*BOOM!!!* The deafening sound of the grenade exploding reverberated through the city hall.
With the grenade exploding inside the barrier, the later was unable to protect the node. Quite the opposite, the barrier ended compressing all the power of the explosion in the node.
Bloed could see the panic in the duke's face. When he saw the node being destroyed, his eyes turned bloodshot, and the rage in his face was even greater than when Bloed cut his arm.
The magic circle around the city shook violently, as though it was about to break. However, that was just a momentary illusion. In the last second, the magic circle returned to normal.
When Bloed and the others saw that, they looked at each other with grave expressions.
"Just a node more," Javelin said.
"It's time to leave." Charise indicated without hesitation.
The others nodded. Bloed waved his hand gave a command to his pet wolf to activate its flight mode.
It was something Bloed had been avoiding to use due to the great amount of energy the flight mode used and the short time it could be kept, but now, they needed Leto's flight speed to escape this place and go to the last node.
"Everybody, to its back!" Bloed shouted.
The group did not hesitate. Bloed, Liu Ying, Javelin, and Charise rushed towards Leto's back.
"WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING!!!!????" The duke screamed crazily. Even more mana surged out of his body, filling each corner of the city hall. The mana then turned into spears and tentacles that attacked the group.
Charise's spell came at that moment. A ball of mana appeared above her head before exploding!
Pure white light blinded all the people in the city hall. When the light touched the duke's mana, it escaped of its control and returned to nature.
The duke, however, was not going to give up so easily. Suddenly, the chains around the city hall moved before transforming into snakes that slithered towards Bloed's group!
Furthermore, several of the chains wrapped around Leto, chaining it down.
Leto howled in fury. Its body turned into metallic sand before reforming a few meters away. At the same time, each one of the members of the group used their own means to evade or block the snake-like chains.
Bloed was the most violent of them. When the chains tried to attack him, he severed them with his saber.
That made the duke scream in panic. Almost instantly, the cut chains withdrew before fusing again slowly.
When Bloed saw that, an expression of realization appeared on his face.
'… If I cut these chains…'
However, the duke had become wary of his saber. Most likely, Bloed would not have another opportunity to cut the chains.
And even if he cut one or two of them, the chains could fuse together again with a bit of time.
Thus, Bloed focused on escaping. The priority now was to destroy the third node.
Bloed did not know what kind of complication Sebastian and Madeline were facing, but the fact the node had not been destroyed yet was not good.
Unfortunately, although Bloed and the others wanted to leave, the duke was giving his all to keep them here. He unleashed several attacks in succession against the group. At the same time, the creature in his chest became much more active, unleashing several troublesome screeches that constantly harmed the group.
Bloed tried to throw a stun grenade to the duke, but the duke had already seen the power of the grenades when Bloed destroyed the node, so the duke impaled the grenade with a mana spear before it could come close to him, making Bloed's efforts useless.
Meanwhile, the duke's strength continued growing. The grow was almost negligible, but Bloed and the others could feel that a terrifying power was being gestated inside him. At this rate, he would advance to demigod before the group could leave this place.
Aware that they needed to hurry up, Charise gritted her teeth and put on a determined gaze.
"Guys, I need five seconds!"
Bloed, Liu Ying, and Javelin did not reply, but the three of them moved at the same time. Even Leto started to participate in the battle once more, turning his body into several metallics spikes that pierced towards the duke.
"GET LOST!" The duke bellowed and unleashed a torrent of mana that blew Leto's spikes away, however, they reformed almost instantly and turned into a whirlpool of metallic sand that surrounded the duke.
But even before the whirlpool could form completely, the creature in the duke's chest roared and generated a shockwave that dispersed the metallic sand.
The duke then extended his hand and the mana around him gathered in the shape of a wall and was shot towards Charise.!
Bloed, Liu Ying, and Javelin moved at that moment. Javelin appeared behind the duke and tried to stab him with his daggers, but the creature in the duke's chest used its tentacles to stop Javelin's daggers.
Although Javelin managed to cut the tentacles into pieces, a great part of his mana was drained away, and he was forced to retreat in panic.
Meanwhile, Liu Ying stood in front of Charise and gathered all her remaining mana into a punch. This punch hit the wall of mana the duke created, but Liu Ying only managed to stop it briefly before she was sent flying away.
Fortunately, her attack was not completely useless. The wall of mana cracked in several parts, but it continued advancing towards Charise.
Bloed's eyes lit up with a bright glow. In an instant, tens of calculations went through his mind before he decided on the best course of action.
He hugged Charise's body with his right hand while his left hand wielded his saber at great speed.
His saber danced in the air. [Molecular Disintegration] was activated at full power, using the cracks on the wall to create a hole through which Bloed and Charise jumped.
Charise kept her eyes closed during the process, casting an unknown spell. She did not interrupt her casting even when she felt Bloed hugging her. Bloed, on the other hand, did not have time to have any untoward thought.
As soon as he passed through the wall, he was faced with several spears of mana piercing towards him.
Fortunately, Javelin appeared in front of him and blocked several of them with his daggers. At the same time, Leto's metallic sand gathered again in a wall that stopped the spears that passed Javelin.
The few remaining spears that managed to bypass Javelin and Leto were cut by Bloed's saber.
At that point, Charise opened her eyes.
"Stop attacking! [Frozen Fate]!"
A magic circle appeared behind Charise, showing several runes that rotated mysteriously and emitted a sacred glow.
When the magic circle appeared, a strange presence descended the city hall. Charise's white habit danced in the wind, revealing her lustrous dark hair hidden below her headpiece.
Then, from the magic circle, thousands of threads appeared.
The threads winded around the city hall, finally wrapping around the duke and stopping his movements completely!
"We need to leave now! The spell will not resist much!" Charise exclaimed before collapsing in the ground. It was obvious that the last spell had cost her a lot.
Bloed did not ask why Charise told them to leave instead of killing the duke. From Charise's actions, he understood that this spell had several drawbacks. Being unable to attack the people under the effect of this spell was probably one of them.
They moved quickly. Javelin rushed towards Charise and carried her in his arms while Bloed did the same for Liu Ying, who had fainted after unleashing her last punch.
At the same time, Leto activated its flight mode again. Bloed and Javelin jumped onto it and Bloed urged the metallic wolf to leave.
But at that moment, the magic circle around the city shook again.
Bloed and Javelin looked at each other with excited looks. Madeline and Sebastian's group had finally destroyed the last node!
Suddenly, Bloed, Charise, and Javelin felt the duke's aura spiking.
Then, the threads around him snapped, one by one.
When he was free again, the duke's lips curved in an arrogant smirk.
"Ha… Hahahaha… Hahahahahahahaha! I succeeded! I SUCCEEDED!"
The duke had become a demigod.
The creature in his chest screeched in excitement, and the duke clenched his fists feeling the overwhelming strength inside him. It was a power beyond anything he had felt. A power beyond the realm of humans.
Once he was done with that, he looked at Bloed's group with a vicious smile.
"… Little bugs."
Bloed cursed inwardly. 'Dammit! Should I use that!?'
Bloed's trump card. He did not want to use it because he would faint afterward, and in the current situation, fainting would mean leaving his life in the hands of others.
Before he could decide, though, the situation changed once more.
All of sudden–
"Cough… Cough, cough… Cough! Ugh!"
–The duke started to cough.
Blood, flesh, and internal organs. The duke coughed violently and felt an intense pain in his chest. Then, the mana inside his body started to leave him.
"W-What… Cough… W-What is happening?"
"Simple, father." A voice came from the entrance of the city hall. "You are poisoned."
Under the duke's disbelieving gaze, a middle-aged man and several cleric-like people appeared.
In the chest of the clerics, there was an image of the sun shining gloriously.
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