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Something distracted the swordswoman.

'What's wrong?' Lance had asked Freya.

He noticed that her gaze was directed at the currently still and burning Cerberus, buried under the rubbles of the building it crashed into. She saw something. Something that Lance couldn't see.

'Lance,' she called.

'Yes?'

'Get away.'

'What?'

'Get away, now!'

The beast, still burning because of the flames, rose up from the rubble with eyes that were more sinister compared to before. Almost immediately, those 3 pairs of glowing red eyes spotted Freya. Just as Freya had ordered, Lance immediately got away by jumping to the side, rolling and landing roughly on the ground.

Freya had made a run and the three headed hound chased after her. As it marched, its ferocious limbs crushed the ground beside where Lance was at, almost crushing his life.

Leaving a trail of destruction in its path, the creature of chaos and the swordswoman made an exit from the battlefield.

The advantage Lance and the other guards had: of having the swordswoman, was now gone. But so was the threat of the creature of chaos. With the number of bandits whittled down by Freya, their numbers were the same. No, ours are greater, Lance thought.

The shooting of arrows had ceased, meaning that the guards who were tasked to deal with the archers had succeeded. They should return back and add up to their numbers now. The swordswoman might have left the battlefield, but she brought the beast along with her, and no matter how Lance see it, victory was within his sight.

'We're having the upper hand here!' Lance shouted to the other guards to encourage them. 'This night will end, with our victory!'

Morale was important in battles, and Lance certainly succeeded in sparking the fire within the guards. Knowing that victory was achievable, the morale rose and the guards continued fighting: clashing their spears against torches. In numbers, equipment, and experience, the guards had the advantages. The tide had changed and that battle was theirs to take.

***

'Why do you still fight?' Vath asked Freya.

The swordswoman, refusing to give up, still gave a fight and pointed her black sword toward Vath. Her right arm had received damage from hitting the wall as she got blown by his previous attack; she was now holding the black blade with her left hand. Her amethyst eyes peeked through the gap of her violet hair. She resisted, even when the whole situation was already hopeless for her. Vath let out a sigh.

'No matter how hard you struggle, the outcome won't change. You'll die by my hands. And you'll lose all the battles.'

***

Dunnford, Ray, and Elaine were running across rooftops with the burning beast on their rear. The Cerberus destroyed the buildings between it and them.

Due to a different of physique, Dunnford and Ray had caught up with Elaine. She was clearly fatigued from her previous battles, and her physical capabilities weren't as good to begin with compared to Dunnford and Ray, who had had their share of physical training.

The beast's roar sounded behind them, along with the crashing of buildings. The sound were threatening and nerve-wrecking, but the mountain was close. All Dunnford had to do was to help Ray lead the beast to the mountain and let him unleash his bloodline magic.

Ahead of them, the row of buildings had stopped and the three of them, aided by wind magic, jumped to the ground. Even though the beast wasn't within sight, they kept running. The burning beast soon appeared crashing through the building, following them persistently.

This is the time to separate with miss Elaine, Dunnford thought.

'Let Master Ray and I han—' beside him, Elaine wasn't there. He looked behind him to see that Elaine had tripped and was on the ground. With the beast rushing at their direction; its fangs sharp and wanting to be tainted red, it opened its jaws menacingly.

Dunnford, without wasting any moment to think it through, immediately leaped to the fallen Elaine. He stretched his right hand to reach her. As he did, he wished from the bottom of his heart that he would reach and make it on time.

The distance between Dunnford and Elaine, which had been reduced by Dunnford's leap, was only 1 step away. A small distance, but it felt so far away. Elaine too, stretched her hand to reach Dunnford; her hand almost reached his. They were close, but very far away.

I won't make it...

***

With no update from Vienna, Vath had to assume that she was defeated by the Silver Arrow.

The situation was dire for him. With the leader of the Silver Arrow defending the library and the rest of the members in his base, his victory was threatened. That was why he had to step down and deal with them. That was why... he had a small communication magic device on his palm as he walked through the corridor.

Clack... the device connected.

'What is it?' A man's voice came out, William's.

Vath's reasoning for communicating with William was because he believed that the Cerberus wouldn't be enough to secure his victory. He needed—a guarantee.

***

'AAAAAA,' screamed a spear-stabbed bandit.

The guards were winning. Lance had succeeded in rising the morale and the tide was changing to their favor. The guards who were tasked to deal with the archers had returned and now they had more numbers compared to the bandits. At this point, Lance felt that it wouldn't be weird if the bandits started running away.

Even without Freya, we can defend this library, Lance thought.

Lance paid attention to a particular bandit. He had thrown his torch away and was running away with tails behind his back. That bandit knew his side was losing and it was best for him to escape. Finally.

Morale was important in battles. The sight of the bandit escaping encouraged the guards to keep fighting and also encouraged the other bandits to follow their escaping comrade's lead. In terms of morale, the guards were winning. The battle was about to end. That night would finally end. They could finally rest easy.

That thought was immediately discarded at the sight of the escaping bandit getting his head slashed off. He had ran, and from the darkness, a sword had slashed his neck clean. Appearing from the darkness were hooded figures. Figures with faces that Lance had seen before.

They were the local mercenaries, people whom Lance had once shared a table and drunk together with. 2 things could be inferred from them killing the fleeing bandit: either they were there to help the guards, or...

The bandits had given up on escaping because of the sight of the killed bandit. They went back to attacking the library, carrying their torches high. Following behind them were the mercenaries, who swung their swords—not at the bandits, but—at the guards.

They were the opposing side's reinforcements.

The numbers on each side were now even. But, the guards had been fighting all these time and had exhausted their stamina. Meanwhile, the mercenaries coming to the scene should be at their top condition.

Looking around, Lance could see his allies' expression of despair.

***

'Give it up and accept your death,' Vath said to the swordswoman who still had resistance in her. 'There's no hope that'll save you now. I've called reinforcements to the battle at the library; who'll without fail burn the library down, and your friends won't make it out alive against Cerberus. I'll even make a bet that Cerberus has swallowed your comrades now. It's your utter defeat.'

***

I won't make it... Dunnford had thought.

A sword's width, that was the distance that separated Dunnford's hand from reaching Elaine's. A small distance that would be responsible for the catastrophe that was ahead of them as the Cerberus was approaching with its open jaws.

What went wrong? Dunnford asked himself. Was it because my lack of training? Had I trained enough, even when tired, my leap would have closed this tiny gap. No... Perhaps before then. If I didn't get my magic sealed... or agreeing to fight Skulls, thinking that it might be good training opportunities for Ray and Elaine, and for claiming Adventure of Gyro...

Just a—tiny distance... between his hand and Elaine's.

When he was despairing over how he couldn't reach her, Dunnford felt a push from behind, by a gust of wind that pushed him forward. A miracle? No, it's Master Ray, Dunnford thought. From behind, he had pushed him with his wind magic, and that covered the tiny distance which had been so huge before.

Dunnford reached Elaine's hand.

The jaws of death was closing in.

Immediately, Dunnford pulled Elaine and threw her behind him, where Ray should be. He switched spots with Elaine and was swallowed by the Cerberus in her stead.

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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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