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Drip…

Everything was a swirling blur. The beastly roar of the Cerberus was a noise that passed through the head. The fire it brought did not blaze into his eyes. And even though a swordswoman had appeared to face him, Vath's attention was elsewhere.

With widened pupils he stared at his arm. Amidst the dust that had risen due to the building's collapse, Vath had received a slash. Normally, he wouldn't come close to feeling that light slash. His body, strengthened by Extinct Formulae Magic would be durable enough to deflect that blade. But, looking at his arm, which was dripping with red, was more than enough proof; that someone had harmed him. He never thought he would bleed. Not anymore. But...

He did bleed.

When was the last time he bled?

***

Drip…

In front of a black coffin, Vath clenched his own fist and clawed into his palm with his nails. Blood dripped from the wound he created and fell softly to the snow on the ground, staining the pure white with red. This was a time when Vath had yet to have Extinct Formulae Magic inscribed on his body. Yet, this was a time when a change occurred inside of the man.

He stood in front of his wife’s coffin, staring at it with eyes red with anger. So furious was he, that he didn’t bother consoling Vienna, his crying daughter, who was beside him.

‘My condolences for your wife,’ someone said from behind Vath. A man with square glasses wearing crimson satin cape. Vath, at the time, was too occupied by his rage to look elsewhere other than the coffin. He then continued: ‘You and I—we do not have a common goal, but I can tell that we have a common enemy.’

‘Enemy?’ Vath looked over his shoulder. With his murderous glare he assessed the man. His crimson cape suggested the man as a noble. And his face with that square glasses was a face he had seen in the news. Arkef ruler’s son, William.

‘Yes. An enemy… that is the system that rules over Arkef. It prevents us from achieving our goals. You, wanting to crush the system. And me, wanting to take over Arkef. By working together, we can both achieve our goals. I happen to want a man like you... to aid me.’

‘… Very well.’ Vath did not hesitate in giving him an answer. Vienna, who was beside him, gave a surprised look when her father did not waste any moment to reply. A chance presented itself in front of Vath and he would be a fool to not take it.

‘Before that, I need to ask you a question: At what cost are you willing to sell your soul?’ He asked with a wicked smile.

‘Any cost.’ Vath did not hesitate.

‘Even at the cost of your own daughter?’

***

Vath looked up to see the person standing in front of him. To see the swordswoman who had made him bleed. Violet hair, amethyst eyes, and a sword held beside her waist. She stared at him with unwavering eyes. A stare that portrayed her lack of hesitation in confronting him. Eyes that stated: she was there to win.

In her there was no chaos, no confusion. Whilst maintaining her stare to Vath, she pointed at the burning beast with her thumb.

There and then, from that gesture, he knew: she was their leader, the Silver Arrow's. The chaos within him that had lasted for a moment was dispelled. Now he knew—what needed to be done. Knew what his objective was; and knew who stood between him and his goal.

***

Things never went as planned.

Dunnford had to learn of that the hard way when he had victory in his grasp, only for his base to be assaulted by gargantuan golems. Just when he thought his squad had gained victory against the monster cult, golems crashed the buildings and took him by surprise. More often than not, things always went wrong. Always.

That was a story of his past.

Now, he thought he had successfully executed his plan and buried Skulls’ leader deep under the ground. He even made sure to see that the man himself had fallen into the darkness. Next thing he knew, he appeared behind Elaine and immediately grabbed her. Dunnford knew not how that was possible, but one thing for sure: he was careless to think that the battle would end that easily.

Just as he thought things couldn’t more chaotic than it already was, a burning Cerberus burst through the walls and brought the buildings into a collapse. A similar event, just like that one time when golems appeared and crushed his base. Only this time, the base was not his and the perpetrator for the destruction was not a living stone, but a three headed hound. A burning three headed hound.

Naturally, confusion arose in his mind. He had to formulate a plan to deal with the current chaos. He and Ray had to save Elaine and at the same time, if the beast was a foe, he had to deal with the beast too. He thought hard to think of a plan for victory. The moment he looked to check Elaine’s condition however, all that thinking was thrown away.

Elaine was no longer in Vath’s grip and standing between her and Vath was a violet haired swordswoman whom he knew well. Someone who killed his ‘Undefeated’ title.

Without looking back, she pointed at the burning beast with her thumb.

***

What does that mean? Ray didn’t get what Freya’s gesture meant at first.

Ray had seen how Freya had inflicted damage onto the enemy leader and had freed Elaine from his grip. However, what came after that baffled him. What did her gesture mean? Pointing at the burning beast with her thumb? Was she speaking with Vath? Was that a code that Ray knew not of?

The burning beast, with its evil red eyes glared at its vicinity and only stopped when it spotted Freya. It was targeting Freya. And the target didn’t seem to be paying any attention to the enraged beast at all. Even when it was clear it was about to attack her. Did she feel no danger?

Before the beast opened his jaw to reveal its mighty fangs and bite Freya, a sword flew and stabbed into one of its eyes. The beast roared in pain with loudness that deafened the ears. Dunnford had thrown his sword—which he used to fight against Vath—at the beast.

Only after seeing Dunnford’s action did Freya’s gesture make sense to Ray.

She meant: ‘Fight the beast.’

***

Elaine had a look at Freya’s back. Even though her back and Freya’s were supposed to be similar, hers was more dependable. The role should have been reversed, since she was her mentor after all. She had changed. Elaine was unsure what that change in her was caused by, but she swore that at the end of this, she would get to the bottom of it. To find the reason why her personality was different from usual, why she couldn’t use her healing magic, and why she was suddenly able to master the sword. However, now, dealing with the chaos was a more important matter to attend to.

‘Freya,’ Elaine called. Freya didn’t look back, still staring at her opponent. A gesture which stated: I’ll handle him.

Elaine wanted to tell Freya that her opponent got a hidden trick he kept in store. A trick which he used to escape from the hole that Elaine had created. Elaine couldn’t tell for sure what the trick was for certain, but there must be something. If not, he would not have been able to escape from her trap. Something must have had happened.

Once again, the burning beast roared. This time, it received a slash from Ray. His blade was sharpened with wind magic and it seemed that he found satisfaction in finally being able to cut his opponent. Elaine too, had to confront the beast.

‘Good luck,’ she said. Elaine then stood up and went to aid Ray and Dunnford.

She had decided not to tell Freya about Vath’s hidden trick. Elaine had no certain answer as to how Vath had escaped from the hole, and any sort of uncertainty could weigh Freya down. Elaine decided to put her trust on Freya. She was the best fighter out of all of them and the only person who managed to damage Vath. Surely she would do better in her fight without Elaine’s interference.

***

Ray was currently engaging with the beast while Dunnford was waiting for Elaine. It seemed that she was vital for whatever plan he had in mind.

‘What’s the plan?’ Elaine asked Dunnford. They were all outside of the building (if Skulls’ main base could still be called a building).

‘I thought of dealing with the beast here, but it won’t be possible.’ Dunnford pointed at the beast. At the slash wound it had just received from Ray. Elaine noticed how the wound was regenerating at a fast speed. That explained why the beast kept on burning. ‘Can you unleash a big offensive magic that could deal heavy damage to it? Heavy enough that it won’t be capable of regenerating?’

Elaine had to shook her head. She was running out of mana because of her previous battles. She could unleash a big offensive magic, but she doubt it would be enough to finish the beast.

‘Then we’ll have to lead it to that small mountain there.’ He pointed at a mountain near the edge of Arkef. Far, but reachable. An isolated place… That was when it dawned on Elaine.

‘Don’t tell me we’re going to resort to that…’

‘… That’s the only way for us to defeat the beast with our present condition.’

So we have to depend on Ray’s Bloodline Magic… Elaine thought.

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About the author

Novaldy Felix

Bio: Any form of reviews or critics, kind or unkind, is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Things happens, updates Freya at least once a week at EST Saturday 19:03. (If I don't get the timezone wrong)

Oh hey, speaking of which:
Some stuff arises during the holiday, things I need to deal with.

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