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Rocks pelted the world below like a dull hailstorm. A dust storm washed over the golden Showgrounds. The malevolent symphony swayed the dusty plumes to its tune, moving it like a pulsing wave.

Res was the cause of all this showering debris. Her beams bombarded the surrounding walls and ceiling of the ever-bright cavern, plunging it into an artificial night. There were no stars in this subterranean night sky. Only Moons.

Her enemy this time around was an eyeless monkey-man, clad in a golden robe with a pair of severed hands covering their disgustingly furry face. If she didn’t know any better, she would have believed they were a Beastkin dressed in cult-like apparel.

It did not help that she could not find the Impuritas Origin either in its stat page.

 

Blind Paw

LEVEL : 100 ORIGIN : Demi-Human

HP : 15,000

ATT : 2,000 MAG ATT : 0

RESIST : 100

AGI : 50

 

Frost possessed a superior version of the Blessing of the Nexus which allowed her to see things unseeable to even powerful Blessed like herself.

She had to wonder just what else Frost knew. Or rather, just what were the Archetypes in the first place. The intrusive thoughts were only natural after the spire of flames scorched the entirety of their sector.

Granted, she knew Frost could manifest a fire-type Corrupted. But she had never seen that kind of flame. The kind that stuck to surfaces like a liquid, with a flame that stubbornly refused to die out even in the absence of kindle or fuel.

“Sister of the handless Moon. Do you enjoy watching people suffer around you? You’ve yet to hit your mark. Are you by chance blind?”

Res was far too levelheaded to be riled up by its words. This was externally however, as the mere mention of her handless sister caused her blood to boil. She glared at the heinous Monkey man as she stood her ground at the center of a burning battlefield.

Her speed was not needed here. Res was not the kind who fought on all fours like her sisters. She was methodical and fought from afar primarily. Yet she could not manage to land a single shot against her blind foe.

Res was awfully aware that something was awry. It was as if she was shooting at an afterimage. Her eyes sharply narrowed as she struggled to track the seemingly flying Monkey-man.

He was like a ghastly aberration with the sole purpose of tormenting her. But this was not the only reason why she fired beam after beam. Following it were droves of the handless Bers.

“Why couldn’t you help yourself Res!?”

“You how much it hurt me!”

“I hated it when you could only stand there and watch!”

She only incapacitated them. Res could not bear to outright kill them, even if they were no more than paper. She found herself trapped inside of a vivid nightmare as she singed the legs of the crying Ber.

They desperately sought to break her psyche, as per usual with the Animals.

They don’t bleed correctly. Those things must be made by the Pages. But since when were these monsters working together!?

Res could not wrap her mind around how these vastly different creatures would ever join hands. She was no expert on the monstrosities that were the Hearts, or the entities they created, but she knew that under normal circumstances they were competitors.

But this was not all that baffled Res.

“How does it feel to pretend like you can see!? Deep down you’re blinder than the children of our Complex. You are a twisted Moon~” The beast taunted, his voice heavily distorted as Res tried to predict his position, firing her beams ahead of his trajectory.

I know that effect. That’s a Cognition Scrambler. It distorts one’s perception of a certain target. The target must be itself from what I can tell. How reckless. It’s supposed to be useless against anything with a RESIST stat over 80, but RESIST doesn’t seem to be working here.

A piece of CogitO’s technology was somehow in their greedy hands. Normal people, let alone monsters, should not even be able to conceive of utilizing their products. They were almost an Atelier Skill in itself.

And not to mention that the side effect of using such a tool was largely detrimental to the end user. Not many people aside from Moons and above had over 80 RESIST to begin with. It altered one’s sense of reality. It induced delirium, insanity, and it twisted their sense of the truth at best to fit whatever fairy tale they lived in.

But Res figured that this Impuritas had lost their mind long ago.

The numbers only continued to stack. Paper balls sprouted into giant egg sacks which hatched with her young, crying sister. They’d be reduced to a crawling state, most of them without any limbs as they endlessly blamed Res for their suffering.

She knew it was all a lie. But deep-down Res truly did lament the incidents that led to them losing various parts of their bodies to the humans that raided their village on that horrible afternoon.

But even so – that was all that this creature knew. It straw-manned her. There was only so little it knew of their past, but this little window was one of the largest events of their life.

Because they were introduced to D-13 shortly afterwards.

And then…

… I never liked my weakness either. Even after Serum S I didn’t know what to do anymore. So long as I’m with my sisters then everything will be fine. Everything will be fine… So don’t…

“Don’t you dare try to twist our current happiness!” Res hissed, unleashing an even fiercer barrage of beams. The only reason she hadn’t outright obliterated him was due to the sheer number of casualties that’d follow.

Frost’s philosophy of saving lives was, quite ironically, not something that any Moon possessed. In her line work it was normal for people to die. It was not that she couldn’t save them outright. She could, but only in the form of defeating the Corrupted that threatened their lives.

If they were in the way… then so be it. Such was the cruel reality when faced with a threat on the scale of the Corrupted. As for here; Res restrained herself to the best of her abilities. To begin with, the difficulty was strangely lacking for something of the Eternal Night risk-class.

Her intuition told her that there was more to it than what met the eye.

“You can speak! And hear! But your sight is severely lacking. Moon of wolf-like origins – You and I have much in common.” The Monkey Man cackled tauntingly.

Hoards of handless Bers crawled over the crater-filled street. They navigated over gorges created by her attacks as rock fell and crushed them. As a Moon for nearly 30 years there was little that could gnaw at her heart.

It pained her to see her sister look-alikes perish before her eyes as she tried to figure out the cause of their nullified RESIST stat. She could still resist much of the heat. But her mind could barely resist the effects of the Cognition Scrambler.

The tool was powerful. Much like the Infusions; these were strictly limited in quantity. How they were even able to receive one was beyond her, and it wove the idea that another traitor of the Nexus was among their ranks.

Their battle was hardly long lived. They had only fought for less than 5 minutes, and yet she felt that hours had already elapsed. It wasn’t long until there were so many Bers that she had to finally move from her position.

There were dozens teeming everywhere now. Even without their limbs they injured and incapacitated the fleeing people. They bit, clawed, and electrocuted anyone they could find.

“Relinquish yourself, Wolf. Take pleasure in their despair. That is what hope is, right? You can see it too, can’t you!?”

“I cannot believe that no one in the Nexus considered you things of an equal threat to the Corrupted.” Res growled, despising the Nexus’ lacking efforts. The Impuritas were not a recent phenomenon. It was only their true name which had recently come to light.

The Hearts have existed for almost as long as the Ateliers had. At this point she profusely agreed with Frost that the Ateliers were undoubtably the cause for their appearance, although the how was the larger question.

An Advent was likely the answer. If an Advent could create the technologies, then perhaps an Advent could create something that mirrored the Ateliers in some way. Res only allowed this thought to populate her mind as she could not bear to kill her sister’s doppelgangers.

People would call her weak. A coward if they saw her hesitate like this. But for Res, there was no greater pain than seeing her sisters hurt. Even seperating for an hour was too much for her heart to bear.

Because whenever they ever did separate…

Cer’s tongue and teeth. Ber’s hands. And my eyes. Mom’s murder. Dad’s disappearance. Raoul’s distance… I hate this. I’d give anything to stop seeing this.

But then I’d be just like that thing! Ber – I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!

Res was mentally cornered. If it were up to her, then she’d have someone else do the deed. Her eyes began to glow a bright blue as she charged up her electrical beam, which was named Arc Shot.

She targeted a good bundle of the false Bers, preparing to take them out indiscriminately until she heard a voice call out to her.

“S-Stop! Please… P-Please. Please stop ruining everything!”

It was Stella. She paused and turned towards a trembling girl. She emerged from a gorge created from one of her attacks. Res knew that even though she did hold back, people were still killed as a result.

Stella undoubtably… saw them as the enemy because of this. The young girl desperately clung onto a severed hand, believing that the owner was still following her.

“I thought you were all good people! I thought you wanted to help us! I… I was wrong! I’m sorry… I’m sorry everyone. So please… please if you just wanted out food then stop hurting everyone!” Stella cried, weeping as she only vaguely spoke in Res’ direction.

“Is it not delightful to you? Does it not inspire you? This oh so euphoric sensation of our hopes from their despair! I know you understand!”

“Stella… I know you can hear them! This – all of it is for the best! You’re suffering right now! We’re trying to help everyone!”

“But… B-but – Everyone’s… everyone’s… you’re hurting them! Some of my friends won’t talk to me! They’re become mush!” Stella cried.

Res felt sick to her stomach. She always despised the deaths she caused, but it was not like she wasn’t used to it. But with Stella’s cries, alongside Bers, and the blame that pinned her in place – She’d be lying if she said that it did not whittle her stoic shell.

She largely ignored it, however. The Monkey, however invincible it seemed, was taking damage. In fact, it’s HP had dropped to as low as 2,000 over time due to him accumulating burn stacks. His RESIST was high, but that did not make him immune to whatever Frost’s bizarre fire was.

He was willingly burning himself. Res had to wonder just what their intention was as Stella staggered towards her.

“STAY AWAY FROM US STELLA!” She exclaimed, but the girl, for some reason, refused to listen.

“I-I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” The girl cried, tripping over her own feet which were cut and bruised. She dropped the hand and a certain Page slipped from her grasp.

Stella, however clumsy she was, tried to plant that onto her. Res was certain of it. The girl cried in a shallow pool of blood and tears. At some point one of these monsters must have forced her into this.

The Blind Paw clicked his tongue in annoyance.

“Useless… It’s no wonder Leitmotif had no use for you. You were better off having your liver used as an alcoholic satchel, and your intestines as a wonderful, oh so golden scarf. We were close to gathering a second piece of a Moon – You – YOU REACHER OF FALSE STARS –!”

His words were instantly cut short. Res watched as his body suddenly exploded, right before a loud bang caused her ears to droop. The phenomenon was something she had witnessed numerous times by the sky machines created by Caldera Industries.

Where they’d shoot a massive, metal rod from countless kilometers above. Then, one would hear the crack of thunder. She expected it to be Ber, or even Cer for that matter. After the anticlimactic shower of gore subsided, and as the wailing Bers were killed by an electric claw – A certain well-endowed Frost appeared.

And by endowed, she meant her womanly sizes. In fact, this Frost was taller.

Huh? Did she get a new Corrupted form?

She emerged with a Justica Arms, and she donned a beautiful garb that was reminiscent of Beholder Galia’s; an apparel of war which was widely worn in her far away homeland. It was just missing a copious number of feathers.

Now that she was a meter a way, with Ber rapidly approaching – She also realized that it was just like Frost’s coat… just without the feathers. The woman before her saluted as a question mark suddenly appeared over her head.

Oh. It’s one of those ‘alter’ Frosts. Or ‘other’?

Res always wondered how these mental projections worked.

“Mhm. Thank you for your help… but it’s weird. It’s like he was expecting to die.” Res pointed out as Ber lunged right at her, clinging lovingly onto her neck. “… thanks.”

“You didn’t apologize. That’s all that matters. Res. Look at me. Are you ok?” Ber clutched onto her shoulders and stared deeply into her eyes.

Res, as usual, said yes. But Ber didn’t let her go. She knew well that Res was mentally worn out. The fight may have been short, but it felt it wouldn’t be the last time this would happen.

It felt like they were testing her mental capacity. To see what would break her. And luckily; they were not able to steal a part of her past…

However that works. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Did they do the same to Cer?

Worry clouded her mind. Ber thought of the exact same thing. The bigger Frost wandered by and patted them both on the head motherly, before the symbol of a coin with a large X crossed through it appeared.

“Free head pats?” Ber somehow deciphered her language.

The alter Frost nodded. Her demeanor was as stiff as a brick, but her mental projections were quite the opposite.

Then, the big Frost marched over to Stella and offered her a hand.

“… you… you are…? Who are you? U-um… mm. I-I guess… I guess I deserve it. C-can you make… *hic*… make it painless? At least… in my final moments I won’t have to feel pain – so –!”

“Stella!”

“You’re ok!”

“We were worried about you when the Blind Paw took you away!”

A bunch of blind children suddenly rushed from a crevice in the same direction that the alter Frost had appeared from. Res could not see her stats, so she had to assume that she was a Corrupted.

A good Corrupted!

The alter Frost had been busy rescuing people in Frost’s stead. These were the same children who lived in the underpass. Res was… astonished that Frost, who was stronger than herself and far more destructive, still managed to find a way to help people.

Even if this fire was her fault to begin with.

“A-Aster!? Everyone… Oh no. U-Um – They’re – Please don’t hurt them!” Stella exclaimed.

The children were wary of Ber and Res. They knew they were the source of the countless deaths that occurred throughout their Complex. A few retreated to the big Frost’s side, clutching at her clothes.

Now that she realized it, they weren’t blind anymore. A train of children followed the big Frost until they reached Stella.

“U-Um…” She could sense someone’s looming presence.

She instinctively flinched as the Frost reached a hand to touch her, and upon doing so; her wounds disappeared. That was without a doubt Greater Healing. Stella was flabbergasted in an instant.

“A-Another Angel!?” Stella shrieked with renewed vigor.

“Yeah! It’s an Angel in black! But she doesn’t have wings! I’m surprised!” Aster, the eldest one, described her for Stella.

Although, however enthusiastic they were, Res could visibly see them shake as they spoke.

This was still not over yet. From what Ber told her, there should only be one more Monkey left since this was the Triple Paw Complex, after all.

They could only hope for Cer’s perseverance.

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A note from Syringe

Picture of Big Frost/Hired Arm!

wider_big_frost.png


About the author

Syringe

Bio: A person wanting to share their imagination.

I post mainly here on Royal Road, although you can catch my story on Scribble Hub.

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