The Fake Demon Lord

by

Justin Sterling

Book 1: Rise of the Fake Demon Lord - Chapter 6: Turning Tides

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Amongst a camp of small size with 16 carriages drawn into a semi circle, a small fire was crackling near its formation center. There were expensive looking cloths hanging from out stretched poles on the carriages. They were presumably washed and then hung to dry. Near the crackling fire, two Demons were interlocked, exuding grunts and groans without a care to their surroundings. Their bodies constantly rubbed against each other and their glistening skin reflected the flickering flames near them. Ignoring their surroundings, they continued taking turns fiercely forcing each other down on the stone and taking charge.

Surrounding the pair, nearly twenty other Demons watched on without any emotion reflected in their face. Male and female Demons simply stood at ready not more then 6 meters from them and took on various jobs such as hanging the cloths, feeding the fire more wood, or holding a set of servant cloths nearby. The grunts and groans slowly increased in frequency until a watery splashing mixed in. The male Demon toss the other off him, flinging the female Demon to the side without hesitation. The servant nearby hurriedly moved to the female who was shaking from climax and handed over the woman's clothing.

General Zannon stood erect and stretch himself out while enjoying the crisp breeze that wisped across his naked body. He glanced to the side mid stretch to see the female servant moving into the distance with her clothing in hand. He released an audible grunt and surveyed his surroundings until his eyes landed on a another servant directly across the fire from him. He rose a finger and indicated for the butler to come forward. The butler stood ready before the General and the air of lust dangled around the man. The General waved a finger once more and the butler began to strip his clothing off, handing them over to a female servant nearby. The stark naked butler lowered himself to his knees and began following his master's orders.

The dark sky was hardly visible and the thick clouds covering it blocked even the moonlight that might have been there. From that darkness, small throbs mixed into the breezes. Noticing before the servants, the General quickly threw aside the man he was playing with and looked to the sky. The throbs became louder and clearer and he identified the sound to belong to wings of some sort. The General cared little about his lack of attire and simply stared in the direction of the sound. The male butler who was toss aside simply stood up and remained naked and ready for when his master chose to continue.

The sound quickly approached and soon, a faint reflection from the flames of the fire pelted off the metal surrounding the creature. It came in quickly, dropping its height nearly 150 meters without even attempting to slow down. The creature expanded its legs connecting them to the ground and digging in as it came to a sliding halt. All eight legs dug in and the maggot like excessive skin wrapping its top furiously jiggled. The wings atop it slowly recoiled and laid flat against the maggot sack. The monstrous winged spider began walking up to General Zannon as if it felt no fear and came to a stop just outside of the inner camp. The fire lit up the hair dangling from its legs and the globs of drool leaked off the fangs and mandibles rubbing idly against themselves. Between two of the mandibles, a large clear crystal with etching written onto it were held firm.

Seeing the creature and the crystal, General Zannon quickly moved to retrieve it. He reached out and took the item while the spider seemed to raise its head slightly as if to hand it over. The crystal entered General Zannon's possession and with its duty having been completed, the spider broke into a sprint releasing its wings once more. A powerful thrust and multiple fading throbs later, the creature was no longer in sight.

The General smiled lightly at the crystal in his hands and infused some mana into it. The characters surrounding it glowed slightly and a rolled parchment materialized inside the gem. General Zannon watched the document take shape and on completion, the crystal fractured itself falling away to leave only the parchment in his hand. The General unrolled the document and read his new orders.

His face cracked with a wide smile, his faces bared and he released a series of bellowing laughs.

"What a day! This is going to be an easy war!! Ahahahaha!"

***

[Who said this would be easy!!?]

Around me, explosions rippled and tore the ground asunder. My missing arm spurted blood with every exertion I made to dodge.

[It's impossible for this great me to be driven into a corner like this by a mere Fairy!]

Two nearly solid beams of light flickered across the ground next to me. The marked areas swelled before exploding once again. I felt the sweat pouring off me in copious quantities.

[How did it come to this!?!]

The previous explosions blocked my view. I ignored the rubble pelting my sides and scanned for the cursed creature. She disappeared entirely from my sights and her mana presence vanished. Did she run?

"You should not look away in the middle of battle."

"...!"

A beautiful red butterfly with the shape and mana of a Fairy suddenly materialized in front of me. My sights went to quickly lock onto her, but the clasped hand moving towards me instilled a sense of dread that forced me to fling myself to the ground in desperation. The hand passed above where I had just been ripping the space itself apart. That damn move took my other arm, there's no way I'll let it reach me again. While the frustrations slowly built inside me, I attempted to recall how exactly this great me was pushed to this point.

***

Across the distance, I felt a strange mana pulse through the air. It was potent. It was raw. I could hardly identify what it was because it felt so strange. My shadows seemed to have halted their advance as well. Unlike the insects from before, the owner of this mana was different. I could feel my blood warming up to the idea of taking on a fight personally but there are plenty of things out there that feel powerful yet are too inexperienced and weak to put up a fight.

[Should I go in?]

I debated for a bit and decided against it.

[There's nothing an extra body can do at this stage, and my orders were to take the town... What...?]

My thoughts halted themselves mid way. I felt the mana signature suddenly became much sharper and focused.

[It's as if it suddenly appeared from no where. Tsk...]

I issued a mental order to my minions and forced them forward. There was no use in giving a break to the fools and they lost the moment their front line crumbled. The order went out and I could feel my shadows push forward. From the distant location, a ball of light shot into the air. It felt holy in nature, something that shouldn't exist in this world.

"Impossible! Was a Hero summoned?!"

I watched as the ball of light exploded launching particles of light through the atmosphere. They faded as they traveled, but I felt nothing but dread at their disappearance. As if to answer my premonition, illuminated rain poured from the sky. I felt the feedback from my monsters. They were...

"Melting...? Is it not holy magic?!"

That's impossible. Holy magic shouldn't be capable of dissolving my creatures. I felt their numbers dwindling quickly and with it, my chance of victory. I couldn't hold back any longer. It appeared that thing is worth me taking action against after all... I focused my sense amongst the monsters and felt the stronger ones created through making the largest shadows consume each other would be able to survive the attack.

[All I have to do is kill the intruder and my minions can take over the-]

The signature I'd been focused on suddenly made a move and took to the air. I could feel it approaching my location rapidly. My eyes opened wide at the sight. Demon eyes are capable of recognizing details from kilometers away without any issue and yet for the first time, I doubted what my eyes perceived.

"A female... Fairy? Impossible... Did that Dazzlevine bitch have a child?"

I was lost in the sight. Female Fairies should be, practically speaking, extinct. The last female fairy known to exist on the planet is Queen Dazzlevine, but her advanced age prevents her from constructing an heir. This Fairy also looked entirely different. Even if I ignored the shitty fur clothing, her wings, skin and eyes seemed entirely opposite of what I knew Fairies to be. Did they undergo a change?

The woman quickly closed in on my position. Her eyes and mine locked onto each other until she stopped and floated in front of me.

***

"Hello. I am Lapis. Who are you?"

I chose to introduce myself as silly as it might have seemed. If there was any primary weakness I had in this world though, it was the lack of information. I intruded into this war without much information and arbitrarily chose to defend Profectus because of the nature of the town, but such a decision was based entirely on one sided information and it was from a single source. When I arrived on site, I certainly saw multiple races defending together though, so I can assume that group did not lie. In that case though, this Demon in front of me is my first chance to obtain information on the Demons of this world. If discussions proceed well, I could potentially create a link to them for the future.

The Demon looked flabbergasted at me for some reason. I noticed the expression as I approached him, but had thought it was just a momentary display from surprise. As the silence went on, I started considering it might just be its normal face... How pitiful...

"Hello?"

My follow on seemed to knock him out of his thoughts. He appeared to refocus on me with a serious look. The heated gaze put me off slightly.

"I am Zannon Aggar. I'm a General for the Demons. I work directly under the great Demon Lord. Surrender yourself to me immediately and you'll probably survive."

"General Zannon. It is a pleasure to meet you. I did not know you held such a rank, please forgive my rudeness earlier. Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am... Empress... Lapis Lazuli Fardom."

I curtsied mid air attempting to draw the rags around me up as elegantly as possible. The edges of my mouth curved slightly at the title I gave myself. Empress. My ego might have played a part, but it was a position unique to any role I have ever played before. Greater than a Demon, stronger than a King, more valuable than a Lord. The title was something that fell short only to being called God itself. I admit, I may have gone overboard, but I required a position of some importance to create connections. Thinking about it, there are things I simply can not do in this form... I must handle that later. Returning to the man in front of me, he appeared to be mulling over my introduction. I tilted my head slightly while waiting for a reply. Did he perhaps not understand? Maybe 'Empress' is a useless title in this world.

"If I may... Did I say anything strange?"

"You don't have the qualifications for 'Empress'."

"Oh? What might I be lacking?"

"Power."

The man tore himself from the ground swinging his leg at me in a roundhouse styled kick. I gracefully bent slightly allowing it to flutter across my chest and returned the with a blast of raw mana. The Demon quickly landed onto the ground digging his feet in to halt his slide. A slight look of shock graced him once more. I was getting tired of that face.

[Perhaps I chose the wrong person?]

I landed lightly on the ground near the Demon enjoying the warmth that spread through the bottom of my feet. The fire that burned the hill side had not appeared to dissipate yet. The Demon held his ground and slowly started circling around me. Was he trying to hide the mana he was kneading? I could feel him storing power just by being near him. It was not very subtle at all. Maybe he has low mana control? I allowed him to continue the facade in hopes he would show me some of the magics of this world. Seemingly, he reached the peak of his capacity, or perhaps he thought it was enough to deal with me as he launched himself at me once more.

I utilized little mana this time and dodged his attacks with a nimble grace. He appeared to be concealing his invocation during the assault, but I felt a construct slowly forming itself near us. The target of the magic... himself? Dodging a lower sweep with a gentle hop and utilizing my wings to rotate my body mid air to avoid the following swipe, I kept my mind focused on every stage of the invocation he was going through. There appeared to be major differences in how Demons of my world and Demons of this world construct their magics. Is it weaker? No, simply more complex but rushed as he is in the middle of a fight with me? It was hard to tell with this alone. I landed on my feet after finishing my rotation and leaned forward to avoid a sweeping claw to my stomach. I bent slightly and hopped back again after I felt the construct completed. Then I waited.

"You bitch! Stop dodging it!"

The vulgar Demon without manners called to me as a distraction. I could feel his magic invoking and the fuel he kneaded earlier being consumed to invoke it. Beside him, I watched his shadow waiver slightly and felt it duplicating itself, is that it?

"Is that it?"

"Tsk!"

The Demon clicked its tongue and launched himself at me. I kept my eyes on the shadows I saw flicker earlier and it wavered once again before appearing to crawl up along the Demon's body. What a surprise it is, he must have applied a control magic to his duplicated shadows. Are they ethereal or corporeal in nature I wonder? As he approached near me, the shadow crawled along his arm to reach his hand. The Demon came in for a swipe, but his fist was aligned oddly as if he were grasping the handle of something. My instincts rang out and so I quickly invoked a short range teleportation, appearing a few meters behind him. He must not have registered my disappearance in time and he followed through with the slash. From his grip a shadow formed into a blade that stretched out. The terrain just behind where I was at became gouged out.

"Shadow manipulation?"

"Teleportation...? What kind of monster are you?"

"I do not think I enjoy being compared to you."

The Demon appeared to take interest in me once again, but I dismissed him since it seemed his determination to kill me only rose as well. I watched the flickering shadow slowly lift itself off the ground mirroring the General's appearance in black. It slowly peeled off from him and walked around to my side. The shadow creature didn't register the same as the failed summons. It would appear this Demon is similar to me in that our strength is not in physical combat, but instead magic manipulation. During my observations, more shadows peeled off and slowly began surrounding me. The initial shadow seemed slightly different than the others, but only if you consider it an alpha of the pack. Along with its status as alpha, it appeared capable of forming a blade as well.

I was able to feel the itchy instincts of the creepy black creatures surrounding me and so invoked a minor magic. The ground crystallized and like a seedling sprouting from the ground, a crystalline pole grew quickly reaching my height in a matter of seconds. The creatures were still peeling off from the Demon's shadow and I was not able to sense the upper limit of how many splits he could perform. Grabbing the crystalline staff, I shattered it from its base and twirled it a few times to familiarize myself with its weight, then launched myself into the mob of shadows.

***

Hiiro and Zirco were in the middle of their sprint nearing the edge of Profectus City. The two had lowered their bodies and leaned forward mid sprint maintaining their torsos nearly a meter off the ground. Every stride brought them 10 meters closer to the potential battlefield. As they sprinted, Hiiro was kneading as much mana as his body could maintain. Either the training or the adrenaline was assisting him as he was performing noticeably better than when he fought the wolves earlier. As mana coursed through his system, he continually enhanced the reinforcement magic applied against his body accelerating even further. Clearing a minor hill, he broke straight into a tree line dodging each trunk by slim margins while progressing. His heightened senses could feel the reverberations of combat through the ground in the shrinking distance. His fear that each pulse felt through the ground was a life lost drove him to further accelerate himself. Hiiro was now traveling at 15 meters per stride nearly breaking 220 kph with Zirco following immediately beside him. The sparsely dense trees hardly obstructed them, passing by their vision as momentary blurs.

The duo approached the end of the tree line breaking into an open field with flickering lights dancing less than 3 kilometers away on a smoldering hill. With his enhanced vision, Hiiro could just barely make out many figures wielding swords. By his count, at least 40 people were currently engaged in active combat against a figure he knew to be Lapis. He could make out dark spots on the ground he suspected were corpses, but the thought escaped him quickly as he refocused on his goal. At this point, Hiiro crossed over the remnants of what he thought were Human like corpses. The signs of intense combat were littered everywhere with broken gear and body parts missing their owners. While passing by a corpse, Hiiro tore a Katana that was left beside some remains throwing the corpse to the side in the process. He slid the sword into a scabbard he ripped from another corpse and returned to his pace and observations of the distant battlefield while counting the flickering lights and running along the edge of a massive ice wall. He couldn't see who Lapis was fighting against in the distance, but every 3 to 4 light flickers resulted in one being launched in the air across the battle field or smashed into the ground. Hiiro felt as if he were watching a dying sparkler that had been lit while laying on the ground.

The visceral pulses rippling through the ground along with the the quickly enlarging reflections of light and battle shouts assured Hiiro he was less than a kilometer away from his battle field. He was now able to clearly make out a hole in the ice wall. Every step now taken brought further details of the battle to light as he could now visually confirm shadow beasts slowly disintegrating from the falling drops of light. The sounds of combat became louder and with it, the sounds of pain. Hiiro and Zirco broke the edge of the hole and found themselves face to face with nearly 60 adventurers facing off against seven shadowy creatures. Hiiro kept his body moving to assist them only stopping to check for sings of life in the twitching corpses near him. He felt relief as he realized none of the bodies he checked were dead. Plenty of them will be sore and potentially missing limbs, but otherwise they were healthy enough to be saved if Lapis could make it back in time to heal them. He readied the sheath at his side before crossing the final barrier and plunging into the brightly lit battle zone.

***

Mr. Redmon quickly blocked a strike from a shadow creature, sliding a short distance in recoil. He recognized the hit he received just now was from him being distracted, but he couldn't help glancing back at the town. During the initial onslaught of the remaining creatures, they failed to hinder one of the monsters from getting past them. It broke through the final gate and entered the town. He couldn't hear screaming yet, but anyone who didn't evacuate was now in critical danger. Looking around at his peers, he could tell they were worried for the same reason. The distraction was too powerful to ignore though and so their fight wasn't going very well.

Two objects moving quickly towards them caught his attention from inside his peripheral range. With exhausted morale, he readied himself to issue more orders and thin the teams even further, but stopped after seeing the strange sight. A young man with black hair was racing towards them. Beside him, a creature that resembled a Demon was keeping up. The Demon didn't appear to be attacking the boy though and instead they seemed to be talking to each other. The two approached quickly covering the nearly 400 meter separation in a few seconds.

***

The old man ahead of us got knocked back when defending himself against one of the creatures. I could tell he was distracted somehow, but I couldn't tell if it was our presence or something similar. Zirco and I were approaching the scene rather quickly and I was able to grasp the number of creatures on site with ease.

"Zirco, help out this group. Lapis wanted to end it quick. I'm going to talk with the leader."

"This one understands."

I followed his form after he sped up and broke off from my position. Amazingly, he slammed straight into the side of one of the creatures that had yet to notice us. With that one action, he managed to slice it in half with his claws alone...

[Scary stuff... Now then...]

I found an older man dishing out orders during our approach. Though it wasn't as reliable as I'd like it to be, he's my best shot at finding a leader. I quickly approached his group in particular and the old man's eyes locked straight onto me. The creature must have noticed my approach after its ally was torn in half moments ago since it quickly moved to engage me. I saw a backhand motion headed my way and watched as it formed into an abnormally sharp blade tip. I dropped to my knees sliding underneath the blade and positioned myself just properly in front if it. I drew the sword as quickly as possibly and rended its torso from its legs. The sword I used for the task fractured instantly on contact, but managed to hold itself together through the remaining slash.

The two parts quickly fell to the ground and started disintegrating. Like true professionals, the troops that were fighting this creature immediately went to support their friends. When I glanced to the side at Zirco, I found him duking it out in a one on one against another beast... Is this shadow boxing?

"Boy, thanks for that help."

I remained fixated on the rapid exchange of blows between the Demon and Shadow creature.

"Yeah, no problem. My friend decided to jump in and help you guys, I'm just here to help her out."

Though I was still distracted by Zirco and admiring his mastery after seeing him perform a virtual superplex, I could tell the tension suddenly increased just from the old man's voice.

"Are you with that Fairy?"

"Yeah, but that's not important right now. You got another weapon I can have? There's a monster picking off people in town. I need to put that thing down before it paints the town red. Ah, that Demon is a friend as well. Don't hurt him."

I drew my sights back onto the man with enough time to watch him pale mid sentence. He quickly tossed his blade to me while talking.

"Take this as my thanks, boy. It wont break like them low grade ones. "

The old man ran off to join in on the other fights leaving me to my own devices. I sheathed the blade while witnessing Zirco performing a brainbuster slam on the shadow. The poor creature's head hit so hard it distorted the ground immediately below it. I watched in silence along with 14 others as Zirco got himself back up and rushed to assist with another shadow. Was he a wrestler...?

I pushed the question to the back of my mind and sprinted towards the unsettling feeling in town.

***

Countess Sugimoto had been wandering through town at a quick pace for hours now. Her face revealed clear exhaustion and was slightly pale from dehydration. Her legs were shaking and she was drenched in sweat from all the running she had done. She fell with her back against the side of a building gasping for air and slowly slid down the wall until she was sitting. She was ordered to evacuated by Mr. Redmon earlier in the day, but she was still unable to find her maidservant. Fearing she was trampled somewhere in town during a panicked evacuation, Aria continued her search running from one side of the town to another nearly non-stop. She had yet to even find a trace her of maid though.

Nearing her limits, she looked North to the smoldering hill. Although her sight wasn't enhanced, she could tell a fierce fight was happening at the top of the hill. Various plumes of dust erupted into the air occasionally and a dark blur grew in size every once in a while before shrinking back down. She knew the hill crest was were the Demon General was over seeing the battle from. The fact that a battle was happening there means either Mr. Redmon won the battle and pushed to the crest, or he thought they would lose and that fight is the final effort to win... She wished terribly that they were winning.

She caught her breath and raised herself onto her legs using the wall as a support. Now that she rested, her cooled legs started to cramp slightly making her mince in pain. She was rubbing her calf using the wall as a support when she heard a clattering noise come from the main roadway. Although she knew the chances were small, she got her hopes up slightly and rushed from the alleyway into the main square looking around for the source. Rather than running to the sight of her maidservant Roxanne Delphi, Aria sucked in air quickly and froze in place after encountering a shadow poking around an alleyway in the distance. It was poking the various windows, barrels and stalls as if searching for anything that reacts. Feeling the dangerous nature of her situation, Aria backed up silently until she reached the alleyway she just left. She released her breath and started gasping for air.

Fearing the worst, she entered the inner depths of the alleyway once again. Though frustrated at her inability to find her maid, even Aria's stubbornness wasn't powerful enough to take her face to face with a creature she couldn't fight. As she picked up speed, her heels clicking against the ground echoed off the walls. She had felt she was far enough away from the creature and assumed the risk, but she underestimated the silence of an abandoned city. The echoes reflected amongst the buildings catching the shadow creature's attention.

It froze in place on contact with the sound before jerking immediately in the direction of the remote alleyway. Ignoring all semblance of functional walking, the shadow tripped on itself while racing towards the sound. The buildings unfortunate enough to brake its fall had walls crumble away. The trail of destruction left behind would make one wonder what type of tornado landed in the city.

The sounds of collapse and ricocheting debris caught up with Aria. She paled on realization that the creature was on her trail. Fleeing the increasingly voluminous sounds trailing her, she attempted to break through a main road and sprint to the back gate of the city. If she could get outside the city, the soft grass and local riverside should help conceal her. Though her efforts were grand and she neared the exit, the scene in front of her showered in concrete and rubble as the shadow creature tumbled through a shop connected to another alleyway. She halted her steps and slowly backed away trying to maintain a calm, efficient, breath but quickly turned and sprinted when the creature looked directly at her. She could feel the pressure as it slowly gained on her and the repeated slams and shattering stone of the ground behind her bolstered her adrenal response. She took a turn at full speed tearing her ankle sideways and toppling her over herself. Refusing to give up and using the adrenaline coursing her system, she righted herself and continued her sprint with a subtle limp.

A final crash behind her and she knew she was caught. The creature couldn't have been more than 20 meters behind her and she knew her ankle was too injured to outrun it. In her panic, she chose the only option she had since the beginning and continued her run. Cold tears streamed down her pale face and her rasp breathing served only to remind her of her weakness. Her full trot pushed her damaged ankle to its limit causing her to collapse and roll on top of herself once more. She raised her head and the last thing she saw before everything went black was a pitch black creature rushing her in a mid lunge.

***

Hiiro was rapidly encroaching to the center of town. He didn't have a particular destination in mind and instead chose to follow his instincts. As if a compass in his mind, he followed the direction an itch pressured him towards without second thought. Nearly 10 blocks away, he watched a plume of dust raise to the heavens and his hearing picked up the collapsing sound to accompany it. He quickly changed direction and went straight for the noise utilizing his physical enhancements to leap to the roof of a nearby store and bound from building to building. He saw another plume of smoke and watched the building below it collapse in the distance. He was close enough now to see the last vestiges of a dark creature slip into an alleyway with the dust as cover.

Two collapses later, he was close enough to feel the rumbles of the creature tearing into the ground as it ran. He broke a turn only to witness a blond haired woman trip over herself and tumble over the ground. The creature he was hunting was right behind her and so he accelerated his pace further shattering the stone tile behind him. The woman appeared to faint while the creature was leaping towards her and she failed to notice a young man dressed in black connect his fist straight into the beast, launching it back into another building. The rumbling of debris striking stone stirred the woman from her temporary state.

***

Moderately sized craters littered the ground around a small crimson Fairy with Azure eyes. Each hole held an indention of a Humanoid creature. She looked around at the sight with a face of disappointment before refocusing her gaze on the final two humanoids in front of her. Her staff was starting to show signs of wear and tear with cracks spreading from obvious grip locations. The crystalline material held up amazingly well, but was simply unable to withstand the repeated blows leveraged across it. The Fairy wielding it took notes for the future to improve it if she ever created it again.

Lapis hardly broke a sweat during the exchange of blows against the various shadows. Her curiosity rose slightly during the fight though as the Demon appeared to continually pull punches. Her thoughts revolved around traps and trickery, but she was confident the Demon in front of her lacked such intelligence. The perplexing situation drove her to maintain caution and attempt to reach out once more.

"Can we not settle this peacefully?"

"I'll give you one last chance to get the fuck on your knees."

"May I speak to your leader?"

"Are you ignoring this great me?! Get the fuck down now!"

"I understand..."

The Fairy's expression instantly turned cold. With this, diplomatic discussions have been taken entirely off the table in her mind. She lowered the Demon's value to practically nothing and only assessed the remaining strength of the Demon and its final shadow beside it. She felt a dense mana residing inside that shadow, it was perhaps the most powerful one. She circulated the mana she kneaded and measured the strength to stay around the range of a Fairy before starting a light run towards the Demon.

The gentle nature of the run when compared to the Fairy's previously near imperceptible movements sent a refined chill through the Demon's spine. His pride and ego were already poked though and his emotions were already controlling him. He sent a mental order to his shadow for support and the two morphed shadow swords into their hands before charging the Fairy.

Anyone near the crest watching would see before their eyes General Zannon and his primary shadow engaged in close quarters, tag team, combat against a winged Fairy holding a staff. The two utilized light footwork and heavy teamwork to cover the weaknesses shown by either one. When the General Zannon thrust his sword at the Fairy, she would calmly side step it before pivoting the staff in one hand to attempt a blow on him. The shadow creature would cover the missed thrust by engaging the staff mid swing and transfer the power into the ground buying time for the General to recover. Each swing the shadow blocked dug its feet into the ground but continually bought enough time for the General to fix his stance and continue his offense of quick slashes. The Fairy parried the Shadow's sword by quickly inverting the staff's swing direction knocking its blocking sword into the air shattering its stance. The shattered stance allowed the Fairy enough time to pivot around its center of gravity and intercept the slashes fired by the General. The Fairy instantly formed a shortened stake in her right hand to block the slash while backing off from the shadow. General Zannon fractured the ground behind him accelerating beside the Fairy before unleashing a series of vertical and horizontal strikes. Adapting her momentum to swivel the staff, the Fairy deflected each strike showering the scene with sparks. Before the Fairy was able to utilize her free side, the General reengaged sparing no time and maintained pressure on her. This fierce back and forth combat appeared to repeat itself as the Demon and its shadow refused to allow Lapis any distance for large scale magic.

General Zannon and his shadow kept switching between offense and defense rotating the roles between each other to reduce fatigue. The absolute control he had of his shadow was clearly showing. His shadow rushed in with a powerful horizontal slash forcing Lapis to block. Expecting the block, General Zannon slipped behind her and launched a quick slash at the feet to disable macro movement. Unfortunately, the blocked slash was not blocked, but instead parried towards the ground as the Fairy pivoted on its center of balance dodging the ground slash as well.

The momentary mistake in prediction coupled with both the shadow and General going offensive at the same time allowed Lapis to immediately launch a counter attack with her shin. The shadow was unable to dodge or deflect with its stance broken during the parry forcing it to accept it completely. The mana coving its outside for shielding shattered sparks as it tumbled off the crest and onto the molten hillside. The kick was clearly beyond its capability to absorb. Utilizing the offensive from Lapis, the General Zannon maintained his rotation from the earlier slash digging in with his heels and accelerating the blade once more to slash without delay. The shadow sword sliced through Lapis cleaving her in half without any resistance. Anxiety plowed through General Zannon as he watched the nearly impossible scene unfurl before him. The Fairy blurred as the blade sliced through it tearing it in half. She appeared behind the General in the next instant before the after image even disappeared. The impossible speed tricked the General into believing he was victorious as he was unable to sense the Fairy behind him. Moments later, the General was launched through the air just like his shadow.

Unlike his shadow, General Zannon was launched onto the other side of the hill. Unlike its molten counterpart, this side was instead filled with rocky outcrops. Regaining his senses mid fall, the Demon quickly righted himself moments before slamming into a small plateau. Though he was standing and conscious, it was hardly more than that. His focus was fading in and out from the previous smash and the right side of his chest showed clear signs of massive damage with its distorted shape. His breathing was painful and his mind foggy, yet his senses refused to surrender and alerted him to Lapis' presence abruptly appearing before him.

On reflex, he twisted his body allowing only a portion of his arm to come in contact with the crimson Fairy's hand. His mind quickly cleared when the vibrant pain shot straight through it. He stumbled lightly away and grasped the source of his pain but found nothing there. The arm he went to hold in pain was completely gone. In its place. a bleeding stump with a stub of a bone protruding out. The muscles surrounding the bone were completely torn and dangling as if an animal ripped at it for food. He had no idea what happened and before he could even process the event fully, the crimson Fairy appeared before him once more as if she materialized out of thin air. He watched in near slow motion as the staff she swung with all her momentum packed into it smashed against his chest. He felt his sternum shatter and choked on the blood it forced into his lungs. He only slid backwards slightly from the hit due to sheer luck. The staff shattered along the hilt during the last impact and negated a huge portion of the power behind it and yet his body trembled at the thought of the damage he received anyhow.

The pulsing sensations of pain in his arm kept General Zannon from losing consciousness and he quickly took his distance from the creature he was starting to fear. He watched as the Fairy gather obscene quantities of kneaded mana and focused it towards her hand. Even without warning, he knew he had to dodge whatever was about to happen and so he moved before the blast even started. That movement saved his life as all around him, explosions rippled and tore the ground asunder. His missing arm spurted blood with every exertion he made to dodge.

Two more nearly solid beams of light flickered across the ground next to him and the marked areas swelled before exploding once again. It was obvious the distress he was in by the sweat pouring off him in copious quantities. The previous explosions blocked his view and he tried to ignored the rubble pelting his sides as he scanned for the cursed creature. She disappeared entirely from his sights and her mana presence vanished. Without mercy, a soft, icy, voice broke the silence.

"You should not look away in the middle of battle."

"...!"

The beautiful red butterfly with the shape and mana of a Fairy suddenly materialized in front of him. His sights went to quickly lock onto her, but her clasped hand moving towards him instilled a sense of dread that forced him to fling himself to the ground in desperation. The hand passed above where he had just been ripping the space itself apart. He knew that ability destroyed his other arm previously and was adamant to not let it happen again. Knowing the situation was clearly disadvantageous to him, General Zannon prepared himself to continue the depressing fight.

***

I held my fist in my hand from the pain of the hit. The backlash was far more than I expected. It might look like a shadow, but its sure as hell harder than rock.

[Thinking back... That sword did shatter when I tried to slash it...]

Waiving my hand slightly, I felt the pain slowly ease out of it. I could feel the woman I saved stirring and a slight sense of satisfaction floated through me.

[It seems she'll be fine. The problem is that shadow. I wont be able to surprise it again... If I used the sword on it, I could of killed the lady...]

Frankly, I felt I was stuck between two problems. I chose a blunt strike to knock the beast back in order to halt its momentum. I feared that its momentum alone would of carried a portion of its body through to smash the woman if I sliced it and I still felt that was correct but...

[What now...? I don't exactly have long range attacks and this sword isn't gonna hold up to more than two or three strikes...]

I looked down at the scabbard and the sword contained within it. The old man previously said it wouldn't shatter in similar fashion, but I found that hard to believe.

[Well, they can just replace it with another after this battle ends.]

"They probably wont be too stingy... right?"

I chatted with myself as I pulled the Katana from its sheath and started walking towards the creature. The woman was still sitting still, perhaps she was dazed? I kept my focus on the creature regaining its balance while sneaking a peak at the lady I saved.

[Ooooh? Quite the gorgeous blond... She might give Lapis a run for her money...]

I snickered at the thought before returning my gaze to the shadow. It righted itself and crawled from the wreckage of the buildings that collapse onto it. I couldn't see any particular damage on the surface of its exterior, but I took a little pride in seeing a slight dent near where my punch landed. As I watched it scramble onto the roadway, the thought 'I never really saw one of these up close', crossed my mind. It didn't look disgusting per se, but the skin of the creature reminded me of viscous oil from Earth. I was confident though, based off that punch and sword strike earlier, that its skin may as well be iron or steel.

Drawing the Katana the old man gave me, I took a defensive stance and remembered the training Lapis put me through on the way here. It wasn't something that could make a massive difference, but I knew my stamina increased a little and my agility spiked for sure. Even now, I can hardly feel the exhaustion of maintaining physical reinforcement for the entire duration of the sprint. Feeling my confidence oozing from every pore of my body, I engaged the monster ensuring to keep a safe distance from the woman behind me.

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A note from Justin Sterling

I feel this chapter can be better and its shortness is from that. I wanted to try swapping scenes quickly between different areas, perspectives, and scenes and although it felt smoother later on, I feel the opening was a little too abrupt. Along with the that, the story is about to start increasing in various sexual encounters, brutal situations and graphic imagery. The tags were included properly so... Just another warning I guess.

 

Tell me what you think if possible about the transitions and if you think they worked or not. I have three different rewrites of this chapter thanks to my own frustrations on the subject (thus the 8k-ish size).


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Justin Sterling

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