Interlude: Beast Hunting

Coming above ground was something he very rarely did unless there was absolutely no choice in regards to it.

But for this particular instance, he would absolutely say that it was necessary.

The loss of the Evlogia infusion in Miklan had warranted the incursion of Demonic Beasts to prevent it from being discovered by his King, but to think that the end result would have been something on this scale, it was an incredible case of providence, if there truly was such a thing as that.

It was something that went beyond his wildest expectations, but coming here now and seeing it for himself, he could not deny that it was far beyond what he could naturally expect to have come of this situation. Rather, he was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events.

Which meant that he would need to intervene before it was discovered, it was naturally only a matter of time until his King deduced the true nature of the Goddess Sothis and therefore, understood the danger of allowing the Demonic Beast that consumed the corpse of Miklan to run rampant across Fodlan.

It was a trump card that he could not let slip from his grasp.

The readings and the trail had led him all the way here, across the border between Fodlan and Alymra and into the territory of the latter. The mountainous regions made for a good hiding spot for a Demonic Beast full of Evlogia, but he doubted that it had remained hidden for long, rather the signs of its movement across the border were all too easy to track down.

Easier still to cover over.

That being said, it was difficult for him to deduce which monster it had been that consumed the body, though it was his own flaw for being so quick to order them but less observant in the fact beyond merely the completion of the goal. Admittedly, he was more concerned with keeping the knowledge beyond the reach of his King until the time was right, but that was neither here nor there.

His feet slowed to a halt, his eyes turned further up and narrowed towards the peak of the mountain.

Smoke billowed from the side, a faint scent of burning in the air combined with the smell that he and his kindred were more acutely familiar with than any other thing living in the world.

The scent of death.

His target was undoubtedly close now.

Carrying himself higher and higher, he glanced at the path which led to the mountain town, boulders torn asunder and deep grooves carved through the earth. No, not simply just carved from the earth, they had pulled great chunks of solid stone from the ground with each step and dragged them higher and higher.

Moving to one of the closer marks, he brought a hand out from beneath his cloak and placed it on the side of the rock. Dragging his fingers across the rubble and humming to himself for a moment or two. The width of the claw mark was rather impressive, clearly from one of the larger Demonic Beasts, erasing the possibility of it being something akin to the wolves.

Perhaps one of the lizards?


Withdrawing his hand, he turned his head once more and continued the climb towards the summit, soon finding himself standing before the remains of a wooden palisade, spiked posts at the summit had been cracked and shattered off, pulled apart by something large moving through them and caving them inwards.

His eyes moved further inwards and narrowed ever so slightly, despite all the scent of death, he could detect the unmistakable aura of life as well, clearly there were some individuals who were still living from the battle. Either that, or they were teams who had come to search for survivors.

He would find out quickly.

He moved onwards, passing through the remains of the gate and into the town, a small survey of the town revealed the full extent of the damage. Homes had been flattened into dust, sprayed across the ground or otherwise remained set ablaze from dozens of malignant fires still burning through the town.

This sight would never fail to bring disgust from within him.

Steps echoed as he carried himself forwards, his hands moved up and clasped the hood around his head and pulled back. Exposing his features to the world, a frown creased his lips as he turned around, humming quietly as his eyes lingered upon one of the ruins of a nearby house.

There was life beneath the rubble.

Within but a few moments, he was standing before it and crouching over, gripping the rubble and tossing it aside with ease. Pulling his way through the ruins of the house until he eventually discovered what he had sensed, he stared at the lacerated and bruised back of a tanned woman, still clutching something beneath her in an effort to shield them from the damage.

A pained groan escaped the woman, followed by a short cough.

Dropping down onto one knee, he extended a hand towards her and already the spell glowed across his fingers.

Light peeled from his grasp and fell upon her, the wounds and bruises slowly healed themselves over as he restored her body to the way it was supposed to be. Only pulling his arm back when he was finished, though he turned it and gently clasped the woman by the shoulder, spinning her over and resting her against some of the debris in as comfortable a way as he could manage.

Her eyes flickered for a moment, then caught sight of him, soon she froze up and looked rather shocked for words.

He raised a hand to stop her speaking.

"You and your son are quite lucky to be alive." He started with, quickly her eyes turned down to the small infant still clenched in her hands, drawing them close and tightly shutting her eyelids as the tears already threatened to stream down her face. "I have healed your injuries, I'd ask you to remain while I search the rest of the town for survivors."

She said nothing, merely held her son tighter and continued to cry.

Likely for the best.

He doubted she would be able to provide him with much information on his quarry.

The town was said to have a population of at least three hundred, perhaps more.

In total, he had recovered forty two survivors.

Slightly over a tenth of the population and of those, they had all been in situations where they would have certainly died without assistance. Of that number, thirty seven would have died without his specific assistance in healing their injuries.

He could not deny the capability of whatever had walked through this village, especially since it had apparently killed the wyvern riders that had been guarding the village, by his understanding of Almyran culture, those who rode upon wyverns were some of the greater warriors and to hear they were killed so easily.


His hand remained cupped on his chin as he listened to the words of the man explaining all of what had transpired to him.

"Nothing more than a traveller seeing the world." He replied when inquired as to who he was. "I had explored Fodlan for all it was worth and found myself curious in regards to Almyra, the mountains were hazardous but persevered, you are the first settlement I have come across."

The man, Zaahid, merely made a small disgruntled noise as he waved a hand towards the remains of the town without words, his glare was enough to set wood ablaze if they had that capacity for it.

He merely watched them with hidden interest, Zaahid's anger was as palpable as one could possibly get.

"The monster that attacked your homes, you are certain it came from across the border?"

"You have been to that land, you have surely seen the monsters that stalk their fields?" Zaahid shot back with a sharp tone of voice, then caught themselves and looked towards the ground, hands clenched into fists and shaking ever so slightly. "We have no such beasts in our lands, yet one of those accursed demons walks through and slaughters my home and kills my people? Where else would it have come from?"

Nodding his head up and down at the man, he kept silent for a few moments. "So there are no Demonic Beasts in Almyra? Then I have no doubts it did come from across the border of Fodlan. Perhaps looking to expand it's territory?"

The tanned human looked at him with a burning anger for a few moments. "I don't care why it's here, the only thing that matters now is killing-"

"I would say the only thing that matters now is getting down from the mountain and seeking out aid." He cut them short with a wave of the hand, the anger simmered but still remained. "You have suffered a rather devastating loss which will be difficult to recover from, but what few of your people remain should leave this place and head for one of your other settlements, you have neighbouring ones?"

Zaahid kept silent for a couple of seconds, then he nodded slowly. "...There is one, a few leagues north of us, at the base of the mountain."

He nodded to them. "Take your people there and speak of what has befallen your village, if this monster does walk the lands then perhaps others might follow, especially if some of the Demonic Beasts of Fodlan are soon able to cross the borders, they are scourge enough for the people of that land."

Glancing across from the man, he turned his gaze over the many people who walked behind him before he raised his voice. "Hear me, gather what you can and prepare yourselves for walking. Zaahid will lead you all to safety."

The man in question jerked for a moment at suddenly having the commands put upon his shoulder, then quickly nodded his head and turned to his people. "Do as he says, we will need to move swiftly and hope the monster has not gotten so far ahead of us that we stumble upon another ruin."

Soon, Zaahid turned to him. "We should probably-"

"I will not be joining you."

The man blinked twice, then leaned back as though he had been struck. "Wha-then what is it that you intend to do?"

"Follow the trail left behind by the monster and do my utmost to deal with it to avoid more senseless destruction."

The trail had already been discovered and was far from cold, rather the beast was still heading further and further east, likely just moving forwards and caring for little else beyond whatever happened to be in its path. As expected with wild animals, but this was not just wild animals.

It stuck to the roads.

The look of shock and horror upon the face of Zaahid was enough to make it clear to him that they did not approve of his actions. Already, they stepped forwards and grasped his arm tightly, staring at him as though he was insane. "You would chase down that monster alone!? You are bereft of mind if you intend to do such a thing! Walk with us to-"

He removed their hand from him slowly. "If the monster moves without obstacle, I have little doubt this tragedy will be repeated a dozen times before it is eventually stopped. It is only logical that I should face it, as I have the means to do so."

Without further words, he turned away from Zaahid and started walking. "I wish you good fortune in your efforts, Zaahid, and hope that you recover from this setback, but I have every reason to believe that you will. You are a hardy people."

"You're insane, Lemegeton! You will only walk into your own death! Do not do this!"



But he could see how they would think such a thing.

Such concerns, however, only extended towards those of human origin, he was far from human despite how he would appear.

This was becoming more curious as time passed.

The trail stuck to the roads but did not entirely veer onto them, rather they were almost doubling back every few hundred metres as if they were aware of something trying to follow them, or acting as though something would do precisely that.

Lemegeton was curious as to how the Evlogia would influence the Demonic Beast, but to think that it would have enhanced it this much?

No, that was not correct.

The Evlogia only enhanced the existing traits of the Demonic Beast that consumed Miklan, but the host had to be compatible for it without the risk of damage. There was a reason that he was so surprised as to why the Demonic Beast had not detonated upon the influence of Evlogia entering their body.

But if this intellect was already within the Demonic Beast to begin with, then the infusion of Evlogia would have further enhanced it.

He stopped walking, cupping his chin and humming to himself.

This situation was rapidly shifting and bringing a trace of interest to him.

This was no longer about discovering a potential tool that he could wield if the time came, now it was about discovering the true effect that Evlogia would have on a Demonic Beast, or the extent to which the Demonic Beasts were able to be trained.

Thales had put efforts into making Crest beasts by exposing some hapless soul to the crest stones and churning out wild monsters that they put efforts into taming. They served their function but they were hardly any more comparable with ordinary demonic beasts despite their origin rooted in human captives.

His walk resumed, his senses expanded to their utmost limit and he released a faint pulse of magical energy from himself to everything within a ten mile radius of himself.

Anything with an affinity for magical energy would doubtless find themselves drawn to him.

He straightened himself.

Something pushed back against the pulse, his head turned sharply towards the direction it had come from and he tensed himself.

The pressure of magical energy had started to climb.

No, it was not just climbing, the pressure exuded by whatever was charging towards him had intensified to a point where it doubtless would have been comparable with a Servant. That was no small feat, and to think that it was even pushing past that. If this continued, the rate of progression would put it on par with that of a divine spirit.

Just what sort of Demonic Beast had this been?

He angled himself to face the direction, his ears strained as he listened for the movements approaching him. The crack of rock, the breaking of wood and the thunder of footsteps and yet not much of it added up. He expected there to be a certain weight behind the charge, yet it was doubtless very different from that of a human…no, slightly heavier than a human.

What was this supposed to be?

The face of the woods exploded, a blur charged out from the brush accompanied with a storm of shrubbery and splinters.

A clawed hand raced towards his head, thoughts within his mind slowed as he watched the speared fingers close in on his eyes.

Even if it landed, it was not a fatal blow.

He could regenerate from a destroyed head with absolute ease, rather it would only serve to be a nuisance if his body was damaged in the battle. Nothing more than a cosmetic distraction and little else. But that did not remove from the inherent curiosity he felt as he watched the attack close on his face.

They attacked with speed and surprise, immediately going for a kill shot.

He could stop the punch before it even landed.

But what would that prove to him?

Lemegeton raised his hand, mana channelled into his palm and he caught the blow thrown at him, his legs buckled for a short moment and he frowned at the sight before him. Certainly taller than he stood - even with his impressive host - but it was far smaller than a Demonic Beast should have been.

Combined with the humanoid appearance that it possessed.

Humanoid in the sense that it walked upon two legs, nothing more than that.

The reptilian body, the malicious head with a forwards looping horn down from their forehead. Rather, it held the appearance of a slightly altered demonic beast standing on strengthened hind legs and quite a bit smaller than its brethren. But he could see further through that, the body had been affected further.

The weight was unchanged, but the density of the body was-

The power behind the blow laxed for only a moment, the eyes of the demonic beast focused on his face and briefly widened in clear surprise. It was enough of a chance for him to seize, his hand clenched around the fist and he turned, spinning his body about and throwing the beast through the air and further down the mountain.

It's body ragdolled down the hill, he stood took after it and broke into a sprint, building up speed as it righted itself, his knee drove itself into the monsters chin and propelled it further down, he pushed forwards and tackled it, driving the head down into the ground and keeping it there as their descent down the mountain continued.

With a snarl, the beast threw him from their body, he shifted slightly to catch himself on the next incline down, the monster meanwhile slid to a halt and formed a small crater with the impact, quickly spun around to face him and sharply rose to its feet.

Then skipped backwards, a hint of wariness about it.

Clearly more intelligent than it's brethren-

He straightened, his senses detected something else.

Something inherent to the biology of the beast.

A crest?

Then…This was no ordinary Demonic Beast.

The memories of his host swarmed through his mind, his eyes narrowed as he plucked through them before eventually finding the name which so easily fitted him. He lost his posture of combat and assumed a more casual stance, raising a brow and looking the figure up and down for a few moments.


"You-!?" The garbled words of the monster came next, it stepped backwards and pointed to him in alarm, the hint of wariness in their voice remained, coupled with the shock and disbelief. It sounded so very human, something he would not at all have expected from this manner of creature.

They retained their sanity, even after all this time?

"Nemesis…you…no, this is some manner of trick!" Maurice announced, snarling at him with sharpened fangs and taking a single step forwards, clawed fingers curled into fists. The stance of Maurice shifted, betraying even more intellect than he would have ever initially guessed was owned by them.

A combat stance, even after a thousand years of being reduced to this form, could they still manage some semblance of their mind? Incredible, truly the fortitude of human mentality was something to marvel at.

It was not the first time he had beheld such things, of course, but that did not make it any less impressive.

With a tilt of the head, he regarded Maurice for a couple of seconds before he replied to them. "Why would you assume this to be some manner of trick? You remain alive after a thousand years of wandering the world. True, your shape has changed, but are you so rejecting the possibility of someone else managing a similar feat?"

"This-" Maurice was physically staggered by his words, their stance loosened ever so slightly and a hint of unease betrayed their features. As much as he could deduce, at least, they were clearly debating the validity of his words. "No…No, we saw you die! Seiros paraded your corpse to us! You are dead! This-"

Maurice abruptly went still, then took a faint sniff of the air.

He saw their posture shift.

"You aren't Nemesis…you wear his skin like a cloak!"

That was a rather sudden accusation to fling at him, not that they were wrong, but he was amused that they could deduce such a thing so quickly. Ah, perhaps the flaw was that he was simply too powerful for his natural traits to contain, he was an exposed Demon God after all, nor was he making an effort to cloak his aura.

Then again, he was hardly expecting to run into one of Nemesis' old allies all the way out here.

"You sound certain of that." He replied smoothly, tilting his head and twitching his brow at them. "How can you so quickly assume that I am not Nemesis, you have hardly remained the same these last thousand years, why is it that you cannot make the same assumption for me? Or do you assume that a body can last a thousand years without some change?"

Doubt crept into Maurice once more.

The posture of the beast loosened a touch further, their eyes flickered away from him.

"However…I'm impressed with your perception."

They snarled at him, taking a single step forwards. "You steal the corpse of my King! For that I shall shred you to-"

Maurice tensed, then widened their eyes and stepped backwards.

It was already too late, he was in front of them before they could react and swinging a fist upwards, their guard shifted at the last moment, Maurice held up his arm in front of themselves to block his fist.

Green scale cracked and splintered away as his knuckles made contact.

A thunderous boom echoed around him, Maurice was punted away from him with the blow, their body carried further from his immediate line of sight, dust and debris clouded his vision, but he could see with more than just his eyes.

They flew for a distance of well over two hundred metres with the blow.

Lemegeton stepped forwards, then pushed himself after them with a single step.

What happened?

Maurice's mind ran in circles as the world twisted around him, he could make no sense of what happened.

His arm snapped up, healing over the damage that had been inflicted on him in an instant, but his brain could not catch up with the process of what happened. In one moment, he had stood before some monster wearing the skin of his leader, in the next he was flying through the air with a broken arm.

What happened-?

"Impressive reactions."

His mind slowed to a crawl, he turned his neck to the voice as best he could.

A fist filled his vision, then his eyes whited out as the front of his skull caved inwards, healing over in the same second, but the force of the blow carried him backwards for a single second, the howl of the wind filled his ears, then came the crash of the earth and the pain of bones and scales shattering.

Naturally, the wounds healed over before they could linger.

"And your regeneration as well. Such speed, could it be augmented by your Demonic traits or perhaps is it the presence of a Crest in your blood?"

The mutterance meant nothing to him.

He should have heard it the moment they started speaking, because that was not how they remembered their King speaking at all. He rolled over onto his front, snarling and spitting as he carried himself to his feet, eyes landing upon the skinwalker with a glare, he took a single step forwards and halted himself.

"Oh?" The skinwalker raised a brow, interest passed through its eyes. "You're not going to charge me again? I assumed you would have been driven by righteous fury to put down the monster that walks in the body of your leader. Though, if it should matter to you, he was long since dead when I took control of his body."

As if that changed anything.

Maurice took another step forwards and narrowed his gaze.

"...Why are you here?"

They had been surprised to see him.

So it could not have been-

"For you."

He tensed.

"Initially, not you specifically because of who you are, merely the Demonic Beast that claimed the body of a certain individual. It contained something rather special which has since been passed down to you."

Passed down?

Maurice's mind put the words together, it was swift.

His eyes flickered down, a clawed hand rested upon his chest, claws raked across his armoured skin for a moment, scraping noises filled the air as he carved lines into the front of his scales, even those scratches existed for barely a second before they vanished. It was something he noticed happening to his body ever since…

His eyes climbed back up and narrowed. "...What happened to me?"

"A coincidence. I called upon Demonic Beasts to remove traces of something, but to think that you would be included in one of them…Truly, this was a surprise to me."

It was only a single moment, but he saw a flicker of amusement pass through the face of the skinwalker.

"Truly, this is providence. To think that I would stumble upon such a boon."

The skinwalker loosened its posture, then stepped forwards without a hint of aggression in its body. "I propose a truce. I would similarly like to apologise for my earlier actions, rather when I saw how agitated you had become, I merely reacted before I had a chance to think. I believe you know the temper of this body quite well."

Maurice snarled lightly at them but said nothing, instead bringing his arms up once more.

Not that they seemed daunted in the least by his aggression.

But he did not care.

He knew his answer.

"I mean my words. You shall perish for this insult."

The skinwalker frowned as if minor insulted by his words, its expression then dropped and it shrugged its shoulders. "Hmm. Very well then. I suppose it cannot be helped, though I am slightly curious if the human concept for submission through defeat is applicable in this situation…"

Leaning back, the skinwalker pulled an almost cordial smile.

"How about a wager between the two of us? I shall fight you, if you win then I shall naturally die, but if I defeat you, then you will serve under me and assist me in my goal."


"Even if it means defeating Seiros?"


Even in his madness, the rumours of what befell his fellow Elites landed upon his ears.

He knew they were hunted down like dogs and slaughtered without exception, even if their families were spared, they were put to the sword. He alone escaped that fate purely because he was one of the few to have been excised from history. He doubted very many knew he even existed in the first place.

…Defeating Serios?

It sounded…difficult to believe.

And yet…

Either way, this was something that he could manage.

He knew about its strength and speed now, he could adjust himself, draw upon this new reservoir of power that he had all but stumbled upon and put it to use when fighting this figure. Whether he was defeated or not, he would get something out of this battle.

What else did he have left in him to do?

He had only wandered from the forest for the first time in centuries because of the pull of the force within his body. He walked all the way to the border on that singular whim to leave, but he could not escape the pull to this person before him.

There was something about that, more than the connection with Nemesis, that brought a seed of unease to his doubt.

He snarled as something clicked in his mind.

"It is not as though I can escape either way, is it?"

"No. Either you agree to work with me in favour of a goal that will benefit you, or you perish by my hand. Those are the only two choices that stand before you now. Ultimately, my long term goal remains unchanged, it is just about the removal of loose ends."

Then he would need to fight for his life.

"...Come then. Skinwalker." His posture tensed once more, his eyes narrowed and he stepped forwards. Muscles bulged and power flexed through his body, each step he took shattered the ground under his feet. "I shall flay the skin from your false bones."

"Indeed." The skinwalker spoke as though it were somehow amused by his words, stepping forwards to meet him.

He was unsure what happened, a single flash of light and then heat burned across the front of his chest. In the next moment, Maurice saw the ground peeling away from him faster and faster, his eyes widened and the breath escaped his jaws, twisting his body around as he came to a single conclusion.

He had been knocked into the air.

When did-?

It was difficult to describe the menacing aura he felt, if there was such an embodiment of power moving towards him, then this was it. The sensation of nothing but raw strength flying at him with incredible speeds.

Turning himself as best he could, he caught sight of the blur shooting through the forest beneath him, trees upheaved and then it pressed into the sky with an explosion of force, the blur streaked through the air and then was upon him in a few seconds.

He swung his fists towards them, both hands were caught.

A snarl escaped him, his newfound power surged as sparks of light flashed through his arms, flexing his might to escape its hold-

Crimson circles formed by the hands of the skinwalker, in the next moment his arms burned away into dust, the force of the disintegration knocked him backwards through the air. He rocked his head forwards, building up a surge of power in the back of his throat, heat burned through his mouth and raced out from between his fangs.

A sea of flames consumed the spot where the skinwalker had been, he could make out no sign of them through the swirl of fire and he did not doubt it would have been caught in the attack.

Something strong gripped the back of his head and pulled, the world span around him for a single second as nothing but light and the howl of moving wind. He was barely accustomed to the notion of moving before the sky filled his vision, the clouds got smaller and smaller.

In the next second, it occurred to him what just happened.

In the second after that, he hit the ground and shattered the resistance behind him, rock and mud rolled over his body, a deafening boom filled his ears and pulsed through his body, to speak of his bones which broke on impact, only to regenerate from even that. The flesh where his stumps were burst forwards, twisting and growing longer and longer, morphing into arms once more.

He pressed against the ground-

A shadow fell over him, his eyes snapped towards it.

The hammer fist crashed into the top of his head, driving him into darkness and muffled chaos, the grip clasped his armoured skin and pulled, a painful tug ripped something free of his body and sent him careening through the air. Twisting several times before he hit the ground, rolling himself over and thrusting his claws into the dirt.

A howl ripped free of his throat, his muscles bulged and pulled upwards.

The earth wrenched itself free, flipping into the air and catapulting cattle sized mounds of dirt into the air, moving in slow motion around him as he charged through the debris field and further towards where the shadow had been.

He clasped the largest clump he found, digging his claws deep into the rock and pulling it along with him. Snarling as he hurled it forwards, the skinwalker sidestepped the blow with such trivial ease it was as if he had flung but a lump of mud towards them.

Heat surged through his throat once more, his jaw opened up-

His head snapped back, a jerked sensation and then the lower half of his face turned numb, a force smashed into his chest like a hammer, driven down into the ground as everything flowed at regular speeds, the earth fell around him. He found himself unable to move his jaw, then he felt the faint tug of regeneration setting in.

Maurice felt the intention before he saw them.

He just moved, throwing himself forwards as something crunched beneath them, his right hand clasped the underside of his chin and he froze.

There was no chin.

It had ripped his jaw off, that was why he felt the pull of healing once more.

"Is that the best of your ability?"

He whirled around, snarling out a reply "Not ye-"

Dozens of crimson circles hovered in the air before him, the only trigger with the faint pulse of gleaming red eyes before his world was bathed in heat. He saw nothing but the wall of fire that clung to his body from every direction, he stumbled backwards and swung out with all his might, sweeping aside something that was in his path, he heard the tearing of the earth, but the flames remained.


He needed to be rid of these flames.

He focused his power inwards, drawing everything that he could possibly imagine. He held it inside, holding it tight as it struggled and writhe against his efforts. It was not something that he had ever done, but he could never heal himself like this before. Indeed, the damage he accumulated was already regenerating.

The hold on the power loosened, it erupted out from him with a crack of thunder, banishing the flames from his sight and revealing the smouldering world around him, he turned left and right in an effort to track down where it had gone. His eyes narrowed as his lipless jaw formed as great a snarl as he could imagine.

A flicker to the side, he focused his mind towards it and then swung a hand out.

The circle of red shattered in an instant, the spell disrupted itself before it could launch, but he knew that would not be enough. He swirled his inner abilities, that which had long since worked against all other mages in the past. He increased the power with the newfound strength.

Cloaking himself in the barrier to protect himself from incoming magical attacks.

Indeed, the next dozen lines of red which thrust themselves upon him made nary a scratch upon his hide, though he still felt the force of each of them, staggering back a little with each hit and narrowing his gaze. Still, his eyes swung out before locating the figure.

Another pull of strength, he forced himself forwards and swung for the shape, the skinwalker stood amidst the sea of flames with a curious look in its gaze, it did not seem to properly react to the fist rushing towards its head. His foot stomped down and his entire frame swung into the blow.

His fist closed in-

Maurice blinked, his body jerked backwards as a pain shot through his chest.

His eyes looked to his fist, a faint circle surrounded his arm to the elbow where everything past it vanished. It wasn't cut off though, it just was not where it was supposed to be. His eyes lowered down, then gazed at the forearm that was presumably missing, the same ring of light and he was staring at his own fist embedded in his chest.

The circles snapped shut, a faint tightening around his arm and then it was cleaved in twain, Maurice stumbled backwards and snapped his eyes to the skinwalker who just watched him with the same hint of apathy, the curiosity vanished.

"Wielding all that power so simply…Hm. Though…the disruption of magical spells before they form, is it? How interesting…That might prove useful, and cloaking yourself in a barrier to negate incoming magical energy? Novel. That much I can approve of. Though…"

Light formed behind the skinwalker.

"I think there may be a limit."

Maurice skipped backwards, his arm formed again and he held them before himself, forming a guard with himself-

Heat washed through him, a gasp escaped him as the light pierced through his body in slow motion, the bright red consumed his limbs and struck his chest, it vanished beneath the stream of light passing through his body and right out the other side. By the time he stepped away, the left half of his torso was completely gone.

He caught himself, throwing his hand down to slow his momentum, pushing off the ground as his body reformed. His eyes watched them before he stepped again, reversing his sprint and throwing himself towards them from another angle.

"As you are now, you could probably prove a challenge for Seiros…that is, if she fought you as little more than a crazed beast."

Its words just passed through his ears as nothing more than sounds.

He brought his fists above his head and swung down towards them.

He hit something, but it was not them, he felt the impact in the split second before it looked like he was going to touch them. Then his arms exploded, a force ripped them asunder right the way back to his shoulders, Maurice howled in pain as he stumbled backwards, already the regeneration restored his arms.

Maurice abandoned notions of it, then threw himself forwards in a flurry of blows, each one crashing just before they touched the skinwalker and shattered off an invisible barrier. No, it was not a barrier. It felt as if his arms were just stopping their momentum altogether at his fists and the force of his swings kept on travelling.

What was-?

"Some humans consider time to be akin to a river. It flows ever onwards with twists and turns. I can approve of the notion, it can be both chaotic and orderly. Peaceful and terrifying, don't you agree?"

The skinwalker turned to him, then offered a faint smirk.

"Ars Temporis."


His fist passed through empty space.

Maurice widened his eyes.

When did they move-?

"The flow of time, if one imagines it akin to water, is affected by said comparison. For example, a river can be stopped, it can speed up if affected by an outside force and even turned back."

The voice came from behind.

Maurice turned, whipping his hand through the air like a blade and striking nothing once more.

He blinked, then looked at his right arm.

…Where was his right arm?

Where did it-?

He stumbled forwards, gasping as pain flashed through his right side abruptly, he glanced down and widened his eyes in alarm. His armoured skin had been folded inwards by what looked like a dozen blows towards it, the faint outline of knuckles faded away as his healing restored his injuries.

Yet when did this happen? He never saw or felt them?

"But your regeneration impresses me quite handily. More than that, I am certain that given time, you will eventually showcase a greater capability over your abilities. Rather, with the power you are granted…Yes, you will do quite nicely."

The sensation of power returned once more, Maurice turned around and watched as the skinwalker just appeared in front of him. There was no warning prior to its arrival, it simply manifested in front of him as if it had always been there.

Was it teleportation?

No, he would have felt the magic, then what happened?

"Perhaps it is because my host is leaking some of their original elements into my mind, but the urge to demonstrate it is not just my magical abilities keeping you at bay is rather tempting now. Just to leave you without a shadow of a doubt that we are indeed as far from equals as one can get."

It marched forwards, its hands cracked and were brought up.

The false copy of Nemesis made a smirk. "Let us have a contest to compare blows, shall we?"

Its fist was already accelerating towards his face before he could offer a response, thus he moved purely by instinct and brought up the flat of his hand. His eyes bulged as he heard the crack of bone, his scales broke a little under the force of the blow. His body skated backwards, feet dragged through mud.

Another punch aimed towards him.

Maurice roared and countered it with his own blow, stepping forwards and swinging his arms at them with reckless abandon. His teeth grit together so hard that he was certain some of them broke in his jaw.

The blows rained faster and faster until he was moving beyond his own ability to track, all he could see were the faint blurs and the overlap where it looked as though he had spontaneously grown multiple arms at once. Each one of them cracked against the blows of the skinwalker.

It was insulting how it could keep that casual look on its face as it caught each and every one of his blows with the flat of its palms. Its hands moved as if it were always in the path, blurring across the body and catching the attacks. Yet despite being the one to throw the punches, Maurice was the one losing ground.

What sort of strength was this-!?

Where did they come from-?


"Hmmm. I've seen enough, I am satisfied with your strength." Those words were spoken as it caught his next punch in a tight grip, its fingers cracked down around his knuckles and squeezed until he heard the chittering of his armoured plates beneath its digits. "Let us test the limits of your physical endurance, shall we?"

Maurice had only a split second to realise what they were going to do.

He brought his leg up into a kick, swinging his knee towards its torso-

It backhanded his leg, a yanking sensation and then a splatter of blood, its blow tore his leg off at the shin, shattering it into fragments and scattering them into the ground with such speed that they punched into the dirt with explosions of soil.

The backhand reversed course, then smashed into the side of his head.

His vision whited, he stumbled with the blow, opening his eyes just in time for another blow to catch him from the other side.

Within a single second, it was the one throwing punch after punch into his body, each one cracked armoured plates and sent them flying away from him. He could not even fall down, the moment it looked possible, it gripped his arm and then dragged him forwards just so it could keep him on his feet while it punched him again and again.

…Was its power really so great?

What was this difference between them?

Defeating them?

What a joke.

How could you stand against such a monster-?

A final blow pounded into his sternum, he flew backwards for what felt like years before hitting the ground, rolling through the mud and sliding to a halt, he barely had the strength to raise his head to see the devastation that had come from the blow he suffered, trees torn up from the roots and a deep trench carved through the ground by his body.

With a wheeze, Maurice pushed his hands against the ground and shot back to his feet, stumbling for a few steps and raising his head, staring across the ruins of the battlefield towards his attacker.


The monster.

"Do you know there is a word for large waves that emerge from the ocean and swallow coasts? Not that you in Fodlan would know it, but I suppose I felt this word was a homage to an individual from my past who affected me quite a bit."

The smile on its face betrayed a sense of danger.

"I wish to see just how far I can push your regeneration and, in keeping with the analogy of time being a body of water, this chaotic fast sweeping storm feels most appropriate."

The skinwalker raised one hand and held it sideways to its face, the expression blanked.

"The Flow of Time Hath Shattered."

He felt it.

That overwhelming sensation, the sudden increase in power that dwarfed whatever he had felt before.

He had to stop them, he absolutely could not let them complete whatever they were going to do!

"Eternity is Compressed in Evanescence."

His strength gathered once more, building up deep within his chest until the skin cracked and the rays of light emerged from the growing wounds on his throat, they burned hotter and hotter as the flames started to leak out from between his teeth, he did not doubt that the searing pain meant that his mouth was melting.

But as swiftly as it did that, it healed over again.

Caught in a loop of agony.

The skinwalker closed its eyes, but he knew that barrier would remain around them.

"Now, become lost in the river of transience."

The only hope was to shatter it with this single attack.

Maurice released the hold on the flames, they surged forwards.

"Ars Temporis."


The flames vanished?

No, they looked as though they just ceased to exist before ever touching them?

What happ-

His body exploded, dozens of slashes ripped through his scales as if they were naught but paper, Maurice stumbled as the attacks continued without end, his healing kept him in general shape, but it was an unending barrage of attacks which never failed to strip his body apart.

Even as the wounds healed, they would be opened once more.


Agony the likes of which he had never experienced before.

Death by infinite cuts, but he could not see where they were coming from, he did not feel where they were coming from either.

It was like he was being attacked by the air itself?

What was this…?

What sort of monster was this?!

The earth was slashed into ribbons, the trees and plants around them were shredded into fine mist and swept around into a vortex, the world exploded around him as the barrage continued.

He could not escape, he could not even move so much as a single finger.

Rather, he could not regenerate a finger to grow.


…He couldn't endure this?

Who could?

This monster…where had it been hiding?

"I-I yie-"

The moment he opened his mouth, it exploded into a river of blood, his sight turned dark and he still felt the pain. His eyes were ravaged before they could regenerate, leaving him blind to the world around him. Yet the agony remained without fault.

He could tell they were stronger than him…He could tell that much…

But to think…it was to this extent…?

They were stronger than the Nabateans…

…They were stronger than Seiros…?

"Yield, do you?"

The pain abruptly ended, he dropped down onto his face and panted out.

"Excellent. Ah, I believe that as allies, we should introduce one another."

Wounds healed over, his eyes rose up towards the direction of the voice, the shadow stepped over him and blotted out the light. The monster smiled down at him as though they were greeting an old friend.

"I am Lemegeton. I am very excited to work with you in the future, Maurice."