Chapter 482 – Airborne Combat

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Naturally, I tucked the Holy mana back into my core. After all, it had definitely been Rhea’s voice telling me to stop.

Rhea? I responded as I zigzagged through the air, Why are you possessing Mireia again? Didn’t you leave her?

Given how frantic I probably looked while dodging the hellspawn girl’s attacks, I’m sure my calm response would have seemed a little surreal to a mortal. I’m sure a goddess wouldn’t find it strange though.

I’m not ‘possessing’ her. This is Mireia voluntarily channeling me.

Before I could rephrase the question, she read it from my mind and added, And I can’t ‘leave’ because I never entered her in the first place. I’m fond of this girl, and her original goddess asked me to take charge of her, so she has become my priestess. I keep tabs on her personally.

Fine. It was just a semantic difference anyhow, and I had no time to get stuck on it. While switching to parrying the half-demon’s attacks rather than dodging and applying will, because I had realized they weren’t strong enough to damage my conjured jian, I demanded, Why did you stop me, Senior?

I could feel an emotion like raging exasperation come boiling back at me, instantly. For obvious reasons! Have you forgotten about the young lives in your womb?

Before I could ask, I figured it out myself, and felt like an idiot. Of course I couldn’t use [Purification] without regard for the two embryos in my womb. The Elder physiology, the only organism on Hade that is simultaneously magic and monstrous, protects its required minimum quantity of miasma under such an onslaught, but the raging hell that the process visits on my nerve endings is no joke. A pure monster has no such natural defense and would likely die, or at the very least be left severely ill, on the verge of death, under my purification attack.

Right now, my daughters were only newly transitioned to the embryonic stage, and weakly attached to me because of the artificial implantation. A blast of hell like that probably wouldn’t cause them pain, given they only had cells that planned to become a nervous system at the moment rather than actual nerves per se. But wiping out all but the minimum required level of miasma couldn’t possibly be good for them.

Actually, they don’t have the ability to preserve miasma at all, Rhea countered. That’s an autonomous function of the nervous system you just noted that they don’t have yet. Your body’s preservation functions would attempt to save them, but you cannot be sure it would succeed.

I felt a dull ache in my gut. My body might have protected them, but I could have killed my babies just now.

Don’t get bogged down with guilt over it, Little Sen, she lectured. As I said, your own autonomous system would have likely preserved their lives. An Elder’s womb is highly protective of its young. But you mustn’t risk it.

I was defending successfully, and I seemed to be keeping the hellspawn busy enough that she couldn’t reform her stealth, but I wasn’t making any progress against her either. The slashes of sword light I was sending at her destroyed her attempts to reform the shield that seemed to be an integral part of it, but they did little damage to her. She was clearly using the demonic version of [Body Fortification], because she had actually taken glancing blows of sword light without serious injury.

I had my reason, but it was strange that my opponent wasn’t changing tactics either. I felt confident she didn’t have a goddess talking in her ear, telling her not to use her trump card.

The answer to that puzzle came to me through my [Blood Mist]. From several directions, gidim were closing in on me from behind. Their stealth remained unbroken, so it hadn’t been part of the same spell as the hellspawn’s own stealth.

That fact itself was quite worrying. Maintaining multiple stealth techniques is no small feat, and definitely not one for a lower level mage. Was this creature the demonic equivalent of a fourth or fifth level mage? Was she higher?

She was at least the equal of a class A demon. In other words, an asura or elder lich. I knew that from the class A demonic beast she was using for a flying mount.

A beast which was not attacking at all, I noticed. I put the puzzle together and divined her plan.

“What a foolish little half-demon,” I mocked. “Aren’t you making a terrible mistake?”

The hellspawn’s face broke into a sneering grin. I’m not gonna lie, it matched well to her sickly yellow-green complexion. She switched from her [Wind Scythes] to bullets of Demonic mana mixed with Wind. They were stronger, but not strong enough to overcome my sword.

“I’m making no mistake at all, you silly child. I know exactly who I’m battling. You’re the mysterious half-vampire child who somehow managed to kill Trisiagga, aren’t you? You’ve made yourself famous now, you dumb bitch. Now, some even believe Trisiagga’s claim that you’re a Strega. Every demon is making plans to kill you.”

The mistake I was referring to was her obvious attempt to capture me rather than kill me, which had to be what the lack of attack from the nue she was riding and the surreptitious attempt to sneak up on me by the flock of gidim had to mean. 

“Just like the good old days, huh?” I responded with a smile, then returned to dodging, since it was easier, now that she was using bullets. Despite being stronger, they flew straight paths only, while the scythes could bank and swerve like toy flying discs. 

“If this were an anime, I would be praising the character designer,” I mused out loud. “It’s not just that deliciously unappealing skin tone. The complete lack of whites and the piss-yellow irises are a nice touch too. I also love the toad-brown hair.”

“I have no idea what an ‘annie may’ is, but I know when I’m being mocked. Your weak attempts at annoying me are futile.”

“That’s too bad,” I answered with a shake of my head. “You’re taking all the fun out of it that way. How about this?”

Flooding my body with Earth, I used [Fortification] and dashed forward at top acceleration. For a brief moment, every part of my body and that of my babies was in a state equivalent to [Petrification], which would probably have been permanent had my mind not been mostly resident in my spiritual vessel at the time.

Just to be clear, I had used the [Fortification] skill, not the [Body Fortification] skill. This is a far less complicated skill, that simply locks a material together so that it can’t be bent, twisted or otherwise deformed. You use it on swords and such to make them stronger. You don’t cast it on yourself. 

The nasty effects of inertia on the internal structures of my body were simply irrelevant during that short interval, that lasted only until I was streaking at high speed forward at the hellspawn. I switched to coasting at high speed, dropped the spell and flooded my body with [Healing] to insure that the brief moment in which the organs and cells of my body (and those of my daughters) were unable to move had no lasting effect. At the same time, I was flying past the hellspawn, within range of my sword, which I already had in position to hit her, and which I swung to increase the power of the strike.

My faux sword qi shattered on her skin, turning into a wave of mana backlash. Meanwhile, my Will was grabbing hold of the Darkness which she was using as a partially see-thru garment, dragging it off her body and away from her control.

“Gaaaaah!” she shrieked. I had lost my qi blade, but her shoulder had suffered a serious injury in the strike. I’m not sure, at that moment, as she wheeled her beast to face me, whether she even noticed I had laid her bare as well as wounding her.

Her mount let out a vicious cry, sounding a bit like ripping canvas, weirdly combining the hiss of a snake with the roar of a tiger. That sound confirmed my guess that the cloudlike mass of Darkness and Demonic mana was a nue, a demonic beast combining the natures and bodies of both those animals. A different cloud spewed forth from it, a poisonous breath weapon. I used Will to keep it from approaching me.

Rhea was livid. What in Heaven did you just do, Little Sen?! Don’t do that again!

It wasn’t dangerous, Senior. By using [Fortification]…

She interrupted my defense. I understand you used your ‘physics’ to justify it, and it might work fine, but I don’t like it! You had to use [Healing] to ensure it didn’t kill you! Don’t do it again!

 The goddess sounded honestly disturbed. Had I overdone it?

Currently weaponless, I was now frantically maneuvering to avoid both the attacks of the hellspawn mage and her mount. And those gidim were trying to catch up to me and attack, so I was avoiding them as well. I could possibly be overwhelmed if this was my only tactic, so I began re-forming sword qi, to recreate my blade.

“You aren’t going to capture me, no matter how hard you try,” I jeered at the half-demon woman as I dodged around. “I know what you’re trying to do, and it isn’t going to work.”

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I couldn’t use [Purification], but [Healing] was safe. Before they caught up to me, I had to protect myself, and [Healing] would at least be too painful for simple gidim to easily overcome. I loaded my body again, and chanted the spell.

This is okay for them, right? I asked as I allowed the mana to increase to the point of glowing white-hot. It should be protecting them.

Please don’t do it once they develop their nervous system, Rhea begged, sounding anxious. It could cause psychological damage.

I have reached the point of automatically rising above the pain without even thinking about it, so I had nearly forgotten the issue. Yes, it was still searing hot.

But while my body was defended against the gidim now, I still couldn’t attack. I was contemplating attempting to heal them, in hopes the pain would overcome the hellspawn’s control and drive them away.

No, I needed a strong ally, not a weak weapon. I had one. Two, actually. But both were on the ground below.

Diurhimath! I called. Are you healed enough to carry a mortal woman safely?

It isn’t necessary, My Lady. Pasrue is preparing to lift off the launch now. I don’t need to carry her.

I was puzzled as to why his mind went to Pasrue first, but I was in too much of a hurry to ask.

While resuming my volleys of sword light, I agreed, That’s good too, but I need you to carry one of my servants aloft. I can’t use [Purification] right now, so I need her to do it. I can’t return to the ground to get her myself, as I fear the enemy will escape once I leave her alone.

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I could feel his befuddlement in the spiritual voice returning to me.

I had wondered why you weren’t using your best weapon. What can’t you?

I was still not used to the idea, so it still felt weird to say it, but I admitted, I’m pregnant.

Rather than surprise, what I got back was anger. At your age? Who’s the bastard that actually touched a child as young as you?

All this time, I had wondered if the Elder standards would be more vampire-like or more fairy-like. It was fourteen thousand years ago when I was last that age as an Elder. I gathered in one sentence from Diur that the Elders of yore must have leaned more in the vampire direction. Even so…

I’ll thank you not to call my fiancé a bastard, Sir, I told him sharply. And this world does not share the standards of ten thousand years ago. Even if that was the rule then, I was raised by a fairy, and fairies hold to a different standard.

He was more contrite in his answer. My apologies, Commander.

I’m not usually ‘Commander’ in Diur’s speech. Normally, I’m ‘My Lady’.

Anyway, I need either Mireia or Melione up here with me, right away. Which one is closer to you?

- my thoughts:

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It's been a while since I wrote a genuine action scene for Tiana. Too long, frankly. The story has just been that way. She's been paralyzed until now with all her body issues. She might find this a bit liberating. I know I do.

I don't know if it is clear what she did with [fortification] here. She literally froze her body for a moment, which allowed her to use Will and mana to accelerate far beyond what would normally be safe for a living body. I'm not going to give numbers in the text, but for example, if she went at 100 gees for one tenth of a second, she could go from zero to over 220 mph (or over 360 km/h). Probably it was less time, since it didn't even need to be that fast to do what she did.

I probably used my most obscure reference ever during this chapter. It's more of a private joke, since I'm probably the only person who recognized it at the time for the stupidity it was.

The term "Annie May" was from the very first news story I ever encountered that mentioned Anime. It was a cautionary news article about the "Annie May" (or it might have been spelled "Annie Mae") animated videos showing up in video rental shops, that parents were allowing their kids to rent without being aware of the sexual content like adult topics and even (gasp) nudity contained in them. Being a very early anime fan, I remember nearly dying of laughter at how they were spelling it.

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