The first act. One vs many in the field of plenty.
The moon hung high in the sky, surrounded by the endless twinklings of distant stars. The moonlight revealed a vast field of flowers that stretched as far as the eye could see. All the flowers were some shade of red- madder, crimson, poppy, rose, and so on. All the shades of red in the consciousness of man were contained in this very flower field.
Including the shade of blood; particularly dried blood after it had been left out for a few hours. Such as the blood that was currently undergoing that process after it was spilled from the neck hole of a decapitated man, whose corpse was facing downwards. His assailant, a red-haired man twenty-five years of age dressed in a black trenchcoat, chose this area for the purpose of concealing what was about to happen here. Or what already happened here.
“So, the rest of you going to come forth or not?” From the thin air behind his back, he pulled out an extremely large sword. This sword was so large as to be just as long as his body and ‘only’ as wide as his shoulders, straight in blade with a cross hilt. Despite the sword being bigger than just about any other made in this world, he wielded it with just one hand. Not only that, he did not have the slightest hint of strain on his face or his body. He stood tall and proud, staring at the people in front of him- men. Fifteen was their number, and they ranged a far variety of ages; the oldest in their early forties. Their pale faces were affixed with just the slightest hint of fear, which kept their eyes wide and their voices silent.
“I mean, I did just decapitate your friend with my bare hand, and now I have a sword larger than your hopes and dreams. Any reasonable person would have run by now.” Said the man, speaking in a playful tone. To him, this was just a game, a joke. Normal humans did not treat these kinds of scenarios like jokes, but the men remained ignorant of what else this man could be. “Unless you guys are ideologically motivated.” He paused. “Yeah, you guys probably are. I am a foreigner, after all. Go ahead, kill me.”
It was at that moment the men rushed forwards, knives in hand. Their fear washed away and was replaced with anger- anger at the dirty foreigner in front of them, anger for their deceased friend, anger borne from their ideology. They shouted curses as they surrounded the foreigner and stabbed in unison.
Then, their fear came back- as their knives didn’t even scratch his clothing let alone nick his flesh. His blue eyes looked into the ideologue directly in front of him. In his eyes were many things. Anger. Disappointment. Hatred. And yet, it was nothing compared to the overwhelming feeling of amusement present in him.
“Okay. I guess you chose death.” With one swing, the man swung his sword in a 360-degree arc. The attackers felt only a slight bump in their abdomens. For a moment, they appeared to be whole- like nothing had happened. Looking at each other with confusion, they had come to the conclusion that the foreigner had missed on purpose. They would try again, and again until their hits rang true and he fell with dozens of knife wounds on his body.
Then, one of them fell. Not in one piece, but in two parts- his body from the waist up and his body from the waist down. The connection between the torso and legs had been severed and with it came a burst of blood. His spine was cleanly cut by a blade sharper than any mundane one, and the same applied to his intestines- which were spilled all over the ground.
One after another, the other men met the same fate. The last thing running through their minds were curses- addressed towards the foreigner- and apologies to their family, their friends, and their leader. Just like that, all the assailants were dead, slain by one man. He looked over the now cooling corpses, which would begin to rot given enough time. Can’t have that.
With a thought, a hole in space appeared next to the man. It was blue in color and was flat in texture- like a child’s untrained smears with a paintbrush. Soon, something came out of that hole. It wasn’t anything like an animal you would see grazing in the fields.
Or walking in the jungle.
Or flying in the sky.
No, it was a totally alien creature, a ball covered in a wide assortment of arms and legs.
Some were spindly and feathered.
Others, thick and scaled.
Yet others made of chitin and spiked.
On the top of its head was a single eyestalk, staring at the one who had summoned it. What made matters even more bizarre is that it appeared to be made out of smoke. A thick, dense smoke but still smoke nonetheless. It interacted with the environment like a normal being would, too- the grass was flattened underneath its weight. Three times as large as the man, it stared down.
“YOU. YOU SUMMONED ME HERE. I ASSUME IT’S FOR CLEAN-UP DUTIES?” Its voice was loud and harsh. Like the rubbing of glass. Like the scraping of a fork on plates. But the man was unfazed as if he had heard a thousand things worse.
“Yeah. Eat those corpses, there’s fifteen of them. I killed them myself.”
“DID YOU USE THE ADAMANTITE OR THE JADE ONE? YOU KNOW JADE IS DANGEROUS TO A DAIMON LIKE ME, YES?”
“Yeah, don’t worry, I used the adamantite one. I would never poison you, good friend.” Into the thin air behind his back, his oversized blade disappeared. He wiped the blood off of his coat onto the flowers- it would dry and darken in time, enough to blend in with their petals. “Now, I’m off to go find where those dumbasses came from. That passive MCL you taught me was nifty.” Thin red lines lead out of the bodies laying on the ground, leading to the north. And with that, he walked off as the Daimon consumed the corpses on the ground.
The second act. Two vs one among many.
A man sat at a wooden desk which was covered by countless papers. Signed, unsigned, brand new, tattered, and so on. The man, stamp in hand, was unbefitting of this work. He was young, around nineteen years of age. His pale skin and black hair signified him as a native of this land. His build was lithe, lean but mean. This wasn’t the work expected of a man like him. But here he was.
“Fuck. I hate this.” He sighed, stamping the 120th paper in this hour. He did this with supernatural speed and precision, and it was still not enough to blow through this massive pile of assignments. “Really fucking hate this.” His voice was high pitched for a male, although still unmistakably a male’s voice.
“Well, if you hate it so much, why don’t you just get up and leave?” A feminine voice said. The man looked over the massive pile to see a woman, who had entered through the paper door leading to his office. Yuki. The man thought of her name, the name of one of his friends- who he had known for a few months now.
Yuki had long black hair, brown eyes, a white ribbon on her head, and was dressed in jade-green robes. She didn’t wear anything below that, although thankfully for the man the robes covered most of her body. He had the misfortune of stumbling on her naked in a shower…the scars… Even now he gagged.
“What? I can’t just leave. This is my job. At least, ever since a few months ago.” Ah, how he remembered that day. The day when he Ascended. It wasn’t a particularly bright day- he just managed to solve an equation the entire academy couldn’t- but it lead to him being dumped into the world of the supernatural. When the person that brought him into this world asked him what he wanted, he responded with ‘I want to do something safe’.
And then he was put here. Signing paperwork for what would be the rest of his life..
“Adam, you most certainly can. You’re an Exarch, just walk out and say you have to fight someone. Like that foreigner that cut down sixteen people with a Shranskal. He was last seen heading towards this very city.” If the man was drinking something, he would have done a double-take just about now.
“I’m sorry, what? How the fuck did I not hear about any of this?” Adam stood up from his chair with such force that it shattered beneath him. Thousands of plastic pieces bounced off the floor, walls, and ceiling. “Like seriously. How. I’m pretty sure another Exarch would be reported pretty fucking fast.”
“News travels slow. Especially in a place without any power lines. Means they have to do it back like in the old days.”
“Well, that answers my question. Anyway, do you have your Shranskal on you? I know I don’t have one.”
“Oh, you can just borrow mine.” The woman put a hand underneath her robes, pulling out a katana. This katana was in a rosewood sheath and was bigger than she was tall. It was a miracle how she was able to fit it underneath her clothes. “Any proper lady knows how to fight with her bare hands, anyway.” She tossed it at Adam, who caught it with one hand- albeit he did knock over some papers.
“I’ll get this cleaned up later. Let’s go.”
The two walked outside of the room, through the long hallway lined with metal doors. The floor was gray concrete, the walls coated in green wallpaper.
“So, what does this Exarch look like? There are different types of foreigners, we have to make sure we find the right guy.” Asked Adam, briskly walking down the hallway. He could have went much faster, but that would probably tear up a few things. The floor, for one.
“Red hair, blue eyes, dark skin. A foreigner from the south, in other words.” Responded Yuki. The glass door soon appeared in the two’s sight- the hallway was long enough that they couldn’t see it from Adam’s office. The man got to it first, holding it open.
“Ladies first.” Chuckling, Yuki walked through the door to the outside world, which here consisted of what passed for a modern city- with concrete and glass buildings above six stories and countless people walking down the streets. They visited stores, restaurants, and more in their daily lives. It was an average day for them.
This would not last long.
“So where is this guy? He should be here any moment.” Adam looked around but didn’t see anything yet. All he saw were crowds of native people.
“He’s over there.” She pointed to the red-haired and blue-eyed stranger walking amidst the crowd. Despite his attempts to blend in by adopting the local dress, he was still easy to detect- his unusual features made sure of that.
“I don’t think we should fight him now. I mean, there’s a bunch of innocent bystand-” Before he could even finish his sentence, the woman had taken off. She leaped into the air, cocking her fist back. Adam sighed. Fuck.
The man could not even see her in the sky, let alone when he was right next to him. Her fist smashed into the back of his head, emitting enough shockwaves to knock down civilians. However, they were unharmed- not even a single scratch was on their body. She landed next to her opponent (who coldly stared at the girl), dukes up.
“Why are you trying to fight me? Are you with those xenophobes?” The man asked. “I mean, if you are, I don’t have any qualms with killing you. Although, some innocents might get involved.” He looked at the mortals surrounding him- who looked at him once with fear, then began to run.
“You killed sixteen people.”
“They were the xenophobes. They attacked without any reason. Hell, they kept going after I decapitated one of them…” His voice, ever so casual, caused the woman to clench her fists harder.
“You still killed sixteen people. You could have run away.” Her voice changed. Before, it was rather calm, like a pond. Now, like the raging ocean, her voice trembled under the sheer weight of her fury. Adam noticed this “But instead you stood there and slaughtered them all.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I did. And…wouldn’t you say that they deserved to die? Because they were so fucking stupid?”
At that moment, the woman leaped forward once more. Last time, it was graceful, one swift action. This time, it was extremely rough and coarse. Like a wild beast chasing its prey, she drove back her arm and launched it forwards. All of her strength was condensed into that blow that aimed for her opponent’s face. Flames that could melt tungsten surrounded her fist. It would be a lethal strike…
If it hit.
Instead of the crunching of bones and the burning of flesh beneath her fist, she found only air. She kept on her path towards a restaurant.
Thankfully, no one was inside (it was currently closed)- otherwise they would have been reduced to a fine red mist as she cut through support pillars, walls, and more like a knife through butter. She exploded out of the back of the building, concrete rubble lodged in her hair and robes.
“Yuki!” Adam looked at the foreigner, who had side-stepped the attack. Surrounded by the chaos of mortals running around them, the two Exarchs looked at each other.
One of them was a foreigner, the other was a native.
One of them was trained in the art of battle.
The other was only an Exarch for a few months, and before that had never held a blade in their lives.
Quickly, he unsheathed the katana and got into a rudimentary fighting stance, a Gyaku Seigan No Kamae. Yuki taught him this- she taught him how to wield a sword in the first place. “Okay. Now you’ll have to fight me.” The bright blue blade shimmered in the sunlight.
The foreigner took one look at him and pulled out his own Shranskal. “Okay, time to bust out the big guns.” His aura began to spring into life around him, erupting like a volcano. Blue flame surrounded his body, emanating a strong pressure that caused Adam to tremble.
“What’s wrong?” He said, slowly walking towards the Exarch. “Scared?” The man held his sword to the side as if it were just a toy. As it dragged across the ground, it left grooves in the concrete. Compared to Adam, his fighting stance was laughable.
“Y-Yes.” Adam stammered out. He was never a man of lies. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t kill you. Or die trying.” The foreigner laughed.
“Well, guess you’ll die trying.” He rushed forward with lightning speed, raising his sword above his head. His intent was a downwards slash, which would sever the boy’s body in two from head to crotch. At the boy’s current power level, no amount of skill could deflect this attack, nor could he dodge. It was like trying to evade a missile. No matter how good you are, you will not survive if a missile is heading right for you. You will just die.
But he at least saw it coming. That gave him enough time to think.
As the blade came closer and closer to the man’s haired scalp, the man smiled. This is going to be over easy. Then, his blade made contact. And that was when he felt it- the force of his blow. On himself, no less, throughout his entire body. He jumped backward, cursing.
“What the fuck?” He put a hand up to his throbbing head. On his scalp was a cut, deep enough to cut a vein. Blood streamed from the wound and down his face. “What did you just do?”
Adam’s heart pounded faster than it had ever done in his life. He could hear it quaking his entire body, aching his chest. If he was just a second off, he would be in two. “I used my special ability to reflect all physical force.”
“Oh.” With a little effort, the foreigner forced the wound into closing. “You shouldn’t really rely on one Magic Execution against an opponent like me. Did you use the Sphere of Actualization or the Sphere of Safety?”
“What?” Adam flatly said. He had no clue what the fuck the foreigner was talking about.
“What?” The foreigner narrowed his eyes. “You don’t know what Spheres re? What do they teach you folks at this place? Do you know that your specific ability costs a ton of Od? Do you know what running out of Od means? Do you know what Od is?” The man’s tone was harsh and unrelenting, like a drill instructor (if a bit less loud).
“Uh, yeah I do!” What is this guy on about? One moment, he’s trying to kill me, then the next, he’s trying to teach me about Magic! “Od is your life force! And running out means death! All Magic uses your Od! Like a gun using bullets!”
“And do you know about Spheres?
The foreigner sighed. How can this guy be so dumb? He’s with another Exarch, he clearly didn't just Ascend…so why doesn’t he know how to fight? “Okay. Your mistake, bud. I’ll show you some Spheres, alright.”He shifted stances to a more professional one with his sword raised as his aura flared wilder than ever. The pressure intensified- to the point where Adam found it difficult to stand. This man, this Exarch- he was more powerful than Adam ever was. Or Yuki ever was.
It is at that point he realized his chances of winning were slim.
The man lowered his stance, preparing to unleash a lethal strike. Adam wouldn’t be able to react fast enough to dodge his blow, or use his special ability. Sweat dripped down his body in sheets.
…but before he could do anything else, a feminine hand placed itself on his shoulder.
“You’re not showing him anything.” It was Yuki, disheveled from the trip through several concrete buildings. Despite the weight of the man’s power baring down on her, she still stood. Unflinching. Unfearing. There was only a blazing fury in her eyes.
Thank the lord she’s safe. Thought Adam. At that moment, his heart stopped beating so fast. He could sense that she alone was outmatched, but the two of them working together… could change the flow of battle. He would just have to look for an opening. Currently, the foreigner was looking back at the girl- still giving off the aura that he was paying close attention to his surroundings.
“Oh? What’s this? The little girl is back?” Yuki was little, around five-foot-two, but it would be impolite to call a nineteen-year-old woman a little girl. Especially one with scars riddled across her muscular body, revealed by her torn robes. “I know an experienced warrior when I see one. Back off or your story will end here.”
With nary a word, Yuki balled up her dust-covered fist, setting it ablaze, before giving a good jab to the man’s face.
And then she gave another.
For every hit that landed, the ground shook. Buildings trembled. Running mortals were knocked off their feet. She was giving it her all. Any lesser man would have been obliterated just by the first blow…but the foreigner stood. He had a few bruises on his face, but otherwise, he was unharmed. Hell, he was smiling.
“You done yet?” A drop of blood trickled down from his nose. With Yuki’s panting and her bruised fists, it seemed as if so. Looking over the shoulder of the foreigner and at Adam, she glared. And with that signal, Adam unsheathed his katana and ran at the foreigner. His intention was obvious- a thrust to the back.
The man did not notice this attack, as his gaze was fully affixed on the teenager. He was about to lop her head off with just one swing of his giant weapon, raised high in the air. The perfect opportunity.
But when the sound of metal piercing flesh and bone did not make itself known to Adam’s ears, he was confused.
“Huh?” For a moment, caught in the havoc of combat, he did not really pay attention to what was in front of him. Back then, the world was just a meaningless blur in front of him, existing only to be pierced by the hunk of magical metal in his hands. Now, that he had stopped, Adam could see it fully.
A man, dressed in a blue tuxedo, staring down at him. His hair was golden, his eyes blue, and his skin dark. He was a head taller than the red-haired man, who himself was taller than the two natives. A strong pressure emanated from his body, around as strong as the other man’s. His feet hovered just inches above the ground.
“Sorry, but I won’t let you harm my boyfriend.” Between his two fingers, the Shranskal. He twisted.
Just like that, the magical metal that had been forged for 50 days straight, quenched in the blood of a dragon, and passed down from royal family to royal family had been snapped in two. Like a twig.
Adam watched in horror as the broken-off piece of metal fell to the ground- its sheer sharpness carving a hole within the concrete.
“Try to attack again, and I’ll break much more than just that sword.” The man stared down at the boy- who stepped back a foot. “Why are you fighting Ugani?”
Ugani? Thought Yuki, stepping away from the two men. That’s his name? “We’re fighting him because he killed 16 people.”
“Oh my, Ugani, I never knew you would do that.” The foreigner looked at his partner, who shrugged in response. “Why?”
“They were xenophobes.”
“Oh. And were they those kind of xenophobes, or…”
“Yeah, they had the symbol on them. Their headquarters are right there, too.” He pointed to a building- which had windows covered in black paint to obscure the insides. It wasn’t a very tall building, only around 4 stories tall. Just above the entrance was a symbol- which resembled a bird foot. Or, a recreation of a bird foot- it didn’t look like the foot of any bird that existed in nature.
“That’s what you’re here for?” Asked Adam. He had known of that building since forever- it was the headquarters of the Party for the Liberation of Janato. An extremist group that preaches that the nation of Janato is ‘under control’ by foreigners who do awful things- like steal our money and produce degenerate propaganda. He had never been involved with the PLJ, and neither had been his friend- he just assumed the xenophobes who attacked the foreigner were random crazies.
But if they were part of the PLJ, then that was another thing entirely. “You would have destroyed the city if you had fought there.” said Adam, looking at Unagi.
“Fight?” The foreigner looked at him, an eyebrow raised. “Not here to fight, my dude.”
“One, I’m not your dude, and two, what are you here for, then?”
“Watch.” Picking up a piece of concrete, the man launched an underhand throw. The air particles around the rubble, unable to get around it fast enough, began to heat up. Soon, the sound-barrier-breaking concrete was covered in flames as it rushed towards the building.
The tower of concrete, steel, and glass instantaneously vaporized the moment the rubble impacted, sending molten slag everywhere around the city. Adam and Yuki yelped, as the two of them knew that would cause havoc around the city. They weren’t fast enough to catch all the slag.
And then, with a wave of the blondie’s hand, it was all gone. As it if had never existed. “Sorry about the trouble. Do you two need any help?” He asked, in a tone that implied this was an everyday thing for him.
“Uhh…No. We’re fine.” Said Yuki. The two natives gave each other a look from over the man’s arm, and at that point they decided that they would both go to their respective homes and go to sleep and forget this ever happened. Yes, that’s a good plan, the two of them think as they proceed to walk in the opposite direction from what just happened.
The blondie looked around. No mortal casualties. Well, save the people in the building. He shared a glance at his partner for a few moments. The two then held hands as they walked towards the sunset.