B2 — 26. Legends Collide

Sora followed Eric’s instructions after he separated from them, charming several guards to get to the door he said Jin and Eyia were behind, questioning herself the entire way.  Wendy, Mary, the two humans, and Aiden walked beside her, making their way through an unfamiliar hall.

Why does he have to be so cryptic?  He says something is about to start and then tells me he doesn’t know…  What’s his deal?  The Herald seems to have fed him the bare minimum amount of information, but considering what my aunt said… yeah, that’s on point, I suppose.

Still, the route Eric had given her made Sora’s stomach squirm; it felt so open.

Turning to Aiden, she cleared her dry throat.  “I know we’re already almost to the end… but is there no other way without tripping the alarm?  We’re in the middle of a super big hallway!”  she hissed.

Breathing out a long puff of air, Aiden shrugged, “I couldn’t tell you…  Eric seems to know all the answers; it’s actually super disconcerting.  Eh, he’s just…  He’s not the Eric I’ve known all my life.”

Irritation fueling her, she scratched at her left ear, tucking her lip under her teeth as the last doors came into view.  “So… most of the cameras are supposedly down on this floor, right?”

“Right?”

“So far no one’s set off the alarm…”

“Uh-huh?”

“And all the guards were in the spots Eric said, easy for me to manipulate out of sight.  In fact, we haven’t come across anyone along this entire hallway so far, and look how crazy big it is compared to the rest!  Mgmg…  Why haven’t we come across a single guard?”

“Look, I can’t tell you,” Aiden repeated, rubbing his shoulder.  “I got no clue.”

Wendy hummed beside Sora, still strengthened by her.  “I mean, I know I sound stupid… but didn’t he say it was going to be big room…  Could it be a large holding area?”

Mary shook her head, also drawing on Sora’s aura to remain calm.  “I don’t see them putting anything hazardous together; there must be a different reason.”

Cracking his neck, Aiden nodded.  “I agree…  Erm, Eric came back from some place where they fed him… covered in blood, so…”

“Humph.  Sounds on point for him,” Sora grumbled, puffing out her cheeks in agitation.  “He could have told us what we’re walking into—at the very least.”

Turning to the man and woman she’d saved, she studied them, scanning their stable emotions with her support; she could tell they’d freak out if she released it.  “I haven’t asked your names yet.  Sorry, umm… heh, I’m Sora, as you’ve probably guessed.”

The woman took a very long breath.  “Hmm…  No, I apologize… my name’s Ashley.”

“Nathan,” the man said in a distrusting tone, more directed at the facility than her.

“I know this has all been a rush—believe me, I know—and how you feel, literally.  Mmh-heh… not trying to be creepy or anything,” she added, reading their emotions.  “Anyways, I’d really like to get you back to Miami so you can return to your normal lives…  Just saying.”

The woman smiled.  “Thanks…  Mmh… my husband and kids must think I abandoned them—hehe—I’m sure, if you weren’t somehow keeping me calm, I’d be pretty hysterical right now.  I’m… wooh, I’m just a mess right now,” she mumbled.

The man nodded.  “I agree.  I was a police officer; I remember seeing the video of you getting bullied,” he muttered with a frown, vision moving to his tail saying he had no clue she was a real fox girl.  “I was told to make it go away by Eric…  I didn’t listen.”

Sora frowned as he spoke, feeling the guilt.  “You don’t have to feel guilty…  It was all Eric’s fault.  I don’t forgive him…  He has a sad story, sure, but he’s ruined too many lives…  Even if he’s being somewhat helpful now—I don’t even know if I’d call this new person Eric, to be honest.”

Silence ensued as they came to the door the baneful werewolf had described, and Sora glanced up into the guard box; she’d compelled the guards that were supposed to take the previous shifts’ place…  All according to Eric’s plan, she hoped.

A low rumble sounded in her throat as the others followed her eyes to a branching doorway; Eric’s scent was inside, already ahead of them, seeing as he had so many important things to do—at least he said he did.  As could be expected from a movie villain—always there at the perfect moment—he casually walked out, still holding his passive expression and unconcerned tone.

“That’s it…  Beyond this door are your friends, but I’m warning you, it may not be pretty.”

Ears lying flat against her head, she shifted nervously, her stomach twisting into knots.  “What, your almighty knowledge is now lacking?”

In his even tone, Eric turned his head to the steel barrier.  “I may learn more when inside…  My information comes in spurts and pieces.  By the way, you’ve been spotted on the cameras here, so the alarm will sound soon.”

“Oh, isn’t that fantastic!”  Sora forced out in a sarcastic tone, flashing her teeth and waving at the cameras.  Not wanting to waste anymore time, she looked up at the box and snarled.  “Hurry!  Open the door!”

On brand, Eric’s prediction followed, alarms making her wince and fold back her ears as steam hissed from the doors, opening to reveal a troll, lying motionless on the ground, yet the other movement snatched her attention instantly.

Jian’s hand gripped around Jin’s now shockingly fiery red hair, whipping her into the concrete before spinning the little Korean girl around and throwing her at a pillar.

“What—no!  Jin!”  Sora yelled, dashing forward.

Jin already struck the ground, fragments of the walls sending dust billowing around them from the collapsing pillars by the time she made it halfway, yet Eric leaped in front of her path, blocking her way in his partial transformation.

“Stop!”

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“No!  Jin—”

She almost tripped, skipping to a standstill, fur across her entire body rising as it screamed danger, and an overwhelming power so fathomless it could have been her aunt or the Herald passed over her.

Heart thumping and mouth filling with saliva, Sora felt numb as Jian shot forward in a sharp dash, blowing much of the dust away for his fist to meet her friend’s cheek; a burst of air blasted out, sending the haze billowing around them, yet Jin’s head hadn’t shifted in the slightest.

Time stretched as Jin’s dense spiritual pressure expanded, the weight ebbing out in a gradual wave that paralyzed her in place; she couldn’t sense its depths.

Jin’s normal, pure black hair was now a gleaming shade of flaming ruby, her irises matching its intensity as they slowly drifted to the trembling Bai-Hu, a pulse of hatred stopping Sora’s drumming heart with the red steam of condensed spiritual force that hissed out of her draconic teeth.

Finally collecting himself, Jian leaped back twenty feet and closed his bleeding fist to stop it from quaking.  Sora’s entire body was already in a state of panic; it was crushing her by spirit alone.

The humans behind her trembled and it was their diminishing spiritual signature that brought Sora back to reality, and she redoubled her efforts to try and shield them from the overpowering aura, which was when she noticed Kari a few feet away; she hadn’t sensed the wolf’s presence in the slightest.

Partially transformed, even Kari was utterly locked in place at the crimson tendrils leaking off Jin’s body; it was so spiritually dense, the whisps cut anything they came into contact with, breaking apart the floor, pillars, and wall.

Jin slowly righted herself, seemingly in a short temporary trance as a steady stream of pressurized hair passed through her lips, the dark ruby force pulling in and causing a shimmering effect around the girl for bright scales to extrude from her skin; each one left a small line of blood flowing into a pool at her feet.

Not a single ward was now present on her body, and Sora couldn’t stop trembling.  Is this the fear induction Fen said dragons could suppress?  How could she suppress this strong of a force?  I can’t even sense it all; it’s like I’m back in the Spiritual Plane, and it’s so hard to even breathe without my aunt’s support.

Vision locking on the blood running down the dragon’s legs and arms, Sora began to understand Eric’s first statement to her.  Jin hurts herself when using her powers; she literally has to release her dragon blood, changing her physical body to match her spirit every time.

Sora blinked as Jin suddenly collapsed to her knees, eyes shaking in fear while bending over to grasp at her chest.

“No.  No!  Control…  Control!”

Desperation in her shaky voice, Jin’s colossal spiritual pressure began to recede, pulling back into her body and giving Sora time to collect herself to redouble her defenses.

Diane’s voice froze all thoughts in the room.  “Hmm…  I would not retreat now, Jian; face down the beast for your woman!”

Fen’s pained scream sounded clearly around the area, and Sora finally understood the situation; there was nothing he could do—he didn’t trust or know Jin—all he knew was Diane had someone precious to him.

Sweat beat down Jian’s brow, muscles flexing as he took a deep breath, and in that slight moment, Sora felt the conviction to die; this was a suicide charge.

Eric looked somewhat pale as he looked over at his sister.  “Kari, this isn’t the right time.  Diane’s achieved her goal; Jin has entered the Dragon Rage state—friend, foe—it doesn’t matter.”

Diane’s voice broke over the following silence.  “Sora…  What are…  No, get out of the arena!”

A bellowing roar shot out of Jian’s lungs, sending jets of spiritual wind flurrying around the area and whipping Sora’s locks into a frenzy as he leaped forward, entire body exploding in brilliant light to take the form of an eight-foot-tall white tiger.

Blurred movement barely recognizable to her unsteady vision, he dashed for Jin’s fallen body, paw striking out to send her ripping across the floor; the wall she struck fractured, cracks resonating around the arena with more dust obscuring her.

Jian leaned forward to pursue and only got a single step before a dominating wave froze every person in place, time drawing to a crawl.

Shining ruby irises glimmered within the haze, and Sora’s body told her it was too late to run; skin-tight red scales producing a fierce aura, Jin seemed to be in a trance that only lasted a second before her face twisted with wrath.

Jin drew in much of the room’s air, and Sora could feel the current pull against her clothing and hair for the dragon to release it in a mind-numbing roar; vision swimming, Sora felt the ground leave her feet as she was sent tumbling across the floor, the glass above shattering.

Only closing her eyes for a split second to readjust them, Sora instinctively flipped back to her feet to find Jin in the middle of the room, Jian’s paw seemingly stopped in mid swipe.

Nose twitching, Jin’s clawed hand tightened around it, digging into his flesh and drawing globs of blood before whipping him into a sharp circle, the bone of his front right leg snapping in the process.

Jian struck the wall with enough force to nearly cause half the concrete up its length to spiderweb and collapse, yet the dragon was already at the Bai-Hu’s gut, knee puncturing his stomach and forcing him through the five meter thick wall to the other side.  Jian and Jin disappeared through the crater.

The earth trembled against Sora’s feet as dust belched out of the cavity; there was nothing she could do, and reality returned with Kari launching at Eric.  He easily dodged the fatigued lunge and threw her several yards away.

“Kari, this isn’t—” he cut off as the wall two meters beside the wolf girl exploded, sending her flying to Sora’s right while Jian skidded across the devastated ground in a mangled heap; Sora was too scared to move.

All she could do was shift her eyes and watch Jin’s slow walk through the dust and falling debris, vision centered on the barely breathing Bai-Hu; his spiritual presence was weakening by the second with the blood oozing out of the savage wounds and twisted limbs.

Fen’s pained sobs echoed above.  “Jian—no… no!  Jian!”

Out of the corner of her eyes, Sora saw the two-tailed fox leap out of the broken window, breaking her paralysis.  Halfway down, the black-haired woman curled into a ball, crying as the wards on her stomach shone through her clothes.

Mind flipping into overdrive, catching sight of her friend, struggling to pick herself up as the weight of Jin’s spiritual pressure continued to build, crushing her.

This isn’t right!  Jian was blackmailed into fighting Jin and if she keeps this up…  Wendy, Mary… human bodies can’t handle this kind of pressure!  If I can cut that link… but even then, Jin won’t listen to me, Eric said, she’s in a rage.  Although…  She was trying to suppress it; maybe there’s a chance!

Gut twisting, Sora focused her spiritual energy, trying to utilize the training her aunt had given her and sprinted forward; her jaw locked from the stress of supporting the humans, but as her desires to protect them increased, the more force she was able to draw out. 

Reaching Fen in time, Sora caught her and laid her on the ground as the woman writhed in pain; she was dying, and it took everything in Sora not to panic, falling back on the lessons she’d learned from her aunt.

Inari said its rudimentary basics, but basics for her are impossible for most!  Focus!

Left hand pressing against Fen’s stomach, Sora tried to bridge her own spiritual force and found it responding; condensing it into her two fingers, she reached down and peeled the ward right through the Vulpes’ dress, tossing it aside with a sigh of relief.

Fen’s eyes shot open in shock as the pain left her body, chest heaving while trying to collect herself, and Sora shielded her face as Jian was thrown against the wall ten feet from them, concrete shards pelting their bodies.

Arm lowering and vision clearing, Sora’s breath caught in her lungs; lying motionless several feet away, large gashes scaring his body, Jian’s blood-soaked fur left globs of crimson liquid stained across the floor, most of his limbs in tatters.

Even more alarming was Mary, Wendy, Ashley, and Nathan, several feet away from where the Bai-Hu had been thrown; cuts marred their skin from the fragmented concrete yet the most alarming thing was the spiritual defenses she was providing them were failing—Jin’s power only continued to grow, outstriping her.

No…

Throat dry and shiver running through her bones, Sora turned her head to center on Jin, slowly walking toward Jian, ruby steam hissing from her lips and continually condensing flood of energy weighing down on everything around her with each droplet of blood that slid down her shimmering scales.

“Jian!”  Fen shot up and ran to the dying man’s side, throwing herself between the two legends, and knowing none of them would survive this if the dragon continued, Sora rushed to face the Korean girl, throwing her trembling arms out to act as a barrier.

“J-Jin, you… you can stop.  It’s alright!”

Sora’s mind went frantic as Jin didn’t bat an eyelash, flaming eyes and torrent of weighted spiritual force crashing over her.

Maybe it was a stupid plan…

Her ears picked up Diane muttering, and a silver sheen of mist appeared around Jin, but the dragon acted as if it didn’t even exist, walking through it without hesitation and breaking the spell in an instant.

That’s right… dragons are immune to most magic… great.  I’m screwed…

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Sora barely noticed Kari as she flew overhead and hit the wall beside Jian; she was breathing hard in Jin’s aura, yet glared at her brother—still in his Fenris Form—as he ran to Sora; he wouldn’t make it in Sora’s time-slowed and chilling mind.

Jin closed in, clawed hand raising to strike, and Sora closed her eyes, shielding herself as best she could.  I can’t die here; Eric didn’t say anything about this!  What about Dad?

A familiar frost-coated wind blew her into Fen as she heard the sound of cutting air, a cold shiver running down her spine.  Eyia!

Opening her eyes, she could feel her heart burst with joy as the Valkyrie stood between them; a frigid stream of spiritual charged air countering the dragon’s enraged frenzy.

Clad in her brilliant armor, mist billowing around the girl’s luminescent figure, she held a circular blue crystal shield in her right hand; ice overtook Jin’s talons on contact with the barrier before Eyia shoved Jin with the bulwark, a sharp gale forcing her back several meters.

The Valkyrie’s shield glimmered, causing a shimmering azure light to enclose them in a translucent icy dome; Jin vanished from Sora’s sight, already at the aegis, condensed blows striking at it that made the room tremble and crack.

To Sora’s surprise, Eric had managed to make it inside with Aiden close by, a somewhat confused and impressed look on his face.

“First Gungnir,” Eric muttered, “and now Svalinn.  You are full of surprises, Eyia; what else might you have in your arsenal?”

Eyia’s withering glare drifted to him, but soon returned to Jin as spiderwebs appeared in her shell, caused by the Korean girl’s enraged blows, only growing stronger.  “What is the situation, Sister?”

Realizing she was talking to her, Sora felt her chest burn with gratitude; Eyia had saved her twice.  “Jin’s in a rage; Eric called it ‘Dragon Rage.’ ”

A rumble shook in Kari’s throat as she tried to get up and collapsed again from Eyia’s precise, swift, and frigid condensed blast of some kind of energy, a completely new feeling to Sora’s senses; the Valkyrie’s own intense presence was increasing to counter Jin’s.

Eric sighed as ice began coating her body.  “Sister… this isn’t the time, and those threads drained almost all of your energy; you cannot hope to fight me, and Eyia will not allow anything to happen until she understands the situation—you can’t even revert to your original form in this state.”

“S-Shut up…”  Kari snarled, uselessly trying to counter Eyia.

Sighing, Eric reverted to his partial state, walked over to her, restrained her struggles, and did some kind of spiritual blow that made her eyes roll back, falling unconscious.  Vision returning to Sora, he said, “I still expect you to keep your word.”

“Sister…”  Eric and Sora shivered as Eyia’s crisp tone filled the area, and Sora couldn’t believe the amount of focus and ability to multitask the Valkyrie had to not only defend against Jin’s crushing attacks but keep perfect awareness of the actions of those she defended.  “Is he threatening you?”

“N-No, Eyia—I can’t…  I know, Eric—Eyia, it’s just, it’s complicated!”

A controlled release of wintry breath exited Eyia’s tight lips as her vision drifted to Jin increasingly frenzied attacks; Sora couldn’t even hear her roars past the icy aegis.  “Mmh…  I do not understand the change in relationship you have had, Sister…  I will comply for now.”

“Eyia…”  Sora puffed out her stress, safety filling her breast in the presence of the Asgardian warrior.

“I cannot keep her out for much longer in this state…  This barrier is linked to my own energy, and I must conserve strength for the offensive… as I am unsure of our enemies.”

“Can I do anything?”  Sora asked, swallowing as she tried to bolster her own and the humans’ defenses with the support Eyia provided.

“No, Sister… Jin is far beyond your current capabilities…  Stronger than I understood.  Mmh…  I will try to calm Jin; she once mentioned this as a possibility in combat.  You should put your efforts into protecting those you care for.”

“Right!”  She glanced at Fen, still crying against Jian’s broken body; he was alive, but not for much longer.  Wendy, Mary, Ashley, and Nathan were unconscious, and Sora could feel their spiritual networks stabilizing with Eyia’s shield entirely blocking Jin’s colossal waves of energy.

“Thank you… Sister,” Sora said, smiling at her.

“Humph.  Sisters guard one another.”

“Mhm!”

  Sora quickly redoubled her support in preparation for Eyia’s shell to drop, trying to prevent Jin’s spiritual force from smothering them, and it appeared that Eyia was helping to mitigate some of the stress placed on her.

Taking a deep breath, Sora walked to the grieving Vulpes.  “Fen, I can try to heal him… but I don’t know how much effect it will have, and I need to save my own energy…”

Fen lifted her tear-stained face, a light appearing in her swollen eyes.  “Can you really help him?  Please!  Please, I’ll do anything!”

Positioning her tails over Jian’s stomach, they began glowing with a sapphire light, and Sora closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before connecting to his spiritual network; suppressing a hiss, she found it in as bad of a shape as she figured—it wasn’t only his physical body—Jin had shredded his spirit.

Oddly, it wasn’t nearly as hopeless as it had felt for her father, though, which told Sora she’d grown a lot in such a short period of time; of course, her aunt was entirely to thank for that, and as she’d said, with her guidance, centuries of private training could be skipped.

She kept pouring her energy in, and soon, the gap closed as his own healing force picked up the slack; a chunk of stamina left her, yet it was returning in strides, and it was nothing like how desperate she was in the fight against Eric.

“Jian!  Jian—please, don’t scare me again!”

Vision opening, she smiled as Fen broke down, hugging Jian’s neck as he stirred; all of his severe wounds were healed.

The Vulpes sniffed back her sobs.  “Thank you…  Thank you, Sora…”

Even more curious about their bond, but recognizing it wasn’t the right time; she was about to do the same to Wendy and the others only to find Aiden somehow already healing them, warm deep red flames surrounding the humans.

“Aiden…  It’s so warm…”

“Hehe, I’m doing what I can,” he muttered, forcing a smile.

His fervent waves washed into Sora’s own spiritual network, more than doubling her potential output; it was unlike anything she’d felt from her training with her aunt, showing just how many different types of powers and forces there were.

“Thanks, Aiden.”

“I… don’t know how much I can do, but what are we going to do about your friend…  Jin, right?”

Sora swallowed, attention returning to Eyia, who seemed to be studying Jin intensely as she raged against her cracking shield; the Valkyrie appeared to be debating something important.

“Sora?”

“What… happened?”

Figuring they needed to stay out of her way, she turned to Wendy and Mary as the humans gradually recovered with Aiden and her support.  “You guys need to stay beside Jian,” Sora ordered, pointing in his direction.

“Okay…”

Mary trailed off as Nathan grew sober, putting a hand on her shoulder and motioning for them to move away.  “We’re in danger, and we’ll be putting them in danger if we get caught up in this.”

“R-Right,” Wendy cleared her throat and stumbled up to take shelter behind Jian.

Sora puffed out a long breath, vision returning to Eyia.  “Umm, we’re ready whenever you are…  I’ll do my best to keep them sheltered from your energy.”

Aiden hurred beside her as Eric brought Kari’s unconscious figure to rest beside the humans, asking if they’d look after her to their hesitant nods.

“I’ll help—”

“Infeasible,” Eyia instantly cut the Firebird off.  “I will handle most of Jin’s offensive pressure; keep your guard up in case a small amount slips through.”

Sora swallowed at the Valkyrie’s strong voice discounting their possible contributions; clearly, Jin was reaching a point where Eyia was now questioning her ability to stop the dragon.  “I’ll do my best.”

Eyia nodded, drawing out a long breath.  “I will not kill her, but stave off her attacks long enough for her rage to fade.”

Mist filled the area as a large crystal two-handed sword shimmered into existence in Eyia’s empty hand; a frenzied charge pulsed from the blade that made Sora want to move away, and a dark hiss came from Eric as he saw it.

“Wait…  What blade is that?  I can feel its intense bloodthirst.”

A short huff shot through Eyia’s nose as she glared at the partial wolf.  “Skofnung.”

“Impossible,” Eric growled, looking at the glowing crystal as if it would bite him.  “Skofnung cannot be seen nor wielded by women.”

Eyia didn’t explain, and Sora took a step back as twelve figures appeared around them; it took a second to discern they were all women, each with dark-skinned fur as clothing and magnificent bastard swords in hand.

“No,” Eric breathed, “King Hrólf Kraki’s twelve berserkers… were women?”

“Humph,” Eyia grunted, her shield vanished while moving her now free hand to the grip of the two-handed sword.

Cracks spiderwebbed down the icy shell, and it shattered into tiny shards for Jin to reach for Eyia, yet six of the women were instantly by her side, vanishing with the dragon as fog swirled around them.

Eyia took one glance back at Eric and Kari, a cold fire in her brilliant, deep sapphire irises before the mist took her, six of her guards remaining behind to defend them.

Not a second after, Sora jumped back as Eyia’s gleaming sword cut through the haze, leaving a long white trail of light that instantly materialized into ice, crawling up the wall.

A roar sounded from Jin within the fog, somehow dampening the dragon’s brutal spiritual force; claws slashed out with a red light that two of their guards blocked, cuts appearing in their skin that released mist, yet they’d stopped it.

Tremors shook underneath their feet, impossibly deep gashes appearing in the floor at various points as if from nowhere as Eyia came back into view to gracefully deflect a beam of crimson light before entering the veil again.

Four berserkers flew out of the swirling clouds, muscular skin showing signs of the fierce battle, yet they darted back into the obscurity without hesitation, seemingly moving to cut Jin off as a line of ice shot across the ground to create a frozen wall nearby; chunks of it erupted outward that the warriors batted away, yet it appeared to hold.

The battle became hazy, and soon disappeared completely from Sora’s senses, as if the fog was an entirely separate world; even Sora’s enhanced hearing couldn’t make out what Diane was saying, but the dragon’s furious roars occasionally slipped through, making Sora wince at how intense the biting force was.

After a few minutes of blind action, the entire area exploded with a vicious gale that the six berserker women tried to repel, yet the dense blast turned them to mist, leaving the remaining force smashing against Sora’s spirit like a truck.

Stumbling back with Aiden beside her, they managed to weather the attack, yet now all of Eyia’s fog was gone, revealing Jin’s far more draconic visage; the troll and two of the fallen pillars had vanished, warrior women dissipated into the lost mist, leaving Eyia alone.

Sora’s lips parted, unable to process the scene unfolding before her; Eyia was at Jin’s back, her colossal crystal blade piercing Jin through the heart.

“Eyia, no…  Wait…”

Ice overtook Jin’s entire figure, no blood leaking from the wound; the frost swiftly crawled over the girl’s small body at an accelerated pace, only giving her enough time to gasp and grasp Skofnung’s blade—three feet thick, the jagged crystal block encased the dragon.

Eyia breathed a slow, controlled breath, chest heaving a bit as she slid the black out without leaving a mark and backed away.

“You did it…”  Sora smiled.

Skofnung vanished in twinkling light to be replaced by her elegant spear; Eyia didn’t drop her guard as the ice fissured, making Sora’s lungs seize.

Hail exploded in all directions at such speeds, they embedded into the concrete as a low growl rippled through the air, Jin shrugging off the thick layers of crystal.

Regaining control, Sora swiftly inhaled and breathed a long jet of fire to defend against the storm; when it ended, she found the only effect she’d had on Eyia’s ice was stopping its trajectory, and her flames overtook Jin, who simply waved her hand to disperse it.

A snarl shook the little Korean girl’s throat while dropping to her knees, chest heaving as she clutched her chest, scales receding into her skin and impossibly dense spiritual force drawing back into her impassible spiritual defenses, pain evident on her face.

“Jin?”  Sora tentatively questioned.

Her deep ruby hair reverting back to its original color, Jin released a loud groan.  “Grragh!  Dammit!”

“Are you in control, Friend?”  Eyia asked, ready to counter.

Jin fell to her back with a tired grunt.  “Damn… Did you have to condense it so much, and what’s up with the fire breath, Sora?  Grrag…  My ears are still ringing!”

Sora released a weak chuckle, glad Jin was back to her normal self.

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