Sorry it took like a month even though I'm on break until today. This will conlcue this arc of the story. The next arc will be up sometime... after I'm doen with AP testing. College soon so I'm gonna try to tie up my loose ends with other stories and such. Then I'll finish this one. Thank you to all the people who has stuck with me until now. Last one guys. Enjoy.
Word Count- 3004
Disclaimer- My story not my manga
There was a rumble up above and droplets of water were cascading over the spectators but they stayed anyways. This fight would be more important than any others thus far in this latest series of trials that the inhabitants of this heaven seemed to have to endure time and time again.
The final two competitors of the match stepped forward. Pozun had already made his announcement of who would be fighting and what the match would mean. Regardless of the victor, everyone on the Cross Guard would be allowed to participate in future matches. However, it was the eligibility of the one named Zero whom everyone's attention laid.
In the previous battle, he won with ease. All that was known about him were the two ἅrms that he employed. One was a dimension ἅrm that switches the place of the two fighters. The other ἅrm was a guardian with the ability to turn the opponent to dust.
On the other hand, there was Igor who has taken Leir's form. In his employ are the ἅrms that the deceased Leir had as well as his own. The key focus of the match laid not with the participants but on the aftermath that will follow. "Leir's" victory would mean the eventual relinquishing of her guardian. Zero's victory would mean one fewer piece to mobilize against the might of Caldia and the remaining Chess Pieces. It would be an even match, difficult for either side to win.
With those thoughts in mind, the spectators watched as "Leir" attacked first.
"Nature ἅrm Helper!" "Leir" declared, "Combined with my own Nature ἅrm Acid Serpent."
At his command, arms of bone and a serpent-like being made entirely of acid emerged. The hands rushed towards Zero. The serpent remained still, hovering almost directly above "Leir". As the hands reached Zero, suddenly the two fighters swapped places. The hands pummeled "Leir" instead. However, the serpent began moving as well and drenched Zero in its corrosive liquid. Zero began screaming.
The skeletal hands disappeared and "Leir" looked none the worse. "Leir" smirked, "I knew upon impact you would swap places with me. As long as the hands continue to attack me, you won't switch places. That left my serpent free to drench you in its acid. Oh and I modified this ἅrm as well. It has the ability to melt and destroy any ἅrm even that guardian of yours. Now. Let's see that ugly face of yours."
Although the mask did not break like "Leir" wanted, the rest of the robe was melted away to reveal Zero's form. A collective gasp can be heard. His arms were crossed over his chest, his hands rested on his shoulders, and his legs were crossed. His body was covered by something akin to, what Ginta remembered from his world, a straitjacket. There were weird symbols all over the white suit that Dorothy revealed were bindings. Chains were present with heavy black metal balls hanging from them. Zero looked like a condemned criminal ready to be executed. He was still screaming.
"No!" the Great Elder cried, "The seal must not be broken."
"Seal?" Ginta turned to him.
The Great Elder walked forward, "I must stop the match. Poz-"
His attempt was futile however, as the chains began breaking apart and the screams became louder and louder. The screams permeated the field and drowned out the words of everyone. The seals on the body began glowing brightly causing Zero to scream even louder in pain. Moments later, the seals' light started flickering and eventually died. The fabric was ripped apart revealing the form of the creature known as Zero.
His body was darkness. On his back were four devil-like wings. On his head two sheep-like horns emerged. His face was blank except for a mouth that seemed to be sewed together and then forced open. Its hands were claws that it used to scratch at its head. It had a tail resembling a lizard. Its continual roar began to echo back, doubling the volume. With rain pouring freely onto the people, Zero looked like the herald of death, sent to kill the people of this heaven once and for all.
"Leir", in vain, tried to attack the mass of darkness. He summoned out the skeletal giant Fibularais to crush the creature. A burst of darkness emerged from Zero's mouth and eradicated the skeletal guardian. Zero continued to attack the arena and its spectators with random streams of dark light.
Although Team Mἅr and the Cross Guard tried to help, they couldn't get near the monster. The Great Elder had disappeared since its awakening. Helpless, the two teams tried their best to mitigate the damage. However, with the injuries that Alan and Alviss sustained, they were unable to do much to help. Hyde and Gaira tried to evacuate the spectators while Team Mἅr tried to divert the beams. "Leir" had been hit by a wayward beam earlier and his body was torn in two.
Jack summoned forth large bean plants to block the beams but the beams tore through them easily. Dorothy tried to match beam with beam and summoned out her Scarecrow guardian. However, she was forced to abandon that plan when Zero matched the Scarecrow's attack head on and began to overpower the guardian. Nanashi and Galian attacked Zero directly but narrowly avoided death when Zero turned to attack them instead. Ginta stood by helplessly. He had lost Babbo in the ensuing panic and could not find the missing ἅrm. Babbo, for his part, was also trying to find Ginta.
When Zero appeared on the verge of killing the team, the Great Elder reappeared with three women. The women all had corresponding tattoos on their faces of different colors and symbols and cloaked in the same dark robes as the Great Elder.
One of the women was an amazon. She was almost seven foot tall and wore her long red in a braid. Her skin was a golden brown and her raging yellow eyes betrayed her calm demeanor. On her face was the mark of the red blade, the sign of Lachesis of the heavens.
The second woman had a blue spiral on her face. Her face was like a baby's except for her eyes. Like her face, her body was almost childlike. She was shorter than the average woman would be, no more than five feet tall. Like Lachesis, her eyes were fierce. However, there was an impermeable darkness within them. They were impossible to read.
The last cloaked figure, unlike the others, wore the hood. She was a little less than six foot tall. With the combination of hood and cloak however, nothing else can be seen of this person. However, where her face would be, there was a strange glow or aura emanating.
These three women gathered around the raging Zero in a triangular formation. Although it roared and tried to attack them, it would meet with an invisible barrier. The three women started a chant that sent chills down the remaining warriors and spectators in the stadium. Although they were saved by the arrival of these four figures, the unearthly chant seemed to resonate with some darker part of their psyche. Like their feelings toward "Leir's" abomination, this chant seemed perverse and wrong.
The chant grew stronger. The beast roared louder and made an even greater effort to break through the invisible barrier that is trapping it. Soon, strange characters of an indecipherable script appeared from the women's mouths. These words floated through the air, pierced the invisible barrier, and began spinning around the dark beast. Zero fell to its knees, howling in pain as if some invisible force was holding it down. The characters ceased their rotation as the women stopped their chanting and enclosed on the monster. The monster's screech reverberated through the souls of the people present but even that screech died down as the characters fused themselves with its body. It slowly collapsed into a heap and the cloaked woman lifted her hand, revealing an armlet that ran to her middle finger and three rings each on her index, ring, and middle fingers. Zero flashed bright white for a second before it disappeared.
The Great Elder, silent throughout the entire event, spoke, "My apologies inhabitants of Mἅr heaven. Our (Caldia's) warrior appeared to have not been well disciplined as of yet. In order to promote the fairness of the Games, we will withdraw our fighter."
Alan ran up to the Great Elder and lifted him up by his robes, "Many have died because of this warrior of yours. You think we can be satisfied with this alone?"
"This is all we can do. Any prolonging of this war will only allow both sides to accumulate more military force and more lives will be lost as a result. Caldia attempted to finish the war earlier with only our most accomplished warriors and by taming a monster. That monster had broken loose but we have reestablished our hold on him. Both sides have lost strength because of him," the Great Elder calmly explained.
"Bastard. None of your people were here," Alan accused.
The Great Elder lifted the sleeves of his robe. His left arm was horribly burned and shriveled like a husk. Alan could tell that, even with healing, it may never work again.
The Great Elder spoke evenly, "I underestimated its might. I sent out three dozen Caldian warriors to subdue the monster and retrieve him. They all perished. Then I went to fight it alone. In my carelessness, it burned my arm and ripped through my body. Before it can finish me, the three ladies appeared and subdued him."
Alan let him go, "Why didn't they warn you? One of them is called the "seer". She should have been able to tell you what would happen."
"It was fated for those men to die. It was fated for the Great Elder to fight and lose. And it was fated that Zero would break free of his bindings and wreak havoc before we can finally interfere," the one with the blue spiral said. Her voice was like cotton candy, smooth and light even in the face of the tragedy of the day.
"Fate will not be denied," added Lachesis. Unlike the woman with the spiral, she sounded truly sorry for the lives lost.
"Screw fate. People died whose lives could have been saved by your intervention," Ginta jumped in.
"Foolish child. Mortals can speak such foolishness only because they cannot comprehend the meanings behind the existences of life and death. One life, one hundred lives, a billion. Lives have been lost over the centuries humans have existed and will continually be lost. What are a few hundred deaths to us?" the hooded figure chided. The voice, like the persona, was undecipherable. It was both man and woman and never the same two voices. The voice was neither heavy nor light, neither monotone nor vibrant, and neither happy nor sad. It was a voice tinged with the wisdom of one who had lived for countless eons.
Ginta, for his short sixteen years of life, found he was unable and unwilling to do anything in front of this impressive figure. His lungs felt constricted. It was hard to breathe. His muscles were tightened. Though they were burning, he felt unable to relax them. His shoulders were tense. His eyes were dilated. Sweat poured from all over his body. His face was turning pale. It was fear. Absolute fear. This was the first time Ginta felt so afraid. Even against the "King", he felt confident about winning and saving the world. Against this person, he felt completely powerless. Insignificant.
Then a hand rested on his shoulder and he turned his head.
The Great Elder saw what was happening to Ginta Toramizu. It happened for everyone that stood before Atropos and did not submit immediately. Though Atropos was his ally and longtime friend, he agreed with what Ginta was saying and couldn't allow the boy to suffer before he even fought in the war.
"That's enough Atropos. Let him be," the Great Elder spoke, quietly but firmly.
The two had a stare-off for a moment before Atropos nodded her head and vanished. The Great Elder heaved a sigh of relief. Ginta dropped to the ground, gasping for air. The Great Elder patted his shoulder and walked back to Alan.
"In three months' time, we will continue this war. For now, please, take the time to bury and honor your dead. For this entire mess, our apologies," the Great Elder bowed his head and vanished.
The other two women were about to vanish as well when Dorothy and Alviss came charging up to them.
"Wait!" Dorothy cried. She pointed at the woman with the blue spiral, "I know- No I don't- wait- yes I do. Aggghhhhh." Dorothy screamed and clutched her head as she sank to her knees on the ground.
Alviss went to her, "Are you okay?"
Dorothy started to lash out at him. Her eyes were a beautiful blood red that glinted in the rain. Alviss took an elbow to his jaw and he grimaced. He managed to bind both her arms behind her back causing her to screech with fury.
The woman with the blue spiral walked forward and touched Dorothy's forehead with her index. "Don't you touch her!" Alviss cried as released Dorothy to shove the woman back. Ginta and Alan joined him.
The woman with the blue spiral sighed and walked towards the now scrambling Dorothy who is trying to crawl away. Alviss tried to intercept but found he couldn't move. Neither Alan nor Ginta could move either.
"Children should not interrupt their elders," the woman with the blue spiral said, "Now Dorothy," she kicked the girl onto her back, "you've been a lot of trouble for me," her eyes were still unreadable but there was a light of love or amusement in them, "but it can't be helped. You take after your mother after all," she bent to touch her forehead with her palm and Dorothy shuddered before falling asleep, "but you don't need to remember me yet. Your memory doesn't need to return. No. I wish it will never return but for the sake of our family and home, we will meet again."
She vanished before anyone can ask her anything, leaving Lachesis. Lachesis bowed and said, "I'm sorry." She too vanished.
When Clotho, for the others' names were already said, vanished, whatever spell she had on Alan and the others was gone as well. Dorothy was still asleep, dreaming about some faraway memory.
By this time, Nanashi, Galian, Jack, and the others have caught up to them. Babbo muttered his regret and apologies for being lost. Ginta did the same.
"It can't be helped. Three months for funeral, regret, lamentation, anger, and hatred. But it is also three months of growth, rebirth, and renewal. We should know," Nanashi said to Galian's agreement. They had already been through this once. The second time is easier. Not good but easier.
"Back to the training gates?" Ginta inquired.
Jack was the first to shake his head, "Sorry guys but I feel useless. The plants that I used my magical power to create were torn apart like paper," he clenched his right fist, "I'll be back but there is someone I have to see. He is the only one who could help me."
"I agree with Jack. Gymnote was destroyed in the struggle. I will need a new guardian at least as powerful as he was. I only know of one other and I'm going to it. Galian is going with me," Nanashi said.
"I would love to train but Alan and I need to oversee efforts to rebuild Reginlief and minimize the uncertainty and chaos that is threatening to happen amongst the populace," Gaira sighed, "Boring work compared to what you all need to do."
"I have questions for my father that I need an answer about. Plus," Hyde took out a large capsule that had some sort of slime in it.
The slime yelled, "What are you looking at?"
"Is that-" Ginta asked.
Hyde nodded apologetically, "Igor. He ran before he could be killed and tried to hide. I'm sorry I didn't help much in the fight against Zero but I felt that he was a bigger priority and captured him."
"No. You did well. We weren't able to do anything as a team. Even with one more person, I doubt we could have done anything to that monster," Alan gravely stated.
Hyde nodded his understanding that Alan was not insulting him but stating a fact, "I will take him with me since he is now technically in our employ. Besides," his eyes darkened, "I don't want my father to dodge responsibility. With this in his face, he can't."
"Very well but be careful," Gaira said.
Ginta turned to Alviss, "What about you?"
Alviss frowned, "I need to uncover whatever it means about Abaoqu and its power. Otherwise, I'll lose like the last time."
"I can help if you like. There is a guardian of mine that is insufferable and your help would be nice," Dorothy joined in.
"Dorothy. You're awake," Ginta smiled.
Dorothy hugged him, "Yes Ginta. It's good to be back."
"What happened?" Alviss asked.
"Nothing. All I remember is Zero. Did we take him down?" Dorothy asked, suddenly worried.
Alviss slowly said, "I'll tell you later."
Dorothy shrugged like she didn't have a care in the world, "Okay."
"What should I do then?" Ginta asked.
"There is someone who wants to see you and Babbo. Decide from there," Alan said as he jerked a thumb in the direction of the castle ruins.
Ginta nodded and left with Babbo. Everyone else departed as well. In three months' time, they will all meet again.
"You must be Ginta. My name is Kai. I'm going to help you," Kai said. Greda was at his side, beaming.