The New Empress
The chuckle quickly grew higher-pitched and more manic, turning into uproarious laughter in the blink of an eye. Everyone below sainthood immediately felt as though a thousand needles were being stabbed into their ears, falling to the ground and rolling around in pain. Even the saints had to resist the pain with their internal energy, barely managing to stay seated.
Richard turned pale as well, forced to use the power of the blue moon to counter the invasive laughter. However, his eyes went wide as he saw small black lines appearing around the hall, looking like tendrils of smoke that were spreading out. He leapt away from one such tendril as fast as lightning, not daring to test himself against it at all. Although he was confident in his bodily strength now, a spatial crack would still injure him.
Watching the sheer number of cracks in the air, he couldn’t hold back his shock. With the Church of the Eternal Dragon being present here, Faust’s space was extremely stable. The assembly building was specially reinforced with legendary-grade formations to specifically guard against teleportation, but someone was still managing to tear through space.
The sound of glass shattering suddenly rang through the air as one of the cracks expanded, slender fingers reaching out from within. The inky black nails seemed to glow as it grabbed the edge of the crack, forcing it to open up enough for a person to walk through.
Several muted explosions rang out as the walls, pillars and ceiling of the hall started to spark. The defensive formations all around crumbled layer by layer even as a leg made its way through the crack followed by another. Almost unable to breathe, everyone watched someone walking through.
The woman seemed to cut a sorry figure with wounds all over, but she was still quite beautiful. While her short black hair and sharp face were gorgeous, it was the purplish-black lips and dark purple eyes that were most astonishing. Her thin armour was cracked in various places, and the patches of exposed skin seemed to have pale flames blazing upon them. There was even a wound in the exposed thigh that seemed to be infested by black worms.
As the woman jumped out of the spatial crack, her left hand remained within as though holding onto something. Everyone that met her sweeping gaze looked like they were struck by lightning, but once she’d checked her surroundings she muttered, “Looks like I’m in the right place.”
Having said that, she turned around and put her other hand back in the crack as well, starting to pull with so much force that space itself howled. Everyone felt their hearts stop beating, as though time itself had come to a stop. This time, even Richard was no different. The woman emitted a shrill shriek and tore the space apart, pulling out an enormous head that was even larger than her entire body. The still-living creature was struggling furiously to pull back, everyone feeling their souls start to waver.
“Lord Marat!” Julian suddenly exclaimed, watching in awe as she twisted the head left and right repeatedly. It took a few attempts, but eventually she ripped the head off completely in a shower of purple blood, revealing a flailing body on the other side. He immediately went down on one knee as she started cackling at the waterfall of purple that covered her, shouting loudly, “The legendary Lord Marat has fallen at your hands. Your exploits will be praised in the Outlands forever, Your Highness!”
While Julian’s words were slightly exaggerated, everyone was still astonished. They could immediately tell that this creature was in the legendary realm, and killing any legendary being was a frightening accomplishment. Nobody got that powerful without a hundred ways of escaping those stronger than themselves.
“The fool actually chased me through a dozen planes, thinking I was afraid. It wouldn’t have lasted so long if I wasn’t in a hurry.” Princess Apeiron snickered as she put a foot through the spatial crack and kicked the enormous body away, promptly loosening her grip to let the head fall down. A loud crash rang out as the wooden platform for the candidates was smashed into dust, a deep pit being formed even in the stone floor; the beast’s head had to weigh several hundred tonnes!
The four high chairs were naturally destroyed as well, but the three princes had managed to dodge in time. Their expressions were terrible; even the nicest interpretation of Apeiron’s actions was that she was establishing her prowess. Put more crudely, she had just tossed the head carelessly without any regard for others’ lives.
She pulled a strand of pale gold energy out of thin air, “Hmm… Only seven minutes late, not bad. Did they choose yet?”
Still kneeling, Julian answered respectfully, “The voting has yet to begin, Your Highness.”
“Oh, they weren’t dumb this time…” Her expression eased up slightly, gaze falling on Earl Kimbaye and Marquess Miranes, “And what half were you two talking about?”
Kimbaye showed surprising resolve as he faced her calmly, explaining the entire situation in three minutes. He made the cause of the division quite clear without once stuttering, astonishing many of the older nobles present who were already shivering.
Once she heard everything, Apeiron waved her hands and stated indifferently, “Bullshit. Go tell those old guys that the boundaries aren’t changing, they can come talk to me if they have a problem.”
Kimbaye frowned for a moment, but his brow quickly relaxed as he answered, “I’ll make sure to relay your intentions.”
However, Miranes was clearly anxious. The great profits he had painstakingly crafted were being torn away in the blink of an eye, and all because of this woman that had just appeared? He took a step forward and shouted, “The division of boundaries has already been discussed, how can they be changed so easily? This matter concerns the Sacred Tree Empire’s dignity; no matter who you are, you’d best be prudent.”
Apeiron’s gaze immediately landed on the Marquess, one brow slanting up, “Who do you think you are?”
Miranes felt his heart freeze as his body went stip, turning him immobile out of pure terror. However, he still gritted his teeth and puffed his chest out, “I’m an emissary of the Empire, here representing His Majesty! Kill me if you want, but the next one will only have harsher conditions. Have you thought this through?”
This was the same threat as before, using himself as the stakes to gamble on the fact that the Sacred Alliance wouldn’t dare to go to war with his Empire. However, what had worked on Rundstedt and the Ironblood Duke only caused Apeiron to flash a terrifying smile, as she flashed over and dug out his heart in an instant.
Watching the look of shock on the man, the Princess snickered, “You really think so much of yourself? I’ll kill you if I want to, what can you do about it?”
Miranes looked down with difficulty, staring at the horrifying hole in his chest as he barely raised a hand to point at Apeiron, “You… The Empire won’t let… Khech… let you off…”
Although not particularly powerful, the Marquess was still level 19. Even with his heart dug out, he could still last a few minutes. In fact, he could even recover if the heart was returned to place and a simple healing spell was used on him. However, he could only watch as she squeezed hard and turned his still-beating heart into mush, destroying his last hopes.
“You… Not epic…” he mustered the last of his vitality, eyes spitting fire at his killer.
“So what?” Apeiron sneered, “You should have asked that old man Hendrick if he dares to fight me. He’d be dead even if I don’t win… Pity… Julian?”
Julian scrambled over, “Yes, Your Highness?”
“Find some barren land to give to the Sacred Tree Empire as compensation for killing this whatever. A square kilometre should do, doesn’t matter where it is.”
Miranes’s face flushed a deep red, half out of humiliation and half out of reaching the end of his life. He barely managed a whisper, “You… Maniac…”
“You’re right!” Apeiron chuckled coldly as the man fell to the ground, staring at the rest of those from the Sacred Tree Empire, “The borders will be the same. Go tell Hendrick and that son of a bitch Michael: if they want to fight, they can come at me. I’m still injured and it’ll be three months before I’m fine, they need to be quick.”
She then looked at Kimbaye, “Tell that old man Hidden Sword the same thing. And tell him to stop pretending like he’s always young, that’s annoying.”
“I’ll convey your words,” Kimbaye said respectfully, as though he was facing a true epic being. This attitude left his subordinates confused, but Apeiron smiled at him and didn’t do anything.