Never before someone had fought his battles. In all his three lives, Derek McCoy AKA Lith had always been on the frontlines, be it to protect his brother Carl from his father or working his a*s off to give his sisters some meat and bread.
Sitting limply in a corner was a new experience for him. It moved something inside the rotten heart of his. In a way, the Ernas where the family he had always dreamed to have when he was a little child.
Super powered beings that fought the bad guys together, no matter the odds. Spectating their battle almost made him feel like he had found somewhere he belonged.
What really amazed him was how quickly everything was happening. He and Solus barely had the time to appreciate Orion's strategic prowess, Jirni's amazing reaction speed, or Phloria's swordsmanship that the combat had already shifted from one side to another.
'F*ck. In those damn action movies, the actors dance with bad guys for minutes, while I only got four breaths worth of energy since the fighting started.' Lith knew that in such a short time frame Nalear couldn't have lost much of her strength.
She was an Awakened with a lot of mana and a deranged mind. He knew all too well what kind of nightmare she could unleash if she was given the slightest chance. Lith knew because he was one as well.
"Why don't you just die?"
Nalear's scream was his cue. That and the blue aura that enveloped her body like a blazing flame. Lith quickly stood up, weaving several spells at once while imbuing the Gatekeeper with part of his strength.
He was ready, yet he didn't move. Orion had reminded him of the importance of timing and precision against a superior opponent. Instead of charging blindly like a bull, Lith choose to wait for his opportunity to appear.
They had the situation under control, so he kept chanting while using Solus's senses to not miss a single detail. The information she could get by spending her mana was overwhelming.
The slight alteration in the room temperature, the mana density, and even things like neural pathways flaring up whenever someone was about to do something. Lith had no idea what most of it meant and neither did Solus.
The only thing he was certain of, was that if they weren't one, with Solus acting both as a source and as a filter, all that information would have burned his brain.
Nalear tried to snap Jirni's neck with spirit magic, but the mana running through her veins thanks to the potion reduced the pressure to an itch. Cursing Constable Ernas once again, Nalear unleashed a spirit magic blast by making her aura detonate.
It didn't inflict damage. It was just a very strong push, yet being invisible it took Jirni and Phloria by surprise, giving Nalear a moment to catch her breath.
Or at least so she hoped. Lith was already in front of her, releasing five different tier three spells, each one aimed at a different body part. Nalear was still weaving her next spell while drawing a deep breath. She had no time to move nor hidden card to play.
She used spirit magic on herself, moving her body as a puppet and raising her left arm in the nick of time. The iron glove emitted another series of shockwaves, blasting away Lith's spells before proceeding to do the same with him.
Nalear realized too late that a similar thing had happened earlier. Lith falling for the same trick twice was unlikely.
Indeed it was.
Lith released his sixth spell, conjuring a concave ice wall in front of himself. It was just a regular ice wall with a different shape, but Lith hoped it would be enough. Orion had shown him how the shockwaves were just sound.
Lith's plan was to weaken them with the five spells first and then bounce them back to the sender with the thick ice wall reinforced by Solus's spirit magic. It was an improvised spell born out of sudden inspiration, so even when it only partially succeeded, Lith still considered it a success.
The wall reflected only half of the shockwaves' strength while the other half struck Lith. Both the Awakened ones were sent flying, but only one of them had allies. The hit broke Nalear's focus disrupting her spell and breathing technique alike.
Phloria didn't miss the opportunity. She activated Blast Guard, a Mage Knight tier four spell that burned Nalear's back, bouncing her toward Jirni like a pinball. Jirni took out her Gatekeeper short sword, imbuing it with air magic to enhance its edge.
Even while moving at high speed, Nalear managed to alter her trajectory with spirit magic enough to avoid Jirni chopping off her head. Lady Ernas reacted in time, adjusting the angle of her slash, opening a deep cut in Nalear's side as consolation prize.
Nalear gritted her teeth, holding back tears of desperation.
'If I'm really going to die, I will take you all down with me.' She thought.
"When is he going to transform?" Milea asked.
"Transform?" The Guardians asked as one.
"Didn't you all come here to understand what he is? If there isn't going to be a world tribulation, what's the point of staying here?"
"Kid, if every time someone fights for their life a world tribulation started, there would be only Guardians left alive on Mogar." Salaark guffawed.
"We can study him from this distance even without a tribulation." Leegaain offered her his hand, which Milea took without hesitation. Thanks to that contact, she was able to share the Guardian's Soul Vision.
It showed her the real nature of things. The Guardians appeared in their true forms, humongous mass of power in the form of a Griffon, a Phoenix, and a Dragon. Each one of them was so big their heads seemed to reach the sky and their feet Mogar's core.
The White Griffon academy looked like a kneeling white knight, wounded all over. Their pristine armor was tainted by the red of blood and the black of death.
Lith was fully transformed in her eyes and so was Nalear. He was now over two meters tall (7 feet) and covered by black scales the tip of which was bright red from the scorching heat that coursed through them.
Two curved horns resided on his featureless head, together with seven yellow eyes and a maw opened in a cruel smile that revealed the fire burning within. Two pairs of upside down membranous wings came out of his back, as well as a long tail ending in several bone blades.
Nalear looked like herself, but she was wearing a long white tunic dirty with blood and mud. Her hair moved like she was in the middle of a storm, her eye sockets were empty black holes, shedding tears of blood while her mouth was wide open in an eternal silent scream.
"Teacher, he really looks like one of your humanoid forms, but her… Isn't that a banshee? Is she going to evolve into an undead Guardian?" Milea had no other explanation to such a vision.
Orion and Phloria appeared no different from their human form, while Jirni's skin appeared grey. Blood was constantly dripping from her hands.