The ethereal crystal was clearly some type of core that Heaven and Earth had nurtured. It even carried resemblances with the energy they had tried to concoct during the final battle, but the major experts in the army recognized it for what it was.
Magical beasts had bodies, and hybrids and cultivators had worlds. Every lifeform that walked on the journey toward power eventually developed cores, and the shattering of the sky had revealed Heaven and Earth's one.
Nevertheless, unlike worlds and other types of centers of power, Heaven and Earth's core didn't carry any innate influence. The rulers had been technically dead since they had strived for a complete rebirth, so their existence contained nothing more than energy and knowledge.
There was no other way to put it. The fall of the sky had allowed the appearance of a rank 10 resource ready for the taking. Almost everyone looking at it realized that breakthroughs would be possible if they absorbed its contents. Yet, only a few experts could join that hunt.
Noah could sense the many deaths that his army had experienced. Lifelong friends had died, and the time to mourn them and drink in their honor would come, but he had something else to do now, and he wasn't alone.
King Elbas' eyes lit up at the sight of the ethereal item. A rank 10 material full of energy and knowledge was within his range, and his very being was begging him to seize it.
Supreme Thief was no different. He was born for that moment. He had founded his world on that task, and he could finally show that he was the best at it.
The rest of Noah's main team experienced similar reactions, but they weren't the only ones. Many privileged cultivators had survived the assault and felt deep ownership toward Heaven and Earth's core. After all, they had served for far too long.
Caesar and Marcella were in the same situation. Their confidence had crumbled, but the existence of a rank 10 core could fix that issue. They only had to seize that incredible item.
No one dared to move. The experts interested in the item knew that a mere gesture could give birth to a bloodbath, and no one wanted to fall in the first wave of attacks.
Many gazes fell on Noah, King Elbas, and their companions. Those experts had caused the fall of the sky, so everyone preferred for them to kill each other. The weaker existences wouldn't have a chance otherwise.
"The time has come," Noah announced.
"We knew it would have been like this," King Elbas stated.
"Weaklings should retreat now if they don't want to die in the aftermath," Supreme Thief exclaimed.
"Why don't you start by stepping away?" Divine Demon teased.
"I will never retreat in front of food!" The pig squealed.
"Oh my," Divine Demon laughed. "Everyone wants to be a demon now."
Everyone fell silent at that point. The experts set on seizing the ethereal crystal prepared their energy for the imminent clash. Tension spread in the area and shattered the few leftovers of the space-time array. The hunt was about to start.
The tension became too heavy for the weaker experts. The privileged cultivators were the first to shoot forward. The group didn't exchange words, but silent teamwork formed. They would work together as long as the ethereal crystal fell in their hands.
However, Alexander's gory figure materialized on their path and forced them to halt their sprint. The privileged cultivators didn't know what he wanted, especially in that condition, but he didn't hesitate to explain his stance.
"Don't even think about it," Alexander announced before interrupting his line to cough some blood. "There is only one being worthy of that resource."
Meanwhile, the other experts involved in the hunt also shot forward, and Noah soon fell into the lead. His power had reached unfathomable heights during the offensive, and his incredible speed proved that.
Marcella managed to gain some ground since her condition was almost perfect, but an expert materialized on her path and forced her to stop. She remained speechless at the sight of her old companion, but she also understood her.
"We don't deserve it," Decumia exclaimed.
"We'll see about that," Marcella snorted.
"Marcella, Heaven and Earth lost," Decumia pointed out. "Seizing that core would only prolong that failure."
"I can do better than them!" Marcella shouted.
"Yes, you can," Decumia agreed. "You can now that our enemies freed us."
Marcella had started to summon her energy, but that fuel dispersed. Helplessness filled her entire being as her gaze fell on the hunt. Every inch of her body wished to be part of the assault, but she knew she had missed her chance.
Noah flew undisturbed until a series of lightning bolts gathered before him and generated June's figure. Her condition was awful. Countless injuries filled her world and body, but her eyes shone with pure battle intent.
June didn't need to say anything. Noah understood her intentions perfectly. Lightning bolts came out of her Perfect Circuit and added injuries to her body, but all that power suddenly vanished.
"Fight me!" June shouted when Noah used that chance to surpass her.
"We'll have plenty of time for that," Noah whispered while pressing forward, but it didn't take long for an azure figure to appear at his side.
"Do you really think you can beat me in a stealing challenge?" Supreme Thief asked while flying side by side with Noah.
Noah was ready to attack, but a blood-red radiance suddenly fell on the area and forced Supreme Thief to slow down. Noah used that chance to accelerate even further, but he didn't miss how Divine Demon materialized above Supreme Thief and sat on his head.
"What are you doing?!" Supreme Thief shouted. "How is this worthy of a demon?!"
"It would be unbecoming to steal from my heir," Divine Demon explained. "Besides, I have no interest in that item. You are the same, am I right?"
Sword Saint teleported next to Divine Demon and pointed a sharp mass of silver energy at Supreme Thief's throat. Blades also appeared in the area and made Supreme Thief's escape impossible.
"He is so fast," Sword Saint sighed while keeping his attention on Noah. "His blade is faster than mine."
"We are just letting him go ahead," Divine Demon laughed while materializing three cups of wine that floated toward the experts.
"Indeed," Sword Saint whispered while grabbing his cup. "The path is still long. We'll catch up with him."
Supreme Thief wanted to struggle, but he eventually settled for the wine. He could probably break free of the hindrances, but Noah had already gotten too far for him.
Noah flew freely, using everything in his world to push himself closer to the ethereal crystal, but he had to stop when a sea of golden flames exploded in front of him.
"Do you have any idea how long I've waited for this moment?" King Elbas' voice came out of the flames as the sea condensed to form his flaring quasi-rank 10 body.
"Don't die," Noah warned as he raised both arms.
"I was about to say that," King Elbas scoffed while conjuring a fiery spear that sucked him dry of all his fake quasi-rank 10 power.
A golden torrent of energy and an immense slash clashed among the void. The impact surpassed anything witnessed during the worldwide assault. There seemed to be two quasi-rank 10 beings fighting each other in that corner of the universe, and the dispersion of the chaos didn't reveal a clear winner.
King Elbas and Noah reappeared in their respective positions once their attacks dispersed. The lack of injuries hinted at a draw, but a black mark eventually materialized at the center of King Elbas' chest and threatened to infect his flames.
King Elbas quickly cut away the infected flames, but Noah used that chance to surpass him. Still, King Elbas set his world on fire again to achieve the fake quasi-rank 10 state and pointed his arm at the flying Noah.
"Our battle is far from over!" King Elbas shouted as flames gathered in his palm to give birth to the spear, but he suddenly lost control of that massive energy.
The spear crumbled into a series of flames that flowed toward a distant spot on King Elbas' left. The expert turned only to see a fuming figure charging at him while munching the golden fire.
"Xavieeer!" The Foolery shouted while absorbing all the fake quasi-rank 10 flames and crashing on his companion.
"What are you doing, you stupid pig?!" King Elbas complained and tried to summon his technique again, but the Foolery ate any energy that tried to go beyond the ninth rank.
"Didn't you want to get the crystal?" King Elbas continued while failing to push away the Foolery.
"But I would become too strong for you if I got it," The Foolery explained before licking King Elbas' head. "And I don't want you to get too strong either. I wouldn't be able to tease you otherwise."
Noah ignored the funny events happening behind him as he pressed forward. He was almost there. He could already feel the ethereal crystal in his grasp, but a last opponent managed to appear on his path.
"That doesn't belong to you!" Caesar shouted. "I've seen it in my fate. I'll expand until the entire universe falls under my power."
"Your fate is already broken," Noah coldly remarked before transforming into a piercing slash that flew right through Caesar.
Caesar couldn't understand what had happened. Noah had been too fast for his senses. Yet, he soon noticed that a hole had appeared on his torso. Its edges even expanded, and nothing in Caesar's power seemed able to stop it.
Caesar turned in time to see Noah materializing next to the crystal and throwing it into his mouth. Some curiosity appeared in Caesar's mind at that point, but it was already too late for him. The hole continued to expand until his whole body disappeared and his consciousness turned dark.
Author's notes: You probably know this already. The next chapter will also be the last.