Was that Boss Lin’s voice?!
Does this mean… that gigantic shadowy figure which reached out and immediately crushed Gabriel was Boss Lin?!
From what Joseph recalled, that fuzzy black shadow had grabbed and incapacitate Gabriel with a single hand. Gabriel going from blatant complacency, to panic, fury, then utter despair in that short moment was an image that he couldn’t get out of his mind.
But what is happening now?
A growing commotion had started, disrupting the peaceful quiet. Joseph could make out several familiar voices belonging to the knights of Secret Rite Tower. Just like himself, they too were unable to decipher the situation and wore confused looks.
Snapping out of his daze, Joseph noticed Rodney’s charred corpse and the shriveled placenta resting on top of the altar. Are they… both dead?
He decided to reach out and inspect, yet, as he did so, he staggered and his whole body crashed to the ground.
It was only then did he realize his complete exhaustion. His body felt empty inside, as if someone had squeezed all the life out of him. At the same time, an intense pain tore through his entire frame.
Joseph was familiar with this sensation. This exactly mirrored the previous situation where he had consumed all his aether, unleashing the secret technique which hit the limits of his body and causing it to break down.
Meanwhile, the feeling of disconnect similar to having just awakened from a dream was slowly receding.
As Joseph calmed down, he felt more clear-headed.
Was everything that happened all a dream?
Yet Rodney and the false god were definitely dead, and his exhausted condition was also very apparent. This meant that all these events had undeniably happened.
With his vast experience amassed from years of combat against dream beasts, Joseph reckoned that he had likely entered the rift between dreams and reality, where happenings of the dream realm were directly reflected onto reality itself.
As such, both Rodney and the false god perished, while he too had landed the final blow. However, because everything had happened in the dream realm, the damage only affected his body whereas the surrounding buildings and terrain didn't receive any damage.
At this point, Joseph immediately looked to the side. As expected, his eyes met an unconscious Vincent lying there, with blood still oozing from his chest where the false god had pierced him.
Also, a lunar glow still shrouded Mu’en’s body, thread-like moonlight wrapping around her as if slowly turning her into a cocoon and making her flesh and skin appear translucent.
“Logistics! Any personnel from the Logistics Branch? Come over here and help!”
Joseph shouted out loudly for the people outside. The communications device that was originally equipped had been fragmented by aether. And since his own aether reserves were also running low, he could only rely on his voice.
Although the knights outside were also perplexed by the current situation, they were at least properly trained with their procedures. Despite being clueless, they knew to do what was expected of them.
The magicians responsible for first-aid in the Logistics Branch quickly rushed on scene and began performing treatment on Vincent at once.
Taking the time to recover strength, Joseph inquired about the situation outside. Just as he had anticipated, those who were affected in the dream realm had their plight reflected onto their bodies in reality.
At this moment, the whole Central Chapel seemed to be awakening from a bizarre dream. Those who failed to make it out alive looked like they had been ravaged and crushed a thousand times over, and their remains made for gruesome sights. However, the surrounding infrastructure remained untouched and intact.
Was that Mr. Lin's dream domain?
Joseph headed out and gazed at the serene moon in the sky above.
Personnel from Secret Rite Tower that were situated within the church grounds were having intense conversations with those that had been situated outside and there was an air of disbelief among all.
“How can this be? We were only inside for five minutes?!” exclaimed Combat Division Chief Winston with a face covered in cold sweat.
“Definitely only five minutes has passed. We’d only just contacted the Council of Elders after erecting the external barrier and you guys were already out… I’m still waiting to know what happened in the Church!
“We would have already gone in as backup if there was a lack of response for an extended period of time."
The person in charge of sending in reinforcements was from the Logistics Division. Right now, all he could do was simply point at the glowing barrier all around and give a light shrug.
“Wait a moment, I am certain we only gave the command to set up the barrier and inform the Council of Elders quite a while after the battle commenced. Could it be that time flowed differently on both sides? But the communicators were still connected…”
“Yeah, it did seem somewhat strange at that time, but because the order issued was according to standard protocol, combined with the short time frame, we didn't give it any second thought.”
Then, with a complicated look on his face, the Logistics Division personnel in charge continued, "Never did I imagine the battle to conclude moments after the order was given..."
Noticing Winston’s face of bewilderment, Joseph simply walked up to him and gave a pat on his shoulder. “Don’t stress yourself out, what just happened was Boss Lin. He came here to help us."
Winston was astonished. “The very same bookstore owner you made contact with?"
Joseph nodded and sighed deeply. “I paid a visit to Boss Lin just before the battle and he specifically reminded me of a ‘trap.’ However… he also added that we lacked sufficient strength so even if we knew, the battle with the false god would exhaust all our strength, leaving us with no way of continuing to battle.
“Boss Lin already foresaw this issue and later told me that ‘we just needed to do our best and he would handle the rest.’ And as expected, he showed up when we were all depleted."
Patting Winston’s shoulder once again, Joseph continued, “As long as Boss Lin is around, that 'Gabriel' is probably resting in pieces by now.
"The battle is over."
Joseph glanced at the church behind him.
God knew how many followers and priests had been lured and disposed of by this church which had stood in Norzin for ages.
Yet, all that remained now was an empty wasteland, littered with ruins.
“From today on, the Church of the Dome no longer exists in Norzin.”
Winston was still in disbelief. He knew a bookshop owner by the name ‘Lin Jie’ whose power level was kept confidential within the database. This information couldn't be disclosed, which meant that he had been identified to be at the peak among Supreme-ranks.
But who would’ve thought he was actually this powerful…
In that mere five minutes, a dream realm had materialized, and a fight to the death between two Supreme-ranks had been instantaneously decided so casually.
Moreover, what was that final massive shadow that had appeared?
Recalling that sent shivers down Winston’s spine. Had it all not occurred in a dream realm, the sheer bulk of the false god of at least a thousand meters wide would have covered a great deal of the sky. Yet, it was merely the size of the figure's palm...
They had all been like puny ants compared to the false god, but when compared to the shadowy figure, every one of them would be like mere specks of dust!
When did we actually enter the dream realm?
And not a single one of us sensed anything... including the Gabriel fellow who had set up an ambush.
A total crushing!
What is someone that crushes... Supreme-ranks?
It was merely early autumn, yet Winston felt ice-cold and he could barely prevent his body from shivering. Fortunately, Joseph, who had already walked off, failed to notice this.
It was only when the communications device in his hand beeped continuously did Winston recover. Upon turning it on, he discovered it was a private video call from the fourth seat elder, Solomon.
Winston immediately answered the call and a set of venerable facial features appeared. Solomon did not speak, instead he brought over an object. On it was the recording of Secret Rite Tower attacking the Central Chapel of the Church of the Dome.
Indeed as mentioned by Logistics personnel, there was total radio silence from the advance party after they rushed into the church. For a whole five minutes, there was pin-drop silence and this eerie atmosphere was only disrupted by the abrupt outcry combined with other noises.
Solomon replayed the recording, slowed it down, and paused.
On the display, the church shook and seemingly produced an afterimage. Following that, a faint shadow appeared in the night sky, so large its entire frame couldn't fit into view.
Almost at once, a seemingly elliptical, vast, and endless sea of cosmo and stars manifested in the night sky.
Before the shadowy figure evanesced, it appeared to directly face the recording source for a moment.
Winston was momentarily startled, and the video also cut off at this point.
Solomon turned off the recording and asked, “Winston, do you understand what this was?”
Winston was deep in thought for a prolonged period of time before responding, “...a fissure in the dream realm.”
Solomon shook his head. “This is a god's domain."
Winston's eyes narrowed. He felt as if he hit his head and was struck with a sledgehammer, leaving at a loss for thoughts and words.
Solomon then added, “We were already keeping tabs on this operation from the beginning, or rather, we've been monitoring it all. Never did I imagine that we were able to record this moment. I personally believe that we might have an approximate guess of the true identity of the bookstore owner."
If not a god, then at least an emissary of one.
Winston asked tentatively, “Then… what should we do?”
“Spare no expense in investigating and seek his help… Path of the Flaming Sword is a name that hasn't been heard in a long time.”
Joseph spent a long time searching the church before he finally spotted a suspicious lump resembling Gabriel laying in a corner.
As this was no longer a recognizable human form, Joseph could identify it as Gabriel from the iconic ‘Path of the Flaming Sword’ regalia on the clothing.
Two Supreme-ranks, one burnt to a crisp, the other dead without a corpse.
Joseph ordered for these remains and clothes to be collected… A body of a Supreme-rank still contained unimaginable power after all. Quality materials used to synthesize transcendent objects couldn't be wasted.
When Joseph turned around, he saw Mu’en standing nearby alongside Vincent who could barely walk after his treatment.
They were both chatting and laughing about their current predicament. Vincent then asked, “Shall we visit Boss Lin together? We really ought to thank him for saving us and preventing much further collateral damage.”
Looking back at the last fight, if it had truly taken place in reality, the barrier definitely wouldn't have been able to hold and by then, countless nearby lives of innocent citizens would have been lost.
The flooding waters previously caused by the Rain God was already bad enough. This time was a literal meteor strike, and Norzin would have required serious repairs to its foundations while Secret Rite Tower would once again have to fork up quite a bit of their funding to clear up the mess.
The dream realm created by Boss Lin prevented the monumental loss of funding and he was a true savior to them.
Mu’en hesitated slightly, but then reckoned that Boss Lin should have woken up by now. With a nod, she accompanied Joseph and Vincent to the bookstore.
The mess still remaining on scene would naturally be left for the Logistics Division to handle.
As the group neared the bookstore, they spotted a yawning Lin Jie in pajamas opening the main door. He looked up and greeted them with a smile. “Yo.”
Lin Jie’s eyes twitched as he caught sight of a mosquito flying by and proceeded to swat it with his palms. “There are way too many mosquitoes disrupting my sleep at night. All lives are supposed to have a purpose; shameless mosquitoes don’t. It makes no difference even if they’re dead.”
Glancing at the three others, Lin Jie had a slightly peculiar look on his face as he said, “Speaking of which, I just had the most fascinating dream.”