Fire blazed, scorching the previously sapphire-colored sky. It mingled intensively with the billowing smoke, with the darkness, and with the voids of nothingness and with the glistening light of life itself. It was a panorama of colors unfolding and blending and tearing before Lino’s eyes, and it was as grand of a sight to behold as anything he could ever imagine.

Syvelea carried a maddened expression, far different from the way she was when she spoke to Lino. She spiked her spear with blinding flames and swung, tearing open wounds in the sky and beating back the darkness. Without even taking a breath of rest, she bellowed into the sky with a roar of contempt and mockery before the space around her suddenly distorted. The sheer outpour of Qi caused the world around her to destabilize momentarily, gaining her a precious second of peace before she tore it open.

Within a single step, she disappeared from the sight; it wasn’t teleportation, Lino realized. It wasn’t breaking the barrier of spacetime and moving immediately to another place. It was pure, physical movement that approached the speed of light itself. She arrived almost instantaneously in front of the man clad in glistening armor. Her spear pierced forth like an unstoppable bolt, shattering through the re-forged armor and shredding the man apart yet again. Gore of guts swindled out into rain, seeming as though the man exploded from within.

She then immediately pulled her spear backward and attacked with the blunt end. Before the engulfing darkness behind her even managed to approach her, it was met with a strike it could not avoid. As though the wind blasted the smoke away, that single strike scattered the darkness and sent the faint figure barreling through the sky. Syvelea spun in place, facing once again in the direction Lino could see her expression.

Face distorted beyond reason, bloodied all over appeared demonic. She was smiling, exposing the teeth which were certainly white just a moment ago. The smile was wide, causing her cheeks to actually tear open and splinter due to pressure and her gums to began bleeding. In addition to her crimson-colored armor, she looked more like the God of Blood rather than an Empyrean.

Lino could only liken her to Eshen, and even the latter seemed quite tame in comparison. Q’vil, Grazynth... though both certainly had their own pieces of madness in the way they fought, especially the latter, they also denoted a strange sense of grace, of determined, clear path. Syvelea, however, did not; Lino only saw wretched madness emboldened by the spilled blood and guts.

She stared at the recovering figure in the horizon. Morphed back into Syvelea’s likeness, she seemed to have lost her mind yet again, screaming out into the sky before bolting in a flash toward her twin. She thrust her spear without mercy, splintering the just-formed figure into bits and pieces yet again, but still continuing to swing afterwards regardless. Over and over, round and round, through and through. Resonating sounds echoed, pressure building up, shockwaves blasting whatever clouds tried to gather.

Darkness... Lino certainly could not understand it. In his understanding, it was merely the absence of light. But, it was much, much more, he knew. It warped and wrapped, it split and combined, it disappeared and appeared. It wasn’t like Nihility, which was nothing within nowhere; it was an existing substance... one existing everywhere within that nothingness. The mere concept caused Lino a headache, which is why he decided to drop the thought. It was simply beyond his comprehension.

A golden hammer suddenly appeared behind Syvelea and, before she had a chance to deflect it, rammed squarely into her back. Sound of the bones breaking echoed out as she was bent halfway before being thrust forward at immense speed, tearing through tens of miles within blink of an eye. Yet, she recovered almost immediately, forcibly stopping herself and turning around. The broken spine didn’t seem to bother her, only further distorting her expression till the sides of her face tore open into holes, her bleeding gums visible clearly through them.

Her clear, beautiful silver eyes had long since turned red, and due to the blood scattered over her face, she appeared to be crying and laughing at the same time. And laugh she did; loud, brazen, defiant. In it, Lino noticed; that spark, the unifying conundrum all Empyreans have in common. The sense of simply not belonging within the world you were born, the sense of being outcast within the group you are supposed to be a part of... he felt it in Q’vil, he felt it in Grazynth, and he’s now seeing it within Syvelea.

It didn’t seem to hinder her, however. Almost immediately upon recovering, she thrust herself back into the fray. Darkness at one end, nothingness on another, and something that cannot die wherever she wasn’t looking. Over and over she was stabbed, punched, slashed at, dismembered, beaten, bruised... with every clash, more and more wounds festered. During it all, Lino realized that the three Writs which were sent here seemed to counter her perfectly. Syvelea was a whole lot like Grazynth; she was direct, she was blunt, she was forceful, headstrong... she was simple, at the end of the day.

She jumped straight and she thrust her spear straight. She used no faints, she used no advanced techniques of combat, she had nothing going for her aside from pure, brutal, chaotic strength. Yet, what made her who she is, not only as a fighter, but as an individual, was now played against her. She could not kill what was immortal. She could not kill that which doesn’t exist to begin with. She could not kill that which is everywhere within nothingness. He could almost see frustration manifest around her being into a palpable object.

An hour... a day... the fight went on. Time ceased to matter. The more Lino watched, the more his heart bled. She was entirely defenseless, at least in his eyes. The innate Empyrean regeneration was barely able to keep up with the number of wounds she was receiving. This was no longer merely a fight, Lino realized... it was a torture. Occasionally she would scream out and try to fight back, but even pushing the trio away... they would soon return and simply start doing what they were already doing.

It was like a pride of lions trying to kill an resilient elephant; you know the latter’s bound to lose, and it’s only a matter of time and the number of wounds and scars. All of a sudden, the battling stopped. There were no more resounding sounds of clashing metal, no more sounds of stabbed flesh and gutted body, no more sounds of screams... no more sound at all. The light cleared up, and Syvelea floated there, in the center of the three, hunched over. She weakly raised her head and looked toward him.

A trail from her eyes down to her jaw was cleared of blood. She was crying, Lino realized. They weren’t the tears of defeat, the tears of frustration, the tears of unwillingness to perish. They were the tears of sadness. Tears of sadness purified of all that hate, anger and torment she seemed to have lashed out throughout the battle. He sighed faintly, not avoiding her gaze. There was no plea within those eyes, there was nothing directed at him in those eyes. It almost simply felt as though she just wanted someone, anyone... to see her.

“You have lost.” a man suddenly spoke up, surprising Lino. “Join us... or die in honor’s way.”

“...” Syvelea tore her eyes away from Lino and looked at the man who was still donning the glistening armor, unblemished, as though he hadn’t been reaped at least fifty times since the battle begun. “Honor’s way?” she scoffed. “Endar, you ingrate fool. Your Father, and his Father, and all the Fathers before him knew of honor’s way. You? You know not of honor, let alone its way.”

“Angry... bitter... forlorn...” Lino could not figure out where the voice was coming from, as it came from seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time. “Do you not ever question why all your ends are the same?”

“... I have,” Syvelea said, straightening up. “And I realized it’s because every one of us is an idiot. A whole stream of idiots, ceaseless, endless streams of imbeciles... who don’t seem to have it in them to give up.”

“You were fooled,” Lino’s brows perched up with interest as he saw the swirling whirl of darkness suddenly manifest into a figure that was Syvelea’s spit copy. “But, it’s okay. You merely lost your way. We can help you. I can help you. How can you trust a stranger more than your own family?”

“You’re no family of mine,” Syvelea replied coldly without even looking at her. “You’ve whored out everything that you were for a power that even the cunt who gave it to you doesn’t understand. Enough with this nonsense,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I’ve no more words to exchange with you. I will die today... but so will you. All of you. Let me embed a scar that will last for a long while.”

It was then that it happened, Lino recalled the history. The moment Syvelea became the fourth strongest Empyrean to have ever lived, as she opened her 28th Gate, a concept well beyond Lino’s level of understanding. It wasn’t a monumental event as he was expecting; there were no crystal clear signs, there was no cosmic-level of disruption, there were no explosions, happenings of the void. No, there was no external sign that she had changed. Yet, much like Lino, the three others immediately realized that she had. Something inside of her changed; or, better said, her mind itself had changed. In that split moment, as though they had communicated telepathically, all three immediately rushed toward her. She stood still however, almost akin to a picture frozen in time, forever a reflection of age long since past. For the first time since the fight began... Lino saw tranquility inside her eyes. They veered toward him one last time, as though seeking last affirmation that someone was there. That someone was looking. That someone was seeing her... for the last time.


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About the author


Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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