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40 Feud End and a New Path

 Ivan lead the hundred guards around the flank of the beast horde, hiding in the canopy of the forest as they moved. Valeria and the guards were determined the protect Ivan in the case of any unexpected solutions, so they flew close enough to him that they could move to protect him instantly.

The main defensive forces of guards fought with iron spears covered in clotted blue blood, refusing to budge an inch backwards in the face of the beast horde. This large portion of the battle allowed Ivan's group to slip by undetected, even the few beasts they came across also moving through the foliage were instantly killed by the guards before they could send any warning.

"There it is," Ivan said quietly as he raised an arm to stop the guards.

The Four-Eyed Devil Lion was perched on a low hanging branch of a tree, glaring at the battle between the beast horde and the Celestials from the distance. It stood there silently, but Ivan could feel an impression of anger and frustration from it.

"Guards, form an inescapable perimeter in the surroundings. Don't let it escape, when I confront it, take the opportunity to close the entrapment to kill it."

Ivan's eye were cold enough everyone felt slight chills down their spines as they moved to form a four dimensional encirclement around the devil lion.

The devil lion had exceptional senses though and sensed the danger enclosing around it. It spotted a few Celestial guards moving and made to flee, but before it could, Ivan flew out and confronted the devil lion with his spear.

The devil lion saw Ivan and its gaze immediately focused on him as it emitted a menacing growl that reverberated through the forest. Its original intention of escaping had been abandoned and was completely ready for wage a war of life or death with Ivan.

Ivan positioned himself on a branch not far away from the devil lion and took a combative stance with his spear.

"Be careful," Valeria said quietly with concern from behind the nearby trunk, where Ivan had made her wait to avoid causing the devil lion to be cautious.

Ivan nodded quietly as the Devil Lion pounced at him with a speed that would have broken the sound barrier on a three-dimensional planet.

Ivan didn't have the flexibility nor speed of the Vulpes Celestials due to the inherent structure of their limbs and joints, but he had the superiority when it came to brute strength. Equipped with an extra thick suit of iron plated armor, he put his life on the line to stop the incoming devil lion from the front.

The Four-Eyed Devil Lion ignited its mane in a bright blue flame that ignited anything it passed by. Ivan could feel the enormous concentration of energy excitation from the flame as it approached, almost causing his body to break apart from the massive density of energy.

The devil lion roared as it slashed down with its claws, but Ivan stabbed his spear to impale the devil lion's chest at the same time, causing the other to abandon its attack and leap to the side.

Valeria couldn't take it anymore and flew up from behind the tree like lightning, aiming her spear at where the devil lion evaded to.

*Clink**Crunch*

The devil lion whipped its head around and caught the spear in its teeth, twisting its neck and trying to rip it out of Valeria's hands. It also tried to slash her while she was held down, but Valeria decisively abandoned the spear and pulled out a long curved hunting knife from her waist and cut the devil lion's ankle joint, failing to sever the paw but still cutting deep.

Ivan tightened his grip on his spear and ignoring his fingers beginning to melt in his armored glove from energy excitation, stabbed at the devil lion's neck.

With a limp foot and a potentially fatal thrust heading at its neck, the devil lion retreated and took some distance from the two.

"Be careful, this thing is crazy," Ivan said solemnly to Valeria.

"I understand. Stay behind me."

Valeria charge at the devil lion, unwilling to let it escape the unfavourable position during retreating. The devil lion roared loudly, causing both Ivan and Valeria to feel dizzy, but not to the extent of its full powered howl.

Ivan noticed something wasn't right immediately as the flames around the mane of the Four-Eyed Devil Lion suddenly vanished. The devil lion opened its mouth wide as a massive blue ball of flames grew between its jaws.

The ball of compressed blue flames even caused damage to the Four-Eyed Devil Lions teeth as the surface of them combusted and melted like wax under the ball of energy excitation in its mouth affected them. Ivan was unsure if they would grow back, but that was the least of his concerns now.

The devil lion spat out the ball of compressed blue flames at Ivan and Valeria. The ball grew to an enormous proportion of nearly 100 feet in diameter once it left it's mouth yet still shot at them like a bullet.

"Shit! Since when can it do that?!" Ivan cursed as he dodged to the side.

He wanted to pull Valeria away too, but she was faster than him so he couldn't hope to catch her while she was charging at the devil lion. Instead all he could do was shout out for her to avoid the attack and hope she survived.

Valeria also saw the danger in the attack and avoided it with desperation. The ball of flames blew through the area in subspace that Ivan and Valeria were just occupying and blasted into a massive tree behind them.

The ball exploded upon hitting the tree in a massive display of flames and energy sparks. The main part of the enormous tree trunk simply directly evaporated from the attack, the counterforce of the explosion causing the tree, untethered to the landmass, to fly away in subspace. Blue flames also spread out through subspace, floating around like eerie blue Will-o'-the-Wisps, igniting anything they came into contact with.

Not even Ivan and Valeria could avoid the explosion, but their armor had somehow saved their lives.

One side of Valeria's face was scorched while Ivan had too much energy stored within his body and felt like he was going to burst into flames at any moment. The outer layer of their armor had completely melted and made the whole suit fragile.

Ivan stared at the Four-Eyed Devil Lion without emotion. The devil lion also didn't get away free from this attack it launched. The beast was completely exhausted and looked like it could collapse at any moment.

The hundred guards in the area were slowly closing their encirclement, but the devil lion was still solely focused on killing Ivan while being wary of Valeria. It mustered up its strength and charged at Ivan.

Ivan was also in a difficult position. He raised his spear and fought back against the devil lion. Valeria worked in conjunction with Ivan as the two battled two on one.

The devil lion furiously slashed its claws, even using its cracked and blunt teeth to tear away at either the two of them or their weapons. The lingering blue flames weren't an issue for the devil lion as it could easily avoid them while fighting due to some sixth sense it seemed to have, while Ivan and even Valeria found them to be nasty booby traps which could be triggered with a single wrong movement.

The two Celestials and one beast furiously exchanged countless blows in the space of five minutes. The devil lion was cut and tattered, while Ivan and Valeria's armor had been completely scrapped and even their bodies has sustained numerous wounds.

At this point the original entrapment plan had succeeded in closing around the devil lion as the hundred guards appear from all directions, sealing off any hope of escape the devil lion had.

The Four-Eyed Devil Lion also saw the sudden hopeless situation and roared defiantly, but it's roar was but a shadow of what it once was. It wanted to escape and recover its strength, but a dozen spears came in from various directions and pinned it to the ground.

Ivan stood in front of the cornered beast with an icy gaze, his spear aimed down at its head to impale it and end its life instantly.

The devil lion remained silent.

It looked up at Ivan, understanding its defeat.

Its rage was completely gone as with a resolution...

It closed it eyes in defeat, ready for death.

Ivan wasn't the kind of person who would show pity or mercy, nor would he allow a potential threat to him, especially one that has already bitten him once, to wander about freely.

He gripped the spear tightly and with all his strength, thrust down upon the devil tiger.

At the very last moment though, Ivan's eyes suddenly widened as he had a sudden epiphany. Like a fog clearing in his mind, he rapidly pulled his muscles taught and stopped his thrust, lass than an inch away from the devil lions head.

"Ivan?" Valeria asked wide-eyed in surprise, unsure why Ivan didn't kill the enemy.

"Guards, keep a close eye on the Four-Eyed Devil Lion. We are escorting it back home, as soon as we return, immediately inform some of the craftsmen to fashion an iron collar and chain," Ivan ordered and began ordering the guards, ignoring his body which was beginning to fall apart in some spots.

The devil lion opened its eyes and looked up at Ivan, staring eye to eye with him as Ivan held the spear just above its head.

The devil lion didn't understand.

"Ivan?" Valeria askes cautiously one more time. "Why don't you kill it?"

Ivan looked at Valeria next to him and sighed, "You mean I'm not the kind of person to spare an enemy, so you don't know why I'm not killing it?"

Valeria nodded her head.

"I didn't kill it, precisely because I am the kind of person who would never spare it under any condition," Ivan ignored Valeria's confusion as he explained. "I had previously done many things wrong, to the extent where I went back in time to fix things for myself. I know myself, I know how bad things must have been for me, to continue sacrificing myself even after learning the cost of changing the past, just to fix that and take a new path through history."

"...Then this is the right thing to do?" Valeria asked as she looked at the devil lion murderously.

"..."

"Ivan?"

"To be honest, I don't know. I don't know the future, only of one where everything went wrong. All I can do is take a different direction and respond to situations as they arrive. Do you understand?"

"No."

Toward Valeria's blunt reply, Ivan just sighed to himself. He truly wasn't sure if this was better, but he had successfully taken a step himself in changing his future, not his future self.

*****

Deep inside the residence of the Andromeda Federation Prime Minister, Mortimus Lupin suddenly opened his eyes wide in astonishment.

He looked down upon his body that was breaking apart into small golden particles before vanishing entirely into space and said to himself.

"No, this isn't possible. I haven't changed history enough that my past has completely disappeared yet. How is this possible?!"

Mortimus's irises suddenly took a '+' shape, except they emitted a fail golden light from within his pupils.

"Could it be the past me who did something? *Sigh* It must have been. My place in time is rapidly disintegrating. I won't have another chance to meet you, myself, but I hope you create a company that make my sacrifice worth it. Rise up, swallow everything, and rule the universe!"

Mortimus suddenly broke into a wild laughter as his body completely broke into golden motes of light before completely vanishing, as if he never existed in the first place.

Not a single trace remained of him. No hairs, no sweat or bloodstains, even his fingerprints from everything he ever touched had vanished. Any photos or videos he was in had his image completely vanish, instead recording what was behind him instead. Everything that denoted his existence completely vanished from the world at the same time.

This would without a doubt cause a lot of turmoil in the Andromeda Federation - the mysterious disappearance of the prime minister and the following political struggle, but this was no longer Ivan's story, but somebody else's.