While the sky basked in a perpetual inferno, fire raining down ever so often and forcing those fighting on the ground to dodge, Hannah currently hovered slightly off the ground, bloodied. Her dress was ripped along the left side, a massive gash over her leg extending all the way up to her thigh. Her crimson hair was disheveled, intermingled with the blood running from the cut on her forehead.

Her green eyes coldly stared at the source of her headaches -- floating just in front of her was a three-horned Devil, staring at her with a playful gaze. He twirled a pair of toothed daggers in his hands, the wings on his back fluttering ever so often as to keep him afloat.

Hannah glanced around, quickly realizing they were being pushed back; though it may not seem so on the surface as the line of battle hadn’t moved since the beginning, it was rather easy to understand her side was being pushed. Mages had a finite amount of Scripts, meaning they could cast a finite amount of Magic Arts, while the enemy’s army still had its reserves parked on the far-end hill out of their range. Most of their strongest fighters were being tied up, including Edryss and Ennya, and even Jade who was currently wrestling with a pair of Gods.

She herself wasn’t having a good time; it wasn’t as though she couldn’t easily dispatch the Devil in front of her, but she would have to command her Avatar form in order to do so -- yet, it was simply too early. If she only activated it to win a single fight, they may as well surrender; much like the rest, she had understood that their job was no longer to win, but to endure.

“You know, you really shouldn’t be distracted when fighting.” a chilling voice whispered into her ear from behind as she groaned, her entire body suddenly fluttering in lightning, blasting off bolts in a ring-like fashion. “Ho ho, slow down, slow down. You almost fried me right there.”

“You sound like a cat being fucked by an ox,” Hannah grumbled. “Just shut and fight you goddamn imbecile. Fucking hell, who ever taught you how to speak? I spit on their stupid graves. Shit, you might cause my fucking ears to implode on themselves just so I can stop listening to that goddamn voice.”

“...” the Devil was momentarily frozen, unable to process how could such a fair-looking woman... say such things. Hannah, similarly, was slightly surprised, quickly realizing that Lino’s way of insulting had also rubbed off on her. “Y-you’ve got quite a tongue on you, young chick...”

“... they’re really going at it,” entirely ignoring him, Hannah instead focused on the high sky where roars and cries repeatedly showered the world like thunder. Golden, coral, crimson and black mixed the blend of perfect colors, ethereally breathtaking to behold. “That dude has balls the size of a freaking continent...”

“Ugh, I’m done playing with you!” the Devil exclaimed, heaving sideways and arching toward her.

“Really? And I was just beginning to enjoy it.” Hannah smiled faintly as she wrapped her body in thunder and darted forward, entirely ignoring the Devil.

She turned into a streaking bolt, criss-crossing through a massive battlefield and observing it keenly. A massive valley lay between the mountains on one end and the city on another, and it was the sole home to the battle; nearly two million souls altogether stood on both sides combined, each firing off Art after Art, consuming the world in colors. Those few of brave hearts lunged their bodies forth, leading to the frontier clash around which the remaining conflicts kept escalating. Altogether Hannah quickly counted seven separate battlefields; one in the high sky that the rest simply couldn’t even watch, one between the dreadnought forces of both sides -- including two Drakes, several high-tier Gods, Angels and Devils on one hand, and a slew of Mages, Edryss, Ennya, Jade and her on the other. In addition to those two, there was the central battle between melee combatants, battle between the stealthed assassins who each tried to gain access to the backline of two armies.

There were also two flanking battles occurring simultaneously and, finally, there was the battle of ranged bombardment -- on one end platoons of Mages, on another scores of Human Cultivators. Individual strength within such a conflict was quickly snuffed out unless one was simply eons above the rest, and it was hard -- if not impossible -- for a single person to change the tides of the battle. She, however, knew she had to do something lest they simply kept getting pushed back; their frontline was already losing ground, and both of their flanks were being decimated. The only outright winning side they had were actually the assassins, several of which had gained access to the enemy’s ranged combatants, disrupting their formations and allowing the bombarding Mages to regain a semblance of control.

She would have one opportunity to make a change so she had to choose perfectly; she immediately ruled out helping the flanks as even regaining strength on them would ultimately be pointless. She also ruled out helping the ranged bombardment as she would simply disrupt the perfect coordination between the squads. In addition, her long-ranged capabilities -- at least ones that span tens of miles altogether -- were at best lackluster, so she couldn’t even help all that much.

That left her trying to help the assassins, the frontline, Lino -- which actually did flash through her mind for a moment -- or to immediately activate her Avatar form, killing the Devil chasing her, and then go and assist either Edryss or Jade, whose liberation would allow them to then help the other fronts. She felt like a draughtswoman for a moment as she drew plans of action inside her mind, trying to run through each and every one as quickly as possible, taking all variables into account.

It was in moments like these where she envied Lino; he wouldn’t think, he would simply throw himself at the frontline based on pure instinct. However, unlike him, Hannah could see much further into the battle and realize that the key to achieving a stalemate wasn’t the frontline -- even if theirs collapsed, it wouldn’t mean the enemy forces would suddenly march straight at them. Both sides had rather lackluster melee combatants, and allowing them to run around unchecked wouldn’t actually amount to much.

As Devil slowly began catching up to her, all the while hurling curses at her cowardice, she had finally settled onto a decision -- she would immediately enter her Avatar Form, but she wouldn’t kill the Devil; rather, she would actually help her side’s assassins. The key to a prolonged stalemate was ensuring the Mage Squads on her side could control the overall state of the battlefield and they could only do that if they didn’t have to suffer a perpetual engagement with the other side’s long-ranged squads. For the time being, her side’s high-tier fighters were not losing, and some were even slowly gaining ground. The biggest threat for the time being was losing ground on the overall bombardment of the battlefield -- if the enemy side could push forward, they would be able to reach the city with their Arts, and that was a nightmare Hannah didn’t want to deal with.

Having already made the decision, her body flashed in brilliant glow for a moment as a mirage of herself expanded from her back into the sky, glowing like a bright sun even amidst the shower of Arts.

“<Avatar of Creation>!” she cried out lowly. “Heaven and Earth Mandate--” fire inside her heart lit up into an inferno, her eyes turning milky-white, her tattered dress fluttering in the hurricane-like winds that quickly surrounded her. “Elemental Hail!”

The infernal sky above suddenly dimmed as a rather large part of it split open into an eye-like, vertical slit. Void rested beyond for a moment before dots of light appeared for a second before darting downward.

Each dot embodied an element as fire, earth, wind, water, light, dark, shadow, life, death and all those in-between began raining down like droplets upon the far back-line of the enemy’s force. The Devil chasing her cried out in horror for a moment as he realized what she wanted to do, causing his wings to flutter madly in an attempt to stop her. Hannah, however, merely glanced sideways and smirked, using her left arm -- which remained plastered to her body all the while -- to summon a sphere of light and chug it at him at a speed he simply couldn’t comprehend.

The sphere exploded in front of his chest, showering him in piercing arrays of light and digging holes throughout his entire body, killing him on the spot. Around that time, the hail of elements also landed on the enemy’s backline, killing tens of thousands of souls in one fell swoop.

Right as the carnage on the far end settled, a heart-puncturing roar raptured through the infernal skyline, a black pillar emerging from seemingly nowhere and encapsulating the far sky in entangling darkness. Hannah’s gaze swiftly turned upward as she studied the shroud for a moment, quickly realizing what it was -- [Veil of Madness].

“... can you do it?” she mumbled with some worry; if Lino had to activate [Veil of Madness], it must mean things weren’t going as planned. She had half a heart to storm through the veil and help him, yet managed to hold herself back in the end. That wasn’t a battle anyone else could participate in. She would simply be throwing her life away. “You can...” she smiled faintly right after as his face popped briefly inside her mind. “It’d be too uncool if you lost...”


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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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