Chapter 1327 Clash of Souls
The Nightmare Castle might have awakened, but it was without limbs or claws. It could only leave the extermination of its enemies to its subordinate nightmare creatures.
Fundamentally, nightmare creatures were only spirits who manifested in the Nightmare Domain as projections of their souls.
However, since devouring all the Entom adepts, Kerslin had evolved from a pure alchemical lifeform into a monster with biological traits.
Kerslin now possessed life and soul– everything that an intelligent lifeform should have!
The only problem now was that Kerslin’s evolution had occurred by means of a blood ritual; its soul origin was consequently polluted by a murderous and savage aura. The moment it awoke from its slumber, it was likely to transform into a fearsome forbidden lifeform.
Should a horror like Kerslin go out of control and rampage through Zhentarim, it would be a calamity for the Central Lands. However, if Kerslin could be controlled, it would be an excellent servant for any adept organization.
After all, a magical servant with the potential to reach Sixth Grade was rarely seen, let alone one that would serve an adept!
Disregarding everything else, if Mary could successfully gain control of Kerslin’s soul core, the combination of Mary and Kerslin would make them powerful enough to rival Lich Kanganas. Of course, this referred to the lich before he obtained the Ancient Reliquary, not the incredibly powerful frost lich he had now become.
Lich Kanganas had been hiding in his skeletal plane ever since he obtained the Ancient Reliquary of Deep Winter. He had not shown himself at all. Even when Greem invited him to major events, he would only send Fourth Grade subordinates as his representatives.
If Greem had not managed to draw him out with the coordinates of the death god’s tomb, he would probably not have appeared for another few hundred years.
According to the Chip’s observations, Kanganas’ assimilation of the Ancient Reliquary was going exceptionally well. Kanganas had reached peak Fourth Grade and was now an ultra-powerhouse. Moreover, the ice powers it had absorbed had blended perfectly with his original death powers, forming a unique chill of death.
During a battle, Kanganas could apply this chill of death on his servants, allowing their physical attacks to possess the magical effect of freezing their enemies’ souls.
One could just imagine the sight of an entire plane of skeletons, with each of them having the ability to freeze the soul. Every time they struck their enemies, their foes’ minds would freeze and become unable to react or retaliate in the slightest.
Even such a powerful and terrifying ability was only a preliminary manifestation of the assimilation. If Kanganas had another few hundred years, he could completely assimilate the Ancient Reliquary with his soul origin. He would then immediately rise to Fifth Grade and become the first lich in the multiverse with the chill of death.
Everyone was silently improving and growing stronger. Naturally, Greem did not dare to slow down with his own progress. Even though he possessed a firm position of advantage in the Central Lands, he could not give up on any opportunity or challenge by which he could improve himself.
Compared to Greem’s smooth sailing path, Mary’s future was shrouded in more uncertainties and troubles.
Vampire adepts like herself were powerful because of their bloodlines. However, their bloodlines also restrained them.
Everything they possessed came from their bloodline, allowing them to advance at unbelievable rates at lower grades. However, the instant they lost their bloodline or reached their bloodline limit would be the moment they hit a dead end. They would have a hard time improving even slightly for the rest of their lives.
Most bloodline adepts would never be able to shatter their bloodline limits and advance into higher lifeforms without massive opportunity or numerous blood trials.
Mary did have decent talent and potential, but that was it!
Compared to the true prodigies out there, Mary’s talent as a vampire was horrendous. If it weren’t for the nourishment from the tremendous amount of dragon blood sourced from Lance, Mary would probably have taken an additional seven to eight hundred years to reach her current level.
She would have had to race against her own lifespan with all her effort!
One had to admit that Mary’s acquaintance with Greem was the greatest fortune in her life. She was able to trust in Greem completely. It made her an utter oddball in the World of Adepts, where trickery, lies, and pragmatism reigned supreme.
It was this sort of trust and emotion that liberated both Greem and Mary. Despite their lack of blood relations, contracts, or pragmatic dealings, the two of them were still able to believe in each other from the bottom of their hearts.
Such a connection was no longer something that could be described with ordinary emotions!
It was Greem’s trust in Mary that allowed him to focus all his efforts solely on dealing with the Nightmare Castle in front of him.
Through his Elementium Sight and spiritual senses, Greem could see all sorts of strange, distorted fluctuations in the forcefields within Nightmare Castle. These fluctuations overlapped and entangled with each other, ultimately causing the nature of the forcefields to change.
It was these excessively complex transformations that made it impossible for any outside force to travel far.
It was the main reason Greem’s Burning Domain and spiritual senses had been forcibly compressed when he first entered the castle.
Now, after analysis and calculations from the Chip, Greem had obtained a preliminary understanding of the forcefield fluctuations and transformations in the Nightmare Castle. It allowed him to extend the Burning Domain further, carbonizing all the enemies that swarmed toward him and constantly stopping them before they could step within ten feet of him.
It couldn’t be helped. Ever since the Nightmare Domain moved into its second phase, Greem had been facing nothing but Second and Third Grade nightmare creatures. They might not be Greem’s opponents, but they were still able to keep Greem trapped in the hall through their sheer fearlessness and numbers.
Meanwhile, even as it used the nightmare creatures to buy time, the Nightmare Castle was quickly transforming. The flesh-like substance soon covered every inch of the castle. Greem could hear a low, drum-like beating while inside the hall.
A heartbeat…that was the sound of the Nightmare Castle’s heartbeat!
[Time is up! Third phase of the Nightmare Domain beginning now.]
The Chip’s notification had just vanished when the sound of the throbbing heart disappeared.
The entire Nightmare Castle turned oddly quiet.
An unprecedentedly ferocious power surged from the top of the castle. It pressed down toward Greem along with the numerous forcefields in the castle.
If this had been before the battle of Stoneshard Valley, Greem might have been able to endure this shockwave with his 26 points of Physique. This time, Greem’s face flushed white. He could only gather a tremendous amount of fire energy and focus it in front of him as a shield against the approaching blast.
There was a loud explosion. The twelve-meter-tall molten giant flew out of the Nightmare Castle like a baseball batted away into the distance. His body only stopped after crashing into the gates of the castle.
Peak Fourth Grade.
In the third phase, the castle already had the power of a peak Fourth Grade. It had even managed to blow him out of the castle.
This is not a good start!
Greem thought to himself as he picked himself out of the debris. Blazing flames roasted the rocks around him, turning into lava that flowed to the ground.
The Nightmare Castle slowly began moving in front of his eyes like an ancient beast. A tremendously powerful soul fluctuation rose from the depths of the castle and crashed toward Greem like a hill.
A sharp light gleamed in Greem’s eyes. He stood tall with his gigantic body and faced the attack with a mixture of all four fire laws.
A muffled thud from the explosion could be heard.
Intangible spiritual energy clashed in midair, causing visible ripples to spread out. The air above the Nightmare Domain was wrinkled like a piece of parchment, and the horrifying sound of tearing space could be heard.
There were no tricks involved in a spiritual clash like this. Both entities had given up on all their spellcasting techniques and combat skills to clash with their very souls. It was a contest of Spirit, the soul, and the resilience of the mind.
Greem had the Tome of Corruption to protect his mind and the Orb of the Fire God to supply him with energy. In that regard, he was undoubtedly superior to Kerslin. Kerslin might be half an alchemical lifeform and possess superior physical and mental fortitude compared to a human adept, but it was no match for Greem, who had two artifacts in his possession.
Greem stumbled back repeatedly after the clash.
With every step he took with his blazing legs, he left deep, lava-filled craters in the ground. The earth sizzled loudly as the lava burned.
Of course, the Nightmare Castle–which was a hundred times bigger than Greem–was having a hard time as well.
The blinding light of blazing flames could be seen bursting out all over the castle. The thick smell of smoke rose from within the castle into the sky.
The Nightmare Castle itself trembled violently, the delicate sculptures on the outer walls shaking and falling off in the process. Deep cracks appeared in the castle’s foundations, stretching all the way up to the fourth floor.
The intricate wall of forcefields that surrounded the castle also snapped and popped unceasingly.
This clash had been a successful demonstration of the two fighters’ power.
Kerslin was overwhelmingly Greem’s superior in Strength and Physique, while Greem was the stronger one in Spirit.
Perhaps the most obvious weakness of Kerslin was its lack of mobility.
It was a lifeform created from an alchemical castle, after all; it had basically zero mobility. If it weren’t for the unique Nightmare Domain, it would be entirely countered by a powerful adept like Greem.
After an unsuccessful attack, the Nightmare Castle started trembling again. It was preparing another attack, and Greem had nowhere to run. He could only shake his molten fire body and face the attack head-on.
Even as he continued to battle with Kerslin, Greem secretly sent a message to Mary.
“Three minutes and eleven seconds…you only have three minutes and eleven seconds left! Retreat immediately once that time is up. I won’t be able to stop this fellow for any longer than that!”