“My love,” Etheria said, as she hovered before Erik, carefully raising her left hand to his cheek.
Erik met her blind gaze, grimacing as pain rushed through his heart. “Why?” He asked in common, “Why are we enemies, Etheria?”
Etheria smiled warmly, “Because, this world deserves to burn in the fiery pits of hell.” she said softly, speaking those words as if they were completely obvious. “Join me, Erikathyr, as we were before we separated into different paths.”
“You align yourself with hell, with chaos and corruption. I’m a Dragon, sworn to protect this world from such things.” Erik said with a weak smile, “I cannot join you Etheria, but you can leave your hate behind like I have and redeem yourself alongside me.” He offered, his pained eyes still gazing into hers.
Etheria shook her head calmly, “I cannot do that either, my love, hate is what makes me whole. I cannot forgive this world, this existence, for impassively watching as everyone I loved and held dear was murdered, butchered before my very eyes.” She said while floating away from him. “And if you won’t join us, and I won’t join you, then enemies we remain. Fight for what we believe, we must.”
“Don’t be a fool!” Erik suddenly bellowed, rage surging through his eyes. “What lies did the Devils promise you? What trickery have you fallen for?!”
Etheria though only smiled back, “Nothing, there were no lies, there was no need for trickery. The heart desires what it desires, and there is little we can do to change it. Just as my heart desires you back by my side…”
“And I won’t make excuses…I failed, you and your people, I failed them all.” Erik’s tone calmed as he responded, “Etheria, I do not wish to fight you, but I also won’t join you.”
She nodded in understanding, “Dragons mate for life…” she said with a sigh, “Stubborn as always, you still cling to your people’s ideals. But, if you won’t join or fight me, Erikathyr…Then I shall be the one to kill you.” Etheria warned, as the air around them grew colder.
Silent moments passed, as the pressure rose higher and higher.
And suddenly, as everything quaked around them, the two sides clashed. Dreadblades and Beast Pact, both sides burst into shadow before colliding in mid-air, their clashes too quick for the naked eye to make out.
Flashes of golden light clashing with explosions of darkness riddled the sky, the army of slaves below only able to watch in frozen awe as real monsters fought above them.
Pyra and Zentha joined Nerick in charging Hunter, the three of them surrounding the giant-like panther-man, closing in on him from every direction as he suddenly spun about and with great force to meet them.
Ascal’s expression turned cold as he suddenly took charge of the dreadblades and Dragon Knights, his personality doing a 180 as he ordered xilfir around.
Erik continued to face Etheria, as she raised her right hand forward, a golden gleam surging through her pale eyes while spiritual energy burst out of her arm. The energy formed at her fingers, elongating into a solid golden bow which she grasped.
“Too bad, truly it is.” Etheria said softly in elven, raising her left hand to touch the bow before pulling back, a golden energy appearing out of her fingertips as she did. “Farewell, Guardian.” She then said with finality, a cold smile forming on her lips, before she loosed the arrow.
It burst into a ray of golden light, surging quickly and towards Erik’s chest.
He did not move, he stood his ground even as it reached him.
“What are you doing!?” Thea exclaimed as she appeared before him, her gunblade surging with lightning as she met the ray of light. The two magiks clashed, exploding moments later into a wide blast that sent any Dreadblade or Bestia nearby soaring away.
But Thea remained where she was, unaffected by the blast.
Shizuka was still standing on the warehouse roof with several Dragon Knights guarding her. Focusing on Thea, struggling to retain the flight spell she cast upon her.
Etheria grimaced and flew back as two small spiritual projectiles zoomed past where she once stood, soaring off at speeds twice that of her own arrows. She followed the trail of light the projectiles left, but sensed no source, having to evade again as the same attack came from another direction.
Makaela lay enveloped in shadows of invisibility, while also covering herself in a thin layer of spiritual energy, a barrier blocking her spiritual signature from being detected. She did this because she knew, from what little Erik had told her, that detecting spiritual energy was how Etheria saw albeit being physically blind.
She flew around Etheria, also being aided to fly by Shizuka’s magic. Taking aim with her two weapons, small crossbows of golden ethereal energy laying attached to her wrists.
“Snap out of it!” Thea exclaimed as the two dark elves danced about the sky, one invisible and the other too quick to evade. She turned to face him, then seeing the struggle going through his expression.
Erik wasn’t just not moving, he was completely frozen. Eyes closed as he hovered limply, his expression changing between pain and anger.
“What the-” Thea began to say as her eyes widened, when she suddenly sensed movement behind her.
“Watch out!” Makaela exclaimed in common.
And Thea turned to find Etheria lunging at her, her bow now turned into a pole-blade. She tried to deflect the attack, but her expression paled as she saw the golden blade pass right through her own. She had no time to evade further, as the blade met her skin.
Etheria suddenly backed away, as two golden bolts of spiritual energy shot past her previous position. She hovered further back, into a safe distance as she changed her pole-blade back into a bow. All the while her senses prodded her surroundings, looking for the cloaked assassin.
“What did you do to him!?” Thea demanded, switching into a gun’s grip as she took aim at the dark elf.
“Reminding him, of what he has forgotten.” Etheria said, suddenly taking aim to her left, nocking an arrow and immediately releasing it.
The projectile burst into a ray of light, colliding with the two bolts that had formed and searing through them before hitting something else. Makaela faded out of invisibility right after, clenching her left shoulder as blood trickling down her arm. “I can’t hide from her!” she said in surprise.
“What? What has he forgotten?” Thea urged for more, annoyed beyond reason as she aimed her weapon towards the Soul leader.
Etheria turned to face Thea, her eyes suddenly filling with crimson. She smiled, a wickedly cold smile that sent shivers down Thea’s spine, “Everything, of what I am, of what he’s done, and why. So it can break his will, shatter his mind and spirit.”
Etheria chuckled coldly, as demonic energy rushed beneath her skin, her golden bow turning blood crimson just like her eyes. She divided her bow’s energy, opening her arms wide as each half formed into a curved blade of crimson. Her smile widened, turning into an amused and crooked grin.
“A Demon Lord!?” Makaela exclaimed with wide fearful eyes, sensing the demonic energy within her.
It laughed, its voice warping as it spoke, “Was it not obvious? Etheria never existed, this mere sack of flesh is nothing more than a vessel to conceal myself with!” it continued to laugh with wicked hysteria.
“Never…existed?” Makaela repeated in confusion, “You…You warped his memories! How!? How could a lowly Demon Lord do that to a Dragon!?” she exclaimed, anger clear in her tone.
“Oh, master has gone much deeper into that creature’s mind that just that!” It giggled, her previous voice warping with the demonic sound that now came out alongside it. “Since the start, we’ve warped him, pulled his strings to do Hell’s bidding. Without the fool even knowing, that his rage and hatred was being fuelled by another realm.”
“You…You did this to him…” Thea said, her eyes widening with rage.
“Ah, I won’t take the full credit, but I guess I have put up a good act! For those…Nine hundred years give or take a few decades?” The demon mused as it chuckled, “Either way, he’s served his purpose, and as he is now his usefulness is…well, limited.”
The demon aimed a blade at each of them, “Master would be disappointed if I don’t make good use of what’s left of him though,” it said in amusement, when its voice suddenly warped back to normal…
“Kill them for me.” Etheria said softly.
“As you wish.” Erik spoke, suddenly appearing before Thea and grabbing her by the neck. His eyes were splattered with crimson, as if blood had burst into them. His gaze, just as empty as his expression, even as Thea choked in his grip.
(“E-Erik! Stop!”) Thea exclaimed through their connection, gazing into his eyes as she felt him squash the life out of her. (“Snap out of it! Erik!”) she exclaimed once more, but to no avail as he did neither react nor respond.
“I must say, it is far easier to control this fool outside of his Drake’s body.” The Demon Lord mused before turning to meet Makaela’s charge.
“Vile creature! Release him!” She exclaimed in elven, as her crossbows changed into daggers.
Her golden blades clashed with the demon’s crimson, sparking lightning all around them before the blast pushed them apart.
“Should you really be focusing on me?” The Demon asked, nodding its head towards Thea as Erik choked her to death, her hands laying clenched over his own. Although, the strength in them was fading.
Makaela expression paled, her instincts told her to stay on the attack and kill the demon quickly, but her heart waned towards stopping Erik.
She couldn’t decide, and time was running out as Thea struggled for breath, trying to remain conscious as she continued to scream his name through their bond.
When suddenly, a sigh came from behind. Makaela felt a cold wind blow past her, “Never falter, no matter the circumstances.” Alan’s words reached her ears as he appeared between Erik and Thea, snatching Erik’s hand off Thea’s neck before suddenly kicking him off into the docks.
Erik soared through the sky from the sheer force, crashing through a building before plummeting to the ground.
“I’ll hold him at bay! Kill that thing and quickly!” Alan exclaimed, glancing in between Makaela and Thea before soaring off after Erik.
Makaela sighed in relief, turning to face the Demon Lord as it lay staring after Alan in surprise. “Then it’s you and me n-“ Makaela began to say, when she suddenly sensed a brief but massive surge of power nearby.
The Demon lord sensed it too.
And the both of them turned to its source, Thea, who still hovered in place. Holding her neck with one hand as she raised her other arm beside her, opening that hand wide in wait. Her gunblade rose from the ground where she had dropped it, flying back up into her grasp as the surge of energy returned.
“I…I’m going to destroy you.” Thea hissed, her voice turning draconic as an aura of sizzling blue electricity formed around her body and weapon. Her appearance changing too, her eyes burning with gold as her short hair suddenly stood up, turning a bright blue.
Several strikes of lightning burst out of Thea’s body, passing through the Xilfir and the rest of her allies, colliding with one of them before surging into another. Leaving them with the same electrified blue aura she had.
Makaela herself was hit by one of these blue strikes of energy, filling her with a strange warmth, and overwhelming strength. She chuckled, as the both of them turned to face the Demon.
“What is…this feeling?” The Demon Lord asked as it glanced between them in confusion, meeting each of their gazes.
Thea’s eyes were surging with a burning fury, as the golden lightning within swirled with a golden flame.
Makaela’s eyes, on the other hand, were dead cold. Oozing a chilling hate.
As both set their gazes upon the Demon, like two lionesses picking their prey.
Beset by anger Thea rushed in first, “Ablaze!” she chanted, firing bouts of white flame out of her gunblade as she closed the distance.
The Demon deflected the flames with its crimson blades before suddenly finding itself face to face with her, pushing its vessel’s speed to its limit to evade the burning blade that threatened to cleave her into two.
It sensed every attack, every slash, lunge and stab and evaded them.
“Hah! I was trained by the same Dragon you protect! You cannot touch me!” It exclaimed in amusement.
But Thea was relentless, every attack moving into another, every strike missed changed around and combined into the next.
Matching the Demon in speed, cleaving through the air itself with her burning blade, as the flame grew more violent with each strike.
“Alone, maybe not, but together?” Makaela whispered as she appeared behind the Demon, unleashing her whip upon it, ethereal golden lightning surging through it alongside the emerald flames.
“Your struggle is pointless! He is too far gone!” The Demon continued to laugh as it evaded the whip.
But not Thea’s blade, as it cleaved through its left arm.
The Demon shrieked in pain, trying to back away from them, but they gave it no pause or relief.
Thea’s blade continued its assault, the flames now unbearable as they burned the demon even as she missed her attacks, searing off clothing and skin.
The Demon hissed and screamed, its movements slowing down from its injury and the pain.
As Makaela appeared out of nowhere once again, her whip wrapping around the Demon’s feet, “Soul School; Soul Chain!” she chanted.
Ethereal chains of gold formed out of the whip, wrapping themselves all around the Demon’s body, then suddenly tightening.
“Now!” Makaela shouted as Thea charged the hindered Demon Lord.
“Even if you kill me! The curse has been reactivated! You cannot stop him now!” The Demon said, its ugly expression of fear and madness, met with Thea’s fury.
As she remorselessly stabbed her blade into its chest, “I don’t believe you,” she said with resolved eyes, “But I do believe in him! So how about we find out!?” she then shouted as her flames engulfed the Demon’s body.
It shrieked in agony as the white flames were joined by Makaela’s emerald, golden lightning also surging through the blazes as the demon’s body was incinerated. Bit by bit, until nothing was left but ash.
The both of them instinctively stared at the ash as it fell, still hearing its wicked screams within their minds. Its expression, even as pain was all the sound it could make, was one of amusement till the very last.
A face that would surely haunt them.
Thea turned away, looking around with wide eyes, searching for him.
She glanced over the still fighting Dreadblades, the Dragon Knights not even breaking a sweat as they slew Pact warrior after another whilst their Xilfir brethren assisted them. She glanced over Nerick, Pyra and Zentha, as they barely held Hunter at bay, the large Bestia having somehow grown twice in size. But Astral was at the back with Shizuka, ordering a few spare Dragon Knights to go aid them.
Thea’s gaze fell on Shizuka, who was looking off elsewhere with fear in her eyes. She followed her gaze, seeing Erik and Alan still clashing in the distance.
“It didn’t work…” Thea mumbled out, clenching her weapon in anger.
“We’ll figure it out dammit! First we need to restrain him!” Makaela exclaimed before flying off towards the battle.
Thea grimaced, “Please…Please don’t be…” she whispered to herself, as she gazed at their fight.
“Thea!” Makaela shouted back at her, having stopped to wait for her.
Her voice snapping Thea out of her daze.
“Let’s go!” Makaela told her, and Thea followed without response, her heart…
Their hearts, sinking deeper into despair with every passing moment.
“Dammit…Dammit Erikathyr!” Alan shouted as his frost-covered blade met Erik’s white staff, lightning and frost striking out of their clashes randomly, destroying their surroundings.
Alan held the clash, using those few moments to meet the drake’s bloody yet empty gaze. “All that talk, and this is it!? This is where you fall!?” he exclaimed, slashing the staff aside only to be met with it once again as Erik masterfully spun with the force, bashing one side of it into Alan’s shoulder and sending him plummeting down into the road.
Alan groaned as he rose from the crater his body made, forcing himself forward as Erik appeared there, continuing his attack.
Their weapons clashed once more, sparks of mana coming off them as their respective elements continued to surge out around them.
“You made me do this! Erik!” Alan exclaimed, suddenly pulling back and leaping away.
Erik leapt after him, forming a trail of lightning out of his staff as he soared.
“Oh, mistress of cold! Lend me your icy winds, so I may soar over this obstacle! Milady, one who I would call my dragon!” Alan began to chant, as he deflected Erik’s lunge, evading another two while in mid-air before their weapons clashed again. “Lend me your strength! Draconic School; Findri; Chosen Blade!”
Alan bellowed the spell, as he aimed his sword down at Erik.
Hoping, against everything he knew.
Wishing that it might be true.
That if she was back, then their bond, might be too.
He believed, with every fibre of his being, Alan believed for the first time in centuries.
And the cold came to answer his call.
Faster than sound, the air around Erik froze, encasing him entirely as he neared Alan.
Then, he fell, covering in a sphere of ice he fell back to the ground. The sphere shuddered when it hit gravel, but did not shatter or crack. It simply lay there as Alan gazed down at it in utter disbelief.
“I…did it…” he said, hovering down to stand before the icy prison. “My bond…She…She never lost faith in me?…”
“No, she never did, not once.” Said a voice from behind him, Alan turned to see a rift had opened, surprise further filling his expression as he hadn’t even sensed it.
“Move out of the way, this is dire.” Said the familiar voice, as Kyllix stepped out of the rift, seemingly in a rush.
“You…” Alan did so, recognising the divine from before, “Thank god, you’re here! He’s out of control!”
“Don’t thank me just yet, bloody hell I just got here even.” Kyllix joked as he stepped to the sphere of ice, but then glanced away as if he had sensed something. Turning to the slowly closing battle nearby, he saw them approach from the sky.
“Erik!” Makaela exclaimed as she and Thea flew in, coming to a running stop next to the ice.
“What…happened?” Thea asked with wide eyes, as she gazed into the sphere.
“I couldn’t fend him off forever, so I…immobilized him.” Alan answered, as the icy sphere suddenly shuddered.
“For now,” Kyllix mused.
“You…” Makaela turned to the God, suddenly stepping to him and grabbing him by the collar, “You can save him!” she exclaimed, her eyes cold and demanding.
Kyllix rolled his eyes, “Should I restrain you?” he asked coldly, his voice reverberating throughout the street and causing each of them to suddenly step away in horror. “Good,” he sighed, “Now stay out of my way so I can work.” he then said.
“You can save him?” Thea asked, despair clear in her tone.
Kyllix glanced at her, raising a brow at her new appearance before turning to Erik. “I can try.” The divine said, suddenly stepping through the ice as if he was a ghost.
Kyllix lay his hand upon Erik’s chest, “This…explains a lot.” he mused.
“W-What?” Makaela asked, snapping out of her horrified daze later than the rest, her spiritual senses having been severely affected by the Spirit Beast.
“This is not demonic in nature, this is divine magic!” He hissed, yet his expression was one of cold amusement.
“But you can still help him, right?” Thea asked, laying her hands upon the ice as she gazed at the frozen Erik within.
Kyllix turned to meet her pained gaze, his eyes narrowing before he returned to look at the frozen drake. “Well? Can I?” The divine asked, as if expecting a response. “Really? After everything they’ve gone through? Are you this despicable?” Kyllix asked, but the rest were unsure of whom.
Moments of dreadful silence passed, and the divine’s expression turned to rage.
“What’s wrong?” Thea asked in fearful confusion, seeing the God’s anger.
Kyllix raised his palm to Erik’s forehead. “I’m about to do something very stupid, and you all better bloody make a religion after me for this.” The divine said, only half joking.
“How did that spell go in this world again?” He briefly pondered, trying to remember. ”Gah…Right here goes something. Div-No wait…God School; Higher Dispel!” Kyllix chanted, as a blinding light suddenly shone out of his palm.
Thea, Makaela and Alan were forced to look away due to its brightness, but that unnaturally ended. They looked back at them, as the light still shone out but had seemingly frozen in place. As if time had stopped within the sphere.
They couldn’t see within, but they heard Kyllix chuckle. “You’d even stoop down to trying to stop me? Some supreme being!” he exclaimed, as the light once again suddenly and briefly flashed brightly before fading out.
Blinding them for another moment, “S***, not yet…I’m not leaving this damn realm yet!” Kyllix shouted in fury.
And when the light faded, they saw neither the ice that once imprisoned Erik nor the God who freed him.
Instead, it was just Erik, lying unconscious on the gravel road.
“The hell was that light!?” Nerick exclaimed as he stumbled out of his landing, Pyra, Zentha and Ascal bursting out of the shadows nearby.
“The battle has concluded, the beast and his warriors retreated.” Zentha solemnly reported.
“What here happened?” Ascal asked in utterly broken common, gaining more than few confused glances.
“I’ll explain later,” Makaela hissed at the four of them, “Rally the troops, we’re retreating for now!” she ordered, obviously annoyed.
At her words all four them straightened at attention, even Nerick although he had no clue what she had even said.
“So…what do we do with him? Did…the God succeed?” Alan asked as he tentatively crouched down next to Erik. The three Dreadblade captains taking that pause away from Makaela’s glare to disappear.
“We restrain him…” Thea said, surprising the both of them. “It’s what he’d do.” She then reasoned.
“Alright…” Alan said as he tried to rise, only to fall back to his knees as he felt them weaken. “Crap…used too much mana…So uhh, who’s got a rope?” he then asked, glancing around.
As did the rest, their gazes though falling on Nerick and Ivara.
“Can’t you…you know, turn the wyvern into a cage or something?” Alan asked.
Hearing those words, Ivara leapt off Nerick’s shoulder and glided away, screeching loudly as she disappeared out of sight.
Nerick watched her fly off, “I don’t think she likes that plan.” he translated.
“Hey…” A chilling voice spoke within Grim’s hall, as the God of Death sat behind its desk watching Alan’s hourglass.
“So, you’ve finally caught up.” Grim said, as Kyllix stood before it. His body fading in and out, as he struggling to remain in this realm.
“Why? Why would a God betray its own reality?” Kyllix asked, his voice reverberating throughout the hall as frost formed all over.
“For the exact same reason you’re fading away right now, because I’m sick and tired of the Avatar’s rules.” Grim answered.
“So…You use divine magic to literally give Hell a backdoor into a young drake’s mind, allowing it to twist the child to its wicked will.” Kyllix hissed, as the forming frost surrounded Grim and its desk.
“You closed that door, did you not?” Grim sighed, “Did you not feel powerless as the Avatar tried to stop you from altering the timeline so much? Did you not feel the rush, when you decided to break its petty rules and succeeded? That is what I felt, excitement once again after…spending so long with my power imprisoned!” the God of death bellowed, as its eyes glowed a menacing green.
Kyllix chuckled, “You’re the petty one here, what are the other two for then if Erikathyr wasn’t actually a failure?”
Grim’s bony expression cracked and deformed, as a wicked smile took shape over its skull. “Now wouldn’t you like to know.”
“Then I have one last question to ask you, and I hope you have an answer.” Kyllix then said, raising his right hand towards it. “Tell me Grim, do you fear death?”
Grim chuckled coldly, “Gods don’t die, we simply disappear. Inexistence for our kind would be utter bliss only matched by the freedom we all yearn for.”
“Good, then powerlessness is your true fear. Because I’m going to need to stay in this realm for a bit longer…And I’ll need a battery change for that…” Kyllix said, a cold smile forming on his lips as he opened his hand. His eyes suddenly lighting up with a bright white glow.
Grim shuddered at his words, “You wouldn’t…”
“That’s what they all think.” Kyllix laughed.
Everything in between him and Grim was blown out of the way, sent flying elsewhere as Grim was pulled in by an invisible force. The Spirit Beast grasped Grim by the chest, his hand pushing into the shadowy black cloth and gripping onto one of the skeleton’s ribs. “Now…”
“No…No!” The death god pleaded, as an aura of white engulfed it, then suddenly shrunk. It was crushed, quickly squashed down into an apple-sized sphere of mangled black and grey.
Kyllix held the remains in his hand, raising it to his mouth. “I wonder what Death tastes like…” he mused, before taking a big bite.
Black energy rushed through his skin and then eyes, surging deeper in colour with every next bite he took.
He hummed in surprise, as his from fully faded in, solidifying.