Chapter 1281 Leaving the Dark Island
Sunny dove into the shining depths of the Great River. His serpentine body was like a spear carved from black onyx, cutting through the radiant water with stunning, terrible speed. It was made to rule the sea, so no ship or vessel could compete with him in the deep.
A Great Monster, though...
Even though the Dark Butterfly was an aerial abomination, it had shown a dreadful ability to fight the Azure Serpent underwater with strange ease. They needed to escape being noticed by it... and so, Sunny swam down.
Nephis had the Essence Pearl, so he was not afraid of pulling her so deep that she would drown. That said... he was afraid of the depths.
There was no telling what was hiding at the bottom of the Great River. What kind of horrors lived there? Did time exist there, and if so, what was its flow? Sunny did not know, and he wasn't ready to find out.
The plan they had concocted was to dive deep enough to avoid the notice of the Dark Butterfly and then travel downstream, gradually returning to the surface. He saw no reason to change it.
As the onyx serpent moved down into the flowing abyss with a fragile human figure clutching to his horns, the dark island slowly disappeared in the distance. Its ominous silhouette was consumed by the radiance of the water, and soon, there was nothing around them but shining emptiness.
Sunny felt a strange melancholy brush against his heart and steeled himself.
They had finally escaped from the shell of the Black Turtle. That place... it had given him the peace and comfort he so desperately needed after the disastrous resolution of the dreadful and bitterly long Southern Campaign. For a while, it was like a paradise.
But that paradise was a dark one. In the end, it had turned into a death trap - and now, they were leaving both the paradise and the trap behind.
'Don't look back.'
He refused to. There were, without a doubt, a lot of much more harrowing obstacles waiting for them ahead. And, hopefully, at the end of them all...
They would be able to find a new paradise of their own.
Sunny carried Nephis deeper and deeper into the Great River. Slowly, the radiance of the water grew brighter, its flow more tumultuous, and the pressure assaulting them heavier. Knowing that his serpentine shell was much more resilient than Neph's body, he hesitated to go any further.
It was enough, anyway... if the Dark Butterfly was going to pursue them, it would have already plunged into the river and attacked.
A powerful sense of relief flooded his mind.
'Thank the gods...'
Sunny barely survived a battle with a Great Beast, and that was mostly due to the fact that the Azure Serpent had already been wounded, exhausted, and close to death. Fighting a Great Monster immediately after that battle would have surely been the end of him.
Twisting his giant body, Sunny slowed their descent, and then pushed forward. His already tremendous speed increased even more when he started to move with the current. It was to such a degree that Nephis struggled to hold on to his horns despite her Ascended strength.
But there was no helping it.
Now that they had escaped the dark island and the monstrous butterfly, another challenge lay in front of them, one that was perhaps even harder to overcome.
That challenge was the expanse of the Great River itself.
There was no point in leaving the dark island if all that awaited them was a slow, agonizing death. There were harrowing abominations of all kinds dwelling both in the water and in the boundless sky. Without anywhere to find shelter, doom was all but guaranteed - they might escape it once or twice, perhaps even a dozen times...
But sooner or later, exhaustion would overwhelm them, and their luck would run out. Then, the Great River would become their grave.
That was why Sunny and Nephis had a clear goal in mind. They had to travel downstream, as far into the past as they could, and discover the ancient people who had entered the Tomb of Ariel thousands of years ago.
Sunny was incredibly swift while encased in the shell of the onyx serpent. He could cover a great distance in a short amount of time, traveling much further than the carcass of the Black Turtle had been pulled by the current in an entire month.
The problem was essence.
Existing as a shadow incarnation was consuming his essence, and sustaining the massive shape of the river serpent was consuming it as well. He had already spent a lot of essence fighting the mad leviathan, and although Neph's flame was enhancing his soul to a degree, his reserves were not infinite.
Even though he was a Tyrant, they were not at all adequate for the task at hand.
And so, Sunny had to hurry. He had to squeeze all the speed he could muster from his serpentine form while he could.
If his essence ran out before they found land, or anything at all to climb onto... there would be no choice but to remain drifting in the water, slowly recovering their powers and hoping desperately that nothing would attack them in the meantime.
The dwellers of the deep, the swarms of abominable krill, the flying predators that hunted creatures inhabiting the river...
He didn't think that they would live long enough for their essence to be replenished.
Praying that something appeared on the horizon, Sunny flew through the shining water.
His powerful body cut through the flowing abyss, leaving a trail of raging turbulence in its wake. Nephis clung desperately to his horns, exhausted by the explosion of healing flames she had created earlier to save him, and the harrowing pain of having to use her Aspect for so long, and with such intensity.
Strangely enough, Sunny had ended up in a better state than her, despite being the one who had fought in the battle with the Azure Serpent. The longer they swam, the more worried about her he became.
...But he was tired, too.
His wounds might have healed, but the terrible mental exhaustion remained, smothering his ability to remain clear-headed and strive forward without rest.
Slowly, a cold lethargy was seeping into his mind.
Struggling against it, he continued to swim forward.