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The Demon Queen Mestopholees laughs wickedly and sprouts two massive demon wings out from her back. She throws off the Amaranth armor she wears for extra protection, and tosses down her suit jacket. She rolls up the sleeves of her shirt, showing off her muscled arms, and flashes her sharp fangy teeth.

“Been a long time since we’ve sparred,” she says. “I was still Miss M, that puny little imp.”

“You were an adorable imp,” I say. “And I assume you were at a fraction of your power now.”

“Not even a full percent of it. Rare’s power sealing worked tremendously, just as it did with your [Demigod] abilities.”

I create a physical form once more, holding myself together as best as I can so that I can actually fight with some semblance of my real strength.

“So you’re a fully-powered demon, while I’m an astrally projecting ghost whose seal has not been broken and whose true form rests in another world entirely. It seems like a fair fight is not possible.”

“Then you just have to fight better.”

“Indeed.”

Mestopholees flies into the air and launches a [Fireball] in my direction. I somersault to dodge and throw one back in return; luckily, I do have a few combat skills in my Destiny Card hand right now, so I am not completely defenseless.

She catches my [Fireball] and absorbs it into herself. Then she licks her lips.

“[Dark Aura!]”

As the name implies, a shroud of purple and black spreads out all across the palace throne room, and as it encapsulates me, I feel physics itself altering. No longer do my jumps and swerves move with the same momentum, nor do the steps I take propel me like my body expects. Now, I’m simultaneously being slid around like a ragdoll, but also slowed down to a sluggish crawl.

I’m in a vortex of predictably unpredictable action. My mind is hardly able to keep up with all the changes. So, even though I see Mestopholees coming in slow motion, I am unable to adequately dodge her sharp-claws. They ram right into me, and I feel in a smooth stroke the paralyzing scratch of a demon’s toxins.

This astral body is useless.

So I discard it, and it dissipates in seconds. The pain vanishes from me that very second. Then, I astrally project another body—right behind Mestopholees.

I grab onto her wings and pull!

“Yeowch!” she shrieks.

Now, as she flails around trying to wrest control, I steer her around and then dive straight into the floor. Her head hits the marble and skids along until it comes to a screeching stop against a pillar. I jump off, catapulting much faster than I ever expected due to the vortex—and then I, too, land face first.

By the time I get back up on my feet, Mestopholees is already in the air again, and not a second later does she send a large sphere of water with the [Aquaball] skill.

The water is massive and weighty, and if if collides with me at top speeds it could crush me. But thanks to the vortex around us, it starts to rip apart even as it exits Mestopholees’s hands. The giant pool breaks up into two, then three, then six, then twelve. They move more slowly, more gently, and give me the opening I need.

I jump as high as I can, right into the lowest fragment, and swim up to its top. When I emerge, I jump into that next pool and continue it all the way up to where Mestopholees is floating with her wings flapping.

She sees me coming a minute away. She’s fully prepared to pummel me the moment I reach her. And I have planned for exactly that eventuality, because I’m not quite as much of an idiot as I portray sometimes.

She readies her claws to strike me again. And right as she lets loose—I dissipate my astral body!

With all the power I can muster, far beyond exhaustion, I form a brand new body, right above the vortex, and send it blasting horizontally towards Mestopholees. My fist collides with her cheek and makes an extremely satisfying crunch.

She spins around so fast that she almost looks like one of those “beyblade” discs that Francis sometimes mentioned. If I can just hit her one more time, I’ll be able to end this spar, potentially.

Or at least, that is what my wishful thinking gave me for about five seconds. Unfortunately, my strongest punch in astral form is still a minuscule level of strength compared to the defenses of a demon. I am and have always been unsure of what class Mestopholees actually is, but it certainly is not one with low defenses.

She corrects course too quickly for me to respond to, and unforutnately I also have gravity to deal with; I fall back into the vortex and physics alter themselves around me once more.

Mestopholees grabs me by the foot and it’s all over from there. She bashes me against walls, throws me back and forth, and I’m too weak to conjure up another astral projection with any strategic advantage. So I let this final body dissipate, return to my ghostly self, and concede.

The battle is over, and I lost.

Mestopholees, for her part, lands on the floor with grace and gives a few courtesy claps. “You’ve got a lot ahead of you,” she says, “but you’re on the right track. Better than I could have said before the fight.”

“Thank you for your kind words. They are undeserved.”

“You’re going to make a good system ruler one day, once we conquer Mystix.” Mestopholees looks off as if deep in thought.

“No matter how many times I say it, you’ll never understand my wishes, will you?” I ask.

“When I beat you in a fight THAT easily,” she replies, “your wishes have no bearing on anything at all.” She clenches a fist and sparks come flying out. “You made me use less than eight percent of my power.”

“Oh, come on, don’t Sha’a Gi me,” I say, referring to the namesake of the mythical [Warrior] of Mystix who reached the maximum [Power] stat of 999 through luck and Destiny hacking. He was famous for his laconic phrases and taunts of how little his foes moved him.

“I’m not joking. It’s true.”

“Oh...”

“Listen, it’s only a couple years before we’re ruling Mystix, at best,” she says. “So you need to get used to it as soon as you can. We can conquer everything together, and maybe even get System Married to seal the deal. Not real married, obviously, but I think a union of our Destiny Decks could bring both of us true greatness. Don’t you?”

“I...”

It’s not worth responding. Mestopholees has made up her mind, and the path of a warlord is exactly what she has chosen. Whether or not she actually wants it, I am unsure. But it is the path she will go on likely for the rest of her life.

And so will I, apparently.

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Thedude3445

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Mikayla Buan. https://twitter.com/mikayla_buan

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