Edit 1/28/2024: This is directed at "amgfan777". Please PM me if you have an account. Otherwise email me. My contact info is in my profile.

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Chapter 21: Ah! An Impossible Challenge!

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Satomi walked over to Mari and slapped her. Mari was so surprised she fell backwards. "Don't ever try to blackmail me ever again!" she exclaimed. "How dare you try to use the past to turn my brother against me! You should be ashamed of yourself!"

"Satomi..." Belldandy said, at a loss for words.

"I'm sorry, Kenshin." Satomi said to her brother. "We should have told you before things got to this. I see that now. Do you want to know what happened between me and Mari's father?"

"Considering Hild and The Almighty One are involved I guess I don't have a choice." he replied, shrugging. "But I can wait until later. There's still the matter of how we should deal with Mari."

"Don't write me off as defeated just yet!" Mari snapped as she floated in midair. "Besides, it's not as if I can't break the seal myself."

"What!" Keiichi exclaimed in disbelief. "Then why'd you try to force Satomi to do it?!"

"I simply wanted to see how close the apple fell from the tree." she replied as she began to cast a powerful spell. "Ashes to Ashes! I am the Warden who safeguards the Three Gateways! In my name, I release you from your bonds!" Everyone watched as the great tree exploded, its captive tearing it asunder from within. As the dust settled, a single figure emerged from the remains of the tree.

"Ah, at last." The unmistakable voice of Hayden said as he made his presence known. Belldandy felt a chill go down her spine as she beheld the demon that nearly killed Kenshin before he was born. Hild and her heavenly counterpart tensed in anticipation. The memories of their last encounter came back to Satomi tenfold as he stared her down.

"Welcome back, father." Mari said to him. This was when Hayden noticed her for the first time.

"You've served your purpose." he said in response. "I no longer have any need-" That was all he managed to say before Mari drove her sword through his heard, the tip exiting his back. The shock and surprise everyone felt was made even more evident by Hayden's shocked expression.

"Sorry if you had the wrong idea." Mari said as she cut his heart from his body. "I just wanted your heart—and your powers." Everyone watched as Mari devoured her father's heart in front of them. Hild and The Almighty One did not hide their surprise as they watched Mari's gray wings change. Her left wing turned white and right wing turned black. A while halo appeared above her head while black horns grew out of them.

"Pure Light and Pure Darkness as One." Hild remarked as she grinned. "So she figured out a way to transcend the boundaries of both of our realms. Somehow I'm not surprised. You ready to do this?"

"Let's go." The Almighty One replied as Gungir materialized in his hands. The two wasted little time attacking Mari. Mari lifted her sword and parried both of them with her sword—at the same time.

"The masters are now the pupils." she said as she glared at them with a level of malice that made even Hild flinch. Instinctively Hild and the Almighty One pulled back their charge. "Four years. That's how long I will give Satomi and Kenshin to reach my level of power. Weather they do or not is entirely up to them but know this: If she is not up to the task, I will finish what I have started today."

"Mari, wait!" Satomi exclaimed.

"Consider the time I've given you to be an act of mercy." Mari said as she prepared to fly. "The next time we meet, I will strike without mercy." Everyone watched as Mari took to the air and flew high into the heavens until they could no longer see her.

"I saw it with my own eyes and I still can't believe it." Kenshin exclaimed. "Am I right to say Mari has achieved Deity-level power?"

"She has." The Almighty One replied. "We greatly underestimated her potential."

"She just reached our level of power yet she stayed her hand." Hild noted. "It looks like we weren't the only reason she's putting her plans for world domination on hold."

"What do you mean?" Belldandy asked.

"She only just gained that power." Kenshin replied. "She probably wants to give herself time to master her new abilities."

"Ah, I see." said Keiichi. "While she could stand up to Hild and Kami-sama, she didn't want to push her luck until she was sure victory is absolute."

"What does that mean for the rest of us?" Kenshin asked.

"We must prepare." Satomi replied. "Heaven, Nifelhiem and Earth will need to be ready for Mari's Second Coming. There is much work to be done."

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End Chapter 21.

I'm going to end the story here. It's the least I can do for those who've been waiting for the end. I have to admit some of it is burnout but also because this should have been done over a month ago. I have no real excuse as for why that didn't happen. Information about the sequel will be revealed on my Wordpress blog next summer.

Now that I have closed the book on this harrowing story I can focus a bit more on my other stories in progress. My Clannad, Trauma Center and Ace Attorney Fanfics in particular will be getting lots of love in the weeks to come. As always, follow my Wordpress Blog for the latest news on my Fanfiction!