197 Struggle for Survival
When Max emerged from his inner world back to the ash wastes that he had been trapped in for so long, nothing had changed. The last drops of blood he had left on the wall were still slowly dropping to the ground, as if he had only been gone for a fraction of a second.
He simply stood there for a moment, breathing slowly as he remembered everything he had just heard, experienced, and remembered. His mother, his father, Leviathan… there were still some mysteries, but now he could at least remember the past as it had happened. But the past was the past. Now he still had to find and protect Zoey like he had promised!
He opened his eyes and clenched his fists, reaching into his inner world for the first time and calling out to Leviathan, calling them to come forth from the abyss. Power surged into his body, welling up from what seemed to be an infinite spring and flowing into him like a river. He sensed the connection to Leviathan through the power, a connection that he had never realized had been there all along.
His normally grey eyes turned into molten silver, accented by a single point of violet light in the center as he connected with Leviathan. It was a strange, but wonderful feeling, like embracing a long lost friend, and the result was Max gaining significant strength.
The power was so significant that is actually manifested itself physically, blasting out from him like a shockwave that blew the ash and dust away. Wisps of violet and purple energy were emerging from his skin, bleeding into the surroundings and making his hair stand on end as if blown by the wind.
Feeling the immense strength that now surged through his body, Max knew that he could now break free of this place. He had become one with Leviathan, and Leviathan with him.
They were one. They were Leviathan.
Max's fist smashed into the glass wall keeping him prisoner with a force that shook the foundations of the prison he was in. The wall before him didn't give, but Max sensed that he had caused some damage.
Pulling back his fist and with a fierce look on his face, Max struck out again.
The prison shook again, the ash statues around him crumbling to the ground as the impact of Max's strike radiated into the surroundings. He had used more force this time, and his efforts had borne fruit.
The glass wall before him finally had a crack!
Max smiled grimly as he readied for another strike. Be it a wall or a mountain in his path, he would not be stopped. The horizon itself would be split open wide if it stood between him and Zoey!
Zoey gasped as she finally broke free the mind prison and returned to the real world. The world was spinning around her and she could smell iron and oil around her, but she was disoriented by her sudden release and couldn't really make out anything around her.
She tried to stand, but quickly realized that she was incredibly weak! She could not even stand correctly at the moment, and could only fall back to the floor as she trembled and gasped for breath. It seemed that mind prison had taken more out of her than she had expected!
She had to regain her strength before she could even think about moving anywhere.
Not too far away from where Zoey struggled to collect herself, the collapsed form of Cornelius Rellen suddenly stirred.
He had survived!
He could scarcely believe it, but he had actually survived!!
When he had sent his consciousness into the box that held his prey, he had never anticipated that he would be trapped inside a living hell for what seemed like an eternity!
All that had been awaiting him had been death. Countless times he had been mauled, ripped to shreds, impaled by her molten blades, devoured by that swarm of monsters! Nothing he did had worked against them and his powers had not worked either, so that tide of horror had swept him under their teeth every single time.
In the end he had gone insane. He had tried everything he could think of to break out, but it had all been in vain. He even tried to communicate with the woman, even begging her to free him, tried to kill her, but she had only ignored him, only sparing a molten blade for him if he tried to get too close.
With no other alternative, he had used his magic to cocoon himself inside his inner world for protection, not willing to suffer the torment of the hell he had been trapped inside.
Time had passed slowly, endlessly ticking by and driving him mad as he waited inside his cocoon. But finally, when he was about to reach his breaking point, he sensed a change. They had returned to the outside!
He could once again feel his strength and magic returning to him!
That woman! She would pay for what she had done! A lifetime of torment would not be enough to repay what she had done to him!
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Zoey was still breathing heavy and trying to build her strength when she sensed someone else nearby. She could not see very well as her vision was blurry and swam like she was underwater, not to mention she only had the strength of a newborn kitten right now..
Despite that, she could still recognize the magic signature she sensed as Cornelius Rellen!
Of course, he must have found her while she was trapped in the mind prison and somehow sent his consciousness in only to be trapped there with her. She had thought that he would be incapacitated like her but that was clearly not the case!
Maniacal laughter rang out, echoing in the surroundings as Cornelius climbed to his feet, his bloodshot eyes locking onto Zoey in her weakened state as he stood unsteadily.
"You! You thought yourself better than me?! Look at you now! Groveling on the floor at my mercy!" Cornelius jeered as he staggered towards her, his arms reaching out to grasp her as spittle flew from his mouth from his shouting.
Zoey could tell she was in a tight spot here. Her foe was rapidly gaining strength and she could not even stand! If he managed to grab her now, it would be trouble!
Cornelius laughed crazily again as he approached her, his mind imagining all the wonderful expressions his new pet would make as he slowly broke her mind, body, and spirit little by little. He had waited for this for far too long!
A sudden explosion smashed Cornelius in the chest just as he was about to grab the weakened Zoey, sending him flying back and tumbling into a heap over 25 meters away.
Zoey groaned in pain as the smoking twin-barreled gun dropped from her limp hands, clattering on the ground. It had taken all the strength she had to summon it from her space ring and fire it at Cornelius, but it did buy her some time.
Hopefully the two explosive magical slugs that she had hit him with would be enough to keep him down for a while. She quickly activated the reserve power in her clothing and turned on the Mittra Regen array to heal herself. She could not bring forth any magic energy right now, so this was all she had. She hoped that it would be enough.
The problem was Cornelius was already starting to move again!