As Shin’s group started fighting Reforgerer, the group led by Shibaid headed towards the World Tree. No one intended to go help them. Looking at the scale of the battle, they understood that any support they could provide would be a hindrance instead.
Their current location was also still inside the attack range of Reforgerer’s tail. If they attracted the divine beast’s attention, its tail would pound them like a hammer. Tiera moved as quickly as possible, knowing that their best way to help Shin was for all the priestesses to reach the World Tree as soon as possible.
“We will be okay…right?”
“Without a shred of a doubt. We could block its most powerful attack with the shield. There is no need for concern.”
Shibaid replied calmly to Tiera’s doubt. She had seen the beam blocked before her eyes. What Shibaid said was definitely true.
Everyone in the group had seen Reforgerer’s massive body and the power of its beam, as well as Shin blocking it. Only Tiera was slightly different.
Until now, she had encountered Grand Duke demons and even one of the most powerful monsters in the world, Ishkar, all opponents much, much stronger than her. Because of that, she had the leeway to observe the shield defending them from the beam.
(It’s melted a little. If someone takes the full brunt of that attack…)
The image of Shin disappearing within Reforgerer’s white blast of light appeared in her head, which she desperately tried to shake away.
The shield’s surface was melted and deformed here and there. Shibaid probably realized it too, but there was no time to fix it, nor anyone capable of doing so.
Even an Ancient-grade shield tempered and reinforced by Shin was not indestructible.
Shields were designed to protect the wielder, being more resilient and sturdy than offensive weapons.
It was very rare for weapons crafted by Shin to break. The only instance she could remember was during the battle with Girard, but that was a weapon with less endurance than a shield.
(We have to do something quickly, to end this battle as soon as possible!)
Tiera hurried with a renewed conviction in her heart.
“We cannot lower our pace. Follow us if you can keep up.”
“I suppose we must. Everyone, run as fast as you can!!”
Next to Tiera, looking straight ahead, Shibaid and Ordoss called to the others. Tiera looked back and saw that the number of guards with them had decreased.
“We’re going too fast for them. Tiera, your stats increased a lot, so I guess you didn’t notice.”
Tiera was surprised and found herself at a loss for words.
Tiera knew the warrior chiefs as elites among the elite in Lanapacea. She knew that she had grown stronger during her travels, but she believed they would still be superior.
“Lady Tiera, you have grown much stronger indeed.”
Ordoss was running next to her, but he was short on breath. Tiera’s wasn’t though. She could still go faster.
“It might be thanks to your gear too. Everyone, the World Tree is near! Give it your all!!”
Tiera’s group had taken a detour to reach the World Tree, in order to avoid being involved in the battle between Shin and Reforgerer. Even if they were separated, they wouldn’t be too far.
After a while, Tiera reached the base of the World Tree. They discovered that the tree had turned to a pitch black color. About 70, 80% of the World Tree was completely black: it was barely alive. Tiera called out to Lymliss and Lina, riding on Kagerou.
“The condition is horrible…but it’s still alive! Lend me your strength, both of you!!”
Both priestesses had a very stern expression on their faces. However, they did not show the slightest sign of giving up. They jumped down from Kagerou, stood side to side with Tiera and spread their arms in front of them, closing their eyes to focus.
Shibaid’s surprised voice reached Tiera’s ears, but there was no time to ask about it. Tiera calmed her spirit and focused on the tiny light deep within her.
She didn’t know if it was really a light. She focused on the tiny, faint, yet powerful existence that resided within her from as long as she could remember, and enlarged it inside her.
The light eventually filled her body and overflowed. She directed it in front of her.
Tiera’s eyes were closed, but she could clearly see the presence of the World Tree and the impurity that was corrupting it. She released her light towards the turbid aura that enveloped the World Tree. It was a special kind of purification, different from the one used with miasma, exclusively performed for the World Tree.
Tiera could see that two similar lights flowed to the World Tree from her sides. Hers was a pale emerald green, Lina’s was yellow mixed with orange, and Lymliss’ transparent blue.
As each light touched the impurity, it gradually disappeared as if melting away. However, because of Reforgerer’s appearance, the purification was different than usual.
After about a minute, a pained whisper escaped Lymliss’ lips. She was sweating profusely, despite the temperature not being high at all. Lina, on the other hand, did not emit a sound, but her light was trembling. It was a signal that there was something wrong with the priestess releasing it.
Tiera wondered what could have happened to them, when a horrifying sight suddenly appeared in front of her.
It seemed to be a battlefield: people slashed by swords, people impaled by lances, people scorched by magic, people devoured by monsters. Various kinds of death appeared one after the other before her eyes, and she could also feel their pain.
The pain itself was probably less than what would actually be felt in such a situation, but being forced to experience dozens, hundreds of different kinds of pain would be simply excruciating, even if it was not actual physical pain.
(I see, so that’s how it is.)
The two priestesses next to her were suffering because of this. Tiera was experiencing the same pain, but could somehow keep her cool. Unlike the other priestesses, always protected by guards in the village, she had been chased by monsters, lost people dear to her, and risked her life, without a shred of hope supporting her.
After joining with Shin and the others she had encountered powerful foes many times and had witnessed battlefields of people and monsters. Thanks to those experiences, she knew that the pain and suffering she was experiencing now were nothing but illusions.
“These are all illusions created by the impurity!! Get a hold of yourselves!!”
Tiera’s voice echoes forcefully. As if called by it, several globes of light appear around her. Their shapes changed and took an elf-like form. Some of them were known, others were not. The only thing they did know was that they were all World Tree priestesses.
Floating in the air, they surrounded each of the 3 priestesses. Light began flowing from their bodies, enveloping Tiera, Lymliss, and Lina.
“I’m okay now. I can do it!!”
“I have to be useful. It’s now or never!!”
Lymliss drew a deep breath, Lina firmly focused again, then they loudly shouted together. The priestesses’ lights probably dispelled the illusions tormenting them. Their light of purification regained its original strength.
Tiera then felt something warm on her shoulder. There was no physical sensation, but she could tell there was a warm hand holding her. Somehow, she felt she knew that sensation from before.
“Allow me to use your power!”
It was not the right time to think about that: Tiera focused anew on the purification. Something warm seeped inside Tiera from the hand on her shoulder. It was a purification force, but different from Tiera’s or the other two priestesses’.
The past World Tree priestesses, who had become spirits and could not purify the World Tree directly, did so through the bodies of the three priestesses physically present. The powers to protect the World Tree, to protect the world, to protect all people became one.