850 850. Loss
With the Black Hole spell almost ineffective against Icy Stare's spells, Noah had a hard time creating a strategy that could allow him to defeat her. He lacked the means to gain the advantage in that fight.
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Of course, Noah had known that since his last battle with her. Still, he had chosen to fight her again to gain an idea of how to improve his combat style further.
Truth to be told, his disadvantage came mostly from the difference of power between their centers of power. Noah had been in the fifth rank for a little more than forty years, and he had only spent a part of them training since he had advanced without a suitable cultivation technique.
The fact that his darkness allowed him to match an expert at the peak of the gaseous stage was already an incredible feat, even if part of the merit had to go to his hybrid status. Yet, Noah had never been satisfied with his current power and always desired more.
The power of his darkness didn't make up for the weaknesses of his combat style. He lacked attacks that could match the power of the second form of his martial art, a type of offensive that only a hybrid could be capable of performing.
Nevertheless, creating or modifying spells and fusing them with martial arts was a long process that Noah couldn't start during that war. He didn't have enough time to immerse himself in another series of experiments.
Also, his instincts told him that he had to focus on the creation of his higher energy before concentrating on other projects. Having access to that new fuel would give Noah more possibilities to create a suitable offensive. It would even make him understand what it was capable of improving.
The creation of something so powerful would require time and experience in the field, together with a detailed plan.
King Elbas' research said that darkness and light cultivators didn't have only one way to create higher energy, but that lack of guidelines only increased the amount of work that Noah had to do in that project.
It had been quite straightforward with June since King Elbas had explained what type of procedure the lightning element had to go through to evolve. However, she had still spent a lot of time preparing and studying the inscription methods that had allowed her to complete the evolution of her "Breath".
Instead, Noah would have to start from scratch, knowing only that it was possible to create something similar even with his rare aptitude.
Nevertheless, if he succeeded, he would be virtually unbeatable against beings on the same level. After all, his darkness was already incredibly strong, and he couldn't wait to see how powerful he would become if he created a form of energy with his "Breath" as its basis.
The battle against Icy Stare continued for a while.
Noah would take a few hits from time to time to gain enough space to launch his more potent attack. However, Icy Stare performed an evasive maneuver every time she saw him enduring her spells with his body.
There were clear limits to Noah's simple combat style, and any expert in the fifth rank that he couldn't overwhelm with his sheer power would understand them in a few exchanges. After that, it was almost impossible for Noah to hit them.
'A powerful Blood Companion would be beneficial here,' Noah thought as he pushed his limits to block the barrage of spells coming at him. He had almost stopped attacking at that point and was mainly focusing on defending.
The saber-shaped runes protectively flew around him and clashed with the countless figures made of ice that shot toward him. His Ghostly Sabers swarmed the area, looking for the expert that was freezing the sky around him. His Demonic Sword launched black lines every time Noah swung it, and his Demonic Form had long since created a massive black cloud that surrounded him.
He didn't activate the Black Hole spell at that time since its effects were underwhelming against that opponent. Yet, that wasn't enough to compensate for the consumption of mental energy of the Divine Deduction technique.
Noah didn't dare to deactivate it. The reason why his defenses were able to hold on for so long was the enhanced speed of his thoughts that allowed him to find the best way to deal with the enemy's spells in fractions of instants.
That battle didn't have a victor or a defeated. The troops of the Empire decided to retreat soon, and Icy Stare disappeared in the middle of her offensive.
Noah broke apart the layer of ice around him when his opponent's attacks stopped and analyzed the battlefield to see how much they had lost.
It turned out that the Empire didn't manage to be as effective as the last time. The invading troops had attacked with a newfound carefulness and were more inclined to engage in multiple battles rather than risk the lives of the heroic assets.
That approach put the Empire in an unfavorable spot, especially since the defensive measures in that territory were quite basic, and the three forces had already found a way to deal with them.
Both armies had seen casualties happening among the human cultivators and the experts in the fourth rank. Still, the invading troops forced their enemies to retreat thanks to their higher numbers and conquered that territory in just one battle.
Noah didn't feel in the mood to celebrate. It had never happened to him to lose against someone that was at his same level.
Of course, he didn't really lose. Still, he couldn't see a way to beat her unless he added more techniques to his arsenal and improved his battle style, and that was a loss for him.
A familiar voice suddenly resounded from behind him. "I never thought I'd see that expression on the great Noah Balvan."
Noah's mind became calm when that voice resounded in his mind. He turned only to see his lover staring at him with an arrogant expression.
"I didn't know that the Elbas family brought newbies to its wars," Noah said as he showed a cold smile toward June.
The coldness radiated from his entire figure was enough to convince everyone on the battlefield that he wouldn't hesitate to kill June if the situation required it. However, June could only feel warm at that sight.
Orange sparks would run through June's body from time to time. Noah inspected them with the Divine Deduction technique and couldn't find any difference from the usual "Breath" of the lightning element that a rank 5 cultivator should have.
It seemed that June had managed to cover her power well, and that fact could only reassure Noah.
"Hmph," June snorted before adding a few words. "It's a pity that we are on the same side."
Then, she left to join the higher-ups of the Elbas family that welcomed her with broad smiles. It became clear to everyone that June Ballor was entering the war.