Winds roar, fires rage, flapping wings heralding the coming of storms. Mankind's existence would no longer hinge upon the mortal means of humanity, but upon the black scales, determination, and furor of the kings of the sky.
'O Holy Grail, answer my call.'
Sieg circled from up high, great leather wings tilted on the diagonal while strafing a fine line between decimating the wyverns around him, or focusing solely on Jeanne Alter and the black dragon before him.
Magic runs through this body of flesh…
Fervor shines within these eyes of gold.
Heat wafts off of hardened scales in iridescent azure light…
Claws protracted outward, razor talons gauging flesh and prying off great scales that scattered upon the ground, mottling the hills with deep crevices and craters as two mighty dragons soared.
Flesh tore, blood sprayed, and none dared to get close.
Focus. Win. Remember what you're fighting for!
A battle cry escaped Sieg's maw as he rammed his body into Fafnir's chest, the Dragon grunting before retaliating with a bite to Sieg's neck.
A voice shouted as Sieg felt his vision swim and blacken, teeth digging deep into the base of his neck and threatening to tear it off. Immediately, flashing patterns of blue travelled up the base of the sigil branded upon Sieg's chest; scales flickering ominously before great gouts of azure flame pushed out of Sieg's throat, threatening to incinerate the foe clinging to him.
Fafnir pulled in response, a groan escaping Sieg as he was thrown across the air and his breath attack sweeping outwards and decimating all the wyverns east of Orleans.
Blood splattered and trickled over his form, a chunk of scales missing from the area near his collar bone, ruptured veins spurting life essence.
Immediately warmth came in the light of that voice so close yet so far to the one locked away in his memories.
An iridescent radiance encompassed Sieg in full, the pain vanishing, the doubts of his own abilities no longer a concern. The wound at the base of his neck gradually began to close and heal, pink flesh giving way to new grown scales.
A roar of challenge escaped Sieg's maw.
That's right; this feeling; this overflowing courage; this purpose found in the precipice between the uncertainty of life and death, and the meaning behind it all.
To the 'you' of a fleeting memory it is dedicated.
He couldn't speak the language of mortals in this form, but it did not matter. His actions would express it all.
One could always remain forever a coward, yet everyone has that perpetuating purpose driving them on. Some call it a reckoning, others a discovery, but for Sieg it meant so much more as a homunculus born with nothing to his name nor future.
-And that's why! That's exactly it!
His jaw opened; teeth bared while a glow emanated from the back of his throat.
'My fires rage. My fires clear the way!'
Tongues of a blistering inferno scorched the air itself from the sharpened maw of a great lord of the heavens.
Roar! Scream! Shout such that everything may be released at once!
That growing sensation within the heart; this intangible sensation growing by the second into an outpour beyond measure while her light guided him forward to an understanding.
It was his north star.
From the very moment he was born, and down to his history itself, he was a fake beyond compare. Even in the body of the Dragon Slayer he'd never fully realized Siegfried's true power, unable to fully replicate the experiences and capabilities of his host.
Therefore, Sieg could conclude a single conclusion before anything else.
…This body is not at its limits.
'Who am I? Who do I represent?'
Sieg shut his reptilian eyes if only for a moment to understand, to comprehend and coax out the potential stored within him.
At its base, this body was an Evil Dragon representing an all-encompassing aspect: Greed, a wanting, an unbearable longing that at the crux of things could mean anything.
Was it not greed to have desire?
Was it not greed to wish for a person's happiness at the expense of others?
A spark ignited from within him, slitted pupils radiating with the vigour of the root evil besotting his draconic form.
Harness it. Enrapture it.
In essence, this was how it had always been.
Visualize it and coax it free from the limitation of doubt.
'I am the great being that presides within a mountain of gold and brings ruin to man and creature alike!'
The fabled Black Dragon of the Nibelungenlied carrying the Grail of Heaven, an evil of the highest order known throughout the land for its insatiable greed lay bear its wants.
Let a wish be granted here not from the confluence and congregation of power in this lowly vessel of draconic power and might, but through the means of the miracle held aloft in one's hands.
[-The Saint's Flag will billow from up high!]
This was the treasure he coveted, and he'd fight for it tooth and nail.
His wings flapped in accordance with his wish, power emanating from him that rivaled Fafnir's own who seemed to sense the change. Evil would smite evil; the greater evil is the one who devours the other. They were practically equal, meaning that only a single difference between them remained…Their riders.
Both Dragons stared and glided while their respective riders no longer remained idle.
Atop Sieg's head, Jeanne balanced herself, knees bent, one arm steadied over a protruding horn while her hair violently whipped back from fierce turbulence. Her eyes abruptly widened, narrowing sharply as she let go of her grip on Sieg's horn and centred her grasp over the Saint's War Banner.
The situation was unreal to Jeanne, her mind still in shock from the transition from ground war to aerial combat.
Hellfire erupted from all around, twin dragons of black circling around each other in a dance of supremacy, neither gaining on the other almost in almost tacit agreement for the riders they each carried staring each other down.
Sieg swerved, an inferno sailing overhead, Fafnir roaring in challenge, the stalemate abruptly broken as they then charged at each other again.
Dragon vs Dragon.
Talons and claws ripped and tore at each other's scales, tails lashing, teeth gnawing before heads butted together, and shortened the distance between riders.
Saint vs Saint.
Jeanne watched Jeanne Alter's countenance sour into a sneer, a torrent of fire pouring down over her and Sieg before a white light manifested and smothered the flames.
No words were spoken in this brief exchange, but there was no way Jeanne would miss the crack formed on Jeanne Alter's impassive façade.
The light that smothered the flames was the very light that had once directed a young farmer girl to action for the sake of her country.
For Jeanne, this light was her backing, but for Jeanne Alter, it was what had abandoned her in her greatest time of need.
Sieg separated from Fafnir as Jeanne Alter heatedly gave chase.
For all the lack of emotion Jeanne could read on her alternative self, it didn't mean that she was blind.
Anger, aversion, doubt, regret, confusion, these emotions were made more and more apparent as the battle ensued in a clash of wills and violence.
One sought for an answer while the other sought only the silence in death for the world that rejected her.
"Are the two of you really so different?"
Martha's words from the night prior filtered into Jeanne's mind, and just as the lord once said, 'grant to others what you would grant yourself.' She mustn't be blinded by bias or prejudice in order to understand the motives behind the her that stood against her.
All this hate, all this animosity, Jeanne would accept it if only to understand better its source to stop Jeanne Alter; for forgiveness and comprehension come from empathy.
"This hate is your ruin!" Jeanne Alter vented, great bursts of heat and flame scorching the air dry overhead.
-"This faith is your enlightenment." Jeanne retaliated in kind, her flag shining in radiant white.
Jeanne gritted her teeth, warding away Jeanne Alter's unrelenting attacks. Sparks showered overhead, swaths of light and fire converging and dissipating from the standards each Jeanne held on high.
"This sacrilege is the only path!"
-"That thought is your delusion."
Metal clanged as Jeanne and Jeanne Alter swooped past each other and struck out with their banners before momentum carried them away. Their eyes locked onto the other even as their mounts circled and crossed paths once more.
"This vengeance is their reckoning!"
-"This light is their mercy."
Jeanne Alter pointed her sword forward, fires raining down relentlessly upon the barrier of light surrounding Jeanne and Sieg who buckled under the weight of the magical energy.
Jeanne's knees trembled before she found purchase and began pushing up her bent legs, sweat matting her brows while frustration bled into Jeanne Alter's countenance.
"This inferno is your death!"
-"This light is your redemption."
Jeanne Alter's expression twisted more and more with each clash until it finally erupted.
"This rage is your despair!"
Great wings flapped and produced gales, the iciness of Jeanne Alter's eyes breaking if only for a single fact, then spoken in earnest truth.
Jeanne took a breath, voice soft, neither judging nor accusing while the strength of her light magnified several fold, wrapping Jeanne Alter in its embrace.
"…This compassion is your salvation." Jeanne was making a face; a resolute one Jeanne Alter would never fail to recognize.
Jeanne Alter pursed her lips, unable and unwilling to decipher the depth of emotion in Jeanne's eyes. There was no hate, no revulsion, nor pity, but instead it was like Jeanne Alter was being seen right through.
That clear gaze, so willing to put aside the atrocities committed…
This pervading sense of acceptance…
"Dammit, you bitch shut up! You know nothing about me!" Jeanne Alter had had enough.
Just as Sieg and Fafnir clashed once more, magical energy erupted around her and she lashed out, a circle of impaling stakes seeking to snuff out Jeanne's existence entirely, and yet soft blinding light appeared once more.
Jeanne waved the metal pole in her grasp, the flag unfurling in the wind and shining with the symbol of the Fleur that was once held so dear in the midst of a grueling war.
"This banner was our hope!" The summoned stakes rebounded off of the barrier created from the Saint's flag while Jeanne Alter flinched from the intensity of Jeanne's conviction. "You should know it deep down as well as I why we raised this flag! Then what of the flag you now carry?!"
There was nothing that Jeanne Alter could say.
Just for a moment, she glanced up upon the symbol of her new banner ushering in the Hundred Years War of Evil Dragons. Beyond revenge, what other purpose did she serve, and what significance did this banner now represent?
Hope? There is no hope.
She felt overwhelmed, the fires of her anger and hatred snuffed out by the same damnable pervading light emanating from Jeanne's figure.
Jeanne Alter laughed derisively before hot emotion got the best of her.
With this single command alone, Fafnir grappled Sieg in a resolute falling tangle of limbs, subsequently throwing Jeanne Alter and Jeanne off of their heads and careening towards the castle of Orleans.
The last scene Jeanne Alter saw as her back shattered through a section of castle Orleans was the stalwart resolve Jeanne had in pursing her alone into enemy territory despite landing in an opposite location.
The end was surely coming, and yet something within Jeanne Alter stirred.
She should be focusing, mounting her attack against Jeanne in this opportune moment.
Why of all places did she end up crashing into this room of all rooms cushioned in the grasp of a fool she no longer knew how to feel over?
Gold eyes stared into earnest bronze.
Fate was a fickle thing.
Olga, Ritsuka, Mash, and the rest watched mutedly as Sieg in Dragon form was wrestled by Fafnir to the ground where the impact created a shockwave that sent a ring of dust outward in all direction. A plum of debris stretched up into the sky before it was revealed that the two Dragons were viciously biting and tumbling, each trying to pin the other down and aiming to kill, but neither finding ground. The struggle continued, fissures forming in the ground as upturned soil and grass pelted the hillside.
"S-Should we help?" Ritsuka asked, feeling concern for his first Servant besides Mash.
"Caster's Spirit Origin is holding steady for the time being," Da Vinci answered. "You all should best use this moment to get through the remaining horde of wyverns before they reorient themselves," she advised.
"But Sieg," Mash balled her hands into fists while trailing off.
"If it gets bad, have Ritsuka summon him to us with a Command Seal," Olga pinched the bridge of her nose, trying not to dwell on the shock within her from Sieg's transformation. It was the only way to stifle and quell the sudden burst of animosity she had for him. The smirk on Archer's face certainly wasn't helping either. "Let's go. Saving Emiya is our priority!"
"Be careful. Though they're just wyverns, there's still plenty of them to overwhelm you all," Romani cautioned.
"Worry not my cute little piggies, my concert will blow them away!" Elizabeth puffed out her chest and placed her hands over her hips. Her confidence was outstanding, her demeanor infectious, lifting up the spirits of the others.
Suddenly, Elizabeth craned her chin upward. There was something in her eyes that almost screamed anticipation and delight.
Her senses were beyond that of normal humans due to a specific mesh of traits in her spirit origin one of which was Dragon trait. Her ears had perked up while Kiyohime did the same. Both turned to regard the distant horizon.
"Can you all hear it!? This must be my calling! There's even music starting up for my concert!" Elizabeth beamed. "Manager, the idol will soon take the stage!"
Ritsuka looked blankly at one of his newest Servants, unable to understand the cause of her sudden shift in excitement.
This confusion wouldn't last long.
~Tun, ta, dun, tatatatun! Tun, ta, dun, tatataton! Tunta-ta-tadda-tadda-ta
Sound abruptly echoed in the breeze. Soft at first, it grew more and more discernable by the minute; the tune almost comedic given the situation.
"I-Is that music?" Mash furrowed her brows before a definitive answer came a moment later from a Chaldea transmission.
"Mozart's 'A Little Night Music?!'" Romani exclaimed in recognition, perplexed.
"Look to the left! Up! Up in the distance!" Olga said, still high-strung from the impact of Sieg's transformation.
There in the skies making a beeline straight towards Orleans was an unmistakable figure.
"S-Saber?!" Ritsuka blinked incredulously. "Uhm, and she looks annoyed."
~Tun, ta, dun, tatatatun! Tun, ta, dun, tatataton! Tunta-ta-tadda-tadda-ta
The music really wasn't helping.
It was hard to make out, but Saber Alter seemed to be riding on a glass horse with two others, her features impassive aside from the twitching of her lip. Next to her was a charming looking girl in a large bonnet with a red and white color scheme, and on her right, a man waving around a composer's stick to ward wyverns away with musical notes. Said man was the source of the music.
The odd group sailed over head, drawing away even more of the wyvern's attention yet failing to stop the group's charge.
No one spoke a word, but Archer was always a man of action when opportunity came.
In a burst of light, Archer Traced a long chain and sickle before wrapping one part of the chain around the entire group, and tossing the sickle end to wrap around one of the glass horse's legs. Instantly, they were all carried freely into the air.
While others only saw Saber Alter and her new party, Archer saw a free ride.
Olga would have been grateful at Archer's improvision if not for how smug he looked. It was like he was taunting her- no. More than that, now that she thought about it, ever since she'd contracted with Archer, why did it feel as if her role as leader was stolen from her?
Even now she felt like her authority was being sidelined while Archer carried her by the waist like a sack of potatoes while the rest held onto the chain part of the sickle.
"Mr. Archer you're amazing," Mash praised in earnest, the others nodding their head in agreement including Martha who seemed to have a misconception about Archer due to the shroud he was wearing.
No matter how much of a prick Olga thought Archer was, in Martha's eyes, he was practically some sort of holy and righteous figure to wear the shroud of a saint.
Olga knew better. This man wasn't Shirou Emiya.
He was Satan due to how experienced he was at getting under her skin.
"Aren't you glad I'm around?" Archer smirked.
Olga refused to reply, but her Command Seals glowed.
Don't do it. Don't even think about it. He's not worth it…
Jeanne Alter had smashed through several ceilings and ended up in a dingy dark room where the rattling of chains alerted her that the prisoner held within hadn't kept still.
It was almost surreal in a sense for Jeanne Alter to see someone who should by all accounts despise and loathe her seem so concerned on her behalf.
Presently, she was cradled in Shirou's grip, one arm under her back and the other beneath her knees. Evidently, he'd willingly caught her upon noticing her falling through the ceiling.
Bronze eyes stared into deep gold before a scowl formed over Jeanne Alter's lips.
"Let go of me," she said heatedly. It occurred to her that she'd had no use for such a demand as her Servant body was many times stronger than a mere human's. If she really wanted to, there was no way Shirou could maintain his hold on her. This itself spoke volumes.
Jeanne Alter wasn't as angry as she was portraying and was in fact feeling somewhat listless after her encounter with Jeanne, but in essence, she didn't know how to act any other way. It was kind of sad in a sense, but vindication was as much a motivator as any.
No matter what Jeanne had said, in the end, it would mean nothing to Jeanne Alter if she won in the altercation against her other self.
"You're hurt," Shirou observed, carefully shifting his grip to avoid a bruise on her arm from when Jeanne got a good hit on it.
"Put. Me. Down," Jeanne Alter grimaced, the reminder of her current state unwelcome.
Moreover, how degrading was it to have the concern of a prisoner who was arguably in a worse state than her?
Shirou's clothes were still in tatters, and the burns and bruises from when he was captured were still present. With the magical restraints Gilles had cast over Shirou, all he had at his disposal to recover from his wounds was his natural healing rate.
She tugged on Shirou's arm.
Pressure on Shirou's shoulder halted any words of protest he may have had by this point. Gradually, he put her down, angling his grip such that he lowered her feet first and allowed her to regain her balance before letting go with both arms.
Her demands carried weight with him as they should.
"Are you alright?"
Again, Jeanne Alter stiffened at Shirou's question, more from the absurdity of it all than the question itself. Her lips tightened, her jaw forming a line as she forced a response out through gritted teeth. "None of your concern."
Shirou was fretting over her.
"Easy for you to say," he said in worry.
"Is it though?" She glowered at him. "My setbacks should please you, not worry you. It's to your benefit if I perish, is it not?"
Shirou frowned. He could tell that there was something there in Jeanne Alter's tone yet it was impossible to discern if she was actually being genuine.
"Is it wrong to worry?" he countered, much to Jeanne Alter's bewilderment.
For a moment, she had no response. In fact, she almost physically cringed at the reply, a shudder travelling down her back when her heart did funny things. This cur. What magecraft was this? Everything about Shirou's actions always threw her line of reasoning off. He never acted in accordance to any expectation, and practically threw them all out a window.
Still, out of all the people she detested and loathed in her anger and rage, Shirou was the first to be considered 'acceptable.' Of course, if the prerequisite to getting to know her was to survive being burnt alive, then it was quite reasonable that she hardly appreciated anyone until now.
"What do you mean is it wrong to worry? Would you worry for me if I returned with news that I've killed off your merry band of fools?"
Shirou scoffed, obviously just as put off by the notion as she was in the context that she was hardly in the position to boast of such a thing.
"You're hurting, and that's enough reason," Shirou said, and this time, there was no room for Jeanne Alter to interpret or belittle his words in any other way.
Jeanne Alter opened and closed her mouth, her throat dry, almost parched. She wanted to say something; some witty reply, but what came out was nothing more than a croak rather than a tirade of profanities.
For a moment, she was appalled to realize that Shirou actually seemed pleasing to her eyes in this moment, his status elevating from a prisoner cook, to something more indescribable...
Jeanne Alter couldn't help but grow revolted that she didn't feel as put-off with the image of herself pressing her body to Shirou and tittering with all the wistful vapidness of a trophy wife if it meant a future of happiness beyond all the hate. The tips of her cheeks reddened, and she snarled if only to play off how disgustingly fast her heart was beating.
She'd found in her time with him that Shirou just had this sort of effect on her. It was almost like all the anger and hate inexplicably faded with him nearby, leaving only that same ebbing longing to possess what she didn't have.
Deep down though, Jeanne Alter already had an inkling as to why Shirou could possess such sway over her.
Their beginnings and inevitable ends were practically the same, hence an ability to relate between one another.
No matter how she thought of it, if what she'd seen and heard of Shirou's past experiences were true, then it only made things that much more unacceptable.
If he understood the hypocrisy and cruelty of mankind, why did he not turn out like her?
The way he stared at her; the way he acted with her, all of it made her feel no small amount of doubt that her path may not have been the only one she could have trod on.
'Why don't you curse them!? Why don't you scream at them!?'
She couldn't understand him because it made no sense unless he found a better altern-NO. It's not possible.
I'm not wrong. My path is the correct one! Just you wait…I'll prove it.
This world's end would be her evidence.
She just had to keep convincing herself of it just like Gilles said.
She had to prove Shirou wrong.
In such a way, Shirou's existence was undeniable proof of something that Jeanne Alter refused to outright kill by principle of proving Shirou right as if childishly pretending he didn't exist.
It was all too maddening that he turned out differently, more so when she recalled the light that had saved Shirou from total emulation.
'What makes him different than I?'
She'd wanted to break his resolve; to humiliate him and break his will; to make him understand how he should have acted and the result he should have had obtained.
"Join me," she would have offered in a tragic twist to his former allies. Instead, everything turned out differently.
In a castle where all she had were unstable Servants and Gilles, she found herself enjoying the odd banter between herself and her prisoner.
She liked his cooking.
She liked his courage to dare test her patience and limits of tolerance.
He was different, yet not so different that she couldn't relate herself with him. In the end, would she too have turned out the same had she been saved?
Jeanne pursed her lips, the room shaking as a trail of dust fell from the ceiling. This development broke her out of her contemplation. Conflict was escalating outside, and it was likely that castle Orleans may not live to see the light of the next day if things continued.
Jeanne Alter narrowed her eyes, her back straightening while she looked towards Shirou then back up the hole she'd blown through the roof.
Many thoughts spanned across the vestiges of her mind, but only one constantly pestered her: The meaning of victory and proving her existence.
She regarded Shirou with an air of hesitation.
He…wouldn't live to see her triumph if he died here.
Her hand stretched out before her, small embers giving way to several balls of flame that carefully hovered near the latches of the chains binding Shirou to the room. They were neither too hot nor uncomfortable, but served only to work away at the magic inscriptions from Prelati's spell book.
Dull orange light illuminated her features, the soft glow beautiful despite its potential lethality. Tresses of her hair lifted in the warm breeze, and it was if a weight was being lifted from her shoulders.
What was she doing?
"The magic incantations have been burnt away," she said gruffly. "In an hour or so, you should have recovered enough magic energy to break yourself out of those chains and this dungeon."
Shirou opened his mouth to speak, but Jeanne Alter wouldn't let him. It was an unspoken thing, but her pride would never allow her to take her actions at face value. She just didn't know anymore when victory or defeat was likely mere hours or even minutes away.
Loss or gain, what did all that matter now?
So just this once, there was no need to consider anything else.
"Shut up. Don't ask me why," She seemed to know exactly what Shirou would ask. "… I don't even know myself."
Did she truly not?
She would never answer that, and instead promptly left Shirou behind without looking back.
Blissfully, Shirou had uttered not a word at her departure.
As it should be.
Jeanne Alter let out a breath she didn't know that she'd been holding. All that was left now was to confront the final obstacles barring the completion of her goal and the destruction of France as the world knew it.
This day of fate had come, and she would prove victorious over the insufferableness of the other Jeanne.
Her feet guided her to the destined battle ground.
There was no rush.
Despite the battle outside, there was still a substantial number of wyverns to keep interlopers at bay. Now the smart course of action was to regroup, but knowing her other self, this wasn't likely the choice Jeanne would make. Instead, Jeanne Alter knew exactly where her counterpart would surely go to confront her in the very grand chamber in which her services to the country had rendered her the moniker of a Witch.
Soon enough, Jeanne Alter entered the audience hall of castle Orleans and sat herself upon the central throne situated at the middle of a podium with a rolled out red carpet facing two large doors.
Here she waited, the echo of steel combat boots already reverberating within the chamber as the two previously specified doors creaked open.
Jeanne walked in appearing just as ruffled as Jeanne Alter. The both of them sported discoloured bruises and abrasions, and each had the same resolve to see this conflict through.
Jeanne Alter stood up and watched Jeanne come to a stop ten meters across from her on the opposite side of the audience hall.
"You're either very brave or very foolish to have pursued me this far on your own," Jeanne Alter said derisively. Her counterpart's actions were just illogical that it was laughable if not for the dead-seriousness of the other Jeanne's features.
"This tragedy of Orleans ends now," Jeanne wasted no time with her intentions, both hands tightly grasping onto her war banner. "So much suffering, so much hardship, I can no longer condone it. I will stop you here even if I must perish."
"Then you are a fool." Jeanne Alter shrugged complacently, long since assured of her victory. "I may not know how you freed one of my Servants, but I know for certain that Jeanne d'Arc has no such method on her own."
"You wouldn't possibly-"
"I would," Jeanne Alter cut Jeanne off while raising her hand where several sets of Command Seals were covered by her metal gauntlets. "The naivety of forgoing an advantage out of the vanity of a fair duel doesn't apply to me. Just as I am a Servant, I too am a Master. From the moment you sought to confront me on your own, you've doomed yourself. Besides, I've nothing to prove to a fake, and everything to prove to him. I will win, and I will crush you."
Jeanne tensed in alarm, her muscles going taut, her eyes darting left and right.
With a thought, Jeanne Alter decisively used up a single Command Seal for each of her remaining Servants, a vindictive leer over her lips that quickly morphed into confusion.
Her magic energy swelled and congregated to where her Command Seals should have been, but no reaction came.
Instead, a body chose this moment to tumble across the floor; pieces of metal scraping and groaning while gashing against the castle's tiled surface until coming to an abrupt halt altogether.
"What?" Both Jeanne and Jeanne Alter's voices echoed.
Servant Berserker Carmilla began fading away into motes of golden energy siphoned into the palm of a man in a green formal suit who made his appearance known. Barely healed injuries and torn flesh and fabric dotted the man's figure, creating a horrific appearance that just barely held human form.
"Ah, Apologies. It seems as if I've inadvertently thrown a chink in your plans," the man said without remorse to Jeanne Alter who stood rooted in disbelief. "You see, your situation didn't look well, and I had a better use for your remaining Servants than leaving them under your control."
"H-How dare you!" Jeanne Alter roared out, infuriated.
In comparisons, the man could care less until something Jeanne said caught his attention.
"You're Lev Lainur," Jeanne whispered cautiously, sweat matting her brow as she recalled information chaldea had provided her regarding the 'entity' that was Lev.
"Who?" Jeanne Alter sneered, but no one answered her; Jeanne because all her attention was on Lev, and Lev because he couldn't bother until he came to a realization and finally answered.
"It would seem that your trusted Gilles has not mentioned a word of me to you, has he? Perhaps it was to shield you, or to deal with me himself," Lev mused in a mocking tone. "Pity, the man's devotion is only second to his madness to dare threaten me into remaining idle. Still, this situation is quite ideal for me for the both of you to have isolated yourselves from the others so well."
It happened in an instant.
One moment they were each keeping a careful distance from each other, and in the next, Lev was right in front of Jeanne Alter.
Her eyes dilated; her lack of knowledge regarding whom she was facing proving critical as a demonic energy slowed her reaction speed to a crawl.
"Would you kindly die for me?" Lev whispered into her ear, a hand piercing out towards her heart.
The hairs on the back of her neck rose, her pupils dilating while coming to a stark conclusion.
It's too late.
There was no longer any room to maneuver on her own. Even the wall of flame erupting around her proved ineffective at impeding Lev's strike.
An abrupt pressure tugged on her arm, violently shifting her center of mass to the left and causing Lev's strike to miss.
For Jeanne Alter, all she saw was her vision shifting to the back view of a figure she'd long since come to resent.
Jeanne stood in front of her, tears forming over the Saint's war banner before Jeanne grabbed her and made distance.
"Y-You helped me?" Jeanne Alter was equal parts appalled and dismayed before she found her voice. "As if I'd need your protection!"
"He's after you for a reason!" Jeanne snapped back. "Now get behind me!"
"A pointless struggle." The skin of Lev's body began to peel off, revealing numerous pointed eyes scattered upon a tendril-like construct.
The pressure instantly magnified several folds.
Both Jeannes shut their mouths in an almost tacit agreement.
This wasn't the time to be arguing.
Thanks for reading!
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King of the Lonely Peak
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