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The Emperor Beasts found themselves in the same situation as the Phoenixes, fighting creatures who had no care for their own survival and that suffered no harm from physical attacks.
The golems fared much better, but by shifting their attention on the new opponents they allowed the Phoenixes to catch their breath. To an Awakened, it meant to go back from the brink of death to their peak condition.
The tide of the battle turned once again, reaching a standstill. With Abyssal Gaze giving to each of the Origin Demons the same amount of mana Lith had, the only cap to their strength was the mana capacity of his deep violet core and his mastery over Origin Flames.
Lith had combined the technique that Xenagrosh had taught him with his innate ability to manipulate his body parts even after they left his body to imbue his blood with enough life force to spark the Origin Flames.
This way, his Demons would consume world energy to maintain their bodies and use the mana that he had bestowed upon them solely to weave spells, doubling their offensive abilities.
Lith could have kept spawning more Origin Demons until his life force reached its limits and further tip the scale, but that was beyond the point. He didn't want the conflict to end, quite the contrary. He wanted it to last as long as possible.
Solus could now focus on the golems and study their crystals, but even in the form of the Eyes of Menadion she needed time. Each gemstone had been filled with unknown runes and to replicate their effects she needed to scan their exact sequence.
She skimmed many golems at the same time, avoiding unique runes and searching for common patterns.
'The most crucial step in order to overcome the limits that normal golems have is to find a way to imbue part of our knowledge and personality into the crystals. Learning how and what spells Aylen has imbued in her creations would be useful, but that can wait.' Solus thought.
'First, I need to identify the common sequence of runes that all crystals share, the one that Aylen used to tap into their memory-like ability. Everything else is of secondary importance.'
"What an interesting fellow." Aylen chuckled.
Her voice sounded more excited than annoyed. She had heard about the birth of the first perfect blend between the Dragon and the Phoenix bloodline but she had never got the time or the opportunity to take a peek at him.
"You have no idea how I envy you Phoenixes. Your children are blessed with the same might and powers of their parents whereas mine seem to keep taking the worse from me." She sighed, thinking back at Inxialot.
She had gifted him Nero in the hope that the Emperor Beast in disguise would help the King of Liches retain at least a shred of common sense and to keep an eye on him. Yet like all of her children, the obsession for research and the genius that Inxialot had inherited from her had only made it easier for him to isolate himself from the rest of the world.
Aylen's train of thought was interrupted by an update via her communication earpiece.
"I'm sorry, Mom, but Sinmara arrived way faster than you predicted and we have barely acquired half of the resources you need. If you don't pick up the slack, we'll soon be forced to retreat." Ashien, one of her seconds in command, said.
"Fine!" She replied with a snarl. "You better move those fat asses of yours because if I bring too much heat and one of Salaark's kids dies, she is going to join the fight."
Aylen activate another of the abilities that she had acquired after achieving the white core, Feeding Frenzy. Unlike normal Liches who could only mimic the physical abilities of the living beings they fed upon, the Devourer Lich could also imitate all of their bloodline abilities.
She carried around part of the life force from the strongest creatures she had fought in the past in the form of crystallized blood. She etched those crystals on the same pendant of her phylactery and among them, there was Sinmara's very blood.
Aylen crushed the gem along with another that she had crafted after fighting against a Griffon. Then hurled a stream of white Origin Flames that split the battlefield in half while also unleashing a silver bolt of lightning of Life Maelstrom upon her soldiers.
The now strengthened golems charged forward as soon as the wall of white flames disappeared while the Emperor Beast used their newfound powers to hasten the mining operations.
Lith and the Phoenixes took flight to escape from the frenzied golems. Life Maelstrom's effects were temporary and without the time necessary to accumulate enough of it, there was only so much that the Lich could give to so many people.
Yet the constructs had no reason to give chase either. As long as no one disturbed their masters, the golems would simply weave their spells and keep them at the ready. The moment the members of the nest understood that they were playing into their opponent's hands, the battle resumed.
The Phoenixes formed a line, unleashing a tidal wave of Origin Flame from their wings that flooded the ground. Yet the constructs didn't hesitate to release their accumulated spells all at once, neutralizing the attack.
The golems that bore a yellow mana crystal took flight, aiming for the weak points of the enemy formation before blowing themselves up. The Phoenixes that failed to dodge were forced to turn their bodies into a mass of living flames thanks to their bloodline skill, Molting Essence.
They took no damage, but due to the strain that their most powerful abilities and spells inflicted upon their bodies, their life forces were becoming weaker. Breathing techniques could restore lost mana and stamina, but they couldn't fix the effects of the abuse of Origin Flames.
While the battle between the Phoenix of Darkness and the Devourer Lich raged, the number of golems was dropping so quickly that Lith had to run from one side of the battlefield to another to keep at least one of the memory crystals under the Eyes' scan.
'Dammit, I was hoping for a war of attrition. I bet that the moment Aylen runs out of golems, she'll run away. I need to prolong this battle as much as I could.' Lith thought.
He had noticed how the Devourer Lich considered her constructs expendables while she cared deeply for her Emperor Beasts. Lith had the Origin Demons ignore the golem and rush where Life Vision showed him that a Warp Steps was about to open.
The Demons had no chance against creatures empowered by Life Maelstrom, but that had never been Lith's goal. Unrefined crystals were highly volatile and making minions explode was a game that two could play.
The Emperor Beasts could easily defend themselves from the blast of Origin Flames whereas the mined gemstones were sitting ducks. The Demons triggered a chain reaction that severely injured many Emperor Beasts and forced them to mine new crystals.
Lith clenched his fist in triumph, just to realize the consequences of his actions… Half of the constructs was retreating to better protect their masters while the other half was now focusing on him.
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