Segenam glared as Harley twirled his summoned weapon around. The High Lord was raising his arms as if he expected everyone to cheer his name. Only a group of young noblewomen let out their cries of approval. He pointed a finger at them and gave them a good wink to show his appreciation to them. Segenam tried to put his sword through the boundaries of the arena, only for a mystical barrier stopping the weapon from going through.
“Oh, the crowd is so boring. As expected from the many old timers here after all,” Harley quipped. “Shall we entertain them, Sir Segenam Hawkwood?”
“Do you think this is a game, High Lord Harley?” Segenam fumed. “Moments from now, you will be taking this seriously.”
“Oh, will I now? Say, Sir Segenam: what is a mouse to an elephant? Nothing more than a mere pest, yes?”
Segenam smirked. “The size won’t matter if the mouse surprises the elephant first.”
“Hmpf, that’s if the mouse has tricks up its sleeve. So, what will that mouse do to surprise the grand beast… I cannot tell since its squinting at me.”
Segenam assumed his stance and took a deep breath. “Time will tell. Prepare yourself, Harley Eadburt.”
“The field is big enough for us, though I made sure the ruckus wouldn’t disturb the guests and my home. The mages and healers will clean up the mess afterward.” Harley put his sword arm in front and snickered. “Shall we begin?”
The two were at a stand-still for a moment and the crowd murmured, wondering who will deliver the first blow.
Segenam felt a drop of sweat drip from his forehead. “I have hunted monsters before and this should be no different from fighting one,” he thought. “After all, he is one if one follows ill rumors. He gripped the handle of his sword tighter. I need to find his patterns, then—!”
A gush of wind erupted from Harley’s spot and the lord disappeared.
To the left! He thought.
Segenam blocked Harley’s attack and grinded their weapons upon one another. Harley immediately twirled around and what seemed to be a single slash was four instantaneous strikes. Segenam managed to block the first two but was caught by the rest. He received a shallow cut on his sword hand. Harley chuckled, vanishing again before thrusting his weapon at his opponent’s back.
“You’re open!” Segenam exclaimed.
He sidestepped the stab and grabbed Harley’s arm. Segenam pulled the lord close to him and brought his knee to his chin. Harley groaned and was sent up by the attack. Segenam placed an enchanted hunting knife on the floor before pursuing him to the air. He put his left arm in front of him and an arcane circle appeared.
“Flame Blast!” he shouted. A burst of wildfire sparked and ignited the entire top portion of the arena.
The flames turned into hot steam as Segenam saw Harley counter his assault by erecting a water barrier. Harley flashed and grabbed the Hunter’s face, pounding him into the marble floor. The impact caused a crater on the flooring. Harley raised his sword and swung down at him again. Both attacks caused a shockwave which rattled the entire estate. In the distance, Dickus gritted his teeth and stirred his tea restlessly while watching the chaos ensue. The Hawkwood family wasn’t so happy how this battle was turning out for them.
Roman gasped. “Oh no, is Big Bro having a hard time with Lord Harley?!”
“I thought he said he got this,” Julius said.
Morrison grumbled. “Listen here kiddos: Lord Harley is a Divine Beast carrier like myself. Their strength and speed are leagues beyond your understanding.”
“But Big Bro has fought a demon before! He should stop playing around!” Roman complained. “He’s stronger than him, I know it!”
Dickus patted Roman’s head and smiled. “Yes, believe in your brother as all of us do.”
“Honey, is this battle necessary? I don’t think it’s healthy for both sides to be fighting each other,” Enna fretted.
“He volunteered for this. This is his fight, so we must put our faith in him,” Dickus replied. He frowned and took a sip from his tea. “Do your best… Segenam.”
The dust settled and Segenam’s weapon held against Harley’s. The two began pushing against each other’s blade and Segenam was struggling to fight back.
“Yield or this won’t be pretty,” Harley warned.
Segenam grunted. “Don’t make me laugh. This is just the beginning!”
He kicked Harley back, pushing the lord back a couple of meters. Segenam took out another enchanted knife from his belt and placed it down again. He led Harley to the right side of the arena and the two exchanged. Their strikes were faster than the eye can see, and the guests were entertained by the aggression. People begin to cheer and Segenam rotated to the left side of the arena with Harley close to his side. The two interlocked swords: the sound of metal clanked loudly with sparks flying around them.
Harley laughed. “Amazing! A Royal Knight that can match my speed. How long do you think your sword will last?”
The moment Segenam shifted his focus to realize his weapon was damaged, Harley used this opportunity to launch him back. Harley was nothing but a blur in his vision and by relying on instinct, Segenam barely parried all incoming blows. His gutty feelings had their limits, however, as Harley landed slashing blows to his legs. Segenam gritted his teeth in pain and without getting rest, Harley gripped his face and slammed him at the arena barrier wall then threw him in the air. The High Lord was zipping all around, attempting to cut his opponent up into pieces as Segenam tried to deflect his assault. Harley twirled around, kicking his opponent back to the floor with a roundhouse. Segenam cried out in agony and his landing made the floor crack beneath him. He struggled to get up as blood dripped from his wounds and stood on his two feet with the help of his broken weapon.
In the level above, Layette felt anxious. Her legs itched to jump over the balcony to stop the fight, yet she was hesitant to do so. Zyna looked at Layette with a raised brow.
“You look worried, Phoenix of Damore. Do you not have faith in your brother’s victory?” the Witch asked.
“Well if someone you care about that is beaten up like that, it wouldn’t make any sense to not worry.” Layette looked determined to jump off from the second floor. “Scarlet, I’m going to stop this fight and if I have to fight to end it, so be it.”
Scarlet grabbed Layette’s arm, preventing her from going any further and she shook her head. “No Layette, you shouldn’t. This isn’t your burden to bear.”
“Don’t stop me, Scarlet! This has gone too far, and I can’t stay here and watch while he is taking a beating for my sake! I should be the one down there, not me!”
“He went as a volunteer, cuz. He is doing this so you wouldn’t get hurt like him. Don’t tarnish his reputation as a warrior!”
“So that’s it?! I’m not good enough right?!” Layette argued. “Let go of me!”
Scarlet furrowed her brows. “Layette listen to me: this goes beyond saving someone. If you go down there to stop it, it will make Segenam look like a f*****g idiot! Don’t do this!”
Layette pulled her arm back and grumbled. She held onto her necklace and gritted her teeth. Layette looked away and the thought of her being useless did not sit well with her. Scarlet saw her glim expression but decided to stay silent. All they can do now is watch.
Harley laughed mockingly. “Oh, you are still up and going? As expected by the one who once was the ‘Knight of Light and Darkness’.” He dusted the small crumbles of debris off from his shoulders. “Sir Segenam, surely you still know how to use that power. Come, let us see!”
Segenam was gasping for air. “Those days are long gone. I don’t need that power to take you down! Here I come!”
Segenam jabbed a third enchanted knife on the ground in front of him. Then, he put his arm in front and chains manifested out on the palm of his hand. They immediately wrapped around Harley’s body and constricted him. Segenam twirled around, dragging his opponent across the marble floor. He swung him up to the ceiling and with a quick pull, sent Harley back to the ground. Dust accumulated around the High Lord. After a moment, Segenam was pulled to the cloud of soot. Harley grabbed the hunter’s neck and thrust his sword deep into his abdomen. The lord cast him aside as if he was a mere toy, making Segenam slam to the barrier.
Harley took a couple of steps before propelling himself to Segenam. The hunter saw this, managing to avoid the stabbing attack by the sword scraping his ear. Segenam kicked Harley back, forcing a distance between them. He popped a smoke bomb and unraveled a set of knives, throwing them at Harley’s location. He heard the clash of metal and the sparks fly, and for a moment he saw a shadow.
He doesn’t know where I am! I got this! Segenam thought.
He thrust his sword into the white smoke, expecting his weapon to land a decisive blow. Harley dodged effortlessly and kicked Segenam away. The High Lord put his hand forth and a green magic circle manipulated itself around his arm.
“Earth Prison!” he shouted.
Segenam noticed the floor beneath him wrapped itself around his legs. Before the earth reached to his body, he dropped the fourth enchanted knife in front of him. The rock covered his entire body and restricted him from moving. He struggled all his might but couldn’t budge. Harley chuckled and when he approached Segenam, he displayed his weapon and pointed the tip of the sword near his opponent’s throat.
“I believe this is the part you surrender, Sir Segenam. You have fought valiantly, but your strength compares nothing to mine.” Harley raised his sword. “Your eyes show conviction. Even the courageous have limits of their boldness. I win, so yield.”
Segenam laughed and smirked. “You win? Hey Harley, you know of my family’s origins, right?”
“What of it? Hawkwoods are former Hunters.”
“My family has a sacred spell to trap and destroy even the strongest of monsters. You, High Lord Harley, have lost.”
A magic circle manifested itself to the ends of the arena barrier and the knives Segenam had planted earlier illuminated in bright blue. Before Harley was able to react, he was pulled into the center of the arena. The light began to condense itself and the High Lord had to bear with the insane pressure it made. The rocks which bounded Segenam let loose and he raised his arm above. Red markings burned itself onto his skin and as he gritted his teeth,
“This is the only thing I can think of that will defeat you!” he shouted. “A spell that even makes the demons fall to their knees!”
He began to chant:
By the command of my ancestors,
To bring forth salvation against the odds,
To defeat the demons before me,
I seal their fates and mine!
The chanting caused the light to grow even brighter and Harley saw his arm twisting into an awkward position. He screamed in pain and struggled to get out. “You son of a b***h! I’ll kill you for this!”
“Infinity barrier!” Segenam yelled. Several layers of yellow mystical shields covered him, and a green light hovered over his wounds and healing him. “I hope I can get through this…!”
“By the Gods. What is he doing?!” Morrison exclaimed.
“He’s using the ‘Ruinous Fate’?! Is he out of his mind?!” Dickus’s eyes widened and he stood up. “Everyone, please get up from your seat and leave now! This spell is going to destroy this area!”
All the guests were escorted outside of the ballroom with the guidance of the guards. Dickus and the other High Lords stayed behind, and the clown lord covered his eyes as the light grew brighter and brighter. Never had he thought his own son would use the household’s secret spell to defeat Harley. After the visitors left the scene, it was up to the High Lords and the mages to contain the blast. Dyrus and Argus cast several grandmaster protection spells and with the help of the mages, the situation seemed to be under control. Before they knew, the spell broke through the protective barriers one by one until the last one. Dyrus and Argus accumulated more mana into the last layer, trying to prevent it from shattering.
Dickus cast his arm to the side. “The spell cannot be contained by anything related to magic! Lancelot use your shield to reflect it upwards. Dyrus, Argus, use whatever you can to make sure that reflect doesn’t break! Morrison help Lancelot hold the shield!”
“Right!” everyone agreed.
Lancelot took out his sword and by throwing it into the air, it turned into a giant shield. Morrison’s arms became fiery red and he helped Lancelot hold the shield firmly. The shield emitted blue panels that surrounded Segenam and Harley.
“Dyrus, Argus, everyone! Get behind this shield now!” Morrison commanded. “Make sure it doesn’t break!”
Dyrus and Argus commanded various spells to enhance the shield’s durability and strengthening its reflection boundary. While everyone who was exposed out in the open gathered behind the grand shield, Layette, Scarlet, and Zyna were still in the upper floor. They struggled to maintain their composure. The ground started to break beneath them and before they were able to react, the floor broke and the three fell into the rubble. They yelled and then, silenced when the rocks toppled on them.
The entire area exploded, the sky was lit into a blue streak of spectacle, going through the glass roof above. The reflecting boundary started to crack, and despite their efforts trying to reduce its power, the shield shattered and the blue light engulfed the entire estate. Everyone was blasted away and seemingly consumed by the Ruinous Fate. The earth rumbled around the estate area and it took a minute before everything began to settle.
Layette opened her eyes to see the debris an eyelash away from crushing her. She looked to her right to see Zyna save the three of them from being buried by the rubble. The Witch summoned gale winds to get the wreckage off from them. Scarlet stood and help the other two on their feet. Zyna dusted herself off and chuckled.
“Oh my, I never thought the fight would go this far. Spectacular, yet damaging for sure,” she remarked.
“Spectacular my ass,” Scarlet scoffed and stretched out her arms. “Gods, can this get worse than it is?”
Layette glanced around to see her brother under a large pile of rocks. She quickly ran to him and asked Zyna and Scarlet to help him get out of there. His head was well rested on Layette’s lap when they were able to extract him. Segenam was severely injured and was bleeding all over. She held his hand and moved his messed-up hair to the side. Scarlet found Segenam’s weapon sticking out from a pile of rubble. The weapon’s blade was bright orange, hot vapor fuming all over the metal.
“You idiot. Why would you go so far for me?” Layette mumbled to herself. “You didn’t have to do this…”
Layette turned to see Harley kneeling as steam flowed out of his body. His skin was extremely scaly and soon, his body shed. Bits and pieces of white, dead skin slowly fell to the floor and the High Lord stood as a tail whipped out from his behind. The man was in his Divine Beast form: most of his human skin replaced with blue scales, two horns on his forehead, hands turned into monster-like claws, and he had webbed aquatic ears. He chuckled and fixed his dislocated shoulder.
“As expected of you, High Lord Harley. An attack like that shouldn’t have done that much damage to you,” Zyna said.
“It did sting, I admit,” Harley spoke with a distorted accent. “The spell is powerful, but it cannot match the regenerative capabilities of the mighty Leviathan. Also, the spell ‘Ruinous Fate’ can only truly incinerate those who are purely evil. The fact that I am still here shows my innocence.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “So, this was your trump card? Unfortunately Sir Segenam, I already know what you’re going to do.”
“He was someone unworthy of your best, my lord.”
“Would’ve liked to see his ‘other self’, but a wasted opportunity.” Harley turned to Layette. “My darling wife. You can see that I don’t have anything to hide. Come, let us prepare for our—”
Layette vanished from where she knelt and came at Harley with Segenam’s broke, heated blade. Their edges clashed, and her brother’s weapon bent by the force of impact. The two pushed, trying to gain ground against each other.
“I do not want to hurt your pretty face, my dear,” Harley said.
“Try me, you b*****d!” Layette asserted.
The two traded blows, moving faster than the eye can see. With each strike, gale winds surged all over the ballroom. Harley enchanted his weapon and when they collided swords again, the ice started to cloak Layette’s broken blade. The weapon shattered into pieces when the High Lord swung again, and the scraps left cuts upon Layette’s arms and face. The maiden fell to the ground and saw Harley’s blade close to her face.
“Layette, enough is enough. Please, the fight is over!” Harley told her.
“It’s over when I say it’s over. You enjoyed yourself when you fought my brother, now I will force you to fight me whether you like it or not!” she angrily replied.
Layette gritted her teeth. “I need a weapon or else I won’t be able to fight!”
A green sparkle of light emitted itself around her hand. Not knowing what it was she put her arm in front of her. Something began to materialize at the palm of her hand. Her eyes widened the moment she realized what she had summoned in front of her: The Jeweled Sky.
“W-Woah, I can just summon it like that, huh? But enough lingering around…!” Layette ripped the bottom of her dress, assumed her stance, and furrowed her brows. “Here I come, Harley!”
A fire erupted all around her, forming into a bird-like shape. She leaped forward, leaving a trail of inferno behind her, and smashed the edge of her weapon to Harley’s. Under what seemed to be a flash, the two unveiled a series of devastating blows to each other. Harley gritted his teeth as he tried to fend off against Layette’s lightning fast attacks. It was clear that she was getting faster as he eventually struggled to keep track of her with his vision and senses. After predicting her next strike, he erected a water bubble shield. She struck the mystical aegis and that gave Harley the opportunity to slow her down.
“Freeze her!” he commanded.
The water crawled up on the Jeweled Sky and instantly froze. Harley jumped out of his water barrier and with a quick swing of his blade, he expected Layette’s weapon to break. Unfortunately for him, it was his weapon that shattered into pieces. Layette retaliated, slamming the thick ice on his face. He violently rolled across the ground and crashed through several walls. The frozen chunks cracked and burst into pieces. Icy steam flowed out of the Jeweled Sky’s edge, but the weapon was unfazed.
This sure is handy. I forgot this thing existed. Better give it back to Aren after this, Layette thought.
As Layette pursued Harley, piles of rubble started to tremble a bit. A hand popped from the stacks of rocks, Dickus revealed himself. He coughed vigorously and took out a handkerchief to move the dust back. Morrison, Lancelot, and Argus came out in a similar fashion whereas Dyrus used magic to get the debris off from his mystical barrier.
Morrison took a deep breath and sighed, resting on the rocks as if he was sitting on a chair. “Argh… My back hurts,” he complained.
“Better aching than being burnt alive.” Dickus looked around and saw the mages having several burns, and the uninjured healers trying their best to heal. “It looks like we have failed to contain it, miserably.”
Argus laid his back on the floor and groaned. “I think I’m going to need a drink for this. You Hawkwood are c***s for making such a spell exist.”
“Or it’s old age, my dear friend.” Dyrus dusted off the small crumbs of rock off from his shoulders. “It looks like you’re comfortable laying on sharp pieces of rock.”
“F**k off you blonde hair b*****d.”
Lancelot knelt and bowed his head. “I am sorry that my shield wasn’t enough to save everyone here. I must do better next time!”
Argus waved his hand. “Yes, yes. Just help the other people, will you? Perhaps I am getting too old for this: Morrison go assist him for me.”
As Lancelot and Morrison assist the healers in their efforts, Scarlet ran to Dickus and told him about the current situation. The clown lord furrowed his brows and went to go stop the fight, but Dyrus put a hand on his shoulder.
“Let Harley get what’s coming for him. Right now, we must take responsibility and clean up,” he said. “Don’t worry: he going to have to take her on seriously, whether he likes it or not.”
Dickus was hesitant but soon agreed to the idea. As he helped the others with the restoration endeavors, Layette followed the large gaps, passing through many sections of the estate, until she reached the gardens in the back. Harley stood up, coughing out blood. Layette did not give him any resting time, so like usual, she charged believing she still had the upper hand. Harley evaded her attack and wrapped his left hand around her neck. He lifted her off the ground, tightening his grip and manipulated a water-like sword out of his sword-hand.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Layette, but if you insist on going hard, then I will go hard!” he raged.
Harley threw her to the ground, the earth quaked when Layette’s face planted harshly on the dirt. He lifted his sword and thrust it to her back. Layette dodged and kicked Harley’s knee. His leg became extremely disjointed and he cried out in pain. She followed up with a barrage of swift strikes. Harley managed to deflect all incoming strikes and summoned water from below in response. The water rapidly surged and became into some sort of purple-like ice, encasing Layette all the way up to her shoulders. The Jeweled Sky whirled some distance from her, the blade struck itself deep into the dirt. Without any options left, she called upon the Phoenix and the giant flaming beast screeched, zooming in at Harley.
“Go away you damn bird!” Harley seethed.
The High Lord called upon his Divine Beast, Leviathan, and the water serpent roared upon its summoning. Leviathan assumed its true form: it was so enormous that its size covered the moon’s elegant glow and only the Phoenix’s fiery glow was to be seen. Leviathan let out a sharp, piercing cry and it summoned a humongous water tornado. The Phoenix tried to fly away but it was pulled in by vortex. It twirled around, trying to set itself free. The Leviathan whirled its tail, slapping the bird back to the ground. The Phoenix cawed in pain as it crawled to Layette, and its flame dissipated. Soon afterward, its form disappeared into existence. The aura-like flames that gave Layette power gave out as well.
“Despite the years of training, you still do not have a Beast form. You are strong, my dear Layette, but not strong enough,” Harley dictated, fixing his leg back to place.
Layette squirmed around and tried to set herself free from the icy prison. Before she even had the chance of escape, the Leviathan screeched and descended upon her. It opened its jaws and before it swallowed her whole, Harley turned the Divine Beast into its watery form. A river of water streamed down upon Layette, almost making her drown. She coughed vigorously when the surge of water receded. Harley sighed, taking out a glass vital and applying the contents upon his lips. Afterward, he approached Layette and knelt in front of her. He touched her chin, making her look into his eyes as she breathed heavily.
“I’ll… never accept you! No matter… How long it takes!” Layette snarled.
“I know you won’t. But after this, you will see me in a new light,” Harley said. “Forgive me.”
He came close and their lips interlock. Layette bit him, and Harley yelped in pain. She tried to free herself again, yelling out in frustration. Layette looked as if she was a rabid dog trapped in its cage. To end the trivial matter, he knew what needed to be done.
Harley put his hand near her face. “Somnus.”
Layette’s yells quickly died down and her eyes gently closed. She was fast asleep. Before Harley was able to turn back to his humanoid form, someone soared towards him. Harley turned and blocked the incoming attack. It was Segenam and despite his wounds, he clashed swords with him. Irritated by the fact the Hunter was not incapacitated, Harley disarmed him by breaking his arm and kicked his foe back a few meters. Segenam coughed out blood but still stood to face his opponent.
“You still dare to oppose me?! How stupid can you be, you ignorant fool!” Harley scoffed.
Segenam wiped the blood off from his lips and chuckled. “Who said I yielded? Our fight is not over!”
He ran to Harley with a raised fist as trails of blood pour from his body and threw it when he got close enough. Harley raised his blade with a grim expression and without hesitation, swung his blade down. His fist soared close to the High Lord’s face and before he was able to land a blow, someone caught his fist. Segenam looked up, seeing an eagle-insignia eyepatch. A white-haired boy held his fist and smirked.
“Sup, how ya doing?” the boy greeted him.
Two people jumped at Harley and attempted to ambush him. Harley swiveled his water blade and its created gale winds that pushed the two back. A tall muscular man took out his bow and fired a volley of arrows at him, but none left a mark on him. Harley lifted his hand, palm facing in front, and shot a burst of water pellets at him. The muscular man dodged and hid behind some bushes.
Harley went to strike down the white-haired boy, but a mysterious shadow came and parried his slash. The two went onto the offensive. Harley’s assault was so fast that it created hundreds of afterimages of himself. Despite going as fast as he can, the individual deflected every single blow. Harley gritted his teeth and backed off to face his new foe. The person sheathed their weapon away and Harley’s eyes widened the moment he recognized their face.
“R-Raynord?!” he exclaimed.
Raynord smiled and waved. “Hello brother, long time no see…”
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