Chapter 68: Furious Fists of Fire
Thinking for sure he was going to die, Jake spent the next few moments thinking back and deciding whether he had any regrets in life. A few were obvious; not seeing Lady Ranicorn and the kids one last time, never being the best man at his brother's wedding, not eating that last sandwich he'd stashed in the back of the Pulsar's fridge. Those were just a few, not counting the numerous naps he wanted to take and all the video game high scores he had yet to top the leaderboards on.
Ice King on the other hand, was too scared to think. He just shivered, feeling overwhelmed not only by the approaching woman's intimidating appearance, but the raw power he could sense emanating off of her. The old man wished he could just faint; saving the trouble of the pain that was sure to come next.
Astoundingly, the electrical being was not bearing down on them to rip the two to shreds. Instead, she simply turned to the right, walking on her bizarre limbs towards the display of swords nearby. She stopped at one in particular, a katana resting upon its pedestal.
It didn't look like anything special, just the average steel blade hosting an oval tsuba engraved with a pattern of zigzags. The woman reached down and grasped the handle, immediately sending out a wave of electrical energy that engulfed the weapon. The entire room lit up as the force grew overwhelming, blinding Jake and Ice King as they looked on in fear and astonishment.
One of the few remaining boulders was blown apart, existing now only as a pile of ashes. A few yards away, its destroyer was panting, having exhausted herself from her training. Solara walked over to Flame Princess placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Well done, dear. I think you should take a break though. Such a technique consumes a great amount of your energy."
FP nodded, allowing the precursor to lead her over to the side, where everyone was waiting for the young ruler. Finn gave her a quick hug, congratulating her on the progress she'd made. The rest all gave support as well, while the fire elemental took a seat on a flat boulder. Nimbus came over a few moments later, offering out a cup of steaming tea.
"This is a special herbal blend, meant to rejuvenate by relaxing your chi paths and granting access to the pent up energy stored there."
Flame Princess thanked the elder and took a generous sip of the drink, instantly feeling like a flare went off inside her.
"Whoa," she whispered.
Before any conversation could begin however, there was a massive explosion at the temple, startling everyone and causing all eyes to glue to the smoke now rising out of the far end of the building.
"What the heck just happened!?" Finn shouted.
As if in response to the hero's bewildered question, a strange shape came flying towards the training grounds. It impacted a few seconds later, throwing dirt everywhere. Once the dust settled, the group ran over to see what it was. Lying half conscious, and flat from his ball-shaped entry, was Jake, a frightened Ice King curled up on his stomach. Finn hastily got over to his bro's head, keeling down to talk.
"Dude! Are you ok?"
The magical dog groaned a bit, but eventually gave the 'ok' sign as he began to shrink back down to his normal form. PB and Marcy helped IK up, who was still shaking with fear.
"What's wrong with Simon?" Marceline asked, concerned.
Jake nervously rubbed the back of his neck as Finn checked him for any wounds.
"Well, uh, you see...there was this loco chick..."
Nimbus was instantly in the dog's face, giving him a death stare.
"What did you do?" she demanded, almost as a threat.
Jake tapped his fingers together.
"Well, there was this bottle, and Ice King kinda went all sad cuz he hasn't seen his penguin in a while, and long story short, he smashed it and a scary lady walked out."
The elder was frozen, holding wide eyes on the dog as her mouth dropped. Solara walked over to her friend, worried.
"Nimbus, what's the matter?"
The old woman suddenly grabbed Jake's shoulders and shook.
"Tell me you didn't let her get her sword!"
The yellow canine gulped.
Another explosion nearly threw everyone to the ground. The section of the temple that was previously smoking, was now plummeting over the cliffside, destined to sink into the sea far below. Noticeably, massive dark clouds were beginning to gather in the sky above, having already blotted out the sun. Gathering attention back to the damaged temple, a streak of light shot straight out of it, piercing the overcast and causing dozens of lightning strikes to reign down upon the land.
A moment later, the streak came back down, right in front of the group. They shielded their eyes, since the force was as bright as the bolts of energy that rang across the heavens. Once the light died down, everyone looked on in shock at what had appeared before them.
The very being that Jake and Ice King had encountered, now stood calmly in their presence, her katana held firmly in her left hand. She scanned the frozen faces of the gang, stopping when she reached Nimbus, who was the only one glaring at her.
"I assume, based on that expression, that you know who I am."
The elder tightened her grip on her cane.
"Of course I do, you twisted shrew."
The energy-infused woman didn't seem affected by the insult, apparently thinking it was beneath her to react to it.
"I see. Then I wonder..."
She raised her blade slightly, aiming at the dirt at Nimbus' feet.
"Why are you not cowering on the ground?"
Nimbus narrowed her eyes further, then, casually tossed aside her walking stick. She tightened her fists briefly, undoing the tension in their tendons. Next, the old woman held up her palm to the opposition, concentrating. A second later, a volatile blast of plasma was flung at the armed lady, who, after having her eyes nearly rounded out of shock, blocked the shot with her sword, but was still pushed back several dozen feet, tearing up the soil with her lightning-shaped legs.
The gang gasped, stunned at the power this elderly woman possessed. Meanwhile, the energy being let out a low growl as she lowered her sword, which was releasing a bit of steam due to the heat of the material it had guarded against. A scabbard materialized at her hip, whereupon she sheathed her weapon. It disappeared a moment later.
"Not bad, but you misunderstand how badly outmatched you are."
She opened her claw-like hand, reeling it back as if to slash at Nimbus. After dashing forward a few feet, she tore at the space in front of her with her sharp nails, instantly generating plasma that bore down on her foe. The elder was too stunned to move, but lucky for her, Solara suddenly appeared in front of her, generating plasma in her palms and stopping the attack with the blunt force of her hands.
The Ancestral Flame struggled a bit, momentarily disoriented, but held steadfast and prepared herself for any further strikes.
"Who is that, Nimbus?" she asked while eyeing the being carefully.
Her friend anxiously gazed at the energized lady, who was studying the two of them with minimum interest.
"A witch, previously confined to a glass prison for all time."
The energy being scoffed.
"How insulting, to call me a mere witch. I ascended from such pitiful titles long ago."
She held up her hand, immediately forming a gigantic source of high-energy particles and firing a constant beam of them at the two women. They were able to counter with a layer of suspended plasma, but noticeably took great strain in holding back the attack. Seeing this, the Ooo gang began approaching to assist, only to be halted when Solara firmly held her hand up to them.
"Stop! Don't come any closer!"
PB took another step forward.
"But, you need help!"
The precursor shook her head.
"It doesn't matter. Plasma is not a thing that you should be anywhere near when used in battle. I neglected to use it against Astrum in the Nightosphere because you were all nearby. One stray blast could vaporize you."
She swiped her hand, as if to push them away.
"Now get back! And stay out of the fight!"
Regrettably, the group had no choice but to obey the order. Solara had never misled them when the situation was serious, and seeing the level of power the strange enemy wielded, they didn't gamble an argument. However, while everyone else was backing off, Flame Princess suddenly rushed to the side, trying to get an angle on the witch.
"FP! Don't!" Finn cried in worry.
She didn't listen, sliding to a halt before firing a solid stream of flames at the foe. In response, the being used her free hand and battered the flames away effortlessly, shocking the fire elemental. Next, the witch fired back, plasma. Panicking, FP threw a stronger stream at the lethal ball of particles. To her utter horror, the combustion had virtually no effect.
Resorting to a last second dodge, Flame Princess landed on the ground, while the orb of plasma detonated behind her. Solara helplessly looked over to the girl as she and Nimbus held on against their opponent's constant bombardment.
"Flame Princess, fire is not energetic enough to stop such a force!"
The elemental got to her feet. Everyone else was watching from behind a mound of boulders, wanting to get their friends out of there but at the same time knowing it was too dangerous. FP looked at the witch, who was mildly gazing in her direction, obviously thinking the girl was no threat. Glaring, the young ruler brought her hands close, beginning to generate a ball of her own plasma to fire upon the enemy.
Just before she let it loose, the insignia on her arm lit up.
The attack was shot at incredible speeds, surprising even the fire elemental herself. Finally, the witch reacted, nearly gasping as she halted her assault on Nimbus and Solara and used both hands to stop the incoming orb. Once more, even though she blocked the actual damage, the ground behind her feet was ripped apart, blasted into the distance.
After shaking her head, the witch reexamined the battlefield. FP was gazing in awe at how strong her newly learned ability was. Solara and Nimbus looked equally stunned but quickly returned their attention to the threat. The three ladies carefully approached closer to their enemy, each forming more high-energy material to fire at her. Surrounded, the witch reconstructed her scabbard, removing her blade from its content.
Solara and Nimbus froze, while Flame Princess took an extra moment to realize danger was imminent and followed their lead. Meanwhile, their foe glared at all three.
"I've had enough of this pointless squabble."
She raised her sword straight into the air, causing Nimbus to put on a frightened face.
"Strike down! Albe!"
Intricate cracks started to appear on the blade, seeping out a bright light. The heavens above began to rotate like a hurricane, focused on the spot where the witch stood. Once the metal had been sectioned into dozens of parts, these pieces lifted away from the shape of the weapon, hovering and revealing a blade of pure silver underneath. Lastly, a massive lightning bolt erupted from the sky, shattering the metal flecks that once concealed the sword's true form.
The vile being pointed her newly released power at Solara and Nimbus, who braced themselves.
"Allow me to relieve you of your energy."
A forked bolt escaped from the tip of the katana, striking at potentially light speed, too fast for either woman to dodge. As a result, they were painfully struck by the blast, groaning as they felt the weapon leeching away their elemental powers. Flame Princess charged at the witch, engulfing her fist in plasma to level the cruel being in the face.
Sadly, the vicious lady raised her hand, generating a flurry of small but rapid blasts of particles that suppressed FP's approach, forcing her to fall back. Too late to stop what was happening, the fire elemental and her retreated companions all watched as Solara and Nimbus fell to their knees, looking half dead. She gazed in shock, disbelieving that two such powerful elementals were stripped of their might.
Sent into a rage, she fire dashed at the witch, who immediately noticed her and aimed a slash from her sword, letting loose a wave of electrical energy that cut through the ground like a butter knife. The young ruler avoided it, shifting into flames and slithering along the ground until she was within striking distance.
The moment she reformed herself, a plasma-infused fist was sent at the enemy's face. Unfortunately, it was caught. Reacting fast, FP sent her other fist in, but was once again caught. Even with sword in hand, the witch as able to firmly hold the fire elemental back. The two struggled against each other with pure physical strength, until suddenly, a spark flickered from Flame Princess's red gem.
The vicious woman was stunned, right before a fiery bullet materialized and hit her point blank in the face, causing her to scream and fall back, holding her free hand to the injury. The gang cheered from behind their cover.
"Oh yeah, I forgot she could do that," Finn said thoughtfully.
The witch removed her hand, revealing energy scaring on her cheeks. Peebles voiced her theory that whatever substance composed her form, it was incompatible with fire, allowing her to be hurt by it. The woman growled at FP, before holding her sword up.
"You are truly annoying me by this point, little girl!"
In a flash, she was instantly right in front of the fiery ruler, startling her. As the sword came down however, Flame Princess's reflexes kicked in, generating a blade of plasma to block the slash. Beginning to succumb to her opponent's superior strength, the fire elemental looked for an opening to hit back. The witch just narrowed her eyes.
"You can't stand against me, fool. Albe's power will eventually cut through your pitiful weapon."
True to her words, the silver blade began digging into FP's naturally formed defense, panicking her and everyone else observing the fight. To their relief, the fiery girl suddenly determined her next play.
Astonishing the energy being, she swung her neck forward and bashed her foe in the nose with her skull, making her cry out and lose pressure on her weapon. Taking the opportunity, she shoved the katana away with her sword and materialized another on her other arm. A quick uppercut formed a deep slash running up the witch's abdomen and torso, as she screamed in pain. Before FP could follow-up however, a lightning strike allowed her to teleport away from danger.
Reappearing a safe distance away, the witch held her wound, which was dripping a strange form of organic plasma into the ground, sizzling at her feet. She scowled at Flame Princess with sheer hatred.
"Mark my words, once I attain my full power, you will suffer not only death, but excruciating pain."
Another bolt rained from the heavens, this time taking the woman with it. The battle over, for now. FP took one last look at the hurricane above, before running over to the downed Solara and Nimbus. The others all came out as well, anxious to treat the two ladies' injuries.
"Are you alright?" Flame Princess asked as she got the Ancestral Flame to her feet.
The precursor nodded in response.
"Yes, at least physically."
Nimbus seemed under similar condition to her friend, drained and weakened. Something was bothering the group however.
"I don't get it, Solara," Ferrum began.
"Why didn't Infinity help you?"
The angelic woman sighed and placed her hand over her collar, where her insignia lay dim.
"I didn't want to worry you all, so I never told you. Ever since Eternity was taken, the misbalance between it and Infinity has grown. As long as I hold a link to both cosmic locks, I cannot use their power."
The gang frowned, both concerned and disappointed that she hadn't said something earlier. Solara looked to FP.
"But you, my dear, you still share the bond with it. If fact, you've taken advantage of a vital truth."
The princess frowned, confused.
"What do you mean?"
The precursor placed her hand on FP's insignia.
"The closer we get to Infinity, the stronger its influence and the more of its power you can utilize. That is why you were able to reverse space-time using Finn's sword back on that dreadnought."
The group was shocked at this information, but at the same time began to understand. Nimbus suddenly changed the subject, due to urgency.
"Flame Princess, with both myself and Solara deprived of our power, you are the only one who can stop that witch."
The fire elemental pondered the statement for a moment before responding.
"Who is she though?"
Nimbus sighed, placing both hands on her recovered cane.
"Her name is Stratus, an exiled member of my race that used forbidden means to transform her body into high-energy particles, seemingly in an attempt to grow invincible and seek revenge on us."
The elder looked sadly at the ruined temple.
"Long ago, my grandmother's mother fought and sealed her within an enchanted glass bottle, one that was impregnable from the inside."
She shot a look at Ice King, who hung his head in shame.
"But, now that she's released, we must do anything we can to stop her."
Flambo hopped over to the woman.
"Well what's she plannin' to do?"
Nimbus gazed out over the horizon, where dozens of lightning flashes attacked the ocean and islands.
"She will not stop until everything on this world is ashes, to be swept away by the tides."
She closed her eyes.
"It will be much harder since she has her weapon."
Jake scratched his head.
"What is with that thing anyway?"
Nimbus set her sights on the entire group.
"Albe is an enchanted sword, infused with the essence of an ancient storm elemental, wrongfully bonded to its blade by Stratus hundreds of years ago."
The elder took in a breath, as if feeling tense.
"That sword wields the power of a thousand lightning storms, easily a match for even the greatest of our magicians or warriors."
Flame Princess tightened her fists.
The gang gasped.
"FP, you can't be serious, she'll vaporize you!" Marcy cried out.
"Yeah, girl, you're tough, but this lady is crazy!" Jake added.
The fire elemental shook her head.
"It doesn't matter. I'll find a way to win."
A hand was placed on her shoulder. Turning, the fiery girl found Finn, giving her a hard look.
The elemental brushed his hand away.
"I told you, you're not stopping me."
Surprisingly, the human grinned.
"That's not it."
A blade was suddenly impaled into the ground. Looking down, Flame Princess found the young man's infinity sword stuck between them.
"Just wasn't gonna let you leave without this."
Stunned for a moment, the ruler couldn't quite react to Finn's gesture. He just kept smiling, until she just moved forward into his arms. They embraced for a few moments, knowing it might be a while before they were within reach of one another again.
"Thank you, Finn."
"Heh, no problem. I know you can take that witch down."
They separated, with the hero giving her an adamant nod.
"She's got that awesome weapon, but her swordsmanship is *pfft*."
He grinned wider.
"Show her how it's done."
After a quick kiss, Flame Princess grabbed the sword and took off into the sky, noticing for the first time that there was a great amount of wind in the air. Readjusting, she scanned the horizon, spotting a gigantic hurricane system a few miles north, bustling with lightning activity. Figuring that was the best chance at finding Stratus, the fiery girl accelerated, determined to stop the atmospheric chaos.
Bolt after bolt was attracted to Albe as its owner held it high into the sky, acting as a lightning rod. The witch chuckled maliciously, as her sword grew stronger by the minute. At this rate, a single blast would have the destructive potential to blow an entire landmass apart. The sky seemed both depressed and angry at the same time, dark and violent, but refusing to let fall the saddening downpour that was locked away in its blackened sheets.
Before Stratus could do much more self-glorifying, a presence caught her attention. She used a bolt to teleport away, just as a blast of plasma sailed through the air she'd just been occupying. Reappearing, the witch gazed with irritation at the source of the shot.
Flame Princess halted in midair, both hands steadily on the sword's handle, appearing tense yet determined. Her foe glared back, raising her own weapon.
"You've made it so easy for me. I suppose the only way to repay you is by skipping over the torture and simply killing you."
Another flash and she reappeared behind FP, who reacted quickly enough to swing her sword at her back, blocking the strike from Stratus' blade. The two engaged in suspended combat, hacking and slashing away at each other, each looking for the opportunity to parry and land a hit. While the sparks flew, Flame princess noticed that the villain's previous injuries had been healed, likely from the combination of the weather and her enchanted weapon.
Each strike seemed to be echoed a hundred times over by the surrounding storms, which themselves nearly deafened out the sounds of clashing blades. As they collided once more, Stratus sent out a vile grin, as Albe's blade brightened intensely. Before she knew it, FP was watching the infinity sword's metal crack, as the katana's energized particles warped and weakened the material.
The fire elemental retreated, shooting away from her foe and attempting to put some distance to recover. Sadly, this didn't seem like an apparent strategy, as Stratus repeatedly used the frenzied lightning to teleport right next to her, pushing her back with powerful slashes from Albe. Frustrated, the fiery girl could only defend as she was sent flying backwards from each hit.
Dang, she's too fast with that ability to use the environment.
Another strike and Stratus used her free hand to generate plasma, flinging a punch at FP. Unfortunately, the fire elemental could only use her shoulder to block the hit intended for her jaw. Crying out from her potentially singed skin, she concentrated all her effort to escape the witch's pursuit.
Even so, her opponent was regaining on her, fast. Flame Princess took a second to examine her shoulder, seeing that it was unharmed. It was likely only the jolt of the high energy that stung earlier. As soon as she returned attention to the vile storm elemental, she gasped.
Stratus' hand was directly on her abdomen, and charging a powerful plasma blast.
With one last grin, she unleashed the particles, causing a massive midair detonation with a plume of dark smoke. The witch reappeared outside the radius of the smog, looking at its bottom to await her enemy's plummeting body. After a few seconds though, she grew confused. Staring in disbelief, she witnessed the smoke dissipate into the wind, revealing an unharmed Flame Princess, panting, but still airborne.
"What! How!?" Stratus growled.
Suddenly, she noticed a blue glow on the spot where she'd attacked the fire elemental. A large symbol was present on her stomach, humming slightly as it beamed steadily. Flame Princess looked upon the infinity rune with wonder, then gently placed her hand over it.
The insignia on her arm flashed once, then the symbol on her midsection vanished. She gripped her sword, facing Stratus again. The witch shook off her shock, raising Albe.
"I don't know how you did that, but it won't save you from falling to my power."
A flash removed her from the battlefield, but only briefly. She reappeared beneath FP, charging another blast. The fire elemental swung her blade downwards, letting loose a temporal arc that momentarily froze the plasma, stunning the witch. The young ruler then brought down her heel on the orb, firing it downward at such speeds that her foe was forced to block it rather than flash away.
Stratus struggled to resist her own attack as it shoved her towards the ocean. Her arms began to sting with the amount of force applied in the particles. Growling in rage, she focused and countered the inertia by letting loose raw electricity from every angle of her body, at last dissipating the plasma and freeing her of its push. A quick bolt brought her back up to eye level with FP.
"I've had enough!"
She aimed her sword into the dark sky, which began spinning faster and booming thunder at an alarming pace. Flame Princess gripped the infinity sword tightly, readying herself for whatever came next. Stratus glared at the girl, then swung her blade down like a cleaver. The motion instantly fired a titanic lightning bolt from the eye of the hurricane, which homed in on a startled FP.
She took on the force of the bolt, although felt like she'd just had her bones shattered upon doing so. With one hand on the handle and one on the flat of the blade, she attempted to overcome the immense power of the strike called down to smite her. Remorsefully, no matter how much effort she placed into halting the high-energy phenomenon, it knocked her aside, causing her to lose her grip on her sword.
As the weapon spun out towards the surface, FP, shaken, attempted to shift momentum and go after it, only to be stopped when Stratus appeared in front of her. The fire elemental's eyes went wide, before a hard kick to the side of her head sent her flying at insurmountable speed towards the nearest island.
Like a falling star, her form streaked at a downward slope, eventually coming close to one of the land's mountains. A sickening crash rang out for miles, as almost an entire side of the natural structure was blown off by the impact. Even the storm above seemed to lower its volume as the dust and rock settled at the base of the mountain, revealing the huge crater now etched into its features.
Within the deep impression, Flame Princess weakly opened her eyes, her vision clouded and spinning. All she could see was black, the sole color of the heavens above. Trying to move anything she could, the fiery girl tested her fingers. They were sore, due to the friction of blocking the bolt, but intact. Her arms were a bit worse, with multiple sores that were sure to become bruises. Cuts and scrapes were present as well, discouraging the fire elemental further.
She closer he eyes, unable to remove herself from the earthly impression. A few tears ran down her cheeks.
"Useless," she whispered to herself.
Her sobs went uninterrupted, as the thunder had ceased to reach her location. Her spirit was faltering, unable to get back up and fight any longer. In her mind, Stratus was unstoppable. She had the entire sky at her disposal, while the young ruler had nothing more than her lonely self. Alone, without any possibility of aid.
A warm sensation suddenly immersed her shoulders and back, slowing making its way down her spine. FP's eyes flew open, startled by the relaxing feeling. She tried lifting her arm, which, while still in bad shape, managed to break free of the rock. As the girl examined her limb, she found glowing goop dripping off of her skin.
The molten rock flowed past her back, now sliding over her chest and down to her legs. The heat from it slowly entered her weary body, imbedding Flame Princess with vital energy. Her strength began to return, as she tore her other arm free. As the lava flowed over her wounds, the natural interaction between her element and the melted earth healed all the damages, further invigorating her.
Eventually, gripping the sides of her self-made prison, FP put forth enormous strength into fully removing herself from encasement. With the help of the slippery lava, the task was successful, finally bringing the princess to her feet. Upon regaining her stature, Flame Princess watched her insignia pulse on her skin. She grinned, realizing, she wasn't alone.
I have Infinity, I have my bond with Finn and all the others.
She looked up into the sky, still crackling with lightning. Her mind studied the random design of each bolt, intrigued.
Stratus is able to use these to travel at practically the speed of light. So, since I can use plasma too, what's stopping me from doing the same?
FP slowly raised her hand to the clouds, as if trying to grasp one of the bolts like a rope, hoping to pull herself up. She drew in the energy of her new ability into her palm, calmly focusing on each flash of white in the sky. A chill ran through her spine, and her eyes zeroed in on one particular spot in the black expanse.
In a flash, she was gone.
Upon entrance back into the physical world, Flame Princess was knelt on her hand and knee at the summit of the dormant volcano she had been thrown into. Several feet away, the infinity sword was stuck firmly in the rock, still steaming from the attack it had tried to counter. Walking up to the handle, FP took hold, giving one strong pull and releasing the blade from its resting place.
After watching the gleam of her own reflection in the metal, she nodded to herself, then looked up, spotting another bolt and vanishing from the mountain top.
Stratus watched with glee as her torrential storm of lightning began to attack the coastlines, causing fires, damage, and untold fear in the populous living on the various islands. She waved Albe to the right, causing a bolt to fly down and decimate half a village below. Her edgy laugh would unnerve all but the cruelest of beings.
Luckily, it didn't last long, thanks to the appearance of Flame Princess behind her. Initially believing her senses were deceiving her, Stratus turned to see for herself, stunned to find the fire elemental hovering a fair distance away.
FP narrowed her eyes.
"When you've traveled as much as I have, you find that nothing is impossible."
The witch fully faced her revived foe, looking quite irritated.
"Why can't you just stay down? It would save you so much suffering."
The fiery girl shook her head.
"It doesn't matter how much pain I go through. Life has taught me that your will and heart can brave any ordeal, bring you the happiness that's been dwelling in your very being."
She pointed to the storm elemental.
"You, on the other hand, crave nothing but destruction. People like you are doomed to eternal disdain, wandering existence with nothing but hate and vengeance."
She formed a fist.
"This ends with your fall. I promise you that."
Stratus scoffed, rebuking her enemy's words.
"You must be delusional. Albe is stronger than your sword, and I am stronger than you. There is no chance for any of what you said coming true. It simply isn't within sight."
Astonishingly, Flame Princess grinned, closing her eyes. Once she let out a minor chuckle, she set her vision back on her opponent.
"Then allow me to show you the way."
She raised her sword, holding it vertically with both hands, bringing it close to her face and taking a deep breath.
"Forge the path! Infinity!"
In an instant, a large mass of the surrounding clouds were drawn to the fire elemental like a whirlpool. The dark fog consumed both her and Stratus in a raging cyclone, keeping the girl and startled woman tightly inside. The cross guard of FP's sword glowed, unraveling the infinity symbol until it was a perfect circle. The blade itself widened, but did not thicken. Along its flat sides, numerous runes were engraved, while also emitting a deep blue aura over the sharp metal.
Once the transformation was complete, Flame Princess made one swift slash horizontally, instantly dispersing the cyclone and returning herself and Stratus to the open sky. The storm elemental was frozen, absolutely shocked by the new appearance of her foe's weapon. The circle now on the cross guard suddenly generated a light from within itself, which looked exactly like a spinning spiral galaxy.
Stratus, refusing to believe the act had any effect on the fiery girl's power, charged Albe's blade and swung down, sending another titanic bolt right at the floating princess. FP didn't dodge, instead she raised the portal-like portion of her weapon to face the incoming lightning.
Before her very eyes, Stratus watched the high-energy strike disappear inside the circle. She gasped, her spine growing stiff.
"Wh-what is this power?" she stifled.
Flame Princess aimed the tip of her sword at the witch, before every rune upon the blade lit up, releasing a high-pitched hum that grew in strength. Stratus' eyes grew fully round as the very same bolt she'd brought down on her enemy now charged at her with unrelenting force. She was too stunned to dodge.
The resulting explosion sent a shockwave through the skies, destabilizing the overhead hurricane into chaotic clouds systems that struggle to reform. Flame Princess shot herself at the smoke cloud from the blast, determined not to give the chance for recovery. Her blade met that of Albe, as she rocketed both herself and a scar-riddled Stratus at high speeds through the air. The two separated, then proceeded to exchange strikes and slashes from one another's weapon.
To any observer from below, the sparks resulting in each clash appeared to be just additional lightning, forking its way out of the clouds. The two fighters relentlessly swung with all their might, determined to gain the upper hand. However, with a much less prominent power gap, Finn's declaration from before became apparent.
Flame Princess's swordsmanship, courtesy of the human himself, was out of Stratus' league. She struggled to retain a hold on her weapon, as her body was repeatedly shoved back by each impact between the two battling swords. She retreated, teleporting with a bolt in an attempt to recover some energy. Unfortunately for the witch, the fire elemental phased in behind her immediately, giving a strong kick to her back, which sent her flying.
Grunting, but refusing to concede, Stratus fired numerous plasma bullets at the rapidly closing FP, hoping to slow the girl down. Instead, the princess swung her sword at the shots, swallowing them all inside her cross guard's portal. A second swing threw them right back at the storm elemental, who cried out as she failed to block one of them, being struck in the hip.
Losing balance and focus, Stratus was unable to fully react as FP suddenly was right in front of her in a flash. She saw but one emotion in the vile being's hollow eyes: fear. Seeing the opportunity was available, she spoke her final words to the witch.
"It is you who could never surpass my power. For the power I wield, by its nature alone, cannot be surpassed by anything in existence."
The fiery girl reached out and grabbed Albe's blade, completely drowning Stratus in disbelief. With one quick motion, FP snapped the blade in half with her bare hand. A ghostly aura leaked out of the destroyed weapon, peacefully drifting into the heavens. Flame Princess kneed her foe in the chin, throwing her upwards.
After getting into position, she called upon the lightning once again, flashing herself twice in the blink of an eye. She reappeared for the final time behind Stratus, as the woman remained motionless in the air, limply holding the handle of her useless sword.
A second later, a gush of plasma fluid flew out of her torso. After a moment of swaying weakly in the dying wind, the witch's body fell, plummeting down as her energized blood trailed behind in a thin stream of white liquid. Flame Princess watched solemnly, all the way up until Stratus' form disappeared in a splash, forever lost in the massive ocean of the planet.
Eventually, two glows grew in the calming waves. Soon after, twin streams of silvery energy burst from the waters, chaotically swirling around in the air. FP faced her cross guard to the pair of wandering anomalies, quickly grabbing and sucking them into the portal of her weapon. With that done, she looked back up, spotting the aura from before, which was finally free of Albe's seal.
The girl couldn't help but smile, gazing at the unbound spirit as it touched the clouds. The second it did, that portion of the sky burst open, letting in sunlight for the first time since the beginning of the ordeal. Countless more breaks in the overcast appeared, returning the warm sunshine to all who craved its comforting embrace.
Flame Princess allowed herself to be struck by the rays as well, already refreshing herself. Soon, the elemental deemed it was time to return to those who were likely waiting for her with great anticipation.
The gang awed as the solar force reached down to touch the surface once more, restoring the essential force of nature to the gorgeous tropical world's many forms of life. They all bathed in the warm light, celebrating the vanishing despair and growing joy. Finn however, was more focused on the horizon, patiently waiting until he saw a certain someone flying closer to his embrace.
A smile grew on his face as a fiery dot appeared in the distance, signaling the return of his beloved lady. He ran forward, having lost all patience upon seeing the girl homing in. She did the same, readjusting her flight to make sure the first thing she came in contact with was the human below.
The impact alone threw out a miniature shockwave that slapped all the nearby trees, in addition to nearly toppling a few of the Ooocians. FP had also let go of the infinity sword, which impaled its blade into the ground, plowed a good twenty feet until coming to a stop, just inches away from Ice King's nose. The old man fainted a second later.
As Finn and Flame Princess constricted each other on the ground and Marcy tried to slap Simon awake, Solara and Nimbus approached the mysterious vortex on the sword's cross guard. As if reacting to their presence, the weapon spit out the two energy sources, which quickly zeroed in on the two women, reabsorbed into their bodies.
Solara's flames flared out, while Nimbus experimentally set off a few particles of plasma in her hands. As everyone celebrated the victory, they chose to not interrupt the couple lying in the dirt nearby, instead choosing to go on ahead into the temple to get some much desired tea and rest.
Finn pulled his lips away from FP's, grinning widely.
"You know, with all this swordplay, we should spar sometime. I bet you'll beat me one of these days."
The fire elemental smirked.
"I bet that day is today."
The human laughed, along with his fiancée, as they were warmed up by the returning glow of the world's sun, shining down a path that boded well for the future.
As the couple enjoyed their embrace, Flame Princess neglected to notice Infinity's symbol briefly flash across her abdomen.
*Albe- Latin for 'white light'
Was this chapter a reference to Bleach? Yes. Do I badly wish the epic fight music from it could be played while you were reading? You bet I did. Anyway, figured I give you a quality fight. Oops, a bit of ego there. Eh, whatevs, ignore that part.
kojh0124: Not really a relation, just a convenient plot element.
Ventus Uzumaki: Yep, saw them, will reply soon.
I am The7: Haha, yeah, I thought it was funny too.
SCIK1012: *Evilly rubs palms together while chuckling* Heh, heh, heh. Yeah, everything will be just fine. And agreed. One of the greatest writers/story-boarders ever. (moment of silence) If I get the chance, I'll check out SU.
dragonlover753: Yep, lot's of anticipation, love it.
Riset36: Hm, I don't think I'd have the heart to do that.
Xerion: Cuz he's a dumbhead, haha.
draconis ignitus: Yeah, I tried to put in lots of laughs in that one.
Fiery Crusader: See, TV isn't all bad, we learn life junk!
CuteFoxSage: He was a good man, but not very bright...
TheMentalAdventurer: Thanks for considering my thoughts on it. I agree with yours as well.
PhantomHermit: Yep, classic training sequence. I'm bringing it all to this story.
Hope you enjoyed and thanks for any comments/reviews!
next: Chapter 69: The Sun Eater