy to sneak up on them like this, they couldn’t help but be cautious.

Soon, the wall of earth cast a shadow over the earth. It was so high that Lucien could no longer see Ryu’s body from their vantage point. But he was absolutely certain that the earth had risen beneath Ryu. Meaning, Ryu wasn’t on the other side of this wall, but was rather at the very top of it!

Ryu, who lay atop of the wall, could still only look into the skies. He had felt the earth beneath him shift, but he didn’t know what was happening. This certainly wasn’t happening because of him, he simply didn’t have any comprehension of the earth path, let alone deep enough comprehension to cause such a violent surge. Plus, even if he did, he didn’t have the strength left to employ it now.

After a split second of confusion, Ryu suddenly felt the rays of the sun blocked by something as a shadow was cast over him.

He struggled to look over, but all he could catch was the edge of a robe flapping in the wind as the wall of earth continued to surge upward.

Ryu and the mysterious figure were silent. It was an odd atmosphere. Ryu’s throat was too injured to say anything, while the mysterious figure didn’t want to say anything.

Suddenly, Ryu felt a hand touch his face. It was a warm touch, but had the gruff, crude, and calloused feeling only a trained man could have.

A moment later, Ryu’s mask was lifted from his face. Despite the situation, he felt shock at this person’s actions. They actually dared to remove his mask?

No matter how much Lucien wanted him dead, he hadn’t dared to remove Ryu’s mask. The power of the Necromancer Guild was simply too much. If they ever found out about this, they would go all to find and kill this man.

Usually, one would be able to stop their mask from being taken off by infusing qi into it. This was how the masks didn’t fall off during battle. But how could Ryu accomplish this now? His body was completely devoid of qi. He likely would never be able to cultivate again.

“… Sure enough… It really is you…”

When Ryu heard this voice, his pupils constricted to the size of pinholes.

Even if he was half dead, with his life hanging by a string, he would recognize this voice.

The voice laughed. It was a mixture of complexity and relief, as though he was thankful that he hadn’t fallen to some endless hole of depravity. Finally, there was happiness. He was genuinely delighted to have found Ryu.

These torrent of emotions weren’t this mysterious man’s alone. Ryu’s face, practically the only part of his body that could move a single inch, couldn’t seem to decide what emotion to display. Was it sadness? Agitation? Confusion?

“Ryu, you must call out your Bloodied Steed and run away. I will hold them here for as long as I can, but there’s only so much this wall can do. If you need help, tell me now.”

The mysterious man knew that Ryu was likely depleted beyond normal levels. Maybe he didn’t even have the Spiritual Qi necessary to release the Bloodied Steed from his beast pouch. If that was the case, he could only enlist the help of this man.

The man was right. What was an earth wall of a mere few hundred meters to a Connecting Heaven Realm expert? With a little effort, even a Spiritual Severing Realm expert could fly up such a distance. The only reason they hadn’t immediately was because they were a bit apprehensive above how this mysterious man appeared out from nowhere. Only this man knew that it was a mere insignificant trick once it was seen through.

To make matters worse, the earth wall was clearly thinning out rapidly. In order to make it go higher faster, there was no doubt that some sacrifices had to be made. Ryu could only imagine how much energy it took to produce such a thing.

Ryu struggled to look toward the man. Another violent, rippling cough tore through his shredded throat. But finally, he was able to catch a glimpse.

He had never been able to lay eyes on this man personally before, but the moment he did, he felt a surge of emotions.

That staunch jaw, that healthy tanned skin, those deep brown eyes…

Ryu faintly felt an inexplicable pang when he saw how pale the man’s face was. Lingering feelings from a life long forgotten, that had felt only moments away from fading completely, suddenly reaffirmed themselves, forging a strong tie Ryu couldn’t sever even if he wanted to.

The middle-aged man smiled. “Hurry up and go. Leave this place to this old man.”

Three auras from below surged. Realizing that the wall wanted to continue to climb and no one seemed intent on attacking, the three Core Region geniuses suddenly felt that someone was trying to play them for a fool!

The man placed Ryu’s mask back on and stood, turning his back to Ryu. It was a strong, sturdy back, one that could be relied upon…

“I’ve never treated you as I should, and even my life isn’t enough to repay that folly. However, it is all I have to give you. It’s selfish… but I hope one day you’ll forgive me…”

The man’s aura surged. The earthen wall began to form steely protrusions, jutting outward with a fierce momentum as they pierced toward the flying three geniuses.

In that moment, Ailsa entered her full form. Immediately communicating with Ryu’s Inner World, she pulled out the concealment cloak, draping it over their bodies. It was impossible to disappear before someone’s eyes using the concealment cloak, the difference between Ryu and the three geniuses wasn’t large enough. Luckily, thanks to this mysterious man, they had left their line of sight and the range of their Spiritual Sense…

The man sensed these odd movements behind him, but he didn’t turn around to look. He maintained his strong and sturdy stance, but Ryu’s silence pierced his heart more than anything ever had. He simply had no idea that Ryu couldn’t speak even if he wanted to.

Ailsa looked back toward this man with both gratefulness and complexity. With her connection to Ryu, she knew exactly who this man was. But, she could only take Ryu into her arms, leaping from the wall and vanishing from sight.

Ryu’s agitation grew, the rage of emotions in his heart surging. Even now, he could only see the skies above his head! Those damnable skies!

He struggled fiercely. He felt like he was choking, as though a firm hand had gripped his throat.

His head turned in Ailsa’s embrace, but he could only see the faint outline of a man trembling, his energy depleting far faster than it could recover.

The earthen wall crumbled, its structure far too unstable. Under the attacks of three geniuses, it stood not a single chance.

No matter how weak Ryu had become his eyes worked just fine. He could clearly see that this man was a mere Lower Divine Vessel Realm expert. In such a battle… the only path left was death…

The man fell from the skies. He no longer had the energy to even fly. Yet, there was a faint smile on his face as he realized he could no longer see Ryu’s figure.

He had finally done his duty… Even if it was just this once… He had done right be his grand –

“GRANDPA!”

A hysterical cry left Ryu’s lips. It was the kind that tore one’s soul apart from the inside… the kind filled with such an endless torrent of emotions that it almost felt like your own pain, your own sorrow… the kind that congealed and hung in the air, unwilling to dissipate.

The man was stunned when he heard this cry, but he laughed heartily soon after. His full, jovial laughter filled the skies, parting what remained of the tribulation clouds above as he descended even faster, unable to uncontrol his fall.  

“Live well… Little Ryu.”

These were the last words Ryu heard before his grandfather, Amell Tor, slammed heavily into the ground below.

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