“Surrender,” Thea said as a sky-blue energy burst out of her body, “Or I shall have your life end…” She warned, as the strange magic filled the entire battlefield within seconds…
Her Aura, empowering herself and every single ally touched by it.
Whilst at the same time, installing a sense of danger and fear within all who opposed her.
Turning the losing fight around, toppling the odds in their favour as Dragon Knight, Rebel and Dreadblade felt their power double.
“Where you stand.” Thea exclaimed, sending forth a wave of chilling aura upon Katheer who could only shiver beneath her gaze.
(“What is this feeling!?”) Katheer thought to himself as he braced his rampaging emotions and clenched his sword tightly. “N-Never! I Katheer al-Farman would rather die than abandon my given post!” He exclaimed back with a stutter, raising his ornate long-sword against her own. “Be it who you might be, I serve Sinbeni as Sinbeni has served me! And for Sinbeni, for my council, I am ready to die if needed!”
“Die?…” Thea sighed, lowering her gunblade as she glared at the man, “I’m tired…I’m tired of seeing pride being thrown about by the likes of you.” She said with a cold gaze, as the blue energy that flowed out of her formed at her blade, giving it a bright blue glow. “Tell me old man…What do you have to be proud of?!”
Her eyes shone blue, brighter than the very lightning that struck the sky above.
Her short-cut blue hair, seemingly lost from the laws of gravity, rose with the rush of power.
Rage, rage that she had been holding back for so long…suddenly filled her.
And at the same time, that rage, fuelled the Aura that flowed out of her.
Not even knowing what they felt, the Aura that filled her was sensed by all.
Even Katheer took several steps back, shivering as he sensed the mass of energy that flowed within Thea.
Energy that he knew wasn’t just mana.
Energy that filled the air around them, turning the tide of battle itself simply with its presence.
“What fearsome energy…” Katheer mused in amazement, seeing as each officer on the battlefield turned to face Thea, as each of the Wyrm captains broke off from their targets to turn onto someone they regarded as the highest threat present.
Normally Katheer would have waved them off, as the commander it was his role to face the enemy champion alone…
But as Thea’s blade whistled through the air, cutting it, as it descended upon him at a speed he could barely match…
Katheer was all but grateful for the aid.
As to parry the simple downward slash of her Aura enhanced gunblade, took Katheer’s blade, plus three other Wyrms, just to stop her from cleaving their commander in half.
Thea though was not amused, as her eyes hardened through the rage that filled her. “Your pride…It comes from slavery, it comes from torture…” She spoke out, her voice low like a whisper but infused with power to reach everyone’s ears.
Then taking a step away from them, as two Wyrm spears thrust through her previous position.
Thea chanted quickly, “Custom Cast; Aura Infusion; Commanding Aura!” as she took aim with her weapon’s barrel, which shone a bright blue before sending forth a shockwave of the same energy.
Suddenly surrounding Katheer and each Wyrm beside him with enough pressure to double the gravity around them, forcing them to sink down to their knees as the ground beneath them shook and caved in.
“You aren’t worthy of pride, you aren’t worthy of titles or recognition. You who vowed to guard and defend your people, while others suffer and die right outside your walls.” Thea hissed out, taking a step towards the stunned warriors only to find herself faced with a dozen others, surrounded.
“You…You all…You all just piss me off!” Thea exclaimed, her voice reverberating out alongside a blast of Aura, forcing each Wyrm that surrounded her to clash against the seemingly physical energy with their own magic.
Keeping each at bay, as Thea chanted once again.
“Custom Cast; Aura Infusion; Aura Clad!” She bellowed out, the very energy that enhanced her blade and gun, the energy that increased her strength and voice…
As the power that infused her allies, thickened around her like a protective shell.
Like a barrier, but flexible, a layer of Aura surrounded Thea entirely.
“Come…You who only think of fame and riches, you who only care for glory…A Dragon watches over us, so come…Show me that every breath you take is not a waste of time…Else I shall snuff it out.” Thea hissed in annoyance, as she found herself more than outnumbered now.
As dozens of Wyrms turned to face her, although the battle around them still hadn’t evened out, they knew she had to be their primary target if they wanted any hope of victory.
And even though so many of these powerful warriors surrounded her, none could move, none were suicidal enough to make the first step against what they faced…Against what they felt permeating their most natural of senses.
“Well!?” Makaela exclaimed as she suddenly burst through a dozen of them, her ethereal blades slashing through like a flurry of arrows and killing many. “I believe a challenge was issued!” She said, coming to stand before Thea and meeting her hardened gaze. “Shaking in your boots?” She asked with a wide grin, as she clenched her ethereal bow.
(“Too afraid to go through with it?”) She asked through their bond, her words not directed at the Wyrms but instead at Thea.
Thea’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t answer. The Wyrms weren’t the only ones faltering at those words, but so was Thea herself.
(“A Dragon is watching over not us…But you, Thea.”) Makaela said with a tone of frustration, (“This is your time, your moment. And as much as I want to steal it from beneath your nose…”) Makaela sighed as she walked past her, (“Don’t disappoint, me or him…Make them speak your name, Theaviss.”)
(“Yeah…”) Thea said, as the faltering rage within her was snuffed out…and replaced with something else entirely.
Still fuelling her Aura, and turning it into a lighter blue.
Resolve filled Thea, as Makaela disappeared in a burst of shadows.
As even though over a hundred Wyrms surrounded solely her, the battle still raged on at an even pace…
A pace that as…
Makaela herself appeared all over the plaza, assisting whoever she could with her great mobility.
Pyra clashing with the hardest hitters of the Sin Wyrms, her fists punching through even those twice her own size.
Zentha gone unseen, as her serpents of poison surrounded the plaza, keeping the guardsmen out and Sin Wyrms in. Flurries of blades raining out of the border at key moments, giving many a Dreadblade and Dragon knight a chance at killing their opponents.
Ascal laughing and chuckling as even though the battlefield had fallen to utter chaos, he still managed to order around multiple squadrons of Xilfir.
Even the rebels who Erik had armed stood out, their strange weaponry from ages past cleaving through their enemies at a fearsome rate. Mostly Kailu, as he lay bathed in the blood of the fallen, his black scythe spiralling about his small frame whilst tearing all who he came upon into shreds. Armour and all.
And then, as a bellowing roar filled the plaza, a pitch-black spot descended from the skies above.
Crashing down and shaking the earth beneath them, Nerick and Ivara formed together as Nera, snarled hungrily at the surrounding Wyrms. Their wyvernian form more than standing out even among their exotic allies, as they suddenly entered an enraged stampede.
The battle’s pace increased before her eyes, as numbers truly no longer mattered.
As over two thousand strong slayer armed Sinbeni warriors, slowly lost ground against the outnumbered Dragon Knights and Dreadblades…
As monster after monster appeared, thrashing the battlefield with their unchallengeable power.
Thea clenched her weapon, as she turned her gaze off her allies and at the enemy which surrounded her.
Even though so many monsters ravaged the plaza, even though so much power was being displayed before them.
And even though she had little understanding over her own power…
It was not Makaela, not Nerick or any of the Xilfir Captains who were at the centre of attention…
All eyes, at this moment in history, as blood and flesh sprayed left and right for the hope of both control and freedom…
All eyes were on her.
This, Thea knew, was her moment to make herself known. It was her time, to bring the change she wished upon this world for so long.
Change her father had faltered from bringing.
Change her mother had been stopped from beginning.
And with this thoughts in her mind, Thea’s blade resonated with energy, echoing the rise of resolve within her heart.
As she slashed her weapon ahead, the very air displacing and moving out of her way as a rush of Aura raged forth to take its place.
Two dozen Wyrms clashed with the Aureiatic energy, each of their respective weapons sending forth a mass of mana infused with the very weapon’s draconic energy…yet still it wasn’t enough as all were blown aside by the slash.
Sending each flying as if a breeze of wind had blown through a pile of leaves.
“All at once!” Katheer then exclaimed as he managed to stand up, pushing his way through the Wyrms who stood trying to shield him. “All attack at once!” He bellowed in command.
Many were in disagreement with that order, but readied themselves to assault the Chosen none-the-less.
Thea though gave them no time to prepare such an assault, as she immediately rushed forward, Aura trailing behind her as tendrils of enraged power.
As she came to stand before the Lahihr commander, his eyes widening in agitation, as her gunblade rose to his face.
She chanted, and in response so did Katheer who tried to step away from her.
Thea aiming her gunblade onehanded at him, as he raised his blade before himself to deflect.
Katheer finished his martial chant earlier, and his blade shone a dim silver, mana infusing itself into the high-grade metal as a pseudo barrier.
Thea exclaimed in chant and the end of her gunblade shuddered with power, as blue tendrils of Aura rushed out of her arm and quickly formed at the barrel’s tip. Creating a mass of spiralling Aura the size of her fist within moments, before that same mass of energy shot forth at unprecedented speed.
The bolt of energy whistled as it briefly flew through the air, then clashing with Katheers blade and mana.
Seeing their commander struggle with the sudden attack several Wyrms rushed to him, their weapons clashing with the orb of violent energy threatening to blow Katheer away.
As it screeched and whistled, fighting off Katheer’s barrier, four Wyrm’s mana and each of their physical prowess. As they pushed and struggled against it, Katheer finally able to move without being blown aside, had no choice but to step aside, allowing the missile of Aura to fly off.
Almost spinning him on the spot with the sheer force that flew past him.
And as it did…Katheer could only watch in horror as the bullet of Aura burst through one of his Wyrm’s bodies. Armour, flesh and bone all torn aside as it continued forth and through the unsuspecting soldier.
Taking with most of the man’s torso before dispersing into an explosion which sent several more Wyrms flying.
Katheer shuddered at the sight, then turned to face the monster who had unleashed it.
His eyes, widening no longer in surprise, but actual fear.
As he saw that Thea no longer wielded a single weapon, but instead now had two gunblades per hand.
And her eyes…Her fierce eyes were set entirely upon him.
And as she took a step forth, Thea was done warming up…
Her fight, truly began.
The words began…
They continued, the last words many would hear.
Then varying onwards.
“Commanding Aura!” She’d chant, forcing dozens of Wyrms to their knees as a shockwave of energy suddenly shot out of her weapon and settled upon a vast area.
“Aura Bullet; Rapid” She’d follow up with, as a continuous stream of Aura rushed out of her body and into her weapons. Recreating the spheres of energy that she fired previously, but half the size and power.
Thea took aim ahead, as many Wyrms rushed to cover for their comrades who lay knocked down.
She was outnumbered, truly she was.
But it mattered not to this Chosen, as she rained raw power upon them.
Her gunblades steaming and shuddering as a continuous flurry of Aureiatic projectiles unleashed out of them, she’d fire at least two every passing second.
Her surroundings immediately turned into utter chaos, as Wyrms scrambled to move out of her line of fire. As wherever she’d shoot, the ground would explode into a powerful blast of force that knocked any up into the air or over onto the ground.
“You, no further, shall you go!” Exclaimed one Sin Wyrm captain as his great axe descended down upon Thea’s back, his eyes narrowing as the weapon’s bony blade met her cladding of Aura…
Feeling a sudden force upon striking her, as his weapon and arms were pushed away and up above him.
Leaving him wide open as Thea turned, aiming both of her gunblades at his chest.
“Aura Infusion; Destructive Aura!” She quickly chanted, slowly adapting more to her power even her chants became shorter.
Reducing the intervals between attacks…
As she charged up her strongest spell yet.
As both of her gunblades rushed with Aureiatic energy, sparking like blue lightning as it formed at the barrel’s end.
Slowly…The weapons charged up.
Giving the rash captain enough time to leap out of her line of fire…
Or so he thought, as with a single kick and a burst of Aura from her feet…
Thea suddenly appeared before him once more, unleashing a ray of raw force that shook even her own bones as it blasted ahead. Clashing with the large man’s body and breaking every bone in his body, as he soared with the energy, like a massive cannonball crashing through a formation of soldiers…
And the destruction it left behind was very akin to its name, as before her now lay a shattered path through which the condensed Aura had travelled. Sin Wyrms groaning or laying still along it, each either too slow to get out of the cannon-balling captain’s way or thrown aside by the passing force itself.
“Well, that is an unexpected amount of power!” Mused Hayato as he suddenly appeared standing next to her, Thea’s hairs standing on end as she turned to face the grinning Spirit Beast.
Both gunblades aimed at his chest, “Aura Infusion; Twin Aura Bullets!” She chanted as quickly as she could manage, sending forth two spheres of highly condensed Aura pointblank into Hayato.
Who, as casually as possible raised his left arm towards her…
Summoning forth a storm of wind all around them, as focused upon his palm, just barely keeping the two shuddering, whistling and warping spheres of energy from moving further.
Seeing this, Thea’s eyes widened to their fullest as she leapt away from him.
Hayato chuckled in amusement, “Aura, is it? A different state of mana…Only summonable by certain humanoid species, it is the magical extension of one’s thoughts and emotions taking the form of sheer force. Yet, as it is emotion given physical form, it is entirely countered by Spirit. Spirit, which is energy that controls and feeds upon emotions…Did you know that? Little Chosen?” He asked curiously, before swiping his hand downwards, sending the two spheres of energy back at Thea.
Already panicking, it did not stop Thea from reacting to the attack as she raised her gunblades before herself, blades flat towards the incoming attack as she chanted quickly.
But she was too slow, as she saw the two spheres come mere feet from colliding with her. Closing her eyes…she expected pain, she awaited it.
But nothing came, as she reopened her eyes to find two massive white wings spread open before her.
Erik stood between them now, his right hand outstretched towards Hayato as it held the two spheres of Aura in place. Surrounded by golden lightning, the Aura slowly dissipated into pulses of force, shattering the ground before Erik.
“So, you finally show yourself.” Erik mused, his eyes glowing with golden energy as they lay wide and concentrated entirely on his only prey.
Hayato smirked as he turned to fully face him, “Indeed, I couldn’t simply let you destroy their hide-out, which I’m sure you already know is here.”
“Hideout?…Hah…” Erik chuckled, “Oh yes, I know they must be escaping as we speak…But right now…Ohohohahah…” Erik’s laughter though ended there, as his grin turned over into a wide snarl. “I care not for the Pact, today I hunt you and you alone, little Beast.”
Flapping his wings, as he immediately unsheathed his blade, Erik’s rage left its sheath alongside it.
As he surged forwards engulfed in lightning, his Underblade meeting the Spirit Beast’s enhanced wings, as emerald winds and golden sparks of electricity raged all around their collision.
All moved out of their way, even Thea, as Sin Wyrms and Rebels retreated from the natural disaster that was occurring within the plaza.
A disaster brought forth by their clash.
As crimson lightning struck down from the sky, as golden flames breathed out of Erikathyr’s maw, both facing the rush of bright ember winds. As both the ground and air around them quaked, all who watched unable to speak a word or move a finger.
All were entranced by the fight, as if watching upon a clash of Gods, both bellowing with either fury or excitement.
As an enraged Dragon, and a wicked Spirit Beast, tore the streets and buildings around them asunder. Uncaring for their surroundings, uncaring for who did not step out of their way.
Hayato no longer held back.
And neither did Erik, as his blade flashed with speed beyond that of sound, slashing through raging winds and clashing with spirit enhanced feathers before each pulled away from one another.
Each clash, followed by the sound of dozens before.
Almost too fast to be followed by eye-sight, most of what the two armies saw was a hurricane clashing with a storm of flame. As the occasional flash of light was followed by the appearance of leathery wings or a feathered pair, then having to back off further as bolts of crimson lightning or slashes of powerful winds strayed out towards them.
But what they saw, was nothing of what occurred within.
As Erik’s blade lay engulfed in spiralling golden flames and crackling crimson lightning. Slashing downwards upon Hayato who had no choice but to evade, using his greater speed to keep his distance as he sent blades of ember winds flying at Erik who with each attack immediately chased after him to progress into another.
And as blades of wind rained upon him whilst he chased the evasive Hayato, Erik swung his blade ahead of himself at each one, cutting the air itself and dispersing each attack while his powerful wings propelled him forwards.
Every wing beat sending back a clap of thunder, every slash resounding as some beast’s growl.
Yet, he wasn’t anywhere near catching up with the quick Spirit Beast. If anything, every attack was slowing him down.
And Hayato’s smug smirk only told him how clear it was.
As Erik’s rage rose further, as he clenched his blazing, surging blade…
And threw it.
Not expected the move at all, Hayato hadn’t even the time to lose his smirk as the empowered blade reached his chest.
Barely able to build up a single drop of sweat from the sudden heat, as he tried to evade, yet it seared right below his left arm…Missing physically, but the blazing flames and sparking electricity which raged about it missed not.
As the flames burst at him, exploding on proximity and kept at bay only by the full force of his winds…
But he wasn’t as lucky against the electricity, as several bolts of lightning surged through the flames and the wind, striking at his limbs and electrocuting him. His very bones showing through his skin briefly, as the powerful electricity rushed through his body.
Hayato burst into an explosion of feathers as several where burned off his body, the single attack burning most of him as he still did his best within those mere mili-seconds to hold off the flames less he’d be burned further.
Unwilling to watch after the blade as it soared away, Hayato turned to face what he knew would follow…
Turning to meet Erik’s glowing golden eyes, as the Dragon’s clawed hand reached out towards him.
“Fall~” Erik hissed, as through his moving lips he breathed out a cone of golden flames, forcing Hayato to remain on the defensive and summon up his winds to shield himself…
Erik though, felt far more reckless.
As he beat his wings, a singular and powerful wingbeat…
Sending him soar through his own flames and blade-like winds, bearing through the pain as his skin and scales were cut, as his entire body felt like it was being squashed…Yet his magical armour protected him.
Until he felt it, the glorious moment he had been fighting for this entire clash…
The moment his hand, grasped the Spirit Beast’s throat.
As his claws, gripped tightly around Hayato’s thin neck.
Hands clenched, crushing the life out of him, as the Spirit Beast finally realised just how much more he had bitten off than he could actually chew.
As Erik pulled him in, then beating his wings and clearing the winds and flame from around them.
Hayato struggled against the Dragon, summoning blades of wind which were blasted aside by strikes of lighting from above. Kicking and punching at Erik’s body, only injuring himself against the tough enchanted armour.
Then meeting his eyes, Hayato’s expression paled.
As Erik grinned, a wide wicked smile.
No words were exchanged, only a briefly meet of Erik’s furious eyes along Hayato’s surprised expression.
As Erik suddenly folded his wings…
And they fell.
The both of them descended, as Erik held Hayato down ahead of him. Briefly he’d beat his wings, increasing their descent’s speed as lightning rushed through him, as flames trailed behind them…
Hayato found, that for the moments as they fell, he couldn’t breath.
He also found, that the sound of shattering bones was clearly different from the sound of shattering stone.
As he was slammed down into the earth, the ground quaking and tearing aside as Erik sunk him deep into where the plaza once lay.
Blood splattered across Erik’s face, as he glared down coldly at his caught prey.
Injured, broken and pinned down.
Yet still, as the dust cleared, Hayato laughed.
“Aha…Ahahaha! Yes! This is what I want! So matched in power yet so much more experience you wield!” The Spirit Beast exclaimed in maddened excitement, as a sudden surge of ember ethereal energy flowed out of his body.
Forcing Erik to move away and rise up into the sky above, as the forming spiritual energy engulfed Hayato whole and further.
Growing, taking shape…
As Hayato rose to his feet, they hovered up into the mass of energy’s centre.
As screeched, the energy having taken the shape of a massive ember falcon, moving as If alive whilst Hayato lay within its core.
“Come! Dragon! Show me more! Give me your all! And once I’ve learned all of your movements, then…this shall be your fate too!” Hayato exclaimed, as the ethereal falcon opened its beak wide…
“Farukon;Taberu!” Hayato chanted in an unknown language, laughing hysterically all the while as multicoloured wisps of ethereal energy began to rise all over the thrashed plaza…
Souls, the energy of those who need it no longer, the consciousness of the fallen took visible form as hundreds upon hundreds more flew over the buildings and out of the streets.
An army of souls gathered from throughout the city, each joining the flow, forming like a massive whirlwind all around Hayato…
As Erik watched in confusion from above…
As the mass of souls, quickly began to stream into the falcon’s maw.
“Behold…Dragon…” Hayato’s voice boomed throughout the city, “Fuelled by the force of life itself, behold true power!” He exclaimed, as the last of souls rushed through the falcon’s closing beak.
Before suddenly reopening it, the sheer sound that escaped it sending Erik flying back several meters before he could catch himself.
Opening his eyes, only to see the now raven-black bird of prey rushing up towards him.
A single beat of its gigantic wings, propelling the black ethereal being to hover right above Erik.
Its massive feet, swiping down upon him as darkness trailed along its every movement.
Erik looked up just in time to breathe out a cone of golden flames, but it was all for naught as the creature’s talons sliced right through them.
He had no time to evade, only take it, as the falcon’s foot crashed into him. Sending him tumbling downwards.
Flames trailing along his fall, before his back smacked the already broken ground, enlarging the crater that now was the city’s centre.
Erik groaned as he opened his eyes, finding yet again the jet-black falcon standing over him.
Its ember eyes wide, as its wings bent forward and crashed down into the ground around him.
“How do you like it Dragon!? Can you face this!? Can you take it!? Show me, what my ancestors faced, show me the power all recognise even before this!” It said, Hayato’s words but nothing akin to his voice, as it boomed out with the force of a hurricane. “How? How Dragon? How will you meet the full power of a Spirit Beast!?” It asked.
As Erik rose to his feet, ignoring the pain his body felt, shrugging off even the pressure the beast oozed out.
“Hah…Let it be known…that you were the one who asked for this!” Erik exclaimed, as he suddenly beat his wings, soaring backwards and away from the massive beast. Beating his wings once more, the last thing Hayato saw was a wide grin over his face, before Erik soared up into the sky.
Screeching out, the falcon leapt into the air, beating its massive wings it followed after him.
Yet Erik’s form had already disappeared into the stormy clouds.
The bird-giant ended its chase, confused as it was no longer able to sense Erik’s mana signature among the storm.
Hayato could no longer sense him…not even his emotions.
But he could hear Erik’s words, as the Dragon chanted, the sound reverberating down like thunder.
“Light, which we earned. Brightness, which makes us whole…The white of our scales and the gold of our eyes, for we are the light and light is us…”
The booming voice chanted, as the storm suddenly lit alive with rushing electricity.
“We neither command it, nor it commands us. Blessed, we, are, not. Imbued, we are. Fire and Lightning stand aside, as my blood’s true element rises forth!”
And just as suddenly as the storm filled with rushing lightning, the surge of energy disappeared…
The voice continued to chant…
As the clouds began to part, giving way to his great form.
He finished his chant, as he then descended down from among the clouds, no longer humanoid in form…
But as his massive wingspan stretched out, as he growled, the sound like rumbling thunder itself.
The black ethereal falcon was suddenly faced with a fully life-sized White Dragon.
“You wish to face my full power!?” The Dragon exclaimed enraged, as off its pure-white scales shined a blinding light that dispersed the Falcon’s darkness.
Revealing the multicoloured mess of ethereal energy that made it up, and a wide eyed, awe-struck Hayato deep within.
“Then behold, Me.” Erikathyr said, as the light which engulfed his body suddenly dimmed.
“The roar that defies thunder, the breath that mocks lightning!” Erikathyr chanted, as a surge of energy began from his tail and wings, rushing through his body and towards his maw.
Snapping out of his daze, Hayato too chanted, words in a language only known to his people. As the souls which made up his form lost shape and all gathered into his out-stretched palms.
“Fear, my element. Be blinded, by my light and incinerated by my power!” Erikathyr exclaimed, as the surging light formed into a storm among his fangs as he opened his jaws.
“Seishin;” Hayato exclaimed, as each soul was condensed into a sphere of black that lay hovering between his palms.
“Draconic School;” Erikathyr continued his chanted.
“Burakkuhōru!” As Hayato finished his, sending forth the shuddering sphere of darkness up towards the White Dragon.
As it, as Erikathyr finished his own chant.
“Drako; Erikathyr!” Opening his maw to its widest as a beam of bright blue light with tendrils of pure-white energy, shot out and down towards the approaching black sphere.
And as the two final-tier magiks clashed, four separate shockwaves of energy pulsed out of the collision point.
First a bright flash of blue, forcing many to look away from the sky.
Second, a bright flash of white, blinding many.
Followed by a sonic wave of force which cleared the sky of clouds, dissipating even Voltru who held up The Black Citadel.
A sonic wave which was so powerful, both Erikathyr and Hayato lost consciousness from their proximity as it hit them both.
Both beginning to fall form the sky, Erikathyr slowly shrinking and returning to his humanoid form, as behind them fell the island-kingdom.
And then, last but not least…the fourth shockwave occurred.
Black as darkness, yet somehow bright like the sun, a shockwave of dark-light energy slowly expanded from the collision point of the two attacks.
Engulfing both the falling Erik and Hayato whole, before slowly eating away at the falling Black Citadel’s island, and Lahihr’s taller buildings.
Disintegrating both stone, wood and cloth on contact.
Dissipating only after having taken a large chunk out of the falling kingdom’s island and crumbling much of one side of the city itself. Revealing, to the relief of many, Erik…and Hayato still whole and falling.
Yet so was the island kingdom, descending down upon them as it caught speed. The air beneath whistling loudly as it rushed to move aside for the large mass’s fall.
Many panicked, many began to run.
But many others cared not, unafraid and fully reliant on their allies, as they watched their unconscious leader fall.
As massive crystal-embedded vines rose out of the ground throughout the city, thick as buildings, they grew as hundreds and rose up to meet the falling island. Crashing into the stone, and slowing its descent, before spreading into a forest of vines beneath it.
Stopping the Black Citadel’s fall entirely, and the two combatants as they both suddenly regained consciousness.
Beating their wings, each took post upon a growing vine, facing one another as the mangled forest settled around them.
Hayato, who’s face and body lay a mess of burns and un-feathered skin, chuckled. “Incredible…To produce enough mana for an attack that could stop…even that? Truly, you’re a people of monsters. No wonder mine, decided to eliminate every single one of you.”
Erik on the other hand, seemed mostly unharmed, if only on the outside. As the damage within was considerable, as he coughed up blood, “Hah…” yet he stood up. “I’m far from done.” He hissed.
Causing Hayato to laugh out, cut off by his own agony as he then turned into a coughing mess. “Hah…Hahaha! Yes, indeed we are nowhere near done…Yet, I’d rather enjoy this feeling for longer…” The Spirit Beast said as he also rose to his feet, “Let us say, you win this round, Dragon…” Hayato said with a chuckle, as a rift opened behind him.
And as he saw the fury reappear within Erik’s eyes, Hayato could only smile in amusement.
“Haha! It is those eyes….Those f****** eyes, that just scare the living s*** out of me! It is those eyes that I will never forget…So for just a bit longer…this fear…This fear is something I wish to experience if only a day longer!” Hayato exclaimed, as he slowly sunk into the rift.
As Erik spread his wings wide, leaping off his vine he beat them to suddenly soar towards the escaping Spirit Beast.
“Come, Dragon! Come, Erikathyr! Chase me…Chase me to the end of this world so we can have our epic finally!” Hayato exclaimed alongside hysterical laughter, arms wide in a gesture of welcome, as he disappeared into the tear in reality.
Just as Erik’s fists crashed into the rift, slamming against it as to his surprise, he found it to be solid. “The Spirit Realm…blasted Beast!” Erik bellowed, as he slammed his right fist into the rift once more.
Then seeing…off the corner of his eye…
A blue figure soar past him, barely catching her face before she flew into the rift.
Erik saw the expression of steeled resolve upon Thea’s face, as she delved head-first into the Spirit Realm.
The Spirit Realm
Shizuka still, as she had been since the wickeder of the two falcons left, struggled with her bindings. Hissing as strange balls of light neared her, kicking and tumbling over as the younger falcon tried to calm her.
“C-Come on, stop that! You can’t escape!” Quinn tried to explain, yet her soft voice was all too easy to ignore for Shizuka.
As she did, and continued to struggle.
That is, until the frustrated falcon stepped on her tail…
Causing every hair on Shizuka’s body to stand on end, as her eyes opened to their fullest while she screamed.
“A-Are you going to calm down now!?” Quinn sheepishly exclaimed as she stepped off the feline’s tail.
As Shizuka’s wide and focused cat-like eyes turned to glare at her, “I’m gonna rip your throat out.” She warned, and Quinn shuddered at her dead-cold tone.
Terrified by the melancholy she sensed within Shizuka, Quinn took several steps back, shaking her head as she apologised over and over. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Sorry! Please don’t! I’m so sorry!” her back hitting a strangely mangled treetrunk before crouching down, raising her hands over her head Quinn then continued to apologise, but now seemingly whispering to herself.
Shizuka watched her captor in confusion, (“This…is that guy’s sibling?”) she pondered remembering Hayato’s cold and wicked behaviour. Then comparing it to…this meek girl before her, the contrast between them was far from familiar. “The hell is wrong with you?” She asked.
“Hm?…” Quinn hummed back as she peaked a glance at Shizuka, “W-What?”
“You’re no killer, are you?” Shizuka mused, narrowing her eyes as the girl’s expression paled at the question.
Quinn shook her head in response.
“Then what the hell you doing here? Why you caught up in this mess if you’re too afraid of someone already bound up like me?” Shizuka asked her, trying to rise from where she lay but only able to make it onto her knees.
Quinn tried to lean further away, but with the tree trunk behind her she found that she couldn’t, “Wha-What do you mean?…”
“Your brother is one bad apple, do you even know what he’s got you taking part in?!” Shizuka exclaimed, “Entire f****** realms are at stake and here you are scared shitless from something like this? Where the f*** do you think you are? You think you can afford to be afraid? War is no place for cowards so, I’m asking you, what the hell are you doing here?!”
“I know…” Quin whispered as she shook, anger filling the Spirit Beast’s eyes as she suddenly bellowed, “Dammit I know!” a shockwave of Spirit releasing alongside her voice as her eyes suddenly shone emerald green. “Yeah…Yeah I’m a coward…But can you blame me? Back home…Back home all we know is peace…All we know is tranquillity and…Then they come…”
“They? Who are they?” Shizuka asked, giving up on struggling as her curiosity took hold.
“Kurzan…” Quinn hissed the name, “His people came…Monsters we’d never even heard of before…They forced their way through our peace, they shattered our tranquillity…Kurzan…He owns us now…”
“And you’re okay with that?” Shizuka then asked, forcing herself forward, she dragged along the dimly coloured ground like a worm. “Are you fine with being owned? Are you fine with being someone’s item?”
Quinn shook her head, “I-I wanted none of this…”
“And your brother?” Shizuka asked, as she came to lay before the younger falcon.
Quinn smiled with melancholy, “Hayato loves it…He loves the sight of blood, always has. But before the Devil, we had clear laws…laws he always pushed against. Now?…Now he’s the Devil’s lapdog, enjoying every single bit of it…”
Shizuka rose to kneel before her, “Your brother at this moment is fighting a monster, a real monster, that could very well take his life. What do you think of that?”
Quinn’s hands lowered from above her head, clenching against her robes as her eyes narrowed. “Hayato…He…He did nothing…”
“What didn’t he do?” Shizuka pressed.
“He watched…He just watched…And forced me to just watch as…as Kurzan killed our grandfather…” Quinn mumbled out, her eyes wide open yet Shizuka could tell, the young falcon’s sight was elsewhere as she spoke those words. Trapped in that memory.
Shizuka knew what it felt like, to be frozen in the past, to be unable to forget.
She knew those eyes too, eyes full of hate, trapped in a body too weak.
Shizuka also knew, what needed to be done.
As she rose higher, and suddenly slammed her forehead into Quinn’s, “Oof-” headbutting her head back into the tree’s trunk.
Both of them then falling aside, Shizuka groaning in pain as she rose while Quinn tumbled back and forth screaming in agony.
“W-Why!? Why d-did you do that!?” Quinn asked with teary eyes as she rose to her feet and backed away from her, holding her now reddened forehead as she stared at Shizuka in fear.
“Cause that’s the only way I know of snapping you out of it.” Shizuka said, blood leaking down her own forehead as she slightly regretting that action. “Pain, is something you’ll have to face a lot of, from now on. I know how that feels…I was trapped like you before as well but-But I was saved.”
“S-Saved?” Quinn stuttered in question.
Shizuka nodded, as the blood leaked down onto her left eye, forcing her to close it.
Seeing this Quinn immediately kneeled down before her, taking out a cloth and cleaning the blood off.
“I was saved by someone so strange, from no less her own master…I had no worth to her, there was no point in saving me yet she did it anyway even at the risk of her life at the time…” Shizuka told as Quinn carefully cleaned off the blood. “And after that…The monster of her master who was so keen on being rid of me…at the risk of his and all of his comrades’ lives…fought a vampire lord just to save me as well. Do you know what he told me? I’ll never forget…”
Quinn’s meek gaze rose to meet Shizuka’s resolved eyes as blood lay smudged over her face, “What…did he say?”
“Legends he said…” Shizuka whispered as she grinned, as she managed to force herself onto a one-legged kneel, “Does Kurzan scare you? Do his actions haunt you? Does he plague your mind and soul?” Shizuka asked as she rose into standing over the still crouched down Quinn, “Do you think that makes you weak? Then you are, very weak. But do you not want to be strong instead?” Shizuka asked as Quinn watched on in frozen awe.
As Shizuka continued to struggle with her bindings, crimson spiritual energy forming around her hands as she fought against the ember winds. “If you do…Then let that fear, that terror, fuel you instead! Burn it, turn it into hate and let that fury overwhelm you instead!” She raised her voice, shouting as she struggled against what before she thought to be too strong a spell to break.
But as she reminded herself of those words once told, Shizuka felt her power meet those requirements.
As the ember winds suddenly burst aside, replaced by raging crimson as it engulfed her entire body.
She then looked down upon the meek falcon, not as the terrified kitten she once was, but as the lioness she now felt like.
And she said.
“I can free you, but only if you wish for it.
Right now, you are akin to a slave, but I give you a choice. Do you want to go on with your life afraid… or do you want to be free?
I won’t lie, you alone, won’t accomplish much but…Together, wield your power alongside mine and be remembered not as a coward, but as a fighter. Join me, join us, Quinn. And I promise you if you accept to face the challenges ahead? Your name will echo throughout history!” She said, as she forwarded her hand to the falcon.
“With us, we shall stop hell, and in turn become legends beyond myth.” Shizuka promised, as the meek Quinn stared up at her, tears starting to form at her eyes.
“I d-don’t want this anymore…I can’t take it anymore!” Quinn exclaimed as she wept, “I want to be strong…I want to be able to stand up to my brother and not fear for my life the second after!” Quin screamed out, balling her hands up as her gaze fell to the ground.
“Then take my hand.” Shizuka offered, and Quinn’s gaze rose to see it outstretched towards her.
Their eyes locked, and Quinn reached out for it.
Grasping the crimson engulfed Shizuka’s hand, as at her own palm formed an emerald energy, slowly growing to engulf her too.
Shizuka pulled Quinn up to her feet, “Welcome to the party.” She told the meek falcon with a wide grin, “You’re our problem now.”
“Uhuh…” Quinn said, seemingly still entranced with wide teary eyes.
Shizuka tried to pull her hand away but found that for how thin and weak Quinn seemed, the girl had an iron grip. “Can I…have my hand back?”
“Err, Ah!-” Quinn suddenly let go, realising she was still holding on and going completely crimson red as she stepped away, “S-Sorry!”
Shizuka sighed, “Back to square one already?…Fine, let’s go.” She then said, but after glancing around she remembered that she had no clue as to where they even where. “Or…” She pointed her finger at Quinn, “Lead the way, we’re going after your brother before he does something stupid. That is…if something stupid hasn’t already f****** happened…”
“Y-You should really watch your language…” Quinn said, but immediately regretted it as Shizuka’s cold glare fell upon her.
“Shut yer trap, I speak how I want kay?” Shizuka warned her, to which Quinn stepped away and bowed her head down.
“S-Sorry! I’m sorry!” Then apologising over and over again.
“S-S***-Calm down!” Shizuka told her, flustering herself. “Stupid…Get a hold of yourself!” she shouted.
Causing Quinn to suddenly straighten up, “Y-Yes…”
“Ugh…” Shizuka sighed once more, “Alright, show the way then.” She said gesturing at the forest nearby.
“W-We can blink to his position…This is the Spirit Realm and we are Spirit Beasts…” Quinn said as if it was the most obvious thing.
Annoying Shizuka, “Go…ahead?”
Quinn nodded and stepped to stand closer to her, reaching out with her right hand to Shizuka’s shoulder, yet faltering.
“Well?” Shizuka snapped at her.
Causing Quinn to fluster red once more, “S-Sorry!” she apologised for the millionth time, slamming her hand onto Shizuka’s shoulder as she felt it almost break from the sudden force.
Then, her vision blurred.
Shizuka saw the world around her swirl, making her feel sick as everything turned into a smudge for the briefest of seconds before taking new form.
Now finding that she stood elsewhere entirely, she felt to her knees from the ensuing nausea.
“No…” Quinn said as she stared ahead, Shizuka rising to glance at her wide eyes before following her gaze.
“I’m sorry…we’re too late.”
Hayato stood before an open rift, burned and beaten bloody.
Whilst before him, stood Thea, glancing between the Spirit beast ahead of her and the mistake she had just made behind her…
“Well…I’m sure you shouldn’t have been able to do that…” Hayato mused between weary breaths, “Yet, this was no magic was it? Else why is the Dragon not chasing after also? Hah…Hahaha!” He laughed, amused by this incredible occurrence. “No…don’t tell me…it can’t be that you-B-bahahaha!”
Hysterically he laughed, as Thea’s stone-cold gaze turned to face him, yet a step back she took.
Only to find that Hayato was suddenly gone from ahead of her quicker than a blinking eye.
“Well, well, well…How cruel, just can destiny be?” Hayato mused, Thea turning around to find him standing between her and the only way out.
As he raised his hand to the rift, and it quickly closed up.
“This, if you didn’t already know, is the Spirit Realm…” Hayato explained, as he straightened himself, “And as a non-physical plane of existence, only Spirits and Spirit Beasts can enter…with just one exception…”
Again, Hayato laughed, as his eyes set upon her.
“You should have died a long time ago, huh? Truly, how truly amusing fate can be sometimes…” He mused with a wide smirk. “Now to do the reaper’s work is usually beyond me but…such an intriguing coincidence is something…I simply cannot ignore no?”
Backed in a corner with a beast she couldn’t hope to defeat, yet still Thea stood tall, clenching both of her weapons as Aura surrounded her.
“Feisty, I like that, yet I’m afraid you’re not worth my time for amusement.” Hayato said with a sigh, his already bored eyes meeting hers.
“You’ll find that…I’m stronger than I look!” Thea exclaimed, raising her left gunblade towards him. “Where is she!?”
“She? Oh, the traitor from another bloodline? I don’t know…I left her laying somewhere?” Hayato mused, chuckling as he glanced about. “Maybe a Spirit ate her? Who knows…”
Thea grimaced at his words, her Aura thickening around her body further as she prepared to fight.
“My, how pointless.” Hayato said with a sneer as he returned to staring at her, raising his charred arm towards her, he chuckled.
As he swiped his hand aside, and to her cold surprise, the entirety of her Aura disappeared.
Thea’s expression paled as she took several steps back, gazing at the monster before her in fear.
As it approached her.
“Well? Where did all that sass from earlier go? Will you not defy me? Will you just stand there as I butcher you like an animal?” Hayato asked with clear annoyance, “There’s nothing I hate more than a coward unwilling to give it their all!” He bellowed, and reality around them shook.
Causing Thea to stumble and fall back, losing her grip on one of her gunblades which quickly dissipated into nothingness as she stood right back up, leaving it behind.
“Truly, fate is cruel.” Hayato mused once again.
And Thea, realised what his words meant.
That realisation taking with her fear, as nothing more than coldness was left behind.
“I see…” She whispered to herself, Hayato raising a brow as he didn’t quite hear her.
“Huh!?” Hayato said, taking another step towards her.
“Ah…Hah…” Thea sighed, before suddenly breaking into a laugh.
Confusing the Spirit Beast as his eyes focused and narrowed. “Tell me, what’s so damn hilarious? Do you not understand your situation, human?”
Thea shook her head, “Oh, I get it. I f****** get it. That’s why I laugh.”
“Well I bloody don’t.” Hayato argued back, “Have you lost your mind or something? Never saw fear do that before, I must say I’m intrigued.”
“Maybe…Maybe I have!” Thea exclaimed, “But still I’ll laugh.” She said with a wide forced grin.
“Why?” Hayato asked, as ember winds began to flow all around them.
“Because, I made a promise.” Thea said, as her blue eyes suddenly turned gold. “I promised him my soul. I’m his champion, his chosen…His Empress…And for as long as I hold those titles…I’m not allowed to be afraid! And if I fail…”
“Then I fail while fighting, in his name! Smiling through every moment!” Thea bellowed as golden lightning surged through her body, feeling as if Erik himself held her shoulders as she rushed forth.
Sensing his power raging through her as well, Hayato’s demeanour immediately changed, as he willed his winds forward to meet her.
Thea though charged still, her gunblade lunging ahead of herself as crimson flames too engulfed her.
Surrounded by his mana…protected by his flames and empowered by his lightning.
Thea met the spiritual winds head-on, stomping her right foot into the ground and sending forth a quake as she slashed her weapon through the wall of ember blades.
Feeling, as the flames and lightning clashed with the wind…
Feeling as it divided beneath her blade…
Thea smiled, even as she felt the winds tear at her body and engulf her in agony.
Still, she forced a smile, as she fought against the overwhelming strength before her.
She screamed, as alongside his power she struggled.
The winds then suddenly stopped.
And her vision briefly blurred.
Then returning, something strange seemed amiss…
Her gunblade was gone?
“Utterly pointless.” Hayato hissed as he glared at her.
Thea was confused, she was still unharmed and standing so what was he up to?
“NO!” Then a voice bellowed from their side, both of them turning to follow the sound and seeing Shizuka crash down nearby, stumbling forward before freezing in her steps.
Eyes wide and reddened from held-back tears as she stared at Thea…then at something behind her.
Thea, followed her distressed gaze…Seeing what she had seen…
Seeing herself, sprawled out on the ground as her gunblade lay broken beside her.
Her own body, ripped up and beaten, grinning still as her eyes also still lay wide.
Her own body….
It took her several moments for it to sink in.
Her own body…
She knew she stood there, yet also before herself she lay there too?
It didn’t fully sink in…not until she turned to meet Shizuka’s eyes once again.
The pain, the horror she saw in Shizuka’s eyes told her that her own sight wasn’t lying to her.
“Hah, how does it feel to see your dead self? Amusing isn’t it?” Hayato asked with a chuckle as he turned to Shizuka, “And you…managed to escape huh? Not that I cared, but I guess I’ll kill you too just in case…”
His eyes though, widening as he saw Quinn step out into the open and come to stand next to Shizuka.
“You…Ah, I always knew you were weak…But this? Master Kurzan will not be amused.” Hayato said in a cold tone.
Quinn though ignored him, as she glanced between Shizuka and Thea, understanding fully the event before her…she stopped Shizuka who turned to charge at Hayato.
“Let go of me…” Shizuka warned, her eyes laying wide and full of fury as they set upon Hayato.
“I can’t…We can’t fight him even like this…” Quinn reasoned.
“Fight me? Hah, of course you can’t!” Hayato chuckled.
“No I…I still can…I could still!” Shizuka exclaimed enraged, glancing between him and Thea’s situation in both anger and confusion.
Quinn wanted to say it, she truly wanted to explain what they were seeing but the words simply couldn’t leave her throat.
And those words she couldn’t say, were instead spoken by someone else.
“Hah…So that’s it huh?” Thea mused, her voice echoing out with a deep vibration as she spoke, briefly staring down at her dead-self before returning to Shizuka. “I’m sorry…I guess this is as far as I make it.” She said with a smile, causing even Quinn to choke over her own tears as Shizuka suddenly ran up to Thea.
“No wait! I can…maybe we can still…” Shizuka tried to say as she came before her, trying to grasp Thea’s shoulder…yet her hand suddenly passed right through as it briefly dissipated into multicoloured smoke before reforming.
Shizuka stared, long and hard she stared at her own hand before her gaze rose to meet Thea’s cold smile. “Why?…Why did it have to be you?…I was fine…I could have come back myself…Why? Why did you come for me?” She asked, sniffling as she tried her best to keep her tears from falling.
Thea chuckled, even her laughter sounding distorted as she did. “Cause, you’re my responsibility you know? Plus, who abandons their friends?” she said with a wider smile, a smile that betrayed her as ethereal tears filled her eyes too.
As she raised her hand to Shizuka’s face, yet neither felt a thing more than coldness.
“This bores me.” Hayato said with a loud sigh, “Will you hurry it up?”
“Brother, you shut your mouth!” Quinn suddenly responded with wide furious eyes, faltering briefly as her brother’s cold glare fell upon her.
Coldly he glared at her, yet grin widely he did. “Ohoho…I’ll kill you in just a moment dear sister…” He said, then turning back to Shizuka and Thea. “Firstly though, it would leave a bad taste if I left such a tasty soul wandering about unattended to. Not to mention this feline twerp…” He said with a chuckle, “But I’m a kind person, so I’ll let you have some last words to say to each other. Keep it short.” He warned, as ember winds began to flow all around him once again.
Shizuka turned to glare at him, but Thea’s outstretched hand although ethereal, made her falter from rushing at the falcon. “Alright…some last words then…” Thea said with a hardened gaze, then returning to face Shizuka.
“Wha-” Shizuka was about to speak, but Thea leaned in and tried her best to hug her without dissipating or going through her.
Yet still, each felt no more than coldness where they touched.
“I’m sorry, Shizuka…I messed up.” Thea whispered, leaning away to face her, “But you have to live, you have to. So…Please, Shizuka will you do something for me?” Thea asked.
“A-Anything…Anything!” Shizuka exclaimed with pleading eyes.
Thea continued to smile, even as her tears reached critical flow. Still smiling, even as she spoke her last words in a whisper gone heard only by Shizuka.
“I said keep it short.” As Hayato grumbled, taking a step towards them, yet faltering as his sister appeared before them with emerald winds raging by her side.
Shizuka’s mouth then going agape just like her eyes, as she couldn’t believe what she had just heard.
“No…No I-” She tried to say, but Thea raised her finger to her lips, feeling the coldness of Thea’s ethereal touch Shizuka couldn’t say no more.
“You have to live, promise me Shizuka, live.” Thea said, as she lowered her hands to hover over Shizuka’s shoulders.
“Why…Why do you ask this of me?” Shizuka asked, as her gaze fell.
“Because you’re the only one that can…Because I know that you can. You’re not like me…No…You’re just like him…aren’t you?” Thea said, as Shizuka clenched her fists.
“You’re strong just like him.” Thea said, as Shizuka’s gaze rose to face her once more, the pain still present yet now met with hardened resolve. “I’m sorry, thank you.” Thea said, giving her the most genuine smile she could manage.
And Shizuka no longer could hold back her tears.
“Times up.” Hayato coldly announced, as he raised his charred right hand forward, sending forth a massive gust of ember winds.
Ember winds which were suddenly met with equal power, as blood-red ice burst out of the ground and dispersed it all.
Causing Hayato’s amused expression to freeze half-way to confusion.
As he saw through the ethereal red ice…
Shizuka standing with both her arms raised towards him.
Breathing in the last bit of multicoloured smoke.
As her weeping eyes, turned from rose-red…
To a shining bright blue.
“I will live.”