Published at 19th of October 2020 05:24:35 AM

Chapter 841: 841. Stele
The destruction of the elemental giants forced the troops of the Empire in a passive position. The casualties on their side began to mount, and multiple heroic assets started to suffer injuries or die due to the overwhelming numbers of the invading forces. Not even the cultivators in the fifth rank could avoid that fate.

That battle was leading to a defeat of the Empire.

The defenders had exhausted their defensive methods by then. Only a few shadows still lingered on the battlefield, but they weren't able to provide any significant assistance.

Retreating seemed the only option left, especially since the Empire knew that it had to preserve enough troops to fight the next battles. There were still a few valuable regions on the northeastern coast, and there was all the central area of the old continent to defend too!

Even the mighty Shandal Empire couldn't lose too many troops. Winning the war without their god might not be an option, but it wanted to survive as an organization nonetheless.

In their minds, the defenders didn't doubt for even a second that the Almighty would return and reestablish his organization as the most potent force in those Mortal Lands. Yet, hope didn't win wars, and the troops of the Empire knew that very well, which was why they still had one last trick to show to the invaders before leaving that territory.

The defenders started to retreat, and the invaders chased after them to inflict as many losses as possible. They knew that the Empire had immense reserves of manpower, so killing its heroic assets could only benefit the next battles.

However, the castles started to release a humming sound when all the invaders were above or near them. Those structures began to emit a soft light that increased in intensity with each passing second.

Noah's instincts screamed at that sight, and he shouted to warn his allies while he shot up in the sky to escape from the range of those buildings. "Retreat!"

Of course, the other heroic assets were soon able to sense that danger too, but their innate awareness wasn't enough to make them escape what would come next. Only a few experts in the fifth rank managed to follow Noah in time.

The castles exploded and engulfed the entire area with a destructive radiance that didn't let even the slowest cultivators of the Empire go. The sky above the mountain chain saw a multicolored light filling the whole region, with very few assets managing to escape that destructive halo.

Cries filled the battlefield, and charred corpses started to fall on the ground. The human cultivators in the area directly turned into ashes, and the ground cracked under the pressure generated by the detonation of the castles.

Noah watched everything from his safe position high in the sky. Danielle was with him, together with all the rank 5 cultivators of the Hive.

They had escaped even before their senses managed to feel that danger. The reason for that was their trust in Noah, which made them more reactive to his warning than the assets of the other forces.

There were other experts in the fifth rank with that group in the sky. Both the Council and the Elbas family had cultivators that had promptly followed Noah in his flight upward. Others, instead, had managed to escape from the range of the explosion by using specific movement techniques.

The losses though were immense.

The cultivators in the fourth rank that had been hit by the multicolored light were either injured or dead. Almost the entirety of the human cultivator had died. Those that had survived were severely wounded, saved only by the bodies of those before them.

As for the beings in the fifth rank, all of them had survived, but many had hideous burns.

The detonation of the castles wasn't enough to threaten the lives of the assets in the fifth rank. Still, the various losses and the many injured would slow down the advance of the invaders by a few years.

The troops of the Empire kept on retreating, and they soon disappeared from Noah's sight. They left to the three forces a broken land and a series of debris, without even bothering to keep the defensive formation intact.

"We won in terms of kill count," Andrew Elbas said as he analyzed the battlefield, "But this will slow us down for a while."

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"I hope that what they were defending wasn't destroyed in the explosion." Elder Julia said as she scanned the environment, looking for something that gave value to all those deaths.

The mountain chain was mostly in ruins, but a peculiar structure in the distance had remained entirely intact. The cultivators near her soon noticed that area too and began to near it carefully, afraid that the Empire could have set another explosive trap.

There was a peaceful lake next to a crumbled mountain with no trace of vegetation nearby. Then, a bit farther away, there was a strange stele that radiated an ancient aura.

The explosion seemed to have missed that piece of land. Both the lake and the stele didn't show any wave or crack on their surface. Yet, the rank 5 cultivators that inspected it knew that there was some higher power keeping the area protected.

"This, this!" Andrew stuttered a bit when he looked at the signs on the stele. Other cultivators of the water element did the same as they sat on the ground with their eyes fixed on those ancient marks.

Their allies though quickly interrupted them and made them aware of their surroundings.

Noah saw how Andrew and the others seemed to have come out of a sort of trance since they muttered casual words and glanced at the stele with evident eagerness in their eyes. It was as if everything else had lost importance for them. Only the contents of the stele mattered.

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"What is it?" Regina asked with an annoyed tone. There were even some of her underlings in the cultivators captivated by that structure. She couldn't accept that they didn't report to her as soon as they regained their awareness.

Her underlings remembered their position at her question, but they could only express themselves in simple lines that didn't make much sense.

"Water! Water is life."

"Water is a cycle!"

"Water is eternal!"

Other similar lines resounded in the area as the water cultivators of the three forces tried to explain the contents of their enlightenment. However, they only managed to give voice to confused words that didn't help the others understanding the actual function of the stele.

Luckily for the other experts, Andrew Elbas stabilized his mind in less than a minute and described with proper words his hypothesis concerning that ancient structure. "These should be the notes of a divine being of the water element. Any cultivator with the same aptitude can gain insights on the element thanks to them. I feel drained after just a few seconds though. I wouldn't be surprised if the price to pay for it were your lifespan."

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