Song springs forward, detonating the ground behind him and firing himself at Kiin like a bullet. The god barely has time to parry Song’s brutal sabre with his sword, and the clash sends a shockwave of Chi sweeping across the courtyard. His body feels as if it weighs nothing, yet his mind is burdened with vengeance; together, his body erupts into a frenzied sword dance, forcing Kiin back with each strike, brewing an even stronger typhoon as the fight drags on.
Song’s next strike crushes hard against Kiin’s guard, throwing him off his feet. He leaps forward before he can land, smashing against his defences, throwing him around the battlefield.
“This is absurd!” Kiin grits his teeth. “A primitive being like you―”
Zhi slices through his shirt, slashing his chest and sprinkling blood into the air. Though it’s a score on his arch-nemesis, Song feels nothing from it, thinks nothing of it. Murder is just an order his machine of a body is complying to right now.
Kiin snarls, retreating. He summons luminous blue swords and fires them at him.
From Song’s perspective, the blades are practically frozen in the air. It amuses him. He rushes forward, shattering the runic weapons with one cleave and presses his attack.
As Song’s blade is about to meet Kiin again, he dissolves from plain sight.
Almost instantly, he can sense something from his left flank. Kiin reappears and strikes, but Song sharply blocks the attack without even turning his torso. Kiin disappears once more and emerges from another angle to strike, again and again, but Song guards against each and every one of them with ease.
Almost got his rhythm…
Kiin strikes from behind this time, but Song has already seen through moves. He turns around and swings Zhi hard, shattering Kiin’s sword like glass. This time, Song feels a pinprick of arrogance inflating in his chest. He smirks.
With a look of bewilderment, then frustration, Kiin retreats and leaps into the air. Beams of light condense and shoot towards Song.
This time, Kiin’s projectiles are almost as fast as a scampering rat from his perspective. Song sidesteps, twirls and twists through the rain of deadly beams, all the while never tearing his eyes off the so-called god. Song finds an opening through the rain and leaps into the air after him, Zhi poised to skewer his chest.
“Don’t get cocky!” Kiin bellows, his body suddenly engulfed in white Chi. “I’ve not even started yet!”
Right as Song’s blade is about to reach him, a crystalline Angel explosively blooms into existence from where Kiin once was. The Chi expelled from his transformation throws Song back onto the ground. He scrambles to his feet and studies Kiin’s new form briefly. He’s twice as big as he was before, and none of his human features remains. Kiin spreads his crystal wings, and a shockwave of Chi energy bursts from his magnificent form.
“Come, Child of Fractured Fates!” Kiin points his sharp, angular finger at Song, his voice now a booming, multiplex thunder that rends the air. “Your resolve, your hatred－ show me your true power, your existence!”
My hatred… ISN’T SOMETHING A TYRANT LIKE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND!
Roaring, the two titans clash head on. Song’s sword meets Kiin’s diamond-hard limb, and the thunderous impact expels a force that shatter the walls surrounding the courtyard. Kiin soars into the air and unleashes another shower of light beams, forcing Song on the defensive. Before Song is aware of it, he’s now surrounded by a legion of Faceless Soldiers.
How dare you use Shu’s arcana!
The Soldiers charge. Song blazes through the army with his sabre, each swing of his blade empowered by his explosive Chi; he dances and blasts through their ranks like a living bomb. Within seconds, hundreds of Soldiers have fallen. The survivors scatter and charge at Song again, only to be cut down one at a time without so much as a struggle.
A chill runs down Song’s spine― too late as he realises Kiin has substituted positions with a Soldier. He whirls around, but he’s too slow; Kiin drives his bladed arm into Song’s chest. Through his crystalline visor, the god smiles.
“You are only human, Child,” growls Kiin.
Song’s lips tremble. “Not enough…”
Kiin freezes. Song grabs the crystalline blade with his bare hand, blood oozing from his palm as tightens his grip on it.
Song screams, wrenching Kiin’s blade free from his chest and smashes his skull against him. The Angel staggers back, and Song cleaves his chest with Zhi, shattering chunks of his crystalline body. Kiin desperately summons chains to restrain him, but Song breaks free from them through sheer feral rage.
“What power!” Kiin’s thunderous laughter rises above the calamitous battlefield. “More… show me more, Child!”
Once more, they clash blade for limb; the ensuing shockwaves rip even more of the Palace apart with each blow. Song’s blade narrowly misses, but the Chi expelled from the sword races through the air and crashes into the Gate’s turret, splitting the massive tower and causing it to crumble like it’s made of sand.
When they finally break free from the melee lock, Kiin flies up and summons a massive white dragon from pure Chi energy. Song twirls his blade into a comfortable grip and awaits for his move. The dragon twists its serpentine body around the crystalline Angel before diving straight for him.
Song somersaults towards the charging dragon, his head narrowly missing its jaws, and lands on its back. He races across its lengthy body, towards his nemesis, Zhi radiating with every bit of strength and hatred he can muster.
Kiin swoops down, his unbreakable arm outstretched. With all of his emotions and power loaded into one powerful swing, Song meets Kiin’s blow, smashing through the crystalline limb and cleaving through his chest. The rest of Kiin’s angelic form begins to crumble as he plummets back to earth, and before Song even gets to land, Kiin is already back in his human form, clutching his bloodied arm and panting heavily.
“This ends now!”
Fifteen years of suffering, fifteen years of despair, fifteen years of fear, fifteen years of hatred― everything boils down to this moment. Song raises Zhi one last time and races towards the kneeling god, the one who started this cycle of killing for him. He swings his blade towards Kiin’s neck…
But Kiin leans aside at the last moment. Zhi meets nothing. Then, the sound of flesh tearing crumples in Song’s ears. He watches as his arm separates from his body, and a geyser of blood discharges from his severed limb.
“You fought well,” Kiin says, lowering his recently summoned sword and stands up. “But this is the end of your journey.”
As his blood continues to pour, Song’s consciousness begins to fade. He stumbles back, desperately fighting to stay awake.
So close… I was… so close…
“It’s a miracle how you’re still even standing.” Kiin’s face is etched with a strange mixture of joy and disappointment. He walks towards Song, who no longer has the strength to talk, let alone defend himself. “It really is a shame it’s come to this. You may join your friends in the upper dimensions now.”
My friends… Mei…
The image of Mei’s slow defeat, and ultimately his death by En’s sword, plays itself in his mind again. His lifeless eyes, and that frozen look of shock… how could a sweet boy like him meet such a cruel, discrediting end? It was a traitor’s death he got. Mei didn’t need to help Shu escape; Mei didn’t need to come back to save him; but he did it all anyway, because he cared for them. Song has known Mei for many years. All that boy wanted was to spend the rest of his life with his friends in whatever bliss he can salvage.
Mei died for nothing…
That single thought alone is enough to inject one final burst of anger into Song’s consciousness, giving him strength, something to focus at to remain awake.
It’s my fault Mei is dead…
Hatred reignites in his spirit, directed at no one but himself. Song glances at his severed arm; the flesh around his severed bone has disintegrated all the way up to his shoulder. If he could just…
Kiin is now only a few paces away from him. The leader of the Black Blossom, the person who started all of this for them, raises his blade.
Mei… this one’s for you…
Like a spark, Song’s awareness flares briefly. Kiin thrusts his sword. Song sidesteps the blade, just enough that it only grazes his waist. With every drop of life he has left, he grabs the bone of his severed arm and snaps it free, slashing it against Kiin’s throat like a dagger.
Kiin gasps, widening his eyes. Song’s visions are failing, but Kiin’s throat has never left his line of sight. He steps forward and drives the bone straight into it.
As Song’s vision darkens, he can hear the so-called god’s pathetic gargles. With his last breath, Song gives the bone a final twist. Then, his knees buckle, and oblivion descends. No time for goodbyes, no time for regrets, no time for tears; death is impartial.
And yet until the last moment, Mei’s radiant smile never leaves his mind.
“Mei… I’m sorry…”
Long shoves a slab of rock aside and saunters towards the duellists. Out of all the boys in the Blossom, only him and a few others were brave enough to watch the duel outdoors. He had to watch it. He wouldn’t forgive himself if he missed the battle.
“So what do you think?” Zhou asks, taking his place by Long’s side.
“He’s just like me.”
“You know what this means, don’t you?”
Zhou looks conflicted for a moment. “I’ll be with you till the end.”
Long nods. He then turns his attention back to the duelling grounds, where Shu is already hurrying towards his fallen partner. Soon, their fates will be sealed, and there will be no turning back for either of them.